After 13 years, Microsoft will no longer be scrutinized by the Department of Justice. The timing is apt, because Apple has supplanted Microsoft as the biggest company in tech — and with Apple’s rise in fortunes come its own anti-trust concerns.
First filed in 1998 and extended twice, the settlement moved from combating a monopoly on computer software to concerns over sharing technical documentation with rivals.
“Microsoft no longer dominates the computer industry as it did when the complaint was filed,” the government announced Thursday. The DOJ also credited the settlement with giving rise to cloud computing and mobile devices, such as the Apple iPhone.
For its part, Microsoft seemed simply happy to get the entire episode behind it. “We are pleased to bring this matter to successful resolution,” the software company announced in a brief statement. The experience “has changed us and shaped how we view our responsibility to the industry.”
Although the Department of Justice viewed the antitrust settlement has prompting major changes in the tech landscape, some observers feel the changes instead were minor. “A lot has changed in the technology market since the ruling but not because of it,” said Gartner analyst David Mitchell Smith. In most instances, limiting Microsoft’s penchant for bundling products is seen as a lasting legacy for the antitrust ruling.
However, some of Microsoft’s corporate power has been diluted with the entrance of Apple and a long string of wildliy-popular products. Apple earns more than three times as much profit with Mac OS X and the mobile iOS as Microsoft rakes in with Windows, an independent analyst reported earlier this month.
Such news is just the latest blow to Microsoft. In April, Apple surpassed the software giant, posting a larger quarterly profit. Additionally, Apple has also passed Microsoft as the most valuable tech company and most recently overshadowed Microsoft as the most valuable technology brand.