On Friday, a federal judge ruled that Microsoft, makers of the Windows operating systems among other popular software, was a monopoly. But the so-called finding of fact, is only the first ruling in the ongoing struggle between the U.S. government and the software titan of Redmond, WA.
Of course, players in the software marketplace saw the decision from very different persectives. So did at least two of trucking's major software providers.
"I happen to disagree with the judge as far as (Microsoft) being a monopoly. There's tremendous competition there," said Tom Weisz, founder and CEO of TMW Systems, Inc., Beachwood, OH.
TMW, which provides core business software for the truckload market, offers a range of products, including some that run on Microsoft operating systems. The opening page of TMW's web site displays both an "IBM Business Partner" logo and one that identifies the company as a ``Microsoft Certified Solution Provider."
"We've built a large portion of our innovations on work that Microsoft has done and we wouldn't be where we are were it not for Microsoft," said Weisz
Would the ruling have any material impact on trucking?
"No," said Weisz. "Nothing is really going to happen for a couple of years."
Tom McLeod, founder and CEO of The Tom McLeod Software Corp., Birmingham, AL, saw things differently.
"(The judge) just stated that Microsoft is a monopoly. He was just stating the obvious," said McLeod, and the impact of that monopoly "has simply been to eliminate choices."
Not surprisingly, McLeod's software products run not on Microsoft DOS or Windows operating systems but on servers running Unix operating systems.
However, McLeod sees little impact on trucking from Friday's ruling.
"It just means (Microsoft) will likely not be able to make their software as interdependent, such as tying their browser into their operating system to lock out the competition," he said.
The government has charged that Microsoft meshed its web browsing software with its Windows operating system in order hurt the Netscape Corporation, which markets rival browser software.
"Most trucking applications are not related to browsers," McLeod noted.
McLeod said his company is working on a new generation of software that will run on Windows NT servers.