Microsoft Settlement Means Little to Area’s Software Companies
By TRAVIS PURSER
When a federal judge affirmed the settlement in the government’s anti-trust case against Microsoft Corp., the company’s share price rose and local software firms yawned.
“I don’t think anything the government has done so far is going to change anything,” said Richard Koffler, executive director of the Software Council of Southern California.
While a few smaller software companies prepared minor contingency plans should the software giant have been ordered broken up, he said, those plans will be cancelled and business will continue as normal.
Despite complaints that the Redmond, Wash. company has muscled competitors out of many markets, Koffler said its dominance has had some benefits.
Writing software without the standardization of Microsoft would be like manufacturing a different kind of car radio for every automobile that rolls off an assembly line, he said.
“The net benefit to everyone has been tremendous,” said Kent Sahin, president of Woodland Hills-based REAL Software Systems, of the standardization brought by Microsoft.
“I would have welcomed a little more than a slap on the wrist,” said Craig Berry, vice president of platform development at Vizional Technologies. Still, he conceded, the “proprietary standardization” established by Microsoft and its rival Sun Microsystems was an advantage to his company.
“Each decision for a corporation, where it’s not about ideology, but about money, has to be weighed in the balance,” he said. Vizional makes supply-chain management software for tracking inventory, logistics and planning. If Microsoft decided to offer competing software, the behemoth could make life difficult for Vizional by altering the Windows operating system so that Vizional’s software wouldn’t work as well, he said.
But executives said they long ago learned to do business in a marketplace dominated by Microsoft by seeking niches where the software giant is unlikely to go. Mostly, that involves avoiding the business application and browser markets, where Microsoft has its strongest hold.
The ruling “really didn’t matter for us,” said Adam Kolawa, chief executive of Monrovia-based ParaSoft Corp., which makes error-prevention software for programmers. “A different outcome would have meant nothing,” because, in his view, Microsoft is such a powerhouse it would “avert a decision any way it wants to.”