Commentary: Microsoft Outsmarts Itself

When Microsoft Corp. entered U.S. District Court to defend itself against a Justice Dept. antitrust suit in October, it had what many people assumed would be a surefire defense in one area--a June U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that upheld the software maker's right to combine products as it saw fit. The higher court said that as long as the integration provides "some technological value" that can't be achieved if users combine the features themselves, there was no problem. That ruling, legal experts said, would make it all but impossible for the government to prove that Microsoft violated tying laws when it combined its Internet Explorer browser with Windows.

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