NEW YORK -- Maybe they're rehashing it over lunch, but Thursday's federal court order against Microsoft is hardly taking center stage among the attendees at Fall Internet World.
But that doesn't mean most folks don't have an opinion on the matter.
Late Thursday, a judge ordered Microsoft to stop requiring computer makers to include Internet Explorer in their machines as a condition of installing Windows, though he declined to levy the penalty of $1 million per day, as requested by the U.S. Department of Justice. The judge also appointed a special master to examine the case, meaning it's far from finished.
Over at the Microsoft Partner Pavilion, several attendees criticized the move, saying interfering with Microsoft's business plans would thwart future software development.
"There are enough choices in the software industry that the DOJ doesn't have to get involved," said Gene Jakonminich, with the Fort Washington, Pa.-based ISP Netreach Inc., which gives away IE to its customers. "The integration makes it easy for people who don't know how to go online. The DOJ is taking away a little bit of ease of use."
Several others roaming the pavilion -- the venue for Microsoft and its allies to showcase their latest products -- agreed. Others said the order would be only a small blip for the software giant. "They're such a huge powerhouse. You can't imagine they don't have 15 different contingency plans." Jordan Jankus, director of Broadband Consulting, a Mohegan Lake, N.Y.-based company that advises media groups on technology.
Jankus said it would be awhile before the ramifications of the order became clear. But he likened it to a slap on the wrist at this point. "It's a very easy issue for the DOJ to jump on," Jankus said. "If they broke the company up, then you'd know they're serious."
But over at Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Java Partners Pavilion, many welcomed the ruling, saying it would open the market to other browsers and platforms.
"It's pretty obvious that they're trying to control the highway," said Citibank VP Sandeep Maira, who was perusing the conference's E-commerce offerings. "It would be like the government saying, 'We built the roads and now we'll supply the cars.' " He added that Citibank has not taken a position on the issue.
Maira also said he doesn't buy Microsoft's argument that the browser is an integral part of the operating system. "That's pushing it. If they were integrating networking software or applications software, that makes sense, but to force a browser on people, that's pushing it," he said.
But Eduardo Alessio Robles, director of Cuernavaca, Mexico-based Tecnologia Virtual, pooh-poohed the matter as the latest media obsession. "It's like the O.J. Simpson trial," he said. "We'll all watch it for a while, then we'll forget about it."