The only practical way to punish Microsoft for monopolistic practices is to force it to publish some of the source code for its operating systems, according to analyst Gartner Group's top brains.
This follows an supposed admission from Bill Gates shortly after a Bloomberg Television interview, that the corporation might be willing to open up some of its precious code as part of a Department of Justice punishment.
Gartner analyst Ed Thompson tells ZDNet: "We're still debating it, but this is the most practical thing we can think of at the moment." Thompson reveals that after considering 50 different possible scenarios, Gartner staff believe that this is the best way forward for the software industry as a whole and consumers alike.
According to Thompson, publishing the parts of the operating system source code that interact with Windows APIs (Application Programming Interface) is the most workable solution. APIs are the parts of the Windows operating system source code that determine exactly how individual applications will interact with the overall platform. He adds: "They could even just publish the source code for Internet Explorer and then people could develop their own versions."
The firm's best analytical minds have been working overtime on what could be a feasible solution. "There has been a lot of speculation on what could happen to Microsoft, but most people haven't worked out the feasibility. We would lean towards releasing the APIs to some sort of public forum. This would put all manufacturers on an equal footing."
Ever since the US Supreme Court ruled against the software titan, speculation has been rife that Microsoft may be split into different divisions.
However, Thompson believes that dividing Microsoft isn't practical. "We've discussed this as analysts, and our view is that it would be difficult for the US government to administer, it would not benefit the consumer, and it would be difficult to know how to actually do it."
More recent speculation that Microsoft could even be split vertically (into smaller competing companies) is also dismissed by Thompson. He says: "How would you force them to compete and actually break up? 'You pick one programmer and I'll pick another?'"
Microsoft, as ever, refuses to be drawn on what punishment it would prefer. A statement from the corporation comments: "Speculation about any possible remedy is premature. The notion of breaking up Microsoft is an extreme and radical proposal that is not justified by anything in this case."
Take me to the DoJ/Microsoft special.
Take me to the NEW Windows special.