This Day in History
May 18, 1998
US Justice Department Files Antitrust Lawsuit against Microsoft
The US Department of Justice and twenty US states file a set of civil actions against Microsoft Corporation. The plaintiffs alleged that Microsoft abused monopoly power regarding operating system and Web browser sales. The central issue was whether it was monopolistic of Microsoft to bundle Internet Explorer software with its Windows operating system. This practice was alleged to have been responsible for Microsoft's victory in the “browser wars” because every Windows user had a pre-installed copy of Internet Explorer. It was further alleged that this unfairly restricted the market for competing web browsers (such as Netscape Navigator or Opera), which were slow to download over a modem or had to be purchased at a store. After a lengthy trial and amidst appeals and drawn-out legal wrangling, Microsoft ultimately avoided a breakup of its operating system and other divisions, but was subject to a consent decree that disallowed some anti-competitive business practices. Many rivals felt the agreement let Microsoft off too easily.