Microsoft ruling could help Utah companies

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    By REBECCA NEYENHUIS

    Prosecutors said they are confident that findings in the Microsoft monopoly case will help Utah computer companies grow in popularity and innovation.

    “Utah software companies such as Novell, Caldera and many start-up companies can come up with new innovations and new ideas without fear of being squelched by Microsoft,” said Wayne Klein, the assistant Attorney General heading the anti-trust unit for Utah.

    The U.S. District Court came down on Microsoft, said Chief Deputy Attorney General Reed Richards on Friday, ruling against the technology giant.

    Utah was one of the 19 states along with the U.S. Department of Justice to allege a Microsoft monopoly has potentially hurt consumers by not allowing fair competition in the market.

    Klein said he is pleased with the court’s findings.

    The U.S. Justice Department’s anti-trust verdict implies recommendations will be made to allow other companies to be competitive with Microsoft.

    Utah is becoming more technologically based, Klein said. Novell, Caldera and several other start-ups are based in Utah.

    Corel Inc., best know for their WordPerfect word processing program, was based in Utah.

    However, Microsoft destroyed most of Corel’s market share by offering Microsoft Word standard with Windows and Utah lost a business, Klein said.

    Along with a Microsoft product price drop, a wider variety of technological products and systems is also expected because the increased competition will spur ingenuity, said Klein.

    Novell is watching the case very closely, said spokesperson Jonathan Cohen.

    Cohen said Novell welcomes competition because it is a springboard for innovation, even if that competition will come from Microsoft, as long as no company has an illegal advantage over the other.

    Novell is not the only company watching the case. Caldera Inc., a software company based in Lindon, filed its own case against Microsoft in July 1996, said Lyle Ball, spokesperson for Caldera. The jury trial is scheduled to begin Jan. 17. According to a key expert in the case, the Caldera suit is worth $1.6 billion.

    In the meantime, Ball said consumers are already exploring other options in the computer industry. He said he expects competition and innovation.

    “During the 3 1/2 years of this trial, we have seen people warm up to Microsoft alternatives such as Linux. I expect alternatives to continue to grow and develop, both in Utah and elsewhere,” Ball said.

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