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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016


The hammer has dropped on Microsoft.

Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson formally ordered a breakup of the company into two parts. What once was unthinkable is now a court order.

Critics will continue to question this approach. Jackson's order seems excessive and flawed in many specifics. But the judge apparently concluded he could not order something short of a breakup when he doubted the company would honor any possible agreement to change its conduct.

When this case began, Microsoft pursued a high-risk strategy: deny nearly everything. It continued this argument even after the Justice Department presented a convincing case that the company was a monopoly and had used Windows power to bully competitors and industry players.

Will the Microsoft case bring clarity to the technology industry or more confusion? Software executives are loath to invite government attention, but Congress eventually will need to examine this issue.

The company vows an appeal, so this fight will go on, perhaps for years. Uncertainty will continue to affect the company, dampening morale. Given the company's full-speed-ahead style, it's difficult to see that this uncertainty will disrupt planning and product development, but it will affect recruitment and retention of talent. Microsoft may yet win on appeal, but this is a huge moment.

June 8