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Open source foiled Microsoft antitrust case

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Microsoft

Just over a decade ago, a U.S. District Court judge decided that Microsoft was as much of a threat to the technology sector as Standard Oil was almost a century ago to the oil industry, and with that he ordered Microsoft split into two.

Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson said Microsoft had "placed an oppressive thumb on the scale of competitive fortune." Bill Gates called the break-up decision "the most massive attempt at government regulation of the technology industry ever."

This was in 2000. Jackson's break-up order didn't survive appeal, which limited the remedies to a set of rules to keep Microsoft from punishing equipment makers who sold rival products, and from withholding application programming interfaces (API) to third-party developers.

The U.S. Department of Justice remedies supervision ends Thursday, closing the landmark case, which began in 1998. But the questions posed by Jackson's decision remain.

Among them: Did tech innovation suffer over the last 10 years because Microsoft wasn't broken up?

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