Reality Check: Beware of Microsoft's gifts


Of course it's part of Microsoft's overall strategy on how to deal with its antitrust problems. For example, you can add BeOS to the list. On Sept. 5, 2003, Microsoft paid Be $23.5 million to settle an antitrust suit. The Microsoft press release also noted that "Be is currently in the process of completing its dissolution."

But there is more to it than that.

The reality is that for every Windows Server that Microsoft doesn't sell, it is in danger of losing the entire stack, the services, and the applications on top of it.

"It's like losing the keystone in an arch," Rob Enderle, principal analyst at Enderle Group, tells me.

So what are these deals really buying Microsoft? Some might say, as Ballmer did at the Novell press conference, it is just listening to what customers want. But there is an old curmudgeonly reporter in me who sees something else.