Business Groups Mixed On Reaction To Microsoft Ruling

U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson's "findings of fact" late last week against Microsoft Corp. brought sharply different public reactions from three major Washington-based U.S. business groups. The American Electronics Assn., a leading trade organization for the high-technology industry, issued a flat "no comment" when asked for reaction to the ruling. Asked if the association cannot comment because its membership includes both Microsoft and many of its competitors, a spokesman responded "no comment" to that question as well. Only slightly more forthcoming is the National Assn. of Manufacturers. "We can't comment specifically on any of our member companies, and Microsoft is a member company," said incoming chairman James H. Keyes, also chairman and CEO of Johnson Controls Inc., at a Washington press conference Tuesday. However, Keyes said, "You have to step back and look at the tremendous advances that have been made in personal computers and in [computer] technology. And the costs have come down over the years rather substantially. . . . That has been a real boon to changes and needs of companies." In contrast, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce came out strongly against the ruling. Said Executive Vice President Bruce Josten: "No high-tech company should cheer these findings -- because they could easily become the next target of government's mad rush to regulate our most promising industry. Once again we are seeing the unlimited arsenal of government used against a successful company. Every high-tech executive in America should be asking, 'Am I next?'"

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