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World War 3.0: Microsoft and Its Enemies [Hardcover]

Ken Auletta
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Jan. 9 2001
The Internet Revolution, like all great industrial changes, has made the world's elephantine media companies tremble that their competitors-whether small and nimble mice or fellow elephants-will get to new terrain first and seize its commanding heights. In a climate in which fear and insecurity are considered healthy emotions, corporate violence becomes commonplace. In the blink of an eye-or the time it has taken slogans such as "The Internet changes everything" to go from hyperbole to banality-"creative destruction" has wracked the global economy on an epic scale.

No one has been more powerful or felt more fear or reacted more violently than Bill Gates and Microsoft. Afraid that any number of competitors might outflank them-whether Netscape or Sony or AOL Time Warner or Sun or AT&T or Linux-based companies that champion the open-source movement or some college student hacking in his dorm room-Microsoft has waged holy war on all foes, leveraging its imposing strengths.

In World War 3.0, Ken Auletta chronicles this fierce conflict from the vantage of its most important theater of operations: the devastating second front opened up against Bill Gates's empire by the United States government. The book's narrative spine is United States v. Microsoft, the government's massive civil suit against Microsoft for allegedly stifling competition and innovation on a broad scale. With his superb writerly gifts and extraordinary access to all the principal parties, Ken Auletta crafts this landmark confrontation into a tight, character- and incident-filled courtroom drama featuring the best legal minds of our time, including David Boies and Judge Richard Posner. And with the wisdom gleaned from covering the converging media, software, and communications industries for The New Yorker for the better part of a decade, Auletta uses this pivotal battle to shape a magisterial reckoning with the larger war and the agendas, personalities, and prospects of its many combatants.

Product Details

Product Description

From Library Journal

Auletta, communications columnist for The New Yorker, recounts the real trial of the century, which he covered from the beginning.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.


"It is hard to imagine a more absorbing account of Microsoft's marathon battle with the U.S. government and its legions of tenacious rivals. In prose that is at once deft, lucid, and knowing, Ken Auletta unravels the mysteries of antitrust law, as well as the arcana of computers and the Internet, with magisterial ease. Who else could have packed so much information between two covers and yet made the narrative so fluent and compelling? Best of all, the book is liberally sprinkled with memorable portraits of the protagonists, ranging from the amazingly shrewd David Boies to the doughty Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson. And the portrait of Bill Gates-brilliant and visionary, but also mercurial, immature, and ultimately self-destructive-takes on a tragic aura that no reader will forget. This book is a gripping courtroom drama, an elegy for Microsoft's warrior culture, and mandatory reading for anyone interested in the future of the Information Age."
-Ron Chernow, author of Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr.

"With assurance and skill, Ken Auletta weaves complex economic, legal, and technological ideas into a most compelling story. As in all fine courtroom dramas, the book's hallmark is its vivid delineation of the character of the protagonists. To transform a complex antitrust case into such a gripping narrative is an impressive accomplishment."
-Richard C. Levin, Beinecke Professor of Economics and president, Yale University

"This is Ken Auletta's best book. It works on several levels. First, it's a dramatic page-turner. Second, it's the definitive but plain-English treatment of an issue that is as important as it is complicated: the historic Microsoft trial, the struggle among corporate giants to control the new economy, and the question of whether government should be a spectator or referee. Third, it's a model of fair-minded yet take-no-prisoners reporting that is packed with revelations. Beyond all that, it's a primer for every lawyer and would-be lawyer in America-a reminder that legal scholarship is no substitute for common sense."
-Steven Brill, founder, Court TV, The American Lawyer, Brill's Content, and Contentville

"The Microsoft case is the most important legal dispute of this century or the last. Ken Auletta has done something extraordinary in making its significance sing. His book is a perfect integration of the legal and the business drama at the heart of the case. His insights are relevant not just to the narrow field of antitrust but to democracy in a technology-governed world in general, and to the struggles that will define the coming decades."
-Lawrence Lessig, author of Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace

"A highly compelling account of the extraordinary trial that challenged the invincibility of the world's most powerful corporation. Auletta reveals the personalities behind the headlines and brings into sharp focus the very human qualities that have made Microsoft so powerful-and so vulnerable."
-Kim Polese, chairman and chief strategy officer, Marimba, Inc.

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
By A Customer
There are no press releases in this book, no spin by the local media and no facades maintained for the public. Ken Auletta exposes this case for what it is, even if he gets some of the details wrong in the process. There are no heroes and no villains, though there is a distinct slant against Microsoft and its top brass (Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer). Even so, Auletta doesn't paint a rosy picture of the other parties involved either. Overall, I would have to say it's about as impartial as one could be.
As I read this book, I found myself flip-flopping back and forth between who I thought was right and who was wrong. In the end it was apparent to me that Microsoft was most likely guilty of some unfair business practices, namely denying computer manufacturers (OEMs) the right to put competitive software on computers with Windows software. But the case mutated away from that point to whether or not Microsoft has the right to add functionality to its operating system. Where this whole saga will end (if ever) is anyone's guess.
All in all, this is a good book to get an overview of the case and the people involved.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Balanced but ultimately misses the point June 2 2001
By A Customer
Ken Auletta is an excellent reporter, and here was able to obtain amazing access to the district court judge in the Microsoft case. Indeed, Judge Jackson gave long interviews with Mr. Auletta based on the judge's personal notes, and later was blasted by all of the Appeals Court judges for allowing this kind of access.
Mr. Auletta is generally very fair in recounting the events of the Microsoft trial, but he also is not a programmer and not a lawyer and not a business strategist and it shows. His grasp of some of the fundamental legal issues at stake is rather poor, and his failure to predict the reasoning of the eminently predictable appeals court (which had already ruled in favor of Microsoft) is a big problem with this book.
Part of the problem is that Mr. Auletta reported only on what he saw, and Microsoft to a large extent wasn't bothering to convince the district court judge of their case (they already felt they'd lose despite Judge Jackson's protests that he was impartial). Microsoft instead focused on setting up the right arguments to later win at the appellate level, which it now looks like they will do.
Mr. Auletta, for all his excellent reporting, ultimately misses Microsoft's deeper game plan, despite noting that the reason Microsoft hired the lawyers that it did was that they previously had one a large reversal at the appellate level for Kodak. He should have looked a bit further into the story, and paid less attention to the (albeit amusing) theatrics of the district court.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Packed With Knowledge! April 27 2001
Although a paranoid, childish and somewhat sniveling Bill Gates is the undoubted antagonist in author Ken Auletta's gripping account of the U.S. government's escalating war against Microsoft, it's tough to find the good guys. By detailing the legal maneuverings of Microsoft's competitors, which in large part spurred the government to action, Auletta pierces some of the innocent-victim personas adopted by the likes of Sun CEO Scott McNealy and others. But the author's treatment of Gates and his Microsoft colleagues is merciless, and in this honest portrait Auletta illustrates how the company's own arrogance brought on its legal woes. News junkies may find the broad outlines of the case familiar, but Auletta uses his readable style to delve into the major personalities and their motivations. We [...] like the way he makes even legal, technological details interesting to the general reader and fascinating to fans of corporate war stories. Read this book before catching the gripping sequel - playing now in U.S. Federal Court - in which Microsoft lands a critical counter-punch.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Well researched and insightful. March 14 2001
By John
I purchased this title on a whim. Although I followed "the trial" as it was being reported in the media I did not find the proceedings, as they were described in the press, to be that interesting. I also knew that whatever happened, this case would be appealed and last for several more years. Consequently, I did not have high expectations for this book. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that this book was much more interesting and insightful that I had imagined. Auletta does an excellent job of describing the background, tactics, technical issues, personalities, and legal issues that surrounded this trial. Unlike other reports on the trial, he did not just encapsulate the events that took place in the courtroom. Instead, he spent considerable effort to research, then explain, events that went on behind the scenes - before, during, and after the trial.
The spin that was often portrayed in the media was that Microsoft was being victimized or punished just for being successful. The Microsoft media machine did an excellent job of promoting this view either through tactics such as full-page ads in newspapers or Gate's (and others) frequent appearances on television. While I have never been a big fan of Microsoft, part of me started to believe them. After reading this book however, any sympathy that I had for Microsoft, as it relates to the trial, has been erased. Auletta's recounting of the trial makes it clear that they used their monopolistic power to attempt to control or quash any company that threatened the market dominance of any of their core products. In short, they were unwilling to "play fair" and let the best products win in the marketplace.
Some members of the media portrayed Judge Jackson as someone that may have had a grudge against Microsoft.
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars I hope that there is a 3.1 version
Having just read the book this summer (2004), much of the content that predicts the future points to current day reality. Read more
Published on Sept. 8 2004 by Ron McMahon
1.0 out of 5 stars Rehashed newspaper articles
No new revelations here. This story has been told in earlier books, and with more ground breaking impact. Read more
Published on Nov. 4 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars It ain't over till it's over-MSFT vs US in exquisite detail
Just when we were waiting for Microsoft to meekly split itself based on the outcome of the first landmark court decision, it looks like the software giant is racking up the points... Read more
Published on March 10 2001 by Joanna Daneman
5.0 out of 5 stars A balanced report of the Microsoft Trial
[Disclosure: I am a Microsoft employee]
I found this book to be very balanced (though far from always flattering to Microsoft). Read more
Published on Feb. 25 2001 by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Where's the reality distortion field???
Just finished the book and really enjoyed it. Auletta had so much material to synthesize into his viewpoint that at times I found the reading laborious (Warden reading MSFT's... Read more
Published on Feb. 25 2001 by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars That fat lady hasn't sung...
Auletta's highly detailed book is great and much needed, but I think that, as Twain once said, the rumors of Microsoft's death are greatly exaggerated. World War 3.0 isn't over. Read more
Published on Feb. 11 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars Much more than the trial
Dazzling -- the whole "new economy" landscape is made clear, and all the big players and their competing visions for the future are explained, but the great thng is that... Read more
Published on Jan. 17 2001
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