The Other Microsoft Monopoly, And Abuses Thereof

The weekend’s leak by Microsoft that Office 12 would include support for PDF output is certainly a validation of PDF as the standard for final-form portable documents. But is it also illegal abuse of a monopoly? How might a hypothetical (currently non-existent) consent decree around Office have modified Microsoft’s behavior?
This is a very sensitive topic: I do not speak for Adobe, I am not a lawyer, and I am not responsible for managing Adobe’s relationship with Microsoft. But in a way that frees me to be iconoclastic. So I’m not going to spin how this is good for Adobe in the long-run, and how much value-add we deliver in other capabilities beyond basic PDF generation. I will instead be blunt: I think Microsoft’s behavior is, or at least ought to be, illegal.
Others have opined that Microsoft’s Office monopoly is potentially more dangerous than their Windows monopoly. A significant number of users buy Adobe Acrobat primarily to generate PDFs from Office documents – no surprise, given Office’s monopoly status. Microsoft is deliberately augmenting its monopoly to bundle a substantial portion of the value another vendor presently independently delivers to users. In legal-speak this is called “Tying”.
Indeed had Microsoft directly cloned PDF in Vista that might have fallen afoul of the consent decree terms. Metro/Reach aka XML Paper of course may be considered an indirect cloning of PDF but that’s another topic.
A hypothetical consent decree for Microsoft Office might have helped the industry and consumers by requiring Microsoft to license competing technology to significant new products or features that will be “tied” to its Office monopoly, rather than just clone them. This would advantage ISVs like Adobe, obviously, but arguably also consumers, because ISVs would be able to continue to profitably innovate around solutions for knowledge workers. And given the excess revenue generated by Microsoft’s monopoly it is unlikely consumers would see higher prices as a result of such a requirement.