The Antitrust Case Against Microsoft

.. I dont take the excuse that Microsoft has gained their popularity through illegal measures. They simply created products that the people liked, and the people bought them. On the other side of the issue, are the people who believe that Microsoft is indeed operating in a monopolistic manner and therefore, the government should intervene and split Microsoft up. Those who are under the assumption that Microsoft should indeed be split up, believe that they should either be split into two separate companies: one dealing with operating systems and the other dealing strictly with applications. The other group believes that the government should further split Microsoft up into three divisions: one company to create operating systems, one company to create office applications, and one company to create applications for the home.

All of these people agree that Microsoft should be split up, anyway possible. The first thing that proponents of Microsoft being split up argue that although Microsoft has created all kinds of standards for the computer software industry, in todays world, we dont necessarily need standards. Competing technologies can coexist in todays society, without the need for standards set by an external body or by a lone company such as Microsoft. A good analogy for this position is given in the paper, “A Case Against Microsoft: Myth Number 4.” In this article, the author states that people who think that we need such standards, give the example of the home video cassette industry of the late 1970s. He says that these people point out that in the battle between the VHS and Beta video formats, VHS won not because it was a superior product, but because it was more successfully marketed.

He then goes to point out that buying an operating system for a computer is nothing at all like purchasing a VCR, because the operating system of a computer defines that computers personality, whereas a VCRs only function is to play movies, and both VHS and Beta do the job equally. Also, with the development of camcorders, there have been the introduction of many new formats for video tapes that are all being used at once. VHS-C, S-VHS and 8mm formats all are coexisting together in the camcorder market, showing that maybe in our society today, we are not in need of one standard. Maybe we can get along just as well with more than one standard. Along the same lines, there are quite a few other industries that can get along without one standard. Take for instance the automobile industry.

If you accepted the idea that one standard was best for everyone involved, then you would never be tempted to purchase a BMW, Lexus, Infiniti, Saab or Porsche automobile, due to the fact that these cars all have less than one percent market share in the automobile industry and therefore will never be standards. Probably the biggest proponent of government intervention into the Microsoft issue is Netscape Communications, based out of Mountain View, California. Netscape has filed law suits accusing Microsoft of tying again.(“Netscapes Complaint against MicroSoft.” 2) This time, Microsoft is bundling their world wide web browser, Internet Explorer 3.0 into their operating system, Windows 95. Netscape is the maker of Netscape Navigator, currently the most widely used internet browser on the market, and now, facing some fierce competition from Microsofts Internet Explorer. Netscape says that in addition to bundling the browser, Microsoft was offering Windows at a discount to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs),(“Netscapes Complaint against MicroSoft.” 2) to feature Internet Explorer on the desktop of the computers that they shipped, thus eliminating any competition for space on the desktop by rival companies such as Netscape. If the OEM wants to give the consumer a fair and even choice of browsers by placing competitors browser icons in a comparable place on the desktop, Netscape has been informed that the OEM must pay $3 more for Windows 95 than an OEM that takes the Windows bundle as is and agrees to make the competitors browsers far less accessible and useful to customers.(“Netscapes Complaint against MicroSoft.” 2) Another accusation that Netscape is making against Microsoft is that they are doing the same type of things with the large internet service providers of the nation.

They are offering the large internet providers of the nation, such as Netcom and AT&T, space on the Windows 95 desktop, in return for the internet providers consent that they will not offer Netscape Navigator, or any other competing internet software to their customers.(“Netscapes Complaint against MicroSoft.” 3) Netscape is becoming ever more concerned with Microsofts practices, because for now, they are going untouched by the government and it looks as if it will stay that way for quite some time now. The are very much worried, as they watch the numbers of users switching to Microsofts browser, and the number of users using Navigator slipping. Besides all of the accusations of monopolistic actions Netscape lay down on them, Microsoft does seem to have one advantage when it comes to the browser wars. Their new browser, version 3.0, matches Netscapes feature for feature, with one added plus: it is free and Microsoft says that it always free. So is their internet server, Internet Information Server.

Whereas Netscape charges $50 and $1500 for their browser and their web server, respectively.(“Netscapes Complaint against MicroSoft.” 3) With all the information that has been presented for both sides of the issue, you are probably left in a daze, not knowing what to think. Is Microsoft good? Or is Microsoft bad? Well, the answer is a little bit of both. Even though the Justice Department found that Microsoft might be practicing some techniques that are less than ethical, they did not find that Microsoft was breaking any anti-trust laws, nor did Microsoft actually admit to the accusations when they signed the agreement. If anything, them signing the agreement was more of a sorry than an full fledged admission of guilt. Other people might disagree with me, and there might be a lot of allegations floating around from different companies, but the fact of the matter is plain and simple.

Microsoft has not been formerly charged and found guilty of any illegal practices pertaining to them being a monopoly. I believe that the government should stay out of the affairs of the economy, rather than get tangled up in a mess, and just end up deadlocked like the FTC did in 1990. And even if the government did get involved, due to the extremely fast paced nature of the computer industry, and the extremely slow nature of the government, there may not be any resolve for quite a while. Works Cited Check, Dan. “The Case Against Microsoft.” World Wide Web. http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/spazz/msp aper.htm.

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http://www.vcnet.com/bms/page3d.html. 1-3. “Netscapes Complaint against MicroSoft.” World Wide Web. http://torrent.sj.ca.us/Commentary/Netscapes complaint.html. 1-2. Poole, Robert W., Jr. Unnatural Monopolies. Lexington, Massachusetts: D.C.

Heath and Company, 1985. Rosenoer, Jonathan. “Cyberlaw: Withholding Consent.” Cyberlaw. World Wide Web. http://www.cyberlaw.com/cylw0295.html. 1-3. Schmidt, Eric.

“The Struggle for Bill Gatess Soul.” US News and World Report. Nov. 25, 1996: 69-71. Stross, Randall. “Heavens Gates.” US News and World Report.

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