Let's face it, in today's world we are using computers more and more. The growth

of accessibility to the Internet has given us a brand new definition to

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connectivity, thus exponentially widening the wealth of information at our

fingertips. Those of us who are computer and Internet users have experienced

this rapid growth, yet many users do not understand some the

"trade-offs" that have been made to bring this level of user-friendly

technology to desk-tops all over the world. It's just so easy. Buy it, bring it

home, plug it in, insert a disk, and your on the Internet. From the users

perspective this is an incredible leap in the right direction. However, from a

business point of view we must be very cautious. Due to the numbers of business

who are involved in the production of computers and the fact that Microsoft has

been not only a corner stone in development, but a household name since the very

beginning, creates a potentially hazardous business environment. This has been

the topic for many heated debates. The main question Microsoft has been

confronted with is weather or not they have created a monopoly or merely

experienced a large market share and a competitive advantage stemming from their

dedication to provide more efficient systems. Historically, the United States

has set a precedent to penalize companies who demonstrated monopolistic actions.

In the Sherman and Clayton Anti-Trust Acts, the United States officially made

monopolies against the law. However, companies like AT have endured these

changes, thus tearing down their walls of domination, allowing room for

competition, and ensuring economic growth across the board. The reason why

Microsoft is currently under investigation is a result of some of the following

ideas and events: O Users have extremely limited operating systems that are

compatible with existing hardware and the only operating system included with

the purchase of a new computer is Windows. O Integration of the Microsoft

Internet Explorer with the already powerful Microsoft Windows operating system

is viewed as a monopoly using their already supreme power to seal off

competition in yet another area where a market already exists. (and) O Tactics

Microsoft has used in the development of other applications such as web

development and design (i.e. the creation of FrontPage) have created

compatibility issues that require extensions that can only be provided by

Microsoft. These are all examples of how Microsoft has jockeyed for position in

this new, competitive, and obviously undefined computer business arena,

eliminating competition while claiming to be the ultimate saint. To prove that

Microsoft is indeed a monopolistic force in the operating systems market David

Chun, a student at UCLA, conducted a survey asking several different Original

Equipment Manufactures (OEMs) these very simple questions. 1. Do you offer any

other operating systems? 2. Can I buy computers, any models, without buying

Windows? 3. If not, why? 4. Can I return Windows and get a refund? After Mr.

Chun contacted several of these OEMs, Sony, DELL, NEC, Gateway, and IBM (just to

name a few), he found the following information: OEM QSTN 1 QSTN 2 QSTN 3 QSTN 4

SONY No No We are under contract with Microsoft No DELL No No We are under

contract with Microsoft No NEC No No We do not have contracts with other O/S

manufs. No IBM No OS2 $99 But comes with Windows That's just the way it is. No

As you can see from the illustration, not one of these major OEMs offers its

customers any options. It seems as though Microsoft has everyone's hands tied

and all bases fully covered concerning the O/S market. Due to the fact that

Microsoft won't even grant OEMs some sort of refund policy to offer

"wayward" customers who aren't interested in buying their O/S is just

plain selfish, pushing other potential O/Ss deeper into the corner they are

already trying to exist in. You have to begin to wonder what this giant is

really all about. Everyone knows that for a user to obtain access through the

Internet they need a browser and an Internet Service Provider (ISP). A web

browser is a software application that translates hypertext markup language

(HTML), allowing us to "surf" the web. Recently Microsoft has decided

to bundle their version of a browser, Microsoft Internet Explorer, with their

operating system, Windows. Microsoft views this as merely adding an ice

dispenser to its already existing refrigerator. However, a company like Netscape

who has been a leader in the market for years thinks much differently. Indeed,

it may seem as simple as adding an ice dispenser (a simple upgrade), yet is

there really an independent market that is going around trying to install ice

dispensers? I say no. The browser market does in fact exist outside the realm of

an operating system and Microsoft hinders these other competitors by using its

influence in another market with a completely different product to gain a

definite edge over all other competition. In a case between Telex and

International Business Machines, the court found, "...a monopoly may use

practices that any company, regardless of size, could legally employ...",

however, "... they cannot...use market power in such a way as to prevent

competition." Whether Microsoft has actually committed this act is yet to

be proven, but I personally think the ground for this argument could be

established. One thing is for sure. The computer industry is unlike any other in

existence today. It remains the fastest changing industry in the world and has

the government running in circle about how to create and enforce legislation on

matter such as the Microsoft Anti-Trust issue. Until the government successfully

defines how far a monopoly can develop itself and how it uses existing powers to

leverage itself in other markets the computer industry will sadly remain a

Wonderland where anything is possible if you're the one with all the



David Chun. "Required to Buy Microsoft Windows." July 08, 1998.

http://www.essential.org/antitrust/ms/jun3survey.html Bruce Holcomb.

"Recent Decision." The George Washington Law Review. May 1980. Dan

Check. "The Case Against Microsoft." http://www.compuserve.com/homepages/spazz.htm

Stanley Sporkin. "Memorandum Opinion" http://research.bryant.edu/~mbougon/BU-400