Spread Of Computers

     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
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&T 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: 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. 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) 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
power.

Bibliography

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