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Microsoft: Entrepreneurial Success Or Monopoly? Essay

2280 words - 9 pages

Since 1990, a battle has raged in United States courts between the United States government and the Microsoft Corporation headed by Bill Gates. What is at stake is money. The federal government maintains that Microsoft's monopolistic practices are harmful to United States citizens, creating higher prices and potentially downgrading software quality, and should therefore be stopped, while Microsoft and its supporters claim that they are not breaking any laws, and are just doing good business. The only thing Microsoft is guilty of is taking advantage of free enterprise.Microsoft's antitrust problems began for them in the early months of 1990(Check 1), when the Federal Trade Commission began investigating them for possible violations of the Sherman and Clayton Antitrust Acts, (Maldoom 1) which are designed to stop the formation of monopolies. The investigation continued on for the next three years without resolve, until Novell, maker of DR-DOS, a competitor of Microsoft's MS-DOS, filed a complaint with the Competition Directorate of the European Commission in June of 1993. (Maldoom 1) Doing this stalled the investigations even more, until finally in August of 1993, (Check 1) the Federal Trade Commission decided to hand the case over to the Department of Justice. The Department of Justice moved quickly, with Anne K. Bingaman, head of the Antitrust Division of the DOJ, leading the way. (Check 1) The case was finally ended on July 15, 1994, with Microsoft signing a consent settlement. (Check 1) The settlement focused on Microsoft's selling practices with computer manufacturers. Until now, Microsoft would sell MS-DOS and Microsoft's other operating systems to original equipment manufacturers (OEM's) at a 60% discount if that OEM agreed to pay a royalty to Microsoft for every single computer that they sold regardless if it had a Microsoft operating system installed on it or not. After the settlement, Microsoft would be forced to sell their operating systems according to the number of computers shipped with a Microsoft operating system installed, and not for computers that ran other operating systems. (Check 2)Another practice that the Justice Department accused Microsoft of was that Microsoft would specify a minimum number of operating systems that the retailer had to buy, eliminating any chance for another operating system vendor to get their system installed until the retailer had installed all of the Microsoft operating systems that it had installed. (Maldoom 2) In addition to specifying a minimum number of operating systems that a vendor had to buy, Microsoft also would sign contracts with the vendors for long periods of time such as two or three years. In order for a new operating system to gain popularity, it would have to do so quickly, in order to show potential buyers that it was worth something. With Microsoft signing long-term contracts, they eliminated the chance for a new operating system to gain the popularity needed, quickly. (Maldoom 2)...

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