The Microsoft Anti Trust Case: Presidential Candidate Recommendations

1636 words - 7 pages

The Microsoft Anti-Trust Case: Presidential Candidate Recommendations

The Microsoft Antitrust Case is essentially the clash of two separate ideals, the key issue being how much influence the government should have in the marketplace. According to the U.S. Justice Department, Microsoft is in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890, which states: “Every person who shall monopolize, or attempt to monopolize, or combine or conspire with any other person or persons, to monopolize any part of the trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations, shall be deemed guilty of a felony.” (“The Sherman Antitrust Act”) The Justice Department claims that Microsoft used its power to establish and maintain a monopoly over the computer software industry by intentionally harming its competitors. However, the issue of “fair” competition versus a company’s right to earn a profit comes into play. In Microsoft’s perspective, the government should not dictate what means a company uses to produce a profit. The company feels that they have become successful simply because their products are superior to the competition. The other side of this argument, fronted by consumer activists, feels that Microsoft has arisen as a new monopoly, eliminating the concepts of fair competition by using underhanded business tactics and ploys. The final court ruling of this case could alter the success of many businesses to come, as it is a difficult decision. Ultimately, the final ruling of the courts must be upheld, but it is of central importance to acknowledge the interests of voters on both sides.

To begin with, there are two main claims that Microsoft uses to support their business practices: 1) the right to freedom and property, and 2) the effectiveness of their business practices and quality of their products. Microsoft’s Windows operating system (OS) became a quick success since its creation, entering into the service of millions of consumers worldwide. Ever since Windows became the dominant OS, rival companies have faced the problem of designing software compatible with Windows in order to maintain their large customer population – failure to do so would be detrimental to their own company. Because Microsoft owns the code to its Windows software, defenders of the company argue that it has the right to distribute (or not to distribute) its code at its own leisure. According to Microsoft, the court order forcing them to sell their code is considered a breach of its rights to freedom and property. (“Frequently Asked Questions”) In addition, the RealNetworks case – which demanded that Microsoft unbundle its Windows Media Player from the Windows software (Krim) – can be considered a breach of the same rights. After all, Microsoft, as a seller, can dictate the terms that it wants to sell to its consumers, leaving it up to the consumers as to whether they want to buy the product or not. (“Frequently”) Therefore, court orders...

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