That's right, the company that many competitors and Apple Computer devotees "love to hate" and that is being scrutinized by the Justice Department for alleged anticompetitive practices is admired for its innovation, its products--and its billionaire chief executive, Bill Gates, the polls contend.
It wasn't a slam dunk, however: 41 percent said that Microsoft is a monopoly, and those polled via the Web (perhaps the more PC-savvy crowd) were more anti-Microsoft and sided with the DOJ.
Still, Fortune concluded the poll results show that Microsoft "does indeed have immense popular support...and many side more with Microsoft than with the Department of Justice in this judicial battle of the browsers."
The magazine said it commissioned two polls: A survey of 840 adults on the Net and a phone poll of 800 adults. The polls were conducted between January 5 and January 7. Seventy-three percent of those polled think Microsoft is "one of America's great businesses," 78 percent think their products are "high quality," and 56 percent have a favorable opinion of Gates.
But the company still has reason to worry. A minority--46 percent--said they like the company's integration of Internet Explorer and Windows. Many also think the software giant wields too much clout: 41 percent say Microsoft is a "monopoly," and 80 percent say enforcement of antitrust laws is "important."
Rival Netscape was critical of the poll.
"Microsoft's monopoly power is a very serious issue facing our entire society as we move into the digital age, and they are breaking the law by unfairly leveraging their monopoly power in the operating systems market," said Chris Holten, a spokeswoman for Netscape. "Fortune magazine should consider spending more time educating the public on what the important issues are in this case and less time conducting useless polls with questions about whether America loves Microsoft."