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Readers find MS anticompetitive

Even if Microsoft has a lot to offer the PC marketplace, most respondents to the latest NEWS.COM poll feel the company is on the verge of eliminating competition.

    Even if it has a lot to offer the PC marketplace, Microsoft (MSFT) is on the verge of eliminating competition and undermining consumer choice, readers indicated in the latest NEWS.COM poll.

    The bundling of Microsoft's Internet Explorer into the software giant's Windows operating system is a Microscope on Microsoft move many readers hailed as one that adds a new degree of functionality and convenience to computing, and likely will revolutionize the future of OS development.

    Nevertheless, 61 percent of poll respondents questioned the move's impact on the free market and voted in support of the Justice Department's charges. They agreed with the DOJ that Microsoft's efforts to dominate the browser market by offering Explorer free to all Windows users could result in an unfair monopoly.

    "It has been a while since antitrust laws were used for the benefit of consumers Poll results and consumer choice. This may be one of the best examples of these laws being used for the good of technological advancement and consumer interests," wrote Mark D. Slosberg, president of Net Information Systems. "The issue is predatory pricing and eliminating choice, and the Justice Department is taking a strong and important stand. Make Microsoft's products compete in the marketplace!"

    Indeed, some respondents tossed around references to "Big Brother" when opining on Microsoft's attempt to extract itself from antitrust suspicion by claiming that Explorer is merely part of its OS and that Windows users are under no obligation to use it. Of the 39 percent who voted against the DOJ's action, many objected to Bill Gates's heavy-handed effort to make Explorer the default browser for PCs. Some argued that Explorer is but an inferior copy of Netscape's Navigator, the browser Microsoft seeks to supplant.

    However, some poll respondents felt that the DOJ chose the wrong battle for taking on Microsoft, arguing that incorporating a browser into an OS is an innovation that has been a long time coming. Many objected to what they see as government intrusion into efforts to set a new standard for the PC market.

    "Of all the things to beat up on Microsoft about, I can think of few that are more harmful to the end user than this one if it is codified into law," wrote Craig Cline, editorial director of Seybold Publications. "To tell any OS vendor that it can't build additional functionality into an OS--where Web browsing really belongs--runs the risk of...impeding the natural evolution of the browser into the desktop and vice-versa, which most folks view as a good thing." What took the Justice Department so long?
    "For Microsoft to use its power to crush the the hopes of expanding its grip on the PC market is a horror. It bothers me that the Justice Department has waited so long to actually charge it with anything. Death to monopoly. Let's see how Microsoft can handle some real competition."
    --Scott Naness

    "Ever since the early days of DOS, Microsoft has engaged in sneaky and unfair competitive practices. The DOJ was slow to pick up on the fact because of the nondisclosure agreements Microsoft forced on anyone in the industry who wanted to do business with them. At last, the DOJ is beginning to see the light. Microsoft has used the dominance of Windows, a dominance reached only by dint of their earlier unfair 'per-chip' licensing of Windows, to force the industry to accept its other products. Hopefully, this will change now...The fact that six separate states have started investigations, along with some countries in Europe, indicates that Microsoft may be coming to the end of its long dominance over the entire personal computer market."
    --Edmond Jane

    Give competition a chance
    "...It's about time that the Microsoft machine had a few bars thrown into the works. Maybe the rest of the computer world will have a chance at innovation with Gates and company preoccupied with a federal antitrust suit. I seldom cheer at others' misfortune, but I make a huge, happy exception in this case."
    --James Bell

    "My view is that a monopoly can only serve one interest: that of the company holding the monopoly. Ultimately, it is the purchaser of goods that loses out when there is no choice. Many people choose to purchase licenses for Microsoft products by default, rather than through informed, considered choice. For this reason, I hold hope that the Justice Department wins its case against Microsoft, [though] I cannot help but be skeptical about a company which has a history of using its position in the marketplace to deflect negative press coverage."
    --Stuart Lamble

    Let Microsoft be Microsoft
    "Microsoft does not try to make other browsers obsolete, nor do they imply that other browsers are incompatible with Windows. It is not Microsoft's job to lower its product to meet other companies' requirements but to make new and better ones for the companies to work with, which is clearly what they are doing with Internet Explorer...These lawsuits only came about when Microsoft released a truly unique and useful program (Internet Explorer 4.0) that is capable of beating all competition fair and square. I could see the point if there had been a controversy over Internet Explorer 3.0 when it was a standalone browser, but now that IE 4.0 has completely upgraded and been integrated into the OS there is no doubt in my mind as to what the verdict of the case should be: Microsoft wins, hands down."
    --Pete Schlotter

    "The Justice Department is keen on following one of America's favorite activities: tearing down those who do well...America loves tearing down the icons it creates. Speaking of that Internet icon on the desktop, with IE 4 getting rid of it is as simple as dragging it to the trash can. Microsoft's integrating the Web experience with the computer desktop is an obvious yet genius way of moving the operating system forward. The occasional computer user probably spends more time on the Net than in the OS, so extend the Net to the OS. It just makes sense. It's not unlawful. DOJ, get off Microsoft's back and enjoy the fruits of the best-run company of the late 20th century."
    --Arthur Etchells IV

    "The browser is becoming an integral part of the operating system. While certainly not every user of a Windows-based machine has a vested interest in the Web, a vast majority of Windows users are relying in Web sources for information and communication...As a result, it does make perfect sense to include a well-integrated, user-friendly Web-information and communication program as part of the operating system. Microsoft's integration of the Windows Explorer?accomplishes that with ease and convenience. If Microsoft is punished for, and deterred from, making these kinds of logical improvements to it operating systems, we, the consumers, are the ones who will suffer.
    --Michael E. Hopkins

    Get Microsoft where it hurts
    "The Justice department is right in charging Microsoft. The amount however is far to low! $10 million or $100 million a day would be fair. Microsoft needs to be taught a lesson to stop bullying other companies in an unfair manner. Competition is good but Microsoft's dirty warfare is not good at all."
    --Sierd Westerfield

    "When it comes to monopolistic behavior Microsoft has been pushing the envelope for what is legal for a long time. Ms. Reno is here to cancel their postage.

    "The million-dollar-a-day penalty is an insult: The DOJ usually imposes fines closer to the 8K- to 10K-a-day range. On the other hand, if Microsoft had to deal with this kind of fine for 1 year the total charge would be $365million, which is about the size of the charge it took this quarter for its WebTV acquisition--and it was a record breaking quarter. You can't hurt MS with fines, even if they are a hundred times the usual DOJ fodder."
    --Joseph R. Jones

    Keep the government out of my OS "As always, the government seeks to establish jurisdiction where it shouldn't have it.? We should take the long-term view here. Yes, monopolies harm us short-term, but they never last. Someone always pulls a technological end-run and yanks the rug from under the monopoly. Long-term, the monopoly's gone, but if we've allowed government meddling we're stuck with its tyranny. It's much easier to defeat a monopoly than to retrench government
    --Michael Stuart

    "Removing IE4 is extremely simple. Microsoft is doing everybody a HUGE favor by pushing desktop computing into a more productive age. The DOJ wants us to wait for the other companies to catch up and have them impose fees on us (consumers) for un-functional, outdated products. And that's the dark age that the DOJ wants us to live in.
    --Ahmad Baitalmal

    "The Department of Justice is incredibly dense to believe that the improvements Microsoft has included in it's Windows platform is an antitrust action. I believe that the DOJ, like the Clinton administration, is playing to its own interests and not that of the consuming public. My sense is that competitors are feeling the heat, and have bent the ears of an uninformed, ignorant, and pliable Department of Justice.
    --James E. Tawa

    Stop Microsoft before it monopolizes again
    "Just like AT&T in the '80s, Microsoft is providing the dial tone (the operating system to run 90 percent of PCs), and the long distance (applications such as Office and Explorer). It is leveraging its huge market share in OSs to create a larger and larger share of the applications market. Whether or not they give away those applications, this is still a monopolistic approach. If the DOJ doesn't do something about MS now, we'll all be paying for it for a long time.
    --David Simon

    "Microsoft's strategy is transparent and obviously anticompetitive. It will be interesting to see how it will work around the Justice Department's wording of the consent decree and this latest reprimand, and continue its steady stream of anticompetitive actions while at the same time claiming vocally that it is doing consumers a favor."
    --Dylan Tynan

    Let the free market decide
    "I believe that Microsoft is right in this particular case?. Microsoft is not making any money off of Internet Explorer. It is giving it away. Unfortunately, Netscape cannot do this. That is Netscape's problem, not Microsoft's. It would be almost like saying that people can't give away free food if they want to because that is competitive with supermarkets... If Netscape wants to compete then they should build a better browser. If PC makers wanted to, they could bundle Navigator. And what of AOL software on new computers? You cannot buy a new computer without AOL on it--isn't that competitive with local ISPs? I say let the consumer make the choices, not the DOJ.
    --Jason Mote

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