Originally Published: Tuesday, 16 November 1999 Author: Luke Groeninger
Published to: featured_articles/Featured Articles Page: 1/1 - [Printable]

Does the government help the industry?

Last week, Microsoft was officially declared a monopoly by a government-appointed judge. Many people view this as monumental, while others view this as idiotic. I personally don't know why everyone is making such a fuss. It's not like the computer industry has not had monopolies before....

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Last week, Microsoft was officially declared a monopoly by a government-appointed judge. Many people view this as monumental, while others view this as idiotic. I personally don't know why everyone is making such a fuss. It's not like the computer industry has not had monopolies before.

For example, Netscape was a monopoly before Microsoft came along and offered true competition. Before you point out that NCSA Mosaic was out and offered competition, I must ask when was the last time that you used Mosaic. And I mean really use it -- long enough to appreciate the user friendliness of Lynx. So how does this relate to the Microsoft trial? For the first time, Netscape had real competition. And not only that, but it was free and included with the operating system. They seemed to think that this is not fair. Can't beat bundling software with the operating system, even though they did almost the same thing by bundling it with popular software.

Another example comes in the form of Apple Computer. If one thing can be said about Apple, it is that it has an excellent marketing department. Can you name one other marketing department that can turn AltiVec into Velocity Engine? Anyways, they had the same problem. They came out with a product that was new and innovative, and in the process became a monopoly. Eventually some competition came along, but Apple, using marketing and by making deals with schools and educational facilities, managed to keep on top of the market. Including ClarisWorks with new Macintosh computers also helped them maintain a market dominance in the word processing department. Yet, in pure irony, Microsoft is being charged for bundling their software together.

If you have read this far and have not tried to flame me for pointing these things out, I congratulate you. The government never stepped in with Netscape, or with Apple, or with the endless other companies that have been "monopolies" in the computer industry. Why should they step in for Microsoft? One reason comes to mind: money.

After looking at the trial, I find it hard to believe that the government has the consumer's best interest in mind. If they had the best interest in mind, they would not have had a government-appointed judge doing the rulings. They would not have done many, many things that they have done so far.

But of all these bad things comes much good. Microsoft is more vulnerable now than it ever has. If they do split up as speculation suggests that they will, it will mean smaller companies to compete with. It seems that the future for Linux keeps looking better and better.

But if Linux does win because of this, I will take no joy in it. I would rather that we as the community won the fight because we are better, not because the government steps in.

Luke Groeninger is currently a full-time student, but in his free time administers several Linux servers for his school as well as provides technical help. He can be reached at dghost@linux.com with questions and comments, but please resist the urge to flame the living [censored] out of him.





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