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Editorial Microsoft Businesses

Is Microsoft Still a Monopoly? 436

Posted by Roblimo
from the the-times-they-are-a-changing dept.
Microsoft Windows still dominates the desktop. But in many other areas, including Web servers and supercomputing, Microsoft is just one player among many, and often a weak player at that. On the gaming side, despite the latest xBox getting all kinds of media buzz as "the" console to buy, Sony's Playstation outsells the xBox at least two to one, and many analysts expect Sony to widen that gap even more when Playstation 3 comes out in the Spring of 2006. On the Internet, MSN and MSN Search are so far behind AOL and Google that it isn't funny. And even on the desktop, Linux keeps getting stronger, while Mac OS X is commonly accepted as more reliable, secure, and user-oriented than Windows. So why do we keep saying Microsoft is a monopoly?
Microsoft (Slowly) Moves Away from Monopolistic Behavior

If a major IT user tells a Microsoft salesperson that he or she is thinking about switching to Linux, Microsoft will usually come back with a cut-price offer, something the company never used to do. Microsoft also now sells something called Windows Starter Edition in some parts of the world -- supposedly for as low as $37 or $38 (US) in Thailand, including a basic version of Microsoft Office. In other words, Microsoft is starting to compete on price, which is not monopoly-style behavior.

This does not mean Microsoft has suddenly adopted a "let's all love one another" attitude.I believe Microsoft is getting more concerned about interoperability not out of goodness, but because of market pressure. But in the long run, as long as Microsoft stops treating every other operating system and file format as some sort of devilspawn, life is a little easier for those of us who would rather not use their products, and that's what really matters.

Microsoft Explorer No Longer Rules the Online World

A majority of desktop computer users may still run Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser, but it no longer has 95% market share. In a 2002 book, and again last year in an online article, I warned Web designers not to make IE-only sites, just as in the (distant) past I'd warned them not to make Netscape-only sites. Some listened. Some didn't.

Firefox adoption may have slowed in 2005, but it certainly hasn't stopped. Opera has become enough of a force that we hear rumors about first Google, then Microsoft, buying it. In any case, whether MSIE is currently running on 90% of all desktops or on only 70% (as a few surveys indicate), it is becoming less popular every month. Now Microsoft has decided that Explorer is no longer fit for Mac users, so its market share will drop even more. Sure, there's a new version of Explorer coming out, but it isn't going to help the millions of "legacy" Windows users who don't want to buy XP. If they want modern browser functionality, they must switch to Firefox, Opera or another non-Microsoft browser.

'The Network is the Computer'

I don't think this is quite true today, if by "the network" we're talking about applications delivered over the Internet instead of over well-maintained LANs. Back in October I explained why I don't think Internet-delivered applications are quite "there" yet. More recently, Salesforce.com had an outage that angered many of its (claimed) 350,000 subscribers. Worse, ZDNet blogger Phil Wainewright pointed out that Salesforce.com compounded the problem, and possibly made users leery of all Internet-delivered applications' claims of "99.9% reliability," by poor communication with its users.

Most of the Web 2.0 (and even Web 3.0) stuff that's getting so much hype these days is not OS-dependent. You can run things like Google Maps on Linux, Mac OS, Unix, and even Windows, using any standards-compliant browser you choose.

Even Microsoft is trying to get into the Web 2.0 game. I got a press release from their PR people that included this sentence:"And if you enjoy taking a drive to check out your neighborhood’s Christmas lights visit this great Windows Live Local developer application at http://msnsearch101.com/searchmap."

I found this online utility's behavior strange and primitive, not nearly up to the standards of Google Maps and some of the mashups based on it. "Ah," I thought, "that's probably because I'm trying to use it with Linux and Mozilla." So I turned to my one Windows (XP) computer and checked the site with both Firefox and Explorer. For some reason the map background didn't load at all in Firefox, on Windows, and its behavior in Explorer, on Windows, was just as clunky as it was in Mozilla, on Linux.

If this is supposed to be a sample of what Windows Live Local can do, I don't think Microsoft is headed for any kind of monopoly -- or even much market share -- in the online map business. Not only that, it makes me wonder how good their promised Microsoft® Office Live is going to be. If even a quarter of the rumors we've heard about Google and Sun joining up to produce a Webified version of OpenOffice.org are true, I suspect Microsoft is going to be a distant also-ran in the (inevitable) Internet-delivered office software business, too.

Hundreds of Thousands of Competitors

It's fun to play the "Google is cooler than Microsoft" game and talk about how Google, not Microsoft, has become the hot place for top-end programmers to work if they want to make their mark on the world, but even Google can only hire a tiny fraction of the world's software development talent. There are over 100,000 Open Source projects on SourceForge.net (which is owned by the same company that owns Slashdot), and SourceForge.net is but one of many Open Source and Free Software hosting services out there. There are literally millions of programmers working on Free and Open Source Software, plus countless others working on personal proprietary projects.

We've all heard -- probably too many times -- the old saw, "If you have enough monkeys banging randomly on typewriters, they will eventually type the works of William Shakespeare." This may or may not be true. But it is certain that if you put millions of programmers in front of millions of computers and let them do whatever they want, some of them will turn out brilliant, world-changing work. Even if 999 out of 1000 of our putative programmers work on established projects or never finish what they start, that still gives us thousands of potential world-changing software projects, most of which won't be developed by Google (or Microsoft) employees.

I've been to India, and the smartest programmers I met there weren't working for outsourcing mills but worked for themselves. I'm sure there are plenty of self-employed programmers in China, Brazil, Kenya, and almost everywhere else on this planet, too, and there are certainly plenty of them here in the United States. And, all over the world, millions of programmers have day jobs doing routine work for corporate employers to put food on the table, and do their "real work" at home, at night.

Neither you nor I nor Google's management nor Microsoft's management know what might be going on right now in the mind of a brilliant Saudi woman with a computer science degree who can't work outside her home because her country's laws keep her from mixing with men who aren't related to her. There may be a poorly-dressed young man coding furiously in a Beijing Internet cafe, while you read this article, whose new operating system will make all current ones obsolete -- and you may not learn about his work until it shows up in a Chinese-made $100 laptop computer.

When Bill Gates and his friends started Microsoft, it was one of very few companies that sold nothing but personal computer software, and the others were so small that Microsoft managed to buy most of its competitors -- or at least license their best work or hire away their best programmers. Back then, programmers were scarce and expensive, as were the computers they programmed on. Now there are both programmers and computers all over the world, linked together by the Internet. The Internet not only helps programmers collaborate with each other across geographic boundaries, but allows them to distribute their work without shipping physical products.

The only reason to have a software company's employees work in an office these days is control, both of employees' schedules and of what they work on. Self-motivated geniuses have no need of offices and may even resent being asked to show up at one on a regular schedule, which means that many of the world's best programmers will never work for Google, Microsoft or any other company. Instead, they'll start their own software companies or, in many cases, Open Source-based consultancies.

So Microsoft doesn't face a few dozen competitors, as it did in the 1980s, but hundreds of thousands. And these competitors are spread all over the world. This kind of competition is a lot harder to co-opt, buy out or fend off than competition from a single company, a la Netscape, or even from a group of companies as substantial as IBM, Sun, Oracle, and their computing industry peers.

Competition has Forced Microsoft to Improve its Products

Microsoft may no longer be able to hire all the top programmers it wants, but there is already plenty of talent among its 60,000-plus employees, and they have done some excellent work in recent years. Windows XP is immeasurably better and more stable than Windows ME or Windows 98. The next generation of Explorer will have many of the modern browser features that those of us who use Firefox or Opera have gotten accustomed to. Microsoft Office may not have some of the features OpenOffice.org users take for granted, like a built-in graphics utility, the ability to act as a front end for industrial-strength free databases like MySQL, and the ability to save your work in 30+ different Open and proprietary formats, including PDF. But Microsoft Office today is a lot better than it was 10 years ago, and the next version may even use a sort-of free XML file format that may not be as open and standardized as the OASIS Open Document Format used by OpenOffice.org, but is less closed and less proprietary than previous Microsoft file formats.

A true monopoly would not need to make these improvements in its products. It would give you whatever it wanted, at whatever price it wanted to charge. It would not be selling cut-down versions of its products at cut-rate prices in developing countries -- many of which, you may note, are rapidly turning into "software developing" countries.

Without Linux, combined with Apple's move to BSD-based Mac OS X, I doubt that Microsoft would have put much development effort into Windows. They sure didn't do much with Explorer between the time they crushed Netscape and the time when Firefox started making a big splash, did they?

The U.S. antitrust case against Microsoft wasn't about the company being a monopoly (which courts agreed that it was at the time), but about illegal misuse of that monopoly. That case was settled in a way that left Microsoft essentially unharmed, but with a judge overseeing its actions for five years, a time period that is going to end before long.

The Age of the Software Monopoly is Over

IBM tried to create a monopoly in the business desktop computer business, but failed to hold onto its market-leading position as dozens, then hundreds, and later thousands of competitors made better/faster/cheaper PCs. Even today, while Dell is the world's largest personal computer vendor, if you add up all the market share reports from major computer vendors in this C|Net article, you'll see that they account for around 60% -- not 100% -- of total sales, with smaller companies getting the rest. (And some of those companies are *really* small, like the one-man Bradenton, Florida, shop where my sailing buddy Gene just bought his latest home computer.)

The personal computer hardware business has become totally demonopolized, decentralized, democratized, and internationalized. If you have enough mechanical ability to assemble components neatly (and enough sales ability to get people to buy what you make), you can get into it yourself with a very small investment, just as Michael Dell started out reselling computer components and assembling systems in his college dorm room.

Starting a software business takes even less investment. If you're a competent programmer -- or you have a friend who is a competent programmer and you are a whiz-bang marketing person -- you have everything you need to get going. You can either produce and sell proprietary software or customize (and probably install and maintain) Free or Open Source Software for corporate clients. If the Internet is your primary sales and distribution channel, you don't need to live and work in expensive IT business hotbeds like Silicon Valley or Boston, either: JBoss, for example, is based in Atlanta, Georgia; and Digium, the company behind Asterisk, is in Huntsville, Alabama.

There are software businesses springing up all over the place. Most of them are tiny, and few of them will ever get big enough that analyst firms like Gartner or IDC will track their market share (or even notice them). But there are so many of them being started that, in aggregate, they are becoming a more significant market force than any single big software company, even Microsoft.

This doesn't mean Microsoft will be replaced next year by 100,000 startups. The company will still be around, it will still get lots of press, and -- assuming it embraces (but does not keep trying to extend and extinguish) Open Standards -- it will still be a powerful force in the software world.

But no matter what Microsoft does, it will never have a software monopoly again. Nor will any other company. The barriers to entry in the software business have become too low for that to happen, and too many skilled software developers are learning that they can earn at least as much working for themselves as they would by working for big software companies.

Small is Beautiful was a fine book title in 1973. Today, it's a fine description of the software industry's future.

-----

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Is Microsoft Still a Monopoly?

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  • by gee_unix (941232) * on Monday December 26, 2005 @12:51PM (#14340102) Homepage
    Microsoft was declared a monopoly [cnn.com] by a court in 1999, but I'm not sure if they ever fit the dictionary definition of monopoly [reference.com] as the submitter seems to now be holding them to:

    Exclusive control by one group of the means of producing or selling a commodity or service

    Did Microsoft ever have exclusive control of the desktop? Sure, they had a vast majority, but exclusive control? To my knowledge, nothing ever stopped anyone from buying a Mac or running IBM's OS/2 or Linux or any other number of alternatives. I think we can all agree that Microsoft engaged in cut-throat tactics and was legally declared a monopolist but I don't think they exactly fit the dictionary definition.
    • by Ucklak (755284) on Monday December 26, 2005 @01:00PM (#14340152)
      Name a tier 1 Computer assembler/maker that doesn't pay a microsoft tax.

      Last I heard, you still can't get a Dell desktop without windows and NOT pay the microsoft tax that is built into the price.

      In addition to that, what software company (Like Great Plains, People Soft, SAS) is going to distribute programming resources writing for other OS's that didn't have the 'exclusive' manufacturer tax.
      • by kb (43460) on Monday December 26, 2005 @01:27PM (#14340307) Homepage Journal
        Name a tier 1 Computer assembler/maker that doesn't pay a microsoft tax.

        Apple? ;)
      • by YrWrstNtmr (564987) on Monday December 26, 2005 @01:28PM (#14340312)
        Last I heard, you still can't get a Dell desktop without windows and NOT pay the microsoft tax that is built into the price.

        Sure you can.

        In addition to that, what software company (Like Great Plains, People Soft, SAS)

        Well...MS now owns [microsoft.com] Great Plains.
        SAS? Install Center: SAS for Linux®. [sas.com]
        PeopleSoft? Owned [oracle.com] by Oracle, who does support Linux.

        • Sure, you can buy a Dell PC with FreeDOS instead of Windows, but good luck actually finding the web page to order it. If you get as far as ordering it, you might find that it costs more than a regular Dimension with preinstalled Windows because of frequent discounts on regular Dimensions, while the FreeDOS Dimension are a forgotten product that's left to languish with no promotional support.

          The Microsoft Tax actually refers to two different things; one is about the impossibility of buying a computer without
      • Name a tier 1 Computer assembler/maker that doesn't pay a microsoft tax.

        Apple. It's silly to argue that Apple isn't one just because they aren't x86. A computer is a computer regardless of the parts, and plenty of people buy Apple computers. Of course as most of us know even the x86 argument - invalid as it is - goes out the window once Apple starts selling x86 computers.

        The operating system is not a tax. If Dell ships all of their machines with Maxtor hard drives, you are not paying a "Maxtor tax", you're
        • by Liam Slider (908600) on Monday December 26, 2005 @01:53PM (#14340456)
          Windows is a critical part of a computer.
          No, an OS is. A specific one isn't.
        • by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Monday December 26, 2005 @02:45PM (#14340741) Homepage Journal
          Windows is a critical part of a computer. If you don't want that part, go build your own computer. I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you aren't astroturfing or trolling ... The operating system is a critical part of a computer and it doesn't have to be Windows. Your Maxtor analogy isn't quite correct. An HDD is an HDD -- it performs the same function regardless of maker. Some are faster, some are slower, some are SCSI, some are IDE, but most HDD manufacturers make all types. Operating systems, OTOH, are very different. While the choice of HDD isn't likely to limit your choices much as to what sort of applications you can use on your computer, the choice of operating systems is. Unless you're insane, you probably don't want to run an Internet Web server on Windows -- just as if your primary application is a gaming box, choosing Linux or MacOS X is likely to limit your choices as to what sort of games you can run. Just as Dell and other manufacturers offer a variety of choices of monitors, HDD types and sizes, keyboards, mice, and processors -- all critical parts of the computer -- they should offer a choice of operating systems and application suites. But they don't. And the fact that they don't means there is a monopoly, at least on the Desktop. Roblimo's observations are evidence of Microsoft's monopoly coming to an end, but it hasn't yet. Not by a long shot. And that's why people refer to it as an 'operating system' tax.
        • by BasilBrush (643681) on Monday December 26, 2005 @04:42PM (#14341277)
          The reason it's called a tax is that the tier 1 manufacturers deal with Microsoft is to pay for every machine they produce, whether or not it actually ships with Windows. Thus, if you can actually find any PCs pre-loaded with Linux from Dell etc. they are no cheaper than the same machine with Windows. But they would be if Microsoft wasn't leveraging their monopoly status.
    • by danielk1982 (868580) on Monday December 26, 2005 @01:02PM (#14340162)
      And even if Microsoft was a monopoly in 1999. Is it still in 2006? It is so easy to move away from Windows right now. About the only reason for staying is gaming which matters to some but has no impact on others (me for example). In the last few years, Linux has made strides in usability. Pretty much every major distribution is easy to install and comes with 90% of the functionality most people need out of a computer (Internet, Email, Word Processing).
    • To my knowledge, nothing ever stopped anyone from buying a Mac or running IBM's OS/2 or Linux or any other number of alternatives.

      Other than that there are hardly any apps for it? The findings of fact in United States v. Microsoft based its case largely on an "applications barrier to entry".

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 26, 2005 @02:06PM (#14340542)
        Other than that there are hardly any apps for it? The findings of fact in United States v. Microsoft based its case largely on an "applications barrier to entry".

        Pretty poor case then.

        IBM: Charged over $300 for the basic SDK (at a time when MS was giving it to anyone that looked like a developer), and basically treated 3rd party OS/2 development as a special privilege that developers should be grateful for.

        Apple: Open with the tools, but quick to pull the rug out from under peoples feet. Apple has a long and continuing history of screwing over all 3rd party support for Mac (any 3rd party [with the exception of the 800lbs gorillas, Microsoft and Adobe] that rises to the rank of minor idol in the cult of Mac is quickly struck down; thou shall have no god but Apple) - hardware developers, software developers, even the dealers (who currently have a class action suit against Apple for multiple ugly tactics used against it's own certified Mac dealers)

        Linux: An open and free desktop standard to develop on, all 583 of them. Even today Linux still needs a common, practical windowing API to really get developers and take the desktop. Back in 1999 it was far worse.

        Applications barrier to entry? Microsoft can't help it if all it's competition is either incompentent, power mad or disorganized.
        • selling your development tools at a loss is something Microsoft could afford to do given their grip on the OS market. Just like they have been able to lose over $8billion keeping WindowsCE afloat. That goes for the billions lost on the Xbox over the last 3-4 years. I wont even go into how Microsoft pilfered Borlands top developers, threatened Watcom if they shipped another foundation class along with MFC, etc, etc, etc, etc.

          That doesnt sound like poor work on Microsofts competitors side to me. You know Borl
          • selling your development tools at a loss is something Microsoft could afford to do given their grip on the OS market.

            Intersting take on that. I would suggest the opposite is true... that would be that Microsoft has such a grip on the OS market precisely because it sells its development tools at a loss. Seriously, have you ever developed software for the windows environment? I don't know if they could make it any easier. And that ease translates into software...lots of it.

            Let me give you an example

        • *Microsoft* (not IBM) charged over US$1000 for the OS/2 1.x SDK back before the IBM/MS split, and they ended up screwing over a large number of potential OS/2 developers by announcing and then never releasing the last version. IBM's independent OS/2 efforts had to overcome the bad taste MS left in the mouths of developers, which made an otherwise difficult selling job even harder.

          Microsoft also withheld developer resources and key Windows programming information from companies that were doing cross-platfor
    • by Flying pig (925874) on Monday December 26, 2005 @01:09PM (#14340210)
      A real-world monopolist does not have or need 100% of the market. He needs enough market share to be able to distort the free market in a way that adversely affects competitors. The reason, of course, is that society is not homogeneous and so a high market share plus other technological factors creates local monopolies in one market or section of a market. Even I know this, and I'm not an economist. But then, dictionary editors seem to be even less aware or knowledgeable.

      Microsoft is a de facto monopolist in certain markets, including the consumer desktop and many corporates. The monopoly has been handed them on a plate and they have, of course, taken it. In 1988 when I bought my first Mac, there was a bewildering array of word processors. Now there is only one, and Open Office has to copy or die. The browser share of IE is effectively 100% among non-technical users - a de facto monopoly. The market share of Windows among non-technical/specialist consumers is as near 100% as makes no odds.

      At the root of this is the simple fact that computers are too difficult for Joe Public and are likely always to be so. Enough people kind of understand how Windows and its apps works that Joe Public can kind of keep things working most of the time. There is simply not the expertise out there to support multiple platforms all with significant market shares. And so long as Microsoft can keep technically competent people busy with release updates, virus checking, feature bloat resulting in user support calls for things they do not really need to do at all...it will continue.

      So the answer to your post is that yes, lots of things - lack of knowledge, fear of the unknown, lack of support, existential doubt - stopped many people from buying alternatives and those things are not going away any time soon.

    • You emphasise "exclusive", but leave out "control"... I think the point isn't that they were the only IT company, but the only one who could control things -- if linux or mac go and do anything stupid, people leave them; if windows does something stupid the businesses have to stick with it as it's the only thing that works alongside their other systems.
    • A monopoly is not defined legally as being exclusive. It's a vast preponderance of the market share. More than 80% or 90% or something like that. In this respect, Microsoft is still a monopoly in several different markets.

      Being a monopoly is not wrong. Abusing your monopoly position to shut competitors out of a market (even one in which you don't have a monopoly) is. Microsoft was convicted on several counts of this, and then for some strange reason was let off with a light slap on the wrist, despite having previously agreed to a consent decree regarding some of those behaviors.

    • by SeventyBang (858415) on Monday December 26, 2005 @01:25PM (#14340296)


      I think think to a certain extent, they still are, but fill feel the warm breath.

      Microsoft owned the deskstop and has [undeniably] and it's now the 3rd most (and most profitable) element in their portfolio.

      Microsoft's long-term strategy, however, is going to be their downfall.

      Microsoft has grown from the desktops and are attempting to achieve the next level (www|Internet). Their long-term plan(s) seem to be rather nebulous. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Balmer et al make references to Google in oe way and one way only: as a search engine That's all they want the rest of the world
      If you look at something like Google, they didn't grow up, they started online and are growing|spreading about it. It's like an oil slick. They're spreading wider and widers, and helping to organize information. Not just my information, your information, or the information of someone else. They just want to accumulate information and let you figure out how it's best for you to make the best use of it. In the meantime, Microsoft is feeling someone's breath on their necks but are afraid to turn & look because that's when your forward sensors aren't available and you hit a tree.

      There's one thing Microsoft is afraid of: not being #1 - no longer the trail setter, but the trend follower.

      And one of my favoriate quotes:

      "Success is a lousy teacher. It makes smart people think they can't lose." William Henry Gates 3rd

      p.s.

      A better question about money is what Ballmer does with his life. We know what Gates & Allen have done, and their actions are news worthy, but what about the guy who looks ready to pop a vein when the cameras are on him?
    • Microsoft was declared a monopoly by a court in 1999, but I'm not sure if they ever fit the dictionary definition of monopoly as the submitter seems to now be holding them to:

      You cite a court case, but then you argue against the ruling using a dictionary of common usage.

      Does anyone else see the irony in this?

      Thing is, there is a difference between the common usage of the term 'monopoly' and the legal definition of the term monopoloy. The following is the definition [law.com]from the law.com [law.com] legal dictionary.

    • In the operating system arena, if you have a near monopoly, you may as well have a monopoly. Most people don't have any choice about which operating system they buy because the software they *need* only works on one. And the people that program for other operating systems (professionally anyway) typically do it dual-platform so that they can *also* support windows. Heck, even Apache does that.

      When consumers don't have any choice but to buy something, then you effectively have a monopoly. And if you use that
    • Well.... Even by the dictionary definition, Microsoft has a monopoly over Windows-compatible operating systems. The problem becomes generalizing to a greater market.

      Lets say, for example, that we still had Mobile Oil. Lets say that a few people sold, say, biodiesel through alternative channels. Does this make Mobile less of a monopoly from the standpoint of the economic control that they have?

      IANAL, but I think that a monopoly is defined legally in the US as a company that can effectively set the prices
  • How about... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by seanvaandering (604658) <sean.vaandering@gma i l . c om> on Monday December 26, 2005 @12:55PM (#14340116)
    How about getting rid of the Microsoft Tax on new computers as well? They may not be a monopoly anymore but why should I pay more for a computer that I don't want Windows installed on?
    • Re:How about... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by mister_llah (891540)
      "Microsoft Tax" ...?

      Try buying from a mom and pop store where the OS isn't required... or online... it's not like you don't have a WIDE variety of choices without paying what you call a "tax".
      • Re:How about... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by seanvaandering (604658) <sean.vaandering@gma i l . c om> on Monday December 26, 2005 @01:04PM (#14340178)
        Your telling me that said "mom and pop" store can get me volume pricing like Dell can? My point is why can't I just get a stripped down computer from Dell for a little cheaper, instead of having to go to a Mom and Pop store and pay more for the parts and labour? I don't think they would be willing to offer me $500 bucks for a full system with no O/S installed. Is there no easy solution to this problem that Microsoft has created?
        • Why the hell would you want volume licensing if you are looking for open source software, seriously?

          You have MANY, MANY options that don't involve paying for an OS (or any software)...

          Now, to respond to this:
          "Is there no easy solution to this problem that Microsoft has created?"

          There is a VERY easy solution. Don't buy from people who make you buy Microsoft products. It's not a problem, you have had this option all the time. In fact, it is CHEAPER.

          ===

          Want to avoid paying labor? Build the PC yourself. It's re
          • How about volume hardware discounts? The only kind of volume pricing isn't licensing, and I do not believe the original poster was so stupid as to be referring to licensing.

            And your proposed solution to labor costs is going to go over really well with grandma, let me tell you. And yes, grandma can use Linux. Mine does. I bought her (at a more expensive price than a even a Dell box with Windows) a no-OS machine built by one of these mom-and-pop places.

            <sarcasm>BTW, way to go with your wonderful w

          • by yog (19073) * on Monday December 26, 2005 @01:32PM (#14340331) Homepage Journal
            He asked for volume product availability that a company like Dell can provide but mom and pop stores and DIY solutions can't begin to address.

            Your answer is typical of solo techies who post on Slashdot, college students or working programmers or technosavvy others who extrapolate their personal, home computing experience to the entire world.

            Someone who needs to get 50, or 500, or 5000 standardized desktops and be able to image the hard disks as they require is going to have to negotiate a sales deal with a reasonably large and stable company like Dell. It's not reasonable to expect them to try to save $50/machine on the Windows "tax" by going to the corner computer store or even a slightly larger local systems integrator who may or may not be around in a couple of years when the desktops need servicing or replacement.

            It's also not reasonable to expect non-technical end users out there in the mass consumer market to go to the corner store, have a machine put together to their specifications, and then run the Fedora or Ubuntu setup DVD. That's simply not going to happen, much less ask them to "buy the parts, screw them together", etc.

            In reality, Microsoft has a lock on both the mass market and the business market, leaving only the fringe technosavvy customers and Mac lovers to use the alternatives. MS is using their power as any other business would, locking the manufacturers into a Windows-only offering that ignorant customers go along with.

            But just wait. As Linux continues to improve, it will become a bargaining chip for manufacturers to force down the Windows tax if not eliminate it entirely. It's not quite yet time for Dell and Gateway and HP to tell Microsoft they're switching to 50% Linux, but that day may not be far in the future.
          • There is a VERY easy solution. Don't buy from people who make you buy Microsoft products. It's not a problem, you have had this option all the time. In fact, it is CHEAPER.

            For you and I it isn't much of a problem to find such a vendor, what about when you need to buy for an enterprise? What if you need several thousand computers in differens states or countries and you need reliable hardware support?

            What choices do you have? To buy from several small mfgs? To pay higher prices because you're not doing the v
        • Your telling me that said "mom and pop" store can get me volume pricing like Dell can? My point is why can't I just get a stripped down computer from Dell for a little cheaper, instead of having to go to a Mom and Pop store and pay more for the parts and labour? I don't think they would be willing to offer me $500 bucks for a full system with no O/S installed. Is there no easy solution to this problem that Microsoft has created?

          Microsoft has not created the problem, *consumers* have created the problem.
        • I don't really see the "microsoft tax" as a microsoft issue. NO ONE is forced to pay MS for a computer without MS installed. It just so happens that most tier 1 companies have decided probaby at least 90% of thier customers will want MS installed. With this in mind, minimizing the price per unit of MS is very important to thier bottom line. Now these builders "could" just get basic volume pricing. However in such a competitive markets as PC builders with such low profit per unit today, they do everythi
        • What relevance is the volume discount? If the Dell computer is cheaper than mom and pop or alternative methods, then fuck the MS tax, you're still saving money. If it's not cheaper, then buy mom and pop and who cares about discounts, you're still saving money.
    • Simple. Don't buy a computer with Windows on it. Monarch will sell you a Linux box. Lots of places will sell you the parts to build a box yourself.
      If you want Dell, Gateway, or HP to offer you a system with a different OS then you need to vote buy not buying from them.
      The sad truth is even people that use Linux often have a Linux partition on the system. Very few games are available for windows.
      • You don't seem to understand this....they are still getting charged a Windows license for that machine, whether they sell it with Windows installed on it or not. They pass that cost on to you. So even if you by a machine with nothing installed, or with Linux installed, you're still paying money into the pockets of Microsoft. That is the "Microsoft Tax."
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 26, 2005 @12:56PM (#14340127)
    Microsoft is first and foremost a PC company, and in that area, where Windows still has 90% marketshare and Microsoft dictates which technologies will make it, Microsoft is still a monopoly. Just because they don't have the same kind of influence in other markets doesn't mean that times are changing...it just means Microsoft hasn't had the time to create monopolies there yet.
    • Microsoft is first and foremost a PC company

      Microsoft is not a PC company, it's a software company. Just like Apple is not a hardware company, it's a software company. No wait, Apple is a hardware company. Errr....
  • by sexyrexy (793497) on Monday December 26, 2005 @12:56PM (#14340128)
    I believe Microsoft is getting more concerned about interoperability not out of goodness, but because of market pressure.
     
    If you believe any company is concerned about interoperability because their hearts are filled with goodness, I've got a great business venture for you to invest in... click my PayPal link to get started.
  • by stonebeat.org (562495) on Monday December 26, 2005 @12:57PM (#14340131) Homepage
    Monopoly is NOT about market share. If a product has a large market share it doesn't mean it is monopolizing the market. Monopolizing refers to the manner of conducting business which hurts other competitors.
    • by jackb_guppy (204733) on Monday December 26, 2005 @01:03PM (#14340171)
      Where is the price war over the cost of their OS. Every one sells them at the same prices. And that price keeps getting higher.

      Where is ALT OS for sale preinstalled that do NOT cost more then MS. Even if the OS is Linux that can be gotten for free?

      Where is the price war over the cost of Office products. Again with free versions out there has been no cost improviments.

      To me, MS is MONOPLOY, with the price fixing that a monoploy can bring to the market.
      • Microsoft has long had a price tier structure for productivity software. They offer Works, Word, Office Standard, Office Professional, etc. Computer manufacturers offer several different choices for productivity software. Dell defaults to Word Perfect and the customer choses if they want to pay more to get Works or Office.

        (As the article mentions) Microsoft has also started selling Windows Starter Edition in developing countries. Just because other OSes aren't undercutting Microsoft and may understa [joelonsoftware.com]

    • Umm, no. Not really.

      From Dictionary.com [reference.com]:
      Exclusive control by one group of the means of producing or selling a commodity or service


      It is true that having a monopoly is not illegal; it is the abuse of that monopoly which is illegal. But a monopoly is the fact of exclusive control, not the abuse of that control.
    • Monopolizing refers to the manner of conducting business which hurts other competitors.

      Not exactly. It refers to hurting competition, not competitors. Hurting competitors is what every business does when they sell their product instead of someone else's. Hurting competition is what Microsoft does, and it damages the marketplace.

    • Monopoly is NOT about market share. If a product has a large market share it doesn't mean it is monopolizing the market. Monopolizing refers to the manner of conducting business which hurts other competitors.

      A nice mixture of truth and nonsense.

      Monopoly isn't purely about market share -- it's about control of the market, which the courts often tie to market share. In theory, the exact percentage of market share isn't the real point though.

      Monopolizing does not (necessarily) have a thing in the wor

  • by cyberformer (257332) on Monday December 26, 2005 @12:58PM (#14340137)
    The first sentence of the question says it all: Microsoft dominates the desktop. It has a monopoly of the PC OS and the Office suite. Those are very significant, costing users hundreds of dollars per machine and accounting for more than 100% of MS's profits. (More, because MS takes what it hopes will be a temporary loss on just about everything else.)

    MS has moved into other areas like gaming, but that doesn't end its existing monopolies. And (not a coincidence), MS's products in those new areas are actually quite good, because it has to compete.

    The one area of progres is the Web browser. Firefox (and Safari, and now Opera) really has eaten into IE's dominance, and that's good for everyone (including IE users, as it's forcing MS to start work on the browser again).
  • by Dachannien (617929) on Monday December 26, 2005 @01:00PM (#14340153)
    But in many other areas, including Web servers and supercomputing, Microsoft is just one player among many, and often a weak player at that.

    Or areas like donuts, fire hydrants, day care, and garbage trucks.

  • Just Try (Score:5, Insightful)

    by christurkel (520220) on Monday December 26, 2005 @01:02PM (#14340163) Homepage Journal
    To get a non MS operating system from any major computer vendor and see a monopoly in action.
    • To get a non MS operating system from any major computer vendor and see a monopoly in action.

      For a home user, that can be problematic, but that could be as much a result of vendors who want their bloatware installed as Microsoft throwing their weight around. Apparently supposedly, PCs from major vendors have dropped in price due in part to companies paying to have their software preinstalled.

      The "No OS" option is now the default for Dell Servers and this change is relatively recent. I remember not to

    • I heard these guys have been selling computers with an alternative operating system for quite some time: Apple [apple.com].
  • by Daneurysm (732825) on Monday December 26, 2005 @01:05PM (#14340180)
    While Microsoft isn't quite as untouchable as they used to be, especially with the given examples, I still consider them a monopoly.

    Monopoly on what? Home desktops? Certainly. Company desktops? Yes again, but losing their grip slowly. Servers? Not so much, and losing their grip quickly. Video game consoles? Not at all. Supercomputing? Nowhere close.

    As a whole they may seem to paint Microsoft as becoming more diverse and, inevitably not in monopoly-position in all its new markets.

    But, was it ever Microsoft having monopoly status in the first place that was the problem? No.

    Has Microsoft ever successfully Monopolized any market besides its desktop market? No.

    .... this monopoly status that is used to label microsoft at every turn has been pointless.

    Microsoft being a monopoly isn't even the bad thing.

    So what's the evil? It's Microsoft leveraging it's monopoly status, repeatedly. Almost exclusively in the desktop realm. It was tried on the server-side with major initial success, but, that momentum started waning immediately.

    Sorry, but so far as I am concerned...Microsoft is still a monopoly. A monopoly that has to try new things (staying competetive, attempting to innovate, etc) to maintain their monopoly status. That may be the signs of a monopoly slipping out of their grip, but it is still a monopoly.

    ...not to mention the fact that I could care less about a monopoly on the back-end, and I dare them to monopolize the video game console market...that's laughable at best..

    ...But the ~90% (number pulled out of ass) of all desktop computers (especially home desktops) running Windows (as if there was any other way to run a computer, ask Joe Sixpack) certainly, to me, constitutes a monopoly.

    ...it's just the leveraging of that monopoly that burns me up.

    ~Dan
  • by Gerald (9696) on Monday December 26, 2005 @01:05PM (#14340184) Homepage
    It's damn hard to run a 50-person business without Microsoft software. It's next to impossible to do so when you scale up to 100, 1000, or 10,000 people. This alone makes them a de facto monopoly as far as I'm concerned.
  • Of course (Score:2, Interesting)

    by NixLuver (693391)
    Microsoft never had an 'absolute monopoly' on 'computers'; I mean, mainframes, servers, and workstations were MS free for a long time. OTOH, the legal view of antitrust has to do with activities designed to create a barrier of entry and manipulation of the marketplace via control of a key market share; ie, I could be in violation of antitrust laws if I own a steel company and the only railroad into a given area, and refuse to transport steel for other companies. The legal antitrust laws have never been poin
  • by Foofoobar (318279) on Monday December 26, 2005 @01:06PM (#14340188)
    Maybe because by the time the justice department did anything about it, it was too little, too late.

    Maybe people still call them a monopoly to make Microsoft aware that they have alot of work to do yet in order to work with the industry instead of against it.

    Maybe because people know that if left unchecked and unwatched, they would lobby against open standards and fair use.

    Maybe because people still think of them as evil and Microsoft does little but to reinforce this belief.

  • I skimmed your text and youve missed out an important point. Microsoft runs on more computers than everything else combined. Thats called having monopoly of the market share.

    Think of the Windows starter edition. Most OS makers wont deliberately cripple their OS to this extent... Lindows, BeOS etc sold their OS for cheap too but never crippled it since they didnt have a chance their customers would later fork out $150 for the full version. Now THESE guys were competing.

    OSX is considered secure and stable. I'
  • .NET is the only proof required to show that Microsoft is still acting as a monopoly. They tell all Windows developers that they must now use .NET for all development (whether or not that's true, that's what they tell developers). And they tell people that the way to go about doing .NET development is to buy Visual Studio, usually at the cost of a few hundred dollars. Selling a platform and then selling the only means to develop on that platform is monopolistic. If it weren't thinking it's a monopoly Mi
    • .NET is also a very good product. You fail to address the fact that a LOT of programmers do love .NET. It is a beautiful framework that seamlessly binds a number of languages together. Furthermore, Microsoft has been more standards compliant than ever before, also as addressed by .NET (scoping in C# for example). Telling developers they must use .NET is similar to any other company saying their product is the best. It's called marketing.

      Only a platform which believes it has a stranglehold on develop
  • competing on price? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by lawpoop (604919) on Monday December 26, 2005 @01:11PM (#14340223) Homepage Journal
    "Microsoft also now sells something called Windows Starter Edition in some parts of the world -- supposedly for as low as $37 or $38 (US) in Thailand, including a basic version of Microsoft Office. In other words, Microsoft is starting to compete on price "

    Competing with whom?

    They are not competing with any market competitor. They are competing with the low income of less wealthy parts of the world, compared to their relatively wealthy home base of the United States.
  • You must be new here.
  • and learn what Monopoly means.

    They don't have to dominate every field to be a monopoly in an area. AT&T was broken up for being a monopoly. By the submitter's logic, AT&T was never a monopoly because is was possible to do your banking with other companies...and buy a car that wasn't made by AT&T.
  • It's been a while since I read an apologia for Microsoft and the assertion that it is not a monopoly. Despite the author's claims, Microsoft still engages in monopolistic practices- including one that is erroneously described as a non-monopolistic practice, which is undercutting the competition whenever possible. The original article uses a too-narrow definition of "monopoly" and then mischaracterizes classic monopolistic practices as non-monopolistic practices. The only reason to do this is to distort r
  • The day (Score:3, Insightful)

    by markdavis (642305) on Monday December 26, 2005 @01:16PM (#14340248)
    OK, I will declare Microsoft "not a monopoly", in my opinion, the day that I can:

    1) Walk in to any major retail chain and purchase an X86 computer
    2) Without MS-Windows
    3) At a significantly lower price than the same/similar model without MS-Windows

    It doesn't really matter what the most "proper" definition of a monopoly is, Microsoft fits it, regardless. How would you feel if you went to buy a car and found that every car on every lot had a Sony casette radio in it? Not only did you have no other choices, you are charged the same or MORE if you try to get a car without a Sony casette radio! Sure, you could rip it out and install something else, but Sony gets your money no matter what... money that you could have used on something else. And the whole radio market suffers because of being stomped on by Sony.
  • There are over 100,000 Open Source projects on SourceForge.net

    This is boasting about how many free hosting accounts you have. There aren't anywhere near that many real projects. Most of those 100,000 "projects" are empty, or junk. Even many of those listed as "production-stable" have no content whatsoever behind them. Among the real projects, there are lots like this:

    • 6393. source code line counter - The line counter takes files and directories from the command line, and counts the total number of
  • In this post the author said, "Microsoft will usually come back with a cut-price offer, something the company never used to do".

    In some form that is true. Originally Microsoft gave away the OS with the computer just so they could get their foot in the door. They got people so locked into it that they knew if they had a unique interface then people couldn't leave.

    When people start to get a handle on a small application [winzip.com], Microsoft builds that functionality into the operating system. When someone tries
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 26, 2005 @01:24PM (#14340288)

    Let's list some of them.

    • Confusing "monopoly behaviour" with "anti-trust behaviour".
    • Thinking that "monopoly" is a property of a company, not the relationship of a company to a market (so WTFUCK does supercomputing have to do with Microsoft's monopoly of desktop OSes?)
    • Thinking that $37 is competitive with $0.
    • Thinking that region-specific pricing is competitive.
    • Not checking to see if the rumours of $37 prices are true (WTFUCK is up with "supposedly"?
    • Confusing "Microsoft Explorer" with "Microsoft Internet Explorer". Totally different as far as end-users are concerned.
    • Assuming that falling market share of Internet Explorer means less popular - that depends on the growth of the market.
    • Assuming that discontinuing Mac Internet Explorer means that people must switch away from Microsoft web browsers - ever hear of MSN for Mac? It even implements some CSS 3.
    • Some random complaint about a broken website being generalised to the point of declaring that Microsoft won't have a monopoly - as if a single data point is of any value whatsoever!
    • Thinking that "hundreds of thousands of competitors" as any relevance to whether or not Microsoft has a monopoly on DESKTOP OSes - they don't have hundreds of thousands of competitors in that market, which is the one they've been ruled to have a monopoly in.
    • Completely out of place reference to India, Saudi Arabia, etc. Microsoft can't predict what will happen in the mind of a random USA programmer any more than Saudi programmers.
    • Thinking that the threat from competitors can be scaled up from the 80s - Microsoft also has a lot more control over the market and a lot more money since then.
    • Saying that Microsoft can't hire anybody they want, as if this was ever true.
    • We don't give a shit about your sailing buddies.

    This article reads as if somebody drafted it while drunk and didn't bother reading through it afterwards or refine it in any way. I feel sad that people are getting paid for this drivel. Slashdot, it's good that you are attempting to be more than the linkathon you've been in recent years, what with Zonks articles and this, but that doesn't mean you can publish any old drivel and expect people to lap it up. Some thought has to go into it.

  • "And even on the desktop, Linux keeps getting stronger, while Mac OS X is commonly accepted as more reliable, secure, and user-oriented than Windows. So why do we keep saying Microsoft is a monopoly?"

    I'm very old and when you pull my leg that hard, there's a good chance you'll dislocate my hip.

    You had me there for a second though...

  • by zymano (581466) on Monday December 26, 2005 @01:24PM (#14340293)
    The gov's only answer to monopolies is to break them apart. Which might have worked.

    The answer was to 'force' OEM's to accept a couple of other OSs' installed their computers. Maybe an easy to use Linux and a BSD distr. And also 'force' software makers to make their programs compatible with the other OSs'.
  • by RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) <taiki AT cox DOT net> on Monday December 26, 2005 @01:27PM (#14340304)
    Then YES. Microsoft is a fucking monopoly.

    Microsoft owns the Desktop computing market.

    They've never had a monopoly anywhere else. If you were an enterprise user, you DID have alternatives to NT and IIS. It wasn't always Linux, but there were alternatives.

    However, at any point between Windows 95 and XP did you EVER have the option of buying a PC that was dual boot linux/beOS/AtheOS/*BSD/INsert OS of choice AND Windows? No? Guess what then? That's a monopoly.

    • Seriously, why would a modern computer manufactuer sell a computer that would force users to reboot in order to switch tasks? It's a tideous processs and most computer users would hate it. If one of the OSes will do most of what users wants (and therefore make rebooting unnecessary), then that OS will be enough for 99% of their customers. Those who do take advantage of the dual boot option will be confused/infuriated with not having their profiles/settings persist in both environments. Chances are the

  • The MS monopoly is about the desktop, and about using the desktop monopoly to expand into other areas.

    Just because they have not been able to expand the monopoly into servers and search does not mean that the monopoly goes not exist. MS Windows is still the de facto OS and development platform for the micro computer. MS is still pushing IE as the primary browser, but decreasing the platforms on which it was inevitable.

    Really, nothing can be inferred until we see what happens in Vista. Will MS contin

  • "Is Microsoft a monopoly" lol

    Tabloids already discovered the 'ride it up' and 'ride it down' two bites at the cherry formula. When something is in the news you boost it (with >100 stories on Slashdot for the Xbox 360 recently), and then when that isn't working any more you 'ride it down' with exposes of it taking drugs, naked longlens shots and navel gazing 'why did we love it anyway' stories.

    Let's hope the tabloid format increases sales!
  • It still exists... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by canuck57 (662392) on Monday December 26, 2005 @01:35PM (#14340348)

    It still exists as if I go to Best Buy, Dell, Circuit City and others I MUST buy Microsoft on the products presented and their is not an option to exclude it. Dell is showing a crack in the M$ armor though, I believe you can get a very high ended desktop with Linux. But I think most Linux users want something less than $1000.

    This means it is a monopolistic practice called "bundling". Even though it is against the law in the US, it is not enforced.

  • by MosesJones (55544) on Monday December 26, 2005 @01:35PM (#14340351) Homepage

    Not only is Microsoft still a monopoly (you don't have to be a monopoly in everything to be a monopoly, Standard Oil and Bell only dominated one defined area) and WORSE than this they are a monopoly who uses that position to effectively engage in "dumping" on other segments by using monopoly revenues to subsidise new businesses. This is also against most trading rules but oddly MS get away with it.

    XBox is the perfect case in point, they continue to push a non-profitable model using subsidies from the parent company in order to get to a market dominant position where they will make a profit.

    God knows how this is WTO compliant let alone compliant with US and European business rules.
  • As long as I continue to get Microsoft Word files in the E-mail when text would have sufficied, or (when not) instead of something generically supported like PDF, *and* when people look at me funny when I try to explain that Microsoft Word isn't a general format (doesn't everybody have Word? it comes with all computers now!), Microsoft will effectively be a monopoly.

    When I can request that that particular proprietary format not be used as the only or default format for broadcast E-mails without being seen a
  • while much of his argument is terribly flawed, misguided, and wishful thinking I found this line the most amusing, and I almost started laughing out loud.

    "Now Microsoft has decided that Explore is no longer fit for Mac users, so its market share will drop even more."

    Wishful thinking anyone? Or is he counting the 20 people still using IE on MAC as enough market share to count?

    Seriously, like any MAC users are really using IE... they are almost all using Safari or Firefox. MS dropped it because there was n
  • Just because you are a monopoly doesnt mean there are ZERO alternatives. It just means the alternatives are so small in marketshare compared to you that you still control the game.

    Oh, and dont forget they were legally declared one.. I dont see any change in that either.
  • by spisska (796395) on Monday December 26, 2005 @01:59PM (#14340503)
    Micorsoft is a monopoly -- they have been found so in both the EU and US. They still have a stranglehold on corporate and home desktops, and produce the only office productivity software that you can use in a lot of business environments.

    There is nothing wrong or illegal about being a monopoly. If you make the best baskets and control 90 percent of the market, then good on you. What is illegal is using your dominant position in one market to abuse another. If, for example, you colluded with vendors to make sure your baskets were the only ones buyers saw, or forced vendors to pay you even for every basket sold that wasn't yours, or that (for some inexplicable reason) your baskets could only hold fruit from your orchards -- that would be illegal.

    So the question more properly is: Is Microsoft sill abusing its monopoly position?

    The answer would appear to be that they're trying awfully hard to. Rather than giving existing security vendors more transparent help, they're building (buying) their own AV and security units. We'll see what it looks like in Longvista I guess, but it sure sound to me like using their OS monopoly to leverage a position in the security market.

    Sounds kinda like what they did with WMP -- not because they care about the player but because they want to own the format. More leveraging the OS to squeeze into another market. Feel free to use whatever media player you want, but you'll need their proprietary codec from WMP (free download!) to play all the Super Media Content (TM) (which will, of course, require DRM licenses and other license fees from producers who use the format; you'll have paid for them in your Genuine Windows(TM) License). They don't want the player, they want the pipe -- and the OS can help them lock it up.

    MS says they will move Office documents to xml to allow for interoperability, but not to the specification that they helped write. They will open the format to a degree slightly less than their customers want and the law requires, and deal will legal consequences as standard operating costs. Same song different decade. Bill don't care as long as those $400/seat licenses keep rolling in,

    MS certainly has more competition these days, in every area the tentacles have expanded. However, it still has its original monopoly in PC desktop operating systems (and office productivity software), and is still actively leveraging that position to help itself in other markets.

  • by NatteringNabob (829042) on Monday December 26, 2005 @02:07PM (#14340547)
    Microsoft still owns 95% of the desktop computing market.

    Monopolies can and do reduce prices during periods of competition in order to crush that compeition, and then raise prices later on. That is what Microsoft is doing now. It's called predatory pricing, and it has worked extremely well for Microsoft in the past, and it is a tool they will continue to use.

    Microsoft's products have gotten better, but they were starting with a totally abysmal product, and their OS product is still inferior to most of their competitors in everything except applications and driver availability. Yet they continue to control the market by controlling the distribution channel. The question you should always ask is 'why can't I buy a Dell, HP, or other major brand computer with no OS with the price of Windows deducted?'. The answer is you can't because Microsoft doesn't allow it. That's the sort of power that only a monopolist can wield.
  • by yvesdandoy (44789) on Monday December 26, 2005 @02:58PM (#14340808)
    Does this poster want to make us regret (with tears ?) (on our knees ?) the endless years we had to endure Win(crap)doze with no other alternative ? and for leaving the ship like rats that now Mac OS X and Linux are there for our peace of mind ?
    Does he even kwow about BeOS and others that were deliberatelly sacrified by the $ and FUD priests (sometimes even before birth) for the Almighty God to continue beeing the One and Only ?

    Or is it just another "Flame War Starter" ?
  • by taj (32429) on Monday December 26, 2005 @03:41PM (#14341029) Homepage

    Wonderful use of language in an effort to change perceptions.

    MSFT isnt a Monopoly. They are a predatory abusive monopoly. Yes they are still abusing their market position as the 80% marketshare of their inferior legacy IE shows. They are still trying to abuse their marketshare as their abuse of the ECMA standards group with their draconian MS Word document format shows. They are still dumping inferior outdated products to the point where only Open Source produced by the good will of comopanies and individuals programming at home proves.

    The exact market share of MSFT is not as important as their abuse of their marketshare which hinders inovation, economic growth freedom and democracy. Come back when MSFT does not have a position to abuse. Then we can talk.
  • a resounding *YES* (Score:4, Informative)

    by namekuseijin (604504) on Monday December 26, 2005 @07:23PM (#14341962)

    Is Microsoft Still a Monopoly?

    yes

    Microsoft Windows still dominates the desktop. But in many other areas, including Web servers and supercomputing, Microsoft is just one player among many, and often a weak player at that.

    Rome still was an Empire, despite leaving some parts of the world untouched -- China, India etc.

    Microsoft also now sells something called Windows Starter Edition in some parts of the world -- supposedly for as low as $37 or $38 (US) in Thailand, including a basic version of Microsoft Office.

    Yes, i know: it's offered here in Brazil as well. It has a special feature: you can have at any one time, just 3 app windows open. Nice, huh? Well, since the only somewhat worthy apps coming with it are IE, notepad and minesweeper, i guess it's a good deal...

    Microsoft is getting more concerned about interoperability

    No, fuck that! It's simply stupid hype! Once Massachussets go back in their OpenDocument decision and begins to use the M$Off open xml formats crippled with tons of proprietary add-ons, there goes the niceness and interoperability...

    A majority of desktop computer users may still run Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser, but it no longer has 95% market share.

    Yes, it's now at a minority position of just about 90%... people don't know how to "enter" the internet if they can't see the blue e logo anywhere. They go like: "Where's the internet?"

    You can run things like Google Maps on Linux, Mac OS, Unix, and even Windows, using any standards-compliant browser you choose.

    too bad they're constrained in their effort by the lameass and ancient IE6.0. Though i heard IE7 will get some new-fangled CSS up to date and when it gets a 98% share again, they'll be able to put the IE team to rest for another 5 years or so, until XAML Windows only apps are all the rage...

    If even a quarter of the rumors we've heard about Google and Sun joining up to produce a Webified version of OpenOffice.org are true, I suspect Microsoft is going to be a distant...

    rumors, just rumors. If rumors were true, M$Off new document formats would be truly open, no trojan-horses at all...

    There are over 100,000 Open Source projects on SourceForge.net

    Quantity, not quality. Most are dead projects in alfa or beta stage, many are yet another text editor or something not that much original...

    There may be a poorly-dressed young man coding furiously in a Beijing Internet cafe, while you read this article, whose new operating system will make all current ones obsolete -- and you may not learn about his work until it shows up in a Chinese-made $100 laptop computer.

    Fuck that! What does it has anything to do with the current debate? I think you're trying to induce us to feel pityful of poor M$ and their programmers and their past ( and still going ) illegal commercial practices because it may be that some Indian guy will perhaps someday smash this great and proud American company...

    When Bill Gates and his friends started Microsoft, it was one of very few companies that sold nothing but personal computer software, and the others were so small that Microsoft managed to buy most of its competitors

    Well, this trend continues to this day: you simply can't have good, creative technology developed outside of M$ and they'll buy anyone and everyone they can. Rareware comes to mind as quite a recent example. Google would too, but i guess now they are more likely to be "fucking killed"...

    Instead, they'll start their own software companies...

    and be bought either by M$ or another behemoth ( Google included )...

    You now are trying to induce us into believing there are far greater oponents to M$ than there actually are. In the software field i only see Google. AOL is more of a content provider...

    Windows XP is immeasurably

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