Microsoft, the world’s largest company by market value, is accused of acting monopolistic in the computer software industry. Microsoft provides for eighty percent of the computers used, operating system. The operating system is a basic program that loads or boots up your computer to make it perform. Now this is where the government takes a strong stand in accusing Microsoft of causing a monopoly. In order for Word, Excel, Office, and many other programs to work, they have to be compatible to the Microsoft operating system. This means that a computer owner cannot select another company to be its operating system if it wants these programs. Might I also add that these programs are the top of the line in each of their categories. Since they are the elite programs, of course retailers are going to want the computers they are marketing to have Microsoft’s operating system. Not only has Microsoft taken control of the operating system, but it also has knocked Netscape’s Navigator out of the loop, replacing it with Internet Explorer, which is of course Bill Gates’ web browser. So therefore, Microsoft has cleverly created a monopoly by restricting its competition.
Is this legal? The judge, Thomas Penfield Jackson, ruled the Microsoft did in fact act in a monopolistic fashion harming its consumers and destroying its competitors. Jackson ruled that Microsoft broke sections one and two of the Sherman Antitrust Act. The Sherman Antitrust Act was proposed in 1890 to prevent trusts from creating restraints on trade or commerce, and reducing competition. It was designed to maintain economic liberty. The sections Microsoft was accused of not abiding by was section two which states that Microsoft unlawfully maintained a monopoly in the worldwide market for Intel-compatible PC operating systems and attempted to monopolize the market for Web browsing software. Section one states that Microsoft unlawfully tied its web browsing software to its Window 95 and Window 98 operating system. Jackson ordered the company to be broken up within ninety days of the ruling and demanded that it follow strict rules of behavior called conduct remedies, even as it appeals his break-up decision. Jackson also is demanding the case be moved straight to the Supreme Court. In the meantime, Microsoft will be appealing Jackson’s ruling.