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Does Microsoft have a monopoly? Gee, there's a stumper; who's Bill Gates bribing here? 92% of the world's computers use a Microsoft operating system (OS) (src, Jim Leher News Hour and ABC news).
Does Microsoft abuse its monopoly? Yes. Microsoft is guilty of the folloing topics: Bundling, Vapor Ware, buying out competitors, violating competetors' patents and copyrights, and other Anti-Competitive activities (violating the Sherman Anti-Trust laws).
Is Bill Gates a generous guy? If you were a millionaire and gave $100 (only) to charities, would you be a scrooge or would you be acting generous? Bill Gates gave $3 million to charities last year. Percentage-wise, that's the same amount of money. Most Americans have under $100,000. If one these people gave ten bucks to charitable causes, s/he would be giving (comparatively) more than Bill Gates.
Through Microsoft (which has much more money than Gates), Bill Gates has donated tens of millions of dollars worth of computers (all with Microsoft software) to libraries and schools nationwide. (That's what? Five bucks from my pocket?) Is this charitable? No, its an investment. All of the children in school and the regulars at the library will buy compatable Microsoft programs to make their lives easier, thus netting more customers to Microsoft.
Bundling is the act of wrapping multiple programs/products into another. Microsoft bundles numerous programs, from games to file managers to internet browsers, from paint programs to calculators and spreadsheets to search engines into the Windows 95 and Windows NT operating systems, which are required to run most (92%) computers.
No, Microsoft isn't the only company guilty of these actions. Intel is also guilty of bundling, running competition down the tubes. Intel makes motherboards. The Pentium II chip requires a new motherboard, and only Intel makes it. Hmmm. The Pentium II chip also preforms many functions of other chips on the motherboard, wiping the makers of such products away. On the Intel motherboard, one can find Intel chips and Intel parts (in addition to the chip). This is bundling, and very anti-competetive, therefore very illegal.
Microsoft announces a new program in the works. They release some screen-shots that make this future program look worth waiting for. This is one of Microsoft's normal responses to another company programming a new piece of software that threatens Microsoft in some way or another, usually in the form of a program far superior to some program that comes with Windows. People see Microsoft's name and the good screen shots, perhaps a demo, too, and wait for the product, not buying the other no-name program. What happens? Microsoft never finishes making the program, and the consumers have waited for so long that the other program has been pulled off the shelves. This is anti-competitive and companies have been shut down for this activity.
Buying Out Competitors
Another activity that Microsoft practices is that of buying all of the competition. Sometimes, Microsoft will purchase the rights to a certain product and then put it on some obscure shelf, never to be seen again. Sometimes Microsoft will buy another product because the makers of this other product are sueing for patent violations.
Patent and Copyright Violations
There are far too many of these to list. Windows itself is a copy of Steve Jobs' Macintoch OS, which legally obtained its ideas from Xerox P.A.R.C. (who foolishly let such ideas go). Internet Explorer is a copy of Netscape Navigator. The Doublespace compression utility released with DOS 6.20 was an exact copy of the Sparc Discomp (right name?), and Sparc sued. Microsoft settled with Sparc for some obscene amount of money, and DOS 6.22 was released (the only difference being the name of Doublespace). Sparc now has a solid licencing agreement with Microsoft.
Are my accusations just? Is Microsoft guilty of business misconduct? Yes, yes. Not only is Microsoft guilty of the standard monopolistic lowering of prices to eliminate competition, but it is giving software away. Not only is Microsoft giving software away, but it is forcing PC owners to take these programs. These programs are from bought-out comanies or are stolen or copied, and are very buggy and poor quality. But they're free, and on everyone's computer. Even giving away competitive (not to mention better) software can't compete with that.
Let's make some Degrees of monopolistic abuse: It's bad to lower prices for software below production cost. It's worse to give it away free. Even worse, to force people to take it. We're not done yet; put it on every PC computer on the mainstream market. Now let's get dirty--the free piece of software comes pre-installed on every computer on the market. Hey, we're not finished! The software is also nearly impossible to uninstall; it's been integrated into the operating system. Microsoft has slunk to the lowest marketing technique out there. Internet Explorer is on any Windows95 or Windows98 or WindowsNT computer out there, and, except for Windows95 (what I have), you can't uninstall it. I have games, file managers, picture/text/movie viewers and editors, system programs, program launchers, internet/network software, and other gadgets that are hard to ignore. But I do.