I agree that Microsoft has contributed a great deal to the software industry and to our economy. I, however, don't see their anti-competitive practices as benefitting the consumer. They have been found guilty of blackmailing computer manufacturers into not providing Netscape as an icon on the desktop. If the computer manufacturers refused, and put Netscape on the desktop, then Microsoft would charge the manufacturers more money for the Windows operating system than they would charge had they cooperated. Since Windows is used by 95% of the public (a clear monopoly), the computer manufacturers had no choice but to do whatever Microsoft demanded of them.The very nature of a monopolist (as you learn in Economics 101) is to run their competition out of business by giving away the competition's product for a nonprofitable price (as the monopolist can afford to do this and their competition can't). Once the competitor is out of business (ie..Netscape), then the monopolist can raise its prices. Microsoft "seems" to give away Internet Explorer, but look at the total price of Windows. It's very expensive and IE is just an inclusive part of Windows' total cost.The only reason that Dell and others are, for the first time, including versions of Linux as an option to Windows is because of all this anti-trust stuff involving Microsoft. Microsoft wouldn't dare threaten them, or "punish" them with all that is going on. So, already, the consumer has benefitted. The consumer has a choice that he/she didn't have before.It was not just the software competition that has testified against Microsoft. The hardware manufacturers have also been vocal. Anyway, noone wants to see Microsoft's demise (except maybe Scott McNealy). If the company is broken in two, the operating system part will still have its long standing monopoly. It just won't be able to use this leverage to strong arm all of its applications onto the public. The application side will be a separate entity and there will be no incentive for the O/S side to blackmail or keep a potentially better software application from succeeding in the marketplace. In fact, the O/S side would have the incentive to make sure that every application on the street runs extremely well on its system in case one catches on, and perhaps runs smoother on Linux.The applications side will obviously have to be much more competitive than they have to be today. If theirs are in fact the superior applications then they have nothing to worry about.To wrap this up, it's not the fact that Microsoft has a monopoly that got them into this mess. It was their anti-competetive practices. They made the choice to violate anti-trust laws - thinking they were above the law. They were wrong.
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