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Microsoft Shows Tech 'Monopolies' Don't Last
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jries921
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jries921,
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7/18/2014 | 2:45:37 PM
Re: Absolutely nothing?
I forgot to mention Palm, which in many ways originated the existing mobile market.  MS quickly responded to a perceived threat by introducing the Pocket PC and encouraging its OEM partners to make it; but I think would have acted much more aggressively had it prevailed in the DOJ case.  Thus, I think chances are good that MS would own that market today if it hadn't been for the trustbusters.

 
jries921
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jries921,
User Rank: Ninja
7/18/2014 | 2:39:45 PM
Re: Absolutely nothing?
MS long ago identified Google as its primary competitor at a time when most of us thought it irrational to do so.  I humbly submit to you that had MS won its case (or if the DOJ had never brought it) Google would no longer exist in its current form because MS would have strangled it using methods similar to those used against Netscape.  And while Netscape died, the Mozilla project it spawned survives to the present day and provided the initial meaningful competition in the browser market that was needed to stop MS from exercising de facto control over WWW protocols.  MS won the battle by destroying Netscape and then defeating the breakup order, but ultimately lost the Browser Wars.  Again, if MS had won the case, I doubt very much that either Firefox or Chrome would exist today; likewise, I don't think Android would exist and Linux would probably be restricted almost entirely to college campuses.  It's not even clear that Apple would still exist were it not for MS' rescue effort, which appears to have been a defensive move designed to weaken the DOJ's case against it (no Apple; no OSX and no iOS).

 
jries921
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jries921,
User Rank: Ninja
7/18/2014 | 2:10:14 PM
Yes and no
Yes, markets abhor a monopoly and will work to break it (unless the monopolist resorts to patronage policies ala Rockefeller or Gates to insure that as many potential competitors have a stake in the status quo as possible) and yes, monopolistic vendors tend to stagnate over time; but they also tend to use their political influence to perpetuate themselves (that's part of what lobbyists are for), they'll fight on their own to maintain their privileged positions using whatever tools seem to be convenient (what Steve Ballmer spent most of his tenure as MS-CEO doing), and it may take many years for them to decline enough to make real competition feasible (and then, the result might be the replacement of one dominant vendor with another). So, no I don't think waiting for monopolistic firms to die on their own is a viable strategy for insuring free markets (look at how long IBM's dominance lasted).


Also, while I might have missed something , you appear to be discounting the likelihood (I think it a certainty) that the MS antitrust case gave competing firms and developers (MS' destruction of much of the proprietary software industry was a golden opportunity for open source projects) a much greater ability to compete with MS without having their "air supplies cut off"; and helped provide trustbusters in other countries the evidence they needed to proceed with their own efforts.  It certainly hastened Bill Gates' retirement, which meant a much less talented manipulator ended up at the helm (which in itself helped to open up the software market).

 
RobPreston
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RobPreston,
User Rank: Author
7/18/2014 | 1:58:05 PM
Re: Absolutely nothing?
Tom, well argued, young man!
anon6635912771
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anon6635912771,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/18/2014 | 1:46:42 PM
AMD
==-

>AMD might have given Intel a run for its money in the desktop market during the early 64bit dual core era


It still does, if money has value to you. Intel is only the right choice if you MUST have the highest horsepower processor at any cost. Other than that, the only reason an IT manager would choose Intel (partcularly for workstations) is if he doesn't care that he's spending someone else's money and he's dumb ("Well, no one ever got fired for buying Intel").

Sadly, the fact that Intel is as evil as Microsoft has no relevance in business decisions.

-faye kane ♀ girl brain
Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
7/18/2014 | 1:37:46 PM
Re: Absolutely nothing?
I think it's hard to separate antitrust enforcement from that happened to Microsoft. Technology changed but Microsoft's ability and preparedness to react to that change was weighed down by antitrust compliance burdens. If you go back to the judge's finding of facts (http://www.justice.gov/atr/cases/f3800/msjudgex.htm), it's clear there's more to the case than Netscape Navigator. Microsoft was also trying to kill Java. Had Microsoft been left to do as it wished, the technology world would be very different today.

Some consequences of the ruling: Microsoft was not allowed to acquire Intuit; Microsoft propped  Apple up by investing in the company when it was almost broke and by not withholding Office (which it could have done without trustbuster attention); browsers became a special class of protected software; open-source got an interface (the Web).

VInt Cerf argues that even though Microsoft was not broken up, open source saved competition and innovation. As I see it, open source, the Web, and Java are intertwined. Open source mattered to companies as a way to be free of platform-locking and vendor meddling. But it began mattering to consumers when it became the free interface for the Web.

Much of Microsoft's troubles have to do with it still relying on the same revenue sources now as it did two decades ago. It got too complacent. But competitors would have had a harder time without the leg up provided by government oversight. For example, when Google was offering desktop search software, Microsoft tried to hobble it. Google complained to the government and got Microsoft to back down. That might not have happened as easily if Microsoft had not been an acknowledged abuser of monopoly power.
TerryB
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TerryB,
User Rank: Ninja
7/18/2014 | 1:09:06 PM
Re: staying ahead
I agree with Steve, there was a period of time where MS played the Oracle game, long before Oracle used it to get where they are now.

Anything that had any (MS) perceived potential got bought out. Any patents/technology from it they thought would add to their existing products they used, but the "brand" of the startup was gone. Whether that caused the internal stagnation of innovation or was a symptom of it, I'll leave you to decide.

But this whole tablet/smartphone thing, who could really see that coming? If you would have told me back then people would willingly shell out $50 a month on data plans for these tiny screens, I'd have thought you were crazy. Shows what I know about people.

Apple had very little to lose when they entered this market, their Mac's were a niche and still are. Google/Android had very little to lose, they could also take risks you could see a mature, profitable company like MS saying "Ummm, no" to. Also keep in mind MS was very preoccupied with Xbox and Zune (iPod competition) during the period leading up to tablet/smartphone explosion. In phones, they were aiming at Blackberry back then, which seems humorous now.
Shane M. O'Neill
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Shane M. O'Neill,
User Rank: Author
7/18/2014 | 12:56:54 PM
Re: Absolutely nothing?
I feel like the reasons for Microsoft's undoing (rise of smartphones and tablets, decline in PC sales, SaaS) started to happen seven or eight years after the 2000 anti-trust ruling. So it's hard to blame anti-trust on Microsoft losing its way in the mobile era, unless perhaps the anti-trust battles made Microsoft weary and tentative to go after new markets. But I don't buy that argument. I think it was just poor leadership and lack of foresight by Ballmer, who was allowed to run the show for too long.
stevew928
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stevew928,
User Rank: Ninja
7/18/2014 | 12:37:19 PM
Re: Absolutely nothing?
I'd maybe even put it a bit more strongly. While I'm sure *eventually* Microsoft would have been taken down by someone.... I'd say that had the government not stepped in and at least tripped up Microsoft's plans and actions, it's hard to say where we'd be right now. Microsoft was dominating by preventing industry innovation. They might have not been able to keep everyone else down forever, but they were doing a pretty good job of it.
stevew928
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stevew928,
User Rank: Ninja
7/18/2014 | 12:32:19 PM
Re: staying ahead
The problem was that was just a bunch of baloney. Microsoft wasn't staying ahead of any curve. They were using all sorts of tactics to hamper innovation and retain their position. He probably really meant the financial curve.
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