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Marketplace Losers Take Alternate Route Not Monopolistic Capable Nonproprietary, Lower-Cost Or Free Products Win Out.

Your tax dollars at work: Prodded by competitors of Microsoft Corp., political demagogues and busybody government lawyers are yapping like a pack of bloodhounds, hot on the trail of a mouse. They’ll save us from the monster, they say.

Consumers seek no rescue. They’re snapping up Microsoft’s products and using them to transform business and communications.

The conduct that alarms antitrust lawyers occurred two years ago - ancient history, in the software trade. Microsoft came out with a web browser and pressured computer makers to include it in the Windows operating system, at no charge. The other leading web browser, Netscape, also was widely available at no charge.

This was bad for consumers?

Microsoft is no monopoly, nor does it behave like one. Its Windows operating system won market share in a free-for-all among numerous competitors. It was Apple that had (and suffered from having) higher prices and proprietary technology.

From the earliest versions of MS DOS, Microsoft has added features, and competitors have introduced better ones. Memory managers. Disk compressors. Friendly interfaces. Utilities. Web browsers. Back and forth it goes. Microsoft improves. Competitors improve. Customers win.

While government lawyers fuss about ancient history, in the future, web browsers will be as integral to an operating system’s function - data retrieval - as disk software is.

U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, who represents Microsoft competitor Novell, threatens to bludgeon Microsoft with congressional investigations. Hatch warns Microsoft might “control” the Internet. Poppycock. The Internet is a competitive explosion; it defies control.

Microsoft accounts for 5 percent of software industry revenues. Its many competitors include Sun Microsystems, now working furiously to supersede Windows with Java. Microsoft, hardly a picture of complacent monopoly, is pouring billions into research and development - as its products drop in price and soar in power.

Meanwhile, the Justice Department has assigned the Microsoft case to a lawyer who eschews PCs and prefers to write in longhand. If Microsoft operated like government, the most vibrant industry on the planet would not exist.

, DataTimes MEMO: For opposing view, see headline: Deleting MS Gouge

The following fields overflowed: SUPCAT = EDITORIAL, COLUMN - From both sides CREDIT = John Webster/For the editorial board

For opposing view, see headline: Deleting MS Gouge

The following fields overflowed: SUPCAT = EDITORIAL, COLUMN - From both sides CREDIT = John Webster/For the editorial board


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