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Microsoft is a monopoly

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In the June 29 Readers' Forum, Lorenzo Swank argues that, on one hand, Microsoft is not a monopoly, and on the other, that even if it is a monopoly, that would be a good thing.

As someone who worked at Microsoft as a software developer (SQL Server rewrite) I can give you my opinion that Microsoft is, indeed, a monopoly. Now being a monopoly is not, per se, a bad thing. However, the entire point of the case is that Microsoft used its immense market position in one area to attack and dominate another area.

Historically, it is abundantly clear that Microsoft reached the same measure of market dominance as Standard Oil and

US Steel did in the early days of those markets.

Microsoft controls 95 percent of the office application market and PC OS markets. Microsoft operated at a loss for years in the browser market to gain market share. This was contrary to the intent of its previous consent decree reached with the federal government.

Arguing that Microsoft is not a monopolist because it does not have 100 percent of a market or that various alternatives exist misses the fundamental definition of an economic monopoly. Similarly, arguing that a monopoly is good because it forces a sameness in all products is very short-sighted.

As an interesting lesson in how Microsoft operates as a marketer that does not have technical innovation, consider the recent ".Net" announcement — compare it to the previously announced programs of Sun's WebTone or Novell's DENIM.

Bob Devine