Does anyone think it's a bad idea to break up Microsoft? : LUSENET : Xeney : One Thread

I was just reading about the ongoing fight about breaking up Microsoft. The company's spokesman characterized a legal brief recently filed by the government as full of "rhetoric," and said that breaking up Microsoft would be bad for the consumer. I don't know how to put in the link, but if you go to this site, you'll see the story:

What I'm wondering is, does anyone who isn't getting paid to say so really think bad things will happen if we break up Microsoft? I'm not so much curious whether we HAVE to break up the company to protect ourselves from it -- but will it actually hurt us?

-- Anonymous, May 18, 2000


I don't think breaking up the company will hurt the consumer, and I actually think it will help me a little. Windows is so impossible to modify for the average user, like me, that one gets stuck with all sorts of undesirable settings. I can't reset my modem without rebooting my machine. I can't get Eudora e-mail off my desktop, because that's where it was downloaded, and that's where it will stay. I can't do a thousand things that I knew how to do in DOS, because there's no documentation for anything more complex than clicking and dragging files.

I have to believe that the complexity and absence of documentation is the result of a Microsoft tactic to make Windows hard to customize, to cut down on competing applications. I think it will likely force Windows to be a more customize-able operating system if Microsoft can't also develop all of the programs that run on Windows. I don't see this as a major change in my life, though . . .

Even if I'm wrong, what harm can it do to anybody who isn't an employee or shareholder? When they broke up AT&T, it made local telephone more expensive. AT&T had used local calls as a loss leader and kept long-distance artificially high -- arguably there was some social benefit in that. There were plenty of cash-poor people in my rural part of Maine who found that every call they made was a toll call, because the new regional company had to get revenues from somewhere. It was a problem for folks who didn't have $15 extra in the monthly budget.

I can't think of any comparable effect on consumers -- partly because people who don't have an extra $15 a month aren't on the Web much, I suppose, and so we could talk about the social elitism of the Web to start with. But whether Microsoft is one giant company or two giant companies doesn't seem likely to have much impact on poor people's access to the Internet -- I don't see a real down side, even if I think the likely rewards to the consumer are pretty modest.

-- Anonymous, May 18, 2000

My first, naive reaction, "This'll just make things worse. If Microsoft can't make its applications work together as one company, what chance does it have as two or more? Besides, I haven't had time to move to Seattle and have the Microserfs experience yet."

However, any chaos from the dismemberment could have two long term benefits: a return to reasonable software cycles, i.e. less pressure to give up applications that work for you and move to this year's model; and more opportunity for Linux.

-- Anonymous, May 18, 2000

Tom Dean, re: paying an extra $15 to go online, I pay an extra $0 to use juno's free internet service, and it works fine. The cost of my laptop is another question entirely, though, haha!

-- Anonymous, May 18, 2000

I think it would have some effect on the computer world. If I had any say in the matter, I would want to keep Microsoft together as one and not divide the company into two separate divisions (one for Windows and another one for Windows-based applications). Remember those Rocky movies? The first one was great, the second one good, and the rest was downhill. If you split up a company that is a well oiled machine right now, you're going to cause trouble for all involved.

Microsoft stocks would drop if the company split. Funding might be a bit tight for a while until the consumers realized that Microsoft did not and will not be going anywhere anytime soon. Having Microsoft operating systems and software produced for hand-in-hand use in the same area by the same people will prevent more problems with the software in the future (i.e. software conflicts, hardware conflicts, computer crashes, etc).

Basically, I don't see what the big deal is with Microsoft and the monopoly on the market. There is a small percentage of people who use Macintosh computers and they have software to use and other hardware applications. There is a small percentage of people who use alternative operating systems such as Linux, Unix and other OS that I am not thinking of at the moment. If someone doesn't like Microsoft, get a Mac. *Laughs*

But seriously, I believe that if it isn't broke (which I don't believe that it is), we should not going around fixing it until it is. JMHO, of course.

-- Anonymous, May 19, 2000

It's a terrible idea to break up MS. It's like the goverment wants to do a "controled burn" on a dry and windy day.

They should force MS to use more truth in advertising, weaken their shrink-wrap licenses, force them to open the whole windows api, and make sure MS can't punish manufactuers who sell other operating systems on their hardware.

But break them up??? It makes no sense.

-- Anonymous, May 19, 2000

I don't think that really bad things will happen if MS is broken up; it will continue to churn out software. After working as an MS contractor for many years, one of my observations is that a Master Plan is notably lacking. For all intents and purposes Microsoft is already twenty or more separate companies.

But I don't think breaking the company up formally will have any particular good effects, either; the notion that the Windows guys will "compete" with the Office guys strikes me as ludicrous. (And I say "guys" deliberately, because it's an overwhelmingly male culture).

I think the real issue is that MS has a corporate culture that leads to trying to kill the competition at all costs. Unless you do something to change that culture, you won't change the behavior of the company. My latest thought is that they should be literally decimated: the judge should rule that the company should terminate all employees whose employee number ends in a zero, as a warning to the rest. Maybe that would shake them up enough to change things.

-- Anonymous, May 20, 2000

I had an economics professor once who solved the problem of what to do with the grain surplus.

This was a serious problem, when he began writing.

His solution was very elegant, and much admired. But by the time he published it, the grain surplus had become a grain shortage.

I worked for IBM when the IBM PC came out.

People bought computers from IBM because they trusted their reputation, which was high, before the debacles of the PCjr with the chiclet keys, the AT with the hard drives that crashed, the portable the size of a Gladstone bag, and the software nightmares of programs that didn't work with each other (PC Network and TopView), or work at all (TopView).

IBM took credit for the windfall, got overconfident, complacent, and lost the march to smaller, leaner, hungrier companies.

Things happen fast in the computer world, and a monopoly on a shitty operating system will be a liability when whatever replaces Windows comes along. Microsoft will be throwing its weight around in a market that has left it, moved, gone elsewhere. Been overtaken by events.

Mike Gunderloy is right, about not being able to change the corporate culture. The culture as a whole has to outgrow the sort of climate which made it possible for Microsoft to become what it became.

That's a job for artists, hackers, freelance programmers, and so forth.

-- Anonymous, May 23, 2000

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