Friday, March 05, 2004

Microsoft a monopoly?

The following is something I had to write for my Micro Economics class. I thought I'd share it. Mostly because it will likely get some people all worked up. hehe

Microsoft produces feature rich quality product, despite what the naysayers may claim. The competing products that are available in the market are simply not up to par with Microsoft products. Microsoft is a very aggressive competitor, that much is certain, but the products that are not as good simply don’t sell as well. BeOS and Linux are very capable products, but not at the same level as Windows. However, Microsoft recognizes that those competing operating systems, especially all the Linux varieties, are biting at their heels. Microsoft is improving and innovating in response to the growing number of Linux users, to try to keep people from switching products. There are definitely activities in Microsoft, as a company, that are a direct result of competition. They work proactively to try to stem off the losses due to competition, they are a business after all.

Does Microsoft enjoy a significant amount of market power? Most certainly they do, but I believe that despite a few unethical decisions, the company made it to where it is today with sound business practices and quality products. Windows isn’t the primary operating system today on PCs because of unethical business practices. It’s #1, because it beat out the competition and the market is such that multiple vendors aren’t the most efficient way to work. Businesses have to share files. In earlier days sharing files between companies was very difficult. Today it’s much easier due in large part to the dominance of Microsoft products.

I have used many of the competing products, such as various ‘flavors’ of Linux, Open Office (an open source, freely downloadable, office productivity suite) and a number of the various web browsers, including Netscape, Mozilla and Opera. In all cases the products were adequate, but simply not as good as the comparable Microsoft products. The one possible exception would be Mozilla, but there are still some sites that I have to go back to Internet Explorer to view them correctly.

Most computer users simply do not have the time or patients to deal with products that are not as good or compatible as Microsoft products, even when they are free or very low cost. Consumers have chosen the more expensive products, because their utility is greater. Those who cannot afford or find the utility of the ‘free’ products equal to the Microsoft products have viable alternatives. Due to their low cost or more often ‘free’ price, the companies producing them don’t have the marketing budget to push their products. This is hardly Microsoft’s fault.

Oh and by the way, I'm posting this using Mozilla FireFox. I also was a long time user of OpenOffice. I recently switched to Microsoft Office 2003 however due to the student pricing and simply better interface. Sorry OpenOffice. I'll check out v2.0, but for now I'll be using MS Office.

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