Saturday, February 19, 2005

Microsoft is Seeking Anti-trust Pre-Clearance for Longhorn

According to Microsoft Watch, Microsoft met with the Department of Justice this week in an effort to get anti-trust pre-clearance for the upcoming release of the Longhorn OS. This seems like a sensible approach, similar to approaches taken with the IRS on certain tax issues. More fundamentally, however, I have always had some misgivings about the application of the anti-trust laws to a single product. Anti-trust laws certainly have their place in our regulatory matrix, but I have always viewed them as curbs on improper behavior (predatory pricing, tie-ins, etc...) not as restricting a single product, however dominant. If the prevailing view of anti-trust jurisprudence is that that it exists for the benefit of the consumer -- well, the consumer has spoken. Microsoft is not the only OS ever created (think UNIX, Apple (a UNIX variant), OS2, Linux, etc...); however it is the OS of choice for most of the world simply because it is the best all around (in terms of operability and available applications). A lot of people dislike this (many, quite passionately). However, it is what it is and largely because Microsoft did a better job. If, as we are seeing with Mozilla and FireFox in the browser arena, someone can come up with a better OS (for the average user not the techie types who have taken a liking to Linux, for example), then the world will beat a path to that person's door.

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