The Microsoft Antitrust Case Essay

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The Microsoft Antitrust Case

The Microsoft Antitrust Case In 1998 the Microsoft Corporation was at the center of an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) which alleged the company of violating the Sherman Act. The Sherman Act is considered the foundation of federal antitrust litigation, and is used to “combat anticompetitive practices, reduce market domination by individual corporations, and preserve unfettered competition as the rule of trade” ( The DOJ concentrated on 4 specific violations of the Act, (1) Microsoft engaged in “unlawful exclusive dealings and other exclusionary agreements”, (2) Microsoft engaged in “unlawful tying”, which was the act of Microsoft tying together two products
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313). Because Microsoft’s operating system (Windows) was the most widely used, most applications were written to run on Windows, giving Microsoft the upper hand in the industry for Internet users. Baron (2010) states at the time of the investigation, Windows were installed on more than 90% of all new Intel-based personal computers. The DOJ also accused Microsoft of engaging in behavior which was inconsistent with adherence to the Sherman Act, referring to the company as “dismissive” to the claims of being anticompetitive. These pieces of evidence seem to give credit to the DOJ’s claims against Microsoft. Another question posed by the case was whether or not Microsoft’s conduct benefitted consumers. The senior group vice president of Microsoft, Paul Maritz believes Microsoft operations did benefit consumers, stating that Window’s popularity was due to Microsoft’s “efforts to innovate, evangelize and license the software cheaply” (Baron, p. 317). Microsoft’s alleged monopoly did benefit consumers when price and compatibility are considered, as the operating software was cheap and accessible by most consumers, especially given the fact so many applications were written specifically to interact with
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