[Outlook]Challenge the Microsoft monopolyWill the United States remain the world superpower for long? Will English forever be used as the international language? In a related question ― how long will the kingdom of Microsoft continue? Today, I want to talk about the last question.
MS Windows has long been a household name in operating systems for personal computers, holding some 90 percent of the market share. In Korea, it is installed on almost every personal computer.
This business accomplishment is very hard to sustain in other sectors in this era of fierce global competition. Windows is a special product. Around the world, countless people go online around the clock using programs that run on Windows. A single company dominates the market with such an extraordinary item.
Microsoft and its chairman, Bill Gates, receive compliments all the time. The company uses its enormous profits to invest in research and development, boosting its competitiveness even more.
Gates, the world’s richest man, is known for carrying out moral duties and is a leader of international society.
A charity that he runs with his wife gives billions of dollars yearly to improve education and medical service in poor countries.
Nonetheless, I want to raise a question about this company’s practices regarding monopoly.
In April of 2000, a U.S. federal court found the software giant guilty of violating antitrust law.
Two months later, the court ordered the company to separate in two, one part for operating systems and another for software.
The court said it was unfair that the company included its software programs in Windows and released the verdict on the lawsuit, which was brought by the Justice Department. Gates refused to accept the verdict and appealed immediately.
In June of 2001, the U.S. court of appeals rejected the ruling that ordered the company to split. The Justice Department judged that even though Microsoft violated antitrust law, the violation was not serious enough to warrant the separation.
Days before the appeal court released its verdict, Germany’s Die Welt predicted that Microsoft was likely to avoid separation because among seven the judges on the court, four were Republicans and three were Democrats.
In late 2000, when George Bush was the Republican Party’s presidential candidate, Bush said he did not want the court’s ruling to ruin an innovative company.
He made it clear that he opposed the idea of splitting Microsoft.
Bush won the election after twists and turns and entered office in February 2001. From then on, he carried out his pledge.
He appointed pro-business lawyer Charles James as head of the antitrust division at the Justice Department, replacing his predecessor, who led the Microsoft antitrust case.
U.S. media reported that antitrust measures were expected to change, and the order to separate Microsoft could be changed as well.
By then, the composition of the judges on the appeals court was already changed, in terms of their political parties.
Some analysts suggested that the Justice Department became conservative after Bush became president so Microsoft, which was on the verge of a cliff, would be revived.
The Republican Party puts priority on the interests of American companies.
The Bush administration helped in this way, making Microsoft an invincible fortress.
However, somebody must break this monopoly. It is a shame to all people working in this field that one company is left alone to maintain a monopoly.
It could be changed, however, if talented Korean IT workers combine their talent and energy.
Recently, the Korean software company, Hangul & Computer, has begun developing a Linux-based operating system.
If a company creates the best product in its field, that can challenge a monopoly. It also means the firm may earn a huge amount of money. That would be a noble act and bring back the benefit of competition to countless consumers around the world.
*The writer is the international news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Shim Shang-bok