Is Microsoft still a monopoly?

I spent a lot of time in the car yesterday, which means I got to catch up on some of my podcast listening – this time I was mostly listening to Slashdot Review. One of the items I picked up on was an interesting discussion on whether or not Microsoft is still a monopoly.

My view is that Microsoft probably does have a monopoly (in the legal sense) over the PC operating system and office productivity suite market (although that’s weakening rapidly, as major OEMs consider offering non-Microsoft operating systems on new PCs), but in many other markets they are just an also-ran. Not everyone agrees and the real issue is not really whether Microsoft is a monopoly (nothing wrong with that), but whether they abuse a position of power to restrict competition. My observation is that Microsoft is a company who are “damned if they do and damned if the don’t”. By that I mean that consumers and critics are constantly asking for new security features within the operating system, but if Microsoft dares to bundle any such middleware within the operating system, competitors cry foul.

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