In his Oct. 25 letter, Robert Tracinski said, "The Microsoft trial was begun on behalf of competitors and is based on the claim that Microsoft can force everyone else out of competition. . . . They're being punished for giving away free software. . . . It's a showcase for the evils of antitrust."

Intel Corp. isn't a competitor of Microsoft's; it makes computer chips. But at the trial, Intel testified that it killed a competing software product specifically because Microsoft threatened not to support advanced features on Intel's next chip if Intel proceeded.

Punished for free software? For thousands of small Internet service providers, necessary software was free only if they signed a contract promising not to tell their new customers that the Netscape browser even exists.

I'm not in competition with Microsoft either. But Bill Gates has seen to it that I have to use his system by doing the things mentioned above.

The trial isn't a showcase for the evils of antitrust; it's a showcase for the evils of uncontrollable greed.

DAVE TOCUS

Annandale

By focusing their negative comments on the Justice Department's antitrust case against Microsoft, Robert Tracinski and Wayne Crews Jr. in their Oct. 25 letters ignore the fact that an increase in the Justice Department Antitrust Division's budget is both needed and appropriate.

In addition to reviewing existing monopolistic behavior, the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission are required to evaluate the anti-competitive effects of every sizable merger or acquisition. Mergers and acquisitions activity has increased more than 200 percent in recent years, and often a firm acquires a competitor in order to lessen competition and promote higher prices after the transaction closes. Without the requisite funding, the Antitrust Division is outgunned by those seeking to restrain competition.

JEFF HOOKE

Vienna

The writer is managing director of an investment banking firm that does mergers and acquisitions.