I am disappointed with the finding of facts in the case against Microsoft ["Judge Says Microsoft Wields Monopoly Power Over Rivals," front page, Nov. 6]. Though Microsoft does possess a near-monopoly in the computer world and has used strong-arm tactics on rivals such as Netscape, the government and the public seem to be forgetting three issues.
First, while Microsoft wields tremendous leverage in the software market, Sun Microsystems, America Online and Netscape have met Microsoft's challenges in areas such as control over the Java development environment, Internet browsers and Internet messaging. AOL now owns Netscape and will be integrating its Internet software into the Netscape browser as soon as next year. In addition, a number of companies, such as Compaq, Gateway and Dell, offer computers preconfigured with Linux, the leading rival to Microsoft's operating system. Linux is becoming a favorite alternative to Microsoft's Windows 98, and many companies are acknowledging its superiority as an operating system (Microsoft's Hotmail services run off a Linux server because Windows NT cannot handle the system load). People do have an alternative to Windows.
Finally, we must remember that the United States was founded on the philosophy of free enterprise. This principle was designed to aid in innovation and creativity. Microsoft is responsible for the popularity of the PC today and has contributed to many of the breakthroughs in computing technology. What right does the government have to intervene in business? If the government is successful in the case against Microsoft, it could stifle free enterprise and end an era of innovation.
What is surprising in the findings of fact is not how Microsoft treated its competitors but how it treated its partners.
Intel is the largest supplier of the chips that make Microsoft's software run. Compaq, Dell, Gateway, Hewlett-Packard and IBM are Microsoft's largest customers. These companies developed innovative ways to make Microsoft systems faster, less expensive, easier to use and more reliable. Yet Microsoft forced them to abandon development of their own innovations.
Even though these companies were key allies, Microsoft threatened to put them out of business. Microsoft should have the right to innovate, but should not be able to prevent others from doing the same.
It used to be that Americans would treasure the appearance of a successful person on the scene of our nation's life. However, the Justice Department seems to be spending an inordinate amount of time and effort persecuting Bill Gates and Microsoft while ignoring seemingly more important opportunities to enforce the law.
Mr. Gates built his company from nothing but work and ingenuity, while his "victim," IBM, used its multibillion-dollar advantage to tread water for the same 20-year period.
Microsoft has been a major part of the growth of the gross domestic product for more than a decade. This has done no small amount to contribute to the prosperity of each of us.
Mr. Gates's charitable contributions are legend. These too are a result of success and a responsible attitude. If only this attitude were shared by government.
CHARLES E. COUDRIET
It is hard to believe that on the 10th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall The Post chose to print Paul Farhi's Style article "The King of a Cookie-Cutter Country" [Nov. 9]. His arguments that "most people don't want unlimited choice" and "Americans actually like monopolies" are so backward and absurd that if the Cold War were not over, I'd beg my representatives to reinstate the House Committee on Un-American Activities.
Mr. Farhi is nostalgic about the "towering dullness" of the AT&T Bell system. I challenge him to head downtown, start grabbing cell phones out of people's hands and tell them that this innovation must go so we can all revert to the simpler era of "one-black-phone-to-a-household efficiency." Perhaps then he could explain how making a call on AT&T wireless, connecting to Bell Atlantic and even conferencing in a GTE or Qwest customer are competitive advancements we can do without. He wouldn't make it back to the office in one piece.
Choice is empowering. That's why it is so threatening to monopolists like Bill Gates. Why is it that seamless interoperability can be achieved in one industry where consumers have choice, but Microsoft tells us it can't be done in software?
Is choice burdensome -- even a little scary? Sometimes. Were those East Germans stepping with trepidation toward freedom 10 years ago in Berlin? Certainly. Could we simplify grocery shopping by stocking the shelves with only the products Mr. Farhi has approved? Of course.
Minor problem: Not all Americans are willing to eat borscht.