View Poll Results: Was Microsoft a monopoly back in the 1990s?

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    10 37.04%
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    16 59.26%
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Thread: Was Microsoft a monopoly in the 1990s?

  1. #21
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    Guy Incognito's Avatar
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    Re: Was Microsoft a monopoly in the 1990s?

    Quote Originally Posted by rathi View Post
    2) Patents are not responsible for Microsoft's ongoing monopoly. They didn't kill their competition through patent lawsuits in the 90's, they used their non-government backed monopoly.
    So you're suggesting that patents have no effect on reducing competition, thereby protecting the patent-holder? My, what a confused view of the world you have.

  2. #22
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    Re: Was Microsoft a monopoly in the 1990s?

    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Incognito View Post
    So you're suggesting that patents have no effect on reducing competition, thereby protecting the patent-holder? My, what a confused view of the world you have.
    At the time of Microsoft's monopoly proceedings in the 90s, software patents were not the concern they are today and at this specific instance, they were not much of a factor in microsoft's situation.

  3. #23
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    Re: Was Microsoft a monopoly in the 1990s?

    Quote Originally Posted by megaprogman View Post
    At the time of Microsoft's monopoly proceedings in the 90s, software patents were not the concern they are today and at this specific instance, they were not much of a factor in microsoft's situation.
    Patents generally provide the very framework for Microsoft's monopoly. Without the legal fiction that a company can own a collection of 1s and 0s, there is no way that a software monopoly can be had.

  4. #24
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    Re: Was Microsoft a monopoly in the 1990s?

    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Incognito View Post
    Patents generally provide the very framework for Microsoft's monopoly. Without the legal fiction that a company can own a collection of 1s and 0s, there is no way that a software monopoly can be had.
    Actually, the primary mechanism for that is copyright. And you are probably right, Microsoft probably would not have had a monopoly without copyright or patents, because advanced software would likely not exist in the first place. Which is a worse scenario.

    Heck, even software like linux would not have existed (because we would not have had unix, multics, etc) and we would have had much more trouble adopting personal computers. Without widespread PCs, there would have been much less need for the internet, without a popular internet, the development model for GPL licensed software would have fallen short.

    Ultimately though, that is moot, if you look at the court documents of the time, the primary problem was the complexity of microsoft's API's and how difficult they were to clone (heck the wine project is still working on it, even after a decade), not patents or copyright. It was not microsoft suing other entities for infringement but the justice department suing microsoft for their behavior. In this case, you are getting the problem precisely backwards. The simple fact is that microsoft would not have released their source code to the public and decompilers at the time only went so far in reconstructing that source code (in general decompilers tend to suck because they tend to output very low level code, except in the cases of some of the more modern languages that weren't around back then). Even without copyright and patents (and assuming the industry would still exist without it, which I doubt), a lack of copyright/patents would have made no difference in this particular case.
    Last edited by tacomancer; 02-12-11 at 07:22 PM. Reason: The f

  5. #25
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    Re: Was Microsoft a monopoly in the 1990s?

    So you're suggesting that patents have no effect on reducing competition, thereby protecting the patent-holder? My, what a confused view of the world you have.
    I am saying that in the specific instance of the Microsoft monopoly, patents were not the cause.
    Last edited by rathi; 02-12-11 at 07:36 PM.

  6. #26
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    Re: Was Microsoft a monopoly in the 1990s?

    Quote Originally Posted by rathi View Post
    I am saying that in the specific instance of the Microsoft monopoly. patents were not the cause.
    How can you have a monopoly on any sort of software without patents?

  7. #27
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    Re: Was Microsoft a monopoly in the 1990s?

    How can you have a monopoly on any sort of software without patents?
    Have you been paying attention to the thread? Microsoft is a monopoly, a fact that was upheld in a court of law. Microsoft has not destroyed competition using software patents. They have stomped out competition with broken API's and by strong-arming OEM's.

  8. #28
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    Re: Was Microsoft a monopoly in the 1990s?

    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Incognito View Post
    How can you have a monopoly on any sort of software without patents?
    I already explained it in my last post, but I will again. In the case of software, the derivative, which is executable software is created out of the human written programming called source code. What happens is people write software, than other software translated that human written software into machine code that a computer can understand. (there are interpreted languages, such as basic, but a person would never write an operating system out of an interpreted language, it always has to be compiled into machine code or else the computer could never boot, at least with current designs).

    What microsoft's customers get is that translated programming. It is somewhat possible to take machine code and translate it back to human code, but the output leaves much to be desired, expecially in a very complex system, which as the windows operating system. Because of this "one way mirror" the people receiving the software (who did not have access to the original human code) had a very limited look into what windows actually does while its running on your computer. Because of this limited view, it has made it next to impossible to write compatible software that interacts with it. except for the software interconnects (called an applications programming interface or API) that allow data to pass from one program to another that microsoft published specifications for. An example of how an API would work is, lets say a program wants to write information to a file, windows does not give programs direct access to the disk, so the software makes a request to windows to write something to disk for it, windows accepts that request through the API and does the requested task.

    Those APIs were at the heart of the lawsuit. The simple fact is that microsoft had create secret APIs that it did not publish the specifications to, which made its software superior to run on windows than third party software. This created an unfair advantage for microsoft.

    Patents and copyrights never entered the picture, this is more akin to trade secrets actually.
    Last edited by tacomancer; 02-12-11 at 07:56 PM.

  9. #29
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    Re: Was Microsoft a monopoly in the 1990s?

    Quote Originally Posted by Goldenboy219 View Post
    Microsoft was a price setter, not a price taker in terms of their operating system and MS Office products.
    People could have easily chosen other operating systems. They didn't, and they paid the price for it. That's not a monopoly, it sounds more like a fad.

    But there would have been much more competition had those patents not been in place.

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  10. #30
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    Re: Was Microsoft a monopoly in the 1990s?

    Quote Originally Posted by phattonez View Post
    People could have easily chosen other operating systems. They didn't, and they paid the price for it. That's not a monopoly, it sounds more like a fad.

    But there would have been much more competition had those patents not been in place.
    The only other operating system available at the time that would run on consumer grade hardware (meaning, not 40k+ servers or engineering workstations) was OS/2, apple, and something else I can't remember (but it had good graphics for its day), all were a joke for the needs of even a small business network.

    At that time, if you wanted to actually use a computer for the benefit of a company, it was a combination of unix (very expensive), netware (servers only), and windows (nt or 9x)

    Also software patents didn't even get started until 1994, too late to the party in this particular scenario as well.
    Last edited by tacomancer; 02-12-11 at 08:03 PM.

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