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Mac McKinnon

Tuesday, May 12, 1998


By Mac McKinnon

Feds shouldn't dictate
on computer software

How do you feel about the government getting involved in
regulating business?

Obviously, there is a need for some of that. As we've gone
through the past few decades, there has been deregulation of
many industries. In many cases, that has resulted in more
competition and lower prices.

Some people contend that the deregulation has caused
dangerous situations, such as in the airline industry.
Because of the deregulation, there is less government
supervision in making sure regulations are upheld. Then
there is the rush for people to get involved, cutting
corners at the possible expense of the safety of the public.

One area that seems to be still a subject of controversy is
the break-up of AT&T. The government used anti-trust
legislation to break up that big company and the result is
that there's a lot of competition in telecommunications.

That competition has resulted in increased services and, in
many cases, lower prices. But what about the quality of

Telecommunications companies say they're operating on such a
thin profit margin that they can't take care of business as
they could in the old days. Nobody will say that officially
but that's the rumbling.

Now, I'm concerned about the government investigation of
Microsoft and its alleged threatened domination of the
computer industry. I'm not going to pretend to know all
there is to know about this situation but it seems that a
company like Microsoft should be left alone to do what it
can in a free market society.

The government contends that their very popular software
dictates that you have to use other Microsoft software in
order to make it compatible. In addition, it is said that
Microsoft has put the muscle on computer makers to make
their Windows program part of each computer sold, and that
software calls for the use of other Microsoft software,
thereby giving Microsoft an unfair competitive edge.

Microsoft is by far the most popular software for more
operations on the market but people are free to ask for
other software applications when they buy computers, at
least that has been my experience.

It would seem that Microsoft, one of America's great success
stories, should be recognized for their aggressive work and
development of software. That company spends a ton of money
on research and development. Bill Gates, the Microsoft guru,
is obviously a computer genius.

Other companies also have dominate positions in various
markets and I don't see the government coming after them.
What about Intel who has developed pentium chips that is in
just about every computer currently made? Computer companies
want to put the most successful programs and chips in their
machines in order to please the customers.

Is the government going to limit what Microsoft can put into
its software to make computer owners have to buy other
software? I'm not the most knowledgeable person in the world
about computers but I do understand business.

Competitors shouldn't holler at the government for help.
They should help themselves and try to work around
Microsoft, if that is possible. I realize Microsoft is huge
but many other companies are dealing with them successfully.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Mac McKinnon is the editor and publisher of
the Pecos Enterprise. He can be e-mailed at:

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