The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Monday, October 20, 2003

ONCE A MONOPOLIST, ALWAYS A MONOPOLIST
Should this really come as a surprise? Microsoft's integrated music-selling feature in XP is raising questions from the government on whether the Big Redmond Machine is up to its old tricks again.

Considering that MS got less than a slap on the wrist for its previous monopolistic practices, there was no reason at all to think the company was going to stop operating the way it was accustomed to. As nimble as companies, especially tech companies, think they are, they are really ruled by inertia--if employees are used to doing things a certain way, they're going to continue to do it unless radical changes are implemented.

And that's assuming that Microsoft is even trying to change, which I doubt. The company's announcement months ago that it would soon be inextractably integrating Internet Explorer into future version of Windows was an early sign to me that nothing had really changed, and the lack of any real punishment from the antitrust suits is a direct result of that. If the intent is to have Microsoft really change its stripes, the government's going to have to nail it on rather obvious monopolistic behavior; if that doesn't happen, this kind of stuff will continually crop up.