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A Microsoft Breakup Could Affect How You Use Your Computer

Posted April 23, 2000

— You may not work forMicrosoftor have any of the company's stock, but if Microsoft is broken into separate companies, it could affect the way you use your computer.

TheU.S. Justice Departmenthas found thatMicrosoft is a monopoly, and it may split up the company. That surprises some.

"There had emerged something of a consensus that a breakup was not an appropriate remedy, that there were just too many risks involved with a breakup," says Dr. Stephen Margolis, an economics professor atN.C. State University.

The Windows operating system could be one unit and software applications such as Office, Word, and Excel another company.

"I think that there would be something lost from that," says Margolis. "I think there are benefits from having this company that has really implemented a technology and established some standards that we as consumers benefit from."

Before Windows, personal computer owners had to configure new software, search for drivers and load everything in the right place. Will we be returning to that state where the consumer is left to solve a lot of the problems of integrating his or her own computer?

Margolis warns that what might happen to Microsoft could slow the progress of technology.

Word of a possible breakup brought a big drop in theNasdaqMonday.

"The whole Intel world is actually getting hit hard today. Microsoft is the worst of it," says Margolis.

The breakup is speculation now, but the government must submit its proposed remedies by Friday.North Carolinais one of 19 states which are also suing Microsoft and is expected to agree with the Justice Department's ruling.

Whatever the remedy, it will likely take at least two years to take effect, and Microsoft isexpected to appealany decision.


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