In the mid-90s, the U.S. government grew concerned that Microsoft was a _______________, exercising disproportionate control over the available choices and prices of computers.
d. technological globalization
The Correct Answer Is:
- a. monopoly
In the mid-1990s, the U.S. government indeed grew concerned that Microsoft was a monopoly, exercising disproportionate control over the available choices and prices of computers.
This concern stemmed from Microsoft’s dominant position in the market for personal computer operating systems, particularly the Windows operating system. Let’s delve into the detailed explanation of why “monopoly” is the correct answer and why the other options are not:
The term “monopoly” is used to describe a situation where a single company or entity holds exclusive control or a dominant position in a specific market or industry. In Microsoft’s case during the mid-1990s, the U.S. government had reason to be concerned about the company’s monopoly over the personal computer operating system market.
Microsoft’s Windows operating system had achieved an overwhelming market share, which allowed them to exert significant influence over the choices available to consumers.
Microsoft’s dominance in this market meant that it had the power to dictate terms to computer manufacturers, software developers, and end-users. This raised antitrust concerns and prompted government intervention to address Microsoft’s monopoly power.
A conglomerate is a large corporation that owns multiple, often unrelated businesses. Microsoft in the mid-1990s was primarily known for its software products, particularly the Windows operating system and Microsoft Office suite.
While Microsoft was a significant player in the technology industry, the term “conglomerate” does not accurately describe its business structure at that time. It was more focused on software and operating systems rather than owning a diverse array of unrelated businesses.
Functionalism is a sociological and psychological theory that focuses on how different parts or functions of a society or mind work together to maintain stability and balance. This term is unrelated to the context of Microsoft’s monopoly in the 1990s.
The concern about Microsoft’s monopoly was primarily an antitrust issue related to market dominance rather than a matter of sociological or psychological theory.
d. Technological Globalization:
Technological globalization is a concept that refers to the global spread and integration of technology and information systems. While Microsoft certainly played a role in the globalization of technology through the widespread use of its software, this term doesn’t accurately describe the specific concern related to Microsoft’s market power.
The government’s concern was more about antitrust issues and the potential negative impact of Microsoft’s monopolistic practices on competition and consumer choice, rather than the broader concept of technological globalization.
To expand on the correct answer, it’s crucial to understand the context of the mid-1990s when the U.S. government’s concerns about Microsoft’s monopoly arose.
During this period, Microsoft’s Windows operating system was the dominant platform for personal computers, controlling over 90% of the market. This market share gave Microsoft significant influence over hardware manufacturers, software developers, and consumers. There were several key factors that contributed to Microsoft’s perceived monopoly:
Market Share: Microsoft’s Windows operating system enjoyed a virtual monopoly on personal computers. This dominance made it difficult for competing operating systems, like Apple’s Mac OS, to gain a significant foothold in the market.
Software Integration: Microsoft bundled its software products, such as the Internet Explorer web browser, with the Windows operating system. This bundling made it challenging for competitors to gain traction, as consumers often used the pre-installed Microsoft products.
Exclusive Agreements: Microsoft had contracts with many computer manufacturers that stipulated they could only use Microsoft’s operating system on their machines. This practice limited consumer choice and the ability of alternative operating systems to gain market share.
Monopolistic Practices: Microsoft was accused of engaging in anti-competitive practices to maintain its monopoly, such as requiring manufacturers to pay a license fee for every computer they sold, whether or not it had a Microsoft operating system installed.
Network Effects: As more users adopted Windows, it became the de facto standard, creating network effects that discouraged users and developers from switching to alternative operating systems.
In response to these concerns, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and several state attorneys general initiated antitrust proceedings against Microsoft.
The most notable case was the United States v. Microsoft Corporation, which ultimately resulted in a settlement in 2001. The settlement imposed restrictions on Microsoft’s business practices and aimed to promote competition and consumer choice.
The case against Microsoft in the mid-1990s highlighted the government’s concerns about the negative consequences of a single company having a monopoly on a critical component of the technology market. Microsoft’s dominance was seen as a potential threat to innovation, competition, and consumer welfare.
The term “monopoly” accurately captures the essence of this concern, as it signifies an entity’s excessive control over a market and the ability to stifle competition.
In conclusion, the U.S. government’s concern about Microsoft in the mid-1990s revolved around the company’s monopoly on the personal computer operating system market. The term “monopoly” is the correct answer, as it accurately describes Microsoft’s dominant position and the disproportionate control it exercised over the choices and prices of computers.
This concern led to antitrust actions and ultimately shaped the landscape of the technology industry in subsequent years. The other options, including “conglomerate,” “functionalism,” and “technological globalization,” do not accurately capture the nature of the issue and are therefore incorrect in the given context.