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Business and Society: The Microsoft Case
"Microsoft" is one of the most well-known and highly diversified computer software manufacturing organizations of the world, founded in 1975 by Bill Gates. Only after five years of its foundation, this company earned $8 million and this success has continued to date. It is still run by its founder and its success story continues, which has made it one of the most famous organization of the world.
Microsoft was the first company that introduced the first user friendly and affordable operating system for personal computers. It manufactures several products today including; windows family of operating systems for personal computers & servers, applications softwares that run on the windows family of operating systems, and the most famous and successful MS-Office Suite, which consists of Word, Excel, Power Point, Outlook and Access.
These applications are not only used by students and professionals but also by users belonging to different phases of life due to their simplicity, user friendly features and several other unique characteristics which make these applications useful for everyone. These applications help in creating documents, storing and solving data in figures, giving presentations, checking news & emails and provide several other benefits to the user. Most of Microsoft's products are included complementary in the Windows family of operating system which is used for personal computers and servers.
Bill Gates, the highly competitive founder of Microsoft, has been able to achieve this success due to his great vision and passion. Microsoft has a policy to hire young and smart people who come up with new ideas that help Microsoft to make difference and place in the world.
Today Microsoft is counted as one of the most powerful companies of the planet as its products are used in all parts of the world due to their important characteristics, unique style, attitude and usage. Microsoft has not only become successful in taking on the giant companies like IBM but has also become dominant on them. It is surprising to know that despite this huge success, Microsoft is criticized and counted as one of the organizations that have harmed society with their power. This first part of this paper explains how Microsoft helped the society by coming up with useful products and the second part describes how Microsoft harmed the society and created problems for many.
Positive Aspects of Microsoft
There is no doubt in saying that Microsoft has given a new shape to the society. Microsoft not only developed the technology but also played a significant role in popularizing it. It changed the standards of the personal computers and changed the way of conducting businesses and communications. Peter Drucker, who is one of the well-known theorists of modern business organizations, writes in his book Post-Capitalist Society that:
Every few hundred years, there occurs a sharp transformation . . . Within a few short decades; society rearranges itself -- its worldview; its values; its social and political structure; its arts; its key institutions. Fifty years later, there is a new world.
Similarly, Microsoft took the initiative of forming this new world and as mentioned above, came up with the first comfortable and affordable system for the personal computers. Other systems were also available at that time, which include Texas Instruments TI-99, Apple, Atari etc. But these expensive and limited in use. Microsoft on the other side made the personal computers accessible to everyone by cutting down their price and promoting a wide range of softwares. Similarly when Apple came up with the Graphical User interface; Microsoft introduced windows for the people, which were available in cheaper rates. This way Microsoft helped consumers to enjoy the latest technology in affordable rates.
Microsoft not only created the PC world but also diversified into other markets. These include; games like X-box, music players like the Zune, portals and search engines, mapping softwares, mapping technologies and car radio softwares.
Microsoft made cheaper products by cutting their price and made them available for users. In brief, Microsoft changed the way people live, brought easy access to the internet and introduced the new ways of communicating with people across the world. As Peter Drucker writes in his book Post Capitalist Society:
I also consider it highly probable that within the next decade or two there will be new and startling 'economic miracles', in which poor, backward Third World countries transform themselves, virtually overnight, into fast-growth economics powers. (14)
Microsoft's became famous day by day and it changed from a small provide business to a big global organization, which played an important role in changing the life style of the society. It became the leading computer producer around the globe and made its way to reach the top by competing with all the challenges and giving maximum benefit to the consumers.
Looking at all these benefits which Microsoft provided to the people and society, it is difficult to accept that this organization can also harm society, but it is a fact and world knows that Microsoft has badly harmed the society for years.
Negative Aspects of Microsoft
This can be seen by the several acts of Microsoft, which created problems for the people of society; the major from which is the use of illegal ways to expand their market share. It was claimed by the Justice Department in year 1990 that Microsoft was found to have a monopoly over the operating systems software for the personal computers that were IBM compatible. Using the monopoly power to abuse others is against the antitrust law of United States which was passed several years ago in order to prevent the abuse of monopoly power (Hepburn & Lopatka, 4).
Ignoring this law, Microsoft tried to rule in the market and with the help of its dominant position in the market of operating systems; it excluded other software developers and stopped the computer makers from installing any other non-Microsoft browser software for running the Microsoft's operating system software. This act of Microsoft was illegal, in which it maintained the monopoly of its operating systems by adding the Internet Explorer and the Microsoft internet browser with each copy of its Windows operating system software which was sold to the computer makers.
This way Microsoft made it technically difficult to not to use its browser or to use a browser other than Microsoft. Indeed it made an agreement with the computer making companies and forced them not to promote its competitors, so that it can gain major share of the market, which is a violation of free market rules. This step really helped Microsoft to expand their market share further as customers did not have any other option left, and were forced to buy Microsoft products. In order to further support and play monopoly in the market, Microsoft issued free licenses to use its software. This act of Microsoft helped in discouraging other software developers from promoting any other software or even developing new softwares based on that browser (Economides, 2).
These measures of Microsoft created lots of problems for the computer makers and weaken their efforts to use or market the competing browsers. The development of add on softwares that were compatible with non- Microsoft browsers was also discouraged. Furthermore, Microsoft bundled Internet Explorer with windows and restricted users from using other softwares like Netscape Navigator. Moreover, it also made difficult to uninstall Internet Explorer from its operating system, which was again an unethical attempt to force users to use Internet Explorer.
Microsoft did not realize that there are certain rules and laws made for the business organizations, which they must keep in mind when making decisions. The purpose of making these laws is to improve the ethics and create a peaceful environment for businesses where everyone can freely perform. Ignoring these laws, Microsoft has enjoyed monopoly in the market by violating the laws and rules of business like utilitarianism, right and justice of the others.
The ethical decision made by the business should benefit greatest number of people of the society but Microsoft has done something opposite to this and harmed the consumers and competitors. Second, the decision of business should protect the rights and freedom of other businesses but Microsoft took rights and freedom from people and tried to rule on them. Furthermore, Microsoft also made attempts to kick other competitors out from market and as mentioned above, this act of throwing competitors out of the business is considered illegal under the antitrust laws. Antitrust laws were passed with the aim of making it illegal for any company to limit the supply and control the product's price (Eisenach & Lenard, 200).
Microsoft however, violated these laws and did not allow competitors to enter in the market. They were badly crushed and thrown out of the market by strategies of Microsoft, in result of which they were not able to earn anything from their products. Microsoft should have understood the fact that everyone has the right to take part in the free market and it is not ethical at all…[continue]
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