MS/DOJ - Survey: Few IT professionals favour MS breakup

Seventy percent of information technology professionals agree with Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson that Microsoft Corp. has a monopoly in PC operating systems, according to a Computerworld telephone survey.

However, 65 percent of the 132 respondents also said that Microsoft's practices have actually had a positive effect by fostering uniform software standards and compatibility.

"They made their products so they integrated well, and that is what attracted companies to them," said Bill Nicholson, information systems director at Catellus Development, a construction company in San Francisco.

Less than one fifth (17 percent) of the 132 respondents favour the drastic action of splitting Microsoft into separate corporations.

"Breaking up (the) company would hurt me and my business the most of any remedies," said Paul Kirk, senior vice president of MIS at United Companies Financial in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. "We like a single point of contact from a vendor, and it's easier to contact one company for site licenses for all desktop needs. Breaking up Microsoft would mean I would go negotiating with new corporations for the products that were split off. And I wouldn't know the viability of those companies."

"The problem with breaking up Microsoft is that all you've done is create two Microsofts," added Robert Young, co-founder and chairman of Linux software firm Red Hat Inc. in Durham, North Carolina.

Slightly more than half of those surveyed (51 percent) supported continued oversight of Microsoft's business operations, while 29 percent suggested court-ordered restrictions on Microsoft's business operations.

The judge's verdict Monday that Microsoft violated federal antitrust laws appears to have had little impact on users' views of the company or their purchasing plans. Only 5 percent reported a more negative view of Microsoft since the ruling, with 95 percent saying their view of the company remains unchanged. And 95 percent said their planned purchase of Microsoft products remains the same.

"We are pretty much a Microsoft shop, and I don't think (the verdict) will have any effect on that," Nicholson said.

About 11 percent said they might be more inclined to consider other desktop operating systems in the wake of the verdict, with Linux (73 percent) most often cited.

Computerworld Editor-in-Chief Maryfran Johnson and feature writer Matthew Hamblen both contributed to this report

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