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Bw/Harris Poll: Let Microsoft Be Microsoft


News: Analysis & Commentary: BUSINESS WEEK/HARRIS ONLINE POLL

BW/HARRIS POLL: LET MICROSOFT BE MICROSOFT

On Apr. 21, the Justice Dept. confronted Microsoft Corp. in a federal appeals court in the latest effort to curb the company's allegedly predatory practices. But according to a new Harris Poll--and an unscientific BUSINESS WEEK survey of readers--citizens believe the agency should beat a retreat. Two-thirds of the readers who responded after seeing our cover story ("What to do about Microsoft," Apr. 20) and 53% of those polled online by Harris say the government should back off. "Justice should apologize profusely to Microsoft and to the voters for wasting Microsoft's and the taxpayers' money," wrote Dick Mallion of Whitefield, N.H. Fewer than a quarter of respondents favor some sort of regulation.

FIGHTING FAIR?

In general, how would you characterize Microsoft's competitive practices?

Very fair 18%

Somewhat fair 33%

Somewhat unfair 30%

Very unfair 14%

Don't know 5%

FEELING MICROSOFT'S MUSCLE

Do you think that Microsoft has too much, about the right amount, or not enough economic power?

Too much 49%

About the right amount 45%

Not enough 1%

Don't know 5%

WHOA, TRUSTBUSTERS

What, if anything, should the Justice Dept. do to address Microsoft's dominant position in the computer software industry?

READERS SURVEY HARRIS POLL

Do nothing 67% 53%

Regulate Microsoft 22% 23%

Break Microsoft up into two

separate companies 11% 9%

Don't know 0% 15%

HOW TO CUFF 'EM

If you think Justice should regulate Microsoft, which of these approaches should it pursue? (multiple responses allowed)

READERS SURVEY HARRIS POLL

Limit Microsoft's ability to prevent

business partners from selling or

promoting rivals' products 83% 64%

Bar Microsoft from giving its

products and services favored

locations within Windows 55% 39%

Force Microsoft to market its

operating system, browser,

and related products separately 48% 48%

Make sure that Microsoft's

operating system will work with

any independent software 41% 74%

NO SECOND THOUGHTS

As a result of the Justice Dept.'s inquiry, has your opinion of Microsoft changed?

Much more favorable 5%

Somewhat more favorable 7%

No change 66%

Somewhat less favorable 16%

Much less favorable 4%

Don't know 2%

SHOPPING THE SAME WAY

As a result of the Justice Dept.'s inquiry, do you think you are more likely or less likely to buy Microsoft products in the future?

Much more likely 8% Somewhat less likely 10%

Somewhat more likely 5% Much less likely 3%

About as likely 73% Don't know 1%

THE LONG ARM OF BILL GATES

Do you presently use any Microsoft software?

Yes 96% No 3% Don't know 1%

POLISHED WINDOWS

If you use Microsoft's software, how would you rate it in terms of usefulness, ease of use, and reliability?

EXCELLENT GOOD FAIR POOR

Usefulness 52% 42% 6% 0%

Ease of use 37% 44% 17% 2%

Reliability 36% 40% 19% 5%

BROWSER NOT OPTIONAL

How important to you is it that a personal computer's operating system incorporate an Internet browser?

Very important 29% Not important at all 26%

Somewhat important 22% Don't know 1%

Not very important 22%

Survey of 2,587 adults conducted Apr. 17-20, 1998, for BUSINESS WEEK by Louis Harris & Associates Inc. Computer users were invited via E-mail to participate in the poll at a Web site; that sample was reweighted to reflect national demographics. BUSINESS WEEK's own poll of readers, conducted Apr. 10-20, 1998, attracted 5,072 respondents--3,835 online, 681 by E-mail, and 556 by fax.EDITED BY KEITH H. HAMMONDS


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