Last week I polled the TechRepublic membership regarding the use of unlicensed copies of Microsoft Windows. I was looking for an explanation of why and how someone would consider that activity to be justified. After the poll runs its course, I'll present the results, and then we can discuss some of the more inventive responses.
However, in the meantime, one common theme kept creeping into the conversation and that was the idea that Microsoft is a monopoly. That got me thinking, what exactly do we mean by monopoly? The Oxford English Dictionary contains this definition:
Monopoly: noun (pl. monopolies) 1 the exclusive possession or control of the supply of a commodity or service. 2 an organization having a monopoly, or a commodity or service controlled by one. 3 exclusive possession or control of something.
So, while Microsoft certainly enjoys a substantial market share in the operating system market, it really doesn't meet the formal definition of a monopoly, does it? I mean, there are several other operating systems available, some even for free. Doesn't that preclude Microsoft from being labeled a monopoly or are there other mitigating factors we should consider?
Mark Kaelin is a CBS Interactive Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He is the host for the Microsoft Windows and Office blog, the Google in the Enterprise blog, the Five Apps blog and the Big Data Analytics blog.