Poll: Should Microsoft really be considered a monopoly?

This week's Microsoft Windows Blog poll: Should Microsoft really be considered a monopoly? This is your chance to sound off on the topic.

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?

By Mark Kaelin

Mark W. Kaelin has been writing and editing stories about the IT industry, gadgets, finance, accounting, and tech-life for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has been a regular contributor to BreakingModern.com, aNewDomain.net, and TechRepublic.