BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Business  
News Front Page
Middle East
South Asia
Market Data
Talking Point
Country Profiles
In Depth
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
Friday, 9 June, 2000, 06:24 GMT 07:24 UK
Microsoft: Winners and Losers
Personal computers running Microsoft Windows
PCs might lose their position of dominance
By BBC News Online's Kevin Anderson in Washington

Microsoft's partners and competitors are now absorbing the possibility that the software giant might be split in two.

Microsoft has promised an appeal, but even the fastest of legal scenarios sees the government and the company continuing the legal battle for another year and a half. Many legal experts anticipate it will take longer.

Broadly speaking, Microsoft's competitors stand to gain and its partners are made vulnerable by the company's continuing legal battle.

But in the end, at least one analyst says that not only Microsoft, but the US as a whole, could be hobbled at a critical point in the internet revolution as the world moves on to wireless technology.

The winners

Although the break up of the company is on hold until Microsoft has exhausted its appeals, uncertainty is the greatest threat to the company that Bill Gates built.
Apple's iBook
Apple has the momentum even without Microsoft's uncertainty

Microsoft competitors such as Sun Microsystems, Oracle and Apple stand to gain.

"They can walk in, point to the judgement, and say how much more stable their future is compared to Microsoft," said Rob Enderle, vice president of Giga Information Group.

Apple in particular could get a boost from Microsoft's precarious position.

Microsoft's popular Office applications Word and Excel run quite happily on Apple computers, but Apple does not face the uncertainty of a protracted legal battle, Mr Enderle said.

The cost of uncertainty

Microsoft's partners including hardware and software companies that have grown wealthy creating Windows products stand to lose from the ongoing case.

Computer makers such as Compaq and Dell could suffer, Mr Enderle said.

They have built their businesses on computers running Microsoft Windows although Compaq also makes computers running Unix, and both companies recently began offering computers running the upstart operating system Linux.

The wireless web

Mr Enderle fears it is the uncertainty surrounding the case that is hampering Microsoft and potentially the US economy at a critical moment in the internet revolution.
South Koreans shop for mobile phones
Asia and Europe lead the US in wireless technology

The centre of gravity in high technology is shifting.

"The market is at the front end of making another change," Mr Enderle said, away from the dominance of the desktop personal computer to information appliances connected wirelessly.

Not only does Microsoft not dominate these areas, but Europe and Japan are ahead of the US in developing the technologies.

Mr Enderle believes Europe is a year ahead of the US, and Japan is two years farther along.

Companies such as DoCoMo in Japan and wireless phone makers Nokia and Ericsson in Europe are positioned to take advantage of these markets in the US and world wide.

End the uncertainty

For the US to remain competitive in this period of technological change, Mr Enderle said it would be best if Microsoft end the uncertainty surrounding its future.
Erisson 3G prototypes
The market is moving toward simpler, wireless devices

"If Microsoft deals with the break up, we believe it will be more powerful as two companies," he said.

"The longer they stay in this in between time, with the Department of Justice dragging it into court every time it moves, the longer it will not be able to move," he added.

The market may decide to bypass what Microsoft is doing, he said, leaving overseas companies to take advantage of the wireless revolution.

See also:

08 Jun 00 | Business
08 Jun 00 | Business
07 Jun 00 | Business
07 Jun 00 | Business
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Business stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Business stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |