February 2, 2000 9:25 AM PST

Poll shows most oppose Microsoft breakup

Two trade groups closely allied with Microsoft later today will release a study showing Americans oppose breaking up the software giant, in essence backing the software giant's contention in its long-running antitrust trial.

Mason Dixon Polling & Research conducted the study on behalf of Americans for Technology Leadership (ATL) and the Association of Competitive Technology (ACT).

The poll shows 63 percent of Americans oppose a government-imposed breakup Microsoft's day in court of Microsoft and 59 percent believe there is sufficient competition in the software industry.

Both groups are strong Microsoft allies and receive funding from the Redmond, Wash.-based software maker, although neither group would disclose the extent of the financial commitment.

The study, which between Jan. 20 and Jan. 23 polled 1,124 registered voters--476 Democrats, 417 Republicans and 231 Independents--could be used to influence public policy about Microsoft and its ongoing antitrust battle with the government.

Legal and political experts expect groups representing both the government and Microsoft to crank out more studies and analyses as the case quickly approaches the remedy phase. Their hope is to influence public opinion and public policy and possibly influence eventual remedies--what to do about Microsoft's alleged violation of antitrust laws--levied by a U.S. federal judge.

CATO Institute, a conservative Washington, D.C., think tank, for example, last week re-released a study by fellow Robert Levy opposing a breakup of Microsoft. Days earlier, the Progress and Freedom Foundation, another Washington think tank, issued a proposal for breaking up the software giant.

ACT on Monday took its own public-policy influencing position by filing early a "friend of the court" brief on Microsoft's behalf. The group used the early filing to generate media frenzy around the legal luminaries supporting Microsoft's position.

ATL, which was founded on Oct. 30, grew out of the work started by ACT. That group and its president Jonathan Zuck have been vocal and aggressive allies of Microsoft and its right to innovate without government interference. Microsoft and ACT, along with Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW), Clarity Consulting, Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA), CompUSA, Staples and others, founded ATL.

ATL's formation demonstrates how Washington-based policy-influencing organizations are intertwined. CAGW, for example, is a long-standing Microsoft supporter against the government.

When in November U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson issued his stinging "findings of fact" against Microsoft, CAGW "proclaimed today's 'finding of fact' ruling as a vindication of the Microsoft Corp. The ruling confirmed what Americans already know--that the software manufacturer is a tough competitor in a dynamic industry."

Antitrust experts generally regard Jackson's findings of fact as a blow to Full text of Judge Jackson's findings of
fact Microsoft and a sign the judge will eventually rule the software maker violated antitrust law.

CompTIA, which was founded in 1982 and represents more than 8,000 computer hardware and software manufacturers, distributors, retailers and system integrators, has also defended Microsoft. The group is generally viewed as an aggressive public policy mogul influencing technology legislation and regulation on Capitol Hill and in state houses across the United States.

 

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