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Microsoft Winning in Court of Public Opinion
   Fox Market Wire
What should happen to Microsoft? That's the question before the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., this week, as Microsoft seeks to overturn last year's verdict against the software giant.

Last April, a federal judge said Microsoft had violated U.S. antitrust laws by using monopoly power to stifle its competition. Then, in June, he ordered that the company be split into two to allow for competition and help consumers.

Going into this week's appeal, Microsoft has substantial support from the public, according to the latest FOX News/Opinion Dynamics Poll. The public's opinion of Microsoft has become more favorable over the 10 months since last year's verdict. Today, almost two-thirds (64 percent) have a favorable opinion of the company (11 percent unfavorable). Microsoft Founder Bill Gates enjoys similar ratings, with 68 percent reporting a favorable opinion.

One thing that does not help Microsoft is an increased belief that consumers do not have a real choice of software products. When asked if there is a real choice of computer products on the market, one-third say yes, but 39 percent disagree, saying Microsoft produces most of what is available. This represents a shift from last April, when 48 percent said there was a choice. Among computer users only, the results are more striking, with almost half (47 percent) saying there is not a real choice, and 38 percent saying there is.

Despite this, a plurality seems to prefer a new verdict in favor of Microsoft. When asked if several remedies would be good or bad for computer users, only 29 percent say forcing Microsoft to change its business practices would be good, and 31 percent say breaking up the company would be good (36 percent and 38 percent say these options would be bad, respectively). In comparison, 48 percent believe it would be good for computer users if Microsoft were mostly left alone.

Again, looking at computer users only, the results are similar. A majority says leaving Microsoft alone would be good, while only a third thinks either of the other two options would be beneficial.

While support for Microsoft is greatest among Republicans, Democrats also prefer to leave the company alone. While Democrats are divided about the benefits of either forcing changes within Microsoft or breaking up the company, 46 percent say it would be good to leave it alone; only 25 percent say this would be bad for computer users.

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