A few days ago Windows XP on my primary work computer decided that it wasn’t a legal copy. Strange since the copy running on there was pre-installed at the time that the machine was built by Alienware. There used to be a Windows serial number on the back of the machine, but the sticker has since fallen off.
I was angry for a moment, but then I realized: I don’t much like Windows anyway. So I wiped the offending garbage from my machine and installed Ubuntu Linux. All in all a painless process.
If game developers switch en masse to Linux, MicroSoft is going to be in deep, deep doo-doo. The only reason I run Windows is for games, and the only Windows I run with any regularity is 98 SE.
Some characteristics of predatory monopolies are that they can divide the market at will and charge different prices for the same product (19 different versions of Vista, anyone?), and treat their customers like criminals (Windows Genuine Annoyance) - stuff they would never get away with if there was actual competition in the market.
I was skeptical when the DOJ moved on MicroSoft in the mid 90's. I felt like they were jumping the gun. But now the lines are bright and clear - MicroSoft is engaging in text-book behavior for a predatory monopoly. If you need further evidence, read about the EU's recent decision to fine Microsoft $600 million when MicroSoft quite intentionally refused to release some interoperability specs the EU demanded.
Monopolies are market failures. They hurt the free market, preventing competition and locking out alternatives. MicroSoft has been so successful in locking out competition that even when you give your competing product away FOR FREE, people still don't use it. This is nearly the textbook definition of a coercive monopoly. You can argue that perhaps computer operating system markets tend towards a "natural monopoly." But in such a case, I would argue that extreme regulation (such as we have on all other natural infrastructure monopolies - water, electricity, phone service) is the correct solution. And you can bet the boys in Redmond don't want THAT to happen...