Who Decides What Goes into Microsoft’s Windows OS?

by | Feb 5, 1999

Q: Don’t consumers have a right to buy Microsoft Windows without Internet Explorer? Does not Microsoft’s bundling of their products (i.e., Microsoft Internet Explorer and Microsoft Windows) into one package disrupt a person’s right to only have to pay for products he wishes to buy? A: Legally, in a free-market, the terms of any trade […]

Q: Don’t consumers have a right to buy Microsoft Windows without Internet Explorer? Does not Microsoft’s bundling of their products (i.e., Microsoft Internet Explorer and Microsoft Windows) into one package disrupt a person’s right to only have to pay for products he wishes to buy?

A: Legally, in a free-market, the terms of any trade must be agreeable to the buyer and the seller, or else a sale does not take place. If you don’t like Microsoft’s terms, then you are free to go somewhere else (like I did when I bought an Apple Macintosh and rented a UNIX web server). No one has a right to buy whatever they wish. Consumers only have the right to buy what others choose to voluntary sell to them.

Morally, there is no “right to coerce” Microsoft to create, or sell, a product called “Windows without Internet Explorer” if Microsoft does not want to produce and sell such a product.

Unlike the mythical “right to physically force Microsoft to obey one’s wishes” the right to property is a legitimate right. Of course, politically this is possible under the principle that government “might makes right”; but, this does not make such an immoral action a right. It is, in fact, a violation of individual rights in principle.

The property rights to Windows and Explorer belongs solely to Microsoft and not to potential buyers, and certainly not to the U.S. Department of Justice. That Microsoft does not want to sell the product “Windows without Explorer” does not violate one’s rights. There is no such thing as your right to Microsoft’s property. There is only the right to buy products that others wish to sell to you. If they don’t wish to sell you them in the first place, then you have no right to buy them.

Mark Da Cunha is the editor of Capitalism Magazine and creator of capitalism.org. Twitter: @capitalismorg

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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