Breaking Up Is Hard to Do, So Don't Do It

Competition Policy and Antitrust

Article Snapshot


Robert W. Hahn


AEI-Brookings Joint Center Policy Matters 00-05; A revised version appeared in the Los Angeles Times on April 30, 2000


This paper looks at the proposal to break Microsoft into two companies.

Policy Relevance

Consumers benefit from having a standard product, and breaking up the company that makes it can hurt consumers.

Main Points

  • The Department of Justice has proposed breaking Microsoft into two separate companies.

  • Breaking up a company that makes cheese or cigarettes is one thing, but breaking up a company that makes key software used by millions of people is very risky.

  • The standardization of the Windows operating system makes life much easier for consumers and software makers, and breaking up Microsoft endangers these benefits.

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