Process

To complete this task, you will be a member of a four person group exploring the dual issue of whether Microsoft is truly a monopoly, as well as deciding as a group whether or not Microsoft's presence in the computer industry is harmful or beneficial.

These are the recommended steps to completing this task:

  1. Collaborate as a group and decide which group members will be assigned which roles in this WebQuest. Read the specific sections below to gain an understanding of what you will be expected to do for each role.
  2. Conduct your research, according to your role, as outlined in the role-specific section(s) below.
  3. Reconvene as a group and share/discuss your findings with your peers in your group.
  4. Working as a group, you will combine your relevant research and decide on a conclusion to the questions posed in the task statement. You will need to consider what evidence or research you will need to provide to substantiate the conclusion your team reaches.
  5. You will design a short 4-5 minute presentation during which time you will present your conclusion to the class and explain your reasoning. (You may be asked questions by other students or the instructor, so be prepared to defend your conclusion!)
  6. You will complete this task by submitting your peer evaluation forms where you evaluate the work that was completed by your peers on your team. (See the Evaluation section for more details.)

Roles

Historian

    You are currently a graduate student at a major university. Your professor has given you a thesis project to work on: Discuss the history of the monopoly in the United States, and discuss Microsoft's position in the computer marketplace.
    Your thesis, however, is not to make any judgements about Microsoft; rather, your role is to merely report on the relevant histories.
    You should begin your work by looking into the history of the monopoly in the United States. Beyond knowing what a monopoly is, you should look into some famous examples throughout history of monopolies and how they formed and what eventually happened to them.
    Then you should look into the history of Microsoft as a corporation. You should look into not only the company as a whole, but also investigate and research the chief founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates. You should realize that it isn't possible to understand a company unless you know its history, motivations, strengths, and weaknesses.
    As you conduct your research, you will want to consider a number of questions. Among these you may want to consider are:

Information Technology Specialist

    Fresh with your bachelor's degree in Computer Science, you have worked your way up the "food chain" in a major corporation and now serve as the Chief Information Technology Specialist, or an ITS. An ITS typically works for a company and helps to manage not only the computers, networks, and devices a company uses - but also the software run on those computers.
    Your company is getting ready to purchase a new, replacement line of computers for the entire company. As the chief ITS of the company, the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) has come to you and stated that the company is trying to "tighten their belt" and save money. To do so, they would like to use something other than Microsoft Windows on their computers.
    Your research task is to look into alternatives for Windows in the marketplace. As you do this, you may need to consider some of the following questions:

Microsoft Supporter

    You've been hired at Microsoft as an intern out of college. Your college major was Journalism, and so Microsoft would like you to work in their Advertising and Promotions department.
    The timing is perfect: Microsoft is just about to release their next major operating system, Microsoft Vista. With almost fifty (50) million lines of code and five (5) years of work, the software is ready for the world to see.
    However, a small but vocal group of antagonists has continued to launch a campaign of FUD - fear, uncertainty, and doubt - to confuse loyal Microsoft customers.
    Your research task is to put together a series of points that you could make demonstrating the good that Microsoft has done as a company. As you consider this role, you may want to think of the following questions:

Anti-Monopoly Advocate

    As a new hire with the United States Justice Department, you have been handed an impressive (and difficult) first case: You must prove that Microsoft is a corporate monopoly and deserving of being sanctioned by the U.S. government.
    In order to put together a strong enough case, you should begin by looking into Microsoft's past business practices and activities. You may want to consider Microsoft's founding, and some of their early business partners.
    As you do this work, you may want to consider some of the following questions:

 

 

Sources / References

Microsoft & Monopoly History

Other Operating System Choices

In Support of Microsoft

Against Microsoft