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Valley votes against MS breakup – but IT doesn't

Mixed messages from a poll of residents

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By a small margin, Silicon Valley resident's don't want Microsoft broken up, according to a telephone poll conducted by the San Jose Mercury last week. But of the people polled who worked in the technology business, 52 per cent do want the company split, and 37 per cent of all respondents, with 29 per cent against, thought it would be good for the economy if the company was broken up.

Mixed messages, or signs of a sophisticated electorate? Although all respondents felt Microsoft shouldn't be broken up, by a margin of 42 to 38 per cent, this is a markedly worse score for the company than in recent national polls. The even more adverse reaction by the IT people suggests that the closer you work to the jam production line, the less likely you are to want to eat it.

Microsoft still scored high in terms of respect; 57 per cent of the whole, and 53 per cent of technology workers, gave the company a favourable rating, while the numbers looking up to Gates himself were 55 and 46 per cent respectively (and respectingly). Still, a couple of respondents volunteered less positive views, one describing Bill Gates as "an arrogant toad" and another making hurtful references to the Third Reich. 70 per cent of techies think Microsoft is a monopoly.

But Silicon Valley residents as a whole haven't been convinced by the noises emanating from Redmond about impending global doom if a breakup occurs. Aside from most of them thinking it would help the economy, 47 per cent think it would help consumers, 47 per cent that it would help the industry, and nearly two thirds that it wouldn't hurt innovation, damage industry standards or undermine US competitiveness. ®

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