WASHINGTON, D.C., Nov. 25, 1997 — By a more than 4-1 ratio, Americans believe the marketplace, not government regulation, should determine what features go into computer software programs, according to a national survey of more than 1,200 U.S. consumers conducted by the polling firms of Peter D. Hart and Robert Teeter for Microsoft Corp.
When asked who is best suited to determine what features should go into a computer software program, 70 percent of Americans surveyed said it’s better left to the free market, compared to 15 percent who said government needs to regulate the selection. Likewise, 62 percent of the public believes that ensuring consumers have a choice of products is the responsibility of business, not government. Nevertheless, Americans do not give free rein to business. The public is evenly split over whether government or the marketplace should set industry standards for businesses.
Pollsters Hart and Teeter found that Microsoft is the most admired company in one of the most admired industries in America. When the public was asked to volunteer, without being prompted, the names of one or two companies they respect and admire, Microsoft was named by 25 percent. IBM and General Motors were next, at 16 percent, followed by AT & T and WalMart at 15 percent.
Americans believe the software industry is doing an excellent job, both for them individually and for the U.S. economy overall. Fully 84 percent of Americans feel computer software companies contribute to U.S. economic growth, including 60 percent who feel software companies contribute a lot to growth. Sixty-one percent of those surveyed approve of the way computer software companies are doing their job, and only 16 percent disapprove.
“The public has very favorable feelings about Microsoft and is strongly supportive of the way Microsoft and the software industry are performing today,” said Peter Hart. “Importantly, Americans who follow this issue and use personal computers themselves are even more supportive of Microsoft and the industry.”
“The public is discriminating about where business should be regulated and where business should get a green light from government,” said Bob Teeter. “They clearly favor leaving up to software companies decisions about what belongs in software programs.”
These are among the other findings:
Americans believe that all of the hallmarks of healthy competition are in place in the software industry. Eighty-two percent of those surveyed believe the industry is continually updating and improving software. Seventy-nine percent believe the industry is innovative. A majority of Americans say the industry is competitive, making products that are easier to use and that work well together. They also believe the industry is making products that are a good value for the money.
A majority of Americans (55 percent) do not believe claims that any one company can or will dominate the Internet.
Hart and Teeter were commissioned by Microsoft to survey the American public on attitudes toward Microsoft and the state of competition and innovation in the software industry. The survey has a margin of error of 3 percent. The Hart-Teeter poll was conducted via telephone to 1,202 respondents, selected using a scientific random selection method. The poll took place over a three-day period between Nov. 7 and 9, 1997.
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