US analysts and entrepreneurs have questioned a judge's decision to order Microsoft be slashed into two.
On Wednesday Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson called Microsoft "untrustworthy", and ordered that it be separated into two companies - one to develop and supply operating systems, the other to focus on applications, the MSN portal and WebTV.
However, Rob Enderle, an analyst at Giga Information Group, believes a divided Microsoft will cause chaos in the consumer market - a sector which has come to rely on the ubiquity of Windows.
"The next phase is going to make it very difficult for consumers to depend on [Microsoft employees] who answer their service questions, because many of them will be departing," he said.
But the market is already changing. "Companies are going to be shifting from buying PCs and operating systems to building out their networks and wireless systems," added Enderle.
Research company the Aberdeen Group said the judge's decision is "the right verdict but wrong remedy".
Although it agrees that Microsoft behaved in an anti-competitive manner, it disagrees that the breakup will create opportunities for smaller companies to compete.
"The punishment in no way fits the crime," said Joe Clabby, vice president of the Aberdeen Group. "The court's ruling has shown complete disregard for the financial consequences of the breakup and does not provide an effective solution for the breach of antitrust law."
Keith Teare, founder and chief executive of internet search company RealNames, which is 20 per cent owned by Microsoft, condemned the breakup. He said that if the decision discourages the software giant from continuing to embrace early-stage technologies it could seriously slow down their adoption.
Teare, who originally hails from the UK, said: "It seems that the American dream of working hard and prospering is being called into question. I came to the US because I believed it supports entrepreneurs and I still believe that America wants entrepreneurs to succeed.
"Although the government and the court seem to be sending an opposite message, I do not believe that ordinary Americans should allow one of the country's most successful entrepreneurs to be effectively neutralised because he was 'too successful'."
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