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The largest technology company in the world wont touch your desktop computer The largest computer company in the world--or at least the most valuable--is no longer Microsoft Last March Microsoft temporarily surrendered that position due to shifting stock prices to another Cisco Systems which doesnt have any products you are likely to install on your desktop computer soon Since then Microsofts stock has tumbled hard and Cisco has solidified its leadership position even as its own stock has recently retreated a bit along with that of most technology companies So in the sense that the 26 percent drop in Microsofts stock price over the past four months is due largely to the antitrust findings against the company the Department of Justice has in a way already fulfilled its mission they have cut Microsoft down to a size in which it no longer thoroughly dominates the computer industry But if you feel any relief from that statistical adjustment your next question might be about the new numero uno When did Cisco sneak up there The San Jose Calif-based router company is far less visible than the Redmond software maker The name Cisco does not appear on most PC screens when they load their operating system it isnt incorporated into the name of the leading word-processing and spreadsheet and graphics applications and it doesnt have multimedia product-launch events hosted by Jay Leno But if you ever connect to the Internet you are a user of Cisco products Some estimates give Cisco as high as 85 percent of the network router market which is ultra-critical to computer operations within large corporations as well as to Internet function The runner-up Lucent has only a 5 percent share Cisco has some other habits that you might expect to raise the eyebrows of the antitrust hunters in Washington It has proprietary code that competitors must be compatible with in order to compete Cisco frequently buys small companies that have
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