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Monday, September 17. 2007
Microsoft must share code with rivals. Quote from the piece at My Way News:
A law professor of mine defined antitrust law as a horse race in which it was compulsory to compete, but illegal to win. Microsoft is guilty of succeeding while American. The interesting thing about this anti-American case, however, is the precedent it sets. Microsoft was found guilty of giving something away that a European wanted to charge for. Sears should now be able to sue Mercedes saying that the free batteries it includes with new cars hurt Sears’ ability to sell batteries to new car buyers. Japanese car radio manufacturers should be able to do the same.
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It's not often I feel any sense of outrage on behalf of Microsoft--it's pretty much always the reverse. But if I were Gates, I would just pull the licenses on anything that says 'eu.gov' and let them wallow around for a year trying to install enough Linux to answer their email.
One factual correction - they aren't required to give away any code. They are, however, required to provide documentation for their CIFS communication protocol (which handles file and printer sharing, Active Directory access, and some other stuff) in order to allow third-party products to better interoperate. You know, make them compete. Free market and all that.
I have limited love for anti-trust laws, but it's important to keep in mind that Microsoft achieved their position not through creating great products that people wanted to buy, but through things like illegal bundling deals forced onto computer vendors and blatantly stealing other companies' intellectual property. To use your analogy I'm ok with the horse winning the race, but not if they do so by poisoning their competitor's food.
"Guilty of succeeding while American"? That comment shows a dismal ignorance of all of Microsoft's endemic cheating, stealing, lying, conniving, bullying, and general dirty tricks.
ErikTheRed has it just right. God forbid Microsoft would ever deign to compete honestly on a level playing field with open, non-proprietary standards.
No problem though, they're on the downhill slide now. One day fairly soon, they'll simply collapse like the rotten husk of a termite-riddled outhouse.
I'd just like to add how happy I am to hear the above (I mean about the Microsoft case). Windows Media Player is just one example of the evil operations of MS! Media Player is not a separate software package that you get for free because Mr Gates is so nice.
Quite the opposite. Media Player is built into Windows so thoroughly that there is no safe and pleasant way of getting rid of it, bar changing to Linux. ;-)
BTW, Linux is readily available and free! And you can install it in a fraction of the time you need to install MS Windows with all its fancy bells'n'whistles. Which don't work properly anyway.
More than willing to revile the MotherShip for its practices... don't get me wrong! I really do think they just did a quick copy job on DOS, just to have something that worked, more or less.
That said, when IBM came calling they did not:
1) decide to take the day off for flying, like Gary Kildall did.
2) put IBM execs in plastic containers and move them through the production line like Atari did.
3) or gripe about the processor that was being used like the Apple/Moto folks did... yes they tried to tell IBM what to do.
The MotherShip did not start out with good code, a lovely interface, or even someone who graduated from Harvard Business School (Gates quit along with Allen to try and get DOS working on a simulator). They did one very, very important thing: they showed up in suits to an IBM meeting and discussed how to work with the then giant, IBM. To those that have forgotten, IBM saw them selves as a country not a *company*. They would send an 'advance team' to any meeting a day ahead of time to scope out who sits where... not even discuss meeting topics, just decide on seating and meal arrangements. Revile the MotherShip as you will, but remember that IBM was nearly a law unto itself even AFTER anti-trust law was applied to them. They had more lawyers, more paperwork and more clout than the government anti-trust lawyers had, with US v IBM taking up a 16,000 sq.ft. warehouse, floor to ceiling, with documents.
Did MS 'bundle' and required fees on every computer sold from folks wanting to install their software on 'premium' lines? Yes, they did. They did that to help break IBM's stranglehold on the market, giving Compaq a chance to up the processor speed and go to the 286 and have an operating system. They extended that practice across the still tiny PC industry, as the hardware architecture was open. Michael Dell got his start by buying up warehouses of IBM computers headed for scrap heaps and refurbed them and undercut IBM's prices.
I detest MS 'bundling' of poorly coded software. It adds more junk, more overhead and more problems to the OS than anything I can think of. It is still, to this day, not easy to use, buggy as all hell, not secure, and has a host of other maladies to it.
The MotherShip also did something that IBM and Apple did not do: they gave software development kits away for FREE. No overhead in developing for MS... when IBM was asking $200-300 and Apple $800 for a kit to develop software, and if you were a poor, single developer just wanting to write something to sell, who do you go with?
Am I the only one that remembers that MS had a multi-edge approach to things, and ensured that even though they had the damned bundling agreements they also had a huge developer market to make lots of software in lots of niches that would push the PC outwards? Yeah, most of it was junk. But some key pieces in key industries were only on the PC. We forget that in today's cross-computing environment.
Does anyone remember Apple suing cloners, starting clone capability and then shutting that down when their profit margin got hit by better machines at lower prices? Where was the hue and cry over the monopoly position in that market segment?
Does MS deserve to get hit by anti-trust suits? You betchya!
Too bad the penalties involved are pocket lint that fell out on Gates' sofa.
Do I wish for a secure, easy to use OS that does not require me to learn UNIX or change my work habits to something that 'is much better'? Yes. My OS must adapt to my requirements, not have my requirements dictated from the top down, nor by a guru community that feels itself to be the solution for everything if I would 'just do it their way'. MS is self-marginalizing, without a doubt. And the day of interoperable software amongst many devices may, finally, get me a computing environment that doesn't care about the companies or operating systems involved, but will care highly about my needs and requirements and adapt itself to me.
That day is not here yet.
It is coming, and quickly. And it will do for MS and the previous generation of computing and operating systems what the PC did to IBM.
I am glad that IBM brought MS 'into the fold' and would be broken by that association from 'movers position' in the computing world. I am glad that computing capability and interest in software is breaking the hold of MS and Apple on the desktop. IBM is not gone and re-crafted itself towards services. MS and Apple will either morph, or die like DR-DOS did or a host of others that had their day in the sun, and had that eclipsed. That is *good*. The EU is fighting on the Maginot Line for anti-trust work in this arena: too late, outmoded ideas and not extended far enough.
The front line are all these little devices linking outwards and upwards and across companies. We still may have PCs as central computing for high capacity for the individual for a few more years, but that day is also ending. You carry more around with a modern cellphone than was available on most desktops in 1992-5. Way more, actually, when you add in picture and videophones.
I loved computers for the scope and capability they offered me, as a user. Now I, as a user, need them to help me survive. They aren't there yet... almost... but not quite. And that revolution will make the last one seem miniscule, even as no single company leads it. For the companies are, finally, adapting to their users.
"a computing environment that doesn't care about the companies or operating systems involved, but will care highly about my needs and requirements and adapt itself to me"
I really do not want to sound like a Linux Bible salesman here ;-)
but as I write, I am using a completely free and very flexible OSS called Linux Ubuntu Feisty Fawn (I know nothing about coding, using the command line, or computer languages!). I just turn the computer on and enjoy.
I can add or delete software packages as the whim takes me. Everything I might need is to be found in repositories on the net. And it's all extremely user-friendly.
I changed from MS to Linux in one day and have never looked back. :-)