Re: POL: Reaction to Microsoft Ruling

From: Michael S. Lorrey (
Date: Sun Apr 09 2000 - 23:55:30 MDT

Matt Gingell wrote:
> Billy Brown wrote:
> >Sure. How about we refrain from arguing about whether Windows is good or
> >bad, or even whether MS is nice or not, and stick with the question of
> >whether the government can do something to make things better by intervening
> >in the market?
> That sounds very reasonable to me.
> The basic problem that I see is that there is no real competition in
> the i86 operating system market. Let's ignore how that situation came
> to be - I have nothing against Microsoft persay, I'm not interested in
> punitive damages - and talk about whether it's a bad thing and whether
> government intervention can do something constructive about it.

And we all dispute your automatic and unproven assumption that there is
no real competition. Your assertion that the market is the i86 market,
as I have previously said, is also disengenuous, and typical of the big
brother mindset of trying to control the debate by defining the terms
beforehand. The market is the desktop personal computer market.
Considering that the big three automakers are all changing over to
linux, and windows is not certified for secure use in classified
projects, most defense contractors that deal with such programs are also
moving over to linux systems, and that most college users use Mac, as
well as most all of the entire publishing industry, the claim that
windows is a monopoly that stifles competition in the personal computer
market is laughable.

> Now, obviously I think monopolization is a bad thing - so you can
> insert all those standard arguments here. What it really comes down
> to, I think, is that control of the PC platform is too important to
> trust to a single corporation: there's too much potential for abuse
> and we loose the advantages of distributed economic optimization. This
> is an abstract compliant, not one specific to Microsoft. Perhaps you
> don't object to monopolization as strongly as I do, either because you
> think it's unstable or because it's a lesser evil than government
> interference.

Treating an operating system like a utility, where having a standard
system provides for maximum benefit for all, according to the typical
big brother/big government apologist, then an operating system monopoly
should be to the best benefit of all. And hell, you trust your
electricity to be provided by one company, your water and sewer are
provided by one corporation. Your police services are provided by one
corporation. A government is a corporation, and a monopoly one at that.

> There will never, without government intervention, be an
> implementation of Windows offered by anyone other than Microsoft. The
> API is too big and the target is moving too fast. Consider the
> failings of Win-OS/2, and the Wine project. Even putting aside
> copyright issues, the propriety kernel ABI for instance, binary
> compatibility with Windows is a pipe dream. The only way to compete is
> to create something new - and here the barrier to entry is
> applications support. I'm not making any value judgments here - I'd
> object as strongly if OS/2 had dominated the market or if, one day,
> Linux is in a similar position and turns to the dark side. It seems to
> me that the OS market, by it's very nature, tends towards
> monopolization. The resolution I see is insistence on public
> standards.

Saying that about linux just shows you have no idea what you are talking
about. Because of the nature of how linux is managed in the world, it is
virtually impossible for any one corporation to become a monopoly using
linux. Because Linus put his OS under a public license, anyone who
offers their own version must make all source code available to everyone

> So, then, what is are appropriate remedies? I'd like to see, as I've
> suggested before, a prohibition against government itself purchasing
> software based on non-open standards. This minimally interferes with
> the market - it doesn't place any restriction on what you can write,
> buy or sell, and it doesn't specify what those standards might be or
> how they are developed and controlled. It doesn't target Microsoft
> specifically, it applies to all vendors and doesn't cripple one
> competitor while artificially rewarding others. It doesn't place any
> restrictions on what private parties are allowed to do. Microsoft
> would be free to choose whether it opens it's specification and
> provides the source for a reference implementation, develop a separate
> product to sell to government, or opt out of that particular market.

This is also a really really dumb thing to do. Different parts of the
government have different computing needs, and whether or not those
needs are met by open or non open standards is irrelevant. If you want
Windows to become open, fine, have your big brother government buy the
operating system rights from Microsoft. Try and seize the rights by
forcing MS to make it open is as blatantly an unpaid taking violation as
one can imagine.

> I'd like to see a market where I don't buy an 'operating system,' I
> buy a memory manager, a tasking subsystem, a file system, a desktop
> environment, etc, from independent vendors - and they all work
> together because they all conform to open standards; in the same way I
> can purchase a nut and a bolt from two different manufactures because
> they come in standard sizes. I go down a check list getting the pieces
> that best suit my needs and my budget, or I just buy the whole thing
> from a system integrater. Now, I don't really think that this is
> possible in practice, at least in a pure form, but it's the sort of
> thing I'd like to see us strive towards.

You really don't know anything about programming, do you? Its 'possible'
but this sort of thing puts such an incredible drain on innovation,
because every new thing has to go through a standards body and get voted
up or down by many different people, who all have competing interests,
many of which are against yours. Is there any reason why HTML hasn't
advanced for jack in the last few years? Too many freaking cooks in the

Bunch a socialist BS.

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