Re: merge Intel & Microsoft

Ross A. Finlayson (
Mon, 08 Nov 1999 04:19:17 -0500

Chris Hibbert wrote:

> ...
> In the Microsoft case, the judge has given his interpretation of what
> happened, and he's couched it in terms of the laws he expects to apply. It
> seems pretty clear what laws apply in the situation he's described. He has
> tremendous leeway in determining remedies. (The papers keep saying that's "a
> euphemism for penalties", but I think they're wrong. He can't just order
> fines or jail, he has to prescribe something that will apparently change the
> practices he says have occurred.)
> Chris
> --
> Chris Hibbert It is easy to turn an aquarium into fish soup, but
> not so easy to turn fish soup back into an aquarium.
> -- Lech Walesa on reverting to a market economy.

Well, I think step is making public all information relevant to this operating system, which is the linchpin and basis of market control. Any other software vendor that would write software and sell it to the large market of users of Windows operating systems has to bludgeon through this monolithic layer, architected and orchestrated by Microsoft.

First this means tools. It's impossible, more or less, as discussed under programming tools, to develop software for Microsoft machines without buying yet more Microsoft software. So, there should be free compilers. This is a handful of programs that are not currently available either a: generally for free or b: free to any licensor of a Windows OS, ie, anyone running Windows, which was more than likely pre-installed on the machine wholly purchased by the user.

Secondly it means access to the operating system. If it is so that software products are impinged by not having access to system level source code, then they should (have access to the complete source code).

Thirdly, it means total documentation, disclosure, as it were, of all features of the operating system.

I think people often think of antitrust regulation in regards to Ma Bell, which brought us AT&T and Baby Bells. Along those lines would be MS-Windows, MS-Office, MS-Explorer, besides the facts of MS-NBC and MS-Grocery. (Multiple Sclerosis never had it so good.) In my insignificant opinion, this would not be effective and would yield an unenforceable corporate reorganization with little or no change in practices.

There is a term "convergence" which is often applied to the oncoming catalyzation of the eponymous convergence of broadcast, Internet, and media technologies. This is off the track from MS issues (except for MS-coax), but when it comes to Internet access, there will soon be a boon of localized monopolistic point to point providers, it should be required that they offer access to their networks, just like long distance and local telcos for phones.

People often note these days some advent of the concept of Internet time, or I guess in a non-validating use of the contemporary meme notation <Internet time>, wherein developments and advancements take place at a much faster rate than in times previous. This point is geared towards some issues like public access to privately founded communications networks, and fair use of same. The tradeoff is de facto monopolistic state versus constitutional, legal grant of competitive access, and what timeframe is required to not discourage these private innovators. Correspondingly to this theme of Internet time, it's less time than it was.

Well, back to the subject of this thread and the quoted material, now that a judge, after lengthy deliberation in a trial with some note of forged video evidence, has declared company M which will remain nameless guilty of monopolistic practices, or what have you, what happens next? There are appeals, which barring some technicality are likely to uphold the court's decision. Will it be like Bill Clinton's impeachment, where nothing changed? What was he impeached for anyways, was it getting fellated in his office or accepting campaign contributions from the Chinese military? Is it in M's better interests to reorganize now and carry on rather than reorganize later? I.E., would this avoid some kind of double-monopoly-jeapordy at a later point?

For many, it's an issue that is close to consider, for we use Microsoft products, for which we have paid, although for the most part this payment starts as only the intangible license, as opposed to purchase, when the OS comes bundled with a PC purchase. This is only considering the use of the PC OS, and is not encompassing of the much more lucrative (predatory) field, that of business software and the higher priced operating systems, ala NT. I'm sure there is something buried in the fine license print about it, but if the operating system interferes with the best way to use the hardware, that is dang near wrong.

The issue of how to encourage competition is a prickly one. Enabling others to rebrand and sell MS products like Linux is out of the question. Generally it's done without rebranding, anyways, those that remarket MS products have little reason to not do so, besides the fact that it is in Microsoft's rights to pursue their legal rights with regards to these intangible software goods which can be reproduced at zero margin, thus for which any claim of individual value is arguable. Reorganization of the software modules is moot, it is unenforceable, as opposed to splitting a telco's wires geographically, which was probably in the telco's better interests anyways. They might get along better, in light of some stories about internal competition.

There have already been competitors in the various software niches that Microsoft occupies, many have failed where Microsoft metastasized onwards. For each and any of these, the design and control over the specification, documentation, and implementation of the underlying operating system has been a key component of the competition framework.

What is the operating system? It is the software that loads into memory, when queued by the BIOS, a process that runs for the duration of power being applied to the CPU. This process or Turing state works through the BIOS to access hardware devices attached to the CPU such as storage, input, network, display, sound, etc. The process enables other processes to run, and provides the system services to these processes. The OS is not necessarily an MP3 player, nor a web browser. It's not necessarily a windowing system either, but's it's not feasible to start at least one OS without it.

So what could we encourage Penfield Jackson to advise? I would suggest starting with that which is most damaging to any would-be competitor, control of the operating system. What are other's suggestions?

Last but not least, no small respect is due a company which has made itself a monopolist in "Internet time."

Ross Finlayson