RE: POL: Reaction to Microsoft Ruling

From: Billy Brown (
Date: Sun Apr 09 2000 - 11:50:14 MDT

Harvey Newstrom wrote:
> The have written their APIs to act differently depending on whether it was
> being called from a Microsoft program or from a competitor's program.
> Microsoft's font smoothing routines used to check for the calling program,
> and returned smooth fonts to Internet Explorer while returning jagged
> to Netscape. Their printer software used to grab the printer queue from a
> Novell NetWare queue, and then playing "keep-away" by passing control
> the Windows PCs until they were all finished before returning control back
> to the Novell queue for non-Microsoft clients to use. Microsoft servers
> used to prioritize web page requests and serving all Internet Explorer
> requests before serving Netscape requests. They also used to give false
> error messages to Netscape browsers claiming that it could not read the
> type, when in reality it could, but the server refused to give it to
> Netscape. The original Windows used to refuse to let non-Microsoft DOSes
> call some of their routines which they considered propriatery. The Mac
> version of Excel was found to have timing loops that actually made it run
> slower than the Windows version. The disk formatter used to seek out OS/2
> partitions and corrupt them. The MSN network used to edit the CompuServe
> and AOL prefs files and corrupt them. MSN changed the format of the
> Macintosh control panel so that Microsoft products would work, but all
> products stopped working. Microsoft claimed that all of these were
> accidental programming errors. They never could explain why they were
> editing competitor's product files anyway.

I'm curious why you are so convinced that all of these things were
deliberate. The Netscape business seems somewhat credible, but the rest of
it seems typical of the problems MS had in the late 80s / early 90s. They
got overambitious with their OS development, found themselves facing all
kinds of complex programming issues they didn't really know much about, and
tried to fake their way through.

The result was lots of buggy software with weird, unpredictable behavior. I
remember their applications division had some pretty serious problems too
(remember when they had to do a recall/free replacement on Word, because the
new version corrupted data?). I seriously doubt that they could have gotten
these kinds of anti-competitor 'features' to work reliably back then, and
they certainly couldn't have spared much manpower to work on them.

Now, they've gotten their act together in that respect since the mid-90s,
and these days I'm sure they could pull it off if they wanted to. But why
would they be that stupid? Every major compatibility issue generates tons of
bad press, depresses their sales to users of the affected product, and
convinces another fraction of the market that MS is some kind of evil
empire. In the end they would only be hurting themselves, and these days
they're smart enough to know that.

Billy Brown

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