Re: POL: Reaction to Microsoft Ruling

From: Michael S. Lorrey (
Date: Sun Apr 09 2000 - 13:52:29 MDT

Matt Gingell wrote:
> On Sun, 09 Apr 2000, Billy Brown wrote:
> >> This is argument by anonymous authority. I don't find it persuasive.
> >
> >Actually, its argument by summary - I don't really have time to try to think
> >of every argument you might possibly want to advance, especially when I'm
> >taking the side that almost all of the experts are on. If you think my
> >generalizations are wrong, give me a specific example of how.
> I think monopolization is a problem and that intervention is in some
> instances beneficial. I'd be interested in discussing arguments
> that this is not the case, but simply asserting there exist unnamed
> experts who disagree with me isn't useful. I'm not going to do your
> research for you.
> >No, it doesn't. If Microsoft made all the most useful APIs in their OS
> >secret it would help their applications division, but at the expense of
> >crippling their OS's ability to compete. Remember, anything Microsoft can
> >implement, other OS vendors can also build. If those secret features are
> >actually important, a competitor can make a mint by building public
> >implementations of them.
> This would be true if there were competition. There isn't.

Prove it.

> >Microsoft does not own the hardware companies, and it does not have a magic
> >wand that controls the industry. If hardware vendors pre-install MS
> >software, they do so because they thing their customers want them to.
> This would be true if vendors had some credible alternative to
> shipping Windows. They don't.

This sort of blank statement, without supporting evidence, is the same
sort of BS that the Justice department is engaged in. Totally ignoring
the precedence of Apple and its MacOS (which has been shown was crippled
by erroneously applied monopolistic overpricing by Apple being undercut
by the PC market and Windows in particular). Its interesting that the
markets that Apple has a virtual lock on: publishing, for example, are
not and will not be under scrutiny so long as Apple keeps Feinstein et
al bought off.

Beyond Apple, linux, for example, is finally reaching the desktop as a
usable consumer product. The Corel Linux release, along with corel ports
of PhotoPaint, Draw, WordPerfect Office, and soon, Ventura, make the
linux platform a true consumer product.

The only way that Justice can get away with claiming that Windows has a
'monopoly' is that they define the market not as 'desktop computer and
small network GUI operating systems', but as 'intel-compatible operating
systems', which immediately disregards the Apple market share, as well
as the BeOS and unix/linux presence in the RISC market. The way justice
defined the market is the first disengenuous thing they did, and which
is the most important thing they did. Microsoft agreeing to this supply
side defined market definition was their first and biggest mistake.

> >No, it isn't. A large company can not gain a competitive advantage against
> >smaller rivals by selling its product below cost. Why? Because the bigger it
> >is, the faster it looses money by dumping.
> Not true. The incremental cost of software is zero.

If the incremental cost of software is zero, then there is no such thing
as dumping, unless you pay consumers to use your product... ;)

> >The problem is that an OS that doesn't run a customer's software is
> >worthless. Most customers care a lot more about their apps than they do
> >about their OS.
> Exactly. Since the software most people want to run is only available
> on Windows any other OS is worthless - regardless of it's other
> merits or technical superiority to Windows.

You have yet to prove this point. Most major apps are proted to or
usable on multiple OS's. It has been SOP that microsoft write Mac
versions of its software applications concurrently with their windows
versions. Adobe writes its publishing applications for both Mac and PC,
and in the end, anyone who feels stuck with a windows only application
can go and run this application on OS/2, which it is perfectly capable
of running on, and in many cases, runs better on OS/2 than on Windows.

All IBM and Lotus software can run just fine on both Windows and OS/2.
The very presence of a viable operating system (OS/2), made by a larger
and more powerful company, that could run all Windows applications, but
was beaten at the marketplace based on price shows that the claims of
'manipulation', or 'anti-competetive tactics' are totally bogus.

> >> Programming languages are another example. Because C is a public
> >> standard, I can choose compliers based on quality and appropriateness
> >> to a particular task. The same can't be said for Visual Basic, where
> >> I'm lucky if my code is even portable across versions.
> >
> >There is an inevitable trade-off between backwards compatibility and
> >innovation. If you value stability, write C code on Unix. If you value rapid
> >improvement, use VB or another 4GL on Windows (or wait for MS's new
> >Intentional language, but that's another story).
> This reminds me. I forgot to mention vaporware as another monopolist's
> tool. But I'm not talking about backward compatibility - I'm talking about
> public standards. These are distinct.

Vaporware, as a tool of marketing, merely is a method of providing
information to customers to allow them to rationally plan software
outlays in the future, rather than thinking "I've got to get this right
now". It helps discourage impule buying, and it is entirely based on the
consumers trust and concept of value in the company offering the

Companies that abuse the idea of vaporware for anti-competetive purposes
lose the trust of the market, when the information conveyed is
fraudulent (i.e. a supposed release date of 1st Q 1994 turns into 4th
quarter of 1995..).

However, if competitors don't take advantage of vaporware claims by the
opposition, which is possible, then its their own loss.

> >But we don't have to agree. I'm perfectly willing to let people like you go
> >one using whatever OS and programming technology you prefer. I just want you
> >to extend the same courtesy to people like me. Just let everyone take the
> >approach they prefer, and let the market decide which one works best.
> Sure. Do what you want. I don't want to restrict your choice, I want
> to give you more options. Wouldn't you like to choose between
> different Windows or VB implementations?

I'd love to be able to operate in the publishing business without being
tied to the Mac/Adobe monopoly. Maybe justice can look into this for

Mike Lorrey

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