Re: POL: Reaction to Microsoft Ruling

From: Charlie Stross (
Date: Mon Apr 10 2000 - 05:43:26 MDT

On Sun, Apr 09, 2000 at 07:57:30PM -0400, wrote:
> You have told us something that needs to be told over and over not only
> about the Standard Oil situation but about many others as well. I have
> lurked listening to this discussion and often wondered what would happen if
> Bill Gates moved his headquarters and his jobs out of the US and into anyone
> of a number of countries where he would be welcomed with open arms.

Billyware is successful not because it's intrinsically good and worth
much, but because his company is a steamroller -- for 20 years they've
specialised in taking out competitors by dirty tricks, if they can't
just buy them out.

In blindly worshipping success, you are worshipping at the altar of a
rogue company that has done more to _damage_ the free market than you can

The most important precondition that must apply before a market can
function properly is that the market must be _fair_. That is, it is
necessary for competitors to abide by contracts, obey market regulations
(which should admittedly be as minimal as possible), and compete on
the merits of their products. Microsoft doesn't do that, and in other
lawsuits they've as good as admitted it. For example, they settled out
of court in the Caldera lawsuit (see for details) because
Caldera had subpoena'd smoking-gun memos proving that Microsoft *hadn't*
-- documents that demonstrated that Microsoft's first priority wasn't
gaining market share by selling good products cheap, but putting the
opposition out of business.

The DOJ Anti-trust lawsuit is a red herring, in my opinion. The accusations
about it relying on 19th century law are true; and the remedies open to
the judge are not promising. But Microsoft _is_ a threat to other players
in the market, because Microsoft _doesn't_ play fair.

There's nothing collectivist about hating Microsoft's behaviour, and
nothing particularly individualist about defending it.

-- Charlie

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