Re: Working Within the System

From: Charlie (
Date: Sun Apr 30 2000 - 11:23:32 MDT

On Sat, Apr 29, 2000 at 09:11:48AM +0000, E. Shaun Russell wrote:
> As one who deeply respects Gates and Microsoft, I want MS to resume as it
> has for the last decade: innovative, growing and successful; working within
> a system which has none of those facets makes it hard for me to see how it
> can be done.

Those of us who work in the software field have much more ambiguous
feelings about Microsoft.

On the one hand, I don't know *anyone* who'd deny that Microsoft is the
world's greatest marketing company. But in terms of technical excellence,
innovation, and progress, they're complete fuckwits. They've probably
put us back a decade, and they've _deliberately_ stifled innovation
wherever it threatened them. If you read Judge Jackson's finding of fact
you'll get a rather different picture of MS's behaviour from what you'll
find in the popular press.

On the other hand, it's galling to see the US government feeling compelled
to intervene heavy-handedly, and even more galling to see them going
after MS for basically irrelevent reasons and imposing a silly 'solution'
that isn't going to help the situation. I can conceive of anti-trust
settlements -- such as the EC one imposed on IBM in the 1980's over their
maiframe business -- that would work. (To put it in perspective, when the
term of oversight expired, IBM asked the court to continue it for another
seven years! It was actually having a positive effect on their business
relationships, and the other companies in the field were thriving; the
regulation in question required IBM to publish their APIs and interfaces
before deploying them. The result was an *expansion* of the market because
third-party companies were able to produce add-ons for the IBM kit, meaning
the systems could fit into more niche markets, and at the same time the
requirement placed upon IBM to 'play fair' encouraged customers to feel
good about buying their products.)

Personally, though, I wish Microsoft would just go away. I run a Microsoft-
free zone of about eighteen computers, and I *resent* being expected to be
compatible with the latest version of Excel or Word by idiots in offices
who wouldn't know an open standard if it bit them on the ankle.

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