My thoughts on the Microsoft Case:
Folks, Microsoft NEEDS to be broken up. They have been a VERY negative force in the software field for a long time now. I know this is
not what you've read elsewhere, but I'm telling you the truth.
Microsoft PERSONALLY cost me $5000. How? Because I had a customer who worked in the small airplane industry. This field had a
rather specialized word-processor format that all their airplane maintenance documents are released in. He came to me and offered me $5k to write a conversion utility to convert the files into Microsoft Word
format. He said he had several sales immediately and felt he could have sold several hundred copies of this package. Well, I got to work on it, purchased several of the manuals and started doing the
translation and seeing how the conversion would take place. Then -- one day he called me up and said the project was off. Why? Because he had heard a rumor that Microsoft was going to add this format
to the supported list in the next version of Microsoft Word! Obviously he could not pay me $5000 and develop a product that Microsoft would then simply give away with the next version of Word!
So -- the project died. Did Microsoft ever add the support for this format? Not at all. BUT they have a rumour mill operating
24 hours a day -- up in Redmond. Why? Because if they get a small number of enquiries about a given subject 'are you working on ....' type things -- (and the answer by the way is always YES) then they
don't bother about it -- BUT the potential competitor (my customer above) is killed stone dead by the positive reply to the question. And if they get tens of thousands of requests -- hey they will then look
into the feasibility of actually adding the feature.
So -- in summary -- they kill lots of potential competitors (like my customer) by simply saying they ARE working on a given aspect or feature
-- at NO cost to themselves! How many people AFTER hearing that Microsoft was working on a given feature to be given away free in the next version of a MS Product would continue the product
development? VERY few.
This is one aspect of the case (it was one of the original complaints filed by the way) but it highlights starkly how MS uses improper and
illegal tactics to damage potential competitors!
SOME FURTHER OBSERVATIONS:
I have a lot of contact with various customers and clients in the software industry. And I've noticed a very profound change in the last
8 years or so. Prior to that, a number of these hot-shot software types aimed -- to be the next Bill Gates -- with some killer application that they were working on! HOWEVER -- more recently -- the
ultimate aspiration of these customers of mine is -- to be BOUGHT OUT by Gates. A small difference? Think about it. In fact, they realise that its a tricky business. If you get too BIG, then you
get noticed by Microsoft, identified as a threat - and destroyed by them as a result (Netscape a perfect point). If you are too SMALL Microsoft will ignore you and assign you no value. If you are IN
THE MIDDLE -- then Microsoft will be interested by you and consider buying you out.
Think about what affect this is having on the software industry and you will understand the real damage that Microsoft is doing to the
industry that they profess to be 'helping' and 'encouraging'
Consider for a minute that Windows 98 is really Windows 95.01. If you had Windows 95 version C or D (OSR2,OSR2.1) then you have at least
98% identical to the released Windows 98. Virtually all the difference between 95 and 98 consists of bug fixes and very minor enhancement.
SO -- I ask you -- WHY WERE THEY PERMITTED TO CHARGE $100 a pop for it? Any other product you can think of (your automobile for example)
if the manufacture finds a bunch of bugs they have to FIX THEM FREE. Imagine it if their fixes cost you the SAME as your car did initially! You'd be outraged
This is PRECISELY what Microsoft had gotten away with!
THE APPEALS COURT ACTION:
Just recently, the appeals court threw out the break-up remedy. Oddly, they did NOT (contrary to Microsoft Spin) overrule the judge on
the essential findings - that Microsoft WAS an illegal monopoly and that remedy was necessary to correct these illegal actions.
They basically found that the judge had given the APPEARANCE of bias - by is rather injudicial observations after the trial to members of the
press, some rather disparaging comments about Bill Gates for example.
HOWEVER -- as much as Microsoft is claiming that this judge was biased against them the FACT is that Jackson is a Republican, PRO BUSINESS
judge - and before the trial it was the GOVERNMENT that thought this judge might be biased -- IN FAVOR of BILL! It was MICROSOFTS actions, during the trial, particularly the ABSURD Bill Gates testimony (VERY
Clintonian -- with Gates saying 'it depends on what PROFITmeans' at one point, and the fact that he was sweating and looking guilty as hell) , and the fact that Microsofts OWN witnesses often were made to contradict
themselves on the stand, and in particular that absurd claim by Microsoft that Internet Explorer could NOT be removed from WIndows 98 (and the Government put up a witness who showed the judge how to do it in under 3
minutes!) that caused this judge to completely change his views of Microsoft, and caused him to make the harsh personal-seeming comments.
WHERE DOES IT GO NOW?
Microsoft is breathing a huge sigh of
relief. Clinton is gone. Bush has made it known (during the campaign) that he did not believe in this case. So in practice, they're home free.
Is this a good thing? Judge for yourself!