The ultimate result is that some innovations that would truly benefit
consumers never occur for the sole reason that they do not coincide with Microsofts self-interest. -- Judge Jackson, Microsoft anti-trust trial
Microsoft is a fucking evil corporation.-- Steven D McGeady, Intel Vice President
It was like a visit by Don Corleone. I expected to find a bloody computer monitor in my bed the next day. -- Marc Andressen, co-founder of Netscape
Its been very difficult to convince [a PC manufacturer] to appear in
court without a hood. -- David Boies, lead prosecution attorney,
Microsoft anti-trust case
Were just flooding the market with copies... The goal is... that when
people actually end up having to buy software, they [will] already know our software and its the one they will have to buy when the laws get passed.
Were basically getting market share. As soon as we start to get a return on that investment, it will be humungous. -- Chris Williams, Microsofts
director of product development
If a substantial number of people moved from using the Word, Excel and
Powerpoint formats for exchanging their documents, and instead used
OpenOffice.org formats, it would undermine Microsofts control of electronic
documents, and threaten one of its major sources of income. -- Dave Malcolm
You have just bought your new computer, it comes with Windows XP
(Microsoft's first attempt at building a stable operating system), but as
you quickly discover, without application software, you have acquired a
very expensive paperweight.
Your machine may have been bundled with a free copy of Microsoft Works. You
soon learn why, it is crap, no one in their right mind would buy it.
What now? Well you could beg, borrow or steal a copy of Microsoft Office.
There is though a problem if you did, you are helping to propagate the
Microsoft monoculture. In parts of the world where piracy is rife,
Microsoft gives away free copies of Office to propagate their monoculture,
in the same way that they are giving away Windows to some African countries
(though the latter comes with strings attached). No different to dealers
giving junkies their first fix, knowing they will be hooked for life.
SchoolNet Namibia, were offered a 'free gift' of $2000 worth of Office
software license donation, conditional on the project spending $9000 to
pay for operating system licenses, and Microsoft attempted to get the
project to spend a further $22,500 on equipment that would have mainly
been useful as part of a Microsoft marketing campaign. Namibia wisely
chose Linux instead, not so much because it was free, though that was a
factor, but mainly because they had access to the source code, could adapt
it to their needs, and in doing so, would buld up skills within the country.
There is though a choice. The choice is Open Office, a fully functional
Office suite. The difference is, it does not come from Microsoft, it is
free, and the source code is available too. And if you use Open Office, you
are planting seeds of dissent in the Microsoft monoculture, and hitting
them where it hurts, in their pocket.
Microsoft hates Open Office, they see it as a real threat.
Microsoft makes its money from applications software, the bits that do
something useful other than run the computer. Microsoft make it as
difficult as possible for rival application software, for example by
restricting access to internal workings of Windows and the nitty-gritty of
file structures, essential if you are to build reliable application
If a rival does appear, Microsoft will attempt to buy it. They will want to
know everything about the software, including design details. They will
then put in a derisory offer, you have a choice, take what's on offer, or
be put out of business.
Marc Andresson, developer of Netscape, discovered this to his cost. At one
time seen as a serious rival to Microsoft, Andresson described dealing with
Microsoft as like dealing with the Godfather, and expected to wake up one
morning to find a bloodied disembodied computer on his pillow. Microsoft
launched Internet Explorer, no costs spared, the rest was history, Netscape
was driven into the arms of AOL and never recovered.
Sun launched Java, which made applications 'platform free', in non-tech
speak, programmes could run on any machine, any operating system, it would
not matter as the programme ran on its own virtual machine on the host
system. Microsoft saw an immediate threat, software that was not operating
system specific, and launched spoiling operations - ActiveX which was a
poor substitute for Java, and for good measure, ensured Java applications
did not run properly on Windows - giving Sun and Java a bad name. Sun sued,
and won the case, but too late, the damage had been done.
Computer makers are beholden to Microsoft. They are solely dependent on
Microsoft for their operating system. At the recent anti-trust case against
Microsoft, the prosecuting attorney felt he had to put hoods over the heads
of potential witnesses as the only way to persuade them to testify against
Microsoft. Even the all powerful Intel feels intimidated by Microsoft.
Which is why Microsoft fears Open Office. It gives users a genuine
alternative to Microsoft Office and helps to wean them of their Microsoft
A measure of that fear can be seen in Peru. There, legislation is being
considered to force Open Software, of which Open Office is but one example,
to be the software of choice for all government offices and departments.
Other countries are watching this development with keen interest.
Peru is an infinitesimal part of the Microsoft market, but like the
manufacture and import of cheap generic drugs in Africa, sets a very
dangerous precedence that others may be tempted to follow.
To ensure it does not come to pass the US Ambassador to Peru has been
called upon to lean on the President of the Peruvian Congress.
The Microsoft stranglehold on the market is not only ripping off consumers
by denying them choice, it is also stifling technological innovation.
You could go one stage further, and ditch Windows and install Linux. Whilst
its pundits will claim it is the best thing since sliced bread, and for
servers and running the internet it is great, it is still not suitable for
the average user due to the level of technical expertise needed to get to
grips with it, and the lack of good, easy to use, application software.
But if you do ditch Windows, and install Linux, did you know you can claim
back the licence fee from Microsoft for your unwanted copy of Windows?
Dave Malcolm, MaxiMegaSoft - the hard sell, Corporate Watch Newsletter No 13,