How can we prey on you today?

From stu <>
Date Mon, 10 Apr 2000 01:09:24 +0800

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apologies if the attached image didn't make it past the listserver - full article at


Well, the US Govt went for Mr Gates eh. I don't actually approve of this. I 
think business should be free to operate as it sees fit. Other businesses 
would have been free to compete with Microsoft on an even footing but for 
those very laws Microsoft is being prosecuted for breaking. That is, the laws 
create distortion in the marketplace. This is not news to the pollies - it's 
what gives them a job. 
But, there's little point fantasising about a pure free market. Them Big Boyz 
in the White House reckon they're running the show, let them think that. 
More to the point, the Microsoft verdict comes at a strange moment for 
computing. The high profile of the case caused prudent IT managers to 
spread their risk, as it were. And that was years ago -- and this is IT. Which 
means that well before the verdict arrived, Microsoft's fate was already 
Microsoft has never enjoyed a good reputation with tech-savvy folk, and 
now managers have good reason to agree. 
And all the while, alternative, more friendly systems have expanded their 
installed base. In particular, the rise of GNU/Linux, and its "free as in 
freedom" culture of open source code and peer review -- of sharing, 
basically -- has changed forever the IT landscape. 
Why would IT managers stake their businesses on low-quality software 
made by a firm being mauled by the strongest government on the planet? 
Nobody would. 
Especially when the alternative has proven to be industrial-strength. Indeed, 
its strengths are just beginning. The open-source model harnesses feedback. 
It is an organic model that grows -- it learns from its environment and adapts 
to it. 
This sustainable approach is contrasted by Microsoft. The closed Microsoft 
approach does not facilitate feedback. This causes them to become less and 
less adapted to the environment over time. 
And while Microsoft was busy hoarding closed Windows APIs, the open-
source community (which essentially embodies most of the "old skool" 
internet crew, and the authors of most software in use today - even IE 3 was 
based on Mosaic), was adding elegance to a marvellous set of protocols 
which Microsoft simply had to support -- such as TCP/IP and HTML. 
Microsoft's monolithic culture comes through in their software. Their 
response to open standards (once they noticed them, and learned to accept 
they could not wish them out of existence) was to hurridly implement them, 
then go and invent bunch of proprietary "standards" (such as ActiveX) that 
don't work properly and create a large support overhead. 
The paradigm is plain. They don't want to be compatible with you. They 
want you to be compatible with them -- and bill you for the privilege. And 
the judge has said, they use their market power to force you to do that. 
The consequences of all this are that Microsoft has lost the faith of the 
general community; it has allowed rival platforms to gain a hold in pockets of 
tech everywhere; and it has demonstrated a lack of business intuition and 
integrity that has sent a clear message to the highest of corporate levels. 
It's a dog, mate. 
It is true that Microsoft hurt the community. Just last night I saw a web page 
say "if you want to edit these pages, you must use FrontPage, because it has 
inserted so-and-so special codes....". Yet on another webpage, I was 
reading how installing FrontPage installs Personal Web Server, and how 
PWS is vulnerable to attack from hackers in a number of areas. 
So if you want to edit these pages, you have to make yourself vulnerable. 
It's a dog, mate. And with this decision, now everybody knows. 

. ^                       Stuart Udall
.~ \

          revolution through evolution

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