Why Microsoft must be stopped

posted 16 April 2002

Yesterday -- that's April 4th, 2000, for those historians out there -- it was finally announced that Microsoft has been found guilty of breaking the law with it's monopolistic and generally evil acts. Now, I know most people won't care, but when has that stopped me mouthing off before?

The reason Microsoft needs to be stopped dead in its tracks is *not* because it is a monopoly: it can be a monopoly if it can manage it, which isn't going to be for much longer. However, it's unforgivable sin has been using its monopoly in the operating system market to totally ruin entirely separate fields of software with their own crappy software which nevertheless dominates, simply by being included for free. And I don't mean Internet Explorer; say what you like, Netscape really dropped the ball with Netscape 4.x, a buggy piece of junk with sketchy support for the most useful new standards. Internet Explorer isn't perfect, but it IS better than Netscape now. I'm talking about fields like web servers, database servers, web development, word processors, mail clients, newsgroup readers... an endless variety. In every field, the thoroughly buggy, badly-designed and feature-poor Microsoft versions of these products are either dominating or are far too well-represented for their real quality. If it's not predatory pricing and evil bundling scheme, it's flat-out lying about features, such as the infamous security rating of Windows NT -- it has a high-level security rating from an official source, BUT this rating only applies when NT is *not running on a network*! Microsoft promotional materials for NT4 are heavy on mentioning the rating, light on mentioning the caveat.

This is why all right-thinking people need to start lobbying for a harsh punishment. More than one punishment needs to be thrown in:

  • Heavy regulation on what fields Microsoft can enter. Media domination is one area I'm scared of -- MSNBC should be divested, as well as any and all content-source acquisitions. A software company which offers Internet access and ticket sales should not be allowed to also run an Internet portal which recommends where people should get their internet access and buy their plane tickets. What the hell is a *software company* doing acting as a travel agent?
  • This is mainly wishful thinking, but perhaps more rigorous adherence to international communication standards? Chief among these, they should NOT be allowed to create a mail client (Outlook express) which uses WEB MAIL, an inefficient and bandwidth-crushing bastardization of a useful technology, transparently with POP3 accounts.
  • Open the Windows source. This will solve the constant problem of Microsoft giving its applications an unfair advantage over others by simply adding features to the operating system every time they think it convenient -- such as the user-interface changes they made to Windows 95 that coincide with the introduction of Internet Explorer 4. It will also expose every gaping hole and inefficiency in the operating system, which in itself will be enough to ensure that no company with half a brain will ever buy an MS product for a mission-critical application, ever again.
  • Somebody needs to pay Marc Andreesen a whole load of cash. I mean, the poor guy. His whole budding empire was crushed by Bill. That's gotta hurt.

And that's basically my rant. I'll be honest, I don't like Microsoft. But if you're honest, you'll see I have extremely valid reasons for doing so.

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