Now that the Justice Department and Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly are content with the wrist-slapping meted out to Microsoft, few expect any abatement in the company’s abuse of its monopoly power. Although many argue that, eventually, the markets themselves will bring about more balanced competition, the markets that Microsoft dominates operate on different economic principles than most others. The last twenty years brought such dramatic technological change that it’ll be much harder for competitors to dislodge Microsoft from its perch atop the industry than it was for Microsoft to dethrone IBM a generation ago.
When IBM dominated the industry, computers were used primarily for performing calculations and automated tasks. But as Microsoft rose to prominence, computers were becoming used more and more to communicate. Although such a change might seem insignificant, it caused a radical shift in the economic dynamics of the industry. Instead of operating under the traditional rules of supply-and-demand, where scarcity increases value, the industry began to operate according to the principles of network economics, where ubiquity increases value.
Networking Made Simple
Network economics governs any technology where the ubiquity of the technology directly affects its utility. This is typically the case with communication technology; as the technology becomes more widely deployed, more options for communication are created, thereby increasing the usefulness of the technology. The market for fax machines follows this principle: the utility of a fax machine is proportional to the number of other fax machines with which it can communicate.
The very first fax machine sold was essentially useless, because it couldn’t communicate with anything. The sale of the second fax machine actually increased the utility of the first by creating a potential communication channel that didn’t exist previously. Whenever a new fax machine is put into use, it increases the potential of every other fax machine to communicate. Therefore, each fax machine sold increases the utility of fax machines in general.
Obviously, this is quite different from the traditional economic dynamics that govern most products. For example, if you buy a jacket, whether or not anyone else already owns that type of jacket does not change the jacket’s usefulness to you. Fashion considerations aside, whether you’re the only one who owns the jacket or you’re one of a million who own it, the jacket will still function exactly the same and keep you just as warm.
A Very Brief History of Modern Computing
During the decades that IBM reigned over the computer industry, most computers were huge machines in complex data centers at universities, large corporations, and government agencies. Computer networking was in its infancy, so the most common way to share data was by physically transporting cumbersome storage media. Very rarely was data shared across the bounds of an organization. Most computers were islands unto themselves.
But by the mid-1980s–coincidentally when IBM began to surrender its position to Microsoft–this began to change. The computing universe no longer consisted of a few installations in large organizations; most businesses now owned personal computers. Nor were computers any longer the exclusive domain of technical specialists. Many, many more people were creating data, and that data frequently needed to be shared. At first, people exchanged files on disks, which by then could fit in a pocket. Small on-line services called bulletin board systems sprang up, bridging distance by allowing people with modems to form communities. And when the Internet came into widespread use in the early 1990s, the masses discovered that sharing files could be as easily as sending e-mail.
The explosive rise in the volume of data being shared meant that computers were becoming increasingly used as tools for communication. As a result, the industry’s market dynamics began to resemble those of fax machines. Computer technology was now subject to network economics.
Protocols and Standards
Whenever information needs to be shared among machines, those machines must agree on the format of that information. After all, if you send me a file that I can’t open, you might as well not have sent me the file at all. To be useful, communication must be understood by all parties involved. In technology, useful communication is enabled by common protocols, or rules that specify how communication takes place.
Protocols come in two flavors: open and proprietary. Open protocols are published specifications that may be adopted by any vendor. Proprietary protocols, on the other hand, are usually owned by a single company that views them as strategic assets to be guarded from competitors.
At some critical mass, a protocol becomes a standard if it is widely adopted enough. A given protocol can be considered standard once it becomes the default choice in the marketplace.
When Protocols Become Standards (Or Not)
Markets for communications systems develop differently depending on whether a given protocol becomes standard and whether that standard is open or proprietary. Generally, one of three scenarios will play out:
* The first possibility is that no protocol–open or proprietary–reaches critical mass in the marketplace. Let’s say there are five vendors of fax machines, all of them using incompatible protocols, and each vendor captures 20% of the market. Any fax machine purchased is therefore limited to communicating with only 20% of the fax machines in use. The overall utility of the fax machine is limited, which depresses demand for them. In the absence of a standard, the market stagnates.
* Another possibility is that an open protocol becomes standard, which is what occurred in the real-world case of fax machines. Unlike the first scenario, the market is not hampered by fragmentation. The network will grow much larger, leading to greater utility from fax machines. And, because no one company controls the protocol, fax machines are commoditized, creating price competition among vendors. This scenario provides the greatest utility at the least expense to the customer, but is the least desirable to vendors harboring monopolistic ambitions.
* In the third scenario, a proprietary protocol achieves market dominance. For example, let’s say one company develops a fax machine incompatible with all others, and the company seizes a large share of the market through excellent marketing. In this case, fax machines from that vendor would provide the greatest utility, while the rest–unable to communicate with those from the dominant vendor–would be virtually useless. Customers wanting the functionality of a fax machine would have little choice but to purchase one from the market leader. A monopoly develops, solidified by switching costs: ditching the dominant vendor requires replacing most of the machines in use. Once a proprietary protocol becomes standard, monopolies can be built fairly easily and
defended with little effort.
Microsoft’s Document Monopoly
Microsoft Office currently captures most of the market for office suite software. Office suites are collections of commonly-used applications essential to any organization; they typically include word processors, spreadsheets, databases, and graphics programs.
Every day, hundreds of thousands of documents–things like resumes, contracts, presentations, sales data analyses, etc.–are created using Microsoft Office. People create most of these documents with the intention of sharing them with others; very rarely do they stay exclusively on the computer used to create them.
Because Microsoft Office documents are used so frequently for data sharing, they have effectively become communications protocols. And, because Microsoft controls the file formats of these documents, the company controls a vital standard, allowing it to exercise and defend its monopoly with very little possibility of being challenged by competitors.
The use of Microsoft Office documents is so pervasive that they’re essential to participation in the modern economy. Although there are programs from other sources capable of interacting with Microsoft Office documents, none of them are 100% compatible; owning a copy of Microsoft Office is the only way for a business to guarantee that it can communicate fully with others. As long as these documents continue to be the lingua franca of data exchange for business, network economics will protect Microsoft’s monopoly in the office suite category.
Monopolies are aberrations that perpetuate market inefficiency. Nobody benefits from a monopoly but the monopolist; everyone else is harmed by stifled competition. In an efficient market, when a company starts acting in opposition to its customers, those customers can patronize other vendors. This helps align the interests of buyers and sellers. But monopolists can ignore or even work against the interests of customers with little fear of losing them; they’ve got nowhere else to go.
A fundamental element of free markets is the customer’s freedom to choose. In the case of Microsoft, customers are “free” to choose alternatives, but to do so, they must sacrifice the ability to communicate. Is it reasonable to expect customers to make that sacrifice? Not when you’re talking about a technology whose primary purpose is to enable communication.
Conservatives tend to be philosophically opposed to government intervention in markets. Perhaps this explains the lack of enthusiasm that the Bush Administration displayed for the Microsoft antitrust case. (Although it doesn’t explain why the Bush Administration favored steel tariffs or farm subsidies.) But, if the argument for action were instead framed in terms of cutting government procurement expenditures, if a solution were found that weakened Microsoft’s monopoly through the markets rather than direct government intervention, and if the solution applied to the industry as a whole and not Microsoft specifically, the Bush Administration might be much less likely to stand in the way.
The federal government has tremendous buying power, as do many state governments. This buying power can be harnessed to encourage open standards in markets driven by network economics. Specifically, Congress should pass–and the President sign–a law mandating that all commercial software applications purchased by the government use open protocols for file formats and data communication. State governments should consider adopting similar laws.
Of course, such laws would need to be written to prevent companies like Microsoft from pulling their usual “embrace and extend” tricks, which are merely intended to pollute open standards and give the monopolist control of them. A transitional period would also be required to allow vendors time to document their protocols and submit them to accepted industry standards bodies, which would assume responsibility for their future development.
This solution would loosen Microsoft’s grip on crucial industry infrastructure. It would also bring greater competition to other segments of the software industry, because Microsoft now uses its monopoly in business applications to fortify its other monopolies. Microsoft’s decision against providing a version of Office for the Linux operating system, for example, helps ensure that Linux isn’t more widely adopted by businesses.
Meet the New Tax Man
Microsoft’s artificially high licensing fees and unreasonably restrictive licensing terms are so legendary within the industry that their economic impact has become known as the Microsoft tax. (Did you know, for example, that the cost of almost every PC sold includes the cost of a Microsoft Windows license, even if the purchaser intends only to use a different operating system on the machine? Or that Microsoft is scheming to have universities force every student to pay for Microsoft software, regardless of whether they actually use it?)
Microsoft’s monopoly gives it the power to collect fees far in excess of what a truly free market would bear. Microsoft is able to extract this additional money from customers–in some cases, unwilling and even unwitting customers–simply because it is not subject to genuine competition.
Because customers have little choice but to render unto Microsoft whatever it demands, the Microsoft tax, like any tax, effectively diverts capital from what would have been its natural, market-based flow through the economy. This diversion of capital represents a market inefficiency that, if corrected, would free up capital for other uses. With the economy in its current state, with businesses starved for capital that could get our economy growing again, would finding ways to repeal the Microsoft tax really be such a bad thing?
Copyright 2003, Evan Coyne Maloney
About The Author:
Evan Coyne Maloney is a political commentator and software developer living in New York City. Some of his writings can be found on the website Brain Terminal, at: http://brain-terminal.com
but alas were not the same person =)
His name resembles a bit “Obi-Wan Kenobi” and in fact, he looks as attractive too. 😉
The author critizes Microsoft for creating an excellent product where most of the people made their primary choice, and as a result Microsoft became a monopoly. In other words Microsoft become a monopoly as a result of its own success. Author doesn’t really acknowledge that. The author also fails to show companies who makes products with open source format. Although there are such companies, most companies in the industry works with proprietary solutions. The author neglects this fact.
The author also fails to show us why this is a bad thing when only Microsoft does that. For example, why not attack the problem from a general point of view, rather than only attacking Microsoft. Doesn’t that weaken the argument, since part of the argument of the author is that it is only bad when Microsoft does that.
One of the many wrong arguments in the article is related with the unwanted Windows license. The author may not know this at all, but the OEMs are free to sell their computers with any OS they want. This is a well known fact, anybody who reads OsNews regularly will know that. Given this fact, many OEMs are still not selling computers with Linux or alternative OSes. Since Microsoft can not threaten OEMs by the court order, any reasonable person would know that the decision of not selling PCs with alternative OSes are mostly related with support issues. If you sell a computer with Linux and the customer is not happy, or asks lots of questions regarding the OS, you will economically suffer. Note that, the author doesn’t talk about these issues.
My guess is that the author will simply make an untrue claim like “Microsoft made them do it” which is as we know only a speculation and a claim that should be regarded as incorrect. The author also fails to explain why OEM should sell Linux, since the support cost of the OS will likely hurt the OEM.
Note that, OEMs make money by selling additional items, software, hardware and so on. Most of these additional products are windows-only. So Windows is very important for OEMs.
Also installing Linux is not so easy. You need to hire a person who knows how to do that, configure it, fix it if there is any problem, how to use it. If there is not enough demand for the product OEMs will likely stick with Linux only.
So instead of asking these obvious simple questions, the author attacks Microsoft, which is very traditional these days. I don’t think that author made any significant point here, instead we heard the same claims as we heard before. This Microsoft bashing reached a point where anything you say against them could easily get published.
The only flaw in your argument is that you haven’t taken the Open Source movement into account. Many people forget that Netscape was a $500 million dollar per year business until Microsoft commoditized the browser. This action created an economic vacuum that Microsoft filled; however, our economy was actually weakened because of the destruction of Netscape. Every time Microsoft takes over a market by commoditizing it, a vacuum is created in which MS’s development costs go out but new revenue does not come in. Microsoft may control the browser market now but its action served only as a defensive maneuver to prevent the browser from supplanting Windows as a development platform. How does that relate to Open Source? Well, without proprietary formats to impede its growth, what company could compete with Open Source software in the most important criteria, cost? Microsoft would be obliterated but what U.S. company would fill in the void; Microsoft employs 55,000 people and has a market valuation of over $500 BILLION dollars, only 15 COUNTRIES in the world have a higher Gross National Product than Microsoft’s market valuation. Destroying Microsoft with Open Source would leave a BLACK HOLE in the U.S. economy; open file formats is a great idea idealistically but market realities would make it suicide for the economy.
The author told me what i already knew just like all articles i read but none seem to give any solutions either.
I don’t lie awake worrying about Microsoft’s monopoly-because one of two things will happen, in the end:
1. Personal computing will lose even more popularity-there are signs this is happening already. One has to look no further back in history than at the phenomena of the citizen’s band radio to see the handwriting on the wall.
2. Microsoft’s OS or Office suite will be supplanted by a product that is cheaper, easier to use, or possibly both. Anyone who has suffered using Office knows damn well it is not intuitive, to say the least. Not cheap either, last I checked.
And, I suppose, both things could happen simultaneously. Be that as it may, it is certainly obvious that the glory days of Windows 95 and Office 97 are long over for the Redmond empire, with no relief in sight.
Do you really think Microsoft has a monopoly in operating systems only because it makes better products? If you do, I have a bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you. MS EVENTUALLY makes decent products but it can attack markets with impunity because of early licensing agreements that made OEMs pay for Windows WHETHER THEY INSTALLED IT OR NOT. Microsoft built a monopoly almost solely on the strength of its licensing agreements; there were better OSs available but OEMs were restricted BY LICENSE to not load them. I understand that is no longer the case but the damage is already done. Microsoft also has $40 BILLION IN CASH just sitting around in case they get blindsided by an upstart; how many start-ups do you know that have that type of cash? If I start a company with a great idea, Microsoft will turn several thousand of its MIT-trained shock troops and billions of dollars in my direction and grind me down to a pulp, “embracing and extending” every innovative idea my company may have along the way. Microsoft wins because it can afford to OUTSPEND virtually any company it competes with. When it faces a peer company, it usually gets HAMMERED because it can’t out-innovate real competitors; did you know Sony sells THREE PlayStation 2s for every Xbox that is sold? I think you may need to read up a little on MS before you go defending it all willy-nilly.
Lets change Microsoft’s flag to red, white and blue. What company embodies America better than Microsoft. While other countries cry foul, we’ll call it capitialism.
Build that free as beer OS and will sell it back to you with an Intel chip.
>Destroying Microsoft with Open Source would leave a BLACK HOLE in the U.S. economy;
No no no
New business models will emerge to fill that hole; after all that capitialism.
The speed in which Linux would devour Microsoft would leave a gaping wound in America’s economy that no business model could fill quickly enough. I’d like to see MS get beaten but I don’t want it to come at the price of a global depression.
[2. Microsoft’s OS or Office suite will be supplanted by a product that is cheaper, easier to use, or possibly both. Anyone who has suffered using Office knows damn well it is not intuitive, to say the least. Not cheap either, last I checked. ]
M$ office feels much better than OOo/StarOffice
[ the glory days of Windows 95 and Office 97 are long over for the Redmond empire, with no relief in sight.]
That’s true, so M$ is eyeing on DRM etc for taxing content delivery, services over network.
The first anti-trust case is about OS (DOS) monopoly, the second one is for desktop monopoly (Office, IE/OS ingetration). Sadly when Open Source are fighting the desktop, M$ is moving toward the network monopoly for geener pasture – if they were there, everybody else would play a much harder catch up.
Talk about straw men.
You pick holes in the outer points of argument, but completly fail to address the author’s main points.
How MS goto the top is irrelevent to the argument, its the position we’re currently in thats important. I personally agree with the author about the “Network economics”.
While the Author uses Microsoft a as an example, along with fax machines, I don’t think its MS bashing, just pointing out the reality. MS has a lot of power, and it’s near impossible because of the “Network economics” to dethrone it. The author’s solution is rather neutral, more of a potentual solution to the “Network economics” than a punishment for microsoft, far from MS bashing.
I have always thought along these lines just how hard it is to enter the market because of the compatability problems, I think it is a will written article and argument, with an interesting and quite practacle solution.
Well we Welsh guys… Genetics are kind
I beleive it’s a myth that the removal of Microsoft from the market will create a black hole in the economy equal to Msoft’s Market Cap. First of all, Microsoft will not go down without a fight. If there is a future of computing without a Msoft it will be 10 to 20 years from now. And even if they were to dissapear into a giant cloud, the people and software would remain. Chances are that the majority of the useful IP would remain either by transfer to the public domain or purchase by other company’s
The number of companies that could collectively rise up to fill in where Msoft once existed make it unlikely that the economy would suffer to any large extent.
In fact, one could speculate that without the giant money sink that is Msoft, there would be a much more diverse and healthy IT economy.
“The speed in which Linux would devour Microsoft would leave a gaping wound in America’s economy that no business model could fill quickly enough. I’d like to see MS get beaten but I don’t want it to come at the price of a global depression.”
Some things have to happen, an interesting article is “the rise of the stupid networks” it talks about how for us all to move forward into real broadband, first the traditional telcos must fail, and fail fast. There are some (all if you respect tru capitalism) instances where industys must be left to fail, despite the effect to the economy, so we can move on.
While I supose American patriots are more concerned about America’s economy than the grater good in the long term, some of us arn’t.
Not that i’m saying MS must fail, just that they most certianly shouldn’t be arficially proped up from open source
Dont worry I see great future for IBM, Dell, Intel, AMD, and HP (notice these are all hw and service companies).
tty is right the desktop is over
I remember Bill Gates saying this three or four years ago on Charlie Rose.
If you do, I have a bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you.
Really? Hmmm, do you own a bridge if I do believe, or do you already own one? I guess it would be pretty stupid if you own a bridge based on my beliefs, so I guess you already own one. That’s even more stupid though. I don’t think you will ever win an argument with this type of logic.
MS EVENTUALLY makes decent products but it can attack markets with impunity because of early licensing agreements that made OEMs pay for Windows WHETHER THEY INSTALLED IT OR NOT.
You try to say something here, but I didn’t understand what you are trying to say. “It can attack markets because it has early licensing agreements that made OEMs pay for Windows”. Hmm now later on you imply that you are talking about the past here, but you say Microsoft can attack markets. By market what I understand is xbox, pocket pc type of new markets. But from what you said there is no way of making any connection. You really lost me here.
Microsoft built a monopoly almost solely on the strength of its licensing agreements; there were better OSs available but OEMs were restricted BY LICENSE to not load them. I understand that is no longer the case but the damage is already done.
Now, as a Microsoft basher I don’t expect you think deeply about the issues, but I will try to explain you how hard it is really to make your claim. You need to first show that (i.e.) BeOS was able to convince an OEM to carry its OS. Well this is important since, the OEM spends on money on this, and it has to know whether people will be crazy about this new OS or not. Well assuming that you can prove that, you also need to show that, BeOS would survive and will be a real challenger if Microsoft didn’t have this policy. Now you have no chance of showing that, on the contrary it is actually easier to show that any OS challenging Windows, has no chance of survival because of the lack of applications. Since it will be pretty hard to say to judge “Your honour, ok there is not much applications for this OS, but still people would buy it, I know it”. Well unless the judge is a Microsoft basher, nobody will buy this logic. If there is no application for it, there is no chance of survival. Now, unless you prove all of these, then only you may say the damage is already done. You see, your arguments are quite weak, and mostly depends on one single simple incorrect argument: Microsoft did it.
Microsoft also has $40 BILLION IN CASH just sitting around in case they get blindsided by an upstart; how many start-ups do you know that have that type of cash? … Microsoft wins because it can afford to OUTSPEND virtually any company it competes with.
Now here is a good argument which proves that your all arguments here is totally absolutely WORTHLESS. This is because, you say that Microsoft is a big fish, so any small company has no chance. Well it is certainly true that Microsoft is a big fish. It is not true however that Microsoft will necessarily go and compete with you, it may not be interested with what you do, or if it finds really interesting it may try to buy your company rather than competing. Now, there are thousands of ideas, business models, business plans out there and you claim that Microsoft will eat all of them live.
Here is another proof why your argument is worthless. There are IBM, Sun, Oracle and lots of other big fishes out there, and you think that when they see nice small fishes they’ll all say “Hey little fella, how are you? Please, please I want you to be successful. I won’t get into your way. I am not Microsoft, please go, grow up and be a big fish”. Are you nuts?
When it faces a peer company, it usually gets HAMMERED because it can’t out-innovate real competitors; did you know Sony sells THREE PlayStation 2s for every Xbox that is sold?
Oh, yeah, I didn’t know that. I am really sorry for Microsoft. I am crying for them day and night. Oh my god. This can not happen. Oh, I love Microsoft. Go Microsoft go. Booo Sony. Booooooo!
My suggestion to you Mach is eat fish, it has lots of vitamins.
I think you are correct that some vendors ship PCs without MS licenses, but the big players that corporates go to, (Compaq, Dell etc) don’t. If you go to the Dell website right and try and buy a standard PC without windows, you can’t. Since corporates buy from big vendors (mostly) they are forced to buy the license.
Regardless I disagree that the article is worthless, it raises some interesting points (IMHO).
The point about using open standards is a good one, if the MS Office formats were open then at the very least it would make it easier for other companies to interact with MSOffice files. If that means down the line that other companies build products that stimulate MS to keep Office priced fairly and with the features that customers want, that can only be a good thing.
“I think you are correct that some vendors ship PCs without MS licenses, but the big players that corporates go to, (Compaq, Dell etc) don’t.”
There was even a LAW (at least until a pair of years ago) that didn’t let you buy a pc without an os… And guess what os the vendor would have sold to you?
I used Word Perfect until I got tired of converting documents for users to inept to know the differance. MS got Office on top not by selling a better product, but by scuttling the better office suites at the time with marketing and selling products at a loss in order to take over as they ran the other guys out of business or for the rest, took over so much of the market everyone else was marginalized.
MS has neer made the better product, they either buy it from someone or market it out of existance (did you forget the Novell Crunch, or all the BS about Unix is dead and so forth-I have read so much MS garbage on Unixes are too hard to use so you need windows)
MS gets on top by doing the illegal and if you believe in it the immoral. MS willcontinue to do so until they are marginalized which might just happen.
I suggest that people get a long term historical perspective. 400 years ago Spain and Portugal were the worlds greatest powers and England an insignificant economy. 100 years ago Britain was the worlds greatest military and economic power.
200 years ago vast fortunes were made in sugar, whaling and cotton; whaling has almost dissapeared and the other two are unprofitable commodities mainly produced in the undeveloped world.
Microsoft is a young company and has probably reached close to its maximum size and profitability. The most likely scenario is that MS will remain a large company with gradually declining profitability. MS is not going to control the world or go broke anytime soon.
New technologies represent a huge potential threat to MS. The demand for whale oil virtually disappeared with the discovery of cheap kerosene in the 1850s.
“There was even a LAW (at least until a pair of years ago) that didn’t let you buy a pc without an os… And guess what os the vendor would have sold to you?”
My understanding is that it was a license agreement. MS simply said to Dell etc “If you want the lowest price on Windows licenses, then you must ship one with every PC”. Again, using a monopolly to enforce a licence agreement that would not have been possible otherwise.
“Lets change Microsoft’s flag to red, white and blue. What company embodies America better than Microsoft.”
Since when is breaking the law, total disregard for consumers and decieving the public about alternate products how America works? LOL Give it a rest.
Sergio, you are good at argument but opinions that attack the article and make no attempt to praise are obviously biased. Maybe there are plenty of MS-bashers here but your post makes you seem highly prejudiced in the opposite direction, which is just as bad isn’t it?
In other words Microsoft become a monopoly as a result of its own success. Author doesn’t really acknowledge that.
This is true, to obtain 90% market-share you must have been succesful. But what is your point? Why do you expect the Author to praise MS in his article? It was an impartial article.
Although there are such companies, most companies in the industry works with proprietary solutions. The author neglects this fact.
He doesn’t refer to the habits of the industry in his article, he simply describes what techniques are used and which ones benefit the consumer. Did you want a 6 page article? I’m not going to comment on any more of Sergio’s post. I’m starting to think he’s trolling.
Mach: I disagree with your gaping hole, I reckon plenty of OSS projects would suddenly commercialise. Given the opportunity, they have the product and would want to make money, but currently you can’t make a good product without MS buying your company or cloning and bundling it with the next version of Windows, unless you have the money to fight back. I know this is a sweeping statement but my general point is that small companies seem to have a hard time making software that could command a large userbase (e.g. a database wrapper for MySQL, easy to make for an OSS project, hard to make money with due to Access).
dirkdude: execellent comments, I just hope I don’t have to wait too many years for true competition to reach this industry.
The article: it’s refreshing to read something so impartial, (perhaps excluding parts of page 3), also it was well informed and written. Many thanks
“Microsoft is scheming to have universities force every student to pay for Microsoft software, regardless of whether they actually use it”
I believe this is already the case at Princeton University, where every computer, whether a Mac, Sun workstation or Linux box, is factored in to the annual MS toll.
There’s a perfectly good term for it too: daylight robbery.
It’s not a question of whether MS is bad. Monopolies are bad. MS has a monopoly on Office documents that is bad for consumers. End of story.
//…While other countries cry foul, we’ll call it capitialism.
….New business models will emerge to fill that hole; after all that(‘s) capitialism.//
So first, you decry capitalism, because it supposedly allows big corporations to run amok.
Then, you turn around and praise capitalism, because if Big Corp M gets snuffed out, other businesses can fill the void.
Moron. Make up your mind.
It is a good article. Too late after the fact though. I am severally disappointed in the MS judgement (I did not vote for Bush; that idiot is going to lead us into WWIII!!!).
It is really unfortunate that the computer vendors accepted some of the licensing restrictions. The computer industry was more focused on short term profits, and really backed themselves into a corner. They still do not have to accept the license terms, but allow themselves to be bullied by M$. THey don’t have much choice now.
In this time of economic downturn, when most companies are strugling to break even, tiny profits or having huge loses, MS is still making record profits.
**When was the last time that MS ran in the red, and had to focus on efficiency and quality like most all other companies these days?? **
That says something in itself.
Just think of all the billions of dollars that are spent troubleshouting/figuring out MS’s crap product because it has no effective competition.
Also, the stifled innovation – the cost of that is simply unknowable but could be trillions of lost productivity.
Sergio makes some good points, but the real problem with the fax analogy is as follows. Microsoft does not make fax maxhines. Microsoft does not make PCs. Microsoft makes SOFTWARE. People complain about the “artificially high cost” of MS software, but ignore the real benefits of having PC OEMs compete at the hardware level. Anyone notice that the price of PCs has dropped a little, and performance has improved, since the mid 80s? Lets compare this market (proprietary OS standards/hardware competition) to other computer markets where the same company controls both the hardware and software, i.e. Sun & Apple. Apple is good looking, but slow and expensive.
So, even if you think there is a MS tax, your hardware savings more than make up for it. Furthermore, becasue hardware prices came down, more PCs were sold, creating the precondition for lots of people to own computers and need to transfer data. It may not be true that MS based OS standards transformed the stand alone computing market into a networked computing market, but it sure helped.
Finally, for you linux lovers, even Linus has said that withhout all those cheap outmoded 386 machines floating around, linux would never have taken off.
Microsoft does not make fax maxhines. Microsoft does not make PCs. Microsoft makes SOFTWARE
Lets compare this market (proprietary OS standards/hardware competition) to other computer markets where the same company controls both the hardware and software
This is because there is competition in the hardware market, AMD vs Intel, Nvida vs ATI, all the mobo manurfactures vs each other. You are supporting the idea that open standards and competion are healthy for consumers. MS has little to do with this competition.
1) MS is in a “Network economy” position
2) This hurts compition and free market ideas
3) This lack competiton hurts consumers
4) Something must be done to stop the consumers being hurt.
That to me those are the basic premises of the argument.
Should you wish to attack argument you basically have to pick one of those points are prove it false, or argue that one doesn’t stem from the other. Argueging about things that happened in the past does not affect the argument, it just adds a whole bunch of useless (to the discusion) rhetoric and verges on trolling.
The other discusion point is the proposed solution.
We’ll take the hardware savings, but why should we then hand over those savings to a a monopolist? Wouldn’t we be better off with competition on the hardware and the software?
Do you wish we only had one company making cars, and assume everything would be OK as long as there are lots of companies selling gas?
Do you wish we only had one company making airplanes, as long as there are multiple airlines?
Word, Excel, Powerpoint. Is this some kind of rocket science? Can it be done with 100 percent accuracy? Why hasn’t it then?
I know Apple is trying with Keynote, and claims compatibility with Appleworks on Word at least. But I hear it doesn’t work 100 percent.
Why can’t anyone get it to frickin work?
“Word, Excel, Powerpoint. Is this some kind of rocket science? Can it be done with 100 percent accuracy? Why hasn’t it then?”
Nobody has reverse engineered those formats 100% accurately because the specifications are unavailable if you don’t work for Microsoft, and they are binary dumps of the memory structure used to create the document. That also explains why the the files are so abysmally huge for what they actually contain.
But by the mid-1980s–coincidentally when IBM began to surrender its position to Microsoft–this began to change.
Actually, in the mid-80s, OS/2 was very much alive, but its pricing wasn’t so right for clone makers making it impossible to bundle OS/2 and still being able to compete with IBM on grounds of price.
That was in the 90s.
Another possibility is that an open protocol becomes standard, which is what occurred in the real-world case of fax machines.
Which was only caused, not because of fax machines makers coming together making a spec that is open, but Ma Bell’s monopoly.
For example, let’s say one company develops a fax machine incompatible with all others, and the company seizes a large share of the market through excellent marketing.
See? The key word here is marketing. If Microsoft’s competitors were able to out-smart, out-wit and out-do Microsoft in their marketing efforts, Office’s formats wouldn’t be such a standard. Remember, the early days of Office, its competitors were tonnes richer than Microsoft.
The use of Microsoft Office documents is so pervasive that they’re essential to participation in the modern economy.
Sun didn’t have much problem participating in the modern economy with StarOffice. The same with Singapore’s Central Bank. And thousands of other companies. The problem is many that can switch, they don’t know they can switch to another product because all they know is Office.
Nobody benefits from a monopoly but the monopolist; everyone else is harmed by stifled competition.
In the case of Office, it is the competitors that stiffle themselves. Sun is the biggest competitor Office ever had, yet Sun still fail to understand a lot of needs of Office users (macros, a big example).
In an efficient market, when a company starts acting in opposition to its customers, those customers can patronize other vendors.
I don’t see it that way. I’m using Office. I like Office over StarOffice, WP Office, etc. I like KOffice more, but it doesn’t have any of the features I really need. If MS Office stops being good for me, I’m off to another company.
Lotus 1-2-3 was the de-facto monopoly of the spreadsheets market, Office, a product that recieved less funding, manage to bring that monopoly down so fast.
A fundamental element of free markets is the customer’s freedom to choose.
Consumer chooses Office. Those who don’t like the licensing, or the product, or Microsoft, can use competitor’s products without much problem. I used StarOffice 5.1/5.2 for almost 2 years, not one document I have recieved couldn’t be opened. During this course, I help my brother with his PC OEM business.
Besides, how can consumers choose when there is no choice. Let’s take the case of StarOffice for example. They only hire 2 people on their office filters. if they hire a team of 20, wouldn’t the filters be reversed engineer by 5-10 times?
StarOffice lacks compatibility with a lot of things, like macros, PowerPoint animation, etc. Most of the time it is because StarOffice can’t support the feature (like macros) natively than that they can’t figure out how Office writes their formats.
If Office’s formats were open, would StarOffice be much better? Nope. Would WordPerfect Office have more market if the formats were open? Nope. Would Gobe Productive be more financially successful if they have full documentation of Office formats? Nope.
KOffice can’t import MS Word files properly that contain images. Why? Its MS Clipart support broke somewhere along the way.
Specifically, Congress should pass–and the President sign–a law mandating that all commercial software applications purchased by the government use open protocols for file formats and data communication.
That it quite a good idea, actually, then forcing Microsoft to open its file formats. While yes, it indirectly may force MS to open up their formats, but not too fast, buddy. For the government, Microsoft can sell MS Office with filters for a open format, while natively use its propreitary formats. For government clients, it would save automatically in that format.
And governments can build such filters themselves right now if they wanted to. Microsoft built very good infrastructure since Office 97 for third parties to make their own filters.
A transitional period would also be required to allow vendors time to document their protocols and submit them to accepted industry standards bodies, which would assume responsibility for their future development.
Would this mean even Java must be forced to go under a International Standards body? I think it is a stupid idea IMHO. Why? If Congress pass a law saying the government must only use software with open protocols, why must the open protocols be under a standards body? Standard bodies is only a good idea if you want other companies to have input in what goes into Office formats, which frankly I see no reason for that.
Microsoft’s artificially high licensing fees and unreasonably restrictive licensing terms are so legendary within the industry that their economic impact has become known as the Microsoft tax.
Okay, for the first one (high margins), it is not all that artificial. Microsoft won the market with that price, and is maintaining their market with that price. Wouldn’t it be unfair to competitors, especially Sun, if Microsoft is forced to lower the price?
Besides, the price seems high because of the high profit margin. Software, unlike many other industries, have very very very low manufacturing cost. The biggest cost in a product is R&D, which can be spread out very thinly if the market is vast, or thickly if the market is small.
Office’s market grew with leaps and bounds for the past 2 decades. However, forcing Microsoft to price their product at a certain price because of their profit margin is rather silly. Just say suddenly China becomes a rich industrialized country, and needs a solution like Office, and its market grew by 2 times, shouldn’t profit-per-product be cut by two? No. Why? Microsoft earned the extra customer. Now just say half its market gets tired of them and defect, should their price be raise? If they want to, they should be able to (albeit it would only make more defect).
I think Office is worth every penny. My father thinks Office is worth every penny. Most people depending on Office thinks it is worth every penny.
Besides, its licensing and price have cause a lot of business for competitors. If you remove that, a lot of competitors, like Sun and Ximian, would find it harder to enter the market.
Then again, I find many that thinks the current version of Office is good enough for them. I know a lot of people still using Office 97, some even Office 95. Somehow, nothing spured them to upgrade… hmmmm. If you don’t want to upgrade, don’t! My church for example uses Office 97, did it complain it can open files made by me, a Office XP user? Not even once for more than a year.
But monopolists can ignore or even work against the interests of customers with little fear of losing them; they’ve got nowhere else to go.
Remember Office 95 days? Office was a monopoly then. Do you remember the amount of backlash that was caused because of the filters for Office 97 when it came out? It was so bad that Microsoft had to fix it. Wonder how that worked against the consumer.
(Did you know, for example, that the cost of almost every PC sold includes the cost of a Microsoft Windows license, even if the purchaser intends only to use a different operating system on the machine? Or that Microsoft is scheming to have universities force every student to pay for Microsoft software, regardless of whether they actually use it?)
You know, I was quite angry at HP for this. I bought their laptop, but didn’t want the processor. I wanted to buy my own processor, why couldn’t they refund it? I’m still very angry! HP sucks! </sacarsm>
When my dad got this HP laptop, he knew that it came with Windows XP, in fact he requested for XP Pro. If you don’t agree about what it bundled, you could always ask for a refund for your computer (as HP, Dell, IBM, and many others offer) and take your business elsewhere. There is a Malaysian company that makes Linux-compatible OS-less laptops, I could have taken my business there.
If I wanted to run Linux, buy a laptop that runs Linux! There is numerous companies selling it, like Pogo Linux, ASUS (the last time I checked), IBM (for certain models, IIRC), etc. The same case for the rest of you guys.
Besides, for big OEMs, the cost of Windows XP Home is less than $40, how much do you plan to save anyway?
Besides, remember, this is what HP does. Dell is much more friendly towards Windows refunds. The same with IBM. If you have a problem with HP, take your business elsewhere.
Besides, isn’t it the right of a consumer to ask for a refund of Mac OS X, iLife, AppleWorks, Quicken, and that game (name?) when I buy iBook? Apple would laugh at me. Why? They are part of the product. I can say Apple owns a monopoly of PowerPC consumer laptops, therefore I was force to buy all these software. That sounds stupid right?
This action created an economic vacuum that Microsoft filled; however, our economy was actually weakened because of the destruction of Netscape.
Microsoft moved to price Internet Explorer for free because they want to sell Windows. IE is most used by developers. Besides, Netscape could have continue charging for their software, they didn’t. They could have integrate their web service and browser ala MSN Explorer/ AOL. They didn’t.
Netscape may as well make money from its portal, whom in its hay day was the #1 (not counting AOL – before it was dethroned by Yahoo). Did they even try? Nope. The portal was suppose to be a way to sell Netscape. AOL only realize the portal’s economic and business power a wee bit too late.
Microsoft may control the browser market now but its action served only as a defensive maneuver to prevent the browser from supplanting Windows as a development platform.
LOL. Wait, make that ROTFLMAO, How can a browser even possibly replace Windows? What Microsoft wanted, from what I understood with the memos the court brought out, was that it wanted developers to stick with Windows. Do you know how much money developers save in terms of time to market and licensing cost because of Internet Explorer? Of course you don’t.
the arbiter: Anyone who has suffered using Office knows damn well it is not intuitive, to say the least. Not cheap either, last I checked.
I spent almost 2 years using StarOffice, quite some time using OOo, SO6Beta, KOffice and WP Office 2002. Which do I prefer today? Office. While at first I’m most used to StarOffice, right now I’m most productive with Office.
WP Office, especially WordPerfect is way less intuitive and responsive in terms of UI. StarOffice 6/OpenOffice.org is far worse than that.
Do you really think Microsoft has a monopoly in operating systems only because it makes better products?
Do you think the market cares about what is technically better? hell no! They care about what make them go the furthest with the least cost. For many people, including me, Darius, Sergio and a lot and a lot of other people are like that. I use Linux 1/3 of the time too, mostly for entertainment purposes.
Mach: but it can attack markets with impunity because of early licensing agreements that made OEMs pay for Windows WHETHER THEY INSTALLED IT OR NOT.
Do you have even a iota of proof to make this allegation started by Be a fact? I doubt it, the courts couldn’t proove it. Microsoft charges OEMs a rather low price, less than $40 for big OEMs (like Acer, Asustek, IBM etc. Really big OEMs (those with more than 15% of the world market) get less than $30, rought estimate).
So, as a person that is very inclined in marketing, it makes little sense to have two computers, and one $40 cheaper. It makes very little sense.
GetOutOfHere: Lets change Microsoft’s flag to red, white and blue. What company embodies America better than Microsoft. While other countries cry foul, we’ll call it capitialism.
Read Adam Smith’s and Ayn Rand’s writings, you would find that this isn’t even close to capitalism. Microsoft victory is a capitalism victory, but action against it, and stuff like agri subsidies and steel tariffs isn’t.
New business models will emerge to fill that hole; after all that capitialism.
That is not one company that manage to build a successful profitable business model based on open source software. That includes Red Hat.
tty: That’s true, so M$ is eyeing on DRM etc for taxing content delivery, services over network.
“Taxing” is not the right word. RIAA and MPAA aren’t forced to use Microsoft’s DRM. If it was the only choice and it was forced upon by a huge power, then maybe you can call it tax.
But the “tax” (royalties) itself is for patents related to the formats (wmv and wma) rather than DRM. MPEG also charges “taxes”, at a much higher price mind you.
Ores: How MS goto the top is irrelevent to the argument
Actually it is very revelant. They worked hard for it. And nobody worked as hard to get it from them.
Brock: If there is a future of computing without a Msoft it will be 10 to 20 years from now.
When I was born, there was Microsoft. When I die, there would be Microsoft. They may loose their power and monopoly, but they would exist far longer than 10-20 years with the money they have.
I remember Bill Gates saying this three or four years ago on Charlie Rose.
I remember Bill Gates saying that 64kb of RAM would be enough for the rest of history.
Dave Bloomberg: selling products at a loss
Microsoft never sold Office at a lost purposely. Office 1.0 was a economic failure, but mainly because of Apple’s monopoly over that market on the Macintosh market (Office in the early days was made for Macs).
But as soon as Microsoft shifted focus to WP and Lotus and Harvard, they were rather profitable.
Scott: My understanding is that it was a license agreement. MS simply said to Dell etc “If you want the lowest price on Windows licenses, then you must ship one with every PC”.
Actually, the court only proove that it was “If you want the lowest price on Windows licenses, then you must ship Windows stand-alone and not with any other OS”.
Fergatronic: I believe this is already the case at Princeton University, where every computer, whether a Mac, Sun workstation or Linux box, is factored in to the annual MS toll.
Actually, Princeton University got site licensing. Their plan covers more PCs than they own.
Those who deploy large numbers of Windows normally get site licensing.
It’s not a question of whether MS is bad. Monopolies are bad. MS has a monopoly on Office documents that is bad for consumers. End of story.
It’s not a question of whether Apple is bad. Appleforevers are bad. Appleforever is a zealot on OSNews forums, and that’s bad for his sanity. End of story.
Does that make it true?
appleforever: Also, the stifled innovation – the cost of that is simply unknowable but could be trillions of lost productivity.
Microsoft “stiffled” a lot of innovation even before they were a monopoly. Not because they were all mean. Innovation means nothing to consumers. Solutions means everything. BeOS is innovative, unforunately, only a few can actually be productive with it. Marketing, my friend, that’s the key word.
rajan r: “I think Office is worth every penny. My father thinks Office is worth every penny. Most people depending on Office thinks it is worth every penny.”
400+ Euro? You must be kiddin’!
I don’t know any home-user here in Belgium that paid one cent for his office-suite, not a penny! 50 – 100 Euro is a price that most people would pay and with competition and open formats that would be the marketprice and not a penny more.
>>>>50 – 100 Euro is a price that most people would pay and with competition and open formats that would be the marketprice and not a penny more.
99% of the people get OEM copies where it’s only costing consumers 50 – 100 Euro. Just look at the California settlement for overpricing.
“How MS goto [sic] the top is irrelevent to the argument…”
Thinking like this is why we don’t learn from our past mistakes. Was Microsoft a monopoly? Yes. Is it still a monopoly? Yes. Is it trying to extend its monopoly power into other areas? Yes. Ignoring the lessons of the past is the surest path to repetition of sins.
>>>>Thinking like this is why we don’t learn from our past mistakes. Was Microsoft a monopoly? Yes. Is it still a monopoly? Yes. Is it trying to extend its monopoly power into other areas? Yes. Ignoring the lessons of the past is the surest path to repetition of sins.
It’s this obsession that is hurting the bottom lines of SUN and Oracle — thus actually helping Microsoft to expand in the long run. SUN and Oracle forgot to look at where the basketball is, and IBM is stealing their market share.
IBM is pragmatic about it, they will support .net and java, they will support windows and linux, they will support…. And perhaps some day in the future, they will be strong enough for another epic fight with Microsoft. But meanwhile, let’s steal market shares from SUN and Oracle.
This article was very unenlightening. I am no more informed about the future of computing than before I looked at it.
Everyone knows about the microsoft vs. the rest of the world. contest.
I think people are missing the main point of what the author was saying. If someone wants to use MS Office, that’s great. The problem is if I am required to use it as well in order to communicate with other businesses or the government. As long as the files are able to be read by a comparable program, then everyone wins. You can use what you like and I can use what is best for me. People should be able to use the OS and office suite that meets their needs. That way the the software manufacturers compete on features and price and the consumer is able to select a product that does just what they need.
I thought it was interesting which is one heck of a lot more than hat I thought of your comment.
Serge: You are a dimwit. Learn your history before you spout of with nonsense. Same to Ores.
Rajan: Microsoft already had action brought against them for anti-competitive purposes WELL BEFORE the official anti-trust action. It was FORCED to stop charging for copies of Windows that it didn’t actually sell by GOVERNMENT ORDER. THIS IS A FACT. See above. And it was well documented that Netscape DID INDEED plan on making the browser the next true development platform, doing an end-around around Windows. This is far from a technical impossibility. Netscape may have had poor code, but MS could have NEVER supplanted an established leader in a market (over 80% marketshare) without dumping HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS of dollars into its browser and then offering FOR FREE. For that matter, Microsoft has yet to beat a competitor without offering its product completely for free or bundling it with Windows at a tremendous discount. If you know of any case that contradicts this statement, PLEASE let me know.
Damn people, bring FACTS to the table instead on this moronic nonsense.
I work in a law firm. All our clients use office. We have to make them happy. Sending them documents they can’t open would not make them happy and we would soon find ourselves out of business.
You could be right that its the competitor’s fault that we don’t have 100 percent accurate filters (for example, due to missing features). But I still have questions about this. Are the formats fully documented? If it’s so easy, somebody would have done it. Right now, I assume it’s pretty damn hard and that’s why we don’t have good trouble-free conversion.
The main point of the article is that if you own a communication protocal, you probably can become a monopoly and be able to stay there forever. Marketing or no marketing. Obviously this point is lost on many .Instead you get full pages of comments from lan boys who think they know how markets are won and describe failures only to be the cause of simpleton explanations such “bad marketing” .
If most of the people use an At&t phone and all other phone makers cant use that protocal to communicate , marketing aint going to do squat.
Your points were fine. Rajan and Serge put me in a flaming mood.
MxCl: Good points. Finally, some sense in the madness. Same to Dirk.
Gobe Produtive was / is a supeior office suit, small fast feature ritch stable and inexpensive. and budget priced.
But it to failed under the MS Office monopoly,
Comparing the computer revolution to the CB radio fad is perhaps the funniet thing I’ve ever read here!
Quote from rajan
“LOL. Wait, make that ROTFLMAO, How can a browser even possibly replace Windows?
Actually embeded OS platforms are little more then browsers.
BeIA for example. Microsoft wants a grip on the embeded market
Watches Cell Phones PDA’s etc.
[i]Destroying Microsoft with Open Source would leave a BLACK HOLE in the U.S. economy; open file formats is a great idea idealistically but market realities would make it suicide for the economy.[i]
This is utter bunkum. What would happen, is that the resources that Microsoft sucks up in its incredibly inefficient attempts to produce something that a bunch of volunteer hackers can produce in their spare time, would be applied to a far more efficient use, and the economy would in fact be stronger. Monopolies use resources inefficiently in a market economy to the detriment of society as a whole. If Bingo Corp doesn’t have to pay Microsoft a monopoly rent for a product, it can spend the spare cash on programmers to make its operations more efficient, or alternatively, it can sell its products cheaper, thus putting more money in the hands of consumers, who spend it elsewhere, or it can give a bigger return to its shareholders, who either spend or invest that additional money elsewhere.
The resources being used by MS don’t just disappear because MS isn’t there, they are redeployed more efficiently to the betterment of society as a whole.
I should clarify that comment as I think it’s pretty important. As regards infrastructure (ATM machines, airline resevations, replacement of the old typewriter in an office setting), those uses aren’t going away. They’re also not going to expand much further, marketwise, either.
For the typical home user (not hobbyist geeks like all of us here at this site) the uses for these machines are very limited, and rapidly being supplanted by 3G cell phone capabilities and improved cable TV functionality. I truly don’t see the home PC market being profitable in any way for anyone within a decade.
Will the market go away? Not entirely. You can still buy a CB radio. Are they the backbone of anyone’s business these days? Of course not.
History will deal some harsh lessons only to those who don’t pay attention to it.
P.S. Rajan, you crack me up. Nothing like the confidence of the very young! There was no Microsoft when I was born; the technology de jour was NASA’s space program. I grew up wanting to be an astronaut, and all the technology/science fiction writers said we’d be living on the moon by 1985. Seems pretty stupid now, eh? It was stupid. Microsoft, Apple, and all the Linux companies are merely the NASA/CB radio/(insert fad here) of the twenty-first century. Stay awake in history class, guys. The ass you save may be your own.
Before Windows, MS Word was highly marketed, and failing miserably. If you read Prof. Lombardi’s reviews, which appeared in Infoworld, you’ll see that Word consistantly failed to get high marks. Wordperfect and Samna were clearly superior.
There is a working paper here: http://expert.cc.purdue.edu/~tomlinso/Working.Paper.pdf which shows some of the data for word processors of the DOS era. Prof. Liebowitz’s book, Winners, Loosers, and Microsoft, has the Windows era data.
When Windows came along, that all changed. For almost two years, no one could write a really good Windows word processor. Eventually, Wordperfect and a couple of others learned to write for Windows, and caught up, but by then it was too late. MS had already captured a majority of the Windows market, and they had a cash cow (operating system sales) which allowed them to make exclusionary bundling deals with computer manufacturers to keep other word processors from being sold with machines.
My conclusion is that MS had a superior product only after they wrote, and kept secret from the competition, the incredibly complicated (relative to DOS) Windows API.
Lots of law firms used Wordperfect and preferred it for various reasons (easier formatting for legal docs). But when business all switched to Word, every law firm switched too. They had too to communicate with clients.
The word and excel monopoly forces a “one size fits all” approach, when we could have all kinds of specialized word processors and spreadsheets tailored to particular users and markets if there were an open format.
this monopoly is unbeliveable stultifying. But some people are just too stupid too wake up and realize it.
>>>>Lots of law firms used Wordperfect and preferred it for various reasons (easier formatting for legal docs). But when business all switched to Word, every law firm switched too. They had too to communicate with clients.
Law firms are the power users of word processors. Courts have very strict formatting rules, usually 1 inch margins and 12 points type. Judges can refuse to accept your court filings if you use 1 1/2 inch margins.
Law firms stayed so long with word perfect has nothing to do with whether word perfect is better and easier for formatting. Law firms spent a bundle of money on customized word perfect macros. That’s why they are the last ones to switch to word. Now when law firms switch to word, they are insisting on using customized style templates instead of customized macros. Less costly if they want to change word processors in the future.
If you want to be a word 2002 power user. Go to microsoft’s web site and download their 200+ page legal user’s guide. It’s free.
Microsoft actually spent a lot of money and developer’s time talking to law firms and now Word is much better for lawyers than Word Perfect.
His fax analogy is way off. In the case of fax machines they only have to be compatible at the most basic level. All offices suites are that compatible. All of them can use basic text or rich text. They don’t have all the same advanced features, but neither do fax machines.
are you on crack getoutofhere? HP is dying thanks to that idiotic merger.
Gobe was a joke move on. Was it good? Yes. Better then ms office? No. It didn’t do a lot of the things that clerks, secretaries, assistants, etc. need word to do. Same with accountants and excel. Even if you believe it was a superior product for your needs (I emphasize your needs btw, don’t tell me what I need) then you could use it. That is of course if you’ve heard of it. I could build the best car in the world. Fast, good handling, uses no fuel, and so cheap its almost free. But if no one knows how can they buy it? Its called advertising, Gobe, be and every other defunct 2nd rate software company should’ve looked into it before they died. Instead their supporters just state the “superiority” of their software and say how bad the stuff 90% of us use is. Of course if they were advertised they still would’ve gone under, it would’ve happened sooner thanks to the money they spent on advertising.
These are the same gomers that can’t compete with Microsoft now. Remove Microsoft and the void won’t be magically filled. You’re attributing competence to companies that suckle at the massive nipple of MS; Microsoft has dumbed down IT to the point that, if their hands aren’t held, most IT managers will sit on their thumbs rather than really explore creative solutions.
Mach: When it faces a peer company, it usually gets HAMMERED because it can’t out-innovate real competitors; did you know Sony sells THREE PlayStation 2s for every Xbox that is sold?
Sony is winning because they have been in the market far longer. As for APIs goes, if XBOX uses the same APIs as Win32 + DirectX, plus its hardware, Microsoft out-innovated Sony by a whole lot.
The problem is not many game developers feel they should port their games to XBOX, and because of that, not many games, and because of that, less customer demand.
I think you are correct that some vendors ship PCs without MS licenses, but the big players that corporates go to, (Compaq, Dell etc) don’t.
Speak of the devil, the two examples you provided ships Linux on certain models targeted at the corporate market.
Scott: If you go to the Dell website right and try and buy a standard PC without windows, you can’t.
I’ll give you an easy answer for that: No demand. For a time, Dell provided a Linux option for all its PCs, yet dropped it for consumer hardware because of lack of demand. Believe it or not, it cost money to make Linux an option.
dirkdude: the other two are unprofitable commodities mainly produced in the undeveloped world.
Actually, cotton is a extremely profitable market, however it is always the middleman that is profiting, not the farmers. Cotton isn’t a commodity like sugar, pure cotton that is.
Always wondered why clothes that use pure cotton is always far more expensive?
cram: 400+ Euro? You must be kiddin’!
Apparently not for me. The amount of time I saved on Office than using StarOffice (the office suite I used most in my life), WP Office, KOffice, Gobe Productive etc makes Office worth every of that penny.
Why? A number of features, the biggest one being macros (WordPerfect supports this, but somehow I coudln’t get it to work on QuattroPro).
cram: 50 – 100 Euro is a price that most people would pay and with competition and open formats that would be the marketprice and not a penny more.
Ironically, that what the price of most OEMs and volume purchasers (big big corporations) buy. Besides, not one competitor have manage to make a compeling product that I can use, or my father, or most of the people I know. StarOffice, BTW, is the closest.
Besides, one of the chief reasons why Excel won over Lotus 1-2-3 is because of the price. If Sun can emulate that same way Microsoft can do, wouldn’t forcing Microsoft to lower their prices be counter-productive in creating more competition?
Paul: Ignoring the lessons of the past is the surest path to repetition of sins.
But most, if not all, of their competitors don’t seem to follow that lessons. How did they become a monopoly? Marketing. How did they keep that monopoly? Marketing. Besides marketing, how did they get and secure their monopoly? Good management of resources. What is the only way to compete with Microsoft? Marketing and good management of resources.
sam: And perhaps some day in the future, they will be strong enough for another epic fight with Microsoft.
However, of the late, they have become more and more distant with the desktop that by time they actually are “strong” enough to compete with Microsoft, doing so may require a huge corporate culture change.
Bill: The problem is if I am required to use it as well in order to communicate with other businesses or the government.
If you don’t like that, download Microsoft’s Office viewers (you can’t edit but can view). The top two competitors, WP Office and StarOffice have rather good Office filters, the reason why they aren’t 100% is because they do not support all of Office features therefore aren’t able to implement such features.
Besides, even if StarOffice/WP Office/Hancom Office/Crappyshitcloneof Office had pure 100% perfect filters with Office, would there be competition? Doubt it.
Mach: Microsoft already had action brought against them for anti-competitive purposes WELL BEFORE the official anti-trust action.
Did I say anything contradicting with that? There were many investigations against Microsoft in the late 80s and eraly 90s, Netscape suit prompt the government of several states to sue.
Besides, Mach, I know you are new here, so I’ll let you on something that all regulars here know, I DON’T FUCKING AGREE WITH ANTITRUST LAWS. So I would disregard most of your post which questions Microsoft’s legality rather than its action.
Mach: It was FORCED to stop charging for copies of Windows that it didn’t actually sell by GOVERNMENT ORDER.
The last I checked, they still charged for their products. Besides, Windows price was raised with Windows 95, and IIRC, never did rise any significantly after that.
Mach: And it was well documented that Netscape DID INDEED plan on making the browser the next true development platform, doing an end-around around Windows.
I’m saying that it was rather impossibly that Netscape can be a development base, in fact if you read the Microsoft’s imfamous memos, they want to get rid of Netscape to they can enrich Win32 rather than to remove unwanted competition.
Besides, as a development platform, it is interesting to note that Netscape 1-4 (the ones based on Mosaic) wasn’t modular, making it hard for developers to use it.
Mach: This is far from a technical impossibility.
With the way Netscape 3-4.x was written, I’d say it is. Maybe Netscape 6/7, but that came a little bit too late, don’t you think?
Mach: blah blah without dumping HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS of dollars into its browser and then offering FOR FREE.
Actually, the amount spent on Internet Explorer collectively can’t be said, unless you are working in Microsoft. Much of the resources went to integrating (or co-miggling) IE with Windows and buidling libraries for that.
As for free, the reason is that IE is released chiefly for developers. In other words, they want developers to stick with Win32 because they would have less time to market. If it isn’t free and isn’t integrated into Windows, IE would have never been as successful.
i better find a clipboard replacement for Opera, I just lost half of my comment! Argh! 10 minutes down the drain.
It is wrong to sue Microsoft mainly because it has become overbearingly successful. If Microsoft does something illegal, then it should be sued for the specific illegal action committed, and nothing else.
I like the author’s idea of using the government’s purchasing power to enhance competition. It does not penalize success and it does not coerce anyone to do anything they are not willing to do in order to get a contract. Microsoft would have a chance to bid on the contract just like everyone else. If Microsoft remains unwilling to open its protocols (and by this decision foregos its chance to bid), that’s Microsoft’s right. Fair enough.
The government should not micromanage markets or competition by choosing one company over another. It should work to create general conditions that promote competition. As a purchaser,the government certainly has the right to define what it wants to buy. As long as the bid criteria are fair (not intended to exclude anyone or to favor a certain company) the government can do a lot to nurture competition. This wise idea should be explored further.