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Gates telegraphs next expansionist moves while defending the last ones

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Having Bill Gates doing the 'vision thing' while Ballmer and Co run Microsoft may end up generating a heap of trouble for the company. In his memo to staff, published earlier this week (Microsoft leaks its own memos), he set down several technological objectives that would have massive implications, and yesterday he was at it again - now we're going to integrate databases. Gates was being interviewed by three analysts on the podium at Gartner's Florida Symposium, and according to reports seems to have spent a lot of time arguing Microsoft's defence against the DoJ action. But he also lobbed in the suggestion that Microsoft would build a "superstore" for data into the operating system, introducing database functions that would be a superset of the file system, dealing with data storage and caching. So the OS would have built-in transaction processing functions, and these would be available for use by all Windows applications. Logically, this functionality should turn out to be a close relation of the anti-piracy and copyright control functions Gates said would be built into the file system in his memo, but the Great Man seems to have missed the sheer insanity of bringing up a notion like this in the current context. Any day now the DoJ will step into court claiming that Microsoft's integration policy is predatory. Caldera is claiming similar things, and Gates himself has been whizzing around defending Microsoft - he contrived to do this in Florida and North Carolina yesterday alone. So now we're going to integrate OLTP. You can imagine it. First the file system gets revved, then the functionality starts to extend, and by the time the database vendors are starting to notice their apps breaking, Microsoft is claiming that it's perfectly logical and in the interests of innovation to integrate the database with the OS. Mysteriously, SQL Server seems to work better with Windows than apps from other vendors do. Microsoft argues that all of the hooks their developers need to write software that competes with SQL are readily available. They're just losing market share because Microsoft software is better. Actually, if you think about it there is an argument that database and OS should be tightly integrated. If the DoJ ends up whacking Microsoft on this one in about 2005, expect the enterprise vendors currently delivering bespoke mission critical database platforms to get whacked with Microsoft subpoenas. By the way, late yesterday we finally got to the end of Microsoft's "Setting the record straight" document, and guess what we found. "Microsoft is not in a monopoly position … In operating systems it faces competition from IBM OS/2, PC-DOS, Caldera OpenDOS, Apple Mac, Linux, Novell NetWare, Sun Solaris, Sun JavaOS, HP/UX, DEC VMS and Digital UNIX, Lucent Inferno, SCO OpenServer and UNIXWare, IBM AIX and OS/400, and many embedded real-time operating systems." The fact that Microsoft sees itself competing with all of these - i.e., with everything - speaks volumes about the company's ambitions. This par is basically a corporate Freudian slip that confirms that Microsoft wants to rule the world. ® Click for more stories

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