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Special report: MS on the threat from Linux et al

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MS on Trial Open Source and Linux Microsoft just does not understand the open software movement because it fails to comprehend that public recognition for writing good software can do more for the psyche than a bundle of Microsoft shares. Microsoft does admit that "the open source movement provides high quality software products" and it clearly rankles that they are free. The existence of Linux shows "there are no barriers to entry into the operating systems business ". Microsoft refers to Linux distributions as "commercial versions" in order to give a deliberately misleading aspect. Java Naughty Sun "continues to promote Java", Microsoft says, while Redmond "continues to market first-rate Java tools that can be used to create so-called 'pure Java' applications". And of course to sabotage Java by deliberately deviating from the Java specification, and oppose its standardisation. Microsoft says that its Java strategy is wrongly characterised as "anti-competitive", and claimed it to be "pro-competitive" since developers have been given the choice to write cross-platform Java, or to use Microsoft's modified version. The Sun litigation is not mentioned, nor is there any mention of the contract dispute that is to go to trial next year. A nasty taunt is that Microsoft claims that the term "pure Java" is a "marketing slogan": were it not for Microsoft, there would of course be no need for the term. It is also curious that Gates characterised Java as just another programming language, but now it is middleware that "had the potential to diminish the value of Windows". James Gosling, the architect of Java, complained that Java Native Interface (JINI) was not supported by Microsoft, and Microsoft wants to use JDirect instead. Nor had Microsoft implemented Remote Method Invocation (RMI), because Microsoft's "implementation" of Java "fully supports RMI - although at one stage Microsoft had discussed hiding RMI. Microsoft's Java development tools only work for Microsoft's Java implementation, Gosling noted. Some other challenged features have now been moved by Microsoft, which could not have made Java developers happy if they were using Microsoft's implementation. IBM and OS/2 During the early days of browser development, Microsoft's great fear was OS/2 rather than Navigator. IBM had included a browser with OS/2 before Microsoft had woken up to the importance of browsing. John Urbaniak, an OS/2 developer, has written that Microsoft instituted a triad of coercion against OS/2 by coercing OEMs not to pre-load OS/2; by coercing developers like WordPerfect and Corel not to release OS/2 products; and by coercing the press not to write positively about OS/2. "When IBM first released OS/2 in 1987" it required more RAM than most PCs had at the time. But for some reason, Microsoft omits the fact that it wrote that version of OS/2. Considerable ire is reserved for Garry Norris, "a relatively low-level IBM employee, approximately four or five tiers below Lou Gerstner". Norris was however IBM's chief negotiator with Microsoft and his evidence has yielded a great deal of information. Microsoft uses 21 pages to wriggle about this, but still ends up looking like an eel. Microsoft did not like being ignored by IBM CEO Lou Gerstner, and neither did it like his remark that "The PC's reign as the driver of customer buying decisions and the primary platform for applications development is over." Apple Apple didn't get a mention in the original Complaints, but since Microsoft was determined to view Apple as a competitor in its non-definition of the market, it was useful for the DoJ to show how Microsoft had treated one of its major customers. Microsoft's waffle took up 29 pages. "Recent studies suggest that [Apple] is drawing customers away from computers that use Windows." If so, why is Microsoft continuing to keep its minority investment in Apple? The key point about the platform competition evidence is that it proves in abundance that Microsoft indulged in a pattern of behaviour that was intended to be anti-competitive. The problem is going to be to find remedies that will work. ® Other sections Microsoft's antitrust defence The three threats to Microsoft MS on the Netscape AOL deal The threat from Open Source and Linux Back to intro Complete Register Trial coverage

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