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Letters In this story, Why Sun threw in the towel in Mankind vs. Microsoft, I thought I was damning Microsoft with faint praise by pointing out that they don't commit mass murder, and there are many more bloody corporate villains.

You're not impressed.

Don't talk bollocks, Andrew:

"Let's keep things in perspective. Microsoft's unethical business practices should be put into context. Unlike the pharmaceutical cartel or arms manufacturers, Redmond doesn't overturn democracies or kill thousands of civilians; unlike News Corporation it doesn't debase social discourse or undermine language. Unlike Google, it doesn't pretend to present "all the world's knowledge", when most of the world's knowledge isn't even on the Internet. Microsoft simply makes some fairly mediocre software and charges a lot for it."

Get real:

1. MS gained its present position by illegal and unethical means. You know all this. MS riches have been screwed out of the RoW through illegal and unethical practice. We have a word for this in English. It's called "extortion". Compare MS business model with that of (say) the Corleone family. Notice the similarity?

2. The effects of having a de facto standard based on overpriced, mediocre software are many, but include:

a. hospitals paying more for software & admin & security than necessary, and hence less for medical care. Ultimately, this kills people.

b. schools paying more for software & admin & security than necessary, and hence less for educational facilities. Ultimately, ignorance kills people.

c. businesses worldwide paying more for software & admin & security than necessary, and hence being less efficient than they could be, which affects the price of EVERYTHING. Ultimately, overpricing - especially of necessities - kills people.

d. citizens worldwide paying an unwanted fee (what in English we call a "tax") to a private corporation in a particular corner of the globe outside any democratic control. MS gets richer by forcing other people to be poorer. Ultimately, poverty kills people.

Taken globally, the effects of the MS monopoly are far more damaging than just the fact that I, and others, are locked into paying over the odds for software which underdelivers. There is nothing inherently wrong with monopoly in itself. TCP/IP has a monopoly on network protocols, but that's fine by me. Some monopolies are benign; some are malign. MS monopoly kills civilians. Don't ever kid yourself otherwise.

Gerald W Wilson


"Microsoft simply makes some fairly mediocre software and charges a lot for it."

No.

Microsoft deliberately designs software that is inherently insecure and refuses to fix the fundamental design flaws no matter how bad the outcome is.

When Microsoft merged IE and the desktop, almost ten years ago now, I immediately acted to get IE and Outlook banned at work. Why? Because using the same APIs to operate on trusted (local) and untrusted (email, internet) objects makes every program that uses those APIs responsible for determining, independently, whether an object is trusted or not.

I and every security administrator I knew wrote Microsoft telling them this was a horrible idea. Nothing. They ignored the security community and went on to actually build IE in to the next release of Windows so you couldn't leave it out, as part of their game-plan to try and outflank the DoJ.

I didn't know what the result would be, but I knew it would be bad. I did what I could to discourage our users from running IE and Outlook, and waited.

We didn't have long to wait.

When the Melissa virus showed up, I thought, "OK, this should let them know they've got a problem. They'll pull out IE and settle, and we'll be able to secure Windows again". Boy, was I naive.

Here we are, it's 2004 instead of 1996, and there are still weekly exploits found in IE, Outlook, Windows Media Player, programs that use the MSHTML control. Get rid of that and you'd cut the virus problem by a factor of 10 or 100. 90-99% of the time spent fighting and cleaning up after viruses should be billed directly to Redmond, and because they did it to illegally avoid complying with the agreement they had with the DoJ, there should be criminal charges on top of that.

Microsoft doesn't merely charge a lot for mediocre software, they deliberately and knowingly force people to chew up lifetimes fighting a problem that should not exist, and they do it to win a little extra market share for a secondary product that they don't even charge money for.

Peter Da Silva


A lot of folks keep harping, rightly so, about Microsoft's corporate business practices. It's sad that they are capable of buying their way out of jail.

However, these same people keep forgetting how they got this money in the first place along with how they will continue to get this money. You pay Microsoft, and so does everyone else. Sure there is peer pressure, deep discounts, lost of marketing. But ultimately, we all chose Microsoft and we all built Microsoft. And now we have to live with it.

Yes, Microsoft has competition, though not in the traditional sense. But no one will switch from what they've grown accustomed to. If Microsoft sucks in writing decent software, they've at least succeeded in writing sucky software that everyone can use. Mankind will lose in Mankind vs Microsoft, because Mankind built it and continues to feed it.

If the only crime Microsoft is guilty of is, "[making] some fairly mediocre software and [charging] a lot for it," then I'd pick Microsoft over Imperial Oil, News Corp, Pfizer, Nike or Phillip-Morris.

Gordon Fecyk


Andrew,

As if Microsoft is even going to allow Sun to interoperate with it's server/applications. I don't think so. Even if Sun announced today that it was canning Solaris and Linux and becoming an all-Windows shop, Microsoft would still take the opportunity to crush them. They will NOT give Sun what they THINK they are getting. Not even close.

When Sun signed the Java license with Microsoft in the mid 1990's, I told friends that Sun was stupid for thinking Microsoft wants to play the way Sun THINKs they'll play. There are years and years of history showing Microsoft does not PLAY at all. They pretend to play and just end up beating you silly until you sell out, lose all your customers, or just die. The fact that Sun did anything other than take the money and run fast and far from Microsoft shows that they still don't get it.

Floyd James

Thanks all. Many of you wrote to point out that Burst's lawsuit against Microsoft is still outstanding. You can read about it here. Noted. ®

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