Feeds

Why Microsoft vs Mankind still matters

The Penguin is missing, while Apple's gone to Hollywood

Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management

You can't make somebody compete with Microsoft, if they don't want to

This situation raises some of the most awkward questions of all for public agencies: and these are really questions of political economy - how do states deal with a monopoly?

Is having $70bn sucked out of the global economy each year a price worth paying? Once India and China develop further, that figure will be closer to $200bn. What do we get for this, exactly?

Uniformity, certainly: everywhere you go, there's Windows - with the same security holes all over the world. And stability, too: a company earning $200bn a year isn't going to go out of business overnight.

But it's still an extraordinary sum of money. With 80 per cent profit margins, Microsoft must be busy inventing some incredible stuff: cold fusion can't be far away, you'd think.

Alas, even the most innovative company in the world, with a guaranteed income of $70bn per year, isn't going to be inclined to take too many risks. And Microsoft has "innovated" like a heavy sleeper, only momentarily waking up. Microsoft gets busy only when it has to - when it perceives some immediate competition. Netscape provoked a brief spurt of action at Redmond, RIM obliged Microsoft to incorporate push email into Exchange server - and there was a spurtlet when FireFox made a splash three years ago.

Otherwise, it's been heavy snoring all the way.

Quite apart from the fact that the EU ruling addresses desktop computing only tangentially, there's a profound problem in the philosophical approach of regulators. The EU sees its role as addressing market failure, with the presumption that once tweaked, competition will flood into the market.

Politicians - and the regulators they appoint - have yet to envisage a situation where competitors can't, or don't want to compete. Today, Microsoft is the textbook "natural monopoly" - but does anyone have the will to call it what it is?

Some people argue that we live in an era when all the big political ideas have failed: when "politics is over". In fact, "leaving it to the market" is the only new idea politicians have come up with in the past 25 years. If that's the case, then you see the problem. A situation where the market has failed presents them with a "divide by zero" error.

While the EU has been lauded this week for taking a stand against a global corporation, it's really hard to see politicians or regulators anywhere progressing to the next step - and setting out to create a new framework for dealing with what is in effect a global, private computing levy.

Bill Gates promises politicians that not only will he "take care of computing", but he'll take care of the foreign aid budget, too. And who but a grump could object to that?

I can see why Benji Cohen prefers a Web 2.0 fantasy to the reality: the answers are too hard to think about. ®

New hybrid storage solutions

More from The Register

next story
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
'Windows 9' LEAK: Microsoft's playing catchup with Linux
Multiple desktops and live tiles in restored Start button star in new vids
iOS 8 release: WebGL now runs everywhere. Hurrah for 3D graphics!
HTML 5's pretty neat ... when your browser supports it
Mathematica hits the Web
Wolfram embraces the cloud, promies private cloud cut of its number-cruncher
Google extends app refund window to two hours
You now have 120 minutes to finish that game instead of 15
Intel: Hey, enterprises, drop everything and DO HADOOP
Big Data analytics projected to run on more servers than any other app
Mozilla shutters Labs, tells nobody it's been dead for five months
Staffer's blog reveals all as projects languish on GitHub
SUSE Linux owner Attachmate gobbled by Micro Focus for $2.3bn
Merger will lead to mainframe and COBOL powerhouse
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.