Re: [ reactions ] Re: [NYT] Microsoft Is Set to Be Top Foe of Free Code

From: Bill Humphries (
Date: Thu May 03 2001 - 04:56:30 PDT

Dave Winer said:

> I don't understand much of what you say. If open source is the superior way
> to go then it will win in the market. I don't think Mundie said anything
> that would contradict that.

If it was a fair fight in the Market(tm,) this wouldn't be bothering me. But there is a lot of money involved, so fairness doesn't enter into MS' strategy.

I'll give you an example from back when I was studying antitrust. There's a fair bit of mining going on in Wisconsin to this day (you'll recall why they call us Badgers). In order to get a permit, you'd have to demonstrate some sort of pollution mitigation standards. A large mining firm stepped in and generously offered to write model rules for polution control which exceeded the State of Wisconsin DNR's guidelines! However, what the DNR didn't research was that you could have the same level of pollution control with less expensive technologies than the one specified in the rules.

Hence, the large firm (who could afford the expensive technology) was able to forclose the smaller competitors (who couldn't) and enjoy a monopoly on resource extraction (where the monopoly rents would had more than covered the addtional costs.)

This is something that Harold Desmets of the Chicago School pointed out in the 60's and 70's, that you can game the system.

So I can see a situation where MS (or Oracle, or Sun...) would go in and do a similar game playing with requirements.

> I decided to simply take it at face value, and decide if I agree or
> disagree. As a commercial developer, I agree. I've said the same thing many
> times, but somehow it didn't make the Gray Lady. As recently as last year
> people gave me puzzled looks when I said I made software. "What's the
> business model?" they asked. "We sell licenses." As if that were some kind
> of new twist.

Again, that's not a problem. But if I don't want to buy a commerical licence for a package to do some task, I don't want to be forbidden to use an OSS package or build my own to do the same thing.

-- Bill

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