Gray Lady on Apple/MS

Rohit Khare (
Sat, 09 Aug 1997 17:23:42 -0400

[Of course, 97% of the NYT's opinions are tripe, too. The Gray Lady isn't
above speaking what she knows not of...]

Editorial: The Apple Of Microsoft's Eye

The New York Times said in an editorial for Friday, Aug. 8:

Even in cyberspace, the moment can only be described as surreal. Two
thousand Apple computer loyalists greet the return of their hero and Apple
co-founder, Steven Jobs, at a Boston trade show, only to gasp as the
looming picture of Apple's archenemy, Bill Gates of Microsoft, appears on a
huge on-stage screen.

It was Gates, after all, who copied Apple's visionary point-and-click
system of computer commands, marketed it far more aggressively and
successfully, and drove Apple to near-collapse.

Gates and Jobs announced that Microsoft would inject more than $150 million
into Apple and take other steps to guarantee Apple's near-term survival.
Some Apple zealots in the audience hooted. Others sighed in relief.
Virtually all were surprised and confused. Even in cyberspace it is odd for
one company to bail out its only rival in a key area of business.

Between them, Microsoft and Apple sell the operating systems, which dictate
how computers analyze and display information, that run virtually every
personal computer.

Odd or not, the bailout is good for both. Apple users are assured that
their beloved company gets desperately needed cash and that Microsoft will
continue to supply them up-to-date word processing and other applications
software. Many would-be Apple buyers had been turning away out of fear that
as Apple's market share shriveled, so would the programs made available for
use on Apple machines.

The bailout is also good for Microsoft because it preserves a demand for
its software programs designed to be compatible with Apple machines. But
some suspect a more Machiavellian purpose by Microsoft as well. Microsoft
can now fend off antitrust charges by pointing out that Apple's continued
existence will prevent Microsoft from acting as a monopolist. If Apple
dies, Microsoft will appear nakedly monopolistic, the only major producer
of operating systems for personal computers.

Microsoft does pose a danger. It provides the operating systems for nearly
all personal computers, except the fraction made by Apple and its clones.
It also sells the software for these machines, including word processing
programs, spreadsheets, Internet browsers and a myriad of other
applications that work with the operating system.

Microsoft's business strategy has been to tie more and more of these
applications into its operating system, Windows, so that customers can buy
the whole package in one purchase and get everything working together
without having to buy and install separate programs and deal with the
inevitable slip-ups.

For Windows customers, the integration is a great convenience. But there is
a danger. If Windows customers end up buying Microsoft applications almost
automatically, there will be less room for entrepreneurs to invent new word
processors, Internet browsers, communications programs or other software
applications that might actually be better than those made by Microsoft.

With Microsoft now moving to dominate software access on Apple machines as
well, the government needs to make sure that Microsoft lives up to its
legal obligations to make it commercially easy for other software companies
to write programs that work effortlessly under Windows. Otherwise the
Microsoft rescue of Apple will be another step toward Microsoft hegemony.

Rohit Khare /// MCI Internet Architecture (BOS) ///
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