RE: Bill Gates mentions Linux

Lloyd Wood (
Wed, 11 Mar 1998 11:41:26 +0000 (GMT)

On Tue, 10 Mar 1998, Dan Kohn wrote:

> Back when I used Macs (and was in fact Apple Student Rep at Swarthmore),
> WriteNow and Nisus were both competitive word processors. But they
> didn't keep up (on feature and ease of use, respectively), and lost out
> to Office. One of the key arguments against saying that Microsoft
> applications dominate because they have "secret" access to the OS is
> that Microsoft has had a dominant share of the Mac market for over a
> decade, where Apple was clearly doing them no favors.

...such as having to rewrite Multifinder so that Excel 1.5 didn't
crash right off? AFAIK, the '040 cache compatibility switch was
included primarily to stop Word 4.0 from falling over; Apple has had
to do a lot to make sure that the Microsoft applications (which have a
bizarre way of using the Mac Toolbox and cause no end of problems for
anyone wanting to write system enhancements) function as customers
expect so that Apple can sell new Macs to run old applications.

> Ernie, this argument is specious. If Microsoft's licensing agreement
> (which they were since forced to drop) was the cause of Windows
> domination and Microsoft's "unearned" OEM revenue, then both would have
> fallen apart from the surge in demand for PCs OEMed with Linux, Solaris
> x86, and yes, OS/2.
> In reality, Microsoft's licensing deal (pay us whether you ship Windows
> or not), was a silly and unnecessary deal that is totally unrelated to
> their OS domination.

...but got Windows shipped until it reached dominant standard stage.
The forced bundling of Explorer with Windows for Explorer to reach
dominant standard is similar.

> Why is it so hard to understand that because of network externalizes,
> markets naturally want a standard?

Tried buying any car parts recently? Looked at light fittings
when doing out a room? Nothing's standardised.

> Microsoft dominates because they've innovated better than their
> competitors.

innovation != invention.

> Finally, let's look at their OEM deal. Why would they do a deal that
> makes them look so bad when they don't even need to, since everyone
> wants Windows anyway? The reason is that Microsoft still views itself
> as a scrappy start-up rather then an industry-behemoth. They still try
> to take every little advantage they can, without considering that it may
> make look just awful.

Exactly. A lot of that has to do with Gates still running the company
he founded; Sculley getting Jobs out of Apple was a natural step in
that company's lifespan, sadly reversed.