Re: Bill Gates mentions Linux

Dr. Ernest N. Prabhakar (
Wed, 11 Mar 98 07:34:37 -0800

You wrote:
> > And if they were smart, they would have said, "Yes, every time I buy a
> > new computer." Even if you buy a Mac, the only general productivity
> > software available is MS Office. If that's not a monopoly, I don't
> > know what is.
> Wait, you mean there is no other software for the M<AC? There was never
> another choice in spread sheets or wp or dbs or mail or presentation
> software?

You missed my point. I never claimed MS hadn't earned their status.
The fact remains that they currently -have- monopoly status (even if they
don't "enjoy" it as some would claim). Therefore, they have an enormous
cash cow, regardless of upgrade pricing. I'm not blaming them for it,
I'm just pointing it out. Yes, if they stopped 'inventing' eventually
this cash stream would fade out, but it does give them a huge amount of
momentum, and an extraordinarily high barrier to competition.

I woud be willing to concede the point that MS got where it is today by
brilliant innovation and effective competition. The result of that,
though, is that MS is effectively a monopoly from the viewpoint of the
vast majority of consumers. We can argue about the implications of that
fact, but it seems purely ingenuous for Bill to suggest that the fact
itself is wrong (though I realize he may very well be sincere).

>Um, couldn't have anything to do with an agreement that PC
>had to pay Microsoft even if they shipped another OS on their system,
>until the DOJ told you to stop, could it? Nahh.

>>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. <<

Again, I wasn't claiming causation. I didn't claim that Microsoft's
licensing terms was the *cause* of their market dominance. I would
claim that MS used their market dominance to try to limit choice in the
marketplace. Whether they succeeded or not is besides the point. It
certainly had some effect. It just really bugs me that Bill would say
"but people are free to buy other OSes so the DOJ shouldn't investigate
us" when they would NOT have been free to do so if the DOJ hadn't.

In some ways it is a question of scale. There's a certain high level
of interest in other OSes where Microsoft would have been overwhelmed, as
you say. There's a low level where nothing Microsoft does would have
mattered. But there's a realm in the middle where Microsoft's
anticompetitive practice (if the $50 per CPU isn't, I don't know what is)
could have a critical affect on the adoption of alternate OSes. Was OS/2
at that point? We'll never know, will we?

From: Rohit Khare <>
> because I decided to bite the bullet and subscribe to Slate

>>Same here, brotherman... still cheaper than restarting my NYTimes sub
and getting addicted all over again! My internal value system is oddly
assuaged by the fact that I needed a new umbrella anyway, though. <<

Oddly enough, the umbrella helped tip the tide for me as well. Perhaps
its a South Asian thing.

I mean yeah, I could have gone out and bought an umbrella, but it came
bundled with the purchase, so why waste the effort? Oh wait, this is
part of Microsoft's secret plan to leverage their magazine dominance to
control the umbrella market, in preparation for exporting Redmond weather
across the globe.

Dang, that's the second time this month I've fallen for that...

-- Ernie P.