Mini-Microsoft Cutting Room Floor

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Ubuntu booga booga - New comment on The Good, the Bad, and the Unknown - Links

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "The Good, the Bad, and the Unknown - Links":

It is very interesting to read all the comments from people who do not understand antitrust at all.

Read about the Sherman and Clayton acts and you will understand the US versions of these laws. MSFT got off very easy in its US case. The AT&T and Standard Oil cases (for example) show just how severe it could have been.

Look. Using legally questionable tactics to grow your business before you are a monopoly is one thing. Most or all software companies do that. Netscape "extended" the HTML standards regularly as a way of keeping other browsers from competing. Once they were no longer #1, they opened their source and began to adhere to the standards.

With SMB/CIFS, I have heard Andrew Tridgell say something to the effect that there was a standards organization founded in part by MSFT. However, once this filesharing protocol caught on, proprietary extensions were added that made MSFT products interoperate but other products did not work correctly. This was the same tactic that Netscape and others had used. However, the difference is that now Windows had monopoly share on the desktop and this proprietary integration prevented other implementations of this protocol (such as Samba or Novell's Netware & eDirectory products) from competing on an equal footing in the server space.

Here's the problem with that. Say you have a monopoly position in railroads and you want to get into steel. All you do is make sure that the steelmaker you want cannot ship their products on your railroads. Soon, that company will be yours for the picking. Now let's apply this to a desktop monopoly and proprietary extensions between the desktop (and its applications) and the server (and corresponding server applications). By misusing an existing monopoly, it can be extended into other areas.

@NAS, who said:
"Copy source folks (and their bureaucrat symps) are with whinging that Microsoft won't show them all its source code when the only reason they want access to it is so they can gut Microsoft's revenue with a free copy of SMB/CIFS that adds (literally) nothing. It's Microsoft's product, they invested years in it, and you would think that the closed source people who constantly sneer at the knuckle-dragging quality of Microsoft code could come up with something better."

NOBODY WANTS THE MSFT SOURCE. What they want is to be able to continue implementing SMB/CIFS products on both the server and the client side. This is supposed to be an open standard. But the secret extensions together with the pre-existing desktop monopoly mean that competitors are effectively locked out of the market.

@MSFT in general:
I don't believe in "anyone but Microsoft". I believe that a Microsoft that competes fairly is a good thing for the whole industry. If I had to give just two examples of where I think the current MSFT direction is harming the whole industry, I would have to choose DRM/WGA along with server-side protocols such as SMB/CIFS and the Exchange protocol.

Server-side Protocols:
Look at Active Directory for an example. AD is an implementation of the LDAP standard, but extends the standard in such a way that other implementions of the standard do not work correctly with AD.

First of all, we all know the media businesses need a new business model. DRM (better called "digital usage restrictions") is an attempt to keep the old ways of doing business from failing. Eventually, people will find another way to purchase content and use it fairly to enjoy as they see fit. This will happen with or without DRM. If you can't buy from any store and use on any device, it will eventually be driven out of the market.

I work supporting Windows users. WGA is a version of DRM that makes it unpleasant or even impossible to use Windows if (in WGA's opinion) your OS may be installed using a stolen license key. The fastest growing part of my work recently has been wiping out Windows XP to install Ubuntu Linux in its place. This is primarily from people who bought their computers from large chains like Wal-Mart and Best Buy, so we know their OS is legitimate. And these are not technology-savvy people. These are middle-aged and older people whose computers failed a flawed WGA test.

As always, the goal here is to give some ideas that will help MSFT be a better company (or better yet, companies) in a better industry.

(Not buying it.Offtopic. The whole "The fastest growing part of my work recently has been wiping out Windows XP to install Ubuntu Linux in its place." sentence broke it for me. I'd seriously like to see real evidence that people are giving up on WinXP and resorting to Ubuntu because of WGA. Bah.)


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