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Jun 00

Microsoft Response

My comments in black.

Dude…What kind of hard drugs are you on?

Maybe if Micros~1 (sorry, that’s MS having to eat their own standards) is split up, then they’ll actually have (through competition) incentive to provide the public with software that is not incompetently made, and, well, simply second rate.

Show me a viable alternative to Microsoft software. And don’t tell me Star Office, because Sun also made a version for the Win32 platform.

I recently read a notice at school that said “School students now have the same discounts on Microsoft software as University students. You may now purchase a copy of Microsoft Office 2000 Professional Edition for just $269, $700 below the RRP.” I, as a yr. 12 student (or for that matter a uni student), can really afford that. No, really, that discount just makes it all worthwhile.

Look. How much software, Microsoft or not, have you actually bought? You can’t tell me more than half the software on your computer has been legally bought (and I’m sure you register all your shareware :P). Regardless, academic discounts are not restricted to Microsoft software. I mean, just take a look at Adobe Photoshop, or the Macromedia Suite. None of that is cheap, although with an academic discount it is significantly less expensive.

Look at Win2k. Back in 98, the rumour was that MS will merge Windows NT and Win 95/8, and from then on they will not have 2 separate operating systems: one “real” one, and one 2nd-rate one for the home user, but just one for everyone. Well, now they’ve released Win2k for businesses and Windows Millenium for the rest of us (and how much does it cost?). Wow! Look at that! HA!

Millennium is cheaper than Win 2000. I don’t know why they haven’t merged the two operating systems yet (sloppy scheduling? coders that don’t get things done on time? uh… but since when has any software company released anything on time?).

Finally, MS never release “corporate secrets” which would enable not only people who know what they’re doing to make their own alterations to their own copy of their OS, but even that would allow other OS developers to write in Windows compatibility! VFAT and NTFS specs were *never* released. Linux, for example, fully supports VFAT and supports reading NTFS, but only because someone reverse engineered them. Not that anyone that could avoid it would use VFAT, a vastly inferior filesystem and about the only one left that needs regular defragmenting.

I don’t dispute the fact that Microsoft unfairly competes. It does, it’s a monopoly. It’s in business.

BTW, with Win2K comes a built in disk defragmenter. NTFS4 was designed not to fragment, but over time, it did. NTFS5 now fragments like FAT does – but that can be fixed with the defrag program. The benefit of this is that NTFS5 gives better disk performance since it doesn’t have to search for contiguous blocks of space to write.

Did I say “own copy” in that last paragraph? Oh, I did, my mistake. Well, anyone who has actually *read* the Windows 9x EULA will find that it isn’t your own copy, but a license to use the software until such time as Microsoft says otherwise. Excellent.

I’m afraid that once again that this is quite common and not unique to Microsoft. That’s what a license agreement is: a license to use the software, although it still remains the property of the owning company. And realistically – have you ever heard of Microsoft revoking a legit license? (You do have a legit license, don’t you?)

Even Cityrail train tickets are merely a “license” to travel on their rail system. They can revoke that license if they want to – you don’t own a seat on a train – the ticket is just a symbolic thing stating that you have permission to travel.

Perhaps if Microsoft hadn’t made such low quality products, they wouldn’t have forced, firstly, many people to despair so much of getting anything good out of them that they decided to band together and do better, making their programs and code free to those who want them, and secondly, the US High Court to split up the monopoly.

Find me a viable alternative to Windows. Don’t tell me Linux because that OS has as much userfriendliness as trying to operate the Mir space station with an operating manual written in Sanskrit. It doesn’t look as pretty either (so it’s not as customisable, but how much toil do you have to go through to get your Linux desktop looking pretty?) and there’s always the WindowBlinds program.

Finally, if there is free source code (GPL) out there that is vastly superior to Microsoft’s own, why don’t they use all or part of it to improve at least some of their products? Because the only condition of the GPL is that anything derived from the code must also be released under the GPL. And releasing, say, IE under the GPL would kill Microsoft’s iron-fist monopoly grip on the web browser market, wouldn’t it?

I’m sorry, but it appears that the Internet has given rise to a generation of people who believe that all things should be made free. Microsoft is in business. Their job is to make money. Releasing their code to GPL is akin to giving away its products for free.

Linux is programmed in a decentralised fashion by a bunch of talented programmers around the world doing it because it’s their passion. They don’t make money out of it, and they don’t lose money from doing it. They do it for peer recognition. Unfortunately, you can’t run a business on peer recognition. Not in this reality anyhow. The decentralised fashion of Linux development is both a strong and weak point – although things can happen very fast, things tend to get disorganised.

I know I sound like a Microsoft weenie, but I’m not. I hate seeing people totally and blindly biased against something. I acknowledge Microsoft is a monopoly and is engaging in unfair practices. I believe that their business tactics do staunch innovation. I also believe that their products could be better. And, I absolutely hate their disregard for standards (referring to their move away from web standards in the next version of IE) . However, I do not think that splitting them up is a good way to go about things. The government is basically stepping in and chucking a spanner into their works just because they have been successful. Something like 90% of the computer market runs on MS OSes and in disrupting Microsoft, the DOJ is disrupting the computer market.