Microsoft Antitrust Trial Decision: Who Cares.
by Steve Mallett
Let me start by saying that I'd have liked Microsoft to get a little kick in the derrier just for all the wasted time I've spent having to deal with their OS, and the comedy of errors that it is. But, that is another article.
This commentary is about power & whether this legal decision was going to save you from the Goliath that is the Microsoft jauggernaught. It never was.
Microsoft doesn't force you to buy anything as much as you'd like to believe they do. Yeah, yeah, Word(tm) docs, yeah, yeah, upgrades. You choose to buy this stuff. You alone. Microsoft is not at the box store holding your wallet and leading you to the counter. You do this all by yourself.
A couple years ago I stopped my self delusion when I decided to learn Linux. Yes, it was hard back then. But, since when does convenience have to do with freedom of choice? I changed what I did because I didn't like what I was choosing to subject myself to.
I stopped using Word, I stopped using Windows, I stopped playing games (at the time, I actually just lost interest) because if I chose to continue with those activities I was going to subject myself to that pain, but it was at my own doing. So, I stopped.
This was harder to do then than it is now. There are plenty of options for you. You must simply choose them. And that choice doesn't come with the steep learning curve it used to.
I'm speaking with reference to desktop computing next since this is the environment most folks are in: The new Apple OS, OS X, is the perfect and easy way out for you folks. It has all the functionality in products that 'it' has, except OS X works well. If you really want to go all the way, take up Linux. There is still a bit of a learning curve, and Linux Distributions are still, to my chagrin, shipped with cruddy applications that have no business in front of a buying customer (Redhat and Mandrake), but there are -a lot- of working desktop apps there for you.
There is no lack of options anymore. The problem is now choice. There are so many. But the biggest choice for you is to simply make the ultimate. It's easier than you think and these alternatives are by no means a charity cause. They have developed into extremely capable and incredibly serious contenders in the desktop environment.
Choose not to give your power to Microsoft. The alternatives are strong and you'll be pleased.
The problem is that it's an all or nothing choice
If your deploying Linux or even MacOSX desktops or SAMBA servers, because of the *current* dominant position of Microsoft in the marketplace, it is likely that for the foreseeable future those systems will *have* to interoperate, at least on a protocol level, with existing Microsoft desktops. The terms and conditions under which Microsoft is licensing API and Protocols is discriminatory against the GPL and Opens Source development. See
Although I wasn't expecting a major reversal, I care about the shortcomings of this decision. I gave Judge KC my opinion (see http://www.mentata.com/news/microsoft/letter_to_doj.htm ), and she has ignored it. My guess is her decision was influenced, in part, because most people did stop caring. I believe this decision reflects the deeper failures of our system of government, which in turn reflects on our general public. As George Carlin once said:
Microsoft class action settlement -- California
A judge will decide in February 2004 whether to approve a proposed class action settlement of an antitrust case pending against Microsoft in California.