This might be too grandiose of an idea, but I thought
I would try to explain the U.S. vs. Microsoft case in
one tiny column. So if you have been following the case
closely and do not need an explanation, feel free to
Lucky Dollars game.
For those of you still with me (I hope it's at least
17 out of 19), I will try to quickly catch up on the
events, with the help of Wired.com:
1. In June of 1990, the Federal Trade Commission launched
a probe to determine if Microsoft, IBM, anyone wearing
shoes and gray squirrels were attempting to monopolize
the PC market.
2. By 1997, the government had narrowed it down to
Microsoft, after having problems accounting for all
the people with shoes. The Justice Department scrutnized
over $150 million Microsoft invested in Apple computiing,
considering the companies are in direct competition.
With 20 state attorneys, they would file suit against
Microsoft in 1998.
3. Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson initially said Microsoft
did hold a monopoly and urged both sides to determine
the outcome of the antitrust lawsuit, including who
would get to be the thimble.
4. For two years, Microsoft tried to get another ruling
on the matter. Finally, in 2001, a federal court overturned
the initial ruling, leaving Microsoft to do as it pleased,
as long as no more than five employees at a time are
playing the Lucky Dollars game.
5. Now, Bill Gates testifies in court that he is, indeed,
Arnold Schwartznegger's twin brother, and the movie
"Twins" is based on a true story.
OK, really on April 22, Gates
did testify that much of the functionality of Windows
would be lost if some software, like Internet Explorer,
were removed from the operating system. According to
the testimony, Gates is fearful that Microsoft competitors
will benefit if source code and blueprints of developed
technology are available to the masses.
Basically, it seems that Microsoft wants people to
be dependent on not only its operating system, but also
all software it produces, which greatly diminishes the
possibility of competition. The weird thing is that
other operating systems are already available as open
source, meaning anyone can use them, including those
who don't always wear shoes while programming (count
me in!). Plus there is plenty of third-party software
that can be utilized in accordance with Microsoft's
operating system. Yes, I would be extremely worried
if my competitors were gaining ground on me, but I don't
think I would be as worried if I was worth the GNP of
a large country.
It would be difficult for any computer technology to
rival Microsoft right now, and depending on what is
finally decided by the courts will determine how soon
there will be a strong competitor. In certain fields,
other systems, including Macs, Sun, etc. have become
better acclimated, but overall, Microsoft still owns
the PC market and most business places as well.
An agreement between Microsoft and the nine states
still pursuing the case seems to be forthcoming, but
sone of the logic still doesn't make a whole lot of
sense. According to CNN's
report of the testimony, Gates was displeased at
the thought of the public being able to purchase or
continue to use older copies of Windows without having
to upgrade. Could you imagine automotive companies claiming
that each year, when they came out with a new vehicle,
you had to purchase it? I realize that is more extreme
than upgrading a piece of software, but it is still
the same principle.
No matter what the judges decide, Gates and the Microsoft
empire will still dominate the computer technology market.
But I think healthy competition with other similar companies
will help the market grow more and produce a better
understanding of the technology that is possible. I
mean who would have ever thought Bill and Arnold could
possibly be twins? Arnold still towers over Bill, even
without his shoes, but Bill can hold his own in Lucky