Against Monopoly

defending the right to innovate

Monopoly corrupts. Absolute monopoly corrupts absolutely.

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If I'd posted this when I thought I did, I'd probably seem prescient now...but better late than never. Today brought bad news for Microsoft, with forecasts of future problems. Bad news for Intel and IBM too...the recession is bad for business all around. But I think it is going to be much worse for Microsoft than people think. They are living off of familiarity, network externalities, and installed base. Vista was a disaster, Windows 7 will probably be a help, but they burned a lot of credibility with Vista. The new versions of Word with the "ribbon" don't seem to have been compelling.

The central thing however is that free software, commoditized software, has caught up to proprietary software in quality, and is likely to increase the lead over time. Nobody is going to tinker or experiment with computer systems when orders are flowing through the door. But in a recession, there isn't much to lose, there tends to be a lot of slack as nobody want to lay off more people than absolutely necessary - so it's a good time to experiment with cheap software. In general innovation picks up a lot during recessions. I expect a lot of businesses will be trying linux and openoffice, and its market share will increase substantially.

Here is the prediction I'm hesitant about. Always in the past when software with substantial installed base has finally been supplanted the fall has not been gradual: Lotus and Wordperfect went from world-beaters to also rans in just a few years. I think Microsoft may surprise us by falling equally fast. There may not be much left in two years time.


Amazing coincidence. Earlier today I ran across several articles in the new York Times.

David Pogue: Hate Vista? You May Like the Fix

Jeff Segal: Jugger-not

Ashlee Vance: Microsoft Plans to Lay Off 5,000 Workers

I really like Pogue's statement "For an operating system that took five years to create, Windows Vista's reputation went down in flames amazingly quickly. Not since Microsoft Bob has anything from the software giant drawn so much contempt and derision. Not every company lives to see the day when its customers beg, plead and sign petitions to bring back the previous version of its flagship product." (emphasis added).

To me, the evolution of MICROSOFT from an innovative garage start up to an unfocused bloated over weight behemoth points an inconvenient Darwinian truth that many free market advocates refuse to acknowledge. That is that companies in many cases destroy themselves by moving away from innovation to viewing their customers as revenue units. MICROSOFT became the success it was because it offered a common platform for everyone. But then, following the typical growth curve, greed, lawyers, and accountants took over. The company with the release of VISTA may have begun its long slow slide downhill into oblivion. Long live LINUX!!!!!!

CNBC posted this video on Apple vs. Microsoft.
The first link ("David Pogue: Hate Vista? You May Like the Fix") does not work. It leads to the wrong page of the target site. The correct link would lead to the text of the article in question; the supplied link does not do so.
This link works: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/22/technology/personaltech/22pogue.html?em
Bah, that link gives you a version of page 1 all of whose links to page 2 are broken. Use this instead:


First link is to the first page. Read it, hit back, and the fourth link is to the second page.

That site should fix its woefully-broken navigation. Users should not be having to use Google just to get from page 1 to page 2 of their own article.

Please donate your old boxes to a church-group or some needy student in these hard times! To comply with the law, and with Microsoft's leasing policy, you can now replace Microsoft OS with the free (download from the net) Ubuntu OS, which can be set to erase the hard drive of all traces of the "illegal to give away " Microsoft system and your private information, before donation! Now, explain to your lucky recipient that all the manuals they will ever need are available for free on the internet! Just ask for them in Google! OpenOffice, which is installed already is plenty adequate for homework assignments and with a little exploring, everything else can work well too! Happy computing!

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