Understanding Microsoft

Part 30. Defending the Faith

King Henry the Eighth of England was known as "Defender of the Faith" for his staunch support of Catholicism. However, when it became more convenient for his own purposes, he started his own brand of religion (Anglicanism). Thus he could now play the role of "Defender" for a faith of his own making, for his own best interests. How convenient to have such a handy title!

Certainly this is not the first time when a supposed hero changed sides to wage war on his onetime friends, but in this case we have a fine example of one who in both cases masqueraded as a liberator for the good of the faithful. He was somehow always right, no matter which side he was on! He was "Defender of the Faith" no matter which faith he chose -- he declared himself to be right and honest and fair, automatically, and beyond question. We can learn quite a lesson from this history, now that we have a battle brewing between governmental authorities and Microsoft.

On the one hand, Microsoft has claimed the allegiance of computer users for years, basically by attacking other companies as centralized controllers of information. Microsoft would defend the interests of the "little guy," the individual user, against these supposed tyrants. Nobody should have the power to tell the little guy what software he must use on his very own desktop, right? Nobody should have the ability to enforce absolute dictatorship of software, removing freedom of choice from the individual user's life, correct? Microsoft would defend the user's faith in freedom of choice and beat back the threats of the big, bad computer managers and their big-business cohorts. Microsoft was their hero, the Defender of their Faith in freedom of choice.

However, once in a position of monopoly power, the disguise was removed and Microsoft became the new oppressor. A new faith was promoted, Windowism, in which Microsoft took over the role of information dictator. Non-Microsoft products had to be removed from individual user's computers, or else! Using any alternative products was not considered freedom of choice, but rather heresy, apostasy, perhaps even treason. Now Microsoft was Defender of the Windowist Faith, instead of a defender of the individual. Microsoft had come full-circle and was now hobnobbing and pandering to the very forces they once openly denounced.

Then a new threat appeared on the scene -- government intervention. Instead of admitting the role of government to be for the best interests of individual freedom of choice, Microsoft once again donned their disguise and began crowing about the need to defend the faith against a hostile, domineering authority. Microsoft has decided to paint itself as the Defender of the Faith once again, claiming to be on the side of freedom, openness, and individual liberty, while at the very same time concluding exclusive lockout license agreements and and long-term software contracts designed to prevent non-Microsoft products from being available to curious and open-minded individuals.

Thus we have one of those rare occasions of history where a ruler hypocritically attempts to portray himself as a "Defender" of two rivals faiths at the same time! We shall see if Microsoft is able to pull off this shameless and two-faced blasphemy.

Most recent revision: February 5, 1998
Copyright © 1998, Tom Nadeau
All Rights Reserved.

E-MAIL: os2headquarters@mindspring.com