Understanding Microsoft

Part 65. The 8-Track Tape Man

The recent court cases against Microsoft, particularly the DOJ lawsuit, have exposed an interesting set of circumstances. Microsoft has apparently kept thousands upon thousands of incriminating e-mails that show point-blank how directly they have planned the death of competition and the elimination of free choice. For example, top Microsoft managers state that they "must not allow Netscape to get on any desktops" and they "search through balance sheets to find out how they're making their money." Why, so they can copy the other guy's business plan? No, of course not. The purpose of this kind of research is to locate revenue sources and cut them off, strangling the cash flow of the competition through direct action instead of merely indirect consequence of the marketplace.

As if in denial, Microsoft's honchos continue demanding their supposed "right" to directly attack competitors' channels of revenue and advertising. They claim that rigging Microsoft's monopoly products to purposely disable competing products is not sabotage, but merely "innovation" and "a benefit to the consumer." They claim to know nothing about intimidation and threats against computer makers and media writers who support superior, non-Microsoft alternatives. And why do Microsoft's big-shots insist so vehemently that they are "protecting the industry against government intervention?" The answer is quite simple: Microsoft's leaders actually deeply believe their own lies.

It is as if the man who invented the 8-track tape machine believed that this invention was the last big breakthrough in the history of human intellect, and that this 8-track machine must be protected at all costs. It is as if the superior alternatives such as cassettes and CD-ROMs must never be allowed to gain a foothold in the music marketplace, because the 8-track machine was the "real" pinnacle of human achievement. Because of this irrational, adolescent, overly-emotional attachment to its Windows kludge, Microsoft's top brass have blinded themselves to the reality of the technological backwardness of their products. They are so enamored of their wimpy inventions, their greatest fear is that the reality of their obsolescence will become known publicly, properly leading to their demise.

Imagine your favorite music only available on 8-track tape, never on cassette or CD-ROM. Imagine automobile makers forced by market conditions to put brain-dead 8-track units in expensive cars, instead of having the freedom to put clean-sounding CD players into the dashboards. Imagine having to endure the stupid claims, over and over, by know-it-all reporters and magazine writers, claiming that 8-track was obviously the "best" product because "that is what the marketplace has chosen." Imagine trying to explain to friends, relatives, and coworkers that making shinier knobs and fancier colors on the 8-track machines was not "benefitting the consumer" since the consumer was being denied an entire category of far-superior products.

The problem with Microsoft's market dominance is that so many self-styled "experts" have been fooled into thinking that a series of minor, incremental updates to an obsolete product (Windows) is progress and a boon to consumers. These mental midgets need to wake up and smell the Java -- marginal improvements to brain-dead products are only a smokescreen to keep people from abandoning the Microsoft mafia and upgrading to products that show real innovation, such as OS/2 and Unix.

Most recent revision: September 26, 1998
Copyright © 1998, Tom Nadeau
All Rights Reserved.

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