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RE: The Problem with Microsoft

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Bill Polhemus confuses questionable ethics with morals. Nothing that MS is
doing affects the morals of our society - the manner in which you compete is
an issue of business ethics and this will be a difficult issue to resolve
since our constitution nevery anticipated specific technology issues.

Let me ask a questions. If Microsoft is (lets say) unethical for giving
their Browser away to the public to keep Netscape from competing, how
ethical is it for Netscape to follow suit and release their product on the
market to help destroy other competitors. Is it more ethical for one company
to have a monopoly or two to share the market and kill off all other
competition?

Let's assume a company, who anticipates that a tool within their software is
a key element to the future of that software, integrates it into their
product.  Is it unethical to include the tool in the package when the
product already controls over 80% of the market? Is it unethical if the
company software controls only 60% or 50% of the market? At what point is it
ethical to include it?

Finally, is it ethical of a company to purposely omit a tool which users
feel is important to the product because the company wants to develop an
aftermarket of support products by independent developers. Is it ethical to
expect the end user to pay more for a tool which most believe should have
been included in the package from the start? An example of this might be
AutoDesk and the lack of features that, had Autodesk included, may have
eliminated the business of one of it's support development aftermarkets.

Microsoft, IMHO, is not innocent of some lack of judgement in their
marketing scheme. If it is true that they purposly threatened to cut off a
manufacture from their operating system because they wished to include
another browser, then I think they violated an ethic in business.
I am split on the issue of being able to disable IE from Windows so a user
can use another product. One one side, the user has the right to be able to
make a decision and without different flavors of Windows available, they do
not have this choice. On the other hand, IE is an important feature in
Windows 98 and is seen as the principle tool for the operating system
personal and business networking in the future evolution of the product. In
this case, MicroSoft should have all right of control.

Finally, they control a large market share, but they are not the only
company out there with an operating system. If another company does not take
an agressive marking stradegy to compete with Microsoft (assuming that they
are on a fair field which many believe to be the problem) why is Microsoft
to blame? Microsoft has already spent millions to support Apple by
rewritting the software to the MAC operating system. This has kept Microsoft
from gaining a monopoly - yet they paid to protect themselves (is paying for
protection ethical?).

I think it boils down to proving that any one company has gained sucess by
taking advantage of the competition through unethical business practices or
through acts which are not legal. This is the issue - not how much of the
market Microsoft controls or if Internet Explorer should be disconnected
from the operating system.

Dennis Wish PE


-----Original Message-----
From: Bill Polhemus [mailto:poly(--nospam--at)flash.net]
Sent: Wednesday, October 21, 1998 5:31 AM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org
Subject: Re: The Problem with Microsoft


Bill Allen, S.E. wrote:

> There is nothing immoral or illegal about buying companies. It happens
> everyday.

Illegal, perhaps not.  But immoral, yes it is.

But beyond that:  We as users of services and products need to signify that
we
don't like being boxed into a corner, where only one provider is available
(or
even TWO, for that matter).  I have always been surprised that business
users
have put up with this.

> And no, this is NOT the reason the DoJ has MS in court.

Yes it is.  No, not this incident, but the anti-competitive tactics that MS
has always used, is the "excuse" that DoJ has used to justify punishing MS
(for not contributing enough money to the Democratic Party--MS has only
THREE
lobbyists in Washington, far, far fewer than any company its size).