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RE: The Problem with Microsoft

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> -----Original Message-----
> From: Bill Polhemus [mailto:polhemus(--nospam--at)insync.net]
> Sent: Tuesday, October 20, 1998 2:35 PM
> To: 'seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org'
> Subject: The Problem with Microsoft
>
> This is one of the reasons that I am not a big fan of Microsoft
> and Microsoft's products.

Why? Microsoft's products don't take actions you dislike, Bill Gates does.
You are, in essence, eschewing widely used products for a free (Linux) OS
that is not supported by any traditional drafting or design tools. I love MS
products.

>Mr. Gates doesn't seek to be
> competitive in the finest American tradition; he seeks to avoid
> innovation by buying out his competition.

This is simply untrue propaganda distributed by people who wish they were as
lucky as Gates or who have suffered. He doesn't seek to avoid innovation. MS
has been extremely innovative and has sought to purchase other innovative
companies. It makes sense. MS didn't develop the original version Visual
Basic in-house. They bought it from Alan Cooper and made it into an even
greater product. Don't forget that all those companies he so "unethically"
purchased were willing to sell. And some never did.

My stomach turns every time I see Scott McNeely, CEO of Sun, crying to
congress and the press about how that big bully MS has cost them so much.
(So did the railroads when Henry Ford brought the first Model T off the
production line.) Sun was once a great company developing UNIX workstations.
But the workstation industry started losing market share when Windows NT
began to be adopted in large corporations. Not because MS forced them to
adopt it, but because it offered many advantages over UNIX. Sun tried to
compete with Solaris but has never been taken too seriously because the
benchmarks have been poor or, where not, have been good only because the
code was written with the benchmark in mind. To me, McNeely is just a
jealous little child wanting daddy (Janet Reno) to spank Bill gates.
>
> That's why DoJ is after him.

In the next paragraph you say DoJ is after him for another reason.
>
> As I've stated before, I don't support DoJ's hounding of MS; I
> think it is motivated much more by politics than by any
> altruistic interest of the Clinton Justice Department in
> fostering healthy competition.  The plain fact is that MS hasn't
> paid its "fair share" of political protection money to the
> Democrats.  That's why they're in dutch.
>
Well, which is it?

> But that is not to say that they are not "anti-competitive."
> They emphatically are.

Tell us why they emphatically are "anti-competitive." It sounds to me that
they are "hyper-competitive." It is MS's competitors that are
anti-competitive. They are the ones that are asking the Feds to do what they
themselves cannot, sell their inferior products. Inferior, that is, in the
minds of consumers.

> I think that wise business heads need to
> recognize that fostering MS in this, is counter to their own
> interests in keeping competition alive in the very vital
> information infrastructure area of American (and global) business.

Why is it in my interest to hold MS back? Many people seem to believe that
something is wrong with companies achieving the level of market share that
MS has. It is not at all an unexpected occurrence in an industry that
benefits from consistency. For computers to be useful as a means by which
tasks may be shared, common components are essential.

It was not long ago that my staff was using "WalkNET", carrying (sometimes
throwing!) floppies back and forth. NetWare came along and hooked us up with
a system that ran in DOS and used significant system resources. Then Windows
was piled on top of NetWare and more resources were lost. Finally, MS
incorporated networking into Windows culminating in WinNT Server that
returned those resources. NetWare is having trouble competing. So sorry! But
my costs have dropped significantly. I don't have to pay for an OS *and* a
Network and the motives of Bill Gates matter not a whit!

Did Mr. Gates put networking into the OS to ruin NetWare? Did the computer
scientists at Bell Labs and UC Berkley put networking into UNIX to ruin the
competition? No! There was no competition. They were just making the
technology better to meet their needs for computational lubricants. And, so,
I believe that Bill Gates was doing what every honest businessman does -
improve his product to meet the desires of his market.
>
> That's why I think that engineers as small businessmen, need to
> investigate alternatives to MS, such as Linux.
>
You have not made a clear case for this. Have you investigated Linux? If so,
how convenient is UNIX for you? Do you find many CAD products that run under
X-Windows, for instance? AutoCAD used to have a UNIX version. So did
MathCAD. So did many other software companies. (IBM's PC applications still
support OS/2!) Some however, still have UNIX versions, for vertically
integrated markets with specialized apps. These products, however, cost
significantly more (5 to 10 times) than a similar Windows application.
MathCad for UNIX used to cost $1500 while the PC version cost $400.

How much time will you have to spend learning a new system? Is it really
worth it?

Linux is a system that replaces UNIX. A typical UNIX installation costs
anywhere from $5K to $10K a station. Linux is almost free and faithfully
reproduces UNIX's behavior. It even improves on it. But so what? What is
available for me to use that will enhance my ability to produce good
engineering work? This is the ultimate question. Why switch? Until such a
switch makes economic sense, it won't happen.

Mark E. Deardorff, SE
Deardorff & Deardorff, Inc., Ramona, CA 
<mailto:MarkD(--nospam--at)DandDEng.com>
<http://DandDEng.com>