Saturday, May 11, 2002


Boy, the Microsoft issue certainly has me in a dilemma here. While I detest the strange fates in the universe that enable a technically inferior operating system to become dominant enough that one company can leverage so much "power" over other companies, I am ashamed at the circus of governments involved in this antitrust suit. Our government makes huge exclusive contracts to use Microsoft software, and then they lament Microsoft's dominance. The DoJ and states are in effect telling Microsoft, "This is how you should run your business for the greatest social good."

Except the states and DoJ don't know the greatest social good. They have a vision of social good, but it may or may not be the best social good. The government has no business determining what is the best "social good." (Hear that, Nader?) The moment we give government the power to determine what is "socially good," then "social good" becomes whatever the politicians want it. Which is, inevitably, favors for the politically connected.

Which bring me to an important point:

Amount Microsoft Spent on Lobbying

Year Amt. Spent
1997 $2,120,000
1998 $3,740,000
1999 $4,860,000
2000 $6,360,000


Way to wake the sleeping 800 pound gorilla.

Look, with all of the weight that Microsoft was throwing around in its "predatory" licensing practices, there was one thing Bill Gates could never do to anyone. That was send a gun after another company and force them into a contract.

The government can do that. It has, and it will continue to do so. It starts with things like the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act), uniform software transaction code (which is, in fact, introduced in the state legislatures), the recent bill introduced by the dishonorable Fritz Hollings, and who know what else buried in the various "emergency assistance" bills. Now Microsoft is starting to play that game, too.

We still have a choice in type of computer to buy and operating system to install. There are consumer opinion sites, personal recommendations, and so forth. If you think people should not buy Microsoft, then you have several effective means of delivering your message.

As our reliance on technology grows, innovative software development becomes more important. We need to, as citizens and consumers, take responsibility for the direction of software development. It's too important a job to rely on the government.