Saturday, November 02, 2002

Somebody please 'splain this to me



The judge's opinion is public. The resolution of the DOJ vs. Microsoft is all but final.

Quite a few people are upset by this ruling. One Macintosh site in particular called the ruling basically a stamp of approval of "business as usual at Microsoft."

I do have to admit there are some things that disturb me about this judgement. For example, it calls for a committee consisting entirely of Microsoft board members to monitor the adherence to the judgement. That tells me that the judge wanted to defang the judgement entirely. Why bother to have a judgement at all, then? Why have a henhouse when you appoint the fox as the guard of the front entrance?

On the other hand, I couldn't get past the fact that people were bitching about the distribution of Internet Explorer for free. Gee whiz. (On the other hand, apparently prereleases of Windows XP altered the behavior of third party software that ordered prints of digital pictures to use a Microsoft-blessed service.)

Here's my take: screw the DOJ. Honest justice has not been part of its pursuit in years. You cannot rely on the government to do what you want done. It happens over and over again: we ask the government to take care of a problem (pollution or predatory corporations, for instance) and we are left with the consequences of a terrible solution.

If you don't want Microsoft, then stand up against Microsoft. Don't buy their products. Yell at your IT department. Get other people to yell at your IT department. Tell them the decision to go with Microsoft enabled the propogation of bottom-line-crunching email viruses, which would have been completely avoided had Microsoft Exchange and Outlook were not on 90% of the world's computers. It seems every other day there is another vulnerability found which allows a remote hacker to run arbitrary code on your station with full privileges. The Microsoft license, which requires that you consent to Microsoft installing software on your computer at any time without any further consent or knowledge, is against many policies in regulated industries.

Expensive hardware investments can be protected by putting a Linux operating system on workstations. (Yes, I know for some Windows-only software development companies the issue is more complicated.) If the figures on the damage done by Melissa, Sircam, et al. are any indication, the ROI on ditching a bad software choice will net positive.

The DOJ may have crapped out on you, but you can either whine or take a stand. If you own a Mac, tell MS where it can shove their IE and Office v.X. If you own a Windows PC, you can cheaply turn it into a Linux PC. Good quality alternatives exist for your Microsoft software. It takes effort, but you can free yourself. You are empowered.