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Pass the Cornflakes

It’s like a hanging set to music, except you just know that there’s no real chance that the condemned man, in this case it’s Microsoft, will ever take the drop.

Microsoft is of course threatening to withdraw Windows, if the States get their way, arguing as they are for a component (middleware) version of the product, which will allow for third-party development and licensing. This is nothing less than a look under Microsoft’s bonnet. Just imagine owning a car but weren’t allowed to look at the engine?

That’s the happy world of Windows and always will be if Microsoft has its way. The alternative, claims Microsoft, is nothing less than anarchy, with thousands of Windows clones washing around, all slightly different and where middleware from Microsoft would be forced to co-exist alongside midddleware from rival companies, such as Sun or even Oracle!

Of course the argument is a little more complex than this but I ask you, do we really care anymore? Does justice make a difference if you have $36 billion in the bank? I very much doubt it and did anyone believe it ever did? At least it will be more difficult in the future for any technology giant to behave again as Microsoft did in the past without being called to account a great deal faster. And anyway, there’s Enron to worry about now.

The last ten years should have taught all of us a lesson. We had Windows and the Internet and the great Dot Com bubble, which burst, leaving many of the people I know out of pocket and wondering where their common sense had gone.

Like Dr Frankenstein, we created the Microsofts' of this world and then looked surprised, when the company used its considerable muscle to build the monopoly that gave us the software we demanded of it.

Now there’s no going back. There’s every sign that tomorrow will be an even more of a Microsoft world than today and like some latter-day Faustus that’ s the bargain we made when we threw out OS/2 in favour of a prettier looking and less reliable Windows. If Governments aren’t strong enough to stand in front of this runaway train we might as well get used to the idea of a software industry being divvied-up between a handful of well-known companies. It’s called commercial Darwinism I suppose.
After all, it’s no different to Kelloggs and the cornflake business. Winner takes all I’m afraid.


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