Skip to main content
All Windows - No Doors

When the Judge’s decision finally came, it hardly made a ripple, the BBC called to ask if the death sentence could be applied retrospectively in anti-trust cases and Sky News, unable to find a football angle, decided to pass.

Microsoft is free. Well almost free. The third judge in this long-running battle between the world’s most powerful government and the world’s most powerful software company approved a settlement deal between the two sides, which changes very little and leaves the cynics with a strong “Told-you-so argument”.

Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, the judge appointed by the Court of Appeals was appointed to determine how Microsoft should be punished for violation of anti-trust legislation and illegally maintaining its monopoly over computer software operating systems. The company, anxious to cut a deal with the ‘Feds’ to avoid any court imposed remedies, agreed to new restrictions on its behaviour, uniform contract terms, the release of some Windows technical data to third-party developers and the removal of some programme elements and icons in the latest Service Pack update to Windows XP.

Of the seventeen US States that were also pursuing the company, nine have chosen to accept the settlement but the remaining eight may still appeal and are arguing that the settlement doesn’t open-up the competitive landscape and want Microsoft to reveal its code in a way that would allow other companies to write to the Windows API. If this sounds rather like the Open Source argument, (Sun’s Star Office for Windows) then it’s not too far from the truth. And so Microsoft, still reluctant to show the world the engine locked under the bonnet of its proprietary car, has been giving away enough detail for third-parties to change the suspension but little in the way of useful tuning information.

So does this momentous decision really make a difference where business and the consumer are concerned? Probably not. Certainly, companies like Microsoft will have to conduct themselves with more transparency and attention to anti-trust legislation in future but WorldCom and Enron have also changed the landscape where matters of corporate integrity are concerned.

The monopoly remains intact and as strong as ever, an unavoidable fact of life in a market dominated by Windows, leaving the European Commission to proceed with its own investigation, which had been on-hold until the US court had made its decision.

In my view however, Microsoft has emerged from the experience as a better company. It may dominate the market and will continue to do so but it has left many of its worst “Mr. Toad-like” characteristics behind. But this doesn’t mean that software won’t continue to be expensive and that the company won’t indirectly stifle competition as a consequence of sheer size. After all, even after a case that has lasted almost ten years can any smaller company seriously consider the effort and expense of competition in area in which Microsoft plays? I think not. The future remains unchanged and it’s a world of many windows and no doors.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Mainframe to Mobile

Not one of us has a clue what the world will look like in five years’ time, yet we are all preparing for that future – As  computing power has become embedded in everything from our cars and our telephones to our financial markets, technological complexity has eclipsed our ability to comprehend it’s bigger picture impact on the shape of tomorrow.

Our intuition has been formed by a set of experiences and ideas about how things worked during a time when changes were incremental and somewhat predictable. In March 1953. there were only 53 kilobytes of high-speed RAM on the entire planet.

Today, more than 80 per cent of the value of FTSE 500* firms is ‘now dark matter’: the intangible secret recipe of success; the physical stuff companies own and their wages bill accounts for less than 20 per cent: a reversal of the pattern that once prevailed in the 1970s. Very soon, Everything at scale in this world will be managed by algorithms and data and there’s a need for effective platforms for ma…

The Big Steal

I’m not here to predict the future;” quipped the novelist, Ray Bradbury. “I’m here to prevent it.” And the future looks much like one where giant corporations who hold the most data, the fastest servers, and the greatest processing power will drive all economic growth into the second half of the century.

We live in an unprecedented time. This in the sense that nobody knows what the world will look like in twenty years; one where making confident forecasts in the face of new technologies becomes a real challenge. Before this decade is over, business leaders will face regular and complex decisions about protecting their critical information and systems as more of the existing solutions they have relied upon are exposed as inadequate.

The few real certainties we have available surround the uninterrupted march of Moore’s Law - the notion that the number of transistors in the top-of-the-line processors doubles approximately every two years - and the unpredictability of human nature. Exper…

An Ockham of Gatwick

The 13th century theologian and philosopher, William of Ockham, who once lived in his small Surrey village, not so very far from what is today, the wide concrete expanse of Gatwick airport is a frequently referenced source of intellectual reason. His contribution to modern culture was Ockham’s Razor, which cautions us when problem solving, that “The explanation requiring the fewest assumptions is most likely to be correct;” sound advice which constantly proves to be true.

A week further-on since Britain’s second busiest airport was bought to a complete standstill by two or perhaps two hundred different drone sightings, it is perhaps time to revisit William of Ockham’s maxim, rather than be led astray by an increasingly bizarre narrative, one which has led Surrey police up several blind alleys with little or nothing in the way of measurable results.

 Exploring the possibilities with a little help in reasoning from our medieval friar, we appear to have a choice of two different account…