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Microsoft and Anti-Trust Action

Recently I was in Washington DC under the arm of a program called The Presidential Classroom. My main agenda was to discuss a Social Security program which gains in value for the working poor; a national sales tax, which is taxation based on consumption rather than success; US China relations, how China is going to become the largest capitalist economy; and finally, paying back the National debt). While strolling around the capitol building, I learned of a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting being held in the Heart Senate building. So I decided to walk there rather than take the subway from the Senate side of the Capitol Building. The focus of that meeting was Corporate Consolidation and Mergers, the special "guest" Allen Greenspan (the most powerful man in the world). I walked in with a member of the press, and got myself a good seat about fifteen minutes before the meeting started, and then I saw him.

Senator Orrin Hatch, the self adored trustbuster (and I also noticed a red-faced Ted Kennedy stumbling around). Since he is the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, he was treated like God (or at least wanted to be). Tons of his little "helpers" were scampering around him throughout the entirety of the meeting. The meeting opened up and the press scrambled to catch a glimpse of Greenspan to hear whether or not he would discuss raising interest rates since the Dow dropped 200 points the previous day. The hearing was a long and drawn out as this article, but finally he spoke.

Greenspan stated that anti-trust action was best left for industries such as banking and transportation and was ineffective, if not harmful in the high-tech industry. He then mentions the typewriter, VHS, etc as examples of how a dominant company usually stays around, but rarely stays on top. HE also mentioned that something new is always coming along, and that it was a very competitive industry. Anti trust in this industry is as ineffective and counterproductive as sanctions have become in the global economy. Senator Hatch then asked several questions, obviously trying to glorify himself as a trustbuster. Greenspan argued against anti-trust action towards the high-tech industry once gain. I am not going to attempt to paraphrase Greenspan, so I apologize if I am not as eloquent as he is. I may actually try to get the transcripts from that hearing in order to prove my points a little more effectively (its been almost two months since the hearing)…. I may also post a letter from Senator Hatch, which is laughable… I should at least be realistic and state that it was probably just a general reply made by an intern which is sent out to all inquirers pertaining to Microsoft.

With Microsoft, you are dealing with intellectual property, rather than something physical like a cable-company, or local Bell telco. Lack of innovation is like sentencing one’s self to death. The marketplace determines what becomes popular, and there have been many drastic changes in the past. Microsoft is still not as large as a company like IBM, which exists as the largest computer-company, yet without the stigma of being a monopoly. Microsoft does not have the power to control prices and is by definition, not a monopoly. Microsoft also works very openly with developers and does not attempt to stonewall anyone. The consumers are also not being harmed, and anti-trust is intended to protect consumers, not companies which cannot compete and that do not know what their customers want. Senator Hatch may have several powerful companies in his home state of Utah, and may be trying to protect his constituents, but he had better shut up about computers because he is an outsider looking into an industry he does not understand. Do we really want the government involved in this industry? They do not even know who works for them…

Internet Explorer is a key part of Windows98. I love being able to go from control panel or my computer to any webpage, and visa versa. Anything that helps me work better and more productly is what I consider to be innovation. I have yet to hear many people scream about IE being integrated into the OS, who have at least given it a try in the first place. Many software makers are also happy about expanded Internet capabilities in the Windows OS. The UI also has benefited nicely from shell integration, and this idea originates from Steven Ballmer’s suggestion to do it (integrate) for Win95. For all those whom tried out IE4 with Win95, you have seen nothing yet (except crashes, which rarely occur in Win98 and if they do the whole system does not usually go down with one app). When something is part of the kernel, and not tacked on, it also used less user resources, ie ActiveDesktop (which will one day be useful…maybe sooner cause of Chrome, well for some of us at least: take a look at the requirements).

Most recently, the Rob Glaser CEO of Realnetworks testified before the Senator’s orgy of overblown theatrics. It was really just an attempt to win the PR war, but the critics will start to question its validity; it is just a matter of time. Microsoft tested Mediaplayer 5.2 (which underwent a public beta and is STILL being beta tested for Windows Update) with all existing Realnetworks Realaudio products. Their most recent beta is G2, the next generation realplayer. Their CEO demonstrated that Mediaplayer broke his product, which he failed to mention was a beta. It turns out that it was a bug in the installation program of G2.

Leaders are also inevitable and healthily for this industry… The lack of leadership in telecommunications has led to no one wanting to pay for fiber, which has been around since the 1960’s like much of the networking protocols still used today (they were just changed to cater to specific OS’s and tweaked along the way). We would all have cheaper phone bills and ADSL already if Ma Bell had not been broken up. The only parties that benefited were big businesses. Having a company that works closely with most hardware and software companies is a very healthily catalyst for the growth of a market. I mentioned how some technologies have been around for decades. Joe-Low End-user is starting to see them as a result of such cooperation. In conclusion, a new leader will rise; this is inevitable. Despite all of Bill’s foresight, a new leader will emerge and life will go on.

Any questions or comments are welcomed.

David C. Worthington

My Opinions are not necessarily thoughts of ActiveWindows.

I would like to offer my condolences to the family and friends of those police officers who were slain in the Capital building in Washington D.C on July 24, 1998. The security on the gallery is exceptional and these men are true heroes.

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