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Lord, what fools these mortals be!

William Shakespeare, "A Midsummer Night's Dream", Act 3 scene 2

With apologies to the Bard. I open up the virtual newspaper this morning, and what should be printed on the front web page but a link to an article that proclaims "US Department of Justice and five States have declared themselves satisfied with the antitrust enforcement efforts taken against Microsoft." The article, from CBRonline, goes on to quote the following reasons why the DoJ feels that competition is increasing:

  • Increased competition from Firefox, Opera, and Safari on the browser front. The only real competitor is Firefox, and its penetration varies region by region. Safari competition on the Windows desktop is a joke, and is there specifically so that iPhone developers can write and test AJAX widgets targeted to the iPhone. I can tell you from personal experience that Safari is a very poor choice for Windows.

    And need I point out to the DoJ that Firefox has to be given away in order for it to be on the desktop at all. It's ancestor, Netscape Navigator, was destroyed by Microsoft giving away early versions of Internet Explorer to counter Netscape's attempts to monetize their browser.

  • Apple iTunes and Adobe Flash. It's remarkable that the DoJ would use one arguably strong monopolist (Apple in downloadable music) against another and call that competition. And then there's Adobe Flash, which Microsoft wants to crush with its Silverlight browser plugin for delivering "the next generation of .Net based media experiences."

    Silverlight is just one more example of how the Microsoft monopoly works, by leveraging their existing desktop OS to launch another attack on an existing competitor (Adobe). This is the same MO that got Microsoft in trouble with Netscape and Internet Explorer, which in turn led to the demise of Netscape, the open sourcing of the browser code, and from there on to where we are today with Firefox. Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it (see joke about Firefox competition above).

  • Dell and Lenovo's pre-loaded Linux desktops. Please, don't make me laugh. Dell has how many Linux systems? Three total? That's how many I count. And they're off on a website all by their lonesome. And where can I find those Lenovo Linux systems? Certainly not from the Lenovo web site. The point is you have to dig deep within a top-tier computer manufacturer to find Linux at all, or Google for it, or have it linked from another article you just happen to stumble upon. Otherwise you have Windows XP or Vista as your only solution.
You've got to be joking. The DoJ examples are but crumbs that Microsoft allows to fall from its table to the petty competitors below. Microsoft generates billions per quarter just on its Windows and Office monopolistic lock, a lock based in part on its failure to fully disclose all APIs and data structures. These are the kinds of cynical observations that I would expect Karl Rove and his gang of dirty GOP tricksters to come up with. Fortunately, there are seven other states that don't see it quite that way. The seven states, represented by California and including Connecticut, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Massachusetts, and the District of Columbia(!), have made the following observation:
"The final judgment clearly has had little or no discernible impact in the marketplace as measured by the most commonly used metric - market shares," they stated in their filing, maintaining that Microsoft did not cease its previous practices because of the judgment but because they were highlighted during the court case.

"The final judgment has demanded relatively little of Microsoft other than to fulfill its [protocol] disclosure obligations... which it has still not discharged in full," they added. "There can be little doubt that Microsoft's market power remains undiminished."
No kidding. Microsoft continues to steam-roll the competition, as illustrated by its latest attempt to ram acceptance of OOXML through ISO by the act of blatantly rigging the vote. And of course the European's really love Microsoft's business practices. Not. No, Microsoft has the DoJ in their hip pocket thanks to the "pro-business" stance of the Bush administration, and as long as Bushites remain in power and the Democrats remain inept and impotent, it's going to stay that way. Which leaves those of use who really believe in a free and fair market to fend for ourselves.


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