March 24, 2019

Rant Mode Equals One: The Numbers Don't Add Up - page 2

Is it More Expensive to Continue Funding the Monopoly? Yes!

  • February 27, 2000
  • By Paul Ferris

I don't need to speculate on the costs of migrating to Windows 2000, the Gartner Group has done it for me. The cost they're predicting for businesses can't be weighed against the speculative costs of the ACT group above, but they should be. I wonder what a truly competitive landscape would have produced in the marketplace had Microsoft had to truly compete with Novell for the Active Directory space. I wonder how much less Windows 2000 would cost.

Next, Dr. Liebowitz goes on to state that the cost of a break-up will be some hypothetical number: 30 billion dollars. I have some advice for you Doc: Stop using the dice and the Windows calculator for your calculations, and maybe you'll save us all some money.

Where's the clue-meter here? This is an economist speaking, and he doesn't examine the costs of today's ailment, the monopoly Microsoft. Hasn't everything else related to computing, including applications outside of Microsoft Office, come down in price? What about the cost of Microsoft operating systems software--the only object on the computer landscape that has consistently increased in procurement costs over the past 10 years? Isn't there a number there?

In fact, there is. Home computer buyers alone have been bilked of 10 billion dollars by one group's estimation, and they didn't address the cost to businesses. Even so, what about the tangential costs of the Microsoft monopoly game? Maybe someone needs to commission a study estimating the cost of down time day in and day out, experienced by businesses thanks to shoddy software quality.

That software might be much more reliable if it had some kind of competition--but almost all competitors in this space have been illegally banished. All but a recent one, and it's Free, for crying out loud.

So says a federal court judge--this isn't just my opinion.

The costs of Microsoft's monopoly have been enormous. This economist is afraid here that if you break up Microsoft into "fragmented" companies, they will all resort to the same proprietary tricks Microsoft has been using all along. Tricks that were illegal, immoral and intolerable in general for almost everyone. For everyone but Microsoft, that is--they've been laughing all the way to the bank.

I will agree in one area with him. The cost of proprietary competitors stomping all over themselves and their customers must be reigned in. Isn't there a better way? Don't we already know how to keep the computing peace? Isn't the cost of the proprietary disease a bit too much to bear?

Yes, we all know the answer to this. It's time to open-source the Windows API, for good. A GPL license on this and all APIs that will be used in the future by commodity computer users everywhere will ensure that no one proprietary vendor can keep the public at gunpoint with unfair business practices and out-of-control pricing.

As an economist, he must be able to do the math. It's simple math that even a child should be able to spot. Microsoft cannot continue to increase their sales. They have increased, and increased and the market is saturated. They have introduced a product with tens of thousands of defects, at the highest cost ever and at a time when their primary competition is giving away a higher quality product for free.

Why do they do this? Because they cannot afford to let their revenue stream falter. They have bet the farm on always increasing their revenues and any idiot can see that those revenues have peaked. The moment that Wall Street sees this, the party is over. That moment is fast approaching and nothing can be done about it.

There's your answer, Mr. Economist. Are you really concerned with the true costs to America and corporations? Do you really want to see the prices go down? Increase the supply of vendors, and the cost will go down, now won't it? Not that I'm an economist.

I will give you the one qualification that matters out of the few that I possess: I care. I really do care. I want to see the truth come out, and I want some sanity when it comes to these things.

I want the costs to go down for America and I want the choices to increase. I've had it with software that's broken and cannot be fixed, even by the very group that created it. I'm tired of laws being created to protect that group driven by lobbying funded by past immoral practices. I'm tired of reading misinformation like this, most of all.

Let's increase the supply of vendors who can provide operating systems that can run the Windows API. Open the source code for Windows and the problem goes away. Businesses can be assured that they can choose from vendors that have quality products--possibly even Microsoft.

I don't like legal intervention; it's painful. But if Microsoft is unwilling to do what should be done, then I say it's time we found someone in our government who will listen to us and do it for them. It's called the right of eminent domain. That property, the Windows API code, was obtained using illegal practices. That property is too valuable to be hoarded and misused by one corporation.

That property belongs to the people and businesses that have lost out over the years due to lack of choice in an important economic sector of this technological economy. If Microsoft won't do the right thing and compete on a fair basis, if they want to abuse their ownership of that property and cause businesses, consumers and innovative developers pain--it's time we took it away.

Anything else is simply too costly.

Related reading:
PC Week: Let me count the ways Microsoft has harmed consumers (Nov 17, 1999)
Wired: Judge Comes Down Hard on MS (Nov 06, 1999)
The Age: The people vs Bill Gates (Jan 09, 1999)
Rant Mode Equals One: The Fragmentation Fear (Nov 23, 1999)

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