Can Microsoft compete without breaking the law?

“An upstart Internet company threatens Microsoft and the entire Windows platform. The basis of that threat is the new company’s almost effortless command of Internet technology, which can be used to replace Windows with a browser-based architecture to supplant at will any and every part of the venerable operating system. The same goes for Microsoft Office. Bill Gates is intimidated and therefore inspired. Redmond quickly changes course, abandoning a monolithic and exclusive product strategy for a dynamic and inclusive one that embraces outside technologies in an attempt to out-start the upstart and thereby retain control of the software industry,” Robert X. Cringely writes for PBS. “That about covers last week’s announcement by Microsoft of Windows Live and Office Live to counter the ambitions of Google, right?”

“Nope,” Cringely writes. “It actually describes December, 1995, when Bill Gates awoke over a weekend to the potential of the Internet and the threat posed by Netscape, the Google of its era. Microsoft’s answer was to license Java from Sun, put Java in Internet Explorer 3, which it then gave away for free (Netscape cost money), and finally to turn MSN from a money-losing online service into a money-losing Internet portal. Welcome to 1996 as history repeats itself. What was happening at that time with Microsoft, Sun, and Netscape feels a lot like Microsoft, Sun, and Google today.”

Cringely writes, “The big question for Microsoft is whether they can compete in this new market without having to cheat? I don’t think they can. Putting it simpler, since all cheating isn’t illegal, can Microsoft really implement Windows Live and Office Live without breaking the law? I think they CAN, but I doubt if they WILL. I think that in Redmond the stakes will ultimately be perceived as too high not to cheat. Or maybe they simply don’t know how to pay fair. Either way, expect trouble.”

Full article, highly recommended, with some very funny bits here.

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Related MacDailyNews articles:
Gates memo to top Microsoft execs warns of ‘very disruptive’ changes coming with ‘services wave’ – November 09, 2005
Microsoft announces, er, Web-based services – November 02, 2005
Microsoft threatens to boost South Korean productivity by withdrawing Windows – October 29, 2005
U.S. federal judge scolds Microsoft over abandoned exclusive music demand – October 26, 2005
Can Microsoft do anything original? Redmond behemoth issues ‘mysterious’ invite to reporters – October 25, 2005
BusinessWeek: Microsoft fumbles while Apple turns the needlessly complex into the beautifully simple – October 13, 2005
Mafiasoft? Microsoft to ‘offer’ new subscription security protection racket – October 07, 2005
Chair hurling Microsoft CEO Ballmer: ‘I’m going to f—ing kill Google’ – September 03, 2005


  1. Yes, I suppose MS could compete without breaking the law, but I don’t they ever will on various levels….
    However if MS did compete in the market place without breaking the law, there’s always, lying, cheating, copying, cut throat business practices and just plain dirty dealings.
    It all starts at the top!

  2. To be completely realistic here, every company cheats, including Apple, it’s just that Microsoft has taken it to an entirely different (and illegal) level many times in the past. As the old saying goes…if you’re not cheating, you’re not trying.

  3. Microsoft will spend whatever it takes to retain control, which could mean ANYTHING. Seriously, ANYTHING. Windows for free? Don’t be surprised if it happens [original capitalizations].

    I like free, but from Apple. For weendoze, on the other hand, they’d have to pay me mucho pero mucho dinero.

    Why is Gates panicking about (cough) Sun, IBM and Google, when he hasn’t even got Vista outta the door yet? Following this mob is like watching a Laurel and Hardy flick.

  4. How does a business “cheat” without “breaking the law”

    If “the law” are the rules businesses must follow, and “cheating” means breaking the rules, then it is impossible to cheat without breaking the law.

    Now replace the word “cheat” above with “Microsoft” and you have our current day IT landscape.

    MDN word: believe

  5. Can Microsoft compete without breaking the law?

    Microsoft Reply: “Who’s law? Ours? What’s a law but a tool to serve ours, theirs and everyone’s interest?”

    “We are a international company dealing with tons of laws from various countries and political parties”

    “Apple doesn’t comply with rules concerning AppleCare in some states like Florida, why? Because to them it’s a stupid law and exposes their sales records for state observation and further taxation”

    “At Microsoft we feel complying with the Government of China’s censorship of the internet for words like “democracy” and “freedom” to be perfectly fair and balanced. After all we don’t believe in such things ourselves.”

    “We absolutely believe keeping our software insecure is the correct way of doing things, we also believe it’s perfectly in our right to threaten to kill our competitors CEO’s and throw chairs at our employees.”

    “We are beyond any frigging “law”, we are all powerful and any such “fines” against our corporation will simply result in us charging more for our products or removing ourselves from your country”

    “See how long your infrastructure and internet income holds up after we pull our security updates”


  6. All Microsoft has to do is walk in a room full of executives, say “Hi, were Microsoft,” and walk out with a bucket full of money!

    So long as executives stay clueless about technology (translation, forever) Microsoft will continue using that machine in their office that prints money.

    The only hope for future generations is if todays iPod users grow up to be executives.

  7. “By most measures, the flesh-and-blood Gates has come off far less admirably in his videotaped performance at his company’s antitrust trial. He squirms and hedges. He argues with prosecutors over the definition of commonly used words, including ”we” and ”compete.” Early rounds of his deposition show him offering obfuscatory answers and saying ”I don’t recall” so many times that even the presiding judge had to chuckle.” (classic Asperger’s Syndrome?)

    Bill’s already admitted to not understanding the definition of “compete.”

    The U.S. government has confirmed time and again that having wealth, especially tremendous wealth, makes you above the law.

    “Don’t know how to pay fair.” – nice Freudian slip

  8. Those who think that Apple is missing the boat here must realize the difference in target markets. Apple is very much focused on consumer and creative markets, whereas Microsoft and the “upstart” mentioned in the article are focused on the business market. iWork is the word processor “for the rest of us”, not for business people, although it would be ideal for small businesses.

  9. MS knows that Bush gutted the Dept. of Justice and ended all serious legal challenges from the DoJ. They are officially above the law now, like most corporations should be according to Republicans. (And I’m talking about REAL Republicans–the politicians. I’m not talking about the many fine voters who call themselves Republicans because they’ve been duped into thinking Republicans politician actually support their values. They don’t, but they’ll gladly use you for your vote and laugh all the way to the bank.)

    So any legal-action losses MS has are just a fraction of the profit they MADE from illegal activity. So they make more money even when they DO get “busted” (aka slap on the wrist).

    They’re in good company with Halliburton.

  10. Nice. Give away Windows for FREE … with Macintels on the market, there won’t be a reason to buy anything other than a Mac! It’ll be fun to watch Gates bring down all the commodity PC makers to sate his greed.

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