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An ends-justify-the-means pro MS argument
July 31, 2000 7:39 PM   Subscribe

An ends-justify-the-means pro MS argument that completely ignores the merits of fair business and what the industry could have been without a juggernaut like MS.
posted by skallas (5 comments total)

 
Uhm... if there had been no MS, I wouldn't have had a job for the past six years.

I don't like big business, but you have to admit the points made in that argument regarding Linux and OS/2 are right on the money. People want something that works. They're not gonna buy a bicycle that's in a box all in pieces that takes a whole Christmas day to put together if they can buy one that's already made.

MS has it's BS. I still get the blue screen of death now and then. But compared to its competition MS was the only way to go for most people. I mean it actually works most of the time, and you don't have to code your own stuff to get it to reboot.

Was it wrong for MS to continue working to its own advantage when it was strides ahead? Should it have been like the Hare?And rested on its laurels of accomplishment before hitting the finish line, so the Tortoises of the world could catch up?

The end does not justify the means, and in any area where MS actually committed illegalities it shoulda gotten squashed for it, but in all the antitrust stuff I read, the only thing I could see that MS did "wrong" was be too successful.

And if we're going to punish that in this country, why should anyone strive to achieve anything?
posted by ZachsMind at 7:55 PM on July 31, 2000


I'm curious: Skallas, what do you mean when you say, "what the industry could have been without a juggernaut like MS"? What would it have been that it's not now?
posted by m.polo at 8:39 PM on July 31, 2000


I'm saying that if MS didn't go out of its way to screw over DRDOS, Netscape, OS/2, etc we'd have a choice of a couple different stable and easy to use OS's and applications instead of the single MS solution. Comparing a non-commercial venture like Linux to Windows is a lousy strawman at best.

One possibility could have been is a competing product based on DRDOS that ran dos/windows apps and competed directly with MS. I'm not taking the low road of calling MS evil, but I refuse to take the even lower road of shrugging my shoulders and saying, "Well IE, Win98, and Word are pretty cool, lets drop this anti-competitive nonsense."

MS should be criticised for its illegal actions regardless of what they put out not praised because windows PC's are cheap and plentiful because we don't have that magic crystal ball that says what would have been without them. I think a more competitive (non-abusive monopolistic actoins) market would have been best for the consumer and the industry.
posted by skallas at 10:26 PM on July 31, 2000


One possibility could have been is a competing product based on DRDOS that ran dos/windows apps and competed directly with MS.

So where was it? If there was such a product I didn't know about it. OS/2 was similar to this in that it actually did run Win16 applications--some say better than Windows did. It was certainly more stable. So what happened? IBM screwed up. IBM never took the PC seriously enough. That's why Microsoft ever really became successful, because IBM didn't negotiate a hard-line contract for DOS. Then when IBM and Microsoft partnered on OS/2, they didn't cooperate and MS pursued Windows in frustration. Then IBM didn't take advantage of the much more powerful and stable OS they had in OS/2 and sat on their butts for a few years while MS developed NT and 95 and really took off.

So how much should we blame IBM for its part in creating the monopoly? They are more responsible than Microsoft if you ask me. They had all the power and they gave it away.

Not that IBM would be a better monopoly. I imagine no matter what happened with Microsoft, some company would be in the position of being the dominant vendor of desktop applications. Either IBM or Apple, most likely. So do you really think we'd be better off with either of those two? I doubt they would be better than MS. In fact, they'd be worse because not only would they control the OS, they'd control the hardware.

It's my opinion that the PC market (by which I mean handhelds, webpads, PCs, chip-in-your-head, whatever) will constantly converge to a single platform. So would you rather have a corporate-controlled platform from IBM? Microsoft? Sun? Oracle? Apple? I don't. I'd rather have something free and open like Linux/FreeBSD/Mozilla.
posted by daveadams at 8:29 AM on August 1, 2000


Skallas, here's the thought experiment I usually play when this subject comes up:

Let's say Don Estridge got killed in his plane crash before the IBM PC came out. Let's further say that the IBM brass, reviewing the project after the death of its lead, decided it really wasn't worth it, ans shelved the product. What happens?

What happens first is that Intel is a much smaller company, and Motorola a much bigger one. :)

What also happens is that Jobs still gets sent into internal exile at Apple by Mike Markkula (the most under-written player in the computer business), and he still develops the Macintosh to piss Markkula off, pirate flag and all.

Gates sees the Mac and sees the future, just as he did in our timeline. He dumps his CPM development, and goes whole hog for Mac apps, again, just like us.

The difference is, without owning the platform himself, Microsoft focusses solely on apps. And the Great War continues, with Jobs trying to be just as closed and monopolistic as he's always been, and Gates being as driven to get his cut of everything. Apple becomes portrayed as the great bogey-man, while MS becomes the cool company fighting for the little guy against the corporate platform behemoth of Apple.

Maybe Linus develops Linux for 68K chips. Maybe not. Maybe Jobs doesn't sue his ass off if he does. :)

But the net result, from a "more competitive (non-abusive monopolistic)" point-of-view is probably even worse than what we have now.

posted by aurelian at 1:20 PM on August 1, 2000


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