Subject: Platforms
From: Marika Chalupa <iamarika -at- EROLS -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 11 Feb 1997 21:40:09 -0800

I will say this: Microsoft made DOS for the x86 Intel platform. The
x86 machine became the cheapest because the others DID NOT HAVE CLONES.
IBM screamed bloody murder about clones; tried to stamp them out, but
eventually profited hugely from them compared to what the PC market
would have been without them. Ask a lawyer and he'll tell you this is
a specious argument, that IBM by all rights should have been allowed to
keep its product proprietary. Whether or not they made money from
their loss is not the point. Intel finally wised up and decided to
quit prosecuting AMD and others cloning their chips and count on their
share of a growing market to profit them: "a rising tide carries all
boats." This happenstance synergy of CPU chips and computer clones
poured money into Microsoft for DOS like no tomorrow.

All of MS' basic innovations have been in MARKETING. As Pres. Calvin
Coolige said (and no one to this day knows EXACTLY what he meant), "the
business of America is Business." Not technology. We sell stuff. Who
and how it's made are sort of irrelevant. Microsoft FORCED the
inclusion of DOS on every machine with dirt-cheap licensing deals.
They didn't have to pour out thousands of boxed sets: a few master
copies went out to dealers, along with a generic manual text galley.
The manufacturers and dealers then installed the DOS or Windows
themselves, printed their own manuals using the galleys and putting
their company name on the cover. Microsoft got a royalty for every PC
sold, even if you told the dealer you did not want DOS. I said this,
and my bare bones box with hard drive STILL arrived with DOS on it.
But the dealer told me, "you no get manual." Yeah, big deal. I took
MS-DOS off and installed DR DOS immediately. And washed my hands good.

So when someone talks about IBM or Sun or Apple not maintaining their
technological lead, it's irrelevant. They faced a sea of PCs, so if
they used special non-PC hardware, like Sun and Apple, the economics of
available software and market size were against them. Ditto if they
used a custom OS. If they sold PCs, then they either paid royalties to
MS, or faced the small market problem: who's going to develop Mac or
OS/2 software? Plus, Microsoft had huge royalty payments coming in
each month, and they did not have to DO anything! Just sit around and
watch the checks arrive. So, if they actually DID something with this
money, like hire mediocre people to make mediocre products, they'd just
improve their situation even more. If Microsoft or Intel ever get into
a "fair fight", they will have trouble. Microsoft Network (MSN) ain't
doing so hot, and their attempts to derail Java are not doing well,
either. Intel pretty much invented dynamic semiconductor memory
(DRAM), but they don't make it anymore. Of course battling Japan, Inc.
or Korea, Inc. is hardly a fair fight, either, but Intel has gotten out
of a number of technologies where it innovated early on, but could not
lock up with a proprietary design. Remember the Intel SatisFAXion
modem cards? No more.

-- Brian Converse

Lord John Worfin: History is made at night. Character is what you are in
the dark.
Worfin: We must a-work while the clock, she's a-ticking!
Red Lectoid in crowd: Lord Worfin - destroyer!
Worfin: We hide, they seek!
Red Lectoids: Death to the Black Lectoids! - Adventures of Buckaroo
Banzai Across the 8th Dim.

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