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Subject:Re: Perspective on Technology From:Tom Huffman <tlhuffman -at- EARTHLINK -dot- NET> Date:Tue, 25 May 1999 21:34:51 -0500
It amazes me how many times the reasons why people have a problem with Microsoft
have to be repeated over and over. The problem is not that all of their products
are bad "Everything Microsoft sucks" as you put it. The problem is also not that,
because of their dominance, everything MS does is guaranteed to succeed regardless
of all other factors.
The reasons that a lot of people have trouble with MS has to do with several
factors. In no particular order:
1. Through luck and an almost unprecedented business oversight by IBM, MS got a
very early stranglehold on the PC operating system market. They have used this OS
monopoly in a variety of ways to eliminate competition from a variety of sources.
Leveraging a monopoly in a necessary product to achieve monopolies in other areas
2. The current DOJ suit has highlighted the type of tactics that MS routinely uses.
I honestly don't know how one could pay even cursory attention to that trial
without concluding that MS
a. has falsified evidence
b. offered witnesses (one in particular) who have committed multiple acts of
c. has been much more interested in crushing competition at any cost than serving
3. MS's dominance in almost every area of mainstream business computing has lead to
a situation in which computer users, especially new ones, simply assume without
ever questioning it that to be MS is to be the best, whether it's true or not.
(Regarding their dominance, I teach at a college that runs a MS operating system
(NT) on a MS network, with MS business applications (Office) and an MS browser
(IE). This is not healthy for the industry.
There are a lot of good non-MS products out there, but many of them are being
eliminated from the marketplace simply because they are not made by MS, either
because consumers stop buying them because they are not MS or because MS directly
crushes them. This is a self-perpectuating process. The more dominant MS becomes,
the smaller the market share of their competitors, and the less money those
competitors have for development, which of course weakens their product, which
further strengthens MS.
No one would want to live in a world in which Ford was the only automobile
manufacturer, the only company that built and maintained all of the roads, and the
only company that the public could look to for the establishment and enforcement of
automobile safety and pollution standards. Yet, this situation is very similar to
what we are rapidly approaching in the computer industry.
Apple seems to be making a comeback, so there's some hope there, but I doubt it.
Linux might take off if it can ever shed its geeks-only image. We'll see.
> Okay - this is pushing the limits of technical documentation topic, but I see a
> hell of a lot of tech writers doing this (here and elsewhere) and it really
> torques my knob. Mostly, I think this issue is indicative of something in
> technical communication:
> "Everything Microsoft sucks."
> I am sorry gang, but just because MS makes it does not mean it sucks. MS makes
> some awesome products and has single-handedly defined many of the concepts,
> ideas, and structures of modern computing technology. No, they are not perfect
> but neither are you.
> It is just stupid and small-minded to see the entire universe of MS as some
> dark force that is after your light saber.
> However, my real point here is about perspectives. Part of being a good writer
> is being able to comprehend and appreciate things from many different
> perspectives. Just because a particular technology does not conform to your
> *personal* specifications of perfection, does not mean that technology beholds
> some inherent flaw. Likewise, just because something is big and popular does
> not mean it is evil and therefore must be crushed.
tlhuffman -at- earthlink -dot- net
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