Golden Opportunity

Story: Microsoft fights bid to drop Office softwareTotal Replies: 11
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Sep 14, 2005
5:23 PM EDT
MA State should take advantage of the complaint that MS submitted to Governor Mitt Romney and discredit MS once and for all.

Of course, after Kriss presents the advantages of OpenDocument format, he could turn the table around and challenge Yates to substantiate his claims.

If OpenDocument and OpenOffice are immature like Yates openly says, MS should be more specific and backup their claims.

If OpenDocument and OpenOffice are lacking features or capabilities, MS should demonstrate those.

If OpenDocument and OpenOffice are cheaper than MS Office, MS should show their Dollars and Cents.

One thing should convince the governor is the millions MA will save since OpenOffice is free and can replace MS Office without any problems.

MS for sure will come up with some which they consider important, but to MA State they are irrelevant and most probably didn't use, will never use, or don't care about.

MS doesn't have any proof and all their claims are subjective. Discrediting MS is a major PR blow.

Sep 15, 2005
12:48 AM EDT
> Discrediting MS is a major PR blow._ They are doing a perfectly good job at that themselves... some things have changed. After Katrina, e.g.... did you read the Groklaw editorial?

Sep 15, 2005
6:00 AM EDT
Yes, I agree, they are doing a pretty good job and deserve a big kudos. But to me, when it comes to discrediting MS, it is never enough until MS is flat on its face. Don't you agree!

Sep 15, 2005
7:06 AM EDT
Abe: until they are broken up, they will always be a monopoly and they can only behave as a monopoly. Restraint of trade is the modus operandi and doesn't this 15 page memo covered to the government a perfect example attempting restraint?

BTW, copying Mitt was a reminder of "M-O-N-E-Y"!!!!

They're reminding him of their contributions and the contributions of their employees.

Sep 15, 2005
8:49 AM EDT
Tom, You bring up a good point about the reminder, I didn't think of that. It must be my trusting attitude!!! I hope the very very short memory of politicians will kick in!

About the break up, I am not too much in favor of. I don't like, and I don't know if I can trust the government to be involved in such issues. Breaking up the monopoly is not a permanent fix, the chunks can always work something out and be as bad as one big monopoly. We are talking about very clever and sleazy people here. I would rather see the monopoly brought down by the consumers. Like they say "The bigger they are, they heavier they fall". Once it is down, it will be very difficult to get back up especially when the consumers have a good alternative. MA decision could be the beginning of the end.

Sep 15, 2005
10:52 AM EDT
Let's see the extent of the Governor's internal fortitude.

With regard to breaking up monopolies - it's the only way you can ever stop them. History provides many lessons in that regard. For example, many people have the false notion that the 13 colonies that made up the US fought the British. In fact, we found the British East India Company. That company was so powerful a monopoly it took over the government of England and ran it.

When our government breaks up monopolies, it has kept the parties separated and that you can verify.

In this case, Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer would have to retire.

Market forces have not shown success with monopolies. Armed struggle has.

It's just an area with which I have some familiarity. Our government needs to break them up or at least tie them up in litigation for an extended period of time - like eight years or so.


Sep 15, 2005
11:25 AM EDT
I see that you are hopeful that the government will break them up. I hope so too but I am not so sure.

I think FOSS will soon have the equivalent of armed struggle power. It might not coming from the US alone, but from every where in the world. It all depends on the mobilization of the FOSS supporters and advocates.

Sep 15, 2005
11:49 AM EDT
Tom --

What the heck are you talking about?

Market forces are pretty effective against many monopolies.

Think railroad monopolies.

Even think OPEC. The oil embargo of the 70s fell apart as gas prices got high enough to encourage cheating. Even recent spikes in oil prices aren't enough to bring inflation-adjusted prices anywhere near 70s levels.

Remember when the Big 3 automakers ruled the American market? No more.

Still in the US, think about Network television, which used to command huge audiences, but now competes with cable and the internet. Heck, the internet as serious competition for eyeballs didn't even exist ten years ago.

Now think Microsoft.

It really only has one monopoly -- the pc desktop, expanded to include Office. It used to have an effective browser monopoly, but Firefox has clobbered that. It tried to leverage its monopoly power to gain similar power in mobile phones and video games. Last I looked, phones are a washout and Xbox loses money.

It tried to leverage its desktop monopoly into the server room, but Linux has absolutely killed its plans. Sure, there are a lot of brand M servers out there, but they can't control the market and can't set prices as they please. As to web servers, M is definitely a second tier player.

The appearance of desktop and server hardware with no OS or with an alternative OS further underscores how much M's position has weakened. M was able to kill BeOS simply by telling resellers that they couldn't sell dual-boot boxes.

M definitely has money and clout, but so do Dell, HP, IBM, Oracle and others. Besides that, big companies to whom Microsoft and the aforementioned vendors sell face bottom-line pressures that are not consistent with monopoly pricing. When everybody is being gouged, you can live with it. Nobody is getting an advantage over you. That changes when your competition can decide to take the less expensive way out. All of this bodes ill for M, no matter how much clout they have.


Sep 15, 2005
12:12 PM EDT
You're thinking of Oligopolies - not monopolies. And indeed market forces and technology have broken oligopolies up througout history.

Microsoft is a true monopoly with all the check markets in the right boxes. Standard Oil and the Bell Systems also stood as monopolies. Bell had 1500 competitors and still owned 99% of the market and controlled the lines its competitors needed to function.

IBM was also a monopoly and the government's edicts allowed market forces to eventually pound it. David Boise defended IBM in its last DOJ action and then worked for the DOJ against MS.

Here's the interesting thing, even into the early 1990's IBM produced and marketed around 95% of all PC hardware. But heavy sanctions effectively broke up IBM.

That's the kind of action, I believe, needs to take place with Microsoft.

In the last 90 days they have been declared - "The Blackberry Killer" and now "The Firefox Killer". They were the "Real Networks Killer" too.

Don't killers usually wind up on death row?

We need a new sheriff.


Sep 15, 2005
1:05 PM EDT
Oligopoly, Monopoly -- it's the same law, same economics, same forces at play.

The only kind of monopoly that can truly survive forever is one that controls a vital resource for which there is no substitute. At that point, the army comes in and takes it away.


Sep 15, 2005
6:55 PM EDT

Oligopolies and monopolies are the same? Aren't PC's a vital resource?

The reason we have the Sherman Anti-Trust Act is because monopolies are basically impossible to crack.


Sep 16, 2005
3:19 AM EDT
>The reason we have the Sherman Anti-Trust Act is because monopolies are basically impossible to crack.

The reason we have the Sherman Anti-Trust Act (and the Clayton Act, too) is because monopolies and oligopolies who abuse their power have a negative impact on the economy and the overall health of the nation.

Simply being a monopoly or oligopoly is not enough. This is easier to see in the case of an oligopoly because an oligopoly requires some cooperation to unfairly shut out competition --usually in the form of price-fixing. However, a monopoly is perfectly legal so long as it does not abuse its monopoly power. Of course, they all do. It's hard to avoid. Most monopoly abuses would be considered simple hardball business practices if practiced by a non-monopoly. Monopoly power makes the practices intolerable.

None of this has anything to do with whether market forces will eventually curb the monopoly.

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