Comment of the Day - December 15, 2005 - Response to Possible Industry Regulation

Posted by tadelste on Dec 15, 2005 8:49 AM EST -Article; By pendraco
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pendraco writes: Read the article more closely -- for that matter, try staying abreast of what the media as a whole continues to say about Microsoft and their good buddies, the [U.S. Federal] government.

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While nobody in their right mind can argue with MS's anti-competitive actions, dragging the government into it is a joke.

Read the article more closely -- for that matter, try staying abreast of what the media as a whole continues to say about Microsoft and their good buddies, the [U.S. Federal] government. The government is already "dragged into it". The real point of the article is to get the government dragged out of it. That is, out of actively supporting Microsoft and into actively enforcing its own laws -- laws which Microsoft is not only convicted of actively violating, but continues to show no sign of doing otherwise, nor has any incentive of stopping as long as the government continues to lobby for them.

It's no secret that the Bush'es and the Gate's are good friends of multiple generations. Before Bush Jr. took over, it seemed certain that Microsoft, the convicted monopolist and anti-trust tortfeaser, was going to be a broken company... literally. Ironically, no sooner than the would be "Mr. President" raised his right hand and "swore" to support the laws of this country than did the DoJ reverse its push for breaking up Microsoft and, instead, suggest a list of menial "oversights"... "oversights" which amounted to little more than a "wristslap" composed of a warm handshake with both hands and a smile. At that time did the "government" drag itself through the doors of the Microsoft "gentlemens' club" and take on the mantle of Microsoft defender.

It's not the government's job, furthermore, if the government were to do the job that *WE* are supposed to do the end result will be a screwed up computer industry.

Then what is the government's job, if not to enforce its laws and ensure that the country's "free trade" and "fair competition" based economy is maintained and adhered to... BY ALL?!? Since Bush's re-election Microsoft seems to have become even bolder as the government's two hands stay even more warmly clasped around the right hand of Bill. We've read about numerous anti-competition "goings on" around the world regarding Microsoft: EU, Australia, South Africa, Japan, Korea and more, and everywhere there has been the U.S. putting in its two bits for Microsoft. Why is that?

Another of the [U.S. federal] government's "jobs" is the regulation and taxation of foreign commerce (foreign companies doing business in the U.S. and visa-versa) -- thus being, in fact, not only its principal reason to exist but also its principal source of revenue. One could, therefore, surmise, though incorrectly, that the government has a vested interest in helping Microsoft (any U.S. company for that matter), with its troubles abroad. Afterall, Microsoft is one of the "richest" companies in the world, ranking 203rd on Forbes' "Top 2000" list for the world in terms of assets, though on this basis there are @ 55 other U.S. companies over it (my quick counting may be off by one or two). Yet, I do not recall much media coverage regarding the U.S. sticking its nose into the troubles of those companies abroad -- er, is it because those big companies are not as arrogant, pushy, and "above the law" feeling as Microsoft and, therefore, do not get into as much "trouble"? Not likely! In any case, it is not "assets" which the government gets to tax but, rather, profits.

In terms of "profits", Microsoft ranks 12th on the same list, with eight other U.S. companies topping it. In the number 1 spot is ExxonMobil, another company which has a track record of difficulty keeping itself out of hot water yet, which this government has upheld a similar track record of "no holds barred" over putting the stick to! Obviously, merely protecting "vested interests" is not a compelling force in the government's support of its 9th most taxable domestic revenue source! In the case of Microsoft, unlike with Exxon (not to mention, a couple of the other Microsoft beaters on the profit list), the government is clearly not doing its job by putting shackles on Microsoft, rather than the warmly clenched hands which it currently puts forth.

I doubt any of us want that. Getting rid of MS's dominance is a very real and achievable goal, but not at the demise of the computer industry.

I have a friend who is fond of saying he "votes with his wallet" (er, just not in the same sense that Microsoft does ;) ). "Getting rid of MS's (sic) dominance" in this way is certainly preferable in a "free economy" to the government "doing its job" and enforcing "competitive practices". Yet, when the government also refuses to that job in the case of a clearly malicious "competitor" and market dominator, there is no way to make such a "vote" that does not still directly benefit the "voted against". In the end, the consumer may have their "choice", but that choice was in fact not "free", nor "cost effective".

The point the article makes is clear and correct: the effect of such a "vote" currently bears no consequence to Microsoft -- you buy a "preloaded" computer, you pay MS regardless of what you eventually might "overload" on to it. Paying twice for a "choice", is no "choice" at all, it is an election with forced consequences. Yes, there has been much bally-hoo in recent years over offers of PCs "preloaded" with Linux; yet, until very recently those have all been from small 2nd and 3rd tier "players"... "players" who don't "deserve" the big discounts MS baits its OEM contracts ("taxes") with in the first place.

The most recent announcements by Dell and HP so far amount to 'naught. In the case of HP, at least, they have a vested interest of their own in Linux, but truly little motivation to make a big play with "Linux preloaded" as long as they still have to bite it with MS' "OEM tax". Until the government "drags itself out of" the MS camp and, instead, truly enforces the "fair trade"/"fair play" standards on which this country was founded, upon MS, not only will "Linux preloads" continue to be relegated to niche corners of the PC marketplace where the "MS tax" has little bite, but the "freedom to choose" your O/S will continue to be both costly and at risk, or obtainable only by the technophile, the geek, and the grassroots "elite".

Yes, I "vote with my wallet" and use Linux -- and will continue to do so as long as the choice and "freedom" remains mine -- not only because it is technically superior in my eyes, but also because my freedom to do so is equally, if not more so, important to me. Yet, I am also one of the fortunate minority, among one of those aforesaid "groups", with the ability to circumvent the "MS tax" almost completely by "white boxing" for myself. Though, in the case of my laptop... MS' tentacles still got to reach deep into my wallet... an "election", not a "choice".

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