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Sunday, October 5th, 2008, 10:28 pm

How I Became Familiar with Microsoft Misbehaviour

Bill Gates
Bill Gates arrested in his younger days (photo in public domain)

I recently got engaged in a conversation where the roots of my disdain for Microsoft were reminisced.

Specifically, I was asked about my “original reason for deciding that Microsoft is not a force for good.”

A friend inquired: “Have you written an article describing it? All I remember was that you said that you were a Microsoft user for quite a while and you were ignorant of how that company does business. Surely, there must have been something which became your tipping point.”

Well, I was acutely aware of the company’s issues in the US courts, but was never a big ‘hater’ (that’s a daemonising label to be avoided) as a young teenager. GNU/Linux, which I was encouraged to learn at college, showed me not only that there was choice; it was better, and yet it suffered from Microsoft’s standards snub (mainly file formats). This was probably the tipping point.

My friend explained his own reasoning: “Once my view of Microsoft changed, choice became the whole point for me. I already knew about Unix from my college years, so I knew that it is technically possible to do better than Windows. When I had that network administrator job, I didn’t have a home computer. Once I could afford to buy one, I made sure that it didn’t run Windows. I chose an Atari ST, which worked well enough for me. It even had a multi-tasking Unix-like system available called MiNT. When that company went kaput and my computer didn’t work anymore, I bought a PC. The first thing I did was to install Slackware on it. I considered it a shame that this system came with Windows, which I never used.

“My father bought an original IBM PC with DOS. Some of my first programming experiences were with Microsoft BASIC. At that point, I was inclined to have a positive view of the company. That started to change as I began to see the limitations of DOS and I saw the years go by without any significant improvements to it. Eventually, I landed a job as a network administrator and all of the clients that I had to support were running DOS and Windows 3.x. That was something of a nightmare as constant client crashes were the norm. I came to the conclusion that Windows was not ready to be released at this point and, of course, then I was inclined to have a negative view of the company responsible for this. Windows ’95, the anti-trust trials and any other subsequent products or events have only reinforced my negative view that they are a ruthless company that only cares to maintain or increase its dominance.

“When the PC with Windows became dominant at the expense of IBM, Microsoft also took over one of IBM’s marketing tactics – FUD. Of course, it’s easy to see that the smears are self-serving and, in many cases, the substance behind the smear can be traced back to Microsoft itself (i.e. incompatible file formats or network protocols? Microsoft makes sure they are not compatible by refusing to publish specifications.)”

Ironically, as I said many times before, it’s the smears from Microsoft that encouraged me to do more to study — and discredit where appropriate — the company.

By exploring Microsoft’s misbehaviour one ascends to find corruption at even high levels. Once the knowledge is gained, why not share it with more people?


One Response to “How I Became Familiar with Microsoft Misbehaviour”

  1. wispygalaxy Says:

    The first time I realized Microsoft was not playing fair was when the trials were held. I did not really understand much at the time; I was in third grade. But I do remember thinking that the company was being a “meanie”. I learned even more about the misbehavior when I took Advanced Placement Economics in high school. I learned about antitrust cases and monopolies. Right now, I am taking a course about business law and ethics and hoping to learn more about all of this.

    ~wispy~ xx

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