Forwarded by: Mark Bernard <MEBERNARat_private> http://technology.scmp.com/ZZZRZ4SR1SC.html By: Doug Nairne September 27, 2001 Microsoft vice-president Rick Rashid, the man responsible for research at the world's most powerful software company, had a troubling thought the other day. He wondered aloud how the world would react if his staff turned the science fiction of Star Trek's "transporter" teleportation machine into reality. "If Microsoft invented a Star Trek transporter, the headlines in the newspaper the next day would be, 'Microsoft copies again'," he complained. Mr Rashid is probably correct. This is a company people love to hate. Geeks around the world fume with anger when they think of the Microsoft empire that has engulfed the planet's computers during the past decade. Anti-Microsoft Web sites are so plentiful, one Google search of the phrase "Microsoft sucks" returned 10,700 hits. (By comparison, a search on "IBM sucks" produced a mere 171 hits for the world's largest computer maker. Ibmsucks.com is still under development by its Canadian owner.) There are a number of sites that half-seriously try to prove that Microsoft founder Bill Gates is Satan, or at least working alongside the Dark Prince in an unholy alliance to rule the world. One site explains that when Mr Gate's name is translated into ASCII programming code, and the numbers are added together, you get 666 - the number of The Beast. But even as the ranks of its enemies swell, Microsoft's products have become more widely used than ever. Virtually everyone who touches a computer uses software that Mr Gates' company designed. According to April statistics from the United States-based Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA), Microsoft sells 87 per cent of the Web browsers, 92 per cent of the operating systems and 96 per cent of business productivity applications such as word processors and e-mail programs. In Hong Kong, Microsoft says its Office software suite has captured an overwhelming 99 per cent of the market. These numbers, and the way Microsoft achieved them, are the reason many people despise the company and all it stands for. Critics, including the US Department of Justice, paint Microsoft as a merciless monopoly that has crushed innovation with its economic might, and that bought, borrowed or stole most of its best ideas. The venerable Microsoft DOS operating system: bought from Seattle Computer Products. The mouse: created at the Stanford Research Institute in the late 1960s. The Windows Explorer Web browser: based on software developed by Spyglass. Toolbars on the edges of programs were used by Mac programs as far back as 1984, and did not show up in Microsoft Office until 1991. Critics also complain that Microsoft has used its economic clout to keep superior products developed by competitors from gaining widespread use. The basis of the US Justice Department's legal battle with Microsoft, for example, is that the company forced the Netscape Web browser into obscurity by requiring computer makers to include Explorer on new PCs. The US Justice Department in early September dropped its demand that Microsoft be broken-up. Instead, remedies such as pricing limits and source-code disclosures are being sought. Ed Black, president of the CCIA, which represents some of Microsoft's greatest adversaries, including Oracle and Sun Microsystems, said the computer industry could be much more dynamic and produce better products had one company not become so dominant. "The very fact that it is impossible to predict the innovation that would be present had Microsoft not absorbed, destroyed or cut off the air supply of viable competitors does not diminish the significance of the harm to innovation," he said. "Consumers are not best served by upgrades that take years to materialise, are released behind schedule and require significant bug fixes and patches following their release." Mr Black calls Microsoft "the Borg of the hi-tech industry", referring to the Star Trek creatures who try to assimilate and destroy the civilisations they come into contact with. In the face of such criticism, Microsoft has been quick to fight back. Company executives say they put their money where their mouth is when it comes to bringing innovation to the struggling technology sector. Mr Gates said Microsoft puts a staggering US$5 billion into research each year, making it the largest private research and development outfit anywhere. "It's a very stunning number. I never thought I'd stand up and be proud of spending US$5 billion. Can't we write this software for US$1 billion? Well, no we can't," he said. Microsoft recently invited more than 200 journalists and analysts from around the world to its Redmond, Washington, headquarters for a two-day preview of what the company has planned for the future. A continuous stream of developers and executives hammered home the same theme over and over: Microsoft wants to be seen not just as an innovator, but as THE innovator. Researchers displayed new products ranging from the PocketPC 2002 operating system to the Stinger software for mobile phones and the XBox gaming console [...] Regards, Mark. Mark E. S. Bernard, Global Information Security Specialist, McCain Foods Limited. Phone: 506-392-4801 FAX: 506-392-4009 e-Mail: mebernarat_private - ISN is currently hosted by Attrition.org To unsubscribe email majordomoat_private with 'unsubscribe isn' in the BODY of the mail.
This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Fri Sep 28 2001 - 08:22:51 PDT