In the wake of the EU rulings against Microsoft, in which the company has been ordered to remove from the windows operating system superfluous features that by their mere existence prohibit competitive products from flourishing, I believe that it is now crucial that all employees of the company take the time and effort to re-examine our current product offerings and purge them of any and all components that may be deemed anti-competitive toward fledgling markets. After all, who wants to be caught off guard like that again? We’re not out to be the bad-guys here. We want to do the right thing. Don’t we?
Yet, there are still products and components out there today, packaged and bundled inside shrink-wrapped boxes, that are being forced upon the consumers without regard to their personal preferences, software packages which by themselves are little more than variants on a particular theme, where by markets might one day exist for the potential alternatives, but are hamstrung now by our predatory behaviors.
Not so, you say? Would not the courts and judges, prosecutors and plaintiffs have already uncovered all the dirty little secrets of our untidy bundle of bits? Of course not. For they have missed the very one which I will reveal to you. One that is so superfluous and yet so integral to our offerings that by merely mentioning it I am bound to raise the eyebrows and hackles of many.
The item of which I speak is a fundamental portion of many an operating system, It defines a platform for development of applications and once a variation has been adopted, it rarely is abandoned, resulting in consumer lock-in. Of the variants, many of which are used interchangeably on systems such as Unix and Linux, only one is available with Windows, a propriety version that is incompatible with all others. Its ubiquity due to bundling has cut off the air-supply of all potential challengers. The variant products exist for Windows, but are rarely used. General consumers don’t care. They use whatever is most convenient, and tedious downloading and extensive re-education is simply beyond reason.
This is why Microsoft should offer a version of Windows free of its anti-competitive command line interpreter, or ‘DOS box’ if you will. It’s mere existence is anathema to a free market that would infuse widespread adoption of the C and Bourne shell, not to mention Rexx and others.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. What’s this notepad stuff, or WordPad for that matter? They are just the latest rendition of a market stifling practice that started long ago with EDLIN. Has their existence shut out a huge potential market for vi or emacs?
I would have to say that they have.
But I digress. 😉