Microsoft’s Monopoly, Bad for them and Bad for Us

I read a great article on the New York Times website today.  The article was mainly about Microsoft’s failure to capture the mind share of young developers and entrepreneurs.  The evidence provided was the success of FOSS(Free Open Source Software) amongst start-ups like Twitter, Google, Facebook and a multitude of others…

Finally mainstream journalism is starting to get wise to the negative effects that the Microsoft monopoly has on Microsoft.  It’s what I’ve been preaching to my loyal fans for years.  Microsoft has bet the mother-load on maintaining an unsustainable monopoly.

They have bought their way out of anti-trust suit after anti-trust suit for years.  Microsoft has been sued by every State in the Union and many foreign governments.  Every time they quietly cough up Billions to local state governments, of which many are desperate for the cash.

Windows/Office became a hidden tax to human society; because value cannot be assessed properly in a non-competitive environment.  I assume the software has been overpriced for years because of the immense amount of cash profits Microsoft has made.  This implies cost of development must have been relatively low leaving them a huge margin.  A margin that wouldn’t exist in a truly competitive environment.  This paradigm would be especially problematic without Linux and FOSS as the NYT article notes:

Meanwhile, young technology companies today rely on free, open-source business software rather than Microsoft’s products, so young students, soon to be looking for jobs, have embraced open-source software as well.


The vast majority of technology start-ups today rely on open-source software, distributed by Microsoft competitors, for the core parts of their technology infrastructure.

I recognized this around 2002.  I was attending school North Seattle Community Collage, I decide that I wanted to get a MCSE(Microsoft Certified System Engineer).  After a year in the mostly Microsoft oriented program I felt greatly unprepared for a career as a Systems Engineer.  Some parts of the Microsoft curriculum included marketing material about the advantages of using Microsoft as a unifying platform…

Then as today Microsoft was trying to displace outdated Unix systems.  Admirable business strategy, but not directly relevant to learning Windows 2000 Server.  Instead they should have had a section on strategies to integrate Microsoft products into existing infrastructure.  that would have had real world practical value.  But that’s just the thing, they are obsessed with there Desktop/Office Monopoly.  It makes them a lot of money.  And it’s completely obvious to increasingly tech savvy young people.

I decided to do the Cisco program and stay another year in school.  The contrast was huge.  The Cisco Curriculum  comprised of three books, one of which was entirely based around teaching the OSI model.  While I recall a couple chapters on TCP/IP and OSI model most of the MCSE work was related to navigating menu’s to setup services in Windows.  This presents a skill gap in terms of teaching practical trouble shooting.  Cisco seemed far more concerned with teaching the fundamentals of Network Engineering.  This builds credibility because it’s obvious to others that Cisco cares about the quality of the CCNA program more than short term gain of shameless self promotion.

Attitudes like this(from Microsoft) made me realize that they were already(in 2002) being intellectually stifled.  FOSS developers from big corporations to private individuals were competing to make the best projects.  Many times merging the best idea’s.  This model lowered aggregate cost of FOSS development.  Making Linux and GNU grow at a rapid pace.  Microsoft competes on the merits of it’s market share.  Not it’s products or idea’s and deep down… everyone knows it.

I recommend the article: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/05/technology/05soft.html

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