ODF vs. OOXML: War of the Words Chapter 2

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| Microsoft came late in the game to the server marketplace, but unlike some
| markets it tried to penetrate with limited success, the competitive landscape
| for servers was very different. This was because most Microsoft's PC
| customers also used servers, and these customers could gain technical
| advantages by buying products from the same vendor that would need to work
| together. They could also expect favorable bundled pricing as well, and that
| pricing could be very attractive indeed as Microsoft first entered the market
| for server operating system software. In addition, the dominant operating
| system in the server marketplace, called UNIX, was already losing ground to
| new competing products.
| Still, fourteen years after introducing its first version of Windows usable
| on servers, Microsoft has today not a 90% market share, but a rising [42%]
| position, sharing the server niche with declining sales of UNIX systems,
| which continue to be offered in various proprietary flavors by vendors such
| as IBM, Sun Microsystems and Hewlett-Packard, and also with an "open source"
| operating system called Linux, which is dominant in applications such as Web
| hosting, and enjoys a roughly equal market share with Microsoft overall.


Historical perspective.


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| May 8, 2000
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| Microsoft has performed an illegal function and should be shut down.
| By Ralph Nader
| Listen to Ralph Nader's March 3 speech in San Francisco.
| AS THE TITANIC antitrust case against Microsoft moves into its endgame, the
| question of the hour is what remedies will be effective in taming this
| wealthy and ruthless monopoly.
| The goal of any set of remedies should be to ensure that there will, in fact,
| be innovation, competition, and reasonable prices in some of the most
| important sectors of our economy: software, computers, and
| telecommunications.
| Here are some suggestions:
| Free PC manufacturers from Microsoft's grip. Microsoft has used its monopoly
| power to bully original equipment manufacturers into installing only Windows
| on computers. A court-ordered remedy of nondiscriminatory OEM licensing of
| Windows would go a long way toward solving this problem. Pricing and
| licensing should be "transparent," openly published, and evenhandedly
| applied.
| Don't let Microsoft use its other software monopolies to limit competition.
| Just as Microsoft used its Windows monopoly to threaten the competition, so
| it is using its Office franchise to scare off competitors and dominate new
| Internet markets. Its preferred strategy is the notorious "embrace, extend,
| and extinguish" gambit: embrace the new Internet authoring tools as part of
| the dominant Office software suite; extend control of the new market by
| introducing proprietary standards that are incompatible with competitors';
| extinguish competing software through manipulative licensing and bundling
| deals with OEMs. The court should require Microsoft to separate Microsoft
| Office from Windows, and the new owner of Office should be required to port
| the entire platform to multiple non-Windows operating systems.
| Ensure that "Internet navigation" options remain open. Microsoft has insisted
| to OEMs that it retain control of the "first screen," or default choices for
| Internet navigation menus. It has done so to retain control over the time
| and attention of computer users, whose reliance on the default "first
| screen" can be used to channel them to certain e-commerce sites. Here's the
| danger: if any single firm exercises too much control over Internet
| navigation, competition in e-commerce markets will suffer. Microsoft should
| be prohibited from imposing such terms.
| Protect interoperability of hardware, software, and network protocols. The
| usefulness of software programs depends on their ability to work (and
| coexist) with other software programs, with hardware systems, and with the
| protocols of telecommunications networks. It should come as no surprise that
| Microsoft frequently and deliberately introduces barriers to compatibility
| and interoperability, preventing competitors from working with Microsoft's
| monopolizing Windows or Office products. One remedy is to force Microsoft to
| support open standards for software and to provide extensive technical
| information in a timely manner and in usable formats and protocols to any
| company that requests it.
| Adopt structural remedies, because the past six years of antitrust problems
| with Microsoft have demonstrated that the company cannot be trusted. Its
| conduct during the trial itself offers the best evidence of this point. The
| company subverted the intent if not the language of a 1995 consent order, by
| integrating its browser into the Windows operating system. Effective
| remedies should, as much as possible, avoid "conduct remedies" that require
| continuing court oversight.
| Ideally, a breakup of the company would go further than the Justice
| Department proposal to divide the operating system line of business from the
| application and other lines of business. The court could insist that
| Microsoft separate the Internet Explorer browser from Microsoft Office. That
| way, the browser market could become competitive again and the owner of
| Microsoft Office would find a way to function with more than one browser.
| This would be an important result in a world where the browser is key in
| setting Web publishing standards and links to e-commerce sites and where
| Microsoft is driving for dominance in Internet authoring tools.
| The court should also consider forcing Microsoft to spin off, as a separate
| company, all of its online services and minority interests in networking
| companies. There is no legitimate tie between the software businesses and
| online/network services ? only anticompetitive mischief.
| The antitrust remedies that ultimately bring the marauding Microsoft to heel
| will have far-reaching consequences ? on future software design and choices,
| on consumer prices, on the competitiveness of e-commerce, on the very
| structure of the Internet and hence our culture.
| The factual case against Microsoft has been made devastatingly clear. If
| Microsoft's long record of deception and untrustworthiness is to be ended,
| the public remedies must be as bold, sweeping, and effective as the
| company's private power.
| ____________________________
| In the Public Interest publishes each Monday on sfbg.com.