Post Microsoft Monopoly

microsoft-monopoly4The Microsoft monopoly case was a huge deal back in the day.  Linux was seen as one of the reasons that Microsoft wasn’t quite the monopoly that it was reported to be.  However there’s a lot of crap out there that isn’t really true – you have to go back and take a look at how things were going.

Here’s a great excerpt from an article from the time –

If we had for years controlled the pre-eminent desktop infrastructure and also supplied applications to run on it, we’d have been tempted to do a little log-rolling. We might have passed on hidden Windows tricks to our own application developers while keeping them secret from our competitors, something Microsoft would never dream of doing.

And then we’d have turned around and made sure that anyone interested in using our apps would have to install our operating system. But Microsoft has made its popular Microsoft Office available for the Mac in an almost timely fashion, and no doubt it will port it to IBM’s OS/2 one of these days. This is the difference between class and crass.

Microsoft’s plans to enter the value-added network business have us fantasizing again. Opportunities for freezing out the competition multiply deliciously! One company will control the dominant operating system, many top-selling applications, and a proprietary network. “Consider the possibilities,” to quote the ads for an old manage-a-trois movie.

For example, Microsoft’s control of the desktop operating system could vault it way past rival network providers. If Windows 95 ships with access to the Microsoft Network online service tightly integrated, millions of users will find themselves a couple of mouse clicks from an entirely new commercial entanglement with Microsoft. Prodigy, CompuServe, and America Online could air-drop millions of diskettes and still not compete. IBM has tried a version of this by offering single-click installation of the Warp Internet Access Kit, but where’s the leverage in that? The kit connects to the Internet, which nobody owns, nudging users almost unawares toward a for-profit network of one’s own-now that’s something worth doing.

Conversely, Microsoft could use the network to shore up its operating system. Upgrades could be applied as needed, automatically and invisibly, over the Microsoft Network. What a selling point for Windows 95. The Microsoft Network would no doubt extend the same courtesy to users of the Linux, MacOS, and OS/2 Warp operating systems, but if Microsoft kept the capability for itself, the company could really score.

How about using the network to boost applications? Issuing application upgrades directly through Microsoft Network is just the beginning. Networks bulge with downloadable documents; a wily network owner might render them all in Word instead of some neutral format. Microsoft Network could provide an option to see network search results in spreadsheet form–and not just any spreadsheet, if you catch our drift.

Tibbetts, John, and Barbara Bernstein. “Microsoft monopoly? Never!” InformationWeek 31 July 1995: 112.


So you can see the details are a bit more complicated than most people really seem to let on or realize.  There’s not much that can be done if you don’t know the details!