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Rant Mode Equals One: Preserving Our Freedom to Innovate!

Sep 27, 2000, 17:22 (15 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Paul Ferris)


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By Paul Ferris

In the usual turn of events, the decision to hear Microsoft's case in the Supreme court was shot down yesterday. I'm sure it had nothing to do with Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist's personal motivations.

All of that aside, Microsoft is out firing off letters to its "Freedom to Innovate Network" subscribers. By the way, for the record, I support Microsoft's freedom to innovate (in the truest definition of the word). Any time soon would be nice, but that's besides the point. If they want to invent something, instead of copying it from somewhere else, that'd be neat! If they were held back from doing so by the United States government, that would be wrong.

I'm actually on their side, in the truest sense of the word innovation.

Unfortunately for them, in my opinion the case before us is an important one, and they'd like it thrown out. It involves a noninnovative issue, one where they copied Netscape Navigator to the bone, and pretty much forced them out of business by illegally intimidating hardware vendors to preload their browser instead. They're asking their constituents to make a difference and write their representatives, in a hope to get off the hook for this misdeed, and others, too numerous to mention.

Now, that's all just my opinion (and the judgement of at least one Federal Judge as well, but who's counting?). Hey, we've all got our different points of view, right? I don't want to influence what people think or say. I believe in each person's own vote making a difference.

Which is why I wrote my representatives, asking that they look personally into the matter and do something to make Microsoft a bit more truthful. Possibly make Microsoft honor U.S. trade laws, for example. That'd be nice.

I'm telling you all about it because I think you should take this time to go and fire off a letter of your own to your representatives, stating what you think about the case, in your own words.

Are you having a hard time finding all of your representatives on one page? Well, actually, Microsoft has done some true innovation here for us. They have a nice program on their web site that does all of the work for you. Thanks, Microsoft! If the government ever tries to get you take down this page, I'll fight tooth and nail for your right to keep it.

"How can you get involved?" the pointer to it from Microsoft.com's main web site asks. If you follow the first web site link, you can easily fill out a form to mass-mail all of your representatives your opinion at one time. Just an aside here. If I were you, I might take some time to mention the quality of Microsoft's software.

You see, when I finally got the form filled out, and hit the send button, it ended in a nice Microsoft SQL error.

Yes, don't let me influence your letter at all. Just use the software, and let the quality speak for itself (cough). But still, that list is handy! I used Google and the list of names it provided to seek out my representatives statewide. I then sent the email messages in a more personal format to each one.

True, it was a bit more work, making it happen. I guess it wasn't all that unexpected, however, seeing the brand name attached.

It seems that the site mentioned in the article has been down a lot (gosh, that's such a surprise, too!).

Here are some links (thanks to Dennis Lee) that I'm innovatively providing instead:

Paul Ferris is the Director of Technology for the Linux and Open Source Channel at internet.com, and has been covering Linux and Open Source news for over 2 years. He is an editor for Linux Today and a contributing author on Linux Planet.