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Globe and Mail: Microsoft critics are 'tying' themselves in knots

Jul 07, 2001, 22:00 (57 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Mathew Ingram)

Here's a column that's bound to make you think: Mathew Ingram argues that the real issue in the ongoing Microsoft litigation is whether users should be protected from themselves, and that Microsoft's critics are really trying to force the government to admit that users are too stupid or lazy to seek alternatives like Linux.

"Despite all the years of hearings and rulings, including last week's decision by the U.S. Appeals Court, a central question in the Microsoft antitrust case remains unanswered, and it is this: How ignorant and/or lazy are computer users â€" or rather, how much credit should the U.S. government give them for having any kind of free will? Should Microsoft be forced by the courts to make it easier for people to use another company's software to play MP3 files or videos, or to surf the Internet?..."

"These kinds of users are often portrayed as poor, misguided sheep â€" people who haven't had their eyes opened to the joys of Linux or the Mac OS, or who are forced by Microsoft to use inferior browsers, media players or messaging software because they come with Windows. But who is forcing whom? There is nothing preventing a consumer from installing RealPlayer or Quicktime, or using Netscape or Opera, or starting up Yahoo's or AOL's instant messenger software â€" just as there is nothing preventing them from uninstalling Windows and installing Linux, or from buying an Apple."

"Microsoft critics â€" who appear to feel the company should be found guilty of something just for creating what they feel is bloated, crash-prone software â€" say Windows includes special 'hooks' that only Microsoft knows about, which make its software run better than that of its competitors. Again, one has to ask: So what? There seems to be a view that Windows should become a kind of common platform â€" not just making it easy for other software to run, but actually installing it for the user. If that's the case, then why not just nationalize Microsoft and make Windows public property?"

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