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London Review of Books: See you in court, pal

Sep 24, 1999, 19:47 (10 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by John Lanchester)


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"When Hotmail came under attack last month...this was a damaging act with an ad hominem feel; and the people it was meant to damage were the owners of Hotmail, Microsoft. This is the last and main reason why the Hotmail story is emblematic: because it shows the burningly intense, personal hatred in which many people - especially geeks - hold the world's most successful company..."

"There is also some truth to the central plank of Microsoft's defence, which is that the computer business is so competitive that the company is at full stretch trying to keep ahead of its rivals...One of the most potent threats - in the opinion of many geeks, the single biggest danger in the longish run - is that offered by the very unlikely story of a Finnish übergeek called Linus Torvalds..."

"Microsoft's attitude to Linux is hilariously two-faced. Most of the time they act as if it's strictly chickenfeed... For the purpose of the trial, however, they cite Linux as an example of the scary ultra-competitiveness of the computer business: the kind of industry where a Finnish geek barely out of his rompers can in a few spare hours write a program which threatens the very existence of a trillion-dollar corporation. The joke or irony is that it's probably this second view which is closer to the truth."

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