"Microsoft's tactics are too risky. What's a would-be
monopolist to do? Why not use copyrights and patents instead? After
all, they're state-guaranteed, legal monopolies. Now if we can just
get over this silly idea that they should be limited..."
"Microsoft's guilty, says Judge Jackson. Is this good news for
Linux? Here's the short answer: Yes and no. Here's the "yes" part:
Microsoft's adversaries now have a potent weapon -- Jackson's
decision -- and they'll use it the minute the Redmondians step out
of line. Whatever happens in the appeal process, Microsoft will
need to be nice for a while. That means Linux can do what superior
technologies ought to do: gain market share. Actually,
there's nothing new here. According to industry observers,
Microsoft has been playing more nicely for some time now.
With the spotlight trained on the firm's every action, they'd
darned well better. As long as Microsoft's muzzled, it seems, Linux
can look to a Halloween-free future. (The so-called "Halloween"
documents disclose internal Microsoft musings about various nasty
things the company could do to ward off the Linux threat.)"
"But there's a "no" part, too. Basically, Judge Jackson's
decision sends a very powerful signal to the industry's attack
dogs: Microsoft's game plan is too darned risky. It involves
strong-arming suppliers and customers to obtain a commanding market
share, a de facto monopoly, which you maintain using
tactics that may cross the line separating legal and illegal
behavior. The whole thing could blow up in your face. It happened
to IBM. It happened to Microsoft, which emulated and perfected
IBM's tactics. (Apparently, Microsoft isn't much more innovative in
business strategy than it is in technology.) What worries me is
that the attack dogs will switch wholeheartedly to a game they've
only toyed with until now: using copyrights and patents for the
same, anticompetitive purposes. The result could well be a world in
which companies that have created absolutely nothing are able to
obtain exclusive control of their markets--and it will all be
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