This column discusses FUD. Specifically, it discusses Microsoft
FUD as directed against the GPL. Along the way, it looks at the
classic pre-Microsoft example: IBM's campaign against Amdahl:
"Business history teaches the following lesson: When a
market-dominating firm engages in a FUD campaign of this magnitude,
it's not merely because they're scared of competition from a new
market entrant. Often, it's because the new market entrant is seen
to challenge the business model that has enabled the
market-dominant firm to make huge gobs of money. I believe the GPL
does pose a threat to Microsoft's business model, and that's why
the free software licensing scheme is under such concerted attack.
Specifically, the GPL threatens Microsoft's ability to preserve
what economists and legal scholars (as well as the judge in the
Microsoft antitrust case) call the "application barrier to
entry"--the primary means by which Microsoft has been able to
establish and preserve commanding dominance in its core markets.
I'll make this argument by recounting the story of the
archetypical FUD campaign, IBM's 1970s-era effort to discredit the
upstart Amdahl Corporation. I'll also examine some of the evidence
that's come to light--some of it from the lips of none other than
Gates himself--since Microsoft's FUD campaign started. Let me
apologize in advance for the length of this essay; the issues are
too important to be glossed over. But I've included lots of
subheadings so you can skim around, if you like. To skip the
historical stuff entirely, click here to jump to the section titled
"Why the GPL Terrifies Microsoft."
Some of the products that appear on this site are from companies from which QuinStreet receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site including, for example, the order in which they appear. QuinStreet does not include all companies or all types of products available in the marketplace.