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ART BUCHWALD

Little Billy Is the Key to the Gates Brouhaha

October 28, 1998|ART BUCHWALD

Believe it or not, I hate to take sides, but when a little company such as Microsoft is picked on by the Justice Department antitrust division for taking its development skills into the marketplace, a person has no choice but to demand that Janet Reno get off little Billy's back.

The key to the war is a freckle-faced boy named Bill Gates who wants to monopolize all the computer software in the world.

Those of us who support the little guy don't believe there is anything wrong with that because someone has to make software, and if it isn't us, it will be the Chinese. It is estimated that Gates stands to make $65 billion to $75 billion, which is not Internet chopped liver.

"What is wrong with Gates tying up all the software business in the world?" I asked a Justice Department lawyer.

The attorney replied, "Nothing, if he says please. We hate companies who think they can just dump on the competition willy-nilly."

I asked a Gates lawyer (there are 45,000 representing Microsoft) the same question. He said, "All we 45,000 lawyers want is to give Gates a fair shake."

"That's reasonable. But suppose Microsoft owns all the software in the country, and Rainy Weather Apples can't sell any of its software?"

"It's hard to imagine that Mr. Gates would want to keep another company from doing any business. What's in it for him?"

The government attorney said, "It's nothing personal. We're going to sock it to Gates so he won't get big pants."

It's very difficult for the average person to judge who is right and who is wrong. In this dispute, on one side you have a feisty company head who just wants to do good. On the other hand, you have a full battalion of lawyers who believes in the the right of every American to have his own network.

I say bet on the little redheaded guy. Gates can buy the entire government--but everyone knows he doesn't want it.

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