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A computer monopoly

September 24, 2007

Re "Microsoft vs. Europe," editorial, Sept. 20

Institutional memory seems to have lapsed at The Times. Does anybody there remember Lotus 123, WordPerfect, dBase and/or Netscape?

These were the innovators of the PC-based spreadsheet, the text editor, the database and the Web browser, respectively. All were pirated, marginalized and eventually eliminated (for all practical purposes) by Microsoft's predatory practices.

In fact, that was the 1999 finding of Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson in the Times-cited case, United States vs. Microsoft, and affirmed by the Court of Appeals. In 2001, however, the big-business-friendly Bush Justice Department told the court that it was no longer seeking to divest the monopolistic Microsoft of either its operating system (by then it was Windows) or its applications (Word, Excel, etc).

During this period, Microsoft's mantra was that the U.S. government was seeking to penalize success and "chilling innovation and discouraging competition," a crock that the Justice Department and The Times apparently bought into.

Has The Times even noticed that if you're not among the 5% of us using a Mac, you are probably using all Microsoft applications? Is that competition? The Europeans were not so willing to buy into this and appropriately dinged the boys from Seattle.

Robert Merrilees


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