|Protest Against Microsoft
As the maintainer of The Lion King WWW Archive, it is my choice to use this method to protest against Microsoft Corporation for its actions regarding monopoly power and the Internet and computer industries.
The long reasons for this protest are listed below. The short reasons are as follows:
Microsoft has leveraged its monopoly power and huge financial resources in order to swallow and/or destroy its competitors in any field in which they should appear. This is most apparent in its approach to marketing Microsoft Internet Explorer, but this is only the most recent case. Throughout Microsoft's history, they have shown the same tendencies:
These are not the actions of an idealistic young programmer named Bill Gates, seeking the American Dream of success and innovation. These are the actions of the head of a corporation whose only goal is to gather all market share to itself and crush all competitors-- not to advance the computer industry. To defend Microsoft is to stand against all that the American business ideal represents, and to condone actions which will stifle all innovation in the software industry.
- Microsoft crushed Stac, the company that created the technology used in MS-DOS's "DoubleSpace" utility that survives in Windows 95. Microsoft broke its contract with Stac, got an injunction against them, and waited until Stac's money ran out.
- Microsoft has been trying, despite federal investigations and a stubborn market, to crush Intuit (the makers of Quicken) through grossly misleading advertising and through pricing Microsoft Money, its competing software, at ridiculously low prices-- $10 or so-- an act known as "dumping", which is illegal.
- Microsoft responded to the existence of Netscape by buying the code of Spyglass Mosaic (promising Spyglass a share of profits), putting a Microsoft logo on the browser, and marketing it for free as Microsoft Internet Explorer. Needless to say, Spyglass saw no share of any profits. While Netscape (a small company) was forced to charge for its browser, Microsoft was able to give MSIE away free solely to gain market share.
- Microsoft further responded to Netscape's attempt to market web server software by developing Microsoft Internet Information Server and giving it away free with Windows NT Server.
- Microsoft has released Windows 98, which has very little function as an operating system upgrade-- other than to integrate MSIE into the desktop, making other browsers obsolete.
[an error occurred while processing this directive] Please take a moment to think about the following: Why would Microsoft spend millions upon millions of dollars in development and advertising for a browser which they give away for free? Do you believe that it's because Bill Gates is trying to foster choice and innovation in the browser market, and that he's gambling those millions out of the goodness of his generous heart-- or does it seem to suggest that Microsoft's motives are foremost to crush Netscape and all other competitors? Refer to the following quote:
"You should be able to break most of Netscape's licensing deals and return them to our advantage because our browsers are free... We should have absolutely dominant browser share in the corporate space... Make it clear that it does not make any sense to buy Netscape Navigator."If you agree with me that these business practices are unethical, please join me in this protest against Microsoft by using a browser other than Microsoft Internet Explorer. The more people that use MSIE, the more surely the future of the computing industry lies entirely within the hands of the company that has committed the above reprehensible acts against American business. Please help fight this. Thank you.
-- 1996 memo from Microsoft officials to salespeople
quoted in the Wall Street Journal
Microsoft is playing the futures game. One might say, "Microsoft has as much right to market its products using its rightfully earned advantages as does any company." This is true, except that the Internet is not in any way the same as any commodity. It is a hugely exploding market, something growing in a way in which nothing has ever grown before. Microsoft recognizes that if it can get a hold on the Internet before it is too big to control, then it will be able to set the Internet's standards, to regulate content, to capitalize at will, in the future as the Internet continues its wild growth. No other providers of any products or services will be able to compete with the single company that gets the biggest hold on the Internet in its youth.
This is wrong. The Internet is the greatest medium for free expression that has ever existed in the history of Earth; it has never been owned or controlled by any individual or company, and therein lies its strength. If we have a single company providing the browsing and servicing software for the Net, regulating commerce and trade, providing content, supplying Internet connections, and penalizing those who do not use that company's products and services, then we will have utterly destroyed the Internet in its original conception.
It is foolish to think that Microsoft has put millions of dollars into the development and advertising of products that it gives away for free, namely Internet Explorer and IIS, solely out of the goodness of Bill Gates' benevolent heart. Microsoft sees the immense financial potential of having control over the Internet, and it seeks to gain that control through whatever means is necessary. A future in which the Net is controlled by Microsoft is a future where free enterprise is impossible; and yet it is a future toward which we are moving. Please help stop this trend and bring freedom back to the Internet. Please support this protest. Thank you.
Following are the specific grievances the maintainer of this site holds against Microsoft Corp.:
- Microsoft has engaged in predatory and anti-competitive behavior in its policy of bundling Microsoft Internet Explorer (MSIE) with its Windows operating system, and of providing it for free download, linked from thousands of corporate and personal sites across the Internet. Jealous of the domination of another company (Netscape) in a field into which it had never even entered, Microsoft developed its own browser in an unbelievably short time and immediately (even in the earliest stages of development) marketed it through ubiquitous banner ads on prominent websites and in button images placed by default on web pages created with Microsoft authoring tools. (The latter makes unwitting Microsoft marketeers out of anybody using their software.) The browser contains certain incompatibilities designed specifically to corner a proprietary market; its handling of tables, for example, makes it so website designers can make their pages look right in MSIE or Netscape, but not both without significant effort and non-standard usage. ActiveX is designed to steal thunder from such cross-platform application structures as Java, and to render (through its inherent integration with Windows) non-Windows platforms much less useful for Internet use. Thus, Windows and MSIE have a symbiotic relationship in which the success of each will contribute to the market domination of the other.
MSIE 4.0 is specifically created to make Microsoft's browser inextricable from Windows, and any other browser obsolete and unnecessary. Part of Microsoft's $150 million investment in Apple was the agreement to make MSIE the default browser on the Macintosh platform. If this trend is not stopped soon-- and by a decision much more final than that promoted by the US Dept. of Justice-- Netscape will be forced from the market, and no other browser company will be able to compete enough to enter the market. Although MSIE 4.0 is a 70MB program, Microsoft claims that it is nothing more than a modern feature of Windows. This claim is ridiculous in the face of all its other actions which are designed for no other reason than to position Microsoft as the dominating force in the Internet. Microsoft claims, innocently, that consumers are still free to download Netscape or any other browser; this is true, but with new computer buyers entering the market today with no knowledge of the issues at hand or the difference between the browsers, and with MSIE 4.0 preinstalled and controlling their Internet usage, what reason would they have to do so?
See the Anti-Monopoly Page at the Windows 95 Annoyances website for more information.
- Microsoft has created an entire breed of system administrators, IS technicians, and corporate executives who are dedicated to the idea that Microsoft software (NT and IIS) is not only the best choice for a stable and reliable server platform, but the only choice. Through its unavoidable advertising in magazines, the mass media, and especially high-profile websites via banner ads, Microsoft has succeeded in making administrators who have been in the business for many years and understand the issues involved in maintaining a high-profile server into a minority, scoffed at as "dinosaurs" and denied the freedom to choose a viable platform for the server in their care. It has managed to position Windows NT as "tomorrow's server OS", even though its cumbersome and resource-hogging graphical interface, its utter lack of remote administrability, its propensity to crash with intolerable frequency, its incomprehensible security structure, its woeful performance statistics, and its absolute lack of open source trees that could be tweaked for performance or functionality reveal it as just another wanna-be platform for those who can't handle the responsibility of doing things right.
Two of the Aberdeen Reports underline these concerns:
- Microsoft NT Scalability Day: The Emperor Has No Clothes
- Microsoft: The Joker of Enterprise IS Computing
- Microsoft has created a false sense of their supremacy in the Internet field by paying hundreds of high-profile websites, among them www.cnn.com, www.netguide.com, www.disney.com, and all sites associated with www.cnet.com, to display Microsoft banner ads and MSIE download buttons at the exclusion of similar buttons for Netscape products (still the majority browser by a 20% margin, according to BrowserWatch). I have spoken to web administrators at these sites and found in many cases that they, the admins, would love to display their sites in a more equitable manner-- but management, coddled by Microsoft, has decreed that the sites promote Microsoft only. Microsoft has used the leverage of its towering financial strength to sway public perception and to create the impression of superiority that only a company with Microsoft's money can do. This is irresponsible and immature behavior, to be expected of propagandist, fascist governments, but not of a software company that claims to stand for democratic freedom in software development.
- Finally, Microsoft has caused many popular websites today (many of them owned by Microsoft itself) to be inaccessible or crippled under non-Microsoft software (although it is worth noting that many of these websites, after periods of up to a year, have finally been made compatible with other browsers). Until recently, if a user visited "The Zone" (www.zone.com), a gaming website, unless he or she were using the latest version of Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Internet Explorer, he or she would be denied entry and directed to download MSIE. Microsoft claimed in their FAQ for the site for nearly a year that they were "working to resolve these problems", but such "problems" were apparently caused by site design so non-standard that without using proprietary software (downloaded for free, rather like the "first one's free" offered by drug dealers) the site could be used at all. Another example is startrek.msn.com (now www.startrek.com), the only official and legal Star Trek site on the Web, where visitors using anything but MSIE and The Microsoft Network were shut out for more than a year. This alienates millions of potential customers and fans, in the name of Microsoft domination and nothing more noble. Such arrogance is unforgivable.
The "Boycott Microsoft" website contains a wide range of information about this topic, ranging from Microsoft's unethical practices with regard to smashing young, innovative companies to their shameless policy of disseminating incorrect or misleading information until caught. Click on the image at the right to visit.
-- Brian Tiemann
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