# MS 'Monopoly'? was ENGR WinNT Reliability

J

#### Jiri Baum

Dale Malony:
> >What if a big corn farmer convinces (to put it nicely) the local grocery
> >to refuse to sell the produce of some of his neighbors. Lets say he
> >also sells all of his new crop of carrots and tomatoes (which are not
> >very tasty but look nice) at a loss, and even gives them away with each
> >bushel of corn to try to get into the growing vegetable market.

Jay Kirsch:
> To a poor woman, with children to feed, these free carrots and tomatoes
> would be a blessing.

Only until all the competition in town was driven out, of course. Then the price goes up to whatever the big farmer feels like.

Look up Standard Oil'' sometime; like they say, those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. (That's why it's called anti-trust'
law; because the prototype, Standard Oil, happened to be a trust.)

> >By the time they realized they would really prefer to taste their
> >tomatoes instead of just adding juice and color to a hamburger, the
> >farmer with the good tomatoes had gone out of business and got a job at
> >the grocery store.
...
> He should get another job. If his ideas were patented, they will be in
> the public domain after seven years. Mr. Big cannot ignore them and
> succeed for long.

Yes he can, if he's big enough. Any new competitor will be small. It's not that much of a problem to drop prices below his costs, sue him for something ridiculous or any number of other strategies, until he runs out of money and is driven out of business.

Mr Big can afford to sell at a loss (especially in a limited area) for far longer than can a new business.

Don't forget also that software has what the sociologists call network effects'' - the advantage of a lot of other people using the same brand. You don't get that with corn.

> >Somehow you've managed to miss the stories of Microsoft strong-arming
> >vendors to exclude competitors software from their bundles. You've
> >missed the testimony that vendors feared repercussions from Microsoft if
> >they went against Microsoft's agenda.

> That's better.
[definition of strong-arming]
> This is a rotten thing to do. If anyone from Microsoft did this I'll
> join the posse. We'll hunt 'em do down and hang 'em high.

Read through the finding-of-fact (sorry, I used to have a URL but not off-hand). They did some pretty nasty things to their competitors, and to
their partners. Obviously strong-arming itself is hard to prove in court, because that's the point, but even what was proved was pretty nasty.

> >But more overtly Microsoft created lesser versions of emerging popular

> Yes they did, starting with Notepad and Calc. I do not see what is wrong
> with this. Maybe Notepad is OK but a Web browser isn't. How is this
> decided and who decides it?

Mostly by intent, I suspect, what can be proved of it.

If MS forces IE onto Macintoshes, for instance, that can't really be interpreted as improving their own product.

> Shouldn't you hold Linux programmers, who give their software away, up to
> the same standards you apply to Microsoft?

Oh, certainly. Most if not all of the strategies used by SO and MS would seem to be inapplicable, but if somebody does manage to be anticompetitive
using the GPL, they should definitely be called up on it.

Jiri
--
Jiri Baum <[email protected]>
"[Microsoft] cleverly associate the word 'open' with XML. What they don't
mention is that to see the XML file definitions for Microsoft Word, you
have to sign a file license that says you will never use the code."
-- http://www.itworld.com/Man/2685/IDG010503source2/

J

#### Jay Kirsch

Jiri writes:

>Only until all the competition in town was driven out, of course. Then the
>price goes up to whatever the big farmer feels like.

A businessman cannot do whatever he "feels" like and succeed too. The price of a product cannot exceed what people are willing to pay for it. If he raises the price too much, competitors will be attracted back into the market and the price will drop again ( probably lower than it was
originally ).

In the case of a public corporation like Microsoft, arbitrarily raising prices would result in disaster. If Microsoft announced that Windows would now cost $999.00, investors would immediately realize that almost no one would buy it at that price. In matter of hours, billions of dollars in capital would flow out of Microsoft and into other ventures. The credibility of Microsoft's management would be shattered forever. With no outside capital and no earnings, Microsoft would be near bankruptcy in few months. They would have to sell Windows to someone else. Then a new company would have the dominant desktop OS selling for$99.00 again. You
might like this story, but don't expect the new owners of Windows to run their business any more like a daisy farm than Microsoft did.

I am not an economist but the high-tech marketplace looks to me like a complicated closed loop control system connected to a very powerful
generator. This is the power that drives my little business. So I get a bit anxious when I see politicians and lawyers trying to pry open the
magic box and re-wire the circuits.

>Look up Standard Oil'' sometime; like they say, those who do not learn
>from history are doomed to repeat it. (That's why it's called anti-trust'
>law; because the prototype, Standard Oil, happened to be a trust.)

I wish I knew more about history but here's what I do know 1) there are as many interpretations of the Standard Oil case, or any other historical
event, as there are historians who have written about it 2) any layperson who begins a statement with "History proves..." or makes any similar
inference in the presense of an historian will be instant lunchmeat. (Personal experience talking, they're sticklers about scholarship )

>Don't forget also that software has what the sociologists call network
>effects'' - the advantage of a lot of other people using the same brand.
>You don't get that with corn.

Yes, sociologists have turned their attention away from primitive cultures and the laboratory rats we supposedly resemble to share their precious wisdom regarding the high-tech marketplace. Like many of their other theories, this one is suspect, at best.
See http://www.reason.com/9606/Fe.QWERTY.html

>Read through the finding-of-fact (sorry, I used to have a URL but not
>off-hand). They did some pretty nasty things to their competitors, and to
>their partners. Obviously strong-arming itself is hard to prove in court,
>because that's the point, but even what was proved was pretty nasty.

The Constitution is worth reading too. Nowhere does it empower the government to make laws that enable the prosecution an individual or group for engaging in "pretty nasty" behavior.

The finding-of-facts is on the DOJ website:
www.usdoj.gov/atr/cases/f3800/msjudge.pdf

Many of the conclusions it draws have a more logical explanation than the one presented. For example, it states that Microsoft's monopoly
prohibited Apple from competing evenly. How about the fact that Apple chose a low volume - high markup pricing strategy ( 50% profit
on each unit sold) preventing their own market from substationally growing.

Judge Jackson says, due to lack of competition, Win95 was overpriced at $99.00. How did he divine this knowledge? Nobody knows. The sales tax on many computers is more than$99.00.

There's hearsay evidence about Microsoft luring competitors into going in a direction that Microsoft later blocked off. This smells like
fraud and can be attended to in a criminal or civil court, without the specter of government regulation. If the charges are true, I hope Microsoft gets their caboose kicked. But after Jackson's remarks to the New Yorker, I am not ready to take this at face value.

>If MS forces IE onto Macintoshes, for instance, that can't really be
>interpreted as improving their own product.

Apple's managers would have to be smoking something to agree (there is no force here) to add IE to their product while believing that it

>Oh, certainly. Most if not all of the strategies used by SO and MS would
>seem to be inapplicable, but if somebody does manage to be anticompetitive
>using the GPL, they should definitely be called up on it.

I can't tell if your in favor of competition or opposed to it. Anticompetitive business ( or person ) is an oxymoron.

...

Microsoft was called "naive" for not involving itself in politics. When the anti-trust action began, the Microsoft lobbyists appeared in Washington. Well there you have it, now Microsoft really is dangerous. Sigh.

Jay Kirsch
[email protected]

J

#### Jiri Baum

Jiri:
> >Only until all the competition in town was driven out, of course. Then
> >the price goes up to whatever the big farmer feels like.

Jay Kirsch:
> A businessman cannot do whatever he "feels" like and succeed too. The
> price of a product cannot exceed what people are willing to pay for it.

Certainly with no competition the price can be much higher.

> If he raises the price too much, competitors will be attracted back into
> the market and the price will drop again ( probably lower than it was
> originally ).

You're right that the monopolist has to be somewhat careful not to raise the price too far (and Standard Oil was). Still, any new competitors will be small, and they will have seen what happened to the last guy.

> In the case of a public corporation like Microsoft, arbitrarily raising
> prices would result in disaster. If Microsoft announced that Windows
> would now cost $999.00, investors would immediately realize that almost > no one would buy it at that price. Strange, then, the pricing of Office XP... > >Look up Standard Oil'' sometime; ... > I wish I knew more about history but here's what I do know 1) there are > as many interpretations of the Standard Oil case, or any other historical > event, as there are historians who have written about it No doubt - but some of SO's strategies make interesting reading nevertheless. > 2) any layperson who begins a statement with "History proves..." or makes > any similar inference in the presense of an historian will be instant > lunchmeat. Of course. History rarely proves something, but it certainly provides examples of what can happen. It can also provide insight into the reasoning behind laws, laws which we perhaps nowadays take so much for granted that we no longer comprehend them. > >Don't forget also that software has what the sociologists call network > >effects'' - the advantage of a lot of other people using the same brand. > >You don't get that with corn. > Yes, sociologists have turned their attention away from primitive > cultures and the laboratory rats we supposedly resemble to share their > precious wisdom regarding the high-tech marketplace. Like many of their > other theories, this one is suspect, at best. > See http://www.reason.com/9606/Fe.QWERTY.html This would seem to have limited relevance - and what is relevant is mostly a strawman argument. Few people are claiming that network externalities make it *impossible* for a new entrant to compete. They just make it *more difficult*. > >If MS forces IE onto Macintoshes, for instance, that can't really be > >interpreted as improving their own product. > Apple's managers would have to be smoking something to agree (there is no > force here) to add IE to their product while believing that it had no > benefit. That, or there'd have to be a hint that if they don't fall in line there'll be no more MS Office for Mac. > >Oh, certainly. Most if not all of the strategies used by SO and MS would > >seem to be inapplicable, but if somebody does manage to be anticompetitive > >using the GPL, they should definitely be called up on it. > I can't tell if your in favor of competition or opposed to it. In favour. > Anticompetitive business ( or person ) is an oxymoron. Hmm, getting the railways to not only give you a massive discount but also to pay you whenever they ship a competitor's product is OK? (This was subject to NDA at the time, to avoid public outrage.) For competition to flourish, there must be a certain amount of freedom of enterprise. Sometimes this freedom is threatened by governments, but sometimes it can also be threatened by a large business. It's the point of the Sherman Act, and equivalent legislation elsewhere, to ameliorate this threat to freedom of enterprise. It's not actually illegal to be a monopoly, nor to make the best widget ever and therefore outcompete everyone else. Nor is it illegal to make a lot of money. It *is* illegal, however, to use a monopoly to curtail others' freedom. Jiri -- Jiri Baum <[email protected]> visit the MAT LinuxPLC project - http://mat.sourceforge.net J #### Joe Jansen/ENGR/HQ/KEMET/US warning: Long Post Jay Kirsch wrote: > A businessman cannot do whatever he "feels" like and succeed too. The price of a product cannot exceed what people are willing to pay for it. If he raises the price too much, competitors will be attracted back into the market and the price will drop again ( probably lower than it was originally ). < But to extend this poor analogy further, if the big farmer controls the plates on which we eat, and makes sure that the OpenSeed(tm) Tomatoes will sit on your plate without spewing tomato juice on your shirt, then you will continue to buy the TomatoXP product to keep your shirts from getting messed up. Yea, maybe you can get plates that will allow you to eat OpenSeed Tomatoes, but these plates came free with the table, and their already set up. Besides, those other plates won't let me use any of the other products in the foodXP product line, which of course has been built up in the same manner as TomatoXP, by driving all the other small producers out of the market. Yes this sounds rediculous, but that is how it works... >In the case of a public corporation like Microsoft, arbitrarily raising prices would result in disaster. If Microsoft announced that Windows would now cost$999.00, investors would immediately realize that almost no one
would buy it at that price. In matter of hours, billions of dollars in
capital would flow out of Microsoft and into other ventures. The
credibility of Microsoft's management would be shattered forever. With no
outside capital and no earnings, Microsoft would be near bankruptcy in few
months. They would have to sell Windows to someone else. Then a new
company would have the dominant desktop OS selling for $99.00 again. You might like this story, but don't expect the new owners of Windows to run their business any more like a daisy farm than Microsoft did. < Obviously it would be ridiculous. Btw, when I had to buy a MS operating system, I had to pay$200. why is my version worth twice as much as yours? I can *GUARANTEE* it isn't because it's twice as good! Why couldn't *I* buy Win98 for $100? Why is Win95 still the same price as it was originally? Shouldn't the price have come down as the product moves out of the mainstream? Oh, wait. That's only true if there is someone else's product competing in the same space. If the only competition to me, is me, then I guess I win either way... >I am not an economist but the high-tech marketplace looks to me like a complicated closed loop control system connected to a very powerful generator. This is the power that drives my little business. So I get a bit anxious when I see politicians and lawyers trying to pry open the magic box and re-wire the circuits.< The high tech market place is just that: a market place. Despite what all the PR people try to tell you, there is nothing special about it. It's the same economics that drives the rest of the world. If anything is different, it's that they get away with much more. If your television shut off in the middle of your show, and it took 5 minutes to get it turned back on, would you accept that? Absolutely not! You'd be down at WalMart buying a new TV! Software is the only product that is allowed to ship in an unfinished state. Also, once the software is written, reproduction is very inexpensive. Economies of scale, in a balanced market place, will say that after the initial development costs are paid back, the price should start coming down, due to competition in the market place. Take a guess what a copy of Windows 98 would cost me if I went to buy one. (Hint: Look up 2 paragraphs). >>Look up Standard Oil'' sometime; like they say, those who do not learn >from history are doomed to repeat it. (That's why it's called `anti-trust' >law; because the prototype, Standard Oil, happened to be a trust.)<< > >I wish I knew more about history but here's what I do know 1) there are as many interpretations of the Standard Oil case, or any other historical event, as there are historians who have written about it 2) any layperson who begins a statement with "History proves..." or makes any similar inference in the presense of an historian will be instant lunchmeat. (Personal experience talking, they're sticklers about scholarship )< That's a pretty standard response. If something can be shown as true in the past, question whether the event actualy occured. How about AT&T? Anyone going to try to say that breaking up Ma Bell was a bad thing? I know I enjoy *my* 5USCent per minute long distance.... >The Constitution is worth reading too. Nowhere does it empower the government to make laws that enable the prosecution an individual or group for engaging in "pretty nasty" behavior.< IIRC, the Constitution never allowed for a federal income tax either, originally....Niether does it state that the government should be able to impose the need for government "papers" to allow you to travel alone. This was pretty much frowned upon, yet I have to renew my drivers license every 5 years, or the government will imprison me for transporting myself without proper documentation. I realize that there are people who do, actually, honestly, and oh-my-God-can-it-be-true live *outside the United States*!!! Who'd have thought. This is only relevant because Micro$oft is based in US...

Check this link for the appeals court:
http://cnnfn.cnn.com/2001/06/28/microsoft_file/decision.pdf
>Many of the conclusions it draws have a more logical explanation than the one presented.<

Yea, like the following quote (page 58):

"Microsoft lamely characterizes its threat to Intel as 'advice'"

Gotta love when the appeals court, who every agrees is Microsoft-friendly, refers to their "more logical explanation" as "lame". Note, they upheld this point as violation of Sherman Anti-Trust section 2.

>Judge Jackson says, due to lack of competition, Win95
was overpriced at $99.00. How did he divine this knowledge? Nobody knows. The sales tax on many computers is more than$99.00.<

What kind of equipment do you buy? Or what state do you live in to get that kind of tax on a computer? Besides, Windows is not sales tax, it's
the Microsoft tax. I have to pay it, even if I never use it. And even though the MS license agreement says I can return it for a full refund
> products do like most of the rest of us and use M$. In the part you've snipped, Curt explains why it's not an alternative. Besides, there is such a thing as professional integrity. Your physician won't harm you, even if you ask for it, your engineer, your lawyer, your accountant, they all adhere to their professional standards. Why then would you expect Curt to use a solution that he believes to be unreliable and excessively costly? Jiri -- Jiri Baum <[email protected]> http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jiribvisit the MAT LinuxPLC project at http://mat.sourceforge.net C #### Curt Wilson > The Constitution is worth reading too. Nowhere does it empower the government to make laws that enable the prosecution an individual or group for engaging in "pretty nasty" behavior. > HOGWASH!! (I'd use a stronger term, but I'm trying to keep it clean.) The Constitution explicitly empowers the Federal government "to regulate commerce among the several States". This is a very broad power (as those who opposed the clause -- but lost -- pointed out) and it is directly applicable here. The whole point of giving the government the power to regulate something is for it to be able to stop "pretty nasty behavior" by some parties. > A businessman cannot do whatever he "feels" like and succeed too. The price of a product cannot exceed what people are willing to pay for it. If he raises the price too much, competitors will be attracted back into the market and the price will drop again ( probably lower than it was > originally ). The point here is not that a monopolist can charge whatever it wants, but that it can charge a lot more than it could in a competitive market. The difference between these amounts is what economists call "rent" (a somewhat different meaning than the layman's term). As another poster pointed out, this is Econ 101 stuff. > Many of the conclusions it [the findings of fact] draws have a more logical explanation than the one presented. Note that Microsoft did not bother to appeal the findings of fact. Also, the appeals court confirmed these plus most of the "findings of law" based on these (but not the remedy, although it did not say that the breakup could not be imposed, just that the court did not go through the correct steps in imposing it). Curt Wilson D #### Davis Gentry >But no, MS is not an option for automation or test equipment. Been there, >done that, it's unsupportable, my life is much better now and I have more >friends among my customers. If I were to put out a Linux solution it would be unreliable due to my ignorance of the platform. When I put up an NT or Win2000 solution it is very reliable and, unless someone who doesn't know what they are doing makes a change to the system, it will run until there is a hardware failure. But since with NT or 2000 you can lock unqualified people from making ANY changes, that is not a problem too often. I will not claim as much for Win 9x products, of course. My assumption is that you can do the same thing with your Linux systems. The bottom line is that you can make a highly stable and supportable system with ANY platform that you know well. Davis Gentry Applications Engineer Delta Tau Data Systems R #### Ron Gage >>Davis Gentry wrote: >>But no, MS is not an option for automation or test equipment. Been there, >>done that, it's unsupportable, my life is much better now and I have more >>friends among my customers. >If I were to put out a Linux solution it would be >unreliable due to my ignorance of the platform. When >I put up an NT or Win2000 solution it is very reliable Um... You obviously haven't seen the mess that was made of the General Motors L-6 project. Windows NT and Nematron Open-Controls. Reliability went right out the door. You should see the faces of the production managers when you tell them some critical piece of machinery has to be rebooted and it take the line down for 10 minutes. Of course, the upper management doesn't think there was any problems with the L-6 project (other than having troubles keeping up with production quota's). No body in GM is brave enough to tell Homie Patel that this little experiment was an absolute diasaster. ----- Ron Gage - Saginaw, Michigan ([email protected]) Visit the Gastracker website: http://gastracker.rongage.org J #### Jeff Dean I, for one, don't expect Curt to use a solution that is unreliable and excessively costly. However, I (and I suspect a large portion of this lists readership) don't believe Windows NT/2000 are as unreliable or excessively costly as Curt would have us believe. Rockwell, Siemens, etc are a different story. As another person touched on - longevity is also important. I would not use or recommend Linux, because I do not believe it will last as the underdog's darling... the operating system beaten down by the big-bad monopolist [sarcasm intended]. While Linux, in some incarnation, has been around for nearly a decade - it was not until relatively recently that it gained favor outside the "geeks who write operating systems and books about how to write operating systems" crowd. Sure, there has been a surge or public interest and investments from big names such as IBM and Compaq... but remember that the public is fickle and can turn on a dime; IBM has a history of [effectively] abandoning operating systems (OS/2); and Compaq has shown it's ability to abandon investments that don't make money (Alpha, AltaVista). How long will these companies pour money down a hole? While Linux may never fade into oblivion, I believe peoples interest and its use will fade. That's reason enough for me not to build an automation solution on top of it. Jeff [email protected] The best way to predict the future is to invent it. - Alan Kay D #### Davis Gentry --- Jiri Baum <[email protected]> wrote: > Why then would you expect Curt to use a solution that he believes to be unreliable and excessively costly? First, I don't expect Curt to do anything - I simply pointed out that he missed an option in his list. My assumption is that should Curt decide to use M$
products he would then learn them well enough to
develop reliable solutions with them. As to cost, I did not deal with that issue at all in my post. I have never done a cost analysis looking at a system comparing Linux and M$. It is certainly the case that M$ licenses and development tools are far more expensive than Linux. But my customers are happy with M$both from reliability standpoint and because most, if not all, of their other systems are M$. They
therefore do not have to retrain anyone to support
another operating system, and the interconnectivity between systems can be easily managed. Data to and from the factory or fab floor flows well (assuming well coded systems). So why change?

I am certain that Linux is a fine product and that
there are problems for which it is the best solution. I am equally certain that, even with its bugs (does Linux have NO bugs? If so, whose distribution? Redhat? ), that Win NT / 2000 is a fine product and there are problems for which it is the best solution. The zealots on both sides of his issue do themselves and their customers a disservice when they badmouth the other side.

Davis Gentry
Applications Engineer
Delta Tau Data Systems

S

#### S Moore

Enough all ready. There have been bad implementations of every type of operating system. People successfully implement NT solutions and they do the same with Linux. Just because a project failed that had NT as the
operating system means nothing.

Can we forget about NT and Linux for a while or maybe control.com can start an NT vs. Linux mailing list and get the stuff off of this list.

B

#### Bob Peterson

Is this any different than the MAP debacle?

Big corporations are always thinking they can force the world to adapt to them. They are generally wrong and it costs them big. The case of MAP and these flowcharting software packages that people with no experience in actually automating things think are so great, are just one more example of why the power minds should be locked up whenever they try to make a technical
decision that is at odds with the marketplace. The collective wisdom of the marketplace is generally on target.

C

#### Curt Wuollet

To some extent that is true but I don't think you could make Linux unreliable through omission. I tar my application onto a standard RedHat install and run. That is to say, I don't have to do anything to make it reliable. This is as opposed to NT where there was much busywork. I take the fact that MS advertises W2k as much more stable as significant. Your opinion of supportable and mine probably differ. My customers have my home phone number. And I did at one time know Windows well, I'm feeling better now. As I said, some poeple _know_ it's not the hardware. I'll bet you have never run Linux.

Regards

cww

G

#### Gee, Jeffrey

I was involved with L-18, in which Nematron was driven down our throats!

What a mess!

It must be nice to have so much money that you can waste it like GM has on Nematron PC based controls.

Just my 2 cents............

A

#### Alex Pavloff

> If I were to put out a Linux solution it would be
> unreliable due to my ignorance of the platform.

Actually, while it might not work &lt;g>, I'd bet that it wouldn't crash. How do you define reliable?

>When
> I put up an NT or Win2000 solution it is very reliable
> and, unless someone who doesn't know what they are
> doing makes a change to the system, it will run until
> there is a hardware failure. But since with NT or
> 2000 you can lock unqualified people from making ANY
> changes, that is not a problem too often.

Actually, its hard to make Windows NT/2000 100% impentrable to a nosy user. In a past list, I ran a university computer lab. In this lab, we ran
Windows NT. I did my best to lock the systems down so people couldn't run whatever they wanted. However, software for Microsoft platforms is very rarely designed with security in mind. For example, to use Microsoft
Office, the user needed Read/Write/Delete access on the WINNT/SYSTEM32 directory. Microsoft has a technote for it.

Microsoft went from a single-user system and went up, and while their OS guys got it down, a lot of the 3rd party software out there doesn't like not
being able to write files wherever it feels like.

> The bottom line is that you can make a highly stable
> and supportable system with ANY platform that you know
> well.

Without a doubt -- but you can make a stabler and more supportable system with Linux. Remote access in the box with a kernel that doesn't crash -- ever. Its also cheaper.