Subject: Re: taking heat for doing Windows
From: Daniel Nachbar <nachbar@public-software.org>
Date: Sat, 21 Mar 1998 13:34:55 -0500

> ...
>Microsoft's modus operandi is to let other people do the work of
>developing the design and UI, and determine which products are
>marketable, and then to implement a substitute, and then to change the
>OS so that their substitute works much better than the original for the
>six months to a year that it takes for the substitute to get back on
>its feet. ...

Well said. I agree with your description completely.
But continuing this MO depends critically upon being able to change
the OS at whim.  There are three reasons why I think this may
not work so well in the future.

The first, mentioned by others, is the DOJ.
Few thought they'd actually break up the phone company.
Still, as a betting man, I'd have to bet against a break-up of MS
in the near future.

The second is Java.  Foiling the MS MO is the whole point of that brouhaha.
I have no idea how to figure the odds on this one.  Just have to wait and see.

The third, and most important, is the fact that MS may well become a victim
of their own engineering success.  I know zero 95/NT users who are
the least bit interested in the next release.  On the whole, they are quite
content.  MS will certainly try to goad them along.
But I don't see the mass of their customers following as they have
in the past.  (I suspect this is why MS is trying to spin up a big time R&D
effort.  If they don't come up with a carrot to keep the bulk of their
customers on the version treadmill, they're hosed.)

Is any of the above three reasons compelling? No.
But my bet is on the sum of their odds.

>If you think you're going to challenge Microsoft's dominance on apps on
>a Microsoft OS, you're just fooling yourself. ...

Each side has now pointed out (perhaps correctly) that the other
is foolish.   Of course looking foolish is a necessary precondition
of all important ideas. (Ah, if only it where a sufficient one.)
So, I take no offense and intend none.
But, not much point in arguing who is more foolish -- see you at the track.

But this polite, reasoned discussion of the relative merits of these two
tactical approaches is probably not the "heat" to which the author of original
post was referring.  In past discussions of this issue I have felt serious
"heat"
(One might say "flames") from folks who believed there is a moral high
ground held by those who avoid closed products.  Claims of moral superiority
are poisonous to reasoned discourse.  They have cost us much.
I am greatly heartened by the lack of such a response in this discussion.