Subject: Re: the .NET battle ends
Date: Fri, 21 Sep 2001 11:07:56 -0400

Stephen J. Turnbull wrote:
> >>>>> "Ben" == Ben Tilly <> writes:
>     Ben> Pardon me for looking at that prospect and believing that
>     Ben> Microsoft is trying to look like they are giving away a lot,
>     Ben> but expects to cede somewhere between zip and nothing.
> False.  Microsoft has ceded the principle, which means protecting the
> practice will be very expensive, both in reputation as they get caught
> weaseling and spin control PR expense.  Eg, my _mother_ asked me what
> the relation between FreeBSD and Linux was, and why Microsoft couldn't
> use NT at Hotmail.  (She didn't ask why they lied, she's a history
> major and could figure that out for herself.)  Those expenses gives us
> some leverage.

If protecting the practice is both expensive and profitable, then
Microsoft will compare the two and act accordingly.   Given the
profit margins they regularly achieve, it is extremely probable that
they find virtually any expense worthwhile if it maintains those

This has, after all, been their policy all along.  With everything.
Including the court system and past actions which generated very
predictable general outrage.  And if it means that they keep a
stranglehold but don't get free software folks like yourself, or
intelligent close relatives like your mother, they are unlikely to

And finally I don't think that Microsoft has ceded the principle one
bit.  It is convenient for them to act in accord with the principle
on one occasion.  However they do not do it because they think that
the principle is good, nor does their rhetoric indicate that they
think that following the principle is a generally good idea.

> True, they'll do their best to make sure nobody else wins from it.
> But that's not the same as ceding nothing.

Put it this way.  I believe that this is a step in an overall game
plan which is designed to leave everyone else worse off.  It is
ceding something in that they are taking a risk.  If is, however,
not intended to result in them conceding anything in the long run.
Quite the opposite in fact.

> Anyway, taking the longer view, if we aren't fighting for principle,
> what _are_ we fighting for?  This is a victory, make no mistake.

I fail to believe that they have actually ceded the principle.  I
also believe that their overall plan attempts to knife the

>     Ben> And it is very cleverly done so that it will be very hard for
>     Ben> people who understand what is going on to explain to
>     Ben> non-technical people exactly why this gesture is meaningless.
> What else is new?

For Microsoft?  Not much.

When you talk honestly about how Microsoft behaves, at first it seems
like paranoid raving.  Then you realize that it actually a decent
description of reality.  Then you come to understand that, from a
business sense, it makes perfect sense for them to behave that way.

They don't care how much they have stepped outside of human decency,
or how much people dislike them.  Their concern is achieving control,
and then once they have control, realizing any and all revenue
streams that they can get from that control.  They then take the
money and marketshare from the revenue and use it to achieve control
of new markets.  Wash, rinse, and repeat.

If getting more control in the end means giving away things now, they
do so instantly.  They do so whether it means giving away specs,
software, markets, money.  In fact they have done it so routinely
that when you see them giving something away, it is only prudent to
ask hard questions about what they expect to get for it.

Bill Gates is like the kid at the arcade who has found a routine that
racks up exponentially more points every time he does it who is now
aiming for the highest score he can get.