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Monopolies are good for computing

 
 
Reply Mon 29 Mar, 2004 06:15 am
I hear a lot of criticism of Microsoft, frankly I think for the most part it's silly (i.e. people who know not a whit of what they speak but who jump on the bandwagon). There are a lot of legitimate gripes to be had with MS, but IMO over 70% is just bogus and self-propagating drek.

Now there are a couple of their practices (requiring harware manufactures to do certain things) that I think are shady and necessary but I for one am damn glad that they have a monopoly.

Anywho, I didn't mean for this to be about MS but the meta topic of monopoly in computing.

Interoperability is a big deal, and IMO monopolies help.

What do you think? Not about Microsoft but about technological standardization through monopoly.

Of course, open source standards are the best as they do not have the pricing downside of a monopoly, but do you really relish the days when documents were incompatible with different people's word processors?

I like what the 800 pound gorilla that is MS has done to the computing world. And IMO if it had played out differently I think computers would not be as mainstream as they are today.

Maybe even some of the less nerdy among us would not be here on this board today.
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Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Mar, 2004 07:07 am
The last time I checked, your own website churned out webpages written in html over a TCP/IP connection, using the hypertext transport protocol (http). PHP, the language in which you implemented A2K, is itself implemented in ANSI C, an open standard with many competing implementations.

All of these strike me as standards that work very well without monopoly implementations. I therefore don't see how a monopoly implementation would improve the Web, and I also don't see how competing implementations of the .doc format would harm word processing.
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Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Mar, 2004 07:19 am
Craven, in his initial post wrote:
Of course, open source standards are the best....
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Monger
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Mar, 2004 07:20 am
If this is about technology monopolies (such as Windows, or .doc) vs. a large number of incompatible, proprietary technologies, then no doubt about it...thank god there are monopolies! If, rather, the alternative was open standards, and an industry striving for interoperability, I don't see any need for the monopolies.


Edited to add:
Craven, in his initial post wrote:
Of course, open source standards are the best....

Then I'm in agreement with you so far.
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Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Mar, 2004 07:22 am
Monger wrote:
If this is about technology monopolies (such as Windows, or .doc) vs. a large number of incompatible, proprietary technologies, then no doubt about it...thank god there are monopolies!


Yes, this is about competing proprietary standards. As I noted open source standards are the best, but there's nothing like a monopoly to substitute standardization when none is forthcoming.
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Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Mar, 2004 07:28 am
Let me go on to add that I find a proprietary monopoly that is in widespread use better than open source with little use.

Thr premise is that in certain areas it's like a language. The more who use it the more you are able to interoperate with.

I always use Linux on web servers. I'd never touch a Windows server for any personal projects.

But I do not use Linux much for personal computing because of the limitations of software availability on that platform.
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Monger
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Mar, 2004 07:53 am
For those not familiar with the history of PCs...one thing that played a big part in making the IBM PC the standard for personal computing (without which MS-DOS and later Windows would never have been the dominant OS) was when IBM allowed competitors to copy their 8-bit ISA expansion bus. It was completely unheard of...no one had ever done anything like that before (previously, computer makers made a great deal of their money by selling & installing expansion cards). 8-bit ISA is of course still a patented product of IBM, but allowing everyone to copy it & start companies making cards for it established the industry standard & created the clone market.

If IBM hadn't done that I think it's likely we'd be using Macs today.

Not sure how any of this factors into this discussion, but to me it's always been interesting how in the long run IBM made billions more by promoting competition through giving away a core piece of their proprietary technology.
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Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Mar, 2004 08:32 am
Craven de Kere wrote:
Craven, in his initial post wrote:
Of course, open source standards are the best....

Yes, but in the same sentence he went on to say: "but do you really relish the days when documents were incompatible with different people's word processors?" This suggests that Open Source standards lead to days when documents are incompatible again. Are you saying I misunderstood you and you didn't mean to suggest that?
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SealPoet
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Mar, 2004 08:49 am
There's a reason MicroSoft is still the 800 pound gorilla. They've got a product that works.

Doesn't always work the way you'd want it to, but it works.

If it wasn't MicroSoft, it'd be someone like microsoft. Apple/Mac? Maybe... maybe Xerox. But someone would have gotten the early lead in the business sector, and kept it through inertia...

Extrapolating from what CdK wrote... you use what works. If the computer I'm given at work has Windows and MS Office on it... well, that's what I'm paid to use. If I learn something on the job, why not use it at home... etc.
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timberlandko
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Mar, 2004 10:12 am
I think it comes down to standards. 50 years ago, there were competing and mutually non-compliant schemes for color TV. The NBC scheme, backwards-compatible with existing B&W transmission/Reception protocalls, was adopted, and the format took off. FM Stereo was offered in the 'Fifties in a variety of schemes, but it wasn't untill the early 'Sixties that the current standard was adopted, and the format took off. If a system is developed which readily lends itself to widespread adoption, it will flourish. If a system is exclusive to itself, it will remain a niche product if it survives at all. Interoperabilty is the key. Hell, I have shelves in the basement full of gear that was at one time "The Latest Breakthrough" but which now is totally unsupported and unused. Where Windows excells is precisely the interoperabilty thing ... its mostly interoperable only with itself, but by marketing, it has become the defacto standard over the past 20 years.

What I'd really like to see Micro$oft do re the European court decision is tell 'em to go fly a kite, and establish a policy that effectively would unlicense European Micro$oft product and terminate support for same, with no further sales of product into that market. If Europe doesn't like Windows, let 'em eat Linux. Ain't gonna happen, even though that would be exactly the sparkplug Linux needs. Of course, thats exactly why it won't happen; M$ didn't get to where it is by being stupid. Careless, arrogant, and overly expedient mebbe, but not stupid.
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SealPoet
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Mar, 2004 11:32 am
Hey timber... you wanna buy a slightly used Betamax?
0 Replies
 
fishin
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Mar, 2004 11:43 am
Monger wrote:
Not sure how any of this factors into this discussion, but to me it's always been interesting how in the long run IBM made billions more by promoting competition through giving away a core piece of their proprietary technology.


Methinks it fits in perfectly! There is no reason Microsoft (or anyone else) couldn't have done the exact same thing with the Word document format or all of the Windows APIs.

Sure, Microsoft's products work and yes, of course that's of huge benefit to the end users out there. The monopoly status doesn't really effect that though. MS's products would still work even if they had opened the doors and let everyone else in on the standards. The difference is that we'd also have other products to choose from that work just as well if MS hadn't been allowed to monopolize.

The biggest thing that got MS into trouble was releasing the APIs to developers but not disclosing all of them and then making use of the undocumented APIs to give themselves an advantage.
0 Replies
 
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Mar, 2004 11:58 am
I don't buy it.

Monopolies in computing are almost always a bad thing. Microsoft, as a specific example,k has done a lot to set back the technology industry.

First of all, I think we are all in agreement that open standards (such as HTML) are better than proprietary ones (such as any of the the MS bloatware). I will argue this point if necessary. Open standard are fully capable of providing the interoperatability that you are seeking.

Semi-open standards, such as Java are almost as good. There is no hidden code and everyone can build with it and extend it.

Microsoft provides the worst option - proprietary standards. Microsoft word, for example, works on the principle of ubiquity, not on interoperablility. They don't argue that you can use their software with anyone elses. The argue that everyone else is using their software. Quite a difference.

I think the argument in favor of Microsoft is that it is necessary to avoid "incompatible proprietary technologies". This is simply not true. The internet has shown that non-Microsoft technologies (i.e. Mozilla and HTML) work quite well together and that corsortiums (i.e. W3C) are the best way to create and manage open standards.

But here is my beef.

Microsoft continues to take actions that directly hurt technology. The old examples are there -- they were convicted for illegal practices against Netscape et al. But there are new ones that affect you right now...

For example Microsoft deliberately makes it difficult to use Java 1.2 from Internet explorer. If you don't believe this, compare Java from IE with Java from any other browser.


The argument in favor of Microsoft is reminisent of Thomas Hobbes. The tyrant is necessary to bring order.

But I don't buy it.

I believe that without the Microsoft monopoly computers would be much more advanced. They would work better together, provide clearer standards that are open to all, and provide more options that truly are "interoperable" without forcing one way of doing things down your throat.

----------
This message was composed on a Linux machine using a Mozilla browser. I am Microsoft free!
0 Replies
 
Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Mar, 2004 12:33 pm
Thomas wrote:

Yes, but in the same sentence he went on to say: "but do you really relish the days when documents were incompatible with different people's word processors?" This suggests that Open Source standards lead to days when documents are incompatible again. Are you saying I misunderstood you and you didn't mean to suggest that?


Actually, I'm not sure whether you misunderstood me. But the alternatives are worse so I'll assume you did.

1) The way it worked before Word muscled out all the other word processors was not an open source standard. It was competing proprietary formats and compatibility required conversion tools.

2) Open source would be my ideal, as I stated. But an open source standard is worthless unless it is the utilizd standard.

As it stands, the standardization of office documents came through a monopoly.

In summary:

I would prefer an open source standard for everything. In reality this is not what happened in the example I cited.

The example cited was to serve as an example of proprietary format wars that ended through MS monopoly.

Open source would be better, but open source is fighting the same battle. If open source doesn't win, then hopefully the proprietary folk will settle on a standard, absent that may the best man win and establish a monopoly.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Mar, 2004 12:46 pm
Craven de Kere wrote:
1) The way it worked before Word muscled out all the other word processors was not an open source standard. It was competing proprietary formats and compatibility required conversion tools.

That's not how I remember it. ASCII, the first standard, is open source. WordPerfect, [La]TeX, and RTF were reasonably easy-to-parse, reasonably open standards built on top of ASCII. The social cost of writing import and export filters for the formats would have been trivial to the social cost of MS's proprietary binary standards. I don't see how MS solved any problem greater than the ones they created.

Craven de Kere wrote:
2) Open source would be my ideal, as I stated. But an open source standard is worthless unless it is the utilizd standard.

Fair enough. I'd be interested in hearing which consequences you suggest, based on this observation?
0 Replies
 
husker
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Mar, 2004 12:49 pm
Monger wrote:
For those not familiar with the history of PCs...one thing that played a big part in making the IBM PC the standard for personal computing (without which MS-DOS and later Windows would never have been the dominant OS) was when IBM allowed competitors to copy their 8-bit ISA expansion bus. It was completely unheard of...no one had ever done anything like that before (previously, computer makers made a great deal of their money by selling & installing expansion cards). 8-bit ISA is of course still a patented product of IBM, but allowing everyone to copy it & start companies making cards for it established the industry standard & created the clone market.

If IBM hadn't done that I think it's likely we'd be using Macs today.

Not sure how any of this factors into this discussion, but to me it's always been interesting how in the long run IBM made billions more by promoting competition through giving away a core piece of their proprietary technology.


Back in the early\mid-80's I worked at a company that had a Z80 processor - we put in the expansion bus then created a dual system,
allowing us to be a clone and still have our z80 - then things really dramatically changed.
0 Replies
 
husker
 
  1  
Reply Tue 30 Mar, 2004 12:44 pm
Quote:

Ever see the bumper sticker that says: "So many pedestrians, so little time" At Microsoft, it might go like this: "So many nonbelievers, so much to do."

Meanwhile, the company is battling Sony and others in the consumer market; AOL and Yahoo and others in the online market; enterprise application vendors in the small and midsize business market; malicious saboteurs throughout the universe; daffy lawmakers, overzealous attorneys general, hucksters posing as advocates, and sullen competitors that want the government to legislate parity in the software industry; and perhaps most important of all, business customers who feel the company's pricing and licensing strategies are too rigid.
By Bob Evans
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Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Tue 30 Mar, 2004 01:13 pm
Thomas wrote:

That's not how I remember it. ASCII, the first standard, is open source. WordPerfect, [La]TeX, and RTF were reasonably easy-to-parse, reasonably open standards built on top of ASCII. The social cost of writing import and export filters for the formats would have been trivial to the social cost of MS's proprietary binary standards. I don't see how MS solved any problem greater than the ones they created.


Thomas, if I say that I think open source standards are the best I really do mean it.

And yes, I agree with both what youa nd fishin' said in that MS could have easily opened up their standards for their programs.

But to me that's irrelevant. They, and many other proprietary software manufacturers did not.

And in this regard, I like when one proprietary closed standard beats the others out of business.

My criteria: universal interoperability.

My Preferred means to achieve this: Open source and publically owned standards.

My second most preferred means to achieve this: open proprietary standards.

What I'll settle for: An 800 pound gorilla who can forge standards through sheer size of monopoly

What many here simply do not seem to take note of is that nowhere did I claim "Monopolies are the best".

I claimed that "monopolies are good" and restricted it to forging standards in computing.

So to reiterate, when no standard is winning, I like when one wins. I have my preferences for how it is won but if it takes a monopoly I prefer that to lacking interoperability.

Quote:

Fair enough. I'd be interested in hearing which consequences you suggest, based on this observation?


Consequences of...?
0 Replies
 
husker
 
  1  
Reply Tue 30 Mar, 2004 01:28 pm
You think this will impact MS?

IBM To Offer Preloaded SuSE Linux On All Servers
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husker
 
  1  
Reply Wed 31 Mar, 2004 08:26 pm
Gates: In 2014, magic software, free hardware

Quote:
SAN DIEGO--During an interview at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2004, Bill Gates was asked to give his vision of computing in the year 2014. He cited the "magic of software" and the continuation of Moore's Law as the key components that would bring about new technology advances in the coming decade.

Within 10 years, said Gates, hardware could be considered as almost free, with powerful server and desktop systems, high bandwidth networks and wireless technology bringing anytime, anywhere connections.


In another topic CDK hits on this with a possible boomer s/w by google!
CDK - mark those works as terrific
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