Friend, I would do thee no harm for the world, but the argument I standest behind is bulletproof.
I disagree. You've made several arguments, several of which range from factually incorrect to simply subjective feelings.
The prevaling theme seems to be an argument that Microsoft is inordinately lacking in innovation, which is something I again disagree with and will expound on.
First of all, the original argument was if Bill Gates should be revered as an inventor or even an engineer. I would be interested to see any evidence for this.
This, is not an argument in which I had any participation, I think Bill Gates's career started as neither, but rather as a programmer and then a businessman, not too dissimilar from the way the heads of any of the entities you bring up as examples could be described.
Look at the history of Apple and Netscape and Borland and even Sun and IBM (even recently) compared to that of Microsoft. I think there is a clear difference (besides the fact that one lost a lawsuit).
There are many clear differences between them. Not the least of which is financial success.
Most companies make their money by coming out with innovative products.
This is a falsehood. Please support your assertion.
Apple was the first company with a window system.
No, it was not
Douglas C. Engelbart had the first mouse-driven GUI in the 1960s for SRI International.
The Xerox Corporation's Palo Alto Research Center aquired several people from SRI in the early 1970s and PARC created WIMP (windows, icons, menus and pointers).
This "Windows System" was used in the Xerox 8010 ('Star') system in 1981.
Apple Computer's work on a GUI included several members of the PARC team and the Macintosh was released in 1984.
You point to Apple as an example of a non-Microsoftesque innovative company, for their "Windows System" which was neither their idea nor were they the first to create it
They were, however, the first commercially successful Windows System, and for this they deserve credit of the same nature that Microsoft is due for their successes.
Netscape was the first company with a browser.
No, Netscape was not
(kinda, see below).
The first broswer was invented by Tim Berners-Lee.
NCSA's Mosaic was the next big innovator in web broswer history.
Mosaic was a commercial browser (you earlier claimed Netscape was the first).
The Mosaic team leader, Marc Andreesen, started the company Mosaic Communications Corporation and later changed their name to Netscape due to trademark issues with NCSA.
Netscape neither invented the browser nor were they responsible for the first commercial browser.
They deserve credit for thier contributions in the same way that Microsoft deserves credit for theirs.
Netscape's Marc Andreessen lacked business saavy, and Netscape failed to realize that the money to be made with a browser is in web properties and recurring revenue from advertisements instead of browser sales.
Furthermore Andreessen was cocky and arrogant, and this is a fundamental reason for their demise. He targeted Windows thinking that Netscape would evantually evolve to become an operating system or reduce the windows operating system to "plug-ins under the browser."
He himself called this "irrational overenthusiasm".
I expound on Netscape's history because what brought them down was not an unfair war with no innovation from Microsoft. Microsoft's entry fueled innovation. By IE 3.0 Microsoft had matched all of Netscape 3.0's features and was being called a "white-hot Navigator-killer..." that "surpasses Navigator 3.0 in many ways..." (CNET, May 30, 1996).
Many like to blame Microsoft for Netscape's demise. But the truth is that the market for a free browser like IE made more sense than a commercial one like Netscape.
This was one of the main mistakes in foresight that spelled Netscape's doom.
Netscape's doom did not spell the end of innovation (though it did for IE, as Microsoft decided to end development of IE in favor of a new browser foundation that will be shipped in future Window's versions). The open source community has now outpaced IE, and browsers are free.
There is a greater range of viable, more advanced choices in broswers since Microsoft and Netscape started fighting, and the competition has not in any way slowed innovation.
There are new browser wars on the horison. Expect innovation to hit another flurry then. Competition is good, and competition was good for web browsers.
Sun was successful with Java-- a language that works cross-platform.
Yet Java was not the first programming language that works cross-platform. Java was developed with the aim of combining the best features of some programming languages before it, some of which were cross platform.
Their innovations (compiling in the way they do, and virtual machines) and marketing (slogan "Write once, run anywhere") have, indeed, been successful.
But they did not invent cross-platform programming languages, they stood on the shoulders of giants before them. If their success alone, or their improvements on an existing concept merit your approval when they did not invent the concept then so should Microsoft.
Microsoft has consistantly made money by shutting out, and overruning innovative products.
This was not done without innovation of their own. Their success in competition ("overruning") is not an inherent negative unless you simply favor the other side in the competition.
They were convicted of unfair practices against Netscape.
This does not mean that they lacked innovation when competing with Netscape, in fact they came out ahead in comparisons late in the "browser war".
Here's a quote from Chris Houck, a founding engineer at Netscape.
"I think there were definitely instances that people could hold up and say, here's where Microsoft was playing unfair. And in each instance you could also make a strong argument that here's where the Netscape guys f***ed up. Given that, it's hard to take a moral stand on that one way or the other."
Their answer to the cross-platform Java was .NET which won't work on other platforms.
This is incorrect. Their response to Java was their own Java Virtual machine, which they extended to try to leverage it for the Windows platform.
This was part of the "embrace and extend" for Java that was ended in court. .NET is a wholly different beast with wholly different goals related to futuristic web applications.
purported to be "cross-platform".
But it is hard to argue against the fact that Microsoft has consistantly gained success through savvy business deals, slick marketing and leveraging its monopoly in a way that no other company has.
It is also hard to argue that Microsoft's history is without numerous innovations, unless you reduce the definition of innovation to exclude prior art, thusly ignoring the collaborative nature of computer science.
You can make the argument that the uniformity (i.e. lack of diversity) in the computuer world that came about because of Microsoft is a good thing. I would argue against this (this is my idealogical rant).
I could, but that's a wholly different subject. Though it's clearly part of your bone to pick with Microsoft. Their overwhelming (to a fault) success.
But compared to other companies in the field, Microsoft is one of the least innovative, and has often had the effect of stifling innovation.
Compared to what other companies in what field? Every company you listed stood on the shoulders of the giants before them. Not a single one of the "innovators' you praise invented what you praise them for.
Every one of the companies you listed helped those before them fade away.
If your measuring stick is that Microsoft was not the originator of every single "killer app" of our lifetimes, then pray tell who are you comparing Microsoft to that was behind all these landmark innovations?
You are criticizing Microsoft for not being what nobody in history ever was. You are setting a standard that nobody has reached and faulting Microsoft for it.
You have set the doorknob too high. None of the companies you touted were the originators of any of the ideas you praise them for, but you fault Microsoft for not being the originator either?
I don't think your argument is bulletproof, I think it's ideologically and politically motivated at the cost of factual accuracy and objectivity. I think your distaste for Microsoft makes you lose sight of the nature of computer science and collaborative innovation. You fault Microsoft yet frequently praise open-source groups that copy far more (as a percentage) than Microsoft does.
It's just political ideology, which isn't bad per se
, but I contend that it has caused a lack of objectivity and factual rigor.
But here's a fact you may enjoy:
Bush's website is powered by the "right" Microsoft/IIS. Kerry's website is powered by the "left" Linux/Apache.
Here's more politics, but that you may not like:
Netscape's Marc Andreessen criticized Democrat's opposition to the Iraq war and said "Bomb Away".
Furthermore, since I'm already into politics here, I'd like to expound on D'artagnan comments:
Bill gates at age 44 was the greatest philanthropist (read left ;-) ) in history.