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What Is the Choice?
The narrow question is whether Compaq had a right
to put Netscape's browser on the "desktop" that it
sold new with Windows as its operating system. That
MS violated Compaq's rights and the MS/Justice
agreement not to further promote monopoly or
engage in predatory business practice -- predatory
in that such practice would destroy Netscape to the
detriment of all of us.
The Windows owner (MS) said no. If you want to
sell with Netscape, write you own operating system
or buy one -- but you can't offer our Windows.
Although there are non-Windows systems, Compaq
can find none likely to be as acceptable to enough
potential customers. Too many will want to use
Windows-required applications with their computer.
What are we to do about this?
If the Justice Department did not exist, everyone
would steal parts of programs from each other (more
than they presently do), and there would be no big
Microsoft. Lots of applications sellers would have
stolen what they needed to include a windows os
for free with their application.
Microsoft is dependent on copyright and patents and
law enforcement for its giant size.
Because nothing is perfect, we may assume that the
desktop of the future will be much easier to use than
MS Windows. If we want that to happen, we must
protect competition in selling operating systems. In
effect this means computer sellers must be allowed to
buy and sell Windows from its sole supplier but then
offer it to the public anyway they want to (that does
not weaken Windows as an operating system.)
If MS claims that what is sold is NOT the "real" thing,
then Compaq should be free to remove the Windows
name, pay nothing to MS for it, and rename it
the Compaq OS:
The fact that much of the code would
have come from the old Windows is not as
significant as the fact that we cannot tolerate
monopoly in software stemming from copyright
protections that spread from a de facto standard
operating system owned by a single predatory
supplier to all lucrative applications.
If we did not use anti-trust to prevent monopoly,
a single bank or merchant would own the whole
country, including every lucrative business in it.
John Gelles email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
http://www.myturn.org ; http://www.rain.org/~jjgelles/
The Web addresses above argue for economic rights and
wealth creation, and for individual and national security,
to be financed by credit and protected against inflation by
full automation and saving -- not by high interest, high
unemployment and high taxes.