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Nation Magazine editorial on Gates

  Memo to Chairman Bill 
  To: billg@microsoft.com  From: ashapiro@thenation.com
  Red Alert, Bill! Ralph Nader's got his antitrust hackles up, your industry
  colleagues are jumping on the Microsoft Is Evil bandwagon and now the
  Justice Department wants to slap you with a $1-million-per-day fine--just
  because you're using your Windows monopoly to force PC users into surfing
  the Web the Microsoft way, with your Internet Explorer browser.
  Of course, a million bucks is what you earn in a few minutes with today's
  turbo-charged Dow, but the folks in PR and Legal are wondering: Isn't this
  starting to look bad? The Feds are investigating on half a dozen fronts,
  and Congress, a handful of states and the Europeans are initiating their
  own inquiries. Critics say your actions thwart not only competition but
  innovation. They're aiming to bring you down, Chairman Gates.
  If I may be so bold, here's where I think you went off track: Two years
  ago, when folks started getting worried about your dominance of the PC
  industry, you vowed that Microsoft was just a software company and would
  stay that way. But you got into content (with MSNBC, the Microsoft Network,
  Slate and Sidewalk, the Bettmann Archive...) and access ($1 billion
  investments in two cable companies). You purchased WebTV and a stake in the
  three leading makers of interactive audio and video technology, positioning
  yourself to dominate the emerging TV/Net hybrid market. And now, despite
  all your hoopla about "friction-free capitalism," you're becoming the
  ultimate middleman--taking a cut on much of what's sold online, including
  concert and airline tickets, cars, even real estate.
  Competitors are scared to speak out against you publicly. Techies have
  grown impatient with your tendency to announce new software months or even
  years before it's actually ready (yet another potentially anticompetitive
  practice). Publicly, some of your peers called you a white knight for
  investing $150 million in Apple, but they knew you did it for
  self-interested reasons--and if Apple dies, your antitrust problems will
  only thicken.
  Worst of all, you're losing cachet with the digital vanguard. Optimists who
  believe in the Web as a harbinger of creativity and an antidote to
  commercialized Big Media have come to see you as part of the problem, not
  the solution. Can you blame them? With Active Desktop (a feature of the
  latest Windows release), you stuck logos for thirty media corporations
  right on the PC desktop. These permanent ads steer users directly to the
  sites of Disney and Time Warner instead of to the smaller content providers
  who give the Net its diverse buzz. If the whole idea of this revolution is
  to empower people, Bill, why are you locking up the market and restricting
  choices? Synergizing your way from one biz to another every month? The
  backlash may get ugly. Lawsuits. Consumer resentment. Maybe even an
  AT&T-like breakup.
  My advice? Accept Nader's invitation to sit down with your adversaries at a
  mid-November confab in DC (check out www.appraising-microsoft.org). Work it
  out, and then get back to being a brilliant and likable computer geek
  rather than a tyrannical monopolist. That $200 million gift to build the
  public libraries of the future by bringing them online was a move in the
  right direction--but you don't need to be as ruthless as Carnegie to have
  the impact that he did.
  Andrew L. Shapiro