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Re: arrogance toward customers

  On Thu, 13 Nov 1997 08:01:42 -0500 (EST), Cem Kaner wrote:
  >>     Reading the article only enforces what I've known for years, the
  >>vast majority of the computing public are nothing but chumps (the word
  >>'lemmings' comes to mind too).  As far as I'm concerned M$'s marketshare
  >>only brings home what P T Barnum said years ago.
  >I want to point out the contrast and the contradiction between the high
  >moral stance taken by advocates of OS/2 (an IBM product) and the current
  >spate of "Work the Web" commercials. Have you seen these commercials? They
  >are arrogant beyond, well almost beyond, belief. They make billg look like
  >the Woz in comparison. They are intentionally anti-consumer, anti-student,
  >anti-scholar. They come from Lotus, an IBM company. From these commercials,
  >I think that IBM must agree that consumers are chumps, lemmings, and
  >suckers. Yet, somehow, we are talking on this list as if that attitude
  >characterizes only Microsoft.
       For starters just because I choose to use OS/2 that doesn't make me
  an apologist for IBM.  IBM is by no means a saint in this area, but that
  said I think you'll find that IBM's proprietary culture has improved
  quite a bit over the years and they're now one of the biggest proponents
  of 'open standards'.  But you'll also find that many OS/2 users are very
  unhappy with IBM's lack of any sustained marketing for OS/2, so being an
  OS/2 user doesn't necessarily make them a friend of IBM.  I see by your
  X-Mailer line that you're running some flavor of windoze, so given that
  should I conclude you're an apologist for M$ just like you're claiming
  that because I choose to use OS/2 that I must be one for IBM...I don't
  think you'd like that much either.
       What I don't understand though is your analogy for what are clearly
  pro-business commercials (IBM's middle name *IS* Business ya know) and a
  company that among many other questionable business practices takes on
  partnerships in order to steal a company's technology and then their
  markets.  I don't see where being pro-business has to mean
  "anti-consumer" (and the rest).  All those commercials tell me is that
  they're selling software for doing *business* on the web (there's nothing
  wrong with that), and what you call "arrogance" is only an attempt to
  distance what they're selling with the latest 'web toy' some kids would
  like to use for surfing the web.  There's certainly no crime in wanting
  to use the net for doing business, what's important is how you conduct
  that business.
  >If there is a belief in the software publishing community that customers
  >are chumps, and if that belief is held by Microsoft, I want to urge you to
  >recognize or admit that this belief is far, far from being restricted to
  >The first license agreement came from IBM (you know, the piece of paper
  >that says, "Warranties! You don't need no stinkin' warranties!") not from
  >Microsoft. The revisions to the Uniform Commercial Code that will largely
  >eliminate liability for software defects were drafted with significant
  >influence from  lawyers for IBM and Apple and Oracle and Intel and
  >Microsoft (and many others), not just Microsoft. These revisions will also
  >have significant anti-competitive effects (see my talk Friday, or check
  >http://www.badsoftware.com/nader.htm for the paper that goes with the talk).
       I totally agree with you on this point.  The notion that in
  essence all we do is rent software is ridiculous, and I'll tell everyone
  here right now that I refuse to abide by such license agreements
  (agreement is really a misnomer though, especially since you rarely ever
  see it until AFTER you've already bought the product).  As far as I'm
  concerned I *bought* the product and beyond stealing it (by allowing
  anyone else to copy and use it) I'll do whatever I want with it.  I'm all
  for protecting anyone's intellectual property, but if I'm buying the
  product I'll use it as I see fit.
       Today's "licensing agreements" are unlike anything else I know of. 
  Hell, if I buy a Ford I'm not about to allow Ford to tell me how fast I
  can drive it and how many roads I can drive it on...but that's exactly
  the kind of thing you'll find in your average software 'license
  agreement'.  IBM may have been the first company to use them (I wouldn't
  know) but I've yet to read one that's as restrictive as those coming out
  of Redmond...my favorite was that crap where they try to tell you how
  many concurrent TCP/IP connections can be made to a NT workstation, all I
  can say is if I wanted to use NT WS that way as far as I'd be concerned
  M$ could shove their license agreement where the sun doesn't shine.
  >Microsoft happens to be the biggest kid on its block, but we have serious
  >problems with product quality, with premature shipment of bad code, with
  >false advertising, and terrible support -- we have these problems
  >throughout the industry. Competition among the players in this industry is
  >shrinking--and that's a big problem because the sorry state of product
  >quality will be fixed only by competition or by regulation--but that
  >competition isn't being killed off just by Microsoft.
  >I have tremendous respect for IBM, as I do for Microsoft. But I think that
  >the Work the Web commercials from IBM, the FTC action against Apple (see
  >http://www.ftc.gov/os/9708/c3763ord.htm ), and this absurdity from
  >Microsoft at http://catless.ncl.ac.uk/Risks/17.44.html#subj11 , all point
  >to the same issues.
  >The troubles with Microsoft are just a symptom of a deeper disease. Burning
  >Microsoft will be a symbolic act, not something that will get at the
  >underlying issues.
       I still don't understand your problem with the Lotus commercials,
  all they are is an attempt to make a distinction between business and
  consumer based products.  Is it that you don't like the idea of
  businesses using the net to do business, or is it that you just don't
  like the commercial??  If it's the commercial itself I can understand not
  liking a commercial (there are plenty I don't like too), but not liking a
  company's their commercial doesn't cause me to question their ethics. 
  But if it's the idea of businesses using the net for doing business that
  you find offensive I'm afraid we're going to see more of it in the
       Personally I like the ability to order products on the net (which is
  enabled by the kinds of products Lotus is advertising), and I'm sure I'm
  not alone in finding the ability to obtain information about a product
  (that I may have even already bought months ago) from a company's
  website.  Business on the net is here to stay, and although I'd love to
  see the mass marketing types of activity (ie. spammers) stopped I believe
  we need legitimate businesses if we want net technology to keep
  improving.  A bunch of $10/month dialup accounts from your local Erols or
  AOL isn't going to do anything but place additional drain on net
  resources while it will be business that will be more inclined to invest
  in improving the net...in other words I believe business on the net is at
  worst a necessary evil.
       I'm not saying that companies like IBM are without sin (hell, IBM is
  just now coming out from under a DOJ consent decree they entered into in
  the 1980s), but that said I wouldn't place their current business
  practices on a par with M$.  Although there are several things I'd love
  to see changed in this industry (license agreements only being one of
  them) I know of NO company that does business with quite the same void of
  any ethical standard as does M$.
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