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Just a thought

  Just a quick thought, after reading some online opinions to the
  effect of "leave MS alone, look at what they brought us:"
  A lot of people say that we are indebted to Microsoft for bringing us
  cheap and easy to use computers; for creating stability and a common
  standard... just think how difficult it would be to share documents
  if not everybody used Word...
  But I believe if we had real competition, only then would we have a
  REAL incentive for stability and common standards.
  Imagine a world with some 6 or more popular desktop OS's, three or
  four *common* hardware platforms (instead of just Intel), and a
  handfull or more major packages in each application category:
  There'd be a common API subset between OS's, so that they can share
  the market of applications. Of course it wouldn't be entirely
  homogenous. But a vendor would have to think hard before he publishes
  an incompatible API to existing functionality, instead of just
  creating an OS that implements the common ground PLUS some
  enhancements. And many "enhancements" would be hidden behind existing
  API's. (example: OS Y would provide the same filesystem calls as OS
  X, but provide the ability to transparently treat a URL as if it were
  a file)
  There'd be a real incentive for common file formats for sharing data,
  where applications can recognise and ignore, with a warning, special
  extensions of competitors' products they can't deal with.
  Few companies would have the power to build up massive "office
  suites", so there'd be a real incentive for open API's to integrate
  and share data. Instead of buying MS Office, you'd compose your own
  suite consisting of your favorite word processor, spreadsheet etc.
  In a scenario like this, where no OS vendor can provide such massive
  amounts of applications, there'd be a real incentive for a clean and
  OS-mediated process of installing and de-installing applications. So
  that it might be rather trivial to fill in an on-line questionairre
  to a computer reseller, marking that you want OS X with browser Y and
  calculator Z; and have them all automatically burned onto a CD and
  mailed to you.
  In fact, the supposed stability we have at the moment, which MS is
  credited for, is dismall. Every few years brings a new Windows and
  new incompatibilities. Owners of the latest and greatest Office can't
  share files with Aunt Bertha who still owns a Win 3.1 - capable
  computer with Word 2. The costs to the industry are enormous.
  I'm all for innovation. But there are other ways of innovation than
  rendering entire swathes of the application market obsolete
  Frankly, I don't think that breaking up the MS monopoly would be such
  a sad day for the software industry which is "doing so tremendously
  well precisely because it had not been interfered with."
       /_)              /| /
      /   i e t e r    / |/ a g e l