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Re: Your Microsoft Alternative to Antitrust
> The idea of defeating monopoly by making an equal or superior
>substitute product available at zero cost to the public is certainly an
>appealing one. But can a group of users really be found that would put up
>the development money and then give away the fruits of its investment? None
>of the software companies would have an incentive to do so nor would, say,
>the general consumer (the home user and the smaller businessman).
A group has already been founded, assembled, and been busy at work for 10 plus
years. Have you ever heard of the free Unix movement: GNU
(http://www.gnu.org/), FreeBSD and its variants, and Linux?
Did you know that Yahoo runs 12,000 person chat nightly on FreeBSD? They tried
NT but it couldn't handle the load. FreeBSD is absolutely free.
Did you know that the Usenet repository, DejaNews (http://www.dejanews.com/),
is run on Linux servers? They chose Linux because it is free and because they
are free to modify the source code when they want to, something no regular MS
NT user will ever be able to say.
While none of these operating systems are as easy to use as Windows for
beginning computer users, they are all better quality, faster, smaller, more
stable, and more powerful for intermediate and advanced users etc.
There is a very active development community worldwide who is doing exactly
what you find unlikely: working on and developing software that they then
give away to anyone.
You need to look into the free software movement; it is very close to doing
already what you say is unlikely.
> Secondly, would your proposal be legal under the antitrust laws?
>You can be sure that, if your consortium should be successfully organized
>and begin to offer an effective substitute for Microsoft's Windows, for
>example, at a zero price, Bill Gates' lawyers would promptly file a
>multi-billion lawsuit under the antitrust laws against its members charging,
>for starters, (a) conspiracy and (b) predatory (below-cost) pricing. And he
>might have a winnable case: A zero price is about as "predatory" as it can
>get. And if the product's quality was equal to or better than Windows--and
>should be accepted as such by the consuming public--his market share would
>of course start sinking like a stone, his price would collapse to near zero,
>and Microsoft's STOCK price would similarly hit the skids.
Does this mean that if Linux continues to grow in use and acceptance that MS
can sue Linux developers and distributors? That idea is preposterous. Are
Linux developers guilty of dumping their product because they give it away for
free? This is one place, I think, where we have to draw strict and careful
distinctions between MS giving IE away for free and Linux/FreeBSD/GNU being
given away for free. They are not the same thing at all. One is the subject of
antitrust scrutiny, the other is a revolutionary step in human cooperation,
goodwill, and self-preservation.
In many, many places already Linux is taking the place of NT on the server
because it is cheaper, more powerful, and more stable. I'm not saying that no
one uses NT, that's silly. But I am saying that it is a simple fact that Linux
and other free Unixes are being used in large numbers, and that that use is
costing MS money.
My solution to this whole mess is to try to convince more people to try free
software; the more users, the more developers want to work on these projects.
Free software is one killer app or killer interface away from putting a
serious dent into MS, on the desktop and on the server.
My user group has grown in one year from 3 founding members to over 600.
Everday we see new Linux users who are abandoning MS: they aren't gurus or
sysadmins or geeks. They are normal users who are disgusted with MS. Linux
gives them a choice and it gives them freedom.
I love to hear people say that free software must suck because it's free, or
that it can't possibly compete with commercial software because there is no
People need to understand:
free programmers are happy programmers are excellent programmers