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Re: Antitrust Alternative? Stop the Upgrade.

  You bring up some good points. 
  Jordan Pollack wrote:
  > The weakness in the argument for open competition for OS is that
  > people and companies must protect their very large investment in
  > appliances, like spreadsheets, wordprocessors, databases, cad programs, etc.
  This is something to this. Luckily the biggest investments, by and
  large, are in expensive Unix rather than cheap Windows software. Other
  things being equal (which, of course, they are not), I'll get rid of
  Office on my desktop, if I have a reasonable alternative, before I try
  to port my server and its data away from Informix. Both in skill level
  required to operate and monetary investments, PC investments are easier
  to drop than Unix, on average. 
  > Switching to an OS, even on a pentium box, which cannot run WIN31 apps
  > is a dead proposition.  Investing in making WABI or WINE or FREEDOWS
  > (windows emulators) is fruitless when Microsoft can release a new API
  > at will.
  I think the hardest situation is when clients have to try to port
  applications. This is why there are still so many COBOL programs around;
  people who have paid to have code written, and are relying on that code,
  are inclined to keep using it.  This is less often the case for PC's
  than for larger systems. I'm not saying this completely negates your
  point, but I think it attenuates it.
  > If MS couldnt change the api "at will," the efforts to make free
  > standards like Linux and Freebsd could compete by supporting the
  > standard appliances. And Sun's solaris/wabi and ibm's OS/2 would be good
  > supported option for companies.  Unfortunately, you have to make a
  > win95 emulator, and before you finish that, you have to make a win98
  > emulator...
  Here's where Java could be handy. If the appliances were written in Java
  - assuming Microsoft does not succeed in imposing non-standard Java, and
  it is not clear they will - and compiled to native code, the appliance
  developers could support multiple platforms by simply using multiple
  compilers on the same source.
  Of course, this is hypothetical. On the PC, an installed base of 3.1 and
  95 applications is what we have. I think a technically sound alternative
  that offers a reasonably large potential customer base has a good chance
  though. Software is an expanding market in which the rest of even the
  industrialized world still lags considerably behind the US. There are
  always legacy systems - people are still using Cobol and dbase - but
  these seem to be the dead weight of the industry. 
  > The key legal issue is to PREVENT unilateral OS upgrades by the
  > monopolist, which makes everyone's investments obsolete.  Upgrades to
  > a public interface standard should be carefully considered as to the
  > public costs involved.
  It could be a good idea, but I don't know what the legal basis for it
  would be.
  > So I have a question for microsoft developers on the list:
  > I can understand why appliance makers would make appliances which run
  > under windows 95/NT/98 perceiving opening markets.  but since there
  > still is such a large installed based of win31, why are manufacturers
  > not releasing software for it?  Are the services provided so critically
  > necessary? Are the compilers no longer compatible?
  > Or are there legal covenants involved in being a "certified developer"
  > which require no delivery of products compatible with Windows 3.1?
  An interesting suspicion. I'd be interested in knowing what you find
  > Professor Jordan B. Pollack   DEMO Laboratory, Volen Center for Complex Systems
  > Computer Science Dept, MS018  Phone (617) 736-2713/Lab x3366/Fax x2741
  > Brandeis University           website: http://www.demo.cs.brandeis.edu
  > Waltham, MA 02254             email: pollack@cs.brandeis.edu