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Re: Supply and Demand
Robert Mark Waugh makes the point that Netscape's free distribution was
a promotion, and that Microsoft's free distribution is permanent. I
don't think anyone would want to discourage promotions, free trials, or
similar business practices. What about free distribution, on a
permanent basis? This of course is a more thorny issue. Freeware is an
important part of the Internet. I think it would depend upon the
context and the circumstances.
I find Microsoft's zero pricing of the MSIE objectionable because it is
basically an attempt to extend or protect the leverage it obtains from
the OS monopoly. That is, I see it as part of the issue about how MS
uses the OS monopoly as leverage in other applications markets. Given
the many problems with the current MS leveraging of the OS in
applications, it is frightening to think of MS doing the same to a
generation of Internet applications. Netscape and java programers are
tying to get around the OS monopoly by building a platform than runs on
top of Windows. That is why MS is doing everything it can to destroy
Netscape and Java platforms.
However, I have an open mind about the pricing issue, in general.
Suppose, for example, that MS argued that its browser would pay for
itself, not by protecting MS's current ability to constantly manipulate
the API to screw its rivals, but as a standalone business venture,
supported by ads or e-commerce. And suppose further that MS was forced
to stop screwing its rivals in applications markets, by accepting
conduct rules, giving rival applications programers equal access to
information about OS functionality, equal abilities to distribute
updated OS files, unbundling (functionality and marketing) of
applications and the OS, plus other measures that would address well
known anticompetitive behavior. Under these conditions, people might
not care if MS wanted to spend $100 or $200 hundred million on freeware.
Mitch Stone wrote:
> In reply to MachCU@aol.com's message sent 11/25/97 9:55 AM:
> >>I accept most of what you say, but allow me to pose the devil's advocate
> >>question: Were there not several browsers on the market when Navigator
> >>arrived on the scene, and didn't Netscape essentially drive them out?
> >Ah, but the difference is that Netscape drove them out on a level playing
> >field. Microsoft has a monopoly in the OS market, so they are not on level
> >playing fields.
> With all this talk about "level playing fields" I beginning to wonder how
> I'd recognize one if I saw it. Netscape _did_ give away its browser, thus
> building a large market for browsers, but at the same taking out the
> smaller players.
> Mitch Stone
> Have you paid your Microsoft tax today?
> Boycott Microsoft ** http://www.vcnet.com/bms
James Packard Love
Consumer Project on Technology
P.O. Box 19367 | Washington, DC 20036
voice 202.387.8030 | fax 202.234.5176
firstname.lastname@example.org | http://www.cptech.org