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Software, Hard Feelings

Many people believe Bill Gates has more power than any individual should be allowed to have

Software, Hard Feelings
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+0553
ACCOMPLISHMENT breeds antagonism. But even for the level of William Henry Gates III's accomplishments, the amount of pure hatred that he generates is incredible. On the Internet, for instance, someone offers conclusive proof that he is the anti-Christ predicted by Revelation 13:18 in the Bible, the beast whose "number is 666".

For every alphabet, the computer has a corresponding number—the ASCII code. If you add up the ASCII codes for the name 'Bill Gates 3', you get 66+73+76+76+71 +65+84+69+83+3=666 (you get the same for 'Adolf Hitler' and 'Joseph Stalin'). Also from Revelation 13:16 and 13:18: "He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads," "and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the Beast, or the number of his name." According to Microsoft-bashers, that mark could only be..."Windows compatible".

The reason for the rancour is Microsoft's stranglehold on operating systems (mar-ketshare 82 per cent), the programs that run the basic functions of a computer, and on which all other 'application software'—word processors, spreadsheets and so on—are dependent. These basic programs—MS-DOS and Windows—have causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads," "and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the Beast, or the number of his name." According to Microsoft-bashers, that mark could only be..."Windows compatible".

The reason for the rancour is Microsoft's stranglehold on operating systems (marketshare 82 per cent), the programs that run the basic functions of a computer, and on which all other 'application software'—word processors, spreadsheets and so on—are dependent. These basic programs—MS-DOS and Windows—have the company agreed to rewrite its contracts so that PC-makers would pay only for each copy of MS-DOS that was installed on the PCs they shipped.

Every time Microsoft brings out a new version of MS-DOS or Windows, all application software makers (like Novell, which makes WordPerfect; or Lotus which makes Lotus 1-2-3) have to change their packages accordingly. Application makers claim that Microsoft keeps making needless and minor changes at regular intervals in MS-DOS and Windows. The alleged reasoning: since Microsoft's own application software writers are able to learn more, and sooner, about the details of new versions of MS-DOS and of Windows, Microsoft has an unfair advantage. It can always bring out updated versions of its word processor MS Word faster than, say, Novell can re-orient WordPerfect.

After Microsoft's financial management software Money failed, the company decided to buy Intuit, the maker of Quicken, which has a 70 per cent share of the financial software market. The Wall Street Journal quoted Microsoft Vice-president Mike Maples as saying that if Microsoft did not acquire Intuit, "we were going to spend most of our energies dealing with existing competitors". Why compete when you can buy your rival? Again, after lengthy litigation, Microsoft dropped the Intuit idea.

By the time Gates woke up to the possibilities of the Internet, other companies—especially a start-up called Netscape—was way ahead. Netscape, set up by University of Illinois student, Marc Andreessen—shades of Harvard dropout Gates—invented the key Internet-use software, the 'web browser'. Microsoft reacted late and in characteristic fashion: it tried to

buy Netscape. Netscape refused. Microsoft then developed its own web browser Explorer and gave away a million of them free to get people away from the Netscape browser. Gates is spending $2 billion (Netscape's turnover is $300 million) on just R&D to get a stranglehold on the Internet products market. There are many who see in this assault on the loose democratic World Wide Web a frighteningly Orwellian scenario.

Gates-bashers believe that most Microsoft products have been inferior to rival offerings, but the company has always managed to crush the opposition by leveraging its pincer grip on the operating systems market and with superior money power. Gates-haters claim that WordPerfect is better than MSWord (marketshare 64 per cent), Lotus better than Microsoft Excel (61 per cent), and Windows a clumsy also-ran to Apple's Macintosh software.

"If Microsoft made cars," goes a joke circulating on the Internet, "every time they repainted the lines on the road, you'd have to buy a new car." Occasionally your car would just die for no reason, and you'd have to restart it. For some strange reason, you would just accept this. People would get excited about the 'new' featuresin Microsoft cars, forgetting completely that they had been available in other brands for years. We'd all have to switch to Microsoft Gas. New seats will force everyone to have the same-sized ass." The principal reason why Microsoft—and Gates—is hated because as the owner of the bottleneck, he seems to have too much power over the planet for comfort. Other people's comfort, that is.

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