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Date:      Sat, 13 Nov 1999 14:32:53 -0800
From:      "David Schwartz" <davids@webmaster.com>
To:        "Giorgos Keramidas" <keramida@ceid.upatras.gr>, <freebsd-chat@freebsd.org>
Subject:   RE: Judge: "Gates Was Main Culprit"
Message-ID:  <000001bf2e27$06a48230$021d85d1@youwant.to>
In-Reply-To: <86hfiqh0sv.fsf@localhost.hell.gr>

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> "David Schwartz" <davids@webmaster.com> writes:
>
> > > "David Schwartz" <davids@webmaster.com> writes:
> > >
> > > > Yes, and they crushed it by putting out a superior product.
> > > > What is wrong with that?
> > >
> > > Nothing, but IE is not a superior product.  Superiority is
> never defined
> > > as taking advantage of `internal' knowledge of the OS, in
> order to make
> > > a program load faster.
> >
> > Ahh, I see. Superior has nothing to do with user experience. Superior
> > is to be judged by experts according to arcane principles. That's much
> > better than letting the market decide.
>
> The market does not always decide on principles of superiority,

	I guess this is just going to degenerate into a definition game. When a
person chooses which browser to use, they'll decide which is 'superior' for
them. That could be based on any number of factors including availability,
cost, user experience, perceived quality, or even just which has a cooler
name. All these things are what makes a product 'superior' in the market.

	The extent to which technological superiority (which I think is what you
mean) translates into market share is the extent to which it affects the
consumer's 'buying' decision. That extent can vary tremendously based upon
other market factors.

> and for
> Gawd's sake what do you mean by using the word `superior' here, because
> I was assuming technical superiority is the goal.

	It's funny, but engineers generally seem to think that all that matters is
technical superiority. Of course, that's important. But is that all that
matters? Of course not.

	You were assuming technical superiority is the goal of what?

> And the market, as
> anyone who has seen Windows taking over the market from OS/2 and some
> other operating systems that are clearly technically superior in some
> aspects, if not in all their design philosophy; anyone who knows that
> Windows runs on most desktop computers nowadays, knows that the market
> does not decide always with an eye to technical superiority, but can be
> driven to and fro by what is generally called the 'market-droids' (no
> offense for anyone meant here).

	Right. Perceived value is as important as actual value. This is especially
true in the computer market, believe it or not.

	Look at Intel. Once the Celeron had cache and it was discovered that you
could use it in SMP machines, there was really little reason to spend twice
the money for a P2 at the same clock speed. Yet there was still tremendous
prejudice against the Celeron largely because of the perception that the
Celeron was a low-end processor. Intel carefully nurtured this perception to
protect its cash cow, the P2.

	Look at NT Server versus Workstation. Other than price and licensing terms,
the differences are minimal. Yet people continue to strongly prefer Server
(even for their desktop machines) because of the perception that it is
somehow a heavier-duty OS.

	Something often forgotten by those who focus on technical superiority is
the cost of abandoning legacy applications. As Y2K is showing us, the cost
of breaking with the past can be enormous, so technologies that provide
compatability with previous generations have increased value, even though a
robotic computation of technical superiority may not show it.

	Look what it took Intel and AMD to get an x86 processor to 700Mhz. Of
course it would have been easier to produce a faster processor that didn't
have to run code written for an 8086, but too many people are unwilling to
make a clean break. This gives an advantage to competing architectures such
as PowerPC and Alpha because they don't have to maintain this clumsy
compatability.

> > > This is not superiority, it's plain good ol' cheating.
> >
> > Cheating is a great way to make a product better. All the user cares
> > about is the user experience. If integrating IE into Windows improves
> > the user experience, then that's a legitimate reason to do it.
>
> Cheating can and has always helped win under some circumstances.  That's
> why I used the word `good' before it.  However, it is by no means fair,
> and there ought to be some limits to it.

	Yes, the limit should be what the consumer does not want. Not even
Microsoft can make a consumer buy something they don't want. And not even
the government should stop Microsoft from making and selling what consumers
want.

> As for the `user experience' thing, ask all those who have seen IE
> stopping to download simultaneously from more than 4 sockets at a time,
> and those who use Netscape and see all their active downloads proceeding
> as usual.  And `user experience' is an objective criterion to define
> superiority or `goodness'.  Both these terms usually depend on what one
> calls `good' and what is regarded by each and every one of us as `bad'.

	Of course. I have my complaints about IE as well. Personally, I wish
Microsoft had put 1/5 as much energy into designing ActiveX as Sun put into
Java. I believe Java is technically superior to ActiveX and wish that Sun
had made it more open and hadn't overpromised.

	But the fact still remains, the vast majority of people who compare IE to
Netscape prefer IE. I have both on my desktop and use IE about 95% of the
time. Yes, it crashes from time to time. So does Netscape.

	So why aren't the Netscape folks working on the next thing? Whatever it is
that will make the browser obsolete. That's where the market for technical
superiority is.

> > You may consider some of Microsoft's innovations cheating, but that's
> > not your decision to make.
>
> Using in half of the operating system the same libraries as IE uses is
> certainly a nice design decision on behalf of Microsoft.  Having a
> separate layer of abstraction, so that IE is not so closely bound to
> Windows, would probably make porting IE to other platforms easier but
> then again, it's already ported to a few platforms.  Not as many as I
> would certainly wish to see it ported to, and not close to all the Unix
> boxes supported by Netscape though.

	And the nice thing for developers targetting Windows 98 and later operating
systems is that they can rely on those services being there and use them.
This is a benefit for the same reason that integrating memory management
into the operating system is a benefit.

> > Go ahead, take memory management out of the OS. Take disk compression
> > out.  How far do you want to set us back?
>
> Eh?  Did I ever even mention that any of these operating system
> characteristics are *evil* and should be dropped by anyone?

	What about your argument against browser integration doesn't apply to disk
compression integration? Or memory management integration? Or GUI
integration? (Actually, GUI integration is something that I can't stand. But
I'm not going to tell Microsoft how to design their products.)

> > > And more examples like this one can be found at closer inspection,
> > > like those rumours that non-MS products are offered the great honour
> > > of a few extra wait-states by the scheduler of the OS in question,
> > > which is another way of making all the _others_ look like they're
> > > tooo slooow when compared to ma' MS's finely intergrated products,
> > > etc. etc.
> >
> > Look, it's Microsoft's operating system. If they didn't want to sell
> > it at all, no one could force them to.
>
> Not related in any way to the way the operating system is designed, in
> order to have other people's software run slower than their own.

	If Microsoft wanted to, they could close Windows completely and not allow
anyone else to develop any software for it at all. That's entirely within
their rights under copyright. The greater right includes the lesser right.

> > If you like it, use it. If not, don't. But do you really want the
> > government telling Microsoft how to design its products?
>
> Pretty Microsoftish, this argument is in fact what had them win the
> court.  Yes, it makes sense, but it's still an unfair practice.  I am
> not in favor of having the government gaining in some way control of
> what Microsoft is _supposed_ to do though.  However, what would be a
> nice thing was if the source of Windows was readily available to
> everyone, so that those developing for Windows would know right from the
> start that their programs would be doomed to seem running slower than
> MS's own programs.  I am no Windows developer, but I know a lot of
> people who are, and if I know them good enough, having this as plainly
> stated as seeing the source itself would certainly make them upset.
> Since I can't prove it, having no actual source, but a few web pages
> commenting on it, I will not defend this anymore.  But, my opinion about
> closed-source programs won't probably change in any manner either.

	If you don't like closed-source programs, don't buy them. But to tell
everyone else that you no better than them and that closed-source should be
eliminated is absurdly elitist.

> > Look, IE is superior. Period. Anyone who has used both browsers, and
> > who is honest, will tell you that.
>
> I believe I am in a way honest to myself.  And I have seen pages with
> IE, as I have seen pages with Netscape.  Yes, IE is admittedly more
> multimedia-enabled, and certainly has some more features that can have
> an average John Newbie user feel a little easy and at home.
>
> Honestly though, both IE and Netscape have crashed like hundreds of
> times on me.  None of them has satisfied me when it comes to browsing.

	I agree with that entirely. There is still a long way to go. But don't
worry, in 10 years or so, the browser as we know it today will be entirely
obsolete and it won't matter anymore. It will eventually go the way of
archie and gopher. That's the beautiful thing about technology.

> > There have been dozens of browser shootouts.  Pretty much every single
> > one of them (after IE4 was released) has concluded the same thing. The
> > market concluded the same thing.
>
> I am long convinced that the market is not what one should blindly
> follow on decisions about what I should use or not.  That is after all a
> freebsd-list, and obviously I am not using what everyone else seems to
> find user-friendly, at least as far as the market is concerned.

	That's not what I'm saying at all. A purchasing or implementation decision
should not be based on what everyone else is buying or using. There are
plenty of healthy niche markets to mine and exploit.

> > > Competition is another truly controversial subject, especially when
> > > based on what I called _internal_ knowledge (see above).
> >
> > A company should use every resource at its command to provide the best
> > products possible to its customers and the most competition.
>
> Oh should it?  How about hiring snippers that would `accidentally'
> happen to live just outside the competitors offices, and by a truly
> remarkable game of fate would get pissed only by seeing the faces of the
> employers of that, very unlucky indeed, competitor?  That seems like a
> certainly handy resource.  But should we allow `anything' in the name of
> competition?
>
> Does the goal make any means allowed, legal or sane?

	I draw the line at the use of force, fraud, or a substitute for force or
fraud. In fact, I could list a few cases where I do think that Microsoft
engaged in practices that could be considered fraud. But they're not the
issues under discussion in this particular case. Misrepresentation or
intentional partial disclosure are fraud, in my opinion.

> > > Compare the price of running Netscape on *BSD, with that of running IE
> > > on Windows.
> [snip]
> > Neither Netscape nor FreeBSD are commercial products. I'm talking
> > about comparing Windows to other commercial operating systems.
>
> Pretty nice and rational now that you clarified it, but I thought that
> we were not talking about commercial, and only commercial, software
> products until now.

	When you're considering whether the cost of Windows is reasonable or not,
you have to compare it to other commercial operating systems. Microsoft had
no means of enlisting thousands of people to work on Windows for them at no
charge.

> > Do you think you could start a company, build an proprietary operating
> > system from the ground up, and sell it for prices that compete with
> > Microsoft?
>
> How about grabbing the sources of FreeBSD, adding a nice real-time
> extension which I made myself, and selling the whole thing nicely
> packaged, by giving away all the sources for free, except for that part
> that I have built myself?
>
> I think that this is allowed by the *BSD license.  And I could charge
> close to nothing for it.  Everything that BSD can use, could be used on
> that too.  No extra cost for using Netscape on it either.

	Yes, but that's not what Microsoft did. My point is, considering what
Microsoft did, and the enormous amount of money they continue to spend on
operating system development, the price of Windows is well within the realm
of reason. Microsoft could undoubtedly charge far more for Windows than it
does and sell pretty much the same number of copies for quite some time.
However, long term, they would accelerate the rate at which Windows would
become irrelevant, and that is what Microsoft fears most of all.

> > > Monopoly harm begins when you start to get your choices limited, and
> > > the choice of one's operating system is IMHO a very fundamental one.
> >
> > But you have the choice of numerous operating systems. Most people
> > choose Windows simply because they find it superior for the tasks they
> > need to solve.
>
> Or because they know of no better.  For instance, having Windows
> prepackaged with every new PC that is sold, how many users do you think
> that will just sit and ask themselves on their first blue-screen "Hm,
> should I install linux or freebsd and see if that crashes on me too?"
> Not that many, IMHO.

	I know. I personally _hate_ that, and I wish Microsoft wouldn't do it. I
find their excuse that it's to combat piracy incredibly lame.

> > Build a better operating system, and nothing Bill Gates can do will
> > stop you from ultimately triumphing in the market.
>
> When it comes to computers there is no single `market'.  What is bad is
> not allowing somebody else to triumph, as you put it, in the browser or
> office-suite market, by making constant changes that provide nothing in
> stability, performance, or usability, but are just meant to stop others
> from competing.  Think of Samba and Network Neighborhoods.  In some
> ways, Samba might be better, mostly because it runs on so many Unixen
> that Windows sharing was a little less than a dream just a while ago.
>
> However, many a time Microsoft decided to change the SMB protocol, for
> no apparent reason.  The changes were in the key used to authenticate
> oneself, but they did not seem to provide for better security (not
> larger keys, just different and it has always been with proprietary
> protocols, not documented anywhere).  They were there obviously in order
> to make Samba unusable.  This is not what I usually call `better' when
> I'm talking about a system in general.

	How did Microsoft's changes hurt samba? It was still doing exactly what it
was designed to do. It simply no longer interoperated with Microsoft's
operating systems. This hurts Microsoft's operating systems as much or more
than it hurts samba. When you choose to develop a product that works with
another company's product, you take the risk that they'll make design
changes that break this compatability. If you want a guarantee, you can
always ask for one. Otherwise, you proceed at your own risk.

	Microsoft did not ask for samba. Microsoft does not have to suffer samba if
they don't want to. If they want their operating systems not to interoperate
with other operating systems, that is their right.

	I develop products all that time that do not interoperate with products
developed by other companies. This is a deliberate design decision. Or do
you not believe that companies have the right to develop and use proprietary
protocols and technologies? Is this going to degenerate into 'information
wants to be free'?

> > But Microsoft is powerful and is a fiendish competitor.
> > This is a successful market.
>
> Any market is successful for some, a failure for others.  I still don't
> see how these last two sentences prove anything.

	A market is not successful 'for' anyone. There will always be winners and
losers. A good market is one that is intensely competitive, and the computer
software market is.

> > > Forgive me if I am wrong, but companies are not supposed to "kill"
> > > competition.
> >
> > Yes, they are. They are supposed to compete so effectively that their
> > competitors have to provide better products at lower prices or go out
> > of business. That's a strong, competitive economy.
>
> I still seem to be in dire need of a more lengthy description of the
> meaning conveyed by the usage of words `better', `superior', etc.
>
> Lower prices are not a characteristic of Microsoft, unless you've never
> actually payed for your copy of Windows and Office; but that's probably
> something that does not conform with what Microsoft wants you to do.

	That's just not true. Are you saying this for any particular reason? Do you
really believe it? Would any facts help, or is your mind already closed.

	Here's a quotation from Stan Liebowitz:

"Software prices fell by an average of 15% from 1985 to 1995, except in
markets where Microsoft competed. Those markets experienced a 65% drop in
prices. Spreadsheet and Wordprocessor prices were not falling until
Microsoft's products started to become the standard. Even in markets where
Microsoft had attained a very large market share, such as midrange desktop
publishing, it lowered its price."

	Other researchers have reached similar results.

> Oh, and I still seem to prefer those other non-commercial OSes, like
> Linux and *BSD, because even if they're not better, they're cheaper for
> me, both in the short and in the long run.  Anyone who has spent hours
> on the phone, trying to solve some problem with the installation of some
> piece of hardware whose unsupported third-party drivers just don't work
> on Windows, knows what I'm talking about.

	Sure. But I've had those same problems with Linux. (Never with FreeBSD, but
I think that's just been luck so far)

> > > Instead, they are supposed to create superior products, in order to
> > > be in the head of it.
> [snip]
> >
> > There is nothing a company can do to stop consumers from buying a
> > better product at a lower price.  The hard part is producing a better
> > product for a lower price.
>
> 100% agreed.
>
> > I'm going to try to get some essays on the Findings of Fact up at
> > http://youknow.youwant.to/ms ASAP.
>
> I will be certainly waiting for them to appear there.

	DS



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