Wednesday, February 20, 2002

After spending more than a few moments educating my friend on the technical zeitgeist last night over drinks, I found myself once again whipped into a fervent froth when the conversation turned to Microsoft. Then this morning I see this article by Scott Hacker which explains a little known, but extremely anti-competitive, practice that Microsoft uses to control the boot loader on all Intel systems sold with windows. It essentially makes it impossible for Dell or any of the other PC manufacturers to sell systems that dual boot. i.e. Systems that can boot both Windows and say Linux. The article concentrates on Be computers struggle to gain market share in this space by co-existing with Windows but the manufacturers were unable to ship BeOS on any Intel hardware because of these restrictive and secret Windows OEM agreements. The article goes on to describe how the US DOJ blew making this argument in their case against Microsoft. Check out the article. It sheds some new light on a very ugly practice. There was one quote that I have to share because for me it drives home the essential problem with Windows.
Don't bother trying to create a better commercial desktop OS ? it doesn't matter how hard you try, how many engineers you throw at the problem, how much money you spend, or how many years you put into it. Microsoft owns that space and, worse, the public is totally complicit with that fact. People will not stop using Windows. It is a losing battle.
This is a pretty serious statement. It depresses and enrages me all at the same time. It simply does not have to be this way.

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