Why Do So Many People Hate Microsoft?

Contributed by Phil Trent
Part of the NewsFactor Network
March 8, 2001


When a company transitions from competing with other companies to defining the rules of the game, abuse inevitably follows.

In This Story:

Innovator or Integrator?

Office Space

Brilliant Move

More Strikes

Sabotage Unpunished

Last Word

Microsoft is under attack from a lot of fronts: various governments and government agencies, competitors, Linux users and Mac users, as well as many of their own customers.

Never in the history of the corporate world has so much anger been directed at one company. Several of these parties claim subversive, unethical and outright illegal behavior.

What did Microsoft do to provoke these parties?

Few people know this, but Microsoft did not make the original DOS. Bill Gates purchased DOS for $15,000.

DOS, like many other Microsoft programs, began as a copy of another program. The programmer that made DOS made it by using a CPM (another operating system) manual and making it command compatible.

Arguably, this would be highly illegal today (look and feel), but back in the early 80s it was the Wild West of computing.

Innovator or Integrator?

I have this theory called the "Name Theory." It basically says that often companies are obsessed with touting qualities that their products lack.

In other words, if you emphasized what would normally be assumed, it is often a lie. "Quality" mobile homes and "correctional" facility come to mind.

Microsoft has been dogmatic in insisting that it is an "innovator." Isn't it really an "integrator?" Their so-called "innovations" are integration of their or other products into their OS.

Office Space

Microsoft has demonstrated quite a bit of prowess in the integration of their OS and also their Office package. Their fault is trying to portray themselves as something they are not.

Bill Gates can't stop talking about how this or that government remedy will stifle their "innovation." What it will stifle is their monopoly and actually force Microsoft to compete.

Don't you think that MS Office would be on Linux the moment the OS and Office division were separated? Right now, it doesn't make good sense for Microsoft to legitimize Linux any more than it is by producing MS Office for it.

Brilliant Move

Microsoft began giving Internet Explorer away, but it still wasn't enough. Netscape was still winning. Then, someone at Microsoft had a brilliant idea: weave Internet Explorer into the next operating system.

This simple solution solved a lot of problems. First, everyone that buys a new computer gets Internet Explorer. Second, it builds a foundation of plug-ins to Internet Explorer software, so many that it would make some sites unloadable without it. Third, it establishes a common interface for the OS and the Browser. Fourth, it allows Microsoft to charge for their browser.

Yes, you heard me. Win98 is just Win95 with IE built in. OK, there are a few little items (better USB support, additional drivers, bootable CDs, Microsoft Plus, show desktop icon). On the downside, you need twice as much RAM, because you are running a major application all the time (IE).

In court, Microsoft claimed that IE enhanced the performance of Win98 and was so integrated that it couldn't be taken out. This was proved a fallacy by "IE lite." A program which strips out IE from Win98.

More Strikes

Microsoft has a pattern of subverting weakened competitors. The vehicle is buying a stake in these companies. This practice has been scrutinized by many, including the Federal Trade Commission.

How many Windows users have managed to avoid the blue screen of death or had their machine lock up on them? There is no punishment quite like the lash of the incompetent.

One big reason monopolies are so devastating is, if you are not satisfied, you cannot go anywhere else. Microsoft knows that becoming labeled as a monopoly will likely subjugate them to lawsuits, governmental regulation and breakup.

Sabotage Unpunished

To understand why many of Microsoft's competitors are angry at them, some background needs to be established.

Microsoft has been caught numerous times specifically writing bugs or warnings when running competing software. They coded some versions of MS-DOS to not work well with Lotus 1-2-3. Windows 3.x had crippling code directed at DRDOS.

I think it laughable that petty thievery is a crime, when corporate sabotage goes unpunished. When resources of society are directed by monopoly abuse, instead of the best organizers of resources, comparatively little economic benefit is produced.

For the above reasons, some government agencies have stepped in to find out why so many people are complaining about Microsoft's practices.

Last Word

Much of the behavior that was mentioned in this article has since been curbed or disappeared, but it allowed Microsoft to dominate markets that may or may not have been dominated otherwise.

In the free market, every company wants to dominate in the products and services in which it participates. However, when a company transitions from competing with other companies to defining the rules of the game, abuse inevitably follows.


Original Story


Author's background:
Phil Trent is the Marketing Director for SMI and founder of Marketingdirector.org (which isn't much yet, according to the author). He's a student of business strategy and tactics and is a voracious reader of material about corporate founders and inventors. He also loves the game "Unreal Tournament & Tribes."

Talkback:  Click here to add your comment about this story...