Jeff Wolfe's Weblog

Wednesday, August 28, 2002

POT, MEET KETTLE - The Star-Tribune has an article pointing out how hypocritical it is for Congress and the White House to be criticizing corporate America for their bookkeeping irregularities. Sure, they need to clean up the mess of Enron, et al., and they are. But the problem is nothing compared to the problems with the books of the various federal agencies. And this kind of thing has been going on for decades.

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

LOCK-IN: A MYTH? - DVD is rapidly supplanting VHS as the video format of choice for consumers. That demonstrated that anti-trust action based on the concept of "lock-in" is flawed, according to this article by the Independent Institute.

Thursday, August 08, 2002

REASONS FOR OPTIMISM - Eugene Volokh tells us why he's an optimistic libertarian. Then he says, "people who get too pessimistic might feel (wrongly) that things are already so bad that they can't get worse, and as a result fail to protect what liberty they do indeed possess but that they ignore in their excessive gloom."

Fortunately, some of the pessimists are like L. Neil Smith, and they continue to work for liberty out of sheer bull-headedness.

MICROSOFT PLOTTING ITS OWN DEMISE - Back in January, I posted a piece on (ultimately false) rumors that AOL would buy Red Hat Software. I noted that Microsoft's so-called anti-competitive practices had the potential to hurt Microsoft in the long run.

Here is an article with a much more direct example. The article is a counterpoint to comments made in a recently published interview with Sun Microsystems CEO Scott McNealy. The comments are about the revenue model of Open Source, but they also undermine the anti-trust mentality of attacking Microsoft.

IBM was probably the first company to reinvent itself around a viable model for the future. Ironically, IBM took its first step in this direction when it gave up on some of its software products (such as OS/2 and SmartSuite), endorsed Java, and started promoting open standards as the only reasonable course of action. As a former user and fan of OS/2, I resented IBM's move back then, and I resented even more that it was induced in part by Microsoft's refusal to let IBM license Windows 95 for a reasonable price unless it put the brakes on OS/2.

In retrospect, however, this could have been one of the best moments in open source history. IBM's transition to Java and open standards eventually led to its support of Linux and open source, steps it probably wouldn't have taken if IBM had held onto the dream of supplanting Windows with OS/2 and Office with SmartSuite. We can also credit IBM for given Linux a great deal of credibility by endorsing it. In a twisted way, we can thank Microsoft's hard-core monopolistic practices for much of the success of Linux today.

If Microsoft had been forced (by anti-trust action) to cater to IBM and OS/2, IBM would not today be committed to open standards and Open Source on the desktop. That committment doesn't guarantee the success of Open Source or the downfall of Microsoft by any means, but it is another piece of evidence that doing nothing is preferable to taking anti-trust action against Microsoft. At least for the average consumer.