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If Microsoft walks like a duck...

A reader writes that some of the spats between rivals and Microsoft are clearly politically fuelled.


If Microsoft walks like a duck...

In response to the Nov. 6 column by Neal Goldman, ?Microsoft: Conspiracy theory vs. reality:"

Why should Microsoft's monopolistic practices go unchallenged by other companies? It doesn't matter if the company is part of a grand plan to take over the world, or if it is just making bad decisions with good intentions. Would the writer have preferred that JFK ignore the Cuban missiles if it were proven that it was just an innocent bad decision on the part of the Soviets?

I am quite sure that Microsoft does get blamed for undermining competitors occasionally, when it had no intention of doing so. There is one small problem, however, in a theory that suggests the company is always innocent: Why is it that when an issue like this arises, it always seems to be someone else who suffers, and not Microsoft?

So the company took plug-ins out of Internet Explorer simply because it wanted to make a smaller footprint? Strange that it didn't choose one of its own technologies to remove. Now, it is entirely possible that in this specific case it is just a coincidence that the technology Microsoft chose to remove affected only a rival; but just how probable is it that this same pattern would be repeated as often as it has been in Microsoft's long and contentious history?

When the company changed its MSN Web site, only Microsoft browsers could get in. How coincidental that, out of the four or five browsers that have an integer percentage share of the market, only IE can access the sites? Likewise, other changes to Windows have knocked out rival products, but I can't think of a change that has invalidated a Microsoft product. Can you?

Either this is one hell of a "lottery-jackpot" sized fluke, or some of these "mistakes" are deliberate.

I think some of the spats between rivals and Microsoft are clearly politically fuelled. It is clear, for example, that Sun Microsystems and Oracle have no love for Bill Gates and his company. But I do think that, once you go beyond the schoolyard name calling and chest beating, Microsoft does have a case to answer on many of these charges.

It could just be that Microsoft is innocent of sabotage and underhanded practices, and that all these problems are just a massive coincidence. But as the saying goes: If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck...

L.L. Danvers
Liverpool, England