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M i c r o s o f t   W o r l d   D o m i n a t i o n 
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A critical position in the year 2001        

                   by The Paranoid and Luebke of Paranoia


First I'd like to  point out that this article has mainly  been written because
the chief-editor of this  magazine, ST Survivor, asked me to. Second  it should
be mentioned that some people might be offended by this article. This is not my
intention, however, when talking  about Microsoft and their doings today, it is
hard to not  offend somebody. Thanks  to Luebke  and Der  Komtur for additional

Chapter 1: The anything but glorious past

Microsoft  is quite  old by  now. As most  other companies at  that time, they
started off as a small company serving a relatively small, but growing market.
However, Microsoft soon  found a  relatively  secure  position on  the market,
serving the  manufacturers of computers  directly instead  of competing on the
ordinary customer market.

Meaning, most of the  favourite 8-bit computers  featured a  built-in  Basic by
Microsoft. Commodore Basic V2, famous from the C64, is indeed a Microsoft Basic
in disguise  while  the  Atari 8-bit  series  featured a  copy  of  Microsoft's
advanced Basic. In fact, the only  exceptions I know  of are the Sinclair  home
computers (Basic by Sinclair  Research) as well as the Amstrad  CPC (Locomotive

This enabled Microsoft  to have a relatively safe  foot to stand  on while
competing on a professional market around the operating system named CP/M.
Microsoft produced its  own version of CP/M but never  got near the market
leader in sales - Digital Research.

Microsoft also offered  software packages for CP/M computers  such as Microsoft
Multiplan, an early versions of Excel, or Microsoft Bookshelf. But as initially
said, Microsoft was neither famous nor very  strong on the CP/M market. Digital
Research always was a bit ahead  with their version of CP/M and the competitors
in the  customer  software  market  were  usually ahead of Microsoft : DBase by
Ashton-Tate, XXXXXX by YYYYYYY etc.

Finally, the  market  moved  on  from  8080/Z80   based  machines  to   Intel  8086
(initially  the 8088) processors  when  IBM  announced the  "open standard", the PC.
To get this  straight : IBM  had  _never_  declared  the  PC  standard  a  free  one
if they hadn't been  forced  to. IBM  was under control by the Anti-trust department
of  the US government  by this time  as  IBM  was  considered a  monopolist company.
IBM therefore _had_ to  announce the  specifications  for a  PC compatible  computer
as a free standard to prevent even more restrictions from the Anti-trust department.

IBM on the other hand  never expected  the personal  computer segment to deal a
lot of money so they never  really focussed  on the long-term  effects  of what
they did. They  just  focussed on  using as  many  third  party  components  as
possible on their  Personal  Computer : The CPU from  Intel (instead  of an IBM
production), the operating system from Microsoft (instead of an IBM production)
and so forth.

Microsoft was just lucky to have gotten into the PC business together with IBM
at this  time  instead of  its competitors. And  it  was  surely  not  because
Microsoft had the best operating system for 8086 - they didn't even have it by
then. They bought QDOS from  XXXXXXXX in a hurry and continued  development on
that. Digital Research migrated  from CP/M to  DOS as well and produced DR-DOS
for quite some  time  with  growing  success (but  failed  in the end). Again,
Microsoft managed to have a  safe basis for their  continued existence by this
deal with IBM and was "out of competition" in some sense since original IBM PC
computers were primarily shipped with MS-DOS.

But yet again, Microsoft only  had a good position  when it came  to operating
systems. In the consumer software market, Microsoft had a lot of products that
however, never managed to achieve market leadership. The word-processor market
was  dominated  first by  Word Star, then by  Word Perfect, the  most  popular
spreadsheet was first VisiCalc, then  Lotus 1-2-3 with  Frameworks in a pretty
good position as well. The most common database  of this time was surely DBase
by Ashton Tate.

Microsoft had Excel, Word and  later also Access  in the race, but never really
got famous for those. They also continued Q-Basic (guess where it got its name,
the Q is not a Microsoft  invention), also  offering a compiler for it and also
continued the original CP/M based software Multiplan and Bookshelf.

To sum up this chapter : Microsoft was  never very innovative  nor very good at
producing software. They have just been lucky. They never invented anything new
nor did anything better than everybody else did. They have just been lucky.

Chapter 2: The depressing today

To cut a long story short: Microsoft is everywhere.

Microsoft's  operating  system "Windows" is running on  roughly 95% of  all PCs
used at semiprofessional offices on stand-alone computers or on home computers.
It is by now running on roughly 90% of all  network-based workgroups  that deal
with user interaction in form of "Windows NT".

If you look for  a "standard" in  word-processing, the  name will be  Microsoft
Word. The most popular spreadsheet  is Microsoft  Excel while the most commonly
used database is Microsoft  Access. The browser  market is  not solely ruled by
Microsoft  with  its Internet  Explorer but  since  the (sane)  development  of
Netscape has  more or less  stopped, Microsoft's Internet  explorer is becoming
more and more popular - today it is being used by about 60% of all web-surfers,
amount  increasing - not to  mention that Microsoft  Outlook is the most famous
Internet mail-program.

Even when it comes to developing  on x86  platforms, Microsoft's Visual C and
Visual Basic - for any other language Microsoft Visual studio - dominates the
market with only a relatively small amount  of developers sticking to Borland
Delphi or Visual C Builder, amount decreasing.

There are other markets where Microsoft  does not dominate  as well. These are,
however, niche-markets that Microsoft did probably not expect too much money to
be made in: Like for example  HTML-editors  (Microsoft FrontPage Express, which
is popular, but  not in a  monopolism  position) as  well  as  picture  retouch
software etc.

Whenever computers appear on TV (not in  movies), it's usually a Windows system
(in movies, the Macintosh still dominates). When you get a CD-ROM for free with
a magazine, the installation and user guide as well as the software will be for
Windows  only - only if  you're very  lucky, you will  find either Macintosh or
Linux software on it.

Several ISPs have started to give out their own  connection software - usually
it's Windows  only - and  if it  includes a  browser, it's most  probably  the
Internet Explorer. Only behind the scenes you will find  non-Windows systems -
computers that are expected to  work flawlessly and  not interact  with a user
directly are either Unix machines or - getting more and more popular - a Linux

The evil (?) schemes and the reasons for them

So what is Microsoft up to this time ?

The problem that Microsoft mainly suffers from is that they by now really sold
a copy of Windows to anyone whoever  dared thinking about  buying a computer -
not once but at least 3 times.

The home- and semipro-office market is therefore not growing anymore as rapidly
as Microsoft needs. This has already happened  once again with the result named
"Windows NT" to get a foot into the workgroup and networking market as well. So
what market are they planning  to enter  this time ? This  is what I call the 3
evil schemes of Microsoft :

a.) The Dot-Net framework
b.) The diffamation and slow demontage of the Open-Source community
c.) The forced registration procedure and the "software leasing" scheme

The Dot-Net framework

According  to  Microsoft, the  Dot-Net  framework  is  supposed  to  finally
incorporate  the  internet  in  operating systems, user  interfaces and even
programming languages (C-Sharp, written C#). How this will look in detail is
so far not very well described, not even by Microsoft.

The real reason behind this however is obvious: Microsoft wants to get into the
router, gateway, firewall, proxy-server  and  backbone  business. So  far,  the
Internet is really held up  by Unix  machines -  After all, the TCP/IP standard
originated from  the Unix platform and  is already "fully" implanted into every
commercial Unix (and therefore Linux as well) - even internal communications of
Unix subsystems often work by using the TCP/IP subsystem.

This is not valid for Windows systems. Neither the DOS-sequels 95, 98 or ME nor
the "workstation"  operating system  Windows NT exploit the  possibilities of a
TCP/IP  support  the way  that  Unix  does (in  the case  of  Windows  NT  this
possibility is mainly violated by the User interface and the API which has been
transfered  from  Windows 95). This is  a great  loss for  Microsoft  since the
market for computers not as  Internet-terminals but as  Internet-internals is a
large - and in the near future - growing one.

The dot-net framework is therefore intended to get a start in this direction.
And it serves another purpose as well which is even more evil :

Currently, you can connect to the Internet with whatever computer and operating
system  you like : Atari, Amiga, Macintosh or  Linux or even  C64, it makes  no
differences - All you need is a software supporting TCP/IP (resp. PPP) which is
a free standard and software like a browser or  terminal software. This renders
the  operating  system  kind  of  unimportant  and "neglectable" - a  thorn  in
Microsoft's eye.

The dot-net framework will of course support TCP/IP for quite a while. At least
as long as  Microsoft  does not  dominate the  market and the internet does not
heavily rely on Microsoft's servers and  routers. As  soon as this is the case,
the dot-net framework will most probably not support the common TCP/IP-standard
anymore but require a windows specific standard.

This change will  most probably not  be visible to  Windows users. They will be
able to  continue to  use the  internet just  as before. This change  will most
probably also lock out any non-Windows users from the dot-net framework, making
Windows (and maybe the  Apple  Macintosh) the only  computer systems capable of
working with the dot-net framework.

In fact, obviously Microsoft is  cooperating with the Linux community this time
about the However, this  has to be  looked at  carefully as
well. They cannot beat the Linux-community the Microsoft way (sueing and buying
out) but "cooperating" with Linux  might open Microsoft a whole new perspective
of getting the into a Linux dominated market.

This  may  sound  paranoid ;-) and  hysteric, however, the  past   showed   how
Microsoft treats "open standards" once they have enough influence to push their
own (RTF is just one example). I therefore  doubt the dot-net framework will in
the end benefit all -  Microsoft hardly ever did anything everybody took profit
from - and consider   my explanation of  dot-net framework's purposes much more

The diffamation and demonatage of the Open-Source community

Like said at the end of the previous chapter, Microsoft currently does its best
to throw mud at the  Open-Source  community. Why  is that ? The  reason is very
simple: They have no other  solution. Usually, Microsoft does  not win any kind
of competition  by  producing  better  products. They  never did. They  win  by
working behind the  schemes of  competition, they  sue their  competitors, make
hardly legal  contracts with  computer  manufacturers  and retailers (mind you,
some parts of  their license  agreements on  their packages are illegal in some
countries  and  therefore  not  valid) and  most  importantly, they  buy  their
competitors out (Borland, Symantec to  name but  a few). This  scheme  does not
work with the Open-Source community.

The cannot sue the Open-Source community. They may end up sueing a few of the
main actors on  this stage, but they cannot harm the Open-Source community by
that and besides that, since  basically everything  the Open-Source community
does is free, it's hard to argue on a  level that  Microsoft accuses of other
people  using  their  innovations  for  profit. Then  again, the  Open-Source
community is impossible to buy out. They can probably lure a few people (they
have to make a living, too) and maybe even the good ones, they can never make
the Open-Source movement extinkt though. It just does not work.

And finally, the "pushing off the market" by the contracts with manufacturers
and retailers does not work either. Since Open-Source products can usually be
obtained totally free, no one, not even  computer manufacturers can force the
user not to use Open-Source products.

And so far, Microsoft did not dare to proclaim in court that any software
either has to be commercial (hence not  free) or to be  authorised by the
operating system authors to be run on a system with that operating system.

This way or other, in the  long term, Microsoft  sees no way to get rid of the
Open-Source community. They know how to get rid of the commercial competition,
but they do not know how to fight one that is not based on money.

And this is why they try to spoil the public opinion about open source products
that much. Calling  Open-Source  software  "insecure" in  the first place, then
"unreliable" and "badly tested", "difficult to install, handle and operate" and
best of all "easy  to  destroy" since  the  source code  is free is ridiculous.
To have a go on the "source-movement" (open source  is hip and cool currently),
Microsoft called its old scheme of "we own  everything and you're  getting none
of it" shared-source.

The scheme is as simple as this: You want the source, you have to pay for it.
If you have the source and work on it, you won't receive any credit, but your
product is owned by Microsoft just the same. In 8 words: What's ours is ours,
what's yours is ours.

As a show of "good will", they released the source-code to Windows CE. Which is
a joke since  Windows  CE has  been a  failure and is  not worth supporting any
longer. Besides that, you of  course need  a special  developers environment to
"use" the source-code  and  changes can  only be  done  in a  limited way. This
developers environment is - of course -  not free.

The forced registration and software leasing scheme

Microsoft looks at the  currently decreasing sales  of Microsoft products with
fear. They tried to get into every niche  that has been hyped  and was running
well for a while: First Works, then Office,  HTML-Editors, Active-X instead of
Java, now  Windows  Media  capable of  playing  MP3 and  MPEG-movies, Internet
Browsers etc. things and stuff and yet they  had to realise that none of these
niches  grow forever. So  Microsoft  tries to  do what  everybody does - offer
service on the internet and charge money for it.

This is  where "Hailstorm"  and the "internet  passport" comes in. If  you want
access to a Microsoft service, for example Hotmail or MSN, you have to register
for a passport.

This passport is unique and is stored centrally at Microsoft. If you wish (and
probably  even  if you  don't) they  collect additional  data about you : Your
account-number, CPU-model,  harddisk,  age, address,  legal  status  and  your
favourite TV show.

The official reason is that Microsoft tries to offer you a "better" service by
having this data at hand and to "take work off you" by doing for example money
transactions when you buy on the internet for you - keeping things secure this
way as well.

Now, Microsoft is not only known for not being able to keep things secure for
more than  two   minutes, they  are  also  known for  having a  very friendly
relationsship with the NSA, the National Security Agency of the USA.

In the end, it looks like  Microsoft is  trying to  establish some  kind  of an
internet government in its  own - and for  its own  good. They are  giving away
passports you can be  identified with - they  are capable of identifying you if
they like, they  collect  data  about you. And  the  key  is - once again - the
operating system Windows XP. By  now  they did not dare to make such a passport
a must for using Windows XP,  but the  registration scheme when booting Windows
XP sounds like you have to have a Microsoft passport for accessing the internet
in  general, even if that's pure bull. Only Microsoft services (for example the
purely Microsoft-oriented portal Hailstorm  requires that) actually need you to
have an inernet  passport and  other services even  can't use or work with this
passport because it  would  violate the "security"  factor if Microsoft offered
the data about the passports to other companies as well.

Meaning, companies that  want to  offer a  certain service  that would function
nicely with the  passport have  to be  under contract  with Microsoft again and
this is where the circle closes: The user has to have a  passport for accessing
certain (soon maybe vital) Microsoft services (for patches, registration etc.),
companies of course want to collect data  about the  users as well so they have
to deal with Microsoft  just the  same, making Microsoft the central service of
transactions on the web again.

And speaking of registrations. To  register Windows XP, you do not only have to
be online but you also have to transfer a lot  of data about your computer - to
"affix" the  license you  agreed to to  your system. This  is allowed to happen
twice. If you have to  register a  third time  (meaning you  have changed vital
hardware  for example),  you have to  call a  Microsoft (non-free) number, they
will then enable you to register  again after having a  close look at your data
and after having had a monologue about software piracy, license agreements etc.
the usual Microsoft crap.

Obviously, to  prevent  software piracy  from  happening, Microsoft decided to
treat  the  ordinary  customer as  a criminal. Having  faulty  or experimental
hardware makes the usage of Windows XP kind of hard if you ask me, if you have
to reinstall Windows XP and register anew, every time you change your GFX card
or motherboard. But that's  not what  Microsoft cares  about, Microsoft  cares
about monitoring your  movements. They  do like to  know how often  you change
hardware, how often you install or register for software and especially if and
where you paid for it.

(This is not possible to find  out by the current registration scheme, but just
wait, they will  find a way  to implement  that, too). One certain  institution
monitors Microsoft's way of collecting data about the users with delight - Once
again the NSA.

A small funky sidetrip

There are quite some stories around Microsoft products.
Just collected a few from my memory:

IBM for example considered to use the  Motorola 68000 in  the PC initially and
had to decide between the  8086 (8088) and  the 68000. However, the  68000 was
considered too  powerful and  therefore maybe  harmful  to  the  sales  of IBM
mainframes - The PC was intended to be a rather low-end single-user system and
the 8086 seemed more suitable (also for other reasons).

Like said above, MS-DOS was not written by  Microsoft. They simply bought QDOS
(according to some people short for Quick-and-Dirty OS since it was one of the
first operating systems for  8086 at all). Up until MS-DOS 5.00 it is supposed
to feature routines  for cassette  operation (like the C64, Atari 8-bit and ZX
Spektrum) since IBM initially considered  to have the PC work  with a cassette
drive as well (no affirmation on that though).

Microsoft Windows was announced in 1984 as a reaction  to the Apple Macintosh's
user interface "Finder" - with no  routines  existing at  all  for  a graphical
user-interface. Windows 1 and  2 even had  the surname "DOS executive" since it
was just seen as an engine to run  DOS-programs more comfortable. Windows 1 and
2 didn't even  feature  real  graphics  but  a character  based  graphical user
interface like seen in many  DOS programs at  this time. Windows  2 for example
still didn't allow to  overlap Windows, they  could only be next to each other.
According  to  insiders, Bill  Gates  didn't like  that  when  he saw  that and
explained that this was not what the Macintosh offered - He is supposed to have
said "I want  the  Macintosh on  the PC". Microsoft  needed until 1995 to get a
decent copy of the Macintosh user interface working on the PC.

Microsoft was also  involved in  the X11  consortium in  the beginning and had
influence in the Motif Window manager (MWM). This is why Windows 3.x and Motif
feature similarities like Hotkeys, icon functionality and other, minor things.

Microsoft  Internet  Explorer has  not been  written by Microsoft either. They
bought   Mosaic  from  the  N.C.S.A.  (National  Congress  for  Supercomputing
Applications), redesigned it (a little) and called it Internet Explorer. Funny
enough, Mosaic has been written  by Netscape  main programer  and founder Marc

And even though the name "Explorer" is now a highly  hyped name, Microsoft did
not  introduce  that  either. AIX 3.1 - the  IBM  Unix - already  featured  an
"Information Explorer" that was  capable of reading an IBM-internal textformat
with tutorials and informations about the computer usually supplied on CD-ROM.
In AIX 4.0 this information explorer was also given the possibility to display
HTML and to connect  to the internet  subsystem. It was no longer supported in
AIX 4.1 though.

Microsoft Windows did not run on  DR-DOS  not because  of incompatibility, but
because Windows  checked for the DOS version. Originally, this  was planned to
give out a warning message  on anything but  MS-DOS like "You are  not running
MS-DOS, this could cause incompatibilities we cannot be held responsible for".
Microsoft obviously was shocked by the fact that Windows and most applications
ran quite nicely on DR-DOS so  they changed  this "feature" to  a forced crash
under DR-DOS.

Windows did  not  crash  on  DR-DOS  because of  incompatibility, but  because
Microsoft wanted it to. Microsoft has been sued by Caldera, who bought Digital
Research, for sabotage of DR-DOS this way. The  trial was settled out of court
with Microsoft paying over 20 Million Dollars to Caldera.

There never was a Microsoft Word 3.x, 4.x or 5.x. Microsoft word jumped from
2.0 to 6.0 to get on the same level with  WordPerfect, the  market leader in
wordprocessing in the beginning of the Windows 3.x era.

Microsoft DOS 6.22 was not a real update from 6.20. Microsoft had  to remove
MS-DOS 6.20 from the  market and  replace it  by another product because the
DoubleSpace  software bundled  with  it (DBLSPACE) to compress  the harddisk
content for larger disk-capacity was copyright Symantec and was used without

Microsoft released 6.22 shortly after 6.20 because of this, including its own
- and much more buggy - DriveSpace software.

Microsoft  was being  carefully  eyed by the  Antitrust department for quite a
while now. To  prove that  Microsoft does  not only  support its own operating
system but others  also, they  produced nonsense  programs for other platforms
that never really sold - and never were intended to sell. There is for example
an Atari ST version of "Microsoft Write", a simple  wordprocessor bundled with
Windows 3.x that  was  really no  competition  at  all for the highly advanced
wordprocessors available for the Atari ST by then.

The final move in "supporting  other systems" was  the acquisition of shares in
Apple Computer of $170.000.000 - without the possibility to vote in shareholder
meetings - when Apple computer was on the verge of bankrupt. This  move secured
the  financial  stability of  Apple computer  and made  sure  that not the only
non-Windows platform Microsoft is supporting dies.

Somewhen around 1987, 1988, Apple Computer bundled a Works-package, including a
small wordprocessor, a database (more  an addressbook combined  with a personal
organizer), a simple  spreadsheet and communication software, named Apple Works
together with their Macintosh computers.

Microsoft sued Apple  for doing  this  with the  reasoning  that  the  computer
manufacturer is not supposed  to give away "application software" for free with
the computers they produce. This  behaviour would, according  to Microsoft, put
the   computer  manufacturer  in  a  "monopolist  position" which  non-computer
manufacturers cannot achieve. Additionally, the need for software and therefore
the  market  for  software  developers   would  dramatically  be  tightened  if
application software was given away for free.

Microsoft won this  lawsuit, Apple outsourced  the Works-software department,
named it "Claris" and charged a -relatively- small fee for the Works package,
which didn't  really count  when you spent  a few thousand  dollars for a new

In 1995, Microsoft decided to bundle a fully capable browser software into
Windows 95 with the effect that the largest trial so  far has been started
against Microsoft. The points are :

a.) Microsoft abuses a monopolist  position as OS-manufacturer that
    non-OS producing companies  cannot  achieve or  defend against.
b.) Microsoft destroys the whole commercial browser software market
    by giving away a  fully  operational browser  for free with the
    Operating system.

Microsoft pleads non-guilty and defends by saying that no one is allowed to
tell Microsoft which software to include into an operating system and which

Alive 3