We Are Diseased, And Microsoft Is The Symptom

Who are you friends with? Who do you associate with? What kind of people are they and what would you do for them? In all likelihood they are people who are very much like you. They have the same, or at the very least similar, interests. In all probability they are denizens of the same social class as you are. After all, if youíre rich you probably gravitate toward other well-to-do folks who occupy the same level of the social strata as you do. You donít often have a lot to do with people who are very far beneath your status, any more than folks who are positioned above you in the societal food chain will choose to associate with you.

Having recognized this simple fact of life, who do you think the rich and powerful tend to favor when it comes to who the spend time with and who they do favors for? And what form do these favors take?

Iím sure we can agree that none of the declarative or interrogative statements from the previous two paragraphs are shocking or in any way even moderately surprising. If youíll pardon me, Iím simply laying the foundation of where Iím headed.

Some years ago the leaders of a certain political party saw a Bad Thing. That Bad Thing was a badly behaved anticompetitive corporation known to us all as Microsoft. The company was found guilty of grievous violations of Federal and State laws. Not only that, what they did was plainly wrong. That little event was a wake-up call for the would-be innovators in Redmond. They immediately grasped the value of contributing large sums of money to the election campaigns of, well, anyone who might be for, ahem, sale.

Enter the administration of one George W. Bush, the current President of the United States.

Now before you start flaming me for my lack of respect for the Office or launch a Patriot Act Missile against me, cool your jets, and hear me out. Iím as much an American and a Patriot as the next man. Americans are members of a large extended family. As with most families we quibble and argue, but woe to the interloper who thinks they can join in our disgruntlement.

No sooner did Mr. Bush take the oath of office than he unleashed one of his cabinet members upon the findings of fact and judgments against Microsoft. One John Ashcroft and his Department of InJustice immediately neutered any further action against the Juggernaut and, in effect, gave Gates and company carte blanche to do, well, whatever they want to.

What is the result of this shackling of Lady Liberty?

What Indeed.

There are very few products and services which Microsoft seems to have an interest. Cable television, mobile telephony, ISP services, even wrist watches are now on the RADAR consoles in Redmond, WA. Most recently they did exactly what they said theyíd do, exactly what they were accused of doing, exactly what they were convicted of doing, and announced that Internet Exploder would cease to exist as a stand alone product. Theyíre working harder than ever to co-opt the internet and this is a massive step in that direction. How long will it be before you canít surf any of the more important sites without using the latest and greatest incarnation of LongHair, or whatever the silly code name is for their next OS offering?

Think Iím tilting at virtual windmills? Guess again. The hypocrisy of this Great Menace knows no boundary. After complaining vehemently over the U.S. Governmentís attempt to curtail their business practices and stifle their innovation, Microsoft has launched a quiet campaign against broadband service providers. It seems that Gates and company are concerned that cable modem and DSL companies might block certain sites or services carried on their networks. While on the surface it appears that Microsoft is doing us all a favor, I have to wonder why on Earth they would be so secretive about their little scheme. Iím even less convinced that Microsoft would be engaged in any endeavor that would benefit anyone except Microsoft.

Hereís another little gem for you. I know of a large communications company where Microsoft has generously ponied up over one quarter of a million dollars to be used in an Outlook migration program. This is the endeavor where they move as many employees as possible onto Exchange and Outlook. Are you wondering yet what else they might be doing in return? Simple. They also migrate as many workstations as possible to Windows XP. The gesture seems innocuous enough, doesnít it? At least, it does, lest we forget that that if workstations are being migrated to XP they wonít be running, oh, say, linux, or replaced by a MacOS solution. And they can take advantage of Microsoftís licensing programs too. At least, I think the idea is that they take advantage of it. I suspect the role of the advantaged in this instance is, shall we say, reversed.

Weíve already seen the day when we would regret the DoJís inability to fulfill its duty to the citizens of the United States. The bad news is that this trend is going to continue.

Remember the questions I posed at the beginning of this article? Who do the rich and famous and powerful cater to? I guarantee its not The Rest Of Us. One need only look at the unbridled trampling of human rights, the export of jobs offshore so as to take advantage of cheaper labor markets, the import of cheaper labor which displaces Americanís from the workforce, and so on, to get a glimmer of just how bad things have gotten, and how much worse theyíre destined to become. The shortsighted, greedy, monopolists are working hard to take care of themselves at the expense of our present, and our childrenís future.

If you are a citizen of the United States, take pause as you celebrate Independence Day. Give a thought to just what your forefathers fought and died for. Think about their legacy, and how weíve misused it. Just donít chance looking in the mirror. You wonít like what you see. Our government is of the people, by the people, and for the people. We have nobody but ourselves to credit, or to blame, for what is good and noble, or what is evil and despicable, about the course weíve charted.

May our childrenís children forgive us.