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Microsoft Dislikes Nations Trying to Escape Lock-in 616

Johnny Mnemonic writes "Reuters, link to C|Net, is reporting that Microsoft considers a possible collaboration among three Asian nations to produce their own OS "unfair". You just can't make this stuff up. Shouldn't Asian nations also have the Freedom to Innovate? Or is this merely a dodge by Microsoft to demonstrate that they really do face competition? Will they hire Boies to prosecute their case?"
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Microsoft Dislikes Nations Trying to Escape Lock-in

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  • Microsoft tantrums (Score:5, Insightful)

    by iCat ( 690740 ) on Saturday September 06, 2003 @08:14AM (#6886587)
    Microsoft are either off their heads, or someone at the State Dpt has given them a wink and they know they can get away with acting like two-year olds.
    • by MuParadigm ( 687680 ) <> on Saturday September 06, 2003 @08:27AM (#6886635) Homepage Journal

      No, I think this is more of an attempt to get State's attention and let them know that MS expects them to come to their aid, via the US Trade Representative.

      The problem for State in this situation would be that they can't tell other governments to "let the markets" decide which software to use without also making it look like the US Gov't may be colluding with MS to provide software that can be infiltrated through back doors. Remember the "NSA_Key" fiasco? Lots of governments do too. And many of them did not buy MS's explanation.

      • by smittyoneeach ( 243267 ) on Saturday September 06, 2003 @09:26AM (#6886830) Homepage Journal
        The current row over claims by The SCO Group that Linux uses code lifted from SCO-owned Unix does not seem to have dampened official enthusiasm for the platform, though the governments are expected to continue to closely monitor the situation.

        The only reason they might monitor the SCO situation is for humor value.
        Asian countries are going to do unto MS as MS did to IBM. Let's not blame Linux, though; if not for Torvalds, the BSDs would BSOD MS soon enough.
        Prediction: MS eventually splits into OS and application companies. The application arm ports the profitable bits of MS software to Linux, and continues to do decent business. The OS arm gradually tapers off, as the inexorable migration away from proprietary operating systems continues.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 06, 2003 @09:56AM (#6886928)
          wow. Thats the most Wishful thinking I've seen all year!

          Get this man a cookie!
        • "We'd like to see the market decide who the winners are in the software industry," said Tom Robertson, Microsoft's Tokyo-based director for government affairs in Asia.

          Hello? I think it just did. Hint: you're not among them. (-:

        • by tkrotchko ( 124118 ) * on Saturday September 06, 2003 @01:24PM (#6887984) Homepage
          If I were a large MS shareholder, I would have already demanded MS split itself into OS and App companies.

          I suspect if they did that, the result would be worth far more than the company today, we'd probably have a revival in PC innovation, and there would be a general economic revival in the tech sector.

          Instead, MS is sitting on billions in cash, the stock price is in the dumper, and every foreign government is trying to dump MS. I can't believe the shareholders don't quietly ask Ballmer and Gates to step down.

          And no, I am not trolling.
        • by PetoskeyGuy ( 648788 ) on Saturday September 06, 2003 @05:02PM (#6889280)
          Right, split them up into OS and APP companies...

          That's pretty PC-centric though. Lets not forget the XBOX. Split Microsoft into OS, App and Video Game Companies.

          Well then there is the MS Smart Phones... so split Microsoft into OS, App, Video Games, and Mobile Phones.

          Hmmm, that leaves MSN out. Hotmail and Passport too. OK then we need to split Microsoft into OS, App, Video Gaming, Mobile Phone and Internet Services.

          Of course they make hardware too... Tablet PC's, Microsoft Mouse and Keyboards. So - oh this is it!

          Split Microsoft into ...
          OS, Applications, Video Gaming, Mobile Phones, Internet Services and Hardware Companies.

          And do it quick before they start making Media Centers!!!
      • by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Saturday September 06, 2003 @11:43AM (#6887419) Homepage Journal
        No, I think this is more of an attempt to get State's attention and let them know that MS expects them to come to their aid, via the US Trade Representative.
        Or even to provide local benefits.

        This looks to me to be similar to what Qualcomm did in their war against GSM. Qualcomm, who are behind the competing IS-95 standard (usually known as "CDMA" though as that's also the name of a technology component used in IS-95.) Qualcomm realised they had an entrenched competitor, and used some rather, er, creative, arguments to portray it GSM as something imposed by governments. GSM was originally created by a group of phone companies of which most were nationalised, so despite being an industry lead standard, Qualcomm could get away with claiming it was "created" by the government. Likewise, the EU, desperate to have at least one mobile phone standard that worked across the continent (virtually none of the different member nation's analogue systems were compatable), told the industry to agree on a standard, and offered in return to open up the 900MHz range in every country to support it. (Individual member nations could open up other frequencies for other standards if they wanted to, but 900MHz would be for whatever standard the industry agree upon.) Again, Qualcomm portrayed this as showing GSM was government imposed.

        The campaign had limited success. Qualcomm was able to persuade the US government to lobby countries with nationalised mobile phone systems to choose IS-95. In China they were partially successful, though the IS-95 based system they adopted was substantially modified to be more GSM-like. Qualcomm was even able to persuade a senator to demand the State Department impose IS-95 on US controlled Iraq, though the government didn't buy the argument.

        The basic strategy is to make use of modern politician's free market instincts to get them to advocate government and legislative support when they normally wouldn't and when their gut would normally be against it. You do this by twisting what's happening a little, portray the situation as evil foreign "socialists" providing unfair support to an unAmerican technology, and then suggest the American government has to intervene, just to level the playing field.

        Microsoft is following in some fairly successful footsteps here, but it also needs to note that the footsteps were used by a company facing an entrenched rival pretty-much from the beginning. The US Government was more inclined to support Qualcomm because it was clearly the underdog, regardless of the technical merits of IS-95 (a mixed bag, CDMA is delightful, the ESN-locked closed AMPS work-a-like nature of conventional IS-95 phones though is less so); Microsoft will have to lobby hard to be seen as the "underdog" in this situation. OTOH, the rival to Microsoft most certainly is Government backed, something GSM really wasn't, at least, not in the way Qualcomm portrayed it.

    • by tdemark ( 512406 ) on Saturday September 06, 2003 @08:40AM (#6886681) Homepage
      I'm still trying to figure out out how the decision by the three countries is any different than this [] or this []... well, at least why it's just not the other side of the same coin.

      - Tony
      • by Daniel Phillips ( 238627 ) on Saturday September 06, 2003 @09:44AM (#6886895)
        I'm still trying to figure out out how the decision by the three countries is any different than this or this [].

        Yes, that's priceless: essentially the same software that the U.S. army is buying for $950/computer, Microsoft will sell in Thailand for $36 [].
        • by Daengbo ( 523424 )
          First of all, you know I live in Thailand and follow this story pretty closely if you read my journal. I would like to clarify a little bit.
          1. This offer is only for buyers of the low cost computer program, which comes preloaded with LinuxTLE []. It is not available to the general public, where the prices still stand as usual. Some say it is a fight against Linux, but many Linux columnists say it is a fight against Panthip Plaza (the famous computer mall where illegal software is available for virtually noth
    • by bizcoach ( 640439 ) on Saturday September 06, 2003 @08:50AM (#6886721) Homepage
      The one thing that MS is really good at is strategic marketing. It is safe to assume that they have thought the matter through.

      My conjecture is that they're realising that they cannot win against Free Software unless they manage to create the impression of Free Software such as GNU/Linux being "un-American" and "a threat from Asia against our economy".

      Of course they'll consider it an added bonus that maybe they can get US dimplomats involved in putting pressure on foreign governments in areas like

      • creating DMCA-like laws
      • making software ideas patentable
      • preventing government institutions from contributing to Free Software that they'd like to use
      • by sniggly ( 216454 ) on Saturday September 06, 2003 @10:46AM (#6887120) Journal
        MS has already lost the battle (not yet the revenue) but they dont understand. They have continually alienated foreign government bureaucracies by hiding behind uncle sam and using their popularity with consumers and business. Governments are and should be concerned over a MS lock-in.

        All the large consumer electronics companies have decided to standardize on linux (embedded).

        All the large phone makers (Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Motorola) have very consciously decided against using MS software in their phones because they don't want MS to enter their market and screw them over. I bet Sony & IBM are working to make the PS3 such a killer console in order to stop microsoft from taking a larger market with the xbox.

        If the State dept lends itself to promote microsoft they will just show themselves off as ignorant pawnsand be perceived as such by foreign govts. The US is not imperialist but MS certainly is.

    • by Weh ( 219305 ) on Saturday September 06, 2003 @09:48AM (#6886906)
      Although I dislike Microsoft I can see their point.

      How would you like it if you were a car manufacturer and suddenly a government would start producing cars and competing with you using taxpayer money?

      Naturally I believe a government is free to do so if they want to. Furthermore I am sympathetic to the idea of providing citizens with a free os to ensure freedom of information etc.

      However I can understand Microsoft's reaction from a business point of view.
      • by fafaforza ( 248976 ) on Saturday September 06, 2003 @09:52AM (#6886915)
        Additionally, the government would have more power to instill their OS in school, government offices, and perhaps even have power to persuade the public to use it by releasing documents only readable on that OS, giving financial breaks, etc.

        Microsoft would in effect be trying to compete with a legal monopoly.
      • How would you like it if you were a car manufacturer and suddenly a government would start producing cars and competing with you using taxpayer money?

        So, you think the asian governments are going to pay to produce millions of software CDs and flood the U.S. market with them? Seems far-fetched to me.
      • by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Saturday September 06, 2003 @10:46AM (#6887119)
        This IS the market deciding. It's deciding there's no reason to pay hundreds for each and every copy of commonly available software (like word processors) anymore. As for govt. funding, well guess who MS's #1 customer is... the US military [] now add to that all the money they get from federal and local govt at all levels and your tax dollars are by MS's biggest source of income.

        The $40e9 MS has in the bank, and all the cash they lose in their unprofitable divisions (which is almost all of them except Office and Windows) is all waste from the market's perspective. A truly free and fair open market does not tolerate 85% profit margins [] for long.

        Sure, what MS does makes sense from the perspective of MS. So what? "Your honor, my defense for robbing the bank is that I thought it was the easiest way to get rich." Murdering BeOS and Netscape (and a host of others) certainly was in the best interest of MS, but it wasn't legal, nor was it consistent with a company that pays lip service to competing on innovation. Sure, it would be naiive of us not to expect them to say whatever benefits them, but it would be outright stupid to take their words at face value.

  • by Gorny ( 622040 ) on Saturday September 06, 2003 @08:14AM (#6886588) Homepage Journal
    "Governments should not be in the position to decide who the winners are," Robertson said.

    Of course not; Microsoft likes to be in that position :)

    • Re:of course not (Score:5, Insightful)

      by digidave ( 259925 ) on Saturday September 06, 2003 @08:58AM (#6886750)
      Obviously, if Microsoft provided exactly what these governments wanted in an OS they wouldn't going off and making their own. They're not deciding who wins, they're trying to get the OS they want.
    • by ragingmime ( 636249 ) < minus punct> on Saturday September 06, 2003 @10:28AM (#6887038) Homepage
      ...who the winners [] are in many cases. I'm not trying to be some kind of loony conspiracy theorist here, but the fact of the matter is that the free market sometimes plays less of a role than personal interests do in government purchasing. Unfair? I think so, but it's nothing new. At least with the cases described here, it seems like it's being done with the country's best interests in mind, not with the intent of generating business for a "friend." (Okay, I'm done ranting now).
    • Re:of course not (Score:5, Insightful)

      by QEDog ( 610238 ) on Saturday September 06, 2003 @10:29AM (#6887046)
      Microsoft prefers competition between software applications to be determined in the free markets rather than by government agencies. "Governments should not be in the position to decide who the winners are," Robertson said.

      Consindering that MS has more money than most goverments in the world it sounds more like 'let us decide for everyone'.

  • by The-Bus ( 138060 ) on Saturday September 06, 2003 @08:15AM (#6886590)
    Let's see... $699 x 1 billion...

    Microsoft's only comeback I can think of is that, at least, they patented ones and zeroes [].

    • I can hear MS shouting "Stop, or I'll say 'Stop' again" already.

      Granted, MS might expand its government holdings beyond the Justice Department to include the State Department, but what is the Fed seriously going to do? Some kind of trade embargo?
  • all in time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mOoZik ( 698544 ) on Saturday September 06, 2003 @08:16AM (#6886592) Homepage
    Looks like MS is facing more competition than they'd like. They can change their ways, improve their products, or falter and die. My bet is they'll try to get their systems in these places at a price cheaper than dirt, as they've tried before with Munich and the rest. Interesting to see how this will revolutionize the software industry in the long run.
    • by gilesjuk ( 604902 ) <<giles.jones> <at> <>> on Saturday September 06, 2003 @08:47AM (#6886706)
      If their sales fall then they won't be able to sustain their monolithic enterprise. As soon as they start laying off staff then it's the beginning of the end for Microsoft. News like that doesn't install investor confidence.

      Their profit margins on Windows and Office are quite high, if they have to constantly undercut Linux solutions then their income from these two lines will be reduced. Problem with that scenerio is those two product lines keep the company going and allows them to take risks in other markets.
  • Oh... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Digital Mage ( 124845 ) on Saturday September 06, 2003 @08:17AM (#6886594)
    so that is what the sound of over a billion people laughing sounds like.
  • Boies (Score:5, Funny)

    by PatSmarty ( 135304 ) on Saturday September 06, 2003 @08:18AM (#6886598)
    Will they hire Boies to prosecute their case?

    Or will they hire Rumsfeld?
  • by mindriot ( 96208 ) on Saturday September 06, 2003 @08:18AM (#6886599)
    Well, you have to admit that it is a little bit unfair since it is not a company on the free market developing a competing product, but it is the governments of those nations doing it. So, Microsoft has something of a point, since the nations do hinder free competition.
    • by Gorny ( 622040 ) on Saturday September 06, 2003 @08:22AM (#6886610) Homepage Journal
      Microsoft has hindered a lot of other companies when it comes to free competition so I find this complaint somewhat childish.

      And whats fair? There's no free trade. The US give large amounts of money to their own steel manufactures so they can compete with the EU. The EU on the other hand is doing the samen with their large importtaxes on foreign, cheaper farmer products.

      My point is; there's no real free market although a lot of people strive to it. There isn't and this article is just another example of how things go along :)
      • by ananiasanom ( 704770 ) <ananias AT stribmail DOT com> on Saturday September 06, 2003 @08:50AM (#6886719) Journal

        And whats fair? There's no free trade. The US give large amounts of money to their own steel manufactures so they can compete with the EU

        And this is controversial. It leads to arguments in GATT, possible trade wars, whatever. In principle, that sort of thing is generally agreed by governments to be a bad thing.

        MS would be delighted to get this Asian software initiative considered to be the same kind of thing, but in fact it's not the same kind of thing at all, because this is the governments choosing domestic producers over foreign producers for government systems.

    • Indeed. And Microsoft would never hinder free competition, nor would they be unfair to their competitors. Right.
    • by bizcoach ( 640439 ) on Saturday September 06, 2003 @08:30AM (#6886646) Homepage
      The US has a legal system which gives several critical advantages to companies like Microsoft (DMCA, software patents, etc)... it is only fair when other countries say "we don't like that" and choose a system that gives strong advantages to Free Software. Free Software is typically developed by its users and not as a product to be sold; since governments are among the largest software users it is only natural for them to consider making significant contributions to developing the Free Software that they would like to use.
    • Even for defence? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ananiasanom ( 704770 ) <ananias AT stribmail DOT com> on Saturday September 06, 2003 @08:33AM (#6886653) Journal

      So would it be "unfair" for, say, the Pentagon to announce it wanted to use software developed in the USA in preference to overseas products?

    • by MuParadigm ( 687680 ) <> on Saturday September 06, 2003 @08:37AM (#6886669) Homepage Journal

      It's actually perfectly fair for a government to assist in creating a market for a product they need (or want), especially if existing products don't meet its needs.

    • Is having a kitchen an impediment to the free market of restaurants?

      Is driving a car an impediment to the free market of taxi and train companies?

      Get real, man.

      Free market means that people have the freedom to choose which product to use, and these countries choose to make and use their own. There is nothing wrong with that, not even considering the "free market" globalization iron fist of driving poor countries into complete bankruptcy (read the book and articles from Greg Palast [] for scary documentatio
    • ... from any other customer. If they want to develop their own solution in-house, why shouldn't they be able to. As the size of an organization grows, the benefits of internalizing things like that increases. A 20 person company couldn't afford to develop it's own operating system, but a 250,000 person company could. Also, you shouldn't measure the government by the number of people it governs, but rather by the number of people it employs.
    • by Tim Macinta ( 1052 ) * <> on Saturday September 06, 2003 @11:08AM (#6887237) Homepage
      Well, you have to admit that it is a little bit unfair since it is not a company on the free market developing a competing product, but it is the governments of those nations doing it.
      The thing is, these governments are customers of Microsoft. If it is cheaper for them to build an operating system for their own use than to pay for Windows, then it is the free market deciding because this is a purchasing decision for them. That's not to say that they don't have other motives as well, but so long as they are going for the most cost effective option it does not matter how biased their choice is because the "free market" choice would be the same. The US Army recently signed a deal to pay half a billion dollars [] for Windows. That's the US Army all by itself. Multiply that half billion by the number of other large governmental organizations that use Windows, then multiply that by three for the three Asian countries that will be collaborating, then multiply that by the number of times that they will need to pay for a Windows "upgrade", and you have massively more than the $1 billion that they intend to spend on their own OS. Linux is obviously the more cost effective choice. I wish the US Army would have clued into this.
    • by Thavius ( 640045 ) on Saturday September 06, 2003 @11:10AM (#6887248)
      The free market was unable to come up with a product the governments liked, so the governments are commissioning one to their specifications. Sounds perfectly reasonable to me.

      This is a part of competition, though, even if it isn't free-market. Microsoft has had how many years to come up with a secure, and viable system for governments to use. They have been touting it for a long time, and are nearly forcing governments to use it. And suddenly they get all pissy when a government says, "Hrmm, your system isn't good enough. Neither is there any other system out there. I guess we'll have to make our own."

      Governments are also Customers. If your customer isn't happy, they'll do something else to fill their need. In this case, the Customer is commissioning their own software.

      It may be "unfair" because it's not free market, but then again, the customer is unhappy with the product.
  • by zwoelfk ( 586211 ) on Saturday September 06, 2003 @08:19AM (#6886602) Journal
    From the article: "You would have to look at what a government does--whether it's a protectionist issue," Robertson said, "As with any trade-related issue, Microsoft would look to its peers and colleagues in the information technology community for guidance."

    Who exactly are Microsoft's "peers"? IBM, Sun, Sony, the Open Source "community"? On one hand MS wants to create a "government security program" that it defines and implements, on the other they want their "peers" to say that doing anything else is unfair?! Good luck!
    • "Microsoft would look to its peers and colleagues in the information technology community for guidance"

      Microsoft has no "peers" ... it systematically kills them off before they can become a threat, and now wants protection.

  • by 00_NOP ( 559413 ) on Saturday September 06, 2003 @08:21AM (#6886607) Homepage
    MS are simply copying the line of the US government (and a lot of US companies and even /. users).

    Look at steel, farm goods, coding out-sourcing, skilled immigrants etc, etc.

    In all these fields the US or a lot of its citizens are actively seeking to halt global competition and seeking to privilege US companies, producers and citizens.

    MS are simply trying to get their piece of the action, though of course than means that they are already on a downward slope (ask any Pensylvannia steel worker about how effective trade sanctions have been at protecting the long term health of their industry).
    • by Fefe ( 6964 ) on Saturday September 06, 2003 @09:27AM (#6886835) Homepage
      The US "free market" speech is cynicism of the highest order, which is abundantly clear with the US farm goods, which are highly subsidized by the government. Then the USA is using "free market" treaties to force the poor Mexicans (whose government can not afford these subsidies) to buy the "cheaper" US farm goods instead of their own, which are actually produced at substantially lower prices.

      All the potentially noble thoughts behind this free market newspeak is completely eviscerated by the subsidies of the various governments. As long as governments subsidize their local producers, there is nothing free about the market.
      • too strong (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jbolden ( 176878 )
        Subsidy creates distortion not a unfree market. An unfree market is one in which certain products are banned by law or effectively banned. Contrast the market for cheese (where there is heavy distortion based on state of origin) to the market for drugs (where there are outright bans).
    • by Daniel Phillips ( 238627 ) on Saturday September 06, 2003 @09:29AM (#6886838)
      MS are simply copying the line of the US government (and a lot of US companies and even /. users). Look at steel, farm goods, coding out-sourcing, skilled immigrants etc, etc. In all these fields the US or a lot of its citizens are actively seeking to halt global competition and seeking to privilege US companies, producers and citizens.

      What's laughable about this is, there is no issue of protectionism anywhere to be seen. Protectionism is when a country erects trade barriers such as import duties to protect a local industry. Sponsoring R&D is not a trade barrier, it is just (hopefully) good management.

      The other silly idea is that this has something to do with fair trade. Since the asian countries aren't exporting their OS, where is the trade, fair or not? Even if they were, since when did it become unfair for government and industry to collaborate on R&D?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 06, 2003 @08:22AM (#6886609)
    Tom Robertson on one hand says "Governments should not be in the position to decide who the winners are," and yet when asked if its an international trade issue says "You would have to look at what a government does--whether it's a protectionist issue," which if it was seen as protectionist would require action by the US Government. Wouldn't it then be a case of a government deciding the issue?
  • by 1010011010 ( 53039 ) on Saturday September 06, 2003 @08:23AM (#6886614) Homepage
    According to Rob Enderle, Microsoft is hated because it's misunderstood [].

    So please, try to understand their side -- those poor, misunderstood folks in Redmond need your support. Really.

    It hurts their feelings when we make fun of them, and talk about the methods they use to achieve their goals in unkind ways.

    C'mon, lighten up. They're good guys.


  • by rjch ( 544288 ) on Saturday September 06, 2003 @08:25AM (#6886618) Homepage
    Asked if the establishment of an open-source initiative by Japan, China and South Korea would raise international trade concerns, Robertson, a former U.S. Trade Representative official, said it was too early to determine.

    Loosely translated, this means that Micro$oft hasn't contributed enough money to someone's political campaign just yet.
  • by Xpilot ( 117961 ) on Saturday September 06, 2003 @08:25AM (#6886623) Homepage
    Was Microsoft ever fair? Doesn't it unfairly leverage its monopoly to crush competitors daily? Doesn't it lock people into their products, and charge an arm and a leg for upgrades? And now Microsoft is saying that other people wanting to develop an OS is "unfair"? Cry me a river.

    • by h00pla ( 532294 ) on Saturday September 06, 2003 @09:35AM (#6886863) Homepage
      Crying foul and they actually believe it. The 'we dominate the software world' mentality is so thick at Microsoft you can cut it with the knife. The genuinely scary thing about this is when they say this is unfair they actually believe it. Microsoft believes it should be able to mandate the use of their product in any country, under any circumstances and under any conditions. Take Spain for example. Some Spanish provincial governments and municipalities are producing their own Linux distributions. Well, Microsoft doesn't like this and went right in and made a deal with Spain's Minister of Industry to put Microsoft's in the national school system - 20+ million Euro worth of software for free. Now you have to ask yourself: If Exxon-Mobil had gone in to Spain and said: Here - we'll put free gas in your government owned vehicles for a year. What would Shell Oil and other competitors have said? But Microsoft can do this stuff without even anybody batting an eyelash - and why? Because they are a monster monopoly. Now when Japan, China, etc- say they've had it - now Microsoft cries foul.

      In was really the saddest day on Earth when Judge Penfield Jackson of the MS monopoly trial opened his mouth. We've been paying for it ever since.

  • this makes sense (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 06, 2003 @08:26AM (#6886625)
    As a foreigner working in Japan for a tech company, I have realized that the expectations of quality and service here are MUCH higher than in the rest of the world.
    People in my company really cant understand how thing like MSBLAST happen and there is nobody from MS on TV the next day apologizing (or committing seppuku =).
    Now that things in the computer industry are settling down, they will slowly push Microsoft out of the picture.
    Wait and see.
    • Re:this makes sense (Score:3, Interesting)

      by winston_pr ( 617086 )
      As I am also foreigner working in Japan for a tech company (a japanese tech company that is) I can report that none of my collegues reacted in that way. They rather blamed themselves for not being vigilant enough to download the latest updates regularily. However I agree with you that an official apology would be in place. I heard though that Microsoft will distribute a few hundred thousand CD-ROMs here in Japan at retail outlets (Yodobashi camera and the like) that will contain the necessary patches... T
  • by OffTheLip ( 636691 ) on Saturday September 06, 2003 @08:26AM (#6886627)
    Apparently the Asian triad wants to go as far away from Microsoft as they can. The bigger question, will open source innovation be shared.
  • by fuckfuck101 ( 699067 ) on Saturday September 06, 2003 @08:27AM (#6886634)
    That it doesn't own the copyright to an "operating system" (yet..) and that not only is it somebody's right to create and use their own operating system, it's also a right for countries, goverments to create and use their own operating system.
  • by amcguinn ( 549297 ) on Saturday September 06, 2003 @08:29AM (#6886642) Journal

    If the Asian countries were deliberately trying to shut MS out of the private-sector market, then MS would have the beginning of a case (only the beginning, mind. There is still a reasonable case for anti-trust action like the EU is taking). Under world trade rules, etc. you're not supposed to deliberately shut out foreign competition.

    BUT... It is accepted, and very common, for governments to deliberately favour their own producers for government contracts. This can be for any reason, including economic, security, and strategic considerations. Microsoft really don't have a leg to stand on on this count.

  • by Dark Lord Seth ( 584963 ) on Saturday September 06, 2003 @08:33AM (#6886656) Journal

    The Microsoft Corporation recently bought themselves the USS Enterprise (The aircraft carrier) and rechristened it to the MSCACDOTNET (Microsoft Certified Aircraft Carrier Dot NET ) "William Gates the Third". Latest US satelite intel indicated the ship, along with several other recent MS aquired warships due to a sneaky clause in the license for Windows 2003 .NET server for the US navy, were last seen heading toward the Pacific. Among the ships are the MSACDOTNET William Gates the Third, the 'boomer' submarines MSC Alabama and MSC Red October along with a small flotilla of surface warships and a large convoy of freighters with Win 2k3 .NET licenses, all heading for an unknown destination.

    In other news, Denzel Washington and Sean Connery have been flogged with a wet towel.

  • by dolo666 ( 195584 ) on Saturday September 06, 2003 @08:36AM (#6886667) Journal
    I have to first take offense to Microsoft's philosophy that if it's not broken, fix it and charge more for it... and if it's broken, ignore it until something terrible happens.

    That said, this latest call that it's unfair for countries to divert the giant cash waterfall from MS, I find the notion preposterous. Similar arguments have been used by MS lawyers for years now to defend against accusations of shenanigans. The point being, that free market is the underlying theme and MS can't cry about the free market deciding they are too greedy, and the demand can be met on less expensive systems that don't cause massive havoc every time some child gets a hold of their latest gaping hole.
    • No, Bill Gates didn't call it unfair. One of his evil henchmen did. Remember, Bill Gates is a pretty intelligent person; stating that developing an alternative to their insecure monopoly is unfair, is extremely stupid. However, with the current US administration, it's a good FUD tactic. I don't think anyone trusts the US to play fair these days, so maybe the thought of US sanctions could scare someone? Nah! This is probably propaganda for people working at MS, to strengthen the belief that anyone who tries
  • by weave ( 48069 ) on Saturday September 06, 2003 @08:40AM (#6886682) Journal
    10, 20 years ago, analysts will look back and people will argue about exactly when in the first years of the 21st century that Microsoft peaked and then began their downward spiral.

    Everywhere we are seeing seeds of discontent. The first anger Microsoft planted in its customers was when it got greedy and ended licensing that permitted you to own only as many copies of software that you actually had running. Then all of these recent "software assurance" changes have angered folks more. Companies and countries are starting to understand that they are locked in and have little choice and they are looking for ways to bail. And Microsoft's actions are starting to look more and more desperate starting to scramble to hold on to what they have. This story, the viral GPL fud, their financial backing of SCO, their desperate and failed attempts to move into other markets, etc, etc.

    Oh, people will disagree with me, but where does Microsoft have left to go? Nowhere but down, and the stock market doesn't like any downward movement, even if the company *is* making billions.

    And Microsoft better not disagree with this danger either, for their own good. Complacency is the first step toward irrelevance. But I honestly believe they know this is coming and are scared shitless. Gates isn't stupid.

  • by cmacb ( 547347 ) on Saturday September 06, 2003 @09:13AM (#6886790) Homepage Journal
    Here is some not so surprising news...

    Japan, the world's second largest economy, made a proposal at an Asian economic summit this week to build an inexpensive and trustworthy open-source operating system that would be based on a system such as Linux, which can be copied and modified freely.

    "We'd like to see the market decide who the winners are in the software industry," Tom Robertson, Microsoft's Tokyo-based director for government affairs in Asia, told Reuters in a telephone interview.

    I think the market IS deciding, which is going to be Microsoft's biggest problem for the next few years.

    "Governments should not be in the position to decide who the winners are," Robertson said.

    You know, I don't remember there being any protest from Microsoft when the US government stopped accepting RFP documents in WordPerfect format. I guess they've had a change of heart for some reason.

    Full story at []

    It's not the governments of Japan or China that need to be put on alert, it is our own. As Departments of State, Treasury, and the White House among others, busily archive critical documents in .DOC format that will not easily be converted to anything else in a few years, low level management of these departments need to be aware that going the "safe route" of managing everything using Microsoft tools will in hindsight only allow you to say "But everyone else around me was doing that too".

    I suspect there will be more and more defectors from this way of thinking, even within the US government as time goes on. However as that happens there will also be signs of desparation from Microsoft as they try and appeal to some sort of warped patriotism that says we should all keep using overpriced, buggy and undocumented junk.

    We need to stop thinking of Windows as America's software equivalent to the Boeing 7x7, and start thinking of it as America's software equivalent of the Yugo...

    Q: How do you make a Yugo go faster?
    A: A towtruck.

    Q: What do you call the shock absorbers inside a Yugo?
    A: Passengers.

  • lightbulb (Score:5, Funny)

    by mlush ( 620447 ) on Saturday September 06, 2003 @09:20AM (#6886813)

    Q:How many Microsoft programmers does it take to change a lightbulb?
    A:None, they get Bill to declare darkness to be the international standard

  • by RevMike ( 632002 ) < minus math_god> on Saturday September 06, 2003 @09:21AM (#6886816) Journal
    The governements of Japan, Korea, and China are collaborating on this? Then MS has nothing to worry about. This project will get so bogged down in politics and administrative infighting that progress will be glacial.

    Look, as an example, at the *BSD world. They have lots of talented people, many of the finest minds in the *nix world, and started with a good product. Yet a "college kid" in Finland started a product that kicked their collective arses in market penetration. Why? Linux mostly avoided the bueracracy and political infighting that has plagued *BSD. (neither an opinion of the technical merits of *BSD, nor a "BSD is dying troll)

    What the nations should be doing is sponsering programmers, giving them a mandate to 1) contribute to open source, 2) spend a significant fraction of that contribution making open source more available to asians. Then let those programmers participlate wherever they want. I could imagine an army of programmers working with, for instance, improving the word processing software overall, and its ability to deal with asian character sets. Others would contribute to Debian and Gentoo, creating asian language documentation and binary versions of those distributions.

  • MS never said "fair" (Score:3, Informative)

    by NineNine ( 235196 ) on Saturday September 06, 2003 @09:25AM (#6886826)
    Good troll article. MS never said anything abotu "fair". The only place "fair" or "unfair" was used in this article was the headline. It was not used in any quotes attributed to Microsoft.
  • heh (Score:4, Funny)

    by asv108 ( 141455 ) * <.asv. .at.> on Saturday September 06, 2003 @10:10AM (#6886969) Homepage Journal
    Robertson said Microsoft has been working to have Japan participate in its Government Security Program, which gives national governments and international organizations access to Microsoft's source code, the underlying blueprint of its programs.

    That must be some ugly source code, it seems like they got a look that and ran like hell.

  • by bshroyer ( 21524 ) <bret@bretshro[ ].org ['yer' in gap]> on Saturday September 06, 2003 @10:13AM (#6886984)
    I'll first disclaim that I'm unfairly biased against Microsoft. But then, that puts me in good company here.

    Microsoft is no longer at the top of their game. They're still the dominant world superpower, but the world can now see that MSFT has vulnerabilities, and that we have alternatives.

    As much as I'd like to see them go the way of the Roman Empire, Soviet Russia, and Enron, I'm afraid of what happens when MSFT falls. What does that do to the US economy? Does Microsoft fall with a "Splat!" like Enron and take a million jobs and half of every American's 401(k) with them, or do they quietly fade into obsoloscence like Atari []?

    These are the things that keep me up at night.
    • Microsoft failing should have relatively little impact. First of all, Microsoft employs very few people compared to most companies that approach them in market cap. Microsoft employ 30-40 thousand people, compared to closing in on 300.000 for IBM and it's subsidiaries.

      Secondly, Microsoft is hoarding cash. If Microsoft started losing money so fast that it would even manage to eat up the return on their capital investments, it would still take a long time before they'd collapse, so barring a sudden devastat

    • What happened when telecoms were liberalised? Remember, Enron wasn't really a utilities company: it was a derivative trading company. You cannot compare a company that makes products that people want to buy, with a gambling outfit.

      Surely no nation has a God-given right to export its goods to another nation if they aren't wanted there, despite past efforts by some governments.If the US loses tech jobs, it won't be because Microsoft got replaced by something better. It will be because company officers and sha

  • by El Cabri ( 13930 ) on Saturday September 06, 2003 @10:37AM (#6887081) Journal
    Thank god, the Internet, which has been mainly created by government-funded research, has competed "unfairly" with proprietary online services such as MSN, AOL and Compuserve.
  • So if...... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mormop ( 415983 ) on Saturday September 06, 2003 @11:35AM (#6887388)
    Microsoft prefers competition between software applications to be determined in the free markets rather than by government agencies

    perhaps they'd like to consider the following:

    1: Withdraw all political lobbyists from pestering politicians.

    2: Stop making bri.. oops, donations to political parties.

    3: ensure that all "charitable" donations are made via banks rather than press agencies

    4: Stop flying the UK E-Envoy and other countries IT decision makers to Redmond for freebies, oops there I go again - conferences at which to discuss which MS products they'll be buying next.

    5: Talk to the DoJ and, after offering thanks for favours done in the past agree to undergo investigation for the parts of the anti-trust trial that were dropped when the current US administration came to power.

    6: Open up their file formats so that makers of third party and competing software can compete on a level playing field rather than having to reverse engineer complicated code for the sake of interop' with monopoly creating products i.e. MS Office.

    7: Release the API details reqd. to make software run as quick as theirs

    Until these and the manifold other issues created by MS's monopoly are dealt with maybe they's be graceful enough to SHUT THE FUCK UP about free markets, a concept that they either don't understand or have no intention of utilising.

  • by BlackBolt ( 595616 ) on Saturday September 06, 2003 @11:48AM (#6887439) Homepage Journal
    Catching up with Bill Gates of Microsoft outside his $600 million dollar home this morning, he declared "I strongly believe it is unfair to use any software but ours, and to come up with your own so you're not totally reliant on us is just wrong on so many levels. And if they're worried about all the NSA backdoors in Windows, tell them to suck it up and live with it like everybody else. Privacy is dead. Now screw off, peasant. I've got a tee-off at ten."

    Similarly, a press release from Orville Reddenbacker this morning claimed that "when you buy no-name popcorn, you're buying terrorism" and immediately demanded the abolition or bombing of all popcorn makers but them in order to defend America against this terrible low-priced threat. "The time for competition is over", the deceased Reddenbacker stated, the national anthem playing gloriously in the background, "We are an American institution now and must be protected from any loss of sales resulting from people buying other brands. Choice is the true enemy here. Remember this when you're voting, kids, there should be limits on freedom - especially the freedom to buy popcorn other than our new Maple Salmon flavored EZ-Popp(TM) Microwaveable popping corn, on sale now at better grocery stores near you."

    The RIAA, MPAA, and SatelliteTV vendors all agreed. "Look, we all know that you'd all have bought all those 400,000 CDs, movies, and tv channels anyway if it weren't for piracy, so just cough up the money and we'll call off the dogs. Making 'mad money' is a guaranteed right that is protected by law since Dubya's been in power. It's the American Way. You love America, don't you? If you don't buy more stuff from us, we WILL press charges." Jack Valenti took it one step further. "These goddamn Chimese terrorisms ain't de worst part of dis trend either. What I tink we should do is outlaw 'playing outside'. Yup, jes tink about it. All dem little rats playing outside when dey could be enjoying a good movie or copy-protected Celine CD. De children is de REAL Boston Stranglers here, dose unAmerican little gooks. Wasting their lives playing outside in de goddam sun when dey could be supporting our economy? I don't understand kids dese days. De world is goin' straight to hell, I tell ya. Goddam nature. We'll sue God next, yeah, go for de REAL deep pockets." At this point, SCO's Darl McBride quickly took out a notepad and started scribbling furiously and then ran off, his villainous humpback swaying in the wind.

    Despite the overwhelmingly good evidence the corporate shills of America had barfed forth, I thought I'd see if another view existed. So I sought out some elusive hippie culture leaders. When asked for his views, the uber-influential Richard Stallman said, "My name is GNU/RMS! Why can't you people get that right!" and starting making clucking noises and playing a flute like that little centaur guy off the Hercules cartoon. His arch-enemy Linus Torvalds quipped, "I don't get involved. Sorry.", dismissed us with a wave of his hand, and went back to his penguin burrito. Eric Raymond could not be reached for comment, as he has been at the gun club since July and is apparently not ever coming out until people start using Python to write device drivers.
  • by Anita Coney ( 648748 ) on Saturday September 06, 2003 @01:49PM (#6888121) Homepage
    It seems that every country other than the US is trying to build on open source software, while the US is trying to protect Microsoft under the guise of "free" markets. (Now that's doublespeak!)

    It's only a matter time when the US will be the only country stuck with proprietary software, while the rest of the world will be light years a head because their tools will not be hidden and obscured.

    If you think the tech economy is bad in the US now, wait about ten years! All of our technology will come from abroad.

  • by geekee ( 591277 ) on Saturday September 06, 2003 @06:15PM (#6889651)
    Microsoft's arguement is simple. It is bad policy for govts. to run businesses that compete with industry. A govt. that cares about individual rights has no business taking taxpayer money and using it to develop products that compete with industries. A govts. only job is to defend individual rights. It shouldn't be wasting taxpayer money on social engineering by messing with the free market. I certainly would object to the US govt investing in software that wasn't directly related to national security or other govt. functions. A govt developing software to compete directly with commercial software is taking a step towards communism. Let Redat, Mandrake, and free orgs. like FSF develop Linux, but don't force taxpayers to pay for it by turning it into a govt. project unless you have a really good reason. I won't even get into the practical problems of who's in charge of development when govts. get involved.
    • 1) Microsoft isn't interested in what is good government and what is bad government. They are interested in what keeps competitors from threatening their global monopoly.

      2) "A government's only job is to defend individual rights" is an absurdly simplistic statement. Ask any ten people in any ten countries what the primary role of government is, and you're likely to get ten answers. Americans right now might tell you the primary role of government is to safeguard its citizens. Thirty years ago, they might have told you it was to provide every citizen an equal opportunity to succeed. A hundred years ago, they might have told you it was to provide law and order. Ask someone in South Korea right now, and they may say it's to prevent war. Ask someone in China, and they might say it's to raise the standard of living.

      3) There is no truly free market, though as a libertarian I'm sure you would love it to be that way. Microsoft and other high-tech companies in the US receive tremendous tax benefits and the powerful backing of government agencies and elected officials, who apply pressure on other nations during trade negotiations. It would be fantastic if there were true globalization and dropping of subsidies and barriers worldwide. But that's not the reality. Microsoft is not acting alone. They have the support of the most powerful government on earth.

      4) The US government considers weapons systems used by the US military to be of strategic importance. That's why, with few exceptions, almost all key American weapons systems are built by American companies, even when there are sometimes better alternatives produced in allied nations such as Germany, Britain, Italy, or France. What would happen, for example, if the French chose to stop supplying the US with weapons systems? Now imagine yourself making decisions about the security of any country on earth other than the US. The Americans have shown how sophisticated computer-driven information systems can reduce the fog of war and create staggeringly effective results. Would you want all of your own systems to be run by American-produced computer systems that you couldn't get the source code to? Wouldn't you be worried just as the French revealed the inner workings of the air defence systems they sold Iraq, Microsoft wouldn't do the same or worse to you?

      Even close allies spy on each other. Why give the overwhelmingly most powerful nation on earth an open door into the heart of everything you're doing? Sure, that might be a paranoid conclusion. But if you're in charge of a nation's security, your job is to be paranoid.

      Leaders in other countries are beginning to realize that software is not just an economic issue, it's an issue of much broader strategic importance.

Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration. -- Thomas Alva Edison