Date: Thu, 18 May 2000 09:38:12 -0700
Subject: Re: IP: Replies to DoJ's Joel Klein and breaking up Microsoft
From: Chris Gulker <cg () gulker com>
To: <farber () cis upenn edu>
Weighing in on breaking up MS (from my column to appear in next Monday's
Independent - London):
Throughout history, people and institutions have been able to gain power by
having exclusive access to information. Nations call it sovereign rights or
state secrets. Capitalists call it market advantage.
For example, in the first millennium, the Catholic Church gained
considerable advantage by encrypting almost all of the world¹s knowledge
e.g., the Bible - and allowing only its high-level adherents access to the
means to decrypt it, namely literacy in the Latin tongue...
Microsoft¹s key advantage is its knowledge of the APIs application
programming interfaces and the source code for the Windows operating
system. Microsoft¹s apps are better, sooner because their developers get a
head start in knowing what those APIs look like...
Rome¹s influence began to wane once the printing press made knowledge widely
available in tongues other than Latin. People who were unhappy with
Catholicism went out and created their own religions and attracted their own
following. Which is precisely what movements like Open Source and Linux are
The Catholic Church once banned secular versions of the Bible as a way of
regaining control lost to the printing press, but it was too late. Microsoft
recently tried to silence Slashdot and readers complaining about Microsoft¹s
practices by using a law that it had lobbied heavily for, called the Digital
Millennium Copyright Act.
Too late, Microsoft. It will daily get harder, in our networked world to
succeed by keeping information out of people¹s hands.