Microsofts Skills at Copying,

By Matthew Symonds  |  Posted 2003-10-31 Print this article Print

in Ellisons Own Words"> Microsofts Skills at Copying, in Ellisons Own Words Ellison writes in a footnote: "I totally agree with Steve, Microsofts software is rarely first rate. They never, ever innovate, but —theyre pretty good copiers. All those bright people up in Redmond remind me of the guys you see sitting in museums making beautiful copies of great art. Their pictures are beautiful, but theyre copies—forgeries. Ever since the guilty verdict in the antitrust case, Bill began chanting Microsofts new mantra: Please, please —dont take away our right to innovate. Microsoft innovate! Give me a fucking break. The innovation for the Internet came from Netscape. All Microsoft did was copy Netscapes browser and bundle a free copy of the browser with Windows. But it —wasnt really free at all. Microsoft _got paid for its free browser by raising the price of Windows. But Netscape couldnt charge for its browser because Microsoft included a free browser as a part of Windows. It was a brilliant business strategy. It killed Netscape. But its illegal. Now Microsoft is trying to do the _exact same thing to RealNetworks [the innovators of Internet streamed video and audio] by bundling a free media player with Windows. Theyll just keep doing it over and over again until somebody penalizes them for doing it. Youre got to give them credit for balls, but not for innovation. Even Bills business strategy is just a copy of Standard Oils strategy back in the 1870s. But when Rockefeller used his monopoly to crush his competitors, it wasnt illegal. There were no antitrust laws back then. "So whats Microsofts single greatest innovation? Take your time. —Its a trick question. There arent any. All that money Microsoft spends on research; what have they got to show for it? Nothing! Compare that to IBMs research results. IBM invented the disk drive, they invented core memory, they invented the scanning tunneling microscope, they invented fractal geometry. The list of IBM inventions goes on and on. IBM researchers have won Nobel Prizes. IBM, at the height of their greatness, was a national treasure, an institution that anyone would be proud to be a part of. They dont do software very well anymore, but their old mainframe stuff was great. I make fun of a lot of other databases—all other databases, in fact, except the mainframe version of DB2. Its a first-rate piece of technology. Microsoft may have more money than IBM ever did, but they dont have more ideas. Its the difference between a great fashion designer in Paris and someone who just does knockoffs in Brooklyn. Except that Microsoft would bundle the dresses with Windows and give them away for free."
Next page: Microsoft hypocrisy infuriates Ellison.


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