Page Two

By Matthew Broersma  |  Posted 2004-04-22 Print this article Print

The commissions decision is partly based on an array of internal corporate memos, which offer an illuminating picture of Microsofts own attitudes to its software and business practices. In a memo from Bill Gates, for example, the companys chairman makes it clear that the loyalty of application makers is due not so much to the superiority of Windows as to the difficulty of making Windows applications cross-platform. "The Windows API is so broad, so deep and so functional that most ISVs would be crazy not to use it," said the Feb. 21, 1997, memo, drafted for Gates by C++ General Manager Aaron Contorer. "It is so deeply embedded in the source code of many Windows apps that there is a huge switching cost to using a different operating system instead. ... It is this switching cost that has given customers the patience to stick with Windows through all our mistakes, our buggy drivers, our high TCO, our lack of a sexy vision at times, and many other difficulties.
"In short, without this exclusive franchise called the Windows API, we would have been dead a long time ago," the memo said.
In its response, Microsoft argued that the decision—which it plans to appeal—would strip dominant companies of their incentives to innovate. For one thing, the decision "opens the door for even a single complaining component supplier to argue that innovation should be thwarted if its market position may be harmed," Microsoft said. The commissions way of narrowly defining markets, and of considering companies with 30 percent to 40 percent market share as dominant, would give the decision too wide a scope, Microsoft argued. "These rulings put at risk the economic incentives for a broad range of companies and industries," the company said. Check out eWEEK.coms Windows Center at for Microsoft and Windows news, views and analysis.
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