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06.16.09

Reader’s Article: What Makes Microsoft’s Business Unethical

Posted in America, Antitrust, Europe, Microsoft, Office Suites, Standard at 1:50 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

[Skip to the end for the Executive Summary]

With the further recent action taken against Microsoft by the EU antitrust investigators – who Microsoft “supporters” denounce as “scum”, for having the audacity to enforce the law against these gangsters, it seems the nature of Microsoft’s unethical business practises needs to be spelled out in the simplest terms, so that these “supporters” might finally understand the “problem”.

“They spread lies that Free Software alternatives to their software is “unamerican” and “communist” in nature…”I’ll omit any arguments relating to proprietary licensing, since I think I’ve already covered that quite adequately elsewhere, so instead I’ll just concentrate on how Microsoft runs its business in general, regardless of the nature of the “product”.

So here’s a simple breakdown:

  • Microsoft is a business, and the purpose of any business is to make money. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, indeed it is absolutely necessary in a developed society.
  • Microsoft competes with other companies for business, in order to ensure their continued operations. Again, this is perfectly reasonable and expected. Competition is good and necessary, as it drives innovation, stems inflation, and facilitates choice.
  • Microsoft advertises its products, so that potential customers will be aware of them, and subsequently buy them. This is also perfectly reasonable, ostensibly. However, advertising is open to abusive practises, such as false or misleading claims, or a more recent development variously called “guerilla” or “viral” advertising, where supposedly impartial recommendations aren’t impartial at all, but are in fact paid sponsorship. This isn’t ethical business, but it is a sadly common practise. Microsoft are more guilty of this behaviour than most, in fact they have refined it into an art form.
  • As part of its business strategy, Microsoft combines different products into “bundles”, so that (for example) customers don’t need to obtain a Web browser or a media player before they can start using their new systems. On the face of it, this seems a perfectly reasonable thing to do, if the motive were purely an honourable one. But the fact is that Microsoft do not sell any of these “bundled” products separately, so this isn’t design to promote any of those products. But even more substantively, exactly those same features are available (also for free) from other places (e.g. Firefox), so the assertion that the whole purpose of the “bundles” has anything at all to do with either providing missing functionality or “helping” customers is an obvious lie. In fact the only reason Microsoft bundles these products is to exclude others. They make no profit from it at all, and they need not provide something for free if it can be obtained elsewhere. Bear in mind, that it costs Microsoft a huge amount of money to develop these bundled products, that they then give away for free, even though this is completely unnecessary. So the question is, why?
  • In addition to unnecessarily providing free bundles, Microsoft also unnecessarily develops its own competing standards, for such things as networking and documents, even when those other standards are Free, work perfectly well, have been established for years, and precede Microsoft’s questionable reinvention of those standards. Since Microsoft cannot immediately capitalise on something as intangible as a “standard”, again one must ask the question, why?
  • Microsoft maintains a network of so-called “partners”. This is not a typical business to business relationship where one firm simply touts another for business, but instead it’s a means of guaranteeing loyalty from those firms by means of contracts, and coercing continued loyalty with the threat that firms will lose competitiveness with other “partners” if they back out of this “arrangement”. This is a common but nonetheless unethical business practice, made all the more unacceptable by the sheer size of Microsoft’s “network”, that essentially forms a global monopoly. Western laws dictate that the mere existence of such monopolies is not a crime, but there must be some demonstrable abuse of that monopoly to warrant any remedial action. It is my contention that the means by which Microsoft maintains this monopoly is inherently unethical, since it has no basis on the quality of their products, but is instead enforced by this threat of failure, a threat that only exists because Microsoft created it in the first place. The result is a business that’s operated like a global racketeering operation, with “partners” too scared to back out, and customers who are left with little or no real choices, as no real competition has any chance of even being established, much less thriving.
  • The foundation of Microsoft’s monopoly is its operating system called “Windows” and office productivity suit called “Office”. If it were simply the case that these two products were always the best examples of their kind, and that customers chose this software in preference to competing products, for that reason, then I would see nothing especially unethical about the way in which Microsoft operates its business, although it would still be true that they have a monopoly, because this monopoly would exist for a legitimate reason. But that simply isn’t the case. And this is where we come back to the issues of “bundling” and “standards”. The reason that Microsoft spends a vast amount of resources unnecessarily creating competing (and even inferior) standards, is to establish dependence on those standards. This dependence is then propagated by the distribution of equally unnecessary bundles of free software, which is not designed to benefit the customer, but is just a delivery vehicle for these standards, which Microsoft can ensure exclusive rights to with the use of patents and copyrights. On the other side, there is Microsoft’s network of partners (nearly the whole distribution channel), ensuring that Windows is bundled with nearly every computer ever built, and suddenly the big picture becomes very clear: Microsoft are in fact engaged in racketeering, with all the angles sewn up so tightly that no competition can possibly be established against them. This, of course, is no accident.
  • But as if Microsoft’s despicable behaviour were not bad enough to warrant action against them, there’s also their enforcement of this monopoly (against those few brave souls who attempt to breach it) by using more palpably criminal tactics, like smear campaigns and bribery. In fact they would even go so far as to sabotage charities, just to inhibit the spread of alternatives to Windows and Office, lest those who gain experience of these alternatives should learn the truth … that such alternatives are viable, and therefore Microsoft’s software is completely unnecessary. It is essential to Microsoft’s strategy that most people remain ignorant of the viability of alternatives, which is why they also spend vast resources on propaganda – and yes, it certainly is propaganda. Legitimate advertising usually does not employ such devices as shills, corrupt analysts, fake “recommendations”, and sabotage. As I wrote earlier, Microsoft has refined this into an art form, even to the extent of using political and pseudo-scientific methodologies, to secure their vile agenda of domination. They spread lies that Free Software alternatives to their software is “unamerican” and “communist” in nature, they abuse their power to influence government with so-called lobbying (legalised bribery), they plant supporters, whom they euphemistically refer to as “Technology Evangelists” into every walk of society, to infiltrate and uppress any and all dissent against Microsoft, whilst teams of researchers, in a dark basement, study “Perception Management”, to improve the manipulative effectiveness of the “evangelists” agents working in the field. No, this is not a plot from a John le Carré Cold War story – this is the reality of the Microsoft War Machine – their war on our Freedom, their quest for domination, and this sick right-wing extremist agenda of Corporatism – the doctrine of greedy, selfish, cold-hearted megalomaniacs. It may well be that Microsoft are merely a small part of a greater whole, and that the source of this sickness is actually the fundamentally flawed tenets of American society in general. If so, then that is a rather damning indictment of American society, and it may explain its institutionalised narcissism that causes such fear and loathing of anything perceived to be “unamerican”, such as the hysterically McCarthyistic backlash against the “EU scum”, for their “diabolical deeds” of enforcing law and morality.

“Businesses should provide products, then advertise those products honestly, and allow consumers to choose whether or not they like them.”For those who may be having difficulty conceiving of alternative business methods to the above (i.e. the morally deficient thugs) let me give you a clue. Businesses should provide products, then advertise those products honestly, and allow consumers to choose whether or not they like them. Products should sell on their own merit, and not rely on devices such as deception and sabotage to guarantee sales. The former is a Free Market Economy, the latter is a bunch of animals ripping each other to pieces out of greed. Let’s be humans, not animals. Microsoft needs to be caged or put down, and it’s the European Commission’s job to do it, since the DOJ seems to have relinquished the task out of a misguided sense of loyalty (“unamerican”). If aspiring to gangsterism is what it means to be “American”, then I’ll proudly count myself as one of the “EU scum”, a Free Thinker, and a Free Software advocate.

Executive summary for the attention-deficient:

Channel and Partner racketeering (market saturation of Windows).
Lock-in dependencies on proprietary software and standards.
Corporate guerilla terrorism using false advertising and shills.
Thuggish “enforcement” using bribery, blackmail and sabotage.

The four walls of Microsoft’s monopoly.

Footnote: I wonder if Miguel de Icaza will ever be bold enough to actually state his position on these antitrust investigations and rulings against his friends in Redmond. Well that might be a bit tricky, because he’d either have to condemn or condone their criminal behaviour, and thus take one of those dreaded “black or white” positions that he’s so terrified of. Quite a dilemma, but I think the dilemma is not so much in the choice, as in exposing his true nature – officially that is.

Article by Slated.

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17 Comments

  1. Robert said,

    June 16, 2009 at 7:53 pm

    Gravatar

    This is the best article i have seen yet, detailing Microsoft’s business practices written short, & to the point.

    i would like to send this to my state senator along with a request to start a congressional investigation in to Microsoft’s shenanagans.

    pcolon Reply:

    Links and quotes from Comes vs. Microsoft, Holloween docs and other corresponding data inserted in the appropriate paragraphs would also help towards better detailing and stronger argument.

    Nevertheless, it’s a good “write up” to counter consumer apathy and a great starting point.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    This one is better.

  2. Yuhong Bao said,

    June 20, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    Gravatar

    I don’t think Vista and 7 are that bad, but I definitely agree on MS’s unethical business practices. And do you know how MS got it’s monopoly in the first place? Only because DR dropped the ball, not because it’s MS-DOS was technically superior or even innovative, in fact MS bought it from SCP.

    Omar Abdul-Hafez Reply:

    QUOTE: “I don’t think Vista and 7 are that bad.”

    Ya know what? That’s true!
    Especially when you find out that approximately 0% of the firms and organizations around the whole world have migrated to it (excluding ignorant MS-o-holic societies like Jordan). :)

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    People have already spoken about Vista “sucking”.

  3. Slated said,

    June 21, 2009 at 10:02 pm

    Gravatar

    Vista is “not that bad”?

    LOL!

    Read this:

    http://slated.org/vista_is_worlds_most_expensive_spyware

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Yes, we’ve had issues with Washington-based spinners recently. We have reasons to suspect that Yuhong too is among those “spinners”. See this and this from the 20th.

    Yuhong Bao Reply:

    Yep, I am sure there is a lot of shills on BN.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    But you’re avoiding the questions.

    Yuhong Bao Reply:

    What are the questions? I am willing to answer them.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Are you aware of (or met) people whose job is to scan and disrupt online communities like Slashdot?

    Yuhong Bao Reply:

    No, I don’t know any of them individually.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    OK, thanks.

    lalala Reply:

    Roy, it’s funny how you accuse others others of avoiding questions when you do the exact same thing.

    Sabayon User Reply:

    Are you aware of (or met) people whose job is to scan and disrupt online communities like Slashdot?

    I believe you know one as well.

    Washington-based spinners

    Bonus points: your friend twitter referenced in the previous link logs on to your IRC channel from an IP located in Seattle.

    I heart this, BTW. Everyone west of the Mississippi works for Microsoft, everyone east of the Mississippi works for Novell and everyone in Germany is an openSUSE community member. You’ve narrowed your potential pool of alleged “shills” to just 400 million or so.

  4. David "Lefty" Schlesinger said,

    June 22, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    Gravatar

    “We can place you in Queens on the night of the highjacking…”
    “Really? I live in Queens.”

    —Christopher McQuarry and Kevin Pollak as “Cop” and “Todd Hockney” in The Usual Suspects

    Roy, I happen to know for a fact that a lot of people live in Washington. Their doing that and also happening to take issue with the things you say–and there are plenty of things to take issue with–is not a reliable indicator of membership in some sort of Vast Conspiracy.

    If commenters are taking issue with things, I’d personally suspect it might have more to do with a propensity to make wild claims without evidence to support them, an unwillingness to make meaningful corrections when it’s been demonstrated unequivocally that you’re wrong, and a tendency to engage in personal attacks of the cheapest sort.

    But that’s just me, mind you.

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