Bonum Certa Men Certa

Breaking Microsoft's Two-pillar Strategy

"It's possible, you can never know, that the universe exists only for me. If so, it's sure going well for me, I must admit."

--Bill Gates, TIME magazine Vol. 149, No. 2 (13 January 1997)

The following short article comes from a reader, who strives to explain Microsoft's current strategy.

Microsoft must be very scared. Their monopoly is at stake (or as Eric Raymond says, if they don't get a monopoly lock-in their options will plummet and everything is over, so they will never behave). Their hopes to keep their monopoly remain in 2 fundamental pillars: Expect them to bury as much money as necessary to sustain these 2 pillars and get their way:

Pillar 1

Microsoft OOXML is a fundamental part of their strategy: Without the fixed revenue stream coming from governments they will suffer much, not only because they will lose one of their biggest sure captive customers (governments) but also because it would open the floodgates to competition. And they don't stand any chances against GNU/Linux in terms of cost, scalability, security, performance and so forth.

That is why if ISO refuses Microsoft OOXML and governments start to migrate to alternatives, they are doomed.

Their other captive customer (the OEMs) are starting to fail them. As hardware prices are lowered, the 'Microsoft tax' is becoming more and more visible. A computer without the extra tax -- and the extra requirements to run Windows -- is more competitive and successful: Think about the Eee PC. That's why they opposed so hideously to the OLPC project.

Pillar 2

The other pillar is Software Patents, which is the legal mechanism they are embracing in order to perpetuate their monopoly. Alas, software patents are illegal in Europe and we must be alert on this because they are trying to see them passed in the EU (heavy lobbying behind the scenes to our elected representatives), so this is another field where FLOSS has to fight and fight hard.

“And think about the economic crisis: It was already hard to try to prove their products were worth the ridiculous prices they ask for the licences, but it is getting harder every day.”They have extended a worldwide network of Microsoft Certified Partners, Microsoft certified developers, system administrators and satellite business that sell you anti-virus for systems they make insecure by design, and there is a huge amount of money in the whole game, much of it coming as a sure thing (the OEM tax, governments spending public funds on their products due to the lock-in, etc), and any member of this network can see its business menaced by people like you and I telling everyone that "The emperor just has no clothes". So expect the fight.

But at the end of the day we know -- as well as them -- we are right and they are wrong and they know it (I always try to imagine the cognitive dissonance inside Jason Matusow's head looking at how he bends the truth to serve his employer in his posts). Free Software has just started rolling and it is like a snowball now, but soon it will be an avalanche. Lies will be revealed sooner or later (documents coming out of legal processes show Microsoft has not changed an inch in more of 10 years).

And think about the economic crisis: It was already hard to try to prove their products were worth the ridiculous prices they ask for the licences, but it is getting harder every day.

So, let's keep up the good fight for software freedom, which is as well our freedom, the society's and the legacy we can fight from in our reduced field of action -- we are not world leaders or powerful entrepreneurs, but into our "everyday people" possibilities we do make a difference -- for the generations to come.

Remind yourself of this: Steve Ballmer keeps saying (and last said it just two weeks ago) that Linux is Microsoft's number one competitor. Remember this. Number one threat. Not Apple. Not IBM. Microsoft is meanwhile approaching debt and it may soon be tipped over the edge only to surprise everyone who previously fell for their constant lies (otherwise known as "embellishments").


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