Opinion: Microsoft's 12-Step Monopolism Recovery Program

By Peter Coffee  |  Posted 07-20-2006
Microsoft's July 19 announcement, enumerating 12 principles for guiding future Windows platform development, amounts to a public confession that "Yes, we've stopped beating the wife."

Remember all those impassioned statements that Windows was a creative work whose integrity needed to be preserved? Remember the insistence in testimony (here as a PDF) before Congress that Windows was "a single, integrated product"?

Knock me down with a photon: All of a sudden it's not merely tolerable, but a matter of principle that PC builder OEMs must be free to "add icons, shortcuts and the like to the Windows Start menu and other places used to access software programs" (Principle 2), to "set non-Microsoft programs to operate by default in key categories, such as Web browsing and media playback, in lieu of corresponding end-user functionality in Windows" (Principle 3) and to "attain essentially exclusive end-user promotion on new PCs [by removing] the means by which end users access key Windows features, such as Internet Explorer and Windows Media® Player" (Principle 4).

This episode echoes Bill Gates' comments at the launch of Windows XP. At the latter event, Gates detailed all the technical limitations that made Windows 9x a substantially inferior platform, proudly assuring customers that they'd no longer have to put up with these fundamental flaws.

For anyone with an attention span longer than 10 minutes, the profound irony was that industry observers had been pointing out those flaws in the DOS-based, 16-bit-tainted Windows 9x for years—while Microsoft's product positioners summarily dismissed those points.

Deja vu, baby: "Yeah, OK, maybe our critics were right all along."

Read the full story on eWEEK.com: Microsoft's 12-Step Monopolism Recovery Program