SCOUG OS/2 For You - June 1998
The President's Message
by Terry Warren
As most everyone knows by now, Microsoft Corporation has been served with two antitrust lawsuits (hopefully with more to come): the first from the Department of Justice and the second jointly by twenty states (including California) and the District of Columbia. Momentum for these lawsuits had been building over the past months and a breakdown in negotiations for unbundling their browser from the new Windows98 release finally precipitated the actual filings.
Both of these suits deal with their (alleged) monopoly on Intel-based computer operating systems, questionable business practices which have contributed to this (alleged) monopoly, and illegal use of their dominance in this market to perpetuate the (alleged) monopoly and eliminate competition in this and other seemingly non-related markets (such as browsers). Although the legal issues involved in these lawsuits are best left to the courts to work out, there is a certain irony in their wording (and the charges themselves) which has a relevancy to OS/2.
If you download the actual wording of the lawsuits and read through it (as I did), I think you will be struck by (at least) one thing: no where in the entire text (34 pages federal and 26 pages states) is OS/2 mentioned or even referenced. I find this odd because a large part of the content is aimed at establishing the monopoly case and corresponding strong-arm tactics used to eliminate competition; OS/2 was certainly the only viable competitive product for the majority of the time frame.
For example, in the states' case, section VI includes the following wording:
"Through the late 1980's and into the mid- 1990's, the Windows shell and MS-DOS operating system were separate (products), ...During this time there were competitors to MS-DOS in the operating system market, such as DR-DOS, and to Windows in the GUI market, such as Quarterdeck."
Or, in the federal suit, section I.2 says:
"Microsoft possesses (and for several years has possessed) monopoly power in the market for personal computer operating systems... PC manufacturers (often referred to as Original Equipment Manufacturers, or OEMs) have no commercially reasonable alternative to Microsoft operating systems for the PCs that they distribute."
The irony is twofold:
- First, that the government chooses to ignore (or is in fact themselves ignorant of) the existence and relevance of OS/2 both as a product which was affected by the practices they are seeking relief for and as an example of a product that has the ability to replace Windows.
- Second, various analysts who prepared statements (in favor of Microsoft) recommending dismissal of the lawsuits as frivolous all mentioned OS/2 as a product that was commercially available during the time period and should be considered an alternative.
Wouldn't it be something if OS/2 was used in the trial, but only by the defendant? IBM executives might be forced to testify on Microsoft's behalf. "Well, yes, we did claim that we sold 12,000,000 copies of Warp..." or, "Yes, we did produce studies which showed OS/2 superiority in most significant areas..."
Let's just hope that, were this to happen, the attorneys for the plaintiffs would have the smarts to cross-examine with questions such as "Why are you no long competing in this market?" and, "Why could you never get system integrators to help sell OS/2?" Let's also hope that the executives being examined would know the answers to the questions.
Closer to Home
In other SCOUG news, Rollin White, no longer encumbered by as many official duties, has let his creativity loose in other ways including a redesign of the club's website. The new look and feel will be unleashed soon (maybe even before you read this) and has a number of advantages over the previous version including more consistency, less dependency on higher-level HTML (i.e., no frames, so, yes you can now more easily use WebExplorer), and automated maintenance (such as cross-referencing and inclusion of new material). This last item is especially important as it will make it easier for more of us (hint, hint) to write new articles for the website and/or newsletter. Thanks to Rollin and Carla Hanzlik for their work in this area.
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