The Declarer (Floyd McWilliams' Blog)

Saturday, November 15, 2003

The San Jose Mercury News is a lazy monopoly newspaper whose employees have learned nothing about politics since 1968. The Merc offends me in a lot of ways, but what I object to most is that the paper's values and ideas don't match up with those of Silicon Valley.

But the Mercury News does have one Silicon Valley characteristic down pat: It can bash Microsoft with the fervor of Scott McNealy. Here is a recent editorial, which advised the European Union to break out the thumbscrews and rack when investigating Microsoft's "anti-trust" behavior:


  • Forcing Microsoft to remove its Media Player from Windows to give rivals a chance. The bundled Media software in Windows gives Microsoft a huge advantage in the battle to dominate software and programming for music and video.

That's an interesting stance, considering that Mecury News technology columnist Dan Gillmor, whom I assume has a hand in editorials like this, had the following to say about bundling last August 31:

It's almost criminal that all digital subscriber line (DSL) and cable-modem companies don't give customers firewall and e-mail virus protection as part of their services.

There are companies that produce firewall and anti-virus software as their main product line. I doubt they would appreciate being undercut in this manner. And the ISP's, such as AOL and SBC, are pretty damn big companies. It's the height of evil for giant company Microsoft to bundle software, but if giant company SBC does not bundle software, little Nell will lose her mortgage as the train runs over her. Okay.

I would like to thank the Mercury News for being so steadfast in looking out for my interests. Given as to how about the fourth or fifth thing that I am likely to do after unpacking a new computer is to play a song or a movie on it.

There are people who make their living selling and installing car stereos. Maybe we should prohibit auto manufacturers from offering radios and CD players as options.

  • Force Microsoft to provide extensive disclosure of its software interfaces, so rival software makers and their customers can inter-operate easily with Windows PCs.

Yes, Microsoft's behavior with respect to third-party Windows developers is horrible. Remember when Microsoft sold UMAX a license to produce Windows clone machines? And then refused to renew the license, putting Umax out of business?

Oh wait, that wasn't Microsoft who did that. It was Apple. Headquartered in Cupertino, California, just a few miles west of San Jose. You never hear the Mercury News complain about Apple's anti-competitive behavior.

Just coincidence, I expect.

  • The EC is considering slapping Microsoft with hefty fines, which would put a dent into ill-gotten monopoly profits. Even huge sums -- in the billions -- would be a small price to pay for Microsoft, which has amassed some $50 billion in cash.

Yes, I know. It's jarring, but you have to get used the fact that at any moment when reading a Mercury News editorial, you will lose your moorings entirely and drift off to fantasyland. Does the editorial writer really think that the US would stand for a multibillion dollar fine levied by the EC against an American company? Does the Mercury News think it's a good idea for political entities to levy multi-billion dollar fines against foreign companies? What if the US Congress decided it disapproved of the Swedish welfare state, and told Ericsson to pay up a few gigabucks?

And has there been a freedom-fries loving, frog-bashing, German-beer-boycotting blogger who thinks as little of Europe as the Mercury News? Imagine, a collection of nations with over three hundred million citizens, containing some of the finest minds and most respected technology companies on the planet -- all held hostage by some 50,000 Americans!



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