Government Wants Two Microsofts

Friday April 28th, 2000

The U.S. Government has issued what it feels is the best remedy to keep Microsoft from leveraging it's monopoly any further. Microsoft part 1 would be just the operating system, and part 2 would take control of applications like IE and Office. Microsoft has until May 10 to submit their comments on this.

This bodes well for the Web developer community. Up to the present day, the IE development team has worked to support Microsoft's developer customer base, not Web developers in general or standards compliance goals. This is clear in the posts from Microsoft representatives on the WSP Standards mailing list.

With no guarantee that their browser will be included on any PC distribution, would the IE team not be forced to deal with standards compliance and interoperability? If they had to compete at the same level as their competitors, would it not bring about a change in attitude? And with no OS monopoly revenues to support browser development, I wonder if Microsoft would be forced to act as Netscape did -- turning to Open Source and the developer community for assistance.

Microsoft's IE development team has created a de facto platform built on numerous proprietary extensions and tight OS integration. With the loss of this tight integration, and with new platform competition from Mozilla's XUL, would the IE team acknowledge the necessity of cross-platform interoperability? Or would they stay a Windows-and-Mac-only development team that lacks interoperability across even those two platforms?

What do you think?

#4 What's the motivation behind IE without the OS?

by astrosmash

Saturday April 29th, 2000 10:21 PM

You are replying to this message

Thus far, Microsoft's motivation for developing their web browser has been to maintain it's desktop monopoly; to require you to use MSWindows to take full advantage of the internet. That is the motivation behind all of their "innovative" software, after all.

If the development of IE is moved away from the company controlling the OS, what would be the motivation to continue development of a free IE? Separating M$ OS from the rest of the M$ software (with the exception of Office, perhaps) eliminates the current development goal behind most of this software.

MS didn't develop Visual J++ because they thought they could make some money selling a nifty Java development tool. They developed Visual J++ so that they could tie Java developers, and their software, to Windows.

Likewise with IE, and most of their software. IE wasn't developed so that they could give away a really nifty Web Browser to the world, IE was developed to tie Internet users to Windows. MacIE and MacOffice exist as a bargaining chip, for when Apple does somthing that might threaten Windows. The current MS will never develop software for an OS that they cannot manipulate.

What's worse is that the initial risk of developing all of this software is next to zero, as funding is generated by the OS tax collected from the sale of nearly every PC sold in the world.

If development of IE is moved away from Microsoft (the OS company) there's no reason for the other MS to develop a non-standards compliant browser, however, there's no reason for them to develop a standards compliant browser, either.