April 27, 2004

A Problem With Microsoft

I'm taking a small break (after browser crash) from my opus fisking of Sandy Berger's Foreign Affairs piece on the foreign policy of the next Democrat President and going through my mail read an XPNews item about Service Pack 2.

Some users are reporting problems with Norton anti-virus after installing SP2 (specifically, that NAV 2004 will no longer update its virus definitions). Other third-party programs that have been reported to have problems with SP2 include StyleXP, AOL and WinFax. Updated versions of these programs have been or will most likely be patched to work with the service pack after its final release.

This is where the government's failure to prosecute Microsoft for its crimes really hits me. You see every single one of these programs and thousands like them are written by Microsoft customers (using their development kits which must be paid for) on the promise that there will be a certain level of interoperability provided and that certain things will stay stable between versions. Yet Microsoft has admitted in court (DR-DOS case for example) and in the press that it has purposefully changed its software products so that its competitors will lose business because their current versions of software will no longer work properly.

So for anybody, like me, who has something of a sense of computer history whenever I see a paragraph like the above, I end up going through the computer equivalent of kremlinology. Are these programs strategic competitors of Microsoft? Is MS doing this on purpose to set the stage for the introduction of a competing product? What should I tell my clients?

Now the highest probability is that it's all innocent but Microsoft has employed people who purposefully and illegally break compatibility and they have never been dealt with by the justice system. You just don't know and will never know until some prosecutor gets an appropriate budget to look into this mess.

Posted by TMLutas at April 27, 2004 09:39 AM