It is such perfect timing for Pick Up Ax, I tell ya. This Department of Justice lawsuit against Microsoft for anti-competitive practices is fascinating. Strangely enough I’m actually on Microsoft’s side on this one, even though I love Netscape.
I was watching Burden of Proof on CNN today and they had lawyers for both sides arguing their respective cases. It’s maddening how few of these attorneys understand the technology they’re condemning. So many of the players in this case (and on today’s Burden of Proof) said, almost proudly, that they couldn’t install Netscape’s browser without the help of their nine year old kid. That essentially makes them computer illiterate. I mean, how hard can it be to point your browser to www.netscape.com? Stop me if I’m wrong, but there are “Download Netscape Now” links on almost every site on the Internet. What kind of difficult questions do you have to answer once you get there?
Let’s take a look at that, shall we?
What language do you want?
Swahili, German, or English?
What O.S. are you using?
Macintosh, Windows NT, Windows 95, or UNIX.
Which version of the software do you want?
Do you want industrial strength encryption?
What add-on software do you want to go with it?
You could literally make wrong choices for half these questions and the software would still be fine. As long as you know you’re using Win95 and want English, you could pick an older release or the wrong encryption type by mistake and it wouldn’t make a difference. You download one file and have to double-click on it once. That’s it.
Admittedly, things could get more complicated if you, for example, ran out of disk space during the installation. But for 99% of people, this should be a no-brainer.
The irony to all this is that if the DOJ suit is successful, products like Linux will gain market share. That’s good right? Maybe. But then these same attorneys who couldn’t figure out how to download a browser under Windows 95 will be faced with recompiling Linux kernels, tweaking archaic Xwindows configuration files, and figuring out why they can’t read the Windows 98 disk they were just given on their bitchin’ BeOS system.
Replace Linux, Windows and Be with Commodore 64, Apple II, and Atari and you’re back in 1985. I remember 1985, it sucked. What I dreamed of was the day when if someone said they had a computer, you didn’t have to ask “What kind?” It took a long time to get here. I, for one, don’t want to go back.