Architosh News Reports
  Anthony Frausto-Robledo, B.Arch. ([email protected])


Opinion: Time to react: Is Microsoft the economy?

14 Jun 00

Editor's Note: Although Architosh is a 'vertical portal' site (and hence targeted at specific types of news) today's general news on the Microsoft vs US Gov.'s caused my blood to boil over and hence write this opinion article. After all what is Microsoft saying? Because it sounds a lot like 'black mail' to me.

Microsoft Threatens US Economy?

Essentially, now that the US Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has publicly announced they are "anxious" to hear the Microsoft appeal, Bill Gates has apparently found enough confidence in his company's chances of victory to go out on a limb and attack Federal Judge Jackson and simultaneously black mail the US economy.

Specific to the Jackson attacks, Microsoft has said about the whole sum of the trial that the legal errors "culminated in the entry of unprecedented relief that extends far beyond the case that was presented, without affording Microsoft an evidentiary hearing on the terms of one of the most complex antitrust decrees in history".

Microsoft has criticized Jackson for failing to give the company due process, while Jackson has defended these remarks by claiming Microsoft's legal tactics are nothing more than stunts designed to prolong the process and convince the 'court of popular opinion'.

Perhaps the most disturbing issue all along has been Microsoft's claim that hurting Microsoft hurts the US economy and hence the antitrust law suit brought on by the US government and 19 states is simply wrong on the basis that it is bad for the US consumer. Whether this is totally true or not has largely been ignored by the government. Microsoft-sided experts largely agree with this statement; however, experts siding with the government and most of Microsoft's competitors disagree completely -- believing that Microsoft is in fantasyland thinking they influence the whole of the US economy to such a degree. Moreover, that the industry isn't capable to react to a Microsoft breakup has also been largely ignored and rejected by Microsoft's competitors.

A Case of Black Mail: Is Microsoft the US economy?

Microsoft's latest new statements regarding the restrictions imposed by the judge say implicitly that unless put on hold immediately the judge's restrictions on Microsoft would have "far-reaching and irreversible consequences" for Microsoft and the US economy. Although we understand the consequences for Microsoft are real the issue whether they will produce "irreversible consequences" for the US economy are completely debatable. The jury is clearly out on this one.

Unless, of course, Microsoft believes (and isn't obvious they do) that THEY ARE the principle driver of the US tech economy. In that case, if true, the statements about "irreversible consequences" to the US economy sound much more like threats. In essence Microsoft is saying to everyone: don't hurt us! if you do you will be only hurting your own wallet.

The logic behind Microsoft's pleas and arguments is simple: Money is persuasion in reasoning. The principle behind these public statements designed to instill fear and uncertainty in politicians, judges and the public at large is simple too. It's called Black Mail.

Should Justice be based on the health of the US Economy?

I don't know about you but I was under the impression that justice in this country is about the Law. Most of the time the system works and sometimes, occasionally, it fails badly. But since when has a new legal framework placed concern for the US economy over the written laws of this nation?

As a reader on the Internet said in a forum, "It was telling that Microsoft felt that legal issues should be based on concerns for the US economy. Well! does that mean the courts should overrule 'antislavery' laws because it makes good monetary sense to have slaves?" Although the issue of slavery cannot possibly be equated with the supposed evils of a digital monopoly (although the recent film the Matrix should create food for thought), it should be reminded that in cases in our US history where there has been great public debate and divide over powerful issues such as slavery, war, unions, tobacco and so forth and so on ... the one true 'reality distortion field' has always been money.

As is always the case in history, it is when the temptation of money is removed and one is gained 20/20 hindsight that the true ethical and moral issues of the problem can be rendered clear enough for proper first judgments.

In the final analysis, should any system of justice ever be influenced by the sustained prospect of cold hard cash? Isn't that the silent, unspoken question Microsoft is asking you to answer?

Anthony Frausto-Robledo, B.Arch., is the founder and editor of the award-winning Architosh Web site. Educated as an architect, he has been an AEC professional for over 15 years. BritasMedia's mission with the Architosh Website is to again establish the Apple Macintosh platform as the premier worldwide leading computer system for technical design professionals.

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