PACKET RAT

Judge Rat calls for a Microsoft defenestration

The Rat's jaw slackened at the recent news that New Mexico's attorney general had reached an antitrust settlement with Microsoft Corp.

This, after the Redmond monopoly offered up a cold, dead fish of a concession: letting equipment manufacturers remove Microsoft software icons, including the Internet Explorer icon, from the Windows XP interface. Manufacturers would be allowed to replace or augment the Microsoft icons with software of their own choosing.

'Oboyoboy, now maybe someone will ship a system preconfigured with Netscape Navigator'about three years too late,' the cyberrodent seethed. 'Or maybe something like the Opera browser.'

It's not that the Rat disrespects these alternatives to Microsoft's dominant Explorer. Well, maybe he does'at least Navigator, which he stopped running under anything but Linux because of its frequent abnormal ends, and Mozilla, which crashes so often it almost gives open-source software a bad name.

He's used Opera occasionally, and every now and then he surfs with the last version of the Sun Microsystems Corp. browser. But the Rat considers the browser war to be over.

Packet Rat
That's what makes Microsoft's gesture such a nongesture. It effectively creates the market division Microsoft allegedly proposed to Netscape Communications Corp. a few years back''You take everything else, we take Windows''and expanded on through investment in Apple Computer Inc.

The Rat has a few other concessions he'd like to see Microsoft offer to manufacturers, and to the rest of the world for that matter.

If the company is serious about the settlement thing and wants to get more than just New Mexico off its back, maybe it should try some of these small concessions:


  • Reverse the Windows tax. Microsoft should stop collecting royalties for every PC sold and get paid only for PCs shipped with a Windows operating system.


  • Forfeit the gross from Windows 98 and Windows Millennium Edition upgrades. There should be a law against profiting from bug fixes disguised as upgrades.


  • Release equally featured versions of all the company's office automation and other software for Mac OS X, Mac OS 8.1 through 9.1, Linux, Sun Solaris, HP-UX, AIX and UnixWare. And, oh yeah, OS/390.


  • Trade Steve Ballmer to the Baltimore Orioles for owner Peter Angelos and a draft pick to be named later.


  • Apologize to Judge Jackson for those mean, nasty things it made the appellate court say about him.


  • Issue a fractional refund of the cost of the OS license, automatically through PayPal.com, for every blue screen of death experienced by a Windows user.


  • Print the 'M' of the Microsoft logo in scarlet, to denote monopoly. A woodblock print of Hester Prynne could be added as a watermark. Chairman Bill Gates, president Steve Ballmer and other corporate officers could wear a large red 'M' on their garments.


  • Enable one-click uninstalls of unwanted OS and application features with a Defenestrate icon.



The Packet Rat once managed networks but now spends his time ferreting out bad packets in cyberspace. E-mail him at rat@postnewsweektech.com.

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