[ANSOL-geral] sempre bom recordar factos...

Rui Miguel Seabra rms arroba 1407.org
Fri May 30 16:17:01 2003

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O que aqui vem s=C3=A3o uma s=C3=A9rie de _factos_ ao longo do tempo, que o
Michael Robertson (mp3.com, Lindows) reuniu e sumariou:


Gates at my Alma Mater

This week Bill Gates came to my alma mater to speak. I have to admit
that I was less than thrilled to have UCSD roll out the red carpet for
him, but it's understandable since he is the richest man in the world
and runs the richest company in the world. I started to think about the
young people who would be in attendance though, and that they were in
diapers when Microsoft started. They've grown up in a Microsoft-only
world, that's the only thing they know and few have any perspective
about how Microsoft came to dominate the PC business. In the absence of
information otherwise, they'll assume that it was through healthy, free
enterprise -- which I don't believe is true.=20

Anyone who tracks the PC business, recognises that Microsoft has clearly
been on a propaganda campaign for the last few years to clean up their
image. They have been spending big money in an effort to do so on TV, in
print and public appearances. They would like the world to think of
Microsoft as an innovative company and of Mr. Gates as a visionary and a
philanthropist. Mr. Gates is clearly very smart and Microsoft is a
vicious competitor, but I'm not so sure the facts indicate they are
innovative or visionary. So I've put together a two-page background on
Mr. Gates and Microsoft to add some historical perspective to the
debate, which I passed out to those in attendance. I hope you find it
helpful to form your own conclusions.=20

        Fact Sheet On Bill Gates and the Microsoft Corporation=20

Q: Can you provide some background on Bill Gates?
A: Bill Gates was born in 1955 and founded the Microsoft Corporation in
1975 with Paul Allen. Mr. Gates was CEO and Chairman of Microsoft until
2000, when he gave up the CEO title to Steve Ballmer. During that time,
Microsoft became the largest and richest software company in the world,
with $46 billion in the bank and adding nearly one billion per month to
that total. It has made Bill Gates the richest man in the world with an
estimated wealth of $54.44 billion dollars or $187 for every man, woman
and child in the United States.=20

Q: Can you provide a brief history of Microsoft?
A: In the early 1980s, IBM asked Microsoft to produce an operating
system for their upcoming "personal computer." That product became MS
DOS and made billions for Microsoft. Microsoft followed that up with
Microsoft Windows and the components of Microsoft Office (Microsoft
Word, Microsoft Excel and Microsoft PowerPoint).=20

Q: Doesn't that make Microsoft the most innovative PC software company?
A: Virtually every successful Microsoft product was either purchased
from another company, or a direct copy of an existing company's
successful product. Microsoft's first major success, MS DOS, was
purchased from another company and renamed from QDOS. Microsoft Windows
was a copy of Apple's innovative Macintosh operating system. Microsoft
Word (1983) was a copy of Wordperfect (1982). Microsoft Excel (1985) was
a copy of Lotus 1-2-3 (1983). Using revenue from their monopolies,
Microsoft purchased PowerPoint (from Forethought), Frontpage (Vermeer),
and Visio (Shapewear).

Q: The history of PC software is made up of companies borrowing ideas
from others, so what is wrong with that?
A: To some degree, almost all technology companies build on existing
ideas. Microsoft, however, has often engaged in wholesale copying
without adding much. With many of the original companies gone or
withering, Microsoft is embarking on a calculated plan to rewrite
history and position themselves as the original innovator. For example,
Microsoft now claims that they are the sole inventor of "windows" and no
other company can use that term -- in spite of the fact that Microsoft
Windows was such a close copy of the Apple Macintosh that it triggered a
lawsuit upon its release (See

Q: Even if they're not innovative, Microsoft's products are used so
widely that they must be making great products, which makes Microsoft a
great company, right?
A: Normally, when a company enjoys success it's a sign of a good company
serving their customers. While Microsoft employees have surely worked
hard, their success has been tainted by decades of illegal actions by
Microsoft's management to secure, maintain and extend their monopoly

After the success of MS DOS, a competing product emerged called DR DOS,
causing MS to lower their prices. Bill Gates wrote in an e-mail, "I
believe people underestimate the impact DR-DOS has had on us in terms of
pricing" (May 18, 1989). So Gates gave orders to executives at Microsoft
to purposely sabotage DR DOS. "Make sure it [DR DOS] has problems
running our software in the future." And where it didn't have problems,
programmers were instructed to create bogus error messages saying that
it did. The tactic worked and DR DOS was forced out of business, leaving
the Microsoft monopoly. Years later, MS paid more than $100 million to
settle this case -- long after DR DOS was no longer a threat (See

With the MS DOS monopoly as a foundation, Microsoft continued a series
of illegal actions designed to extend their monopoly to additional
products, including Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office. For example,
they stifled competition by threatening and extorting computer
manufacturers to enter into licenses agreeing to only carry Microsoft
products. By the time the Justice Department caught up to them and filed
two antitrust cases for a wide range of unfair and anti-competitive
actions (1993, 1996), Microsoft had cemented a massive monopoly which
gave them hoards of cash to fight any company -- or even the government.
Microsoft settled the first case, agreeing to change its illegal
marketing practices and was found guilty in the second case (See

Q: Isn't this just a case of the losing companies complaining because
they couldn't compete?
A: Over the last 20 years, it is difficult to find another company which
exhibits such a lengthy pattern of illegal behavior designed to thwart
competition. E-mail from a MS executive said it best, "It seems clear
that it will be very hard to increase browser share on the merits of IE
[Internet Explorer] 4 alone...It will be more important to leverage the
OS asset to make people use IE instead of Navigator" (2/24/97). There
have even been cases where Microsoft has stolen technology which has put
companies out of business, such as San Diego's Stac Electronics. A jury
found MS guilty and ordered them to pay $110 million (See

Q: Where does Microsoft make their money?
A: Microsoft makes money largely from two product lines: operating
system (Microsoft Windows XP) and office suite (Microsoft Office).
Virtually every other venture that Microsoft has embarked upon has not
generated a profit -- including WinCE, Xbox, MSN, WebTV, Sidewalk,
MSNBC, etc. (See http://biz.yahoo.com/e/l/m/msft.html).=20

Q: If most product lines lose money, how can they generate such large
A: Through illegal tactics, Microsoft has been able to secure and keep a
monopoly which allows them to charge very high rates for their software.
Enabled by the monopoly, Microsoft's profit margins are 5 times greater
than the average from top 500 US companies. If Microsoft faced
meaningful competition, their profits would be more in line with the
rest of corporate America and software would cost 1/5 what it does today
(See http://research.businessweek.com/scoreboard.asp).=20

Q: Aren't all of these actions ancient history? Since Microsoft has been
under government scrutiny, haven't we seen improved corporate behavior?
A: Microsoft's massive war chest and unchanged management team means
more corporate wrongdoing. This makes it extraordinarily difficult for
competition to emerge. Just last week, an e-mail was revealed in which
Microsoft executives disclosed a $180 million fund designed to thwart
Linux by giving away Microsoft software and services -- the same
successful strategy they used to put Netscape out of business (See
www.iht.com/articles/96369.html). In another example, over the past
year, Microsoft has spent millions in legal fees in an attempt to
shutdown a San Diego Linux company, Lindows.com (See

Q: But doesn't Microsoft do a lot of good?=20
A: The charitable giving that Microsoft advertises is usually a business
tactic, where they give away software in an attempt to gain traction in
a market, such as they do with schools. The software costs them just
pennies to reproduce, but they advertise the full retail value for tax
and PR reasons. Microsoft rarely gives actual cash (See:

Q: Hasn't Mr. Gates given away billions of dollars?
A: Nearly 20 years after starting Microsoft and only after antitrust
issues emerged, Mr. Gates created a foundation and moved billions of
dollars of stock, tax free, into this new organization, which he
controls as the sole trustee. Mr. Gates' PR folks have convinced major
publications to carry as many as 5 stories in 3 days about the
multi-billion dollar foundation in an attempt to bolster Mr. Gates'
image (See http://theregister.co.uk/content/4/28039.html). By repeatedly
trumpeting the formation of the foundation, then announcing individual
initiatives and finally announcing individual grants, readers are left
with the impression that billions of dollars are routinely dispersed,
but that is simply not true. In 2001, the Gates Foundation collected
more money in interest from their holdings than they dispersed in grants
(See: www.fdncenter.org).=20

More troublesome, Mr. Gates has used monies from the foundation he
controls, in concert with Microsoft's corporate goals. In an attempt to
sway Cox Communications to use Microsoft software, Microsoft agreed to
financially back them in November, 2001. Two months later Mr. Gates
purchased $500 million dollars of Cox stock using $200 million of funds
from his non-profit foundation (See
www.eureka-boston.org/readings/gates_foundation.htm). In another
example, MS gave hundreds of millions to thwart Linux growth in the
Indian government, while also making funds available from the Gates
foundation to Indian government initiatives (See

Q: What can we expect Mr. Gates to talk about?=20
A: Mr. Gates will likely spend some time speaking about the importance
of innovation and open standards. However those are just platitudes,
since their actions achieve exactly the opposite. Their monopoly is
built upon proprietary formats that they have no intention of publishing
(e.g. Microsoft Office file format specifications), because that would
allow competition. Furthermore, they have attempted to squash any
standard which they believe threatens their stranglehold -- such as MP3,
HTML and Java. An internal MS document entitled "Strategic Objective"
had this to say about Java: "[Lets] Kill cross-platform Java by growing
the polluted Java market."=20

In spite of the conciliatory comments Mr. Gates conveyed, Microsoft will
continue to use their monopoly powers to destroy other companies - which
limits competition and innovation and keeps software prices high. "Do we
have a clear plan on what we want Apple to do to undermine Sun?" (Bill
Gates e-mail 8/8/97) A series of recent leaked internal memos reveal an
ongoing attempt by Microsoft to discredit and derail the latest
perceived threat - Linux. (See www.opensource.org/halloween/)=20
Microsoft is engaging in a calculated and comprehensive effort to
rewrite history. In doing so, they position themselves as an innovative
company and Mr. Gates as a visionary and philanthropist. Please research
those claims for yourself on the Net, use the sources listed in this
document to determine for yourself, the veracity of their claims.=20

-- Michael=20

+ No matter how much you do, you never do enough -- unknown
+ Whatever you do will be insignificant,
| but it is very important that you do it -- Gandhi
+ So let's do it...?

Please AVOID sending me WORD, EXCEL or POWERPOINT attachments.
See http://www.fsf.org/philosophy/no-word-attachments.html

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