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Microsoft Raptor Robert Sheridan bobsheridan bobsheridan@earthlink.net I just finished reading David A. Kaplan's "The Silicon Boys," a history of the computer age. He doesn't have anything nice to say about Bill Gates & Co. It's not enough for them to compete in the same food chain with you, they have to destroy you, according to DAK.

To do this they've invented a mind set that has enough basis in reality to let them mount a defense. Not a successful defense, but it's the only story they have, and they're stickin' with it. Their defense holds that since they knocked off the big dog on the street, IBM, which missed the operating system and chip-making boats to MS and Intel (hence "Wintel" computers) and got put out of the PC biz, the same thing could happen in turn to MS. So Gates is scared. He points to the fact that he was late in realizing that the Internet was for real, then had to play catchup, as he almost missed the boat. And then Netscape, which had him beat, but was too small to hang on to its lunch, got gobbled up (had its market share eaten up by Gates's Windows Explorer) and had to merge or sell out to AOL.

That's why I'm so mean and aggressive, Gates argues.
Someone meaner and more aggressive than me may eat me up my lunch just as I did to those other poor suckers. Stop me before I get meaner and steal someone else's lunch, I think he's arguing. I think he's in for a big fall.

But whether breaking MS into two smaller raptors is a good idea is still making me scratch my head. I also read the recent bio of John D. Rockefeller, Sr., the Bill Gates of his time, only worse. He didn't bother so much with owning oil wells as with buying up refineries. This put order in the market, he argued, with a lot of sense. When the trustbuster busted SO up, guess who owned all the shares of all the companies. Our perceptive correspondent above is correct, it was none other than JDR,Sr. A cosmetic change.

Maybe we should declare operating systems a utility, the way we do with electricity, phones, gas, and what else? Set up a Pubic Utility System for the Cyber-world. Let Billy-Boy have his applications programs, but the operating systems and GUIs get regulated, big-time and full-time. The commission sets the rates, the return on investment, and Bill can take his hand out of your pocket and mine. I feel confident his kid won't have to worry about paying for his college education.

-rs



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