Gates ready to get out of court, go hang with Arnold

This might be too grandiose of an idea, but I thought

I would try to explain the U.S. vs. Microsoft case in

one tiny column. So if you have been following the case

closely and do not need an explanation, feel free to

take this opportunity to play the

Lucky Dollars game.

For those of you still with me (I hope it's at least

17 out of 19), I will try to quickly catch up on the

events, with the help of Wired.com:

1. In June of 1990, the Federal Trade Commission launched

a probe to determine if Microsoft, IBM, anyone wearing

shoes and gray squirrels were attempting to monopolize

the PC market.

2. By 1997, the government had narrowed it down to

Microsoft, after having problems accounting for all

the people with shoes. The Justice Department scrutnized

over $150 million Microsoft invested in Apple computiing,

considering the companies are in direct competition.

With 20 state attorneys, they would file suit against

Microsoft in 1998.

3. Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson initially said Microsoft

did hold a monopoly and urged both sides to determine

the outcome of the antitrust lawsuit, including who

would get to be the thimble.

4. For two years, Microsoft tried to get another ruling

on the matter. Finally, in 2001, a federal court overturned

the initial ruling, leaving Microsoft to do as it pleased,

as long as no more than five employees at a time are

playing the Lucky Dollars game.

5. Now, Bill Gates testifies in court that he is, indeed,

Arnold Schwartznegger's twin brother, and the movie

"Twins" is based on a true story.

OK, really on April 22, Gates

did testify that much of the functionality of Windows

would be lost if some software, like Internet Explorer,

were removed from the operating system. According to

the testimony, Gates is fearful that Microsoft competitors

will benefit if source code and blueprints of developed

technology are available to the masses.

Basically, it seems that Microsoft wants people to

be dependent on not only its operating system, but also

all software it produces, which greatly diminishes the

possibility of competition. The weird thing is that

other operating systems are already available as open

source, meaning anyone can use them, including those

who don't always wear shoes while programming (count

me in!). Plus there is plenty of third-party software

that can be utilized in accordance with Microsoft's

operating system. Yes, I would be extremely worried

if my competitors were gaining ground on me, but I don't

think I would be as worried if I was worth the GNP of

a large country.

It would be difficult for any computer technology to

rival Microsoft right now, and depending on what is

finally decided by the courts will determine how soon

there will be a strong competitor. In certain fields,

other systems, including Macs, Sun, etc. have become

better acclimated, but overall, Microsoft still owns

the PC market and most business places as well.

An agreement between Microsoft and the nine states

still pursuing the case seems to be forthcoming, but

sone of the logic still doesn't make a whole lot of

sense. According to CNN's

report of the testimony, Gates was displeased at

the thought of the public being able to purchase or

continue to use older copies of Windows without having

to upgrade. Could you imagine automotive companies claiming

that each year, when they came out with a new vehicle,

you had to purchase it? I realize that is more extreme

than upgrading a piece of software, but it is still

the same principle.

No matter what the judges decide, Gates and the Microsoft

empire will still dominate the computer technology market.

But I think healthy competition with other similar companies

will help the market grow more and produce a better

understanding of the technology that is possible. I

mean who would have ever thought Bill and Arnold could

possibly be twins? Arnold still towers over Bill, even

without his shoes, but Bill can hold his own in Lucky

Dollars.