Re: USA states' proposal to force port of MS Office to free platforms

On Fri, Dec 07, 2001 at 04:25:53PM -0800, Andy Tai was heard to remark:
> Hi, several states of the USA, in trying to resolve
> the Microsoft antitrust case, has proposed, as part of
> the settlement, to force Microsoft to port Microsoft
> Office to GNU/Linux (or Linux). If Microsoft is forced
> to do this, 

If we could start a betting pool on this, I'd say the most likely
outcome is that MS would port the absolute minimum required.  Desktop
dominance is not an office suite alone.  You need the zillion and one
misc applications--  the photo albums, the geneology tree keepers, 
backup software,  pro-quality video/audio editors, dental office
room reservation systems, etc. and lists 
many of these.  Microsoft makes few/none of these, and even if they 
did, they wouldn't port them.   So these other things are not in 
danger.  The damage, if any, is to abiword & gnumeric.

Next, I'd repeat something I've said before: widening the number
of users has the indirect effect of increasing the number of 
developers.  The damage, if any, to abiword & gnumeric is offset
by the larger number of developers.

Next, I don't know that competing apps kill competition (in the
free/open source world).  Did the existance of acroread stop xpdfview,
or the ghostscript or whatever extensions to display adobe acrobat
files?  Did Xess stop gnumeric? Did gnumeric kill other spreadsheet
efforts?  Unscientifically speaking, it doesn't seem so.  I've 
been working on gnucash 4+ years, and there are 3 or 5 times as
many finance managers now than there were then.

Finally, who beleives that Microsoft will do a good job?  Not I.
Look at staroffice... those guys were trying to be Linux-freindly,
and yet 5.1 was so totally non-unix-oriented.  Little things: the file
picker was wrong; it followed some windows paradigm , but was just
plain wrong for the unix world.  The print menu ... same story. 
I can't imagine MS adding lpr support to MSOffice.  They're not 
stupid; they could do a kick-butt porting job if they wanted to,
but they have no incentive to.  Why should they bother? 
I'll get scared when I understand thier incentive.

The availability of MSOffice on Linux would be a huge deal for the
trade press; we wouldn't hear the end of it for years.  But I
think GNU and Linux would be the winners of that news exposure,
not Microsoft.


pub  1024D/01045933 2001-02-01 Linas Vepstas (Labas!) <linas linas org>
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