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April 1999

Letters, Addendum, Errata

March 31, 1999 - Here is a copy of a letter from Don Eitner to the US DOJ concerning the soon to end (if it's not already over by the time you read this) of the Federal Anti-trust lawsuit against micro$oft:

To whom it may concern

As a PC user and Internet content creator, I have been following the Microsoft anti-trust trial closely. It seems obvious to me that Microsoft is going to lose this round (and most assuredly try to win on appeal).

I have also been following talks of actions to be taken when Microsoft does lose this case. I am not pleased!

I will grant that most if not all of the talks I have read have been speculatory, as the DoJ has not made any public announcements of what resolutions it will seek. However it is important to note a few things as the DoJ considers such actions:

* Windows is largely considered to be a technically inferior product when compared to Linux, OS/2, BeOS and several other PC operating systems. A number of Windows advocates have made claims to this effect, following through of course with reasons why that should not matter.

* Windows is largely considered to be user un-friendly, as evidenced by websites such as the Interface Hall of Shame (http://www.iarchitect.com/explore.htm, http://www.iarchitect.com/file95.htm, etc.).

* Partially due to Microsoft's anti-competitive actions in the operating system market and partially due to Microsoft's virtual control of the PC media through any number of legal and illegal means, alternate operating systems such as IBM's OS/2 were never given a full chance to realize any significant marketshare, but OS/2 is still in use and being developed by IBM.

Many of the resolutions I have seen often focus on splitting Microsoft into smaller companies, each with access to the Windows source code, or forcing Microsoft to license out the Windows source code to 3rd party developers to create competing Windows products. This would serve only to keep anything other than Windows from selling on the consumer and small-to-medium sized business markets, as it would fail to provide any real chance for OS/2 or the new-to-market BeOS (www.be.com) to gain marketshare, mindshare, or OEM pre-loads.

Many of my associates, myself included, would prefer a more versatile solution which allows non-Windows PC operating systems to gain healthy marketshare, applications development from major ISV's such as Corel, Adobe, Lotus, and Netscape, and support from hardware developers such as Creative Labs, Lexmark, Epson, Hewlett Packard, Matrox, and so forth. This seems to be the only viable solution to the Windows monopoly -- destroy the monopoly status of the OS itself, not of the company. Once so-called alternative operating systems are allowed breathing room to expand and interest users (and to gain, say, a minimum of 15% marketshare each), then there will be a much more competitive market in which users are free to choose not only their OS supplier, but their OS as well.

I urge the US Department of Justice and state Attorneys General to consider these facts and to act accordingly. Declaring Windows to be the official operating system by spreading it amongst more developers will still harm the industry as a whole as well as harming those of us who wish to operate easier-to-use and technically superior products.

Don Eitner

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