To the editor: Microsoft is my friend

Dear editor of publication name here:

As an independent Microsoft Windows developer having no knowledge of Edelman Public Relations' program to manufacture a grassroots campaign in support of Microsoft, I want to express my heartfelt and unaffiliated concern over the current effort by the US Gvernment to stifle innovation in software design. Let me ask your readers and influential legislators this question: Do you really want to interfere with Microsoft's innovation?

From day one, the genius of Microsoft's innovative approach to software design was evident. What other company could invent so many ways to describe a memory protection error (UAE, GPF, Illegal operation)? What other company would invent Bob or make Basic the foundation of its enterprise software strategy? What other company would have you select "Alpha" from a menu in order to begin typing text into your DOS word processor? And without the advancement of Microsoft's innovative operating systems and office applications, do you think we would be running today's word processors on such advanced hardware as 333MHz Pentium II systems with 128MB of RAM? I think not.

Microsoft's critics claim that the company stalls the competition with vapourware announcements. Tell me, is Cairo vapourware?

Bill Gates described Cairo to InfoWorld in November 1993 this way: "This unified storage, as well as the automatic finding and directory features of Cairo, lets you query by the content of a file, for example. You can ask the system for a file that included a word."

Imagine an operating system that lets you search for a file that contains a word! This innovative Cairo feature exists in Windows 95 and Windows NT today. And people say Cairo never shipped!

Look at the innovation in Windows 95 (Chicago). In the interview quoted above, Gates said, "We use the term `Chicago' to refer to a project that includes a lot of exciting technologies: DOS 7, Windows and Windows for Workgroups."

Because Microsoft was free of government intervention, it could innovate DOS 7 out of Windows 95 by the time it shipped.

Yet this is the very innovation that intolerant Microsoft-bashers want to destroy. They even want to force Microsoft to publish the source code for Windows so that others can compete with Microsoft using Microsoft's own product! Such a move is unconscionable. As Gates told The New York Times in September 1983, "Imagine the disincentive to software development if after months of work another company could come along and copy your work and market it under its own name."

Indeed, competitors fail to win against Microsoft because they stand still while Microsoft innovates. Tell me, where was Tim Patterson of Seattle Computer Products when Microsoft invented MS-DOS? Where was Stac Electronics when Microsoft invented Doublespace? Where were Xerox and Apple when Microsoft invented the graphical user interface? Where was Apple's QuickTime when Microsoft invented Video for Windows? Where was IBM's OS/2 when Microsoft invented Windows NT? Where was Sybase Server when Microsoft invented Ashton-Tate's SQL Server? Where was 3Com's 3+Open when Microsoft invented LAN Manager (now part of Windows NT Server)? Where was Spyglass's Mosaic when Microsoft invented Internet Explorer? Where was Sun when Microsoft invented Java?

And do you think that Microsoft's Web browser and Web server would be as successful as they are today if Microsoft had not invented the concept of freeware and exercised it with every new copy of Windows? I say let the Free Software Foundation try something like that if it wants to be successful.

Finally, I want to give Microsoft thanks for supporting me as a professional Windows developer. It seems like just yesterday that I was a lowly freelance writer. Yet, due to Microsoft innovation, I can say without reservation (save the one I now have for a glorious hotel on the beach in Hawaii for three months) that if it wasn't for Microsoft, I wouldn't be where I am today, doing what I am today, or going where I'll be going tomorrow.

-- Signed, a concerned and independent citizen who wishes to remain anonymous.

(Former consultant and programmer Nicholas Petreley is editor in chief at NC World (http://www.ncworldmag.com). Reach him at nicholas_petreley@infoworld.com, and visit his forum at http://www.infoworld.com.)

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