From the People that brought you Windows

CobraBoy (
Tue, 11 Mar 1997 16:53:41 -0800

March 10, 1997

Absolute power

Thursday's news about Citrix Corp.'s decision to share the power of a
Windows NT
Server among cheaper clients and Microsoft's decision to co-opt that
market are stunning
examples of the unhealthy state of the technology industry. [See Citrix
wary of Microsoft
plans to bring WinFrame capabilities to Windows NT.]

Citrix has developed software to allow multiple computers to share the
power of a central
server computer running Microsoft Windows NT software. This allows
corporations to
buy cheaper computers for their users and helps minimize
expenditures. Indeed, only last week, Motorola announced a partnership
with Citrix.
Even Microsoft owns a small 8 percent stake in the company.

Unfortunately, Citrix was too successful. It had designed and delivered
a software
product with significant appeal to industry, given the increasing
licensing fees from
Microsoft. As a result, Microsoft decided it wanted that market and
pursued a deal with
Citrix. Citrix, of course, wanted what the software was worth to
Microsoft. Microsoft
wanted to pay only what it would take to develop similar software. Both

Seeing an impasse in licensing negotiations, the 500-pound gorilla
decided to sit down
and call the press into play. Microsoft indicated in press releases that
it was in
negotiations with Citrix over its technology; if Microsoft didn't get
its way, it would
develop its own software package that did the same thing. The result:
Citrix stock lost 60
percent of its value in a matter of a few short hours.

"Absolute power corrupts absolutely." They knew it 200 years ago in
France. Why don't
people get it now? Software developers, in the current industry
atmosphere, are nearly
guaranteed to be penalized for their success. That is, if they develop a
successful product,
Microsoft will notice. Microsoft will then make an offer to
cross-license the company's
technology at a "bargain basement" price. If the company decides that it
does not wish to
sell out at such a low price, Microsoft simply writes its own package
and issues a press
release, and that small software company is history.

This kind of "play with us or we'll crush you" attitude from Microsoft
has been repeated
over and over. When will the U.S. Justice Department say "enough is
enough"? This kind
of corporate behavior would not be tolerated in any other industry.
Members of the press
and lawmakers are either ignorant of technology issues or intimidated by
them. All the
while, Microsoft continues to wield absolute power over the industry.
And Nero fiddles
on while Rome burns to ashes.

Malcolm Duncan
Lafayette, IN


Restarting the computer frees up space that,
over one or more days, can get filled with files
the computer uses only temporarily. - NeXTStep Power Tips, pg. 19

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