Friday, May 11, 2012

Microsoft, Windows, Internet Explorer, "Mere Anarchy is Loosed Upon the World," and All That

"Microsoft returning Windows to 'the digital dark ages'?" (May 10, 2012)

"The biggest lawsuit in Microsoft's history dominated the 90s, when the company battled accusations that it was stifling browser competition. Rival Netscape couldn't survive, but the Windows giant was ultimately forced to strip Internet Explorer from its operating system in a landmark ruling.

"That conflict may be brewing up again.

"Mozilla, the developer group behind the popular Firefox browser, argued Wednesday night that Firefox is being banned from certain versions of Windows 8, the forthcoming tablet-centric OS from Microsoft -- returning Windows users to the dark ages before competition.

" 'The upcoming release of Windows … and Microsoft's browser practices regarding Windows 8 Metro signal an unwelcome return to the digital dark ages where users and developers didn't have browser choices,” wrote Harvey Anderson, Mozilla general counsel, in a Wednesday night blog post...."

Hyperbole about "digital dark ages" aside, it looks like Microsoft's upcoming version of Windows will allow Microsoft's Internet Explorer to work on computers using Windows, along with most other browsers. Or, Microsoft's new version of Windows will let only Internet Explorer to work.

Either way, it'll be the fault of Big Bad Microsoft: for some folks.

Concerned, Yes: Worried, No

The Lemming is concerned about the latest claim that Microsoft is doing something stupid and self-destructive. The Lemming's computer uses Windows, and the Lemming uses Firefox for most Web browsing: and Chrome, mostly to let the Lemming's webcam talk to a free-with-ads display service.

If the next version of Windows, and subsequent versions, won't let anything but Internet Explorer function as a browser, the Lemming may decide that the next computer on the Lemming's desk will have another operating system.

It's the Lemming's considered opinion that quite a few folks may make that decision: which is why the Lemming is concerned, but not worried. Even if Microsoft decides to be daft: there are other options.

The Town of Hypothetical, West Dakota

Competition doesn't always feel good. Consider this hypothetical situation: Let's say you live somewhere that isn't like Los Angeles or New York City. A remarkable number of folks do, and that's another topic.

You run the only grocery in town: if folks want to buy at another grocer's, they'll have to drive 50 miles. You have to put fresh produce out occasionally, and be careful enough to keep the health inspector from closing you down: but apart from that, you don't have to worry about whether folks will buy your fuzzy fruit and glow-in-the-dark cold cuts.

Then: SOMEONE ELSE OPENS A GROCERY at the other end of town. With (really) fresh fruit, and meat that's not quite so thoroughly aged.

You've got a choice: improve your grocery, or go out of business.

Harsh as this may sound: everybody else in town might benefit from grocers competing with each other. And maybe the hypothetical 'you' with the fuzzy fruit might find indirect benefits in competition-induced improvements.

Who knows: your neighbors might even stop throwing rocks through your windows.

"Things Fall Apart:" A More Sophisticated, Literary, Approach to Unpleasantness

Maybe the Lemming is being unfair about this: but after a while these perennial complaints about big, bad, whatever gets tiresome.

It's like that fellow whose sole talent seems to be finding a dark lining in every sliver cloud; and whose greatest satisfaction is pulling defeat from the jaws of victory. For some reason, a sort of loquacious pessimism has been highly thought of in at least part of the literary world:
"...Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
"Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
"The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
"The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
"The best lack all conviction, while the worst
"Are full of passionate intensity...." (Yeats (1920))
That's not bad, actually. Gloomy, And not the sort of thing to take in large doses on an overcast day: but not bad.

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