Microsoft Behaving Badly
It was grimly noted last week that media reports of Microsoft’s recent public attempt to rudely ingest Yahoo were missing a caveat that had always been present in the past: “…the proposed merger must still be approved by Dept. of Commerce regulators.” In the rule of Republican Corporate America a hostile takeover that crushes competition by an already malignant competitor just because they can is precisely correct; after seven years of it the business press doesn’t even think to mention that the government might intervene to stop it.
It would be in very much everyone’s interest that Microsoft be stopped, for this is a crude, bullying tactic that crushes the dreams and work of a once burgeoning company for very little gain. In political junkie terms what Microsoft seeks from Yahoo is in effect a donor list from the last campaign, and already-set network of paying community members to gain more leverage in a new market.
Amazingly, Microsoft thinks it can engulf Yahoo’s user base and keep them; it’s as if the McCain election team was given the mailing list from Dean’s campaign and expected great potential from it. Microsoft says it has a plan to retain Yahoo employees, as Donald Rumsfeld had a plan to govern Iraq after the war, yes. Instead of growing or adjusting out of market problems Microsoft seeks to overwhelm and destroy, not hyperbole at all to Yang and all the Yahoo employees who would rather die than become Microserfs.
Two great emerging prongs in the fat monopolistic ass of Microsoft propel its heaving $47 billion annual revenue buttocks over Sunnyvale: Google and the free software movement. Google has a lock on a vastly important internet function, of course, and seeks to take all the current desktop applications like word processing and spreadsheets off the desk into remote servers, “into the clouds.”
All round Google is a vast army of souls like this, may Jesus watch over him for all of his days. In this lousy story of desperation and bullying these heroes shine with plain goodness, for they truly do believe in free software, they breathe it and live it, and it may just be that in 15 years Microsoft is forced out of the application business. Maybe.
“I don’t ever see myself buying a copy of Office,” a member of the new generation proclaims. Actually, frat boy, when your Director looks at you at tells you to fabricate a 40 slide presentation and distribute it to 15 employees for collaborative workup who have never used anything but PowerPoint I do see you buying a copy of Office, yeah. Naïve statements like these also completely miss the scope and depth of Excel, an incredible program that likely will never be beat in the market. Its current free competitors are pathetic in comparison, it’s not even close.
Google has made a promising start on those applications, even so, and a future in the clouds doesn’t seem that unlikely, given Google’s scary coding and market potential. But none of this scenario remotely touches the operating system market, which Microsoft still has an utter lock on. Linnux has been and still is touted to be the answer, but still has yet to effectively penetrate. Maybe one day it will; perhaps what Microsoft fears most is a future in the clouds that eventually does mature enough to take the operating system monopoly away from them.
Whatever. How does swallowing Yahoo whole abate these ethereal market forces aligned against Microsoft? Poorly. There’s no killer application base, no operating system leverage, no new internet market entry point, just a whole lot of folks who liked and became used to using Yahoo’s internet services, who may or may not be useful in future emerging markets.
Microsoft has endless revenue streams and cash, it doesn’t care how poorly the money performs as long as they do something, anything, to tell themselves they really can compete in the world of Google. They don’t care about crushing the dreams of entrepreneur Yahoo founder Yang or manipulating the Yahoo user base, being stupid bullies is what suits them. Really—this is a quite deliberate choice of regression, and since Microsoft is positive they can get away with it onward they will stalwartly march.
As a people, is that the kind of America and world we want? That, too, is a choice, no matter what the pessimists say. Just ten years ago government routinely wielded the power to stop such abuses, and when we get our country back will do so again—if we make it so.