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You've got to hand it to our Federal Government and John Ashcroft's Department of (In)Justice. Justice is rumored to be blind. In at least one case, she surely is. Alas, her alleged visual handicap is intended to offer the opportunity to prove one's innocence. It is not meant to offer only a blind eye toward the most transparent and illegal of behaviors.
I still can't get over Bill Gates and his seemingly innocent proclamation that Microsoft should enjoy and would defend its freedom to innovate. I for one have never managed to qualify anything that company does as innovative. A few other adjectives come to mind, but that isn't one of them.
Well, I admit it, I was wrong. They are innovative.
Microsoft is second to none when it comes to finding new and innovative ways to extend their desktop monopoly in every direction they can. Frankly I don't see anything standing in their way either. After all, for all intents and purposes, Netscape is now part of history. There's one reason and one reason only for that, and we all know what it is. If that wasn't enough for the good old DoJ to carry out its duty, nothing will.
Where are they headed now? First we have to take stock of where they are. Of course, they continue to retain the dubious honor of churning out the most innovative security problems you can shake a stick of RAM at. That Microsoft is lord of all it surveys in the realm of desktop computing is equally obvious. Lest we forget though, the evil empire is applying Herculean efforts to take over a number of other business segments. Nothing is safe from their assault. Cellular telephony, gaming console markets, lending, news, and entertainment are all areas that Microsoft hopes to infiltrate.
That last one bears closer examination.
When you get right down to it, there are currently three dominant forms of desktop media services. There is Real, Apple's QuickTime, and Microsoft's Media Player. All three are jockeying to be the dominant force in the industry. Of course, Microsoft has quite an advantage in that they include their Media Player software with their operating systems. Not to put too fine a point on it, but it seems to me that the lesson learned by Netscape could easily be relearned by both Real and Apple. In fact they are perfectly positioned, and are being very innovative in their exploitation of the situation. Microsoft's propensity for exerting monopoly leverage is coming to play again, and this time there is a perfect niche to fill.
All of the big media houses are running scared right now. They would be thrilled if they could levy some charge against anyone and everyone who tried to view or listen to their copyrighted work, and they'd really like it if they could exact those fees every time we viewed or listened to some digitized work.
That's where Microsoft comes in.
Bill would love to find a way to monopolize entertainment and it seems he's found one. By incorporating Digital Rights Management technology into Windows he is able to offer exactly what the MPAA and RIAA are looking for. Not surprisingly, the concerns of his consumers are of little matter. After all, its their money he's interested in, nothing more. It seems he's about to cash in big time. The entertainment industry has pushed for ways to gain control over how, when, and where you can view their work, regardless of what you might have paid for the privilege. They've even gone so far as to push for legislation that would prevent you from doing something as simple as recording a broadcast television show, unless they approved. As for those vile TiVo boxes people use to sip past commercials, well, they'd put an end to that too. That's where Microsoft comes in. They can offer a solution that can be fully controlled, unrecordable, unshakable, and ultimately just what the moguls ordered.
Yeah, there's no doubt in my mind that Justice is blind. Judging by the indifference to the cries of outrage elicited by those who have been victimized by Microsoft, I'm thinking she's deaf too.
At least we're talking about Microsoft here. More likely than not, whatever security they come up with to guard their new monopoly will be hacked in short order, just like almost every other product they've ever shipped.