Hey, Remember that Other Evil I Used to Rant About?

Not that there’s not plenty of Bush-regime evil going on — the revelation that Halliburton stands to make one hell of a lot more in Iraq-reconstruction contracts than the Bushies had led us to believe, just to pick an example from today’s headlines. But right now I’d like to go back to what I had always argued was the greatest evil on the planet, before little George’s cronies showed me that they could do worse: Microsoft.

Fuck Microsoft!Whoops! Microsoft just released version 6.1 of Virtual PC. For those of you who aren’t up on Mac software development, Virtual PC is a piece of software — originally developed by Connectix — that allows Macs to run (or more specifically, emulate) the Windows OS; it’s not quite like actually having a Pentium processor in your machine (for which Windows is optimized), but it does let you use Windows sofware, albeit a little slowly. Microsoft bought ’em out, and pulled the software under their control. Of course, they neglected to mention one tiny little problem: It doesn’t work with the new G5 machines. They claim the next version will be compatible, but have no idea when it’ll be available.

This would be upsetting in and of itself, but it comes on the same day that FWB — on the heels of a serious management shake-up — announced that the Mac OS X version of its rival emulation system, RealPC, which had previously announced as being in late-beta stage and almost ready to be released, doesn’t exist. As in, not one line of code had been written. Uh-oh.

Back in the heyday of Java development, Microsoft would routinely buy out small outfits for the express purpose of shutting them down. After all, the last thing they wanted was platform-indepenent software development. If people started writing programs that you could run on whatever computer you preferred — Windows, Mac, Unix — the Wintel monopoly power would be diminished — they couldn’t force people to buy their substandard operating system. Here, things are playing out a little differently, but the effect is coming out to be the same. Microsoft buys out what could be a threat to its OS monopoly, then conveniently makes it instantly obsolete. And maybe I can’t blame them for the FWB fiasco (well, unless I were feeling particularly conspiratorial), but it does seem to be happening at a particularly convenient moment.

Of course, I don’t think even Microsoft counted on the stories breaking on the same day. Kind of makes it hard for ’em to put on their usual “Microsoft loves you and knows what’s best for you” face.


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