The first few paragraphs of tomorrow’s National Post column on Microsoft versus the EU:
Microsoft will be punished this week by the European Union, and the punditrocracy is dutifully taking up flanking positions. But both supporters and critics are adrift this time around.
On the one hand you have people like the EU’s Mario Monti complaining that Microsoft doesn’t play fair. His concern, apparently, is that the next generation of Microsoft’s Windows software, a product codenamed Longhorn (“Late”-horn might be better given the product’s tardy arrival), will contain new features that will hurt Microsoft competitors.
Say it ain’t so. A profit-seeking company in a competitive market would be so bold as to keep its products current? Outrageous.
More seriously, the question of whether Microsoft can and should add features to its products is long-settled, and the answer is a resounding “Yes”. To prevent Microsoft from adding an arbitrary and changing list of features to its software is absurd and tantamount to a death sentence for the technology company. If senescence is the goal, then fine, simply say that.
Because it was just a scant few years ago that Internet browsers were the technology regulators wanted to keep from being included in the operating system. Does anyone reading this column — many using a browser — really think they have been damaged by not having paid separately for the browser they are using? I thought not.
But arrayed against the EU are some other folks who aren’t doing the Microsoft cause any favors either. Economists, pundits, and assorted others are wailing about the death of innovation and the perils of interfering in fast-growing technology markets.
That is well and fine, of course, but it has little do with Microsoft. Because Microsoft is not a growth company. You have to go all the way back to the mid-1990s to find Microsoft growing sales consistently at more than 30% per year.