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Wednesday, May 04, 2005
HAVE YOU NOTICED THAT MICROSOFT IS TRYING TO PUT WORDPERFECT OUT OF BUSINESS?:
Microsoft Word is now, by far, the most popular word processing software. 15 years ago, it was Word Perfect. (Before that, actually, it was WordStar in ancient times.)
Word could have never attained its market position if it had not been made easy to convert files between Word and WordPerfect. Both programs came with extensive "Open" and "Save As" commands which allowed you to exchange files between the two word processors. And because of that, people could switch to Word and bring their files over.
Now, things are very different. Most people use Microsoft Word. So Microsoft has now made it very difficult to convert files. Newer versions of Word can no longer save files in WordPerfect file formats. Since most people are using Word, that means that WordPerfect users now have trouble exchanging files with others and have an incentive to switch over.
This is exactly the sort of behavior that the Microsoft antitrust litigation was designed to prevent. Unfortunately, a conservative panel of the DC Circuit Court of Appeals prevented the break-up of Microsoft, because it thought that remedy to be an interference with the free market and insufficiently respectful of the supposedly quick pace of technology development which the court thought could remedy any anticompettive behaviors by the company. As a result, the government was forced to accept a toothless settlement, and Bill Gates can now do whatever he wants.
And that's why computers give you so many headaches.
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