Thursday, July 20, 2006

Microsoft's guidelines for future Windows development

Eric Bangeman, writing at Ars Technica, has posted Microsoft's new Guidelines for future Windows development. From all appearances, Microsoft hopes to strike a delicate balance. It must walk the tightrope between encouraging competition but -- presumably -- not too much competition. The first of three principles ("Choice for Computer Manufacturers and Customers") reads:

Microsoft is committed to designing Windows and licensing it on contractual terms so as to make it easy to install non-Microsoft® programs and to configure Windows-based PCs to use non-Microsoft programs instead of or in addition to Windows features.

1. Installation of any software.

2. Easy access.

3. Defaults. Microsoft will design Windows so as to enable computer manufacturers and users to set non-Microsoft programs to operate by default in key categories.

4. Exclusive promotion of non-Microsoft programs.

5. Business terms. Microsoft will not retaliate against any computer manufacturer that supports non-Microsoft software.

Tenet 5 is particularly interesting, given accusations leveled against Microsoft.

On that note, let's dial up March 15, 1991 on the way-back machine, Mr. Sherman. And let me call your attention to a New York Times article from that very day entitled, "Microsoft's Tactics Questioned by Rivals":

...Until two years ago, Alpha Software was selling a program known as Alphaworks, a combined spreadsheet, word processor and data base, to personal computer companies, which packaged it with their machines.

But when Microsoft came out with a similar program called Microsoft Works, Alpha's biggest customer, Hyundai, shifted to Microsoft and Alpha lost a bid for another big contract. Realizing it could not compete, Alpha sold the program to the stronger Lotus, which has had some success with it...

If I recall correctly, AlphaWorks was a PC Magazine Editor's Choice (tied with Microsoft Works). The real story behind Hyundai's conversion from AlphaWorks is especially interesting, but I'll leave it to the principals at Alpha Software to tell that tale.

I commend Microsoft for clearly enunciating their commitment to ethical business practices. Better late than never.

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