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-- b i o --
Elizabeth Weaver Engel, besides being a budding writer, is a stealth geek, a manager (but NOT the Pointy-Haired Boss) at a non-profit association, a distance runner, a "rabid" Lindy Hopper, and a connoisseur of fine B-grade movies.  Currently a resident of Washington, DC, Elizabeth grew up outside of Philadelphia and holds a Master's degree in political theory from the University of Virginia.  She fell into working with computers by accident and has since been struggling to pull herself out.  Writing for Mindjack is one of the steps she's taking to do so.

Tempest in a Teapot?
by Elizabeth Weaver Engel

In the current brouhaha between Microsoft and the Justice Department, one finds something for everyone: threats, drama, hysterics, pronouncements of doom from both sides, more threats, angry retorts...about the only thing missing is a love story.

My favorite part however, is the humor. What humor you ask? Why, the sheer ludicrousness of Microsoft's claim that the J.D. is trying to suppress its long history of innovation. Innovation, my ass. Despite his reputation among business types as the uber-geek, Gates is anything but. Those of us actually forced to use his products see him for what he really is: a very smart, very savvy businessman, with an insatiable lust for world domination. Well, OK, that may be overstating the case a bit, but for Microsoft to claim that their market share is a result of superior technology rather than predatory practices is as transparently false as Ken Starr's claim that forcing Secret Service agents to testify against the presidents they guard won't negatively impact future presidential safety. But that's a different article all together.

Anyone who's been using computers for longer than 10 minutes is fully aware that Microsoft is about as innovative and bleeding edge as Wonder Bread. The Beast doesn't produce new ideas: they buy out - or force out of business - those who do. Anybody remember the Mac/PC wars of the 1980's? Let's face it, Microsoft and the PCs didn't win that war with innovative, superior technology - Windows 95 finally caught up with the mid-80s Macs in 1996 - they won with their marketing campaign and backroom deals with software developers and resellers. (And I'm not even a Mac user!) The only negative effect the Justice Department suit could have against Microsoft's ability to innovate would be to cost them so much money that they can't afford to buy anyone out for a quarter or two.

But if Microsoft were really paying attention, they wouldn't be afraid of Netscape and they wouldn't be focusing on Net browsers. Sure, lots of people use them, but Microsoft isn't going to go out of business over the Navigator versus Internet Explorer wars. If they really had any foresight what they'd fear is Sun Microsystems and Java. Let's face it: if it wasn't for the fact that UNIX has a pretty steep learning curve, Microsoft never would have gotten off the ground in the first place. UNIX has been around forever in computing terms, and it's only been with NT 4 the Microsoft has finally started to get the picture about server technology, security, and remote administration. UNIX is still far superior to NT in all these areas - and, lest we forget, varients of UNIX are free.

So why are we all using Windows? GUI - Graphical User Interface. This is why Microsoft needs to live in fear of Java. It's another free coding system that's just begging to be turned into a full OS and it's GUI, unlike UNIX (without of course the addition of eXceed). I'm not sure where the development is at this point, but word had it that Corel was working on a Java version of WordPerfect. That - not some silly browser war - is what should have Bill waking up in cold sweats at night. Once his software competitors start rolling out Java-based apps, Microsoft's days as Tyrannasaurus Rex of this particular animal kingdom could be numbered.

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