A closer look at Microsoft’s unethical business practices

A recent reader’s article on boycottnovell.com offers a very insightful look into the unethical side of Microsoft’s business.

The author, Roy Schestowitz, makes a number of very good points. In particular:

  • Microsoft abuses “guerilla” or “viral” advertising more than other companies, disguising recommendations as “impartial” when in reality they are anything but that. An unfortunate choice for a company that really should not need to resort to these tactics.
  • Microsoft combines products into “bundles” solely to squeeze out competing products. Examples abound: perhaps the best known is Windows 95, where MS-DOS was no longer available as a separate product. Another example is the inclusion of Web browser and media player software within Windows.
  • Microsoft abuses standards and in fact the entire standardization process to suit their needs. While this is not really explored in Roy’s article in detail, the most obvious example I can think of is the confusingly named Office Open XML format. Microsoft appears to have chosen this name to confuse on purpose as the first version of the OASIS OpenDocument standard (sometimes called ODF) was finalized about a year before.
  • Microsoft’s “partner” network is a sham, as the “partners” really aren’t partners in the truest sense of the word. In essence, the partnership arrangement is coercive; “partners” are agreeing to support and recommend Microsoft’s products exclusively and are threatened with loss of competitiveness if they want to back out.
  • Microsoft also refers to free software, and particularly the GPL, as “Communist” and “un-American.” This is a transparent smear tactic to anyone who is paying even the smallest amount of attention to Microsoft’s motives.