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Coalition Attacks Microsoft's .NET Strategy

Just as Microsoft starts walking away, a bit bloodied but unbowed, from its anti-trust troubles, a coalition of IT industry organizations and technology companies has cranked up the heat again in an attack on .NET. In a newly released white paper, The Project to Promote Competition and Innovation in the Digital Age, or "ProComp," has charges that the Redmond, WA-based software giant's .NET strategy is little more than a monopolistic ploy to edge out competitors with instant messaging programs, media players, email products, and browsers.

In the 39-page white paper, entitled "Microsoft's Expanding Monopolies: Casting a Wider .NET," the group writes:

Microsoft's current strategy to extend and preserve its monopoly position is .Net, which can most basically be described as Microsoft Windows for the Internet. Although Microsoft refers to .Net as "the next-generation Internet," it is in essence a Microsoft proprietary Internet which leverages Microsoft's current Windows, Office and browser monopolies to create a Windows-centric Web services platform based upon Windows proprietary standards and interfaces."
The group also says that Microsoft has hard-wired key components into the new Windows XP operating system in a way that consumers cannot alter or delete. In addition, ProComp asserts that Microsoft has stripped computer makers of their ability to add the icons of third-party software vendors onto their desktops. It concludes that Microsoft's .NET Web service offerings will "take services that are currently free and turn them into revenue streams for Microsoft."

ProComp has forwarded the white paper to the Federal appeals court, and the group is currently reviewing the Microsoft anti-trust ruling.

To analysts at Redwood City, CA-based Zona Research, the white paper is an instance of the pot calling the kettle black. "The ProComp group is no crowd of peasant consumers storming the Bastille," they write in a recent report, "but rather a well-funded front organization for AOL/Netscape, RealNetworks, and others who envision themselves in head-to-head competition with Microsoft."

The group's objectivity and motivation, Zona says, are best symbolized by its appointment of Robert Bork, the man who fired Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox at Richard Nixon's behest, as its spokesperson.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at john@watersworks.com.

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