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This is a page from the original version of Pagan Vigil. There are some formatting differences. Originally published at

Competition breeds progress and encourages honesty

I'm a Mac user. Not quite the militant geek, but more than the casual user.

I give Microsoft a hard time, calling them Micro$oft and avoiding their products. Even the Mac versions of their products are either overpriced or cause more problems then the competition. But there is one thing I can never take away from Bill Gates and Microsoft, no matter how hard I wish.

Mr. Gates and Microsoft created the software industry.

Sure there are other software publishers. Now.

But it took Microsoft's lawyers and lobbyists to extend the copyright law to software. Before that happened, there is no way that anyone could profit from selling just software. A trillion dollar industry, multiplying the demand exponentially for cheap computing power, releasing unimaginable cascades of creativity on everything from accounting to film to desktop publishing, and it was made possible by Mr. Gates and a bunch of hired-gun lawyers.

Despite everything that has been written about the rivalry between Apple and Microsoft, both companies are better because of the other. Microsoft borrowed many of the ideas for Windows from the Macintosh, but Apple had borrowed and refined some of those same ideas from Xerox. Apple got complacent about their their reputation for innovation and Microsoft Windows got better than the Macintosh OS for a while. With Apple's resurgence, USB and Firewire became industry standards and translucent colored plastics became the rage in consumer electronics. And now, the latest version of the Macintosh OS is delivering features that Microsoft won't be able to produce until December 2006. Neither company would be trying to push the edge if the other wasn't hot on it's heels, and neither can afford to rest on past achievements.

The market is not limited there either. I look for open source software, the internet, and cheap computers from stores like Wal-Mart to break Microsoft's "desktop" monopoly. Look for game machines to set new standards for communication. Apple also competes on the hardware side.

As a direct result computers have gotten cheaper, more capable, and more responsive to what people actually want.

The free market makes it possible. Unburdened by regulation and unshielded by special exemptions, companies HAVE to develop ways to make it better, cheaper, faster, or more desirable than the competition can. If a company can't deliver something unique to the buyer for the price, the company goes under because the buyer goes somewhere else.

Rule of thumb, the more highly regulated and taxed an industry is, the more stagnant it will become.

Posted: Thu - May 19, 2005 at 07:08 PM

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