Sounding off on the Redmond giant

Readers respond to "What's wrong with Microsoft?" and "Life, liberty and the pursuit of free software."

Published February 21, 2001 8:00PM (EST)

Read "What's wrong with Microsoft?" by Damien Cave.

RealNetworks may dominate the streaming-audio market, but have you tried watching RealVideo on its free player? It's like trying to watch an impressionist painting falling past a rain-soaked window. Why would anyone, particularly a major music or movie company promoting a video or trailer, put up with such crappy quality when it could stream perfectly well with QuickTime or Windows Media Player? I, for one, would gladly put aside my misgivings about Microsoft for a higher-quality multimedia experience.

-- Matt Saunders

Choosing a streaming format is choosing the lesser of two evils, but Cave fails to mention one thing that Windows Media Player has going for it: It's a superior piece of software compared to Real Player. Real Player crashes often, and the video quality is lower compared to the same-rate Windows Media stream. (Not to mention that Real Player is butt ugly, and the installer places crap all over my desktop, start menu and system tray.)

-- Mark Baysinger

Damien Cave speaks of "competition" between Microsoft and RealNetworks in the customer end of the streaming-media market as if there were any. Both players are free, and most people on the Net have both, along with QuickTime, so that they can enjoy all available media. The only price to consumers is the extra space taken up on their disk drives.

What is needed is for some enterprising hacker(s) to reverse-engineer Microsoft's, Real's and QuickTime's streaming formats and combine them all into a freeware player that would be a single source for audiovisual content, thus letting these companies battle it out on the server end and allowing us to enjoy all streaming media while using less drive space.

-- Gregory Dyas

Read "Life, liberty and the pursuit of free software" by Andrew Leonard.

While Microsoft may have engaged in a little hyperbole by calling open-source operating systems like Linux "un-American," the fact still remains that Linux and other operating systems with command line interfaces will never be able to challenge Microsoft OS or Windows 2000 until some techie decides to plop a GUI on top of the CLI. The PC wasn't accessible for the home user until the Mac OS and Windows 3.x. The same is true of all of the Unix flavors.

-- S. Bush

Microsoft makes a good point. There is something very American about Microsoft's entrepreneurial success story: growing from two employees to the world's most valuable company in a couple of decades. Where else but in America could this occur?

When thousands of people who are passionate about something (in this case, computer software) are brought together in one place, they benefit from the synergies that open source (by definition, a decentralized group) cannot duplicate. For example, Microsoft can invest the time and money in usability labs to make sure its products are as easy to use as possible.

-- Chris Horner

Linux may not yet be the be-all and end-all. However, Microsoft now sees it as the threat that it is to its way of life. After trouncing on companies like DEC (Digital) and their superior software (OpenVMS and Tru64 Unix), Microsoft has focused its sights on Linux.

I find it interesting that Microsoft gives away software (Internet Explorer and Media Player) to generate market share, but when Linux gives it away and lets you have the source, that's just un-American.

Jim Allchin should be ashamed. Microsoft should be ashamed. And any members of Congress who fall for this tripe from Microsoft should be ashamed.

-- Michael Foley

By Salon Staff

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