Once again, Microsoft has been caught trying to pull a fast one on its customers. Wriggling out of criticism of the new Select licensing scheme, the company claims the new prices are 'comparable' to the old, but won't supply figures to back that up. Users suspecting they may be diddled under the new licensing system better get in before the 30 November, when it comes into force.
This latest move by the company - of which Bill Gates said last week "the passion (in the early days) had a lot more to do with making our software popular than it did with reaping big profits" - reveals Microsoft to be mutating into just the sort of company (IBM) that it once criticised.
Slowly but surely, Microsoft is turning the screws not only on its competitors (last week it was Netscape, next week who knows), but on its customers, too.
And it is getting away with it. By exploiting its pre-eminent, near monopolistic position. By putting pressure on OEMs, developers and others. By leaving corporate customers with virtually no choice. By imposing its proprietary technologies on hapless standards bodies. By moving just about quickly enough that it has to be taken seriously. By not seeming to care.
Sure, Microsoft is profitable. But it's becoming increasingly cycnical too. Take the lack of backward compatibility in Office 97's file formats.
When pressed, the company reveals that, oh yes, there's a utility available to those who want it ... Of course they'll blooming well want it! Microsoft is continually open to the criticism that it ought to know better, and seems to do nothing about it.
A month ago we reported that little, except price, distinguishes the Server and Workstation versions of Windows NT. Microsoft was unashamed.
Which is a shame for, as our review of the latest versions of IE and Navigator a few weeks ago concluded, Microsoft is capable of developing something excellent rather than average. Shouldn't that be the rule, rather than the exception?
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