I've been getting a bad feeling recently which my mild but
uncurable paranoia will not allow to disappear. I think that
Microsoft is very close to taking over e-mail, and making
Exchange and Outlook the monopoly-holders in the domain, in the
same way as Windows, Office and Explorer are now.
The steps required to monopolise the market are:
1) Get Exchange & Outlook to critical mass (the point where the market
perceives that it can't do without them).
2) Add value on the client side so that other mail clients can't
read mail coming from an Outlook client as well as another
Outlook client can (and mail from non-Outlook clients doesn't
look as good as mail from Outlook clients).
3) Add value on the server side so that other mail servers don't
provide features that you do, and if they do those features are
incompatible with yours.
4) Abandon pretense of portable mail, so that only outlook can
read mail from outlook clients (create a new proprietary mail
format to replace plain text or HTML, basically).
5) Extend SMTP so that non-MS servers can't talk to Exchange any
6) Deprecate plain text mail in favour of the "better" MS format,
so that non-Outlook clients can no longer send mail to outlook
users without causing them hassle.
7) Replace SMTP completely, so that Exchange can't receive mail
from non-MS mail servers.
At this stage, 95% of mail users are using Outlook, 98% of mail
servers are exchange, and the remaining 5% client-side and 2%
server-side can't talk to anyone except each other by email.
I'm probably just taking the "Embrace & extend" policy laid out
in Halloween 1 to it's logical conclusion with a real example,
but the way I see it, MS are at #3 already.
So the question is not "we'll be ready for it when they try to
pull this" as we were saying a few years back, but more "now
that they're pulling, or trying to pull, this, what can we do to
stop them?" Remember that a few years ago Sendmail carried 95% of
all email, and MS didn't even have a mail server. Or a mail
To my mind, the *only* way to stop MS from taking over this
market os to out-trump them with features that people will
actually use & like, and push free & open products as the better
alternative to MS stuff. But since the free & open stuff is free
& open, MS will inevitably have support for it (which is OK), and
they will always be able to say "We have all that, and more".
Which is a pain.
Back in the day, when it was Explorer versus Communicator, we had
a preview of this with every release including shiny new tags
that developers could use in ther web-pages, with the intention
of getting people annoyed that a page worked in one browser, and
not in the other. Now that the opposition doesn't try & do that,
MS have it easier than they did then, because they only have to
wonder how to break stuff for the other guy, not how to fix
theirs against the new feature the other guy added.
So the question, again, is (a) am I being excessively paranoid?
and (b) how can free software possibly hope to prevent Microsoft
gaining a monopoly in any market it chooses to dominate?
E-Mail: bolsh at gimp.org
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