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SubjectBeating the Monopoly [was: Why DRM exists]
Larry McVoy wrote:
> That line of reasoning, by the way, only works if they are a monopoly,
> i.e., it doesn't work real well for BK, there are lots of other source
> management systems. But it works very well for things like Word,
> that's a de facto standard, contrary to what some people here believe
> it is bloody difficult to negotiate a contract in anything but Word.
> Try sending a lawyer anything else and you'll see what I mean.

Monopolies *can* be beaten.

The original dominator was Wordstar; when CP/M machines were replaced by
DOS-based PCs, Wordstar failed to keep up with the trends, and was
replaced by an easier-to-use and more capable product, Word Perfect.
Ever try sending a legal document in anythign but Word Perfect in the
late 1980s, and you'll know what I mean.

One upon a time, Word Perfect ruled, and Word was a new and minor player
in the word processing market. Businesses and organizations standardized
on Word Perfect; it was impossible to work unless you could read/write
Word Perfect. The incompetence of Novell and Corel combined with Word's
"better" integration with other MS products to end Word Perfect's dominance.

Historically, monopolies lose to superior competitors; it's survival of
the fittest. Sometimes, "fittest" == least expensive -- but in most
cases, better features, ease of use, and progressive thinking beat out
monopolies that rest on their laurels.

Microsoft has not done anything revolutionary (or even evolutionary)
with Word (or Windows, for that matter) in many, many years. I loved the
original DOS-based Word, and versions of Word through about 6.0 -- then
the bloat began, with Microsoft tacking on useless features, like an
animal species evolving exaggerated characteristics when all other
evolution has stopped.

Linus has the right attitude: Make Linux the best kernel possible, and
people will use it.

The key is to meet people's needs, to be more effective in a given niche
than the competition. But that won't happen if free software
concentrates on cloning over bold evolution. Give Word users special
"help", like Word gave Word Perfect users; make a strealined word
processor that integrates modern design. Dare to be better.

> That's what I meant by chasing. If you are chasing the leader you are
> automatically more at risk because you are trying to play in the leader's
> playing field and they can change the rules to screw you up. You build
> a better playing field and you turn the tables, now the leader is the
> follower and they have to play by your rules.


Scott Robert Ladd
Coyote Gulch Productions (
Professional programming for science and engineering;
Interesting and unusual bits of very free code.

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