Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Watching Microsoft be sued - by the federal government, states, class-action plaintiffs and aggrieved rivals - has become a common pastime in the computer industry. The enjoyment of the industry spectators is usually all the greater if the world's largest software company loses, and loses big, in court.

Last month, Microsoft suffered a stinging setback in a patent-infringement case when a federal jury awarded $521 million to a former University of California researcher. But this time, the rest of the industry is not smiling.

To comply with the court ruling, Microsoft has informed a handful of software companies and the World Wide Web Consortium, the leading Web standards organization, that soon it will probably make changes in its Internet browser, the on-ramp to the Web for 90 percent of computer users. The impact, according to industry executives and Web experts, could be disruptive and costly for other Internet software companies and big commercial Web sites.

Interesting article, mostly because we're really starting to see the Net get parcelled up like the old West was. Lawsuits like this one, the KaZaa/Morpheus/etc. vs. the RIAA shit, domain squatters, virus writers, black-hat cracks, all this shit is just speeding up the day the government (mebbe just the US or maybe everybody working somewhat together or something in between) comes slamming in, regulates the living fuck out of the Web and takes away what freedom is left intact in it.

Things like the Web (which, admittedly, is pretty singular) scares the living hell out of governments, simply because there's very little control over it. Warren Ellis has been saying it lately: The Internet is People. It's this weird dichotomy that the most technologically advanced communications network on the planet is also the simplest forum for human beings to make their voices heard. The Internet is, absolutely, people. The hardware just gives them voice and the software just makes it pretty.

All right, that was a ramble. Sorry. I'm out. Enjoy your day.

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