Here's an update to my post yesterday about the security researcher that was fired by @Stake for participating in a report that was critical of Microsoft.
Now that I've read the report, I'd like to comment further. The report in question lacks merit in my opinion. My reasoning is that the reports cites the "monoculture" that results from most of the world's PCs running a Microsoft operating system, and thus being vulnerable to the same security holes and viruses at the same time. The alleged Microsoft monopoly is cited as the main cause for this risk and the report claims that this monopoly must be dismantled to fix the problem. I believe that better product quality can resolve this problem, I don't see the alleged monopoly as a major factor. In addition, by following the paper's reasoning many products that are based on common standards or specifications would all be subject to the same risk. That would mean much of our basic infrastructure, including power generation, telecommunications, and other important systems could all be equally vulnerable. I don't think that's the case however. Many of those systems are much more reliable than computers or computer networks based on procedures and safeguards that have been put in place over many years. Sure, things fail from time to time. But those failures tend to be isolated in scope and tend to be resolved fairly quickly. When situations arise that are more serious, smart people go back to these systems, procedures, and safeguards and make changes. I don't think computing is any different. Systems need to be secured and safeguards to prevent widespread failure need to be put in place, but having many of the world's computers using a single operating system isn't a barrier to having a stable computing infrastructure.
In addition, I've noticed that any time the "M" word (monopoly) is used in reference to Microsoft, tempers start to flare and people get emotional. I'll try to avoid that behavior, but I've noticed something interesting that I wanted to point out. I think everyone can agree that a violation of law related to a monopoly cannot be cited as a moral or ethical lapse. The concept of monopoly regulation has been introduced as a market protection. It is not part of our "moral" foundation as a society that can be traced back to religion and cultural traditions. Those traditions universally agree on many basic concepts dealing with "morality", condemning activities such as stealing, hurting or killing people, etc. I think that most reasonable people can agree on this fact. What is interesting to me is that many of the people that complain about Microsoft's monopoly are the same ones that tend to dismiss copyrights and intellectual property in general. Aren't IP laws and copyright protections similar to monopoly regulations in many ways? Aren't they morally equivalent in many cases? Is a regulation that restricts a company's behavior in the marketplace and their ability to maintain a certain level of market share through the use of competitive business practices any more or less valid than one that imposes restrictions on how I use a book or a CD (or software) that I've purchased. I think the intellectually honest people out there will agree- the answer is probably no, there is little or no difference. So for those of you that complain about Microsoft's alleged monopoly and want the government to dismantle the company or penalize them but also complain about intellectual property and copyright regulation, you should consider the contradictory nature of your positions.