May 15

Athenian Iced Tea
Remedies in the Microsoft case

As we have learned from our wise predecessors the Greeks, a modicum of hemlock can prove quite effective against annoying personalities. Click image for more valuable information.

by David Nagel
Senior Producer

I come to appreciate Microsoft more and more every day. If it's not their antics in the marketplace, it's their shenanigans in the courtroom. Last week, of course, Microsoft proposed its own remedies in response to the government's call to split the company in twain. The self-imposed remedies were so ludicrous that the words literally reached out from my computer screen, pried my jaw apart and held it agape for several seconds.

The icing on the cake of hilarity that is Microsoft's view of itself was an essay released yesterday by Steve Ballmer, in which he contended that a breakup of Microsoft would "make computers harder to use."

You have to appreciate that. Not that Windows is terribly difficult to use as it is. After all, it's just the Mac OS user interface uglied up a bit and riding atop a bunch of funky code. But ease of use has never been at the top of Microsoft's concerns, even as a motivating profit factor. Proliferation. Expansion. Market dominance. Crush competition. Then, slightly further down the list, end user concerns. These are Microsoft's priorities.

The whole thing reminds me of the trial of Socrates, when Socrates himself, seeing his conviction as a sham, proposed for his own punishment that he be housed and fed at public expense as a reward for his service to the greater good. Well, we all know how that ended. Socrates learned the hard way that courts don't appreciate smart alecs, particularly after a guilty verdict has been reached. Leaving the court no middle ground, Socrates soon found his mouth at the party end of an Athenian Iced Tea.*

Will the same happen to Microsoft? In today's liberal, namby-pamby climate of soft justice, we rarely put people to death anymore simply because they're annoying, at least not without first framing the individual for more serious crimes. While it's entirely possible that Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer could prove the exception to this, it's not very likely. But it's also not very likely that the court will accept Microsoft's concessions.

So what will happen? Short of a very public execution, I don't care. I'm just so fed up with not executing the exceedingly wealthy that I've lost all interest. You want my advice? Arm the DOJ and Microsoft; let them go at it in the Staples Center; and give the winner a free trip to Hawaii and the home edition of Wheel of Fortune. This way, everyone wins—and has a good time to boot. Or, since ancient Greek wisdom is irrefutable, we could just follow the wisdom of our classical antecedents and buy everyone a round of hemlock. Cheers!

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Dave Nagel is the still somewhat new Senior Producer of Creative Mac. An eight-year veteran of the print publishing world, Nagel covered a broad range of topics in the areas of technology and marketing. As a Mac psychofanatic since 1987, he's finally landed his dream job: earning a living writing about his favorite topic. If you have something to say, please send a polite e-mail to [email protected]. (Let's not try to bring him down from his euphoria too soon.)

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