Wednesday, March 24, 2004

A bit more on Microsoft -- Brad Delong's account of why he has been harmed by their anticompetitive behavior:

Remember the days when there was not one single dominant browser that came preinstalled on 95% of PCs sold? Back then there was ferocious competition in the browser market, as first a number of competitors and then Netscape and Microsoft worked furiously to upgrade their browsers and add new features to them. Most of these new features turned out to be idiotic. Some turned out to be very useful. Progress in making better browsers was rapid, because browser-makers wanted to make a better product and any new idea about what a browser should be was rapidly deployed to a large enough user base to make it worthwhile for web designers to try to use the new feature.

And now? There is no progress in browsers at all. Why should anyone (besides crazed open sourcies) write a new browser? Why should Microsoft spend any money improving its browser? The point of giving Internet Explorer away for free is to protect Windows's market, after all.

So, the open source folks are crazies -- and so sure is Brad that he doesn't even bother to check whether they have in fact produced a superior browser. For he knows, with the certainty that only economists can have about any human behavior, that doing skilled work for the sheer joy of the craft is a form of insanity.

I wonder how much his salary as an economics professor compares to what he could get on Wall Street?


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