Turning on Microsoft and turning off PCs

The software giant's tactics were scrutinised by some ZDNet readers this week, as others defended their right to burn electricity

Uncle Sam has Microsoft's back: As the biggest kid on the block, Microsoft has to put up with its fair share of abuse. However, this week most of the bile heading Redmond's way seems particularly justified, especially as the first instance involves the US Government. It's pretty hard to see Microsoft as put-upon with the Feds fighting their corner — it's not as though they really need the help.

In a story that split US and European readers, European Commissioner for Competition, Neelie Kroes, revealed that the US Embassy has asked her to be "nicer" to Microsoft ahead of her decision to fine the company €280m in July.

"US tax dollars should rather be spent on antitrust enforcement and generating relief for the excesses of Microsoft on the American market. The exchange of Bill Gates' support for W's [George Bush's] first election for dropping the Microsoft antitrust suit was the quid pro quo that got us into the mess we're in today," commented one anonymous IT consultant. "Microsoft is one of the biggest contractors to the military in Iraq, and has benefited enormously from the 'networked Battlefield' which is losing the war and sucking taxpayer dollars."

However, other readers argued that there's nothing wrong with the US Government helping out American companies.

"Aww... poor overpaid EUacrat upset over being lobbied. What a baby. That's what politics is all about. I guess socialism is making them soft over in the land of sheep," commented IT specialist Vince Benedict.

"Give me a break. Some of you computer geeks have been sniffing the silicon too much. Governments lobby on behalf of their nation's business interests all the time," real estate appraiser Tim Graham argued.

But while some readers were keen to argue the finer points of US foreign policy, others questioned whether we should be asking harder questions of our political masters.

"Companies around the globe will try to pocket politicians to look out for their interests. The trick is how to get rid of the politicians that have been pocketed. And how to identify them," said technical specialist Arthur B.

Who was pulling SCO's strings? After three years, SCO's threats to derail the development of Linux have proved to have been mostly smoke and mirrors. But for a while there were real concerns that the company, which claimed to have some of its Unix code violated by the various Linux distributions, could hamper the adoption of the open source operating system.

This month, evidence emerged that Microsoft — which was involved in a high-profile Linux smear campaign at the time — may have helped prompt SCO's legal action. Our leader on the issue prompted some very strong reader reactions:

"This stab in the back from MS to one of its friends is a small sample of what MS really is all about. This is the real face of the culture of that company; rotten treacherous," said one anonymous reader.

Green turns some red: While businesses and politicians are eager to be allied with all things environmentally friendly, some readers have balked at the idea that switching off your work PC at night is a practical step.

"Many PCs are left on overnight due to company policy. There are a variety of infrastructure tasks being run after hours that need PCs to remain on, such as virus scans, patch deployment, application deployment, policy checking, standard build checks, and so on. Add to this, there may be grid computing methodologies employed, the list goes on," said project manager Roberto Maietta.

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