Bill Gates just accidentally proved that even "unsuccessful" antitrust enforcement works

Originally published at:


When reality is a distraction, you live in a bubble that needs to be burst.


And yet he still thinks he “screwed it up” by not crushing his competitors like he used to.


We’ll never know if monopoly breakups for big tech works without real world data, Bill.

Let’s run that experiment.


And he still thinks that Windows Mobile could have crushed anything.


And he still thinks that Windows Mobile could have crushed anything.

Other than souls?

The only possible advantage might have been that surveillance wasn’t really in Microsoft’s DNA. They’ve caught up in the mean time, but it might have gone a little differently.

Apparently now some Seattle employers thinks it’s OK to have your medical records and control your access to health care as a cost saving measure. As a Canadian, that’s way over the line to me; it seems to me that the anti-trust actions are going to have to evolve the legal concept.


Worse, given the timeline, I think he might have old school WinCE Windows Mobile in mind.

That one was deeply grim. NT-based Windows Mobile was too little, too late, hobbled by some bad UI ideas that then infected Windows proper; but it was at least not a grim mockery all the way down.

Or maybe he thinks that there’s an alternate universe where all the kids couldn’t get enough of Project Pink. We all have little delusions that help get us through the day I suppose.


This - I guess- is all tied up with net neutrality.

If you’re functioning with monopolistic qualities - you’re a common carrier and subject to FCC regulation. If you argue that tech companies should be immune from laws on business concentration- your trying to kill two customers with one stone.


I’d certainly agree with the narrative that Cory uses about the prosecutions effect on MS.

However, if the moral of this story is supposed to be “the government should use prosecutions as a tool of governance to further policy ends regardless of the legal case”, I’d be in very serious disagreement.

This while acknowledging that the very act of prosecuting companies can have desirable social outcomes regardless of the strength of the case.

Soon as I saw this quote I thought so Antitrust action does work.


Microsoft came real close to being broken up. They lost their court case and the presiding judge, Thomas Penfield Jackson, ruled that they had acted as a monopoly and ordered a breakup of the company. But his order was overturned on appeal, partly due to Jackson’s unwise granting of media interviews while the case was still in progress.


Imagine being a gesticulating, toe tapping billionaire who uses the word “ah” about a thousand times in a half an hour with the shittiest scammingest OS ever who has visions on saving humanity. He ain’t human.


It’s a positive message for me: Sue big companies even if the eventual relief will be much less than it should be. It’s reassuring that lawsuits actually affect them in some way. It goes without saying that each case should be meritorious.


Or guys like him and Zuck were low social functioning geeks who were so rapidly successful that they were thrust well outside their limits, and shielded by power from life’s tumbling action to develop new skills.

It could be either. :thinking:


I’m on board. I think it might be a useful exercise for anybody not still in their 20s to imagine who they might’ve become if someone had given them a billion dollars at that age. I wish Citizen Kane didn’t keep coming to mind, but it’s probably not so far off. Like oxygen, money is necessary for life, but corrosive in too hIgh concentratIon.


‘Gates says that Microsoft wasn’t able to use Windows Mobile to destroy Android because the Microsoft was “distracted” by the antitrust action.’

That must have been in some parallel universe. Gates repeatedly acted to kill anything that might threaten his Windows monopoly. One such action was Microsoft ‘partnering’ with handset maker Sendo and then drove them into bankruptcy.

The thing is, the worlds chief software visionary did have a chance to corner the mobile market with the TRON realtime Operating System. Except Microsoft did join the consortium and then acted on capitol hill to have TRON banned in North America.

1 Like

Word crushed WordPerfect, the preference of people with more-serious text management needs. I still remember my brother’s tales of his law firm and the people who had to have WordPerfect pried from their fingers.

Also, you may not have used SharePoint; those of us who were compelled to do so because it was Microsoft and We Are A Microsoft Shop, know that the product quality had nothing to do with the crushing.


I have an old Windows phone; the OS is really snappy on weak processors. I think MS put some of their most competent software engineers on the project.

1 Like

Yeah Steve Job’s biggest regret was he tried to cure cancer with fruit juice, not denying his daughter or slut-shaming her mom. This guy’s biggest regret is that he wasn’t able to crush yet another competitor. Not the nicest bunch of people.


This “accidental” admission by Gates is hugely important and insightful because it reminds us of how limited conventional wisdom is in understanding how massive, complex institutions (with their own culture) work. We tend to frame things as win or lose. In this case conventional wisdom is that Microsoft won and the US government lost. That’s vastly oversimplified and doesn’t take into account the complexities of how institutions and their internal cultures work. This is a much more accurate snap shot:

"This trauma changed the corporate culture at Microsoft: while there had always been those who argued against monopolistic tactics, they had been dismissed as goody two-shoes who didn’t understand how to maximize the company’s growth. A decade of traumatic antitrust made prophets of those Chicken Littles, and whenever the monopolists in Microsoft’s board rooms argued for bullying, anti-competitive actions, the anti-monopolists could say, “Are you fucking kidding me? You want them to put Bill back on the stand?!”

I would argue that there are parallels with people who argue, for example, that grassroots movements like Occupy and Standing Rock are “failures” without understanding the wide ranging impact that these movements can have internal to an institution. I highly recommend Taylor Branch’s King Era trilogy that shows both side of this: the fairly public movement politics and the internal struggle of US institutional (primarily the FBI and the White House) to grapple with the change that southern Freedom movement was pushing for in the broader civil rights moment of US history.

There’s another interesting parallel here in the way the US government distracted Microsoft long enough to let Google thrive and the way Pope Leo was distracted long enough in 1517 (and following) by crusades and wars to let Martin Luther and his ideas thrive. In both cases there are disruptive technologies (printing press in the Reformation and various internet technologies for Google) that were at play, but there were also distracted monopoly actors that probably could have squashed them (or bought them out) if they had been paying enough attention.

I just finished the second volume of Ada Palmer’s Terra Ignota series and I think that this is where world-building cyberpunk authors like Palmer (and Cory Doctorow) play such an important role in our society today. In her book, Emergent Strategies, Adrienne Marie-Brown writes:

In our work on Octovia’s Brood [a Science Fiction anthology] Walidah and I articulated that “all organizing is science fiction,” by which we mean that social justice work is about creating systems of justice and equity in the future, creating conditions that we have never experienced. That is a futurist focus, and the practice of collaboration and adaptation and transformative justice, are science fictional behavior. (p 160)

However, the reverse is not always true: not all science fiction is organizing. Some of it is fascist propaganda as Cory pointed out in his recent piece of the Hugo Awards and John W. Campbell. It is incredible to watch the power of Cyberpunk/anti-fascist sci fi authors to help create these stories that honor the role of the scrappy outsider community to do something more than just take power and become the next king, but instead to fundamentally create a different way of relating to each other based on relationship, trust and the gift economy.

Thanks to BoingBoing for being a space for all us Happy Mutants to imagine (and thereby create) Cyberpunk futures together that are focused on liberation rather than fascist maintenance of the status quo.