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RE: [xml-dev] "Open XML" et al... Blech... Re: [xml-dev] Microsoft buys the Swedish vote on OOXML?

> I'm unsure about a 'natural tendency' to converge on a single 
> software product, but individuals are often constrained by IT 
> policies. 

Ken, Everything you say about the history of how MS Office came to beat its
competitors is true, and it's an excellent analysis. But in other markets
you can be the dominant player with 30% of the market; with software
products such as Windows and Office, once you're in the lead or perceived as
being in the lead, there's a tendency for that 30% to become 90% because
even the people who prefer a different product find that it's easier to
follow the crowd rather than following their own preferences - and that's
all to do with interoperability of documents and transferability of skills.

It's true that the choice is sometimes at the corporate level and sometimes
at the personal level, but it amounts to the same thing: for every person
who chose MS Office because they liked it, there are four or five who use it
because it's easiest to use the same as everyone else. That's what's makes
it a natural monopoly, almost like public water supply. And in other areas
where there are natural monopolies, we don't allow the owner of that
monopoly to set arbitrary prices and make $40bn profits on $50bn of

Of course free enterprise is a good thing and governments shouldn't
interfere. But if governments didn't interfere then there wouldn't be any
copyright legislation and MS wouldn't be making any profit at all. MS are
wealthy because we, as citizens, have elected governments who have given MS
a license to print money. I'm not saying MS didn't make some good decisions
that led to them winning the jackpot - but the jackpot shouldn't be there to

Michael Kay

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