BOSTON — It was Abraham Lincoln who said: "You may fool all of the people some of the time; you can even fool some of the people all of the time; but you can't fool all of the people all of the time."
Findings of fact in the federal antitrust case against Microsoft indicate all of us will no longer be fooled into asking "where do we want to go today," by the software giant from Redmond, Wash.
Judge Thomas Jackson stated that Microsoft used its monopoly power in operating systems for desktop computers to stifle innovation, reduce competition, and harm consumers.
Findings of fact are not a ruling. They do, however, establish a record, a framework for what can be discussed, but no longer debated in a case.
I'll leave the legal and business analysis to others and simply observe a swirl of emotions now set loose upon Microsoft and its founder, the wealthiest man on the planet, Bill Gates.
One of the most gifted strategic thinkers of the Information Age is at risk of having his legacy severely compromised. But what should not be devalued is his visionary thinking. In the Financial Times, Nov. 3, Mr. Gates discussed the role of software and information in the Information Age. He shared two vision statements, used to guide and inspire employees at Microsoft.
The first lasted 25 years: "Put a PC on every desk and in every home." The second, now reigning: "Any files or messages that people are interested in should immediately show up wherever they are, whether it's on the TV with a connection to the Internet, on their mobile phone, on their computer in their car, or their PC in all its various forms."
It's just that his company may not be the one to make vision No. 2 happen.
(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society