How Microsoft hurts PC consumers

By , Fouad Sayegh, Steve Chadwick and Terry Turner

Regarding Richard McKenzie's April 6 opinion piece, "Microsoft economics 101":About five years ago I called major nation-wide computer sellers and asked to buy a computer with the OS/2 operating system instead of Microsoft Windows."No. Only available with Windows, not OS/2."

"How about with no operating system, and a small price reduction?" Still no. A talk with the sales managers clarified matters. Their payment to Microsoft was based on the number of computers shipped, not the number of copies of Windows. To meet my request they would have to pay for OS/2 and still have to pay for the Windows I didn't receive. For this arrangement Microsoft gave them a more favorable price for Windows, without it they couldn't compete. The bottom line: Either sell Windows, or pay a penalty.

Stan Logue San Diego

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While Richard McKenzie's indictment of Judge Jackson's ruling in the Microsoft case is quite valid, the fact remains that Microsoft is indeed engaged in monopolistic practices. The antitrust law as it exists today is antiquated and needs refurbishing. But that does not absolve Microsoft of its unethical and aggressive practices.

When I received my copy of the Office 2000 upgrade, I was a little surprised that it included Internet Explorer. During installation, I was given the choice of not installing Explorer accompanied by a warning that it is advisable to install Explorer because it includes parts that are important to the operation of my system.

I did not understand what that was about, but the warning and the vague implications of not installing Explorer convinced me to follow Microsoft's instructions. I felt coerced because I did not need Explorer, and I did not want to install it. Microsoft clearly informs you that if you don't want Explorer, you can then remove it after installation. I tried and my hard disk was wiped out.

That Microsoft offered me Explorer free is neither here nor there. I don't need it, and I don't want it, but I have no choice but to keep it. It is sitting in my computer, occupying valuable memory space that belongs to me, and there is nothing I can do about it. That to me is more than a monopolistic practice; it is an intrusion on my space and on my property, and I resent it.

Fouad Sayegh Montreal

Women in the Army

Regarding Gerard DeGroot's April 7 opinion piece, "The Army needs its women": Mr. DeGroot knows a lot about his subject, but not much about the profession of arms. The emasculation to which he refers is real and is exacerbated by trying to make the military more compatible for women. The result is a death spiral in recruiting the kind of young warriors that have always served this country well in combat. We may succeed in creating a "kinder, gentler military," but we will pay a terrible price down the line.

Steve Chadwick Perkasie, Pa.

I would like to commend Gerard DeGroot on a thoughtful piece.I would like to add one more observation:In my experience at an international aerospace corporation, any woman who reported harassment was labeled as a "nonteam-player."These women suddenly stopped being promoted, were shuffled to dead-end jobs, and were first on lay-off lists.This was justified due to "poor work performance," in spite of the fact that many of these women were star employees.

I'm wondering, since Lt. Gen. Claudia Kennedy had previously filed a sexual-harassment complaint, if that's the underlying reason she did not get her promotion.

Thank you again for the objective way in which you addressed a very real issue.

Terry Turner Redding, Calif.

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