By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Exclusive Gates

I’m slogging through Paul Starr’s “The Creation of the Media,” and was reading the other night about how, during the early days of telephones, competing networks were incompatible with one another. You couldn’t call your friend on the other side of town if she was using one type of phone and you were using another. Well, here we are a good decade into the Internet revolution, and Bill Gates is still operating under the ancient paradigm.

Go to most sites that offer multimedia – NYTimes.com or iFilm.com, for instance – and you’re given choices: RealPlayer or Windows Media (yes, there’s a Mac version), sometimes with a QuickTime option thrown in, too. It is rare that it matters what browser you’re using. Thus, even though Starr’s telephone analogy is alive and well, you can work around it.

Go to MSNBC.com, though, and it’s a different story. Even though Microsoft is perpetually rumored to be looking to get out of its partnership with NBC, the Bill’s-way-or-the-highway ethos still holds. Oh, the site renders fine on the Mac version of Firefox. But when you try to play a video clip, you are informed that you must be using the most recent version of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer for Windows, along with Windows Media Player. Even the Mac versions of IE and Windows Media Player won’t do.

Here is the Word from Bill:

MSN Video incorporates the latest Internet technology to bring videos to your computer. To use this technology, MSN Video requires the following software:

– Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 or later
– Microsoft Windows Media Player 7 or later
– Macromedia Flash Player 7 or later

I own some shares of Microsoft stock, but I’m not sure why. When I bought them, my theory was that Apple had better technology but Microsoft had a superior business strategy. As it turns out, I’m being punished financially for my cynicism, which I suppose serves me right. At least I have no regrets about my choice of technology.

By the way, it’s not as though Microsoft makes no money from the Apple crowd. The Mac version of MS Office is a huge bestseller. So come on, Bill. Show us a little love.


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1 Comment

  1. John Farrell

    You tell ’em, boy!

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