You'd think the Navy would have learned from the
Yorktown fiasco not to trust shipboard systems to Microsoft operating
systems. Well, maybe they have - and that's a risk Microsoft just isn't
willing to take. Here's the sequence of events:
Do we have positive proof for use of influence here, i.e. "the smoking gun"?
Of course not. We're going to have to wait for some court case to subpoena
the e-mail for that, and then Microsoft will try to buy a gag order as they
always do, but the coincidence level us just way too high here, and this
investment technique has become routine for Microsoft.
- Newport News Shipbuilding is awarded a contract for the first of the new
"Ronald Reagan" class of aircraft carriers.
- Bill Gates gets out his check book and instantly becomes the second
largest stockholder (owner) in Newport News Shipbuilding.
- Newport News Shipbuilding selects Microsoft to develop the warfare
systems. Microsoft, a company with no experience in warfare systems, and
a reputation for unstable, insecure software, will base the Ronald Reagan's
warfare systems on an unproven operating system with
63,000 known bugs . . err, oops, I meant
"points of focus" - Windows 2000.
- Press releases were sent out assuring us Bill Gates' huge
investment had nothing to do with the decision. So see there, Doreen - what we
did last month had nothing to do with your pregnancy - it's right here in my
- Once Newport News is in too deep to bail out, Bill Gates will be free
to sell his stock holdings and use the money to make sure some other company
makes the "right" decision.
- Last year, Microsoft used a major investment to make sure AT&T made the
"right" decision on the operating system for its set top boxes.
- Last year, to make sure corporate executives hear the right message,
Microsoft made a major investment in a large computer consulting and
integration firm. This "independent" consultancy now recommends only
Windows 2000 based solutions.
- When Apple was down on its luck, Microsoft made an investment in Apple
to assure a decision to make Internet Explorer Apple's official Web browser.
- Lots more like this.
What if the warfare systems never work right? What does Microsoft care
about that. There'll always be someone else to blame. Think
Why does Microsoft keep doing things like this? Why don't they just
compete on merit like everyone else? Well, there's a problem with competing
on merit - odds are, the best product will win. Those are odds Microsoft
has never been comfortable with. As long as they don't have to compete on
merit, they won't, and with their money, buying decisions is the path of
But, as usual, there's an upside. System support people everywhere are
rolling on the floor laughing at all the new on-line jokes about events on
the Ronald Reagan as it goes into battle. Unfortunately, for the sailors,
and for national defense, these will not be jokes.
More details on the aircraft carrier deal can be found at