The Microsoft File : The Secret Case Against Bill Gates

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9780812927160: The Microsoft File : The Secret Case Against Bill Gates

The Microsoft File is an extraordinary fly-on-the-wall account of Microsoft's intent to monopolize the computer industry. Wendy Goldman Rohm takes you to the inner sanctum of Microsoft, has you sit in on meetings between Microsoft and important customers and competitors, and looks at the struggles of the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice as they try to develop a strategy to counter one of the most serious charges of market manipulation since John D. Rockefeller and Standard Oil.

The Microsoft File is based on information from not one but many "Deep Throats," as well as internal documents that tell a story of:

> How Microsoft's predatory marketing and pricing behavior belies its claims of fair competition.

> How Microsoft killed the market for a competitor's operating system, a system that could have challenged MS-DOS.

> How bugging devices were found in the hotel room of a supposed business partner of Microsoft's the day before a critical meeting with Microsoft.

> How Microsoft inserted hidden code in the beta version of Windows 3.1, creating fear in the marketplace that competing products would crash and adding a byte in the final version that was marketed so the hidden code wouldn't appear on the screen.

> How close Apple came to discarding the Macintosh operating system for Windows, and the real reason why Bill Gates decided to invest some $250 million in Apple.

> How Microsoft, despite nondisclosure agreements, obtained and used technological secrets from competitors.

> How the biggest mergers in the software industry unfolded, blow-by-blow, as Microsoft's competitors tried to survive the increasing power of the Gates juggernaut.

Is Microsoft's rise as the world's most powerful and successful company a classic example of the free market, as many Microsoft apologists contend? Is its success, and the failure of other companies, the result of the creative destruction that makes capitalism so strong?  The Microsoft File suggests that other forces were at work.

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Review:

Name the most successful companies over the last 10 years, and you'd be remiss if you didn't mention Microsoft. Guided by the unique--some would say maniacal--personality of founder Bill Gates, Microsoft has grown faster and touched more lives than just about any other company in recent memory. Over the years, the software giant has been dogged by competitors--mainly in backrooms and courtrooms-- and by the government on charges of unholy monopolies, predatory practices, and stifling innovation in the PC industry. As the government's ongoing antitrust case against Microsoft goes to trial, this critical chorus grows even louder, led in part by Wendy Goldman Rohm's book, The Microsoft File.

This is the book that Microsoft doesn't want you to read. With the help of "insider" information from both Microsoft and the government, Goldman Rohm surveys the history of Microsoft's business practices with PC manufacturers and software vendors. Tracing the development of the government's antitrust case against Microsoft, starting at the FTC and continuing on at the Justice Department, she paints a harsh and unforgiving picture that's not at all flattering to Gates or the rest of Microsoft's top brass. The Bill Gates that emerges from these pages is small, petty, and deeply paranoid. At the same time, she puts a face on the Justice Department that's never been seen before. For those who revel in examining the dark underbelly of America's most successful company, The Microsoft File is a required and enormously entertaining read. It's also a useful primer for anyone interested in the government's antitrust efforts. Highly recommended. --Harry C. Edwards

About the Author:

Wendy Goldman Rohm  is an award-winning writer who has covered the high-tech world for over a decade. Her articles have appeared in, among other publications, Wired, Upside, the Chicago Tribune, The Boston Globe, The Financial Times, and Information Week, and have been syndicated by The New York Times Syndicate International. Rohm is also a playwright and poet, and lives with her daughter in Evanston, Illinois. She welcomes correspondence at wendy@compuserve.com.

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