journal for the self-obsessed generation


Like Satan Only Worse

This journal entry is about Microsoft, and it's about something that bugs me a lot. It's the attitude in the title. That's the way some people think of Microsoft - their software, their policies, their employees.

I'm not going to argue any of the normal issues (is their software any good, are their policies unfair to Netscape, and so on). I'm just going to look at that attitude.

It's very, very wrong.

Yes, Microsoft are a big corporation and big corporations occasionally do unethical things. I'm sure some pretty dubious business practices are and have been involved. But we live in a world in which the truly "bad" corporations do far more damage than simply producing (and aggressively ensuring the use of) software that you don't like.

We live in a world in which those corporations use child labour to produce cheap clothing, or pay appalling wages for work under dangerous conditions; in which they regularly sell pesticides that have been banned in Europe and the US because they are so dangerous to humans; in which they support military dictatorships that feed on the terror of abused populations; in which they release large amounts of highly toxic pollutants into the ecosystem; in which they wipe out vast swathes of rainforest so that you can get burgers or timber at a lower price.

All that happens somewhere else and affects other people, not us. But that doesn't mean it's okay to ignore it, or that it's less important. It annoys me to see people endlessly criticising and speaking out against Microsoft, while they take no action at all against the very real, and far more serious, human misery caused by other US- and European-owned firms.

Compared to the hell of other multinationals, Microsoft barely make it to the second circle.