Urgent Microsoft Issues




March 2, 1998

The Honorable Orrin G. Hatch
(via email)

Dear Sen. Hatch:

I hope someone in your office has a chance to read this before the hearings are done, I wish to voice some urgent concerns regarding Microsoft and public choice. I haven't seen reference to these issues in all the news about the Anti-Trust case but they are just as important in protecting consumer choice from monopolistic policies.

1. I have $38,000 invested in PC hardware and software. If I wish to buy a new PC through standard channels, I CANNOT buy it WITHOUT Microsoft's product being pre-loaded. I tried. I asked (DELL, by the way) for a pc with the DOS operating system instead of the windows operating system and was refused. I told them I did NOT want windows on my pc, to sell me a computer with DOS or with NOTHING preloaded. I was refused. The Dell service rep told me I had to take it the way it came and I could strip the software off myself and load whatever else I wanted in its place. That meant I had to accept the Windows product against my will (which means I also paid for it against my will), and I had to purchase another operating system from another source to get the software configuration I wanted. This is not fair to the consumer, the informed consumer who DOES express a choice but is denied fulfillment of that choice.

2. Microsoft developed Win95 as a true multitasking operating system and issued it to replace Windows3.1. Through Microsoft's product development, they changed the fundamentals of this product to include functions I do not wish to have. In the beginning Win95 did not have embedded browser capabilities (which enables the computer to access the internet). The newer releases of Win95 DOES have the integrated browser capabilities, which I DO NOT WANT as part of my operating system. I cannot separate the browser functions from the operating system and place it on a separate partition of my hard drive. For security reasons I do NOT want the browser as part of the operating system. The original Win95 design suited my wishes, but the later versions of this same product took away my security choices. I do not wish to upgrade to later versions of Win95 because of this fundamental change within the evolutionary course of a single product.

3. Using the power of "upgrades", Microsoft places this newer version of Win95 on our harddrives. In my opinion it is not a true upgrade, but a separate product from the original. This same "removal" of choice happens when Microsoft calls Win98 an "upgrade" to Win95. It is NOT an upgrade, it is an entirely different product, with tons of bells and whistles, and deeply embedded browser functions, all of which I DO NOT want. But by virtue of "upgrades" Microsoft will justify their abandonment of the earlier Win95 version. I do NOT WANT to UPGRADE when that upgrade requires me to take pieces of software I DON'T want. If I try to purchase a PC next year, I will only be able to purchase it with Win98 (or WinNT), instead of my choice (Win95, earlier versions without browser functions).

4. Microsoft (and their supporters) are claiming that I still have choices: I can buy a Macintosh computer, or I can build my own PC without the MS software, or I can just not purchase anything else, but if I insist on purchasing a new PC through normal channels, then I have to take Microsoft products also. Sir, to me this IS NOT CHOICE. I am too heavily invested in the PC world to switch to APPLE computers.

5. When and if I purchase a new computer, it will come preloaded with Win98. My choice will be to remove Win98 from the computer and install this earlier version of Win95, to continue operating the way I'm set up to operate. According to Microsoft's terms of use policy, I cannot downgrade once I've registered a version of Microsoft's product. Meaning if I register Win98, decide I don't like it and revert to Win95, they require me to submit reasons for wanting to do this, will encourage me to stay at Win98 and make it very difficult for me to go back to Win95, particularly an earlier version. I'm going to do it anyway with or without their permission. But to require their "approval" to do so, with the hoops they make you jump through, and their "case-by-case determination of approval" is NOT in the best interest of preserving consumer choice.

I hope in my haste I've made the points I feel are important. Please do more than what is being done to protect consumer choices. Microsoft (et al) is bullying the uninformed and informed public into taking products against the will or choice of consumers.

Sincerely,

Chris Coggins
[address omitted]
Macon Georgia 31204