Two Sunday evening Reuters pieces caught my attention.
First, Jacques Chirac’s center-right coalition won a huge landslide in parliamentary elections. I don’t know that anything will change — these are the French, after all — but it’s still sweet to see the socialist left trounced to such a degree that the leaders of the Green and Communist parties even lost their own seats.
Second, Microsoft came out in favor of suing software companies for bugs and other defects. The story portrays Microsoft, whose balance sheets shows $39 billion in cash and cash equivalents, as the biggest target with the most to lose. It makes no attempt to reconcile this seeming contradiction, other than to suggest that Microsoft products are pretty good and they can defend themselves well in court.
Shame on journalists who miss the hidden story here. Why would Microsoft want liability claims against software manufacturers? How do they benefit?
Opening up a whole new area of litigation while create a new cost for software companies — a fixed capital expense that’s a big hurdle to overcome for new entrants into the market. Deep pockets like Microsoft can build infrastructures to test for bugs and protect themselves from litigation. They can spread the costs across their line of products and across a world of users. Small startups don’t have the diversity of product or the user base to support those kind of expenses.
Microsoft likes this new liability because it’s corporate protectionism — it entrenches existing players and keeps small entrepreneurs from eventually dethroning them. When will a journalist write that story — about corporate welfare masquerading as pro-consumer legislation?
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