Saturday, May 20, 2006

Symantec injunction against Windows Vista

Symantec Corp. (owner of recently acquired Veritas Corp.) is suing Microsoft Corp. and is attempting to gain an injunction to stop the release of Windows Vista. Or something like that. You can read the details here:

http://www.infoworld.com/article/06/05/18/78482_HNsymantecvista_1.html

In my opinion, Symantec is making a fatal mistake here by suing Microsoft. I have yet to see a company sue Microsoft that actually gets Microsoft's attention and then survives the squishing that follows. Frankly, Symantec, owner of Norton Antivirus, should leave Microsoft well alone. (And if you own a copy of Norton AV, you might want to consider finding another company for your AV needs before you hear a giant squishing sound coming from the Symantec corner). Compared to Microsoft, Symantec is a little tiny bug to be eventually stepped on. Symantec is only rushing to their fate by suing Microsoft.

Historically, companies that sue other companies are usually in the final throes of life as a company. The lawsuits a software company initiates is usually a last ditch effort before throwing in the towel and filing for Chapter 11 (bankruptcy). A truly innovative company would see the fact that Microsoft stole their technology as an opportunity.

There are four options besides suing Microsoft that Symantec has available to them. The first is to let Vista continue to integrate Veritas software into the product. Microsoft has an amazing track record for poorly executing product integrations into Windows and thus introduce hundreds to thousands of exploitable bugs. The only thing a lawsuit will do is give Microsoft extra time to fix a bunch of those bugs.

Another option is to integrate the same Veritas product into ReactOS and put a small team of paid developers onto the ReactOS project. For about $500,000 (US) (10-12 developers), Symantec can hurt Microsoft for at least $500 billion (US) by updating ReactOS to include core Vista functionality. It is called "payback" and, according to 'Russell' from the movie Independence Day (1996), "payback's a ***ch". A lawsuit won't do anything when it comes to Microsoft. Microsoft will simply ignore whatever they are told to do and go ahead with their plans.

The third option is to re-engineer the Veritas product to be better, smarter, and more stable than ever before. Teach it tricks Microsoft won't ever think of. Perhaps re-write it from the ground up to do something totally different but accomplish the same goals. The possibilities are endless.

The last option is to let Microsoft continue along its merry way and drop the product from existence (i.e. make it obsolete and non-updated technology). This is a good option if Microsoft depends on binaries being delivered - that is, no source code. An innovative company will simply drop whatever technology is in question if they don't plan on improving it and then move onto something else. People have the tendency to get comfortable and thus don't like being forced to change. Microsoft is continually successful because of that tendency. Companies that can shrug their shoulders and say "oh well...on to the next product" when Microsoft steals or obsoletes one of their products are those that will continually survive.

Lawsuits are knee-jerk reflex reactions when compared to the endless options available.


That said, I hope the lawsuit succeeds and forces Vista to delay significantly. Not for the sake of Veritas or Symantec, but to give those working with DirectX a chance to stabilize that section of the product. Nothing else matters for the next release of Windows but the stability of DirectX. See my other blog posts on Vista for why the next version of Windows is going to be incredibly unstable. People like me who have to support users don't want an unstable version of Windows being the cause of 95% of all support requests.

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