Should Microsoft be held liable for bugs in its products?

Just read the Windows and .Net editorial on this topic. It's a good read, and contains some relevant issues.

As tempting as it is for me say, "Go ahead, sue Microsoft for all the money they've got", I personally don't think it's fair to expect a product as complex as MS Windows to be bug-free, but I think it's reasonable to expect them to sell products that work as they advertise it to.

The question is, have Microsoft ever advertised that they will ensure that their system is secure no matter what? No, I don't think so. But I as a consumer would want them to fix bugs as quickly and efficiently as possible. Yet, it's very unlikely that me as an individual would be able to do this. That's why, in a free market, competition is a Good Thing. We can't expect Microsoft to change as long as they don't really care either way, and they don't care because people cannot move over easily to a non-Microsoft product.

Do I sound as if I'm rehashing a Open Source argument? It's not my intention. I have a fantasy, and in this fantasy what we have not alternative Operating Systems, but, if you like, an alternate Windows. Windows from anyone who's Not Microsoft. Some way we can keep the OS without buying it from Microsoft. Okay, so how we do this may not be so easy. It would be nice if someone took the time to build WindowsTwo. Cleanly separating the apps from the OS (as with Java) would be another way. Or we could have WINE that really works.

Anyway, all this is kind of going off the subject. What I'm trying to say is that the problem isn't so much whether MS should be held liable, but that we shouldn't be in a position where going to court against Microsoft is the only way out of it. Yes, I think they should be held liable if they don't keep to their marketing hype, but we should be able to turn around and say "no thank you" if we don't like what they have to offer.

posted on Sunday, October 12, 2003 - permalink
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