Microsoft and Groove

Ray Ozzie, one of the founders of Lotus, has been sighted standing obediently behind Bill Gates at the Windows XP media events. Obviously the fact that Microsoft paid Groove (Ray’s new startup) $51m is the reason.

Equally obvious is the fact that Groove will suffer the same fate as most of the other companies that have decided to let Microsoft invest in them. Expect to see Groove technology bundled into Windows and .NET, and a worthless husk spat out. If you don’t believe me, ask the people at LH or VIVO (say). The same would have happened to Real if they hadn’t been secretly working on RealPlayer G2 and keeping it out of the scope of their agreement with Microsoft.

It’s all business as usual for Microsoft; but somehow, it’s bothering me. It’s not enough for Gates to win; he has to humiliate his enemies. He couldn’t beat Lotus, so he needs Ray Ozzie up there on stage, dancing obediently like a little marionette.

Deconstructing the show, the message is clear: “We are unspeakably rich. We own you. We can buy your loyalty any time and make you dance for us. Submit now.”

The message to users of Windows XP is much the same. The new software license enforcement mechanism will attempt to force home users to buy a separate copy for every computer they use, and make them sign up with Microsoft Passport and hand over their personal data.

In not-unrelated news, the new judge assigned to the anti-trust trial by George W Bush turns out to have sold all her stock in Microsoft’s competitors right in the middle of a tech slump. Perhaps for some reason she doesn’t think they’ll go up? Attorney General John Ashcroft personally collected $10,000 from Microsoft, and over $1m to the Republican Party.

Dance, puppets, dance.