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At least with the Microsoft monopoly you could reverse engineer their software. What is happening with the web is much worse.

Additional copy & pasted rant:

"You can reverse engineer binary applications but you cannot reverse engineer the cloud. When Google deprecates a web service, Facebook eliminates an API, or Twitter imposes tougher API restrictions, all dependant services fall like dominoes. The weakest link in the chain is the cloud services that you can’t run or port anywhere: we no longer have control over the applications we use.

On the other hand if you want to run old applications from the Apple II, downloading an emulator solves the problem. Do you miss Borland Turbo Pascal 5.5? Install DOS on your i7 or run it in a virtual machine to achieve instantaneous happiness. Just don’t expect to take advantage of your quad core! Emulators are not created in a vacuum and reverse engineering is the key to emulating a complete platform. Reverse engineering is also very important to tackle complex issues in hardware and software virtualization. For example, you need reverse engineering skills to virtualize Internet Explorer 6 on Windows 7.

It seems odd now that Microsoft was prosecuted for engaging in monopolistic practices in the 90s. Apple and Google are currently abusing their market positions without much real criticism. Microsoft must be laughing because these new companies have launched platforms far more controlled than Microsoft’s in the 90s. Ironically, Microsoft is now doing the same thing with their mobile initiatives and Windows, which would have been illegal 20 years ago. All of the above practices are contrary to the hacker spirit."

"It seems odd now that Microsoft was prosecuted for engaging in monopolistic practices in the 90s. Apple and Google are currently abusing their market positions without much real criticism."

Key, and very important points:

First - Microsoft really did have a, legally proven, Monopoly position in 1999 for desktop/laptop computing. It's hard for some of us to remember, particularly with the wealth of web-based computing in which the client really doesn't matter any more (Facebook works just fine from a Mac or Linux System) - not to mention the incredible growth of mobile (in which Microsoft has no traction). But in 1999, Microsoft had basically a monopoly role in the people's computing experience, and they then tried to leverage that monopoly to take over another market (web browsing) . They managed to squish Netscape like a little bug, but the Justice Department stepped in, and prevented them from continuing their illegal behavior [1].

Apple has a nice product, but they most certainly do not have a Monopoly.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_v._Microsoft_Corp...

I agree that Microsoft had a legally proven monopoly but Google is moving so fast that laws are light-years behind.

What we watched today at Google I/O was really impressive. Not from the technology side but from the business/velocity/applied-research perspective. I don't want to stop that kind of innovation but leave space to a more healthy web (APIs).

They can (and have) destroyed businesses just by blocking access to people's google accounts. Without any warning.

"They managed to squish Netscape like a little bug"

How many "little bugs" has Google squished with their Search? Granted they didn't get sued by DOJ because they were smarter (Google's Lobbying Budget: $25 Million During FTC Probe - http://thenextweb.com/google/2013/01/04/google-spend-25-mill... ) than Microsoft but with a 70% online market share they can destroy virtually any business or niche they want to.

All the extra stuff you see on Google Search now was done by other companies and most were destroyed during Search updates for having "spammy and shallow content." If you ask Google why the clutter? The answer is something like "Because users love that content...blah blah" But users hated it when others did it and Google didn't make money on it. Of course.

Google haven't squashed nearly enough little bugs. Google search results are still full of crappy vertical search engines and other zero-value content whose entire business model is based on them getting in the way of finding the information I actually want.

Every time I search for reviews of a laptop, say, I get page after page of autogenerated sites that have not one iota of content to call their own, but still manage to rank highly for "<model> reviews". They're the main ones that have been yelling about Google screwing them.

The ease with which people can share files, thus giving copyright laws a big middle finger, might have had a part in encouraging software design to be placed behind an API gate and into the cloud.

Just sayin'...

"You can reverse engineer binary applications but you cannot reverse engineer the cloud."

Umm, yes you can. It's all series of HTTP calls. Problem is not with reverse engineering, it's getting people to use your new reverse-engineered service with zero other users to provide content. You can reverse engineer Youtube and have all its features and API, you just don't get all the content and community in it.

No, you can't: a service that shutdowns can't be recovered, and you can't learn about the advanced Google algorithms just scraping their search engine.

One of the core ethical purposes of reverse engineering is to leave the door open for competition.

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