This is a hard letter to have to write to you. We have been through a lot together. I started my technology career doing networking. My specialty was helping to eradicate NetWare by replacing it with Windows NT.
I thought Windows 95 was a good OS. I *LIKED* Windows 95. How many people will say that?
I started my development career using Visual Basic 4. I was smitten with it. I was overjoyed when ASP was released and I continue to use C# and ASP.Net today for most of my development.
I even bought a Window 6.1 Mobile phone at one time.
Through the years I have been one of your defenders against roving bands of zealots and fanboys. I even roll my eyes when people outright dismiss IE (well, IE 9 at least).
I railed against the ridiculous government breakup attempt of the late 90s. You said the government was trying to stifle your ability to innovate.
But today my old friend, today you have done exactly that and I will no longer defend you against any criticism.
Your decision to spend $1 Billion dollars to acquire patents from AOL will do more to stifle innovation than a thousand US Department of Justices ever could.
Sadly I know you won’t just use these patents in new products, but will instead be a heavy-handed bully against companies that actually are innovating, Just like your dinosaur cousin Yahoo.
You could have used a billion dollars as an angel investment of $500,000 for two thousand startups. There could be two thousand companies getting off the ground and creating tech jobs right now, but instead, they will just have to worry their next product isn’t protected by one of the many patents you just bought.
I will continue to use your products, whether by necessity or choice, but you should realize that while I may still be a customer, today you have truly lost me as a fan.