Does Comcast face serious competition? Readers debate.

February 16

A Comcast van sits on a street corner in San Francisco. (Robert Galbraith/ Reuters)

Every weekend, we round up some of the most interesting comments of the preceding week. Here are some of this week's gems.

On Monday, I covered the Careto malware recently discovered by Kaspersky labs. I wrote that "if the user clicks on a link, it takes her to a Web site that scans her system for vulnerabilities and attempts to infect it."

igcolonel didn't like my use of female pronouns and wrote a post standing up for patriarchy: "Really?? It takes 'her' to a website? What stupid PC idiocy. Use the male pronoun like you're supposed to."

Stay tuned for more "PC idiocy" from The Switch.

On Thursday, I argued that allowing Comcast to acquire Time Warner Cable would be bad for the free market. But reader georgewashington2 contends that companies like Comcast enjoy more competition than is generally appreciated: "The cable industry does not enjoy a monopoly over retail telecom. The consumer can choose between broadcast, satellite, a competitive cable company and the telco. This is 2014, not 1967."

But gabrieljmichael disagrees. "You've elided the distinction between video, voice, and Internet in your services," he writes. "Increasingly Internet is the only service that is relevant. DSL is not really a viable option anymore - the speeds are too slow, and the coverage is not particularly good. Because of the problems with satellite, the only reasonable option for most people is cable, unless you happen to be in the small markets served by FiOS/U-Verse. So sure, nominally you have 'four' options for Internet, but in reality you may only have one. That is not competition."

On Friday, Andrea Peterson enumerated 8 things she hated about Windows 8.1. Reader efbrazil offers some perspective on Windows 8's flaws:

I left Microsoft after 12 years there when the Windows 8 plans were underway. It was clear to people on the ground level building the stuff that Windows 8 was Vista revisited.

Both operating systems failed because they were built to compete with a threat to the Windows monopoly instead of focusing on users. Vista was conceived as a way to compete with the Internet. Vista was supposed to have graphics that would put the Web to shame, be the most secure place to keep your information, and be as searchable as the Internet. It was poorly managed, shipped before it was ready, and never focused on end user needs.

As the Internet was to Vista, iOS was to Windows 8. In order to compete they bolted on a secondary operating system that was touch based and cribbed from Windows Phone. Again, there was zero focus on what end users wanted or on getting the job done right before releasing the product. It was all schedule driven as Sinofsky had a prized reputation for shipping on time and maintaining discipline.

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Timothy B. Lee · February 15