Re: As usual Andrew hates Google
So if an operating system - or a computer architecture - becomes very successful... you can't just swap out Microsoft Windows for OS X or Linux and still run all your old software. Nor can you just swap out an x86 chip for a PowerPC or a SPARC or a RISC-V chip and still run all your old software.
This is a barrier to true competition. An operating system isn't just a generic product that can be made by anyone cheaper or better. This leads to higher prices for consumers. So it is against their interests, even if it is not in any way against their "rights".
Back in ancient history the US Department of Defence decided they'd had enough of buying military equipment containing bespoke computing hardware / software. They championed the development of the POSIX API standard (essentially a standardisation of what was commonly found in C libraries on various Unixs of the day), and open hardware architectures (principally VME). In this they were highly successful. VME became (still is in many ways) a major hit. POSIX is literally everywhere - even Linux mostly implements it, and MS for quite some time had to have a POSIX runtime for Windows to qualify for DoD contracts. POSIX is the closest we've ever got to a legally mandated API for interoperability for source code.
The end result in that space was that software written again POSIX and hosted on VME compliant hardware could pretty easily be re-targeted on a different OS on hardware from a different vendor. So when the DoD wanted to build more radar sets, they could do so without having to pay $mega to have the software written again.
It's no coincidence that Linux (mostly) does POSIX - it is the way to inherit, and indeed add to, a massive source code base.
Where POSIX didn't venture (so far as I recall) is in things more commonly associated with the Desktop; X11 is not DoD mandated, nor is GTK, or any of those things nor ways to interact with sound devices, printers, etc. DoD's major focus was on embedded systems like radars, communications systems, etc.
No Standard Deskop
One of the biggest challenges today for a developer is picking a GUI framework that has the right features and works on the platforms one wants to support. Because there are very strong single-platform frameworks out there (Apple's toolkits for OSX, iOS, and Microsoft's toolkits for Windows such as WPF, MFC before that, etc), the choice has inevitably boiled down to the question, "Am I writing this for Windows or Mac?". Google simply created another non-portable platform called Android.
Plus, POSIX is firmly in the land of C/C++. Other languages might well be implemented on top of C/C++/POSIX (i.e. the Java runtime is written in C++ and uses glibc, and so it relatively portable to other platforms).
However it's up to the language developer, if they care, to enforce standardisation of their language across all platforms. This is what both Sun and Oracle have done with Java; they care enough about the standardisation of Java (language, APIs and bytecode) to take legal action against those who do something Java-esque that breaks that standard. They have successfully sued both MS (long time ago) and now Google.
Similarly MS are fairly protective of their .NET runtime; they're very un-keen on the idea of someone doing an alternative stack which produces code that doesn't run on their CLR without their blessing.
Good Standards Enable Prosperity
Personally speaking I think that there should be more government intervention in the enforcement of standards. Strong standards strongly enforced are a big enabler of business; they're a level playing field on which good ideas can thrive.
Having said that, strong enforcement of obsolete standards leading to the oppression of new standards is bad. So if there were to be more governmental enforcement of standards, governments would have to become far more nimble and responsive to new ideas, not something they're noted for being (which is probably why they've kept out of it).
Government Web Standards in the UK
A good example of where government interference can be good is in the UK. There is a central group whose job it is to ensure that all .gov.uk websites work in pretty much any browser, for pretty much any user (e.g. partially sighted, not very IT literate, etc). Take a look here. They're working their way through the whole of .gov.uk, and the results are pretty good. The resultant sites aren't very pretty, they're dull, but they do work, links don't rot, etc.
This is less of government setting a standard for things like browser, it's more of a case of government saying how they're going to use the inconsistent piles of shite served up by the browser developers and web developers. This page defines the browsers in which a gov digital service must work in, and it's pretty comprehensive. Note there's no mention of Linux!
This page is quite illuminating, setting out what assistive technologies web sites must work work with. The reason I find it interesting is that IE, Mozilla and Safari seem to be well supported by assistive technologies, but there's no mention of Chrome. Perhaps Chrome makes it particularly difficult for assistive technology vendors to target Chrome, which if so would be unkind of Google.