Are Open Software's Standards Shutting Out Competitors?

The Open Software Foundation was formed in 1988 in response to a dispute over who should control the evolution of "open systems" based on American Telephone & Telegraph Co.'s Unix program. The OSF's charter was to assemble the best pieces of Unix-based software and create a compatible set of programs that all computer makers might license. But from the start, the 280-member organization has been surrounded by controversy. Critics charge that the group, which includes such heavyweights as IBM, Hewlett-Packard, and Digital Equipment, wields too much influence by setting industry standards. The OSF, in fact, has confirmed that the Federal Trade Commission is investigating it on that matter.

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