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Linux vs. Windows 667

Posted by michael
from the preaching-to-the-choir dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Technology Review has a great article discussing how pretty, user-friendly Linux desktops, cheap machines sold at stores such as Wal-Mart, and the growth of useful free software like Open Office have made Linux a 'key business risk' for our friends in Redmond. The story notes that Linux's market share for desktop computers has already surpassed Apple's. Says the Open Source Initiative's Eric Raymond, 'The sinister plan for world domination is right on schedule.' All right!"
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Linux vs. Windows

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  • by a3217055 (768293) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:33AM (#9948356)
    Funny how Linux from Walmart which itself is a large corporation may help fight the software giant Microsoft is. How ironic where the revolution comes from.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:33AM (#9948357)
    Think about it: open systems will out grow closed systems. It might take a while, but that's what always happened. It happened with PC vs Mac hardware and it'll happen with software.

    (w00t! first post!)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:33AM (#9948364)
    This again?
  • by torpor (458) <ibisum.gmail@com> on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:34AM (#9948375) Homepage Journal
    that humble little vmlinuz can run on tons of things. sure, desktops got everyones eyeballs and twitchy middle finger all wrapped up, but linux computers don't need an interface. at all. in order to do Real Work.

    no, i'm not just talking about beouwulfs and the like, i mean things like vending machines, HVAC control, ticketing systems, etc...

    (embedded linux is where microsoft is going to have fight our lead...)
  • Wal star Mart (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Swamii (594522) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:34AM (#9948380) Homepage
    Wal * Mart is the Devil's Own Store. That is until it sells Linux machines and it becomes a acceptable part of the Linux 'world domination'
  • Lindows? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Davak (526912) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:34AM (#9948386) Homepage
    Is lindows (aka linspire) the real salvation of linux? A pretty graphical interface? High processor requirements? A prioritary installation process?

    How is this better than windows again?

    What is we really just teach people how to do unix correctly? [tech-recipes.com]

    Davak
  • So... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TWX (665546) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:35AM (#9948389)
    ...finally an article asserting what many, many people have been saying for quite some time.

    Now all that "we" need to do is to go through and find things that need to be improved upon. Don't get me wrong, I still configure most of my stuff at the command line, and I believe that everything should be configurable from the command line, but it might not be a good idea to get GUI configuration to work for all user-level functions (including hotplug USB and firewire) so that Joe Schmoe or Grandma doesn't have to try to use a command line to plug in and get pictures off of a digital camera, or access a USB memory device, or hook up the new printer.
  • by lukewarmfusion (726141) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:35AM (#9948395) Homepage Journal
    "Preaching to the choir"

    This article is basically just - pardon the expression - a circle jerk. Or, at best, inviting flamebait. What is there to discuss - that Linux is improving in the marketplace? Or that it's becoming more of a threat to Microsoft?

    Mod the article -1, Redundant.
  • by MarkEst1973 (769601) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:36AM (#9948413)
    Once someone learns to use a computer with {Win/Mac/Linux OS}, they will likely never change.

    Selling ridiculously cheap machines that automagically do everything (connect to the internet, read pics from your digital camera, etc.) will capture a large share of newbies that do not yet own a computer. If these people never change their OS too, then we will see an increase in Linux desktops.

    Easy is the key. Price is secondary but extremely important.

    MS has no where to go but down. That's one of the disadvantages of having a monoply.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:37AM (#9948432)
    Here comes every geek spouting off what the joe sixpack wants and needs. even though they have zero clue who joe even is let alone how he ineracts with a computer.
  • compatibility (Score:4, Insightful)

    by giampy (592646) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:38AM (#9948454) Homepage
    To put it very shortly, i think interoperability with the windows world (e.g samba & wine) is still the key to gain more users especially in offices.

    If i buy one of these PCs, and i put it in my win2k based office, i should be able to print and share files without any RTFM ...
  • by danamania (540950) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:39AM (#9948461)
    I think we'll have a big slaughter of Windows market share as they continue to not-get-Linux, and then things will REALLY get interesting. I don't believe for a second that MS is going to go down, down, down and just drop off the face of the planet.

    A few years after longhorn is released, when the market is closer to 50/50 for linux/windows machines, and MS will be forced to actually do things better just to survive.

    There's a lot in the way of human resources at microsoft, and that could create some dang good stuff - given the need to, when there's a giant penguin huffing down your neck.
  • by darien (180561) <darien.gmail@com> on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:39AM (#9948462)
    I'm afraid Wal*Mart doesn't give a fuck about the revolution - it's pursuing its own agenda, and it doesn't much care if MS prospers or dies except insofar as that might affect its own bottom line.

    But there is, I have to admit, something of the invisible hand about it.
  • Re:Lindows? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TheQwe (795209) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:41AM (#9948491) Homepage
    I agree; however, the primary opposition to the Linux movement is the fact that it's hard to learn. So, as much as I'd like to see people use unix correctly, as you say, I think there is also a need for a user-friendlier version for the casual user, without the weight that lindows throws around.
  • by Stevyn (691306) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:42AM (#9948507)
    I saw the headline and I slapped my forehead. I think we have a linux vs windows flamewar about 3 times a week here.

    Just equate linux vs windows with car transmissions. Linux is like a manual, it's $300 cheaper, slightly longer learning curve, gives you more control, but the people who get it are unique because they like to drive.

    Whatever you use your computer for, just be productive and the issue of operating system becomes irrelevant.
  • Irreversible hold? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ScytheBlade1 (772156) <scytheblade1@ave ... m minus caffeine> on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:43AM (#9948514) Homepage Journal
    Linux has gained an irreversible hold in behind-the-scenes corporate computing centers, where some 67 percent of corporate Web servers are Linux machines running open-source software.

    Nothing is irreversible. If linux can, in the coming years, get a good grip on the desktop, what's to say that microsoft won't be able to get a good grip on the servers?

    I'm not trying to troll here, but you could apply that to anything (well, most anything, pervert). Who really knows? Maybe Apple will be the desktop leader in a few years.
  • Linux and Charity (Score:2, Insightful)

    by meganthom (259885) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:44AM (#9948534)
    This article touched on the merits of Linux for governments and some organizations, but sadly, it still fails to mention what I think could be the biggest niche for Linux today: charity. In most towns, there are learning centers such as the Boys' and Girls' Clubs, etc, that provide visitors with basic computer service and training. In my experience, these centers are either forking out big bucks to MS, relying on the computer-refurbishing programs of NASA, MS, and others, or simply using computers that are virtually obsolete. But with Linux, they could make their old computers run for less and buy new ones a friendly college-student/volunteer would build for them for considerably less than a store-bought computer. Even Walmart is apparently offering cheap computers. Unfortunately, if my experience in college was typical, charity managers are still afraid to venture into the unknown (or maybe just to trust the college-student volunteers who would be setting this up and administering it for them). It's sad, really, because of all the people who could learn Linux effectively and without concerns about "how I did X in Word," the poor (and children), who have never really had any experience with computer, would be the easiest to train and would stand to benefit most.
  • by esac17 (201752) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:45AM (#9948550)
    Linux, despite all of its wonderful benefits still has a long way to go to be used by grandma and grandpa who have never touched a computer. Sure, I always hear how some linux guru has set one such setup up, but they are always forced to maintain it.

    What i'd like to see is a comparison of sitting 1000 people down in front of a windows box and a linux box and see how easy it is to do simple common tasks:

    Write a short 1 page summmary on your life and print it (no printer setup yet)
    Listen to an mp3
    Check the news on CNN
    Rip a CDROM
    Burn a CDROM
    Change your wallpaper
    Download and install a list of programs that people might commonly install (ie; gaim/aim, a game written for both windows and linux)

    And then some more advanced tasks
    Setup a website (IIS or apache preinstalled)
    Change your screen resolution
    Find a file somewhere on your computer

    Then compare the success/failure ratio and the average time it takes to do each task between windows and linux.

    I'd bet that at this point in time and probably for quite a while windows will be far ahead in this competition. Im not saying it will always but I think there is still a long way to go.
  • by stromthurman (588355) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:45AM (#9948551)
    I don't see how this article offers anything new to the discussion. Linux is projected to have a 6% desktop market share by 2006. Is that really impressive?
    Microsoft considers Linux and other Open/Free software a key business risk. We already knew that, hence the onslaught of FUD generated about Linux by Redmond (Linux is like cancer, the TCO of Linux/Free solutions is higher than MS solutions, etc. etc.)
    As an OSS advocate, I enjoy hearing about people's success stories with Linux, but I hardly consider them news worthy. At best, this is preaching to the choir, at worst the article grants license to flame.
  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:46AM (#9948565) Journal
    Hmmm, if I get this straight then these machines are like the iMac. Well apart from the looks and price of course. Do they come with a monitor?

    So what sold the iMac? Was it the looks and people didn't care about the price? Or was it that you turned the iMac on and you had a working pc that you never touched the insides of and rarely installed new software on?

    These walmart PC's are cheap and all and perhaps Linspire is good at providing a Mac like, no hazzles, experience. Linux can be hard when you are installing it on unknown hardware but that is not the case here, Walmart does the install and they decide the hardware.

    Anyone wanting to do something "extra" like gaming with these PC's is going to be in for a rude suprise. Even the few commercial linux games that exist won't run to well on this. Then gain XP won't run on this. 128mb? HAHA. Linux can do that, windows? 3.1 maybe.

    So is there a market for this kinda cheap PC? You can use it to download music and movies and watch them. Mplayer is far superior to anything MS ever developed (install mplayer and you will never even need to know about divx xvid or any codec) and properly installed users could have a very easy time. IF all they want is a working desktop for "light" work/entertainment.

    This may be real inroad for linux. Don't sell linux. Sell a working internet PC.

    Now all that remains is to find out sales figures AND more importantly update figures. How many machines remain linux and how many get a windows install on them?

  • by jarich (733129) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:46AM (#9948566) Homepage Journal
    I don't believe for a second that MS is going to go down, down, down and just drop off the face of the planet.

    And IBM will always dominate the PC market...

    And Sun will always dominate the server market...

    And also, Microsoft will always dominate the desktop.

    When it's all over, it'll probably be obvious in hindsight... this is why Bill is so paranoid.

  • Re:Lindows? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by garcia (6573) * on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:46AM (#9948567) Homepage
    Is lindows (aka linspire) the real salvation of linux? A pretty graphical interface? High processor requirements? A prioritary installation process?

    It depends on your definition of "salvation". Personally I don't think Linux needs to be saved from anything. It's doing what it does well already.

    People seriously believe that Linux is ready for the desktop and should compete side by side with Windows. By bundling a proprietary installer, rip-off applications and accessories we aren't "saving" Linux we are feeding it straight to the devil.

    How about we teach people to use what is right for their particular needs? Unix does what Unix does best. Windows does what Windows does best. Yes, you can make either one do what you want after tweaking, fooling, etc, but on the face they both do their intended purposes best out of the box. That's my HO and I am sticking to it.
  • by TopShelf (92521) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:49AM (#9948609) Homepage Journal
    Ironic? One giant, low-cost corporation seeks a market opportunity left open by a giant, high-cost corporation. Sounds like everyday business to me...
  • by News for nerds (448130) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:49AM (#9948610) Homepage
    When Joe Average buys a Linux PC at Wal-Mart, he may be conned into it by a clerk who is happy to kill dead stock PCs, then back at home he notices it doesn't run MSN Messenger without hack and can't send message to his friends, so only goes back for refund. It won't propagate good impression of Linux, IMHO. Linux should aim at Mac status instead, by securing small but valuable market niche.
  • by Mateito (746185) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:49AM (#9948615) Homepage
    > This is why Bill is so paranoid.

    No, Bill is paranoid because he is a zit-pocked git who was picked on at school. When you are always on the end of the pointy stick, you get jumpy and jittery as a survival trait.
  • Re:Lindows? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by drewmca (611245) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:49AM (#9948618)
    I think that kind of asinine tech elitism is exactly what has held linux back. 90% of the people in the world don't care about using unix "correctly". They want a computer to work the way they want it to work, which means it shouldn't get in the way. You don't need to be a plumber to use a toilet, why should you need to be a unix guru to use a computer? While happily churning away at vi or emacs or whatever your poison is may make you feel very proud of what you've learned and superior to the masses, you're actually stuck in interfaces and computing paradigms that are dictated more by technical limitations than the "proper" way to do things.
  • Not true (Score:2, Insightful)

    by arhar (773548) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:52AM (#9948644)
    Once someone learns to use a computer with {Win/Mac/Linux OS}, they will likely never change.

    If that was the case, I'd still be refusing to part with my good old ZX Spectrum ...
  • Re:Wal-Mart (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Trolling4Dollars (627073) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:53AM (#9948656) Journal
    BZZZT!!! That day already came and went. It's called a TV. It's a dumb terminal that they spoon feed content to you with. Add WebTV and there you go... Of course you still need to buy a box every three years because they only guarantee them for 90 days unless you pay for the extended warranty. But that's another rant for another time.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:56AM (#9948702)
    Unfortunately, they are not providing a respectible distro, but Lindows^H^H^H^H^H^H Linspire.

    Also, by driving down prices as only Walmart can and therefore making it impossible for any but the largest corporations to compete (who have the efficiency and resources to provide similar low prices). The little guy need not apply. No upstart can provide a machine of those specs that cheap and stay in business.
  • Funny pattern. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sporty (27564) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:57AM (#9948718) Homepage
    I'm an OSS fan in general. Linux, FreeBSD, OO, KOffice and all... but if Linux is so successful on the desktop, why do we keep reporting it? How come we never report on the mac desktop or windows desktops being successful?

    Just playing devil's advocate.
  • by maxwell demon (590494) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:58AM (#9948735) Journal
    I don't believe for a second that MS is going to go down, down, down and just drop off the face of the planet.

    And IBM will always dominate the PC market...

    And Sun will always dominate the server market...

    And also, Microsoft will always dominate the desktop.

    Has IBM dropped off the face of the planet?

    Has Sun dropped off the face of the planet?

    So, why should Microsoft?
  • Irony (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SuperBanana (662181) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:59AM (#9948752)
    Funny how Linux from Walmart which itself is a large corporation may help fight the software giant Microsoft is. How ironic where the revolution comes from.

    How ironic that the same people who preached that quantity != quality, and that linux was better despite less marketshare, are now hooting about how they've surpassed Apple's marketshare. Why does it matter? I thought it wasn't important...

    How ironic that the same people who have moaned and bitched about monopolies are now making jokes about an ultimate goal of "world domination".

    I don't want to live in a world where everyone uses Linux. I don't want to live in a world where everyone uses Macs. I don't want to live in a world where everyone uses Windows. I want to live in a world where people are not locked into one platform, and are free to choose the tool that suits them best. My only objection to MS, really, was their strong-arm tactics to keep Linux, BSD, etc from even getting their foot in the door with PC manufacturers. There has been quite a bit of progress in that department ("secure" PC collusion between MS and BIOS companies notwithstanding) which is why the Linux-specific server vendors are now struggling; there's no market for them, because you can buy a Gateway, Dell, HP, or IBM certified to run at least one distribution of Linux, complete with hardware tools for monitoring and whatnot.

  • by Cro Magnon (467622) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @12:00PM (#9948761) Homepage Journal
    That makes it even better! Wal*mart DOESN'T give a flying fuck about Linux or Open Source or Free (tm) Software! They're "supporting" Linux because it's better for them (ie cheaper).
  • by kmmatthews (779425) * <krism@mailsnare.net> on Thursday August 12, 2004 @12:01PM (#9948777) Homepage Journal
    Wow, when I use this other thing I'm not used to using, I'm not as productive as when I use the thing I'm used to using...

    It's not an attack when people point out that your logic is incorrect.
  • Re:Irony (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 16K Ram Pack (690082) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `dnomla.mit'> on Thursday August 12, 2004 @12:07PM (#9948855) Homepage
    I agree. Personally, I don't even mind paying for software, and I don't mind that much if I don't get the source code.

    My number 1 priority is open protocols.

    In business, I want to be able to get data from point a to point b. I don't want to have to buy something to do it, or rely on someone else to do it.

    I also want the option to read the data from anywhere, and replace someone's tool with someone else's tool when it suits me, or write my own to use said data.

    However, only two things will aid this - open source, or a well distributed market (like half a dozen word processor makers).

  • by misleb (129952) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @12:09PM (#9948890)
    It is a sign that the "revolution" is just as corrupt as Microsoft itself. I'm not proud to have Walmart on my "side." Walmart is just as evil as Microsoft... just in a different industry.

    I my opinion all this Linux vs. Microsoft stuff is stupid. I mean, it is useful to make a technical comparison to decide which is the best or preferable tool for the job, but do we really need to turn this into a war? I use Linux almost exclusively at work and at home because it works for me, not because it might be a thorn in Microsoft's side.

    -matthew
  • by Jason Earl (1894) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @12:10PM (#9948901) Homepage Journal

    Exactly. Linux is going to win for economic reasons. Microsoft's ridiculous profit margins are drawing competition like moths to a flame. Wal-Mart has made a living out of low margin retailing, and they obviously see an opportunity to undercut the rest of the hardware OEMs by offering computers without Windows. The fact of the matter is that removing "the Microsoft tax" from the price of PCs is good for the entire computer industry (except for Microsoft, of course). Non-natural monopolies are very hard to maintain over time. The invisible hand of the market is simply working overtime to route around Microsoft.

  • by pavera (320634) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @12:11PM (#9948913) Homepage Journal
    It may be that google searches from linux boxes only account for 1% of their hits... however, how many times do you log into your server to search google? especially your server that doesn't have a gui on it?

    I have 10 desktop boxes that are running as servers (linux is so nice and versatile like that), these sales counted as adding to the *desktop* market share, but I never search google with any of them. You can buy a whole heap of cheap desktop machines with linux, cluster them and have a nice load balanced, redundant web server farm for way cheaper than buying actual server machines...
  • by torpor (458) <ibisum.gmail@com> on Thursday August 12, 2004 @12:13PM (#9948934) Homepage Journal
    Take off the shackles by changing the laws, and I guarantee you'll see just how formidable they can be, even in Germany.

    Umm.. yeah. as you seem to imply, thats why those laws are there: to prevent exactly such a thing happening.

    maybe germans don't want a wal-mart, huh? did you ever think of that, did you, huh?
  • by Tim C (15259) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @12:14PM (#9948938)
    You don't defeat one enemy by siding with another, worse one. MS may be gunning for software domination, but WalMart is gunning for complete retail domination.

    Believe me, WalMart cares nothing for your "revolution". It's seen a way to make a bit more profit, and it's going for it. It doesn't care who or what gets squashed in the process - MS, you, me, open source, anything, as long as it can maximise its profits.

    Just like any other business, it's doing what currently best serves its own interests. Right now they happen to coincide with your wishes; be ready to move out of the way should that change.
  • Well, as someone who started on unix systems and had to suffer windows at a later date, i imagine that people who started fresh with linux would keep it..
    Why? for the same reason people stay with windows plus the reasons people are considering migrating to linux.. Many people will stick with what they know, and those who know linux are likely to get to like the security, stability and flexibility of the system.. Moving to windows from Linux will not only present an unfamiliar environment (as it does the other way round) but an environment that is far less flexible and less stable, plus linux users will have become comfortable browsing the web and reading email in relative safety, and will likely assume they can do the same under windows... thus taking little/no protections against malware.
  • Re:Irony (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kjella (173770) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @12:18PM (#9948990) Homepage
    I want to live in a world where people are not locked into one platform, and are free to choose the tool that suits them best.

    How exactly could you be locked into the Linux platform? You may create your own FooBarix derivate, or interface perfectly with it (since all the code is public) using any other system.

    If Linux can gain world domination by simply being *that much better than all the rest*, then I don't see the problem. Do you?
  • by Dixie_Flatline (5077) * <vincent,jan,goh&gmail,com> on Thursday August 12, 2004 @12:19PM (#9949018) Homepage
    Well, this also lends credence to the argument that Macs are still ahead on the desktop. What they're trying to drive at is that Linux is being used as a desktop operating system more than OS 9/X is, which seems untrue, based on things like the Google numbers. Because people are buying desktop machines and using them as servers, they don't really count towards the " on the desktop" numbers.
  • by molarmass192 (608071) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @12:25PM (#9949112) Homepage Journal
    Granted, but what comprises the "Other 5%"? What user agent strings is Google using to filter out Linux boxes? I could toss stats out like: Linux 1% / Mac 3% / Windows 1% / Other 95%, assuming I only count Windows 95 boxes as under Windows. I wouldn't find it outside the realm of possibility that 3% of that Other 5% are misfiltered Linux boxes. Heck, maybe they're all misfiltered Sun boxes so Sun workstations have a bigger market share than Macs and Linux. Without knowing the filtering methods, those stats don't mean a heck of a lot.
  • That's the beauty (Score:4, Insightful)

    by einhverfr (238914) <chris.travers@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Thursday August 12, 2004 @12:29PM (#9949162) Homepage Journal
    The Open Source revolution is a complex economic revolution at least as much as it is a social phenominon. IBM doesn't care about the revolution either so much as it cares about its own bottom line too.

    And the road to open source, like the road from feudalism or communism to capitalism is a one-way road. Once open source becomes established in a market, the trend cannot be reversed.

    Stay tuned for more.
    (also you might find my blog interesting: http://ossne.blogspot.com as this is right on topic)
  • by 16K Ram Pack (690082) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `dnomla.mit'> on Thursday August 12, 2004 @12:39PM (#9949308) Homepage
    The thing is, what have Microsoft really got except Office, Windows and Windows Development tools? Well, stuff that makes them big bucks, anyway.

    Microsoft basically sell software. AFAICT they don't have the consultancy of the size of IBM or HP. They don't sell hardware (except some mice and keyboards). Building up consultancy divisions takes years.

    It seems to me also that the software they sell is very much in the shrink wrap area - stuff that you can install yourself or get someone in to do it quite easily. There's not really a huge sales relationship that has to go with it. People often have their own in-house people doing it.

    And what you say is right - things can change in ways you'll never imagine. How many analysts said (even after the first clone PCs came out) that the winner was likely to be Microsoft?

    Microsoft haven't moved out of the Windows/Office space. It seems everything else they've tried has had limited impact.

    Where will they go if the software goes Linux?

  • by Jason Earl (1894) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @12:50PM (#9949451) Homepage Journal

    The customer is only at a disadvantage if there isn't a viable replacement for Microsoft's software, but that isn't really the case anymore. Operating systems and office suites are becoming a commodity, and Microsoft is structured in such a way that they are not likely to be able to survive on commodity profit margins.

    Who knows what would have happened if the DOJ had split Microsoft up. Personally I am glad that the DOJ didn't set a precedent of meddling in the software industry. One thing is certain, the market is taking care of Microsoft's monopoly without much in the way of government intervention.

  • by orasio (188021) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @12:53PM (#9949478) Homepage
    No problem. The difference is that WalMart sells stuff (and that there's no WalMart here in Uruguay, BTW).

    Free market can handle giant corporations that sell stuff. There is always place for another one to sell cheaper/better stuff. The problems come when a company takes over the world by selling bytes. Bytes have potentially zero marginal cost, so the free market rules do not apply.

    The amount of stuff in the world is finite, but the amount of potential bytes is infinite. The risk of a corporation making so much money out of bytes is that they could theorethically make enough money to buy *all* the stuff there is, effectively owning *everything*, especially now that almost all the world supports capitalism, and everything is for sale. If a traditional company has so much power, the free market can make it better, or at least regulate it, but I don't think it would work in an scenario in the style of "MS taking over the world".
  • Stacked deck (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nuggz (69912) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @01:06PM (#9949679) Homepage
    Sorry the deck isn't stacked against Walmart.
    It is stacked against certain behaviours.

    As long as everyone is under the same laws, it is a fair competative environment. Walmart just needs to create a new strategy.
  • by Stone316 (629009) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @01:14PM (#9949793) Journal
    Why is it so hard to understand that the more press Linux gets the better chance casual users are going to pick it up and give it a try? Yes the article is redundant from our point of view but what about the users out there that have been afraid to try linux or don't know much about it yet? At some point they are going to read so many articles like this they are going to give it a try or buy a computer with linux pre-installed.

    So yes, the article is redundant for elitist that can't see other viewpoints.

  • by Mr_Silver (213637) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @01:18PM (#9949841)
    Not really, most of the "choir" here are repeating the same FUD over and over, or are basing opinions of linux on their experience with redhat 3.1 or Slackware 2.5 back in the early 90's.

    It's worth pointing out that most of the "choir" here still also assume that the world is still using Windows 95 and think that BSOD jokes occur 10 times a day and find them funny.

    Actually the two "choir"'s here are just as guilty as each other of ignoring things they don't want to see or hear.

    I have my own opinion on which one of the two are the worst.

  • by Shadowlore (10860) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @01:21PM (#9949878) Journal
    so many PCs are sold with Linux but a pirated version of Windows quickly replaces it, etc.

    And of course the opposite and more common thing to see is how many PCs are bought with a horked up Windows that is immediately replaced with a nice (legal) copy of Linux.

    [obligatory "flame"]
    But you probably don't want to talk about that half, eh? ;)
    [/obligatory "flame"]

    Not to mention the number of OSX machines that are purchased for the HW; the OSX is immediately wiped and replaced with Yellow Dog. Or the dual boot OSX/Linux systems (about 3/4ths of the OSX machines I personally know of have had one of these two done to them).

    As far as "debunked" the article you reference only says "This happened in 2003". It said that IDC placed Linux in number 2 in 2003. It didn't debunk the claim, merely said instead that it was "old news":

    So, Fink doesn't get the satisfaction of watching his product push Linux past the Mac into the mainstream (because it's already there), but at least we Mac users get to revel in the fact that we're now so fringe we could pass for David Crosby's jacket.

    As far as GZ, no it can't be trusted as "the best" measure since so many of the Open Browsers (and Opera) can be told tolie about what they are and what they are running on; and many do to get around stupid you must use this browser to access" javascripts. Another point against them is the use of tools that query google for you. This, too can skew results.
  • by Waffle Iron (339739) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @01:36PM (#9950115)
    People always ask, how can MS compete against a free product. I would point to the bottled water market. Even with nearly free water almost everywhere, high priced competitors still do pretty well, because people think bottled water is of better quality.

    However, bottled water constitutes only a small fraction of the total water consumed. My water bill says that our family consumed over 50,000 gallons of water last year (and many times that was probably used to produce the food we bought); however, I doubt that we bought more than about 10 gallons of bottled water over the same time.

    Right now, the desktop software market is like one where more than 90% of the people are buying only bottled water. That's likely to change if people figure out that they can get a cheaper source of quality goods. Linux might be thought of as a new community water treatment plant just coming into service, offering plentiful water on tap for a nominal service fee.

    While Microsoft will always be able to sell high-priced products to niche markets, over the long run they may have a very hard time maintaining anywhere near their current market share unless they dramatically drop the prices and licensing restrictions on their bulk products.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 12, 2004 @01:40PM (#9950160)
    "Mandrake was ready to use and on the net at first reboot. XP I needed to go and download ATI radeon drivers, sound drivers for the on-board sound chipset, Drivers for the ethernet chipset, and Drivers for the IDE chipset before it was useable."

    mostly [cough]bullshit[/cough]

    Oh, you needed to go and download the ATI radeon drivers? Why, because you couldn't see the screen? Doubt it.

    Oh, you needed to download drivers for the ethernet chipset? How, you couldn't connect to the net without them (maybe he used a slodem?)

    Oh, you needed to download drivers for the IDE chipset? How did you do that if the drives weren't usable without them?

    Point being, the XP install did give you out of the box functionality for [probably] all those items - you just needed^M^M^M^M^M^Mwanted additional driver functionality. Granted, such functionality might have been highly desirable, even borderline necessary - but to somehow make the point that the XP box was dead in the water without them is highly suspect.

    Even if it was, comparing the latest Mandrake install to the XP install (circa 2001?) isn't quite apples to apples, eh?

    Hope your audience was as dumb as you thought they were, otherwise they're probably snickering behind your back.

    (the parent was modded Informative? Oh, I'm reading /. again)

    (Score:-5, Anti-linux Pro-MS troll)
  • by airjrdn (681898) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @01:56PM (#9950390) Homepage
    I'm struggling with the thought that Microsoft might want their name tainted by selling their flagship OS at Wal-Mart. Let's be honest, when something starts being sold at Wal-Mart, it often times the indication that it's bargain bin time for that product elsewhere.

    How much good does it really do Linux to be represented on the cheapest hardware available?
  • by ChrisMaple (607946) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @02:16PM (#9950649)
    I'm not really promoting communism as a governmental type, though. It's an ideal system that will never work in this un-ideal world.

    Replace the word "communism" with "slavery" and the meaning of your paragraph remains unchanged.

  • by Slime-dogg (120473) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @02:21PM (#9950692) Journal

    The other thing that makes this work is the fact that it is voluntary. If I don't want to write code for OSS, I don't have to. The code is written in a distributed manner by people who wish to write the code.

    This can't really apply to a governmental system, because it would require the willingness to participate by all governed individuals. There is always going to be people who procrastinate, or those who just flat out refuse to participate.

    De-centralized control only works amongst the willing, the ones who have made the choice to contribute.

  • Re:Lindows? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by drewmca (611245) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @02:21PM (#9950697)
    My parents can use a radio because radio interface design has evolved to where it's intuitive. Some elements of computer design are evolving that way as well, but linux/unix is as far from the other side of the spectrum as can be imagined. For a developer or admin who is used to it, it makes sense, but even then there was a learning curve somewhere. For the everyday user, who despite what everyone on /. thinks are the people who drive "desktop domination", it makes little to no sense at all. The unixes expect people to think like them rather than the other way around. I shouldn't have to think like a radio to use one; I shouldn't have to think like a car to use one; I shouldn't have to think like a toilet to use one; and the same holds true for computers. Give me a couple of common interfacing metaphors and I'm off and running. I shouldn't have to care what's going on underneath to perform useful everyday functions. But if i need to do more, it would be great to have that ability. That's what I like so much about Apple's OSX. Its interface is designed around how people, not computers, think. And you still have the option of digging in underneath the covers to do more detailed things when you need to.
  • Apples to apples (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Cro Magnon (467622) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @02:30PM (#9950824) Homepage Journal
    Comparing Mandrake's latest with Microsoft's latest sounds fair to me. The fact that Microsoft's latest is as old as Debian is irrelevant.
  • by upsidedown_duck (788782) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @02:30PM (#9950837)
    If you really look at the organization of the open source community, you'll see that it follows a more communal approach than a capitalistic one.

    Well, not quite. In communism, people basically have to work for nothing their whole lives as they see the irreplacable fruit of their labor consumed endlessly by everyone around them, but, in Open Source, the programmer can work for a while and simply post the results on the Internet. Perfect digital copies to software communism is like a Star Trek food replicator to traditional communism.
  • by micron (164661) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @02:34PM (#9950894)
    I am not trying to start a flame here, just want to state issues that I have with Linux from a small business owner standpoint.

    Keep in mind, there are a lot of small business owners out there running machines. It is a huge market.

    Also, a small business owner has a business to run, and does not have time to mess with keeping computers operational.

    Here are the issues:

    1) Linux is no cheaper than Windows for my size of operation. I am not going to mess with building my OS, I want it off the shelf.
    2) There are fewer Linux support folks out there. They cost me more. Simple economics.
    3) When I want to buy new hardware, how the heck do I know if I can get driver support from Linux? Any hardware I look at tells me on the box if it will work with Windows or not. In all fairness, this is getting better with the large name vendors like HP and IBM.
    4) Application software. Just about any accountant that I can find knows plenty of accounting packages that run on Windows. The Linux options are a lot fewer and far between. Finding a local accountant that knows them is even harder. Personally, I don't want to change accountants just to change accounting software.
    5) The GOOD news is that applications like OpenOffice are good enough. I don't like them as much as Office, but they are good enough to get the job done. However, the temps you can hire usually know Office, they don't know OpenOffice. I am sure that time will fix this one.

    In a nutshell, Linux handles the technical issues well. It has a LONG way to go on the usabilty and integration fronts.
  • by Austin Milbarge (723855) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @03:22PM (#9951436)
    It all comes down to the developers. Without better development tools software developers are going to steer clear of writing sophisticated GUI applications for Linux and are only going to continue writing console applications which have little or no appeal to the general public.

    Why do you think there are so many user friendly Windows applications out there? Because Microsoft has invested a lot of time and money creating development environents that are easy to learn and powerful to use. There is a common misconception that when a developer writes a program, he or she shouldn't mind working with arcane and complex build systems. I don't know about you but I'll take Visual Studio any day over vi or emacs.

    In my opinion (as a developer myself) programming is difficult enough and a good development environment is needed to keep the focus on developing the product at hand and not on worrying about which version of automake and autoconf is installed. This why there are so many third rate, unpolished apps in Linux.
  • by LukeTurner (803739) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @03:37PM (#9951604)
    Am I the only one who has a problem with shopping at WalMart? Sure, I could go buy a crap PC for a decent price, it has linux installed on it ... great. Your average linux user has no use for this, as the average linux user would prefer a better / more customized approach to hardware... Then you have your average shmuck walks in, thinks that they are getting some awsome deal. Boots up, and says "What the fuck is this?"... not seeing their standard windows UI. Probobly can't tell the difference between a exe and a linux binary package.... and thinks that he needs nortan on it. WHICH, after reading the manual and what not ... seeing "Linux", we either have people on linux message boards asking retarted questions .... or we just have more people pirating windows... or trying to take their hardware back.
  • Re:Lindows? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DunbarTheInept (764) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @03:52PM (#9951785) Homepage

    You don't need to be a plumber to use a toilet, why should you need to be a unix guru to use a computer?

    Would you like to have a toilet that was built under the false assumption it would never need a plumber, and therefore has no user-servicable parts inside, and thus when it backs up you are stuck with no recourse?

    Just like all toilets should be capable of being plumber-servicable even if you personally don't want to be that plumber, all computers should be capable of being programmer-servicable even if you personally don't want to be that programmer.

  • by i_should_be_working (720372) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @04:22PM (#9952159)
    Capitalism: It succeeds every time it's tried

    Where? Where has capitalism suceeded? In fact, where does a capitalist country even exist anywhere on the planet?

    America is certainly not a fully capitalist country just as the countries with the highest standards of living, such as Denmark, Sweden, or the Netherlands are not fully communist.
    If america were capitalist, I'd have had to pay for school from kindergarden till now. Scientists would have to sell inventions to generate revenue for research instead of getting grants from the government. The jobless would be left to starve instead of getting welfare. That's succeeding?

    True capitalism is just as brutal as communism could ever be. Lucky for us that we've adopted many socialist ideals like free education, subsidized health care, labor unions, child labor laws, limited hour work week, welfare, etc., all of which are in direct contradiction to capitalism. If the true capitalists of the previous two centuries had had their way we would have none of these things.
  • You sure? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by beakburke (550627) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @05:05PM (#9952700) Homepage
    " Socialism is of course just capitalism with some additional wealth redistribution."

    You sure? I always thought of socialism as the ideal, but communism is the logical implementation. What you call socialism is more like quasi-socialism, or in professional speak, it's referred to as a "mixed economy". Which is what every realworld economy is, it's just as question of the level of the mix.

  • Re:Irony (Score:3, Insightful)

    by beakburke (550627) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @05:16PM (#9952822) Homepage
    The joke/irony is that "domination" is inherently impossible in an open system since it removes more barriers to entry than any other system. If you have an itch you can't scratch you pay someone to do it for you, just like you do now. It's called a service economy. Software is much better as a service, both for the buyer and seller, given the nature of the "product". Software is never truly "done" and the service model fits this much better.

    Example. Redhat EL isn't a product, anyone can take the bits for free, it's a service. They wrap the bits for you and make the updates available in a convenient form. They provide a certain amount of verification and support for a "standardized" platform. So what happens to guys writing the bits? It would be prudent for the service companies to employ them so as to better serve their customers.

  • Ouch... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by clubin (542806) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @08:37PM (#9954480)
    "The sinister plan for world domination is right on schedule."

    Sinister is right. Where do my career ambitions go when software becomes a free commodity?
  • by Slime-dogg (120473) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @09:04PM (#9954665) Journal

    Take another look at the meaning of communism before you object. Soviet "communism" is not communism at all, rather it is/was a form of totalitarianism... only in large body-governmental form instead of human.

    Communism is different, since there is not supposed to be a body of government, ideally. Think of the communal farms, where everyone does their share of the work, and everyone profits from eachother's work. It's a form of subservience to everyone else. This is what the original hope of communism was, but that form is way to easy for greedy individuals to take advantage of. Remember "Animal Farm," which elaborates on this.

    At MS, you can't just spend their money, but you can make the choice of working there. You can't choose what to work on, but you can offer your wares (in the form of sweat-shop slavery), and hope that the consumer (MS) decides to promote you. In the end, you do get a measure of responsibility. Of course, it's typically a matter of "Only the strong or ruthless survive," and you don't necessarily get the "good" people in the important positions.

Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurence of the improbable. - H. L. Mencken

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