Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Microsoft Linux Business Software IT Linux

Microsoft Advised To Learn To Love Linux 418

Posted by Hemos
from the start-facing-up-to-it dept.
mikael writes "ZDnet is reporting that the management guru Clayton Christensen (author of "The Innovator's Dilemma") has advised Microsoft to learn to love Linux. In particular he advises Microsoft to purchase "Research in Motion", otherwise they will see their applications sucked off from the desktop and onto handheld devices such as the Blackberry."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Microsoft Advised To Learn To Love Linux

Comments Filter:
  • by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Monday October 18, 2004 @08:04AM (#10555101) Homepage Journal
    Microsoft already loves Linux.

    They bought SCO didn't they?
  • by Dante Shamest (813622) on Monday October 18, 2004 @08:06AM (#10555109)
    Microsoft's revenues/profits have been positive so far. Maybe they will face "oblivion"...but not in this decade.
    • by DaHat (247651) on Monday October 18, 2004 @08:10AM (#10555134) Homepage
      Agreed, at times people seem to think that Microsoft could just implode one day due to a bad business decision and almost immediately cease to exist.

      People seem to forget that if Microsoft were to completely pull out of the Operating System, Office, games and internet markets (and just about everything else) and devote themselves to say... selling sol.exe (Solitaire for the non windows persons) for a dozen different platforms... even without a single sale, the pile of cash they are sitting on, in addition to their assets would be sufficient to keep them afloat for many many years.
      --
      • The trouble with a "pile of cash" is that unless you are paying dividends and/or getting good stock growth, investors will start looking at it.
        • by Spoing (152917) on Monday October 18, 2004 @08:59AM (#10555394) Homepage
          1. The trouble with a "pile of cash" is that unless you are paying dividends and/or getting good stock growth, investors will start looking at it.

          Exactly. This is also one of the main reasons for Microsoft and many other companies doing really dumb things for short term gains.

        • REALITY CHECK (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 18, 2004 @09:09AM (#10555463)
          Here is a reality check for you guys caught in the Slashdot distortion field:

          - Microsoft had 36.8 BILLION dollars in revenue last year (up from 32 BILLION the year before)
          - Microsoft had 8.6 BILLION dollars in NET PROFIT last year (I wish I could fail that much)
          - Microsoft has 70 BILLION dollars of cash
          - Microsoft has seen revenue and profit growth for every year of their existence

          Thank You. Now wake up.
      • by Kippesoep (712796) on Monday October 18, 2004 @08:41AM (#10555284) Homepage
        Considering how many people use their PC for the sole purpose of playing Solitaire, it might actually be a viable business model.
      • by strider44 (650833) on Monday October 18, 2004 @08:54AM (#10555376)
        That pile of cash can be wittled away very quickly if they aren't just forced to not sell anything, but are forced to fight a losing marketing battle which, again, can get extremely expensive.

        None-the-less you're right - Microsoft won't burn in a day.
      • by Richard W.M. Jones (591125) <rich@annexia. o r g> on Monday October 18, 2004 @09:48AM (#10555743) Homepage

        People seem to forget that if Microsoft were to completely pull out of the Operating System, Office, games and internet markets (and just about everything else) and devote themselves to say... selling sol.exe (Solitaire for the non windows persons) for a dozen different platforms... even without a single sale, the pile of cash they are sitting on, in addition to their assets would be sufficient to keep them afloat for many many years.

        Not true at all. If Microsoft did this, their shareholders would demand the cash pile be given back to them immediately. If they didn't comply, the investors would get rid of the board and install another one with a sensible business plan. Microsoft could well implode under such extreme conditions.

        Rich.

      • by einhverfr (238914) <chris.travers@gm ... om minus painter> on Monday October 18, 2004 @11:53AM (#10556655) Homepage Journal
        Agreed, at times people seem to think that Microsoft could just implode one day due to a bad business decision and almost immediately cease to exist.

        I think that Microsoft *as we know it* could implode one day doe to a bad business decision. Does this mean that they will still be making software? Don't know....

        People seem to forget that if Microsoft were to completely pull out of the Operating System, Office, games and internet markets (and just about everything else) and devote themselves to say... selling sol.exe (Solitaire for the non windows persons) for a dozen different platforms... even without a single sale, the pile of cash they are sitting on, in addition to their assets would be sufficient to keep them afloat for many many years.

        The business has decided to give away a large portion of its cash pile to its stockholders in the form of a buyback program and a huge dividend.

        That is not to say that Microsoft could not sustain their operations for a long time via debt financing...

        Now, the software suffers from an extreme economy of scale (variable costs are very low, fixed costs are very high), so if sales of Windows start to fall, it impact's Microsoft's budget really fast. THey are still forecasting something like 6% growth next year. But what happens if they end up losing market share to Linux? They can afford to cut prices *now* without endangering their operations, but if they lose market share this will not necessarily be the case.

        Microsoft is under attack from multiple angles from rapidly maturing and credible compeition: OpenOffice, Linux, etc. These programs threaten their conjoined twin cash cows of Windows and Office. And if they can get 30% of the market (assuming no market growth), they will render Windows and Office unprofitable at current prices and budgets. Even half that would cut their profit by 50%. Now if the market grows those numbers grow with it, of course. At that point, Microsoft can either increase prices (damage their competitivity) or cut costs (pay programmers less and spend less on marketing, thus damaging their competitivity).

        At this point, I do not see a long-term future for Windows in the face of Linux. And by the time Longhorn ships, we may be at a critical point.
      • If you read the Clayton's book you would have read examples where companies have blown billions of dollars trying to grow. If investors start abandoning the company then the management will start to flail and that's when mistakes get made and billions are flushed down the drain in bad aquisitions, entering into goofy markets etc.

        MS has been successful in leveraging their desktop monopoly into a monopoly on office software but they failed miserably in leveraging it into a monopoly on server, internet, consu
      • by HeyLaughingBoy (182206) on Monday October 18, 2004 @12:59PM (#10557205)
        True. But other people seem to forget that Microsoft does not exist in a vacuum. If investors see a sudden drop in income with no end in sight, they'll abandon Microsoft in droves. People don't invest in corporations "because it's there;" they do so to make a good return on that investment.

        The company itself may stay afloat and pay its bills, but that doesn't matter to anyone except the employees. MS has always positioned itself as a growth company. That's changing, and they know it.
    • Hi Dante -

      What Christen has demonstrated in his research, is that innovative companies have an unfortunate tendency to hold onto their existing business and an unwillingness to "eat their own young".

      While this doesn't lead to an immediate collapse, it does impact them negatively and once the downward spiral starts, it can go very fast.

      Yours,

      Jordan
    • RTFB (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mangu (126918) on Monday October 18, 2004 @08:59AM (#10555393)
      If you read Christensen's fine book, you'll see that Microsoft is acting *exactly* as predicted. So did all the other companies mentioned in "The Innovator's Dilemma". And that's what makes it a dilemma. Why should a company abandon its business to start on another, apparently less lucrative line, which offers less utility to the company's clients?


      Well, Christensen argues, according to many examples in many fields, ranging from excavating equipment to department stores, the new businesses, despite being apparently inferior in some ways, will end in dominating the whole field. That happens because the new way of doing business will evolve faster than the old, established way. Why evolve, if it's the best and most lucrative way? And, when the old managers wake up, it's too late.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Yeah, I really wonder if the author of the article did any research on the subject before he started writing.

      MS is putting a lot of effort into getting their software on handheld devices. There's:

      As you can see, Microsoft is already pretty serious about getting their software onto handheld devices. Their marketing department also seems to have done a

    • by DenDave (700621) on Monday October 18, 2004 @09:48AM (#10555747)
      You may be right. However, just imagine for one second that a serious competitor succeeds in taking over 50% of the desktop market. How much in terms of annual revenue will Microsoft have to "make-up" with alternative business in order to uphold it's credit rating and cashflow? Billions, you are correct in assuming. How easy is it to come up with a business plan that can generate billions within the short to medium run? Not!

      Unless you play dirty, and by dirty I mean attempt to gain control of consumer behaviour in a proprietary sense, that is. to proprietarize behaviour that is currently non-propriety.

      You have guessed it: entertainement. Microsoft is aware of the potential revenue loss due to encraoching platforms and wishes to maintain revenue by getting control over music and movies and forcing it's proprietary format to maintain billions in revenue..

    • by Foofoobar (318279) on Monday October 18, 2004 @09:52AM (#10555786)
      Truly fascinating when you consider that they had to cut millions from employee benefits in order to declare a profit last quarter. Speaking as a someone who works across the street from them and whose company depends on them directly for 90% of their business, these guys are bleeding all over the floor. Sure they are an 8,000 lb gorilla but even they are not filled with an unlimited blood supply.

      But that's not the problem. The problem is that people in the industry have just seen Linux and Open Source strike that blow and are now realizing that if they ever questioned Microsoft's leadership, they have a new ally... and an ally that has the ability to hurt Microsoft. Camp lines are being drawn and the gorilla is hurt. This is when he's the most dangerous of course.

      Of course, OOS and Linux have not yet achieved maturity but they have established unbreakable inroads so even if the gorilla wa able to stave them off, they could not truly reduce the size and interest in it at this point.

      Open source effectively checkmates Microsoft's 8000 lb gorilla; Because Microsoft is heavily reliant upon maintaining a shrinking monopoly, they must focus all their energies on keeping it from growing.

      The patent wars have already begun and they will wage for probably another 10 years and there is only one obvious way to go and that is a better patent process and the negation of existing patents. This will strike a SERIOUS blow to Microsoft and the best that they can hope for is to influence the process because by this point, supporters of OOS and Linux will effectively have a greater combined strength.

      Microsoft's best hope is to entrench themselves in the desktop. As programming evolves, people will be spending far less time making products work together and more time building tools using tools (rather than the raw materials of machine language, etc). As a direct result of this, people will be developing for solely for environments. We already see this now with .NET and LAMP in that people are using tools built to interact with each other and to help them build other tools that can effectively communicate unhindered in a specific environment.

      By focusing on the desktop alone (and abandoning the server market), Microsoft can force Linux developers and supporters to focus their attention on the server side and while they fight amongst themselves for dominance, Microsoft can effectively move away from the server market and further entrench themselves in the desktop market/environment and effectively split computer science education into server side development and client side development.

      Microsoft DOES need to embrace the inevitable otherwise risk losing it all. But they must also throw out a large enough bone for the open source community to fight over to effectively remove their attention from their combined enemy and allow Microsoft to steal one last toy and make their getaway.

      • by mforbes (575538) on Monday October 18, 2004 @11:00AM (#10556262)

        You don't say it in so many words, but from your post I get the feeling that you're under the impression that Linux is effecting the total number of copies of Windows sold. I doubt this is true-- the raw number keeps going up. It's the proportion of the market that uses Windows that's going down, if only so slightly yet, as many people switch to Linux. The profits, however, are made on the total number of copies sold, not the market share.

        My apologies if that's not what you intended to say. I don't mean this post to be argumentative.

        • by _Sprocket_ (42527) on Monday October 18, 2004 @01:01PM (#10557222)


          It's the proportion of the market that uses Windows that's going down, if only so slightly yet, as many people switch to Linux. The profits, however, are made on the total number of copies sold, not the market share.


          Then why do so many people care about market share?

          Microsoft's profits on per-unit sales of Windows is debatable. Keep in mind how fluid pricing is for large customers. Also keep in mind what came to light about OEM pricing from "Windows Refund Day" and Microsoft's court battles. The sale of Windows isn't important.

          What is important is the USE of Windows. Microsoft needs a (somewhat) homogenous platform that they control. This enables them to push their techical agenda (which in itself isn't a bad thing). Doing this not only enables them to develop technology on their own terms, but it helps ensure its THEIR products being deployed. But it's not the per-unit sale of enterprise applications either. It's licensing. Enter the CAL (Client Access License). A server application that might cost a few thousand may end up generating millions in user licensing.

          The key to that money is becoming the gatekeeper. Once one is in such a position, every user is a nominal fee. And those fees add up. If you look at Microsoft's new businesses... from the Xbox to .Net / Passport to DRM... it's all about being the gatekeeper. And to do that, you need people to use your gate.
      • More than Linux's actual presence is it's implication that standards should all be open. Something that Mac has embraced as have many app developers for Windows.

        Microsoft's software isn't what perpetuates it's monopoly it's their utter disregard for interoperability something that companies like IBM, and other's are pushing really really hard right now.

        The sad thing is that Microsoft never acheived total standardization, their products didn't have perfect backwards compatability and therefore customers
    • No what will happen is they will insist on building everything with Windows software, so their margins will be weak or non-existant on many products. This will mean Office and Windows remain expensive as these are their means of raising revenue (to cover the losses).

      So basically they'll never move beyond the Windows/Office market (which is saturated already).

      Anyway, I don't want them to embrace Linux, I want them to fail. They've abused their dominance and deserve to decline.
  • Ahhh (Score:5, Funny)

    by gowen (141411) <gwowen@gmail.com> on Monday October 18, 2004 @08:06AM (#10555113) Homepage Journal
    they will see their applications sucked off from the desktop
    Wow. Now that would be some innovative internet pr0n.
    • Re:Ahhh (Score:3, Funny)

      by Idarubicin (579475)
      they will see their applications sucked off from the desktop
      Wow. Now that would be some innovative internet pr0n.

      Clippy getting a blowjob. Thanks. That's just the image I need in my mind.

  • by jordandeamattson (261036) <jordandm&gmail,com> on Monday October 18, 2004 @08:07AM (#10555121) Homepage
    As someone who has read much of Christensen's work, I am not surprised that he would make this suggestion (and I agree with it), but I am excited to see it out in public...

    I agree with him that the greatest threat that Microsoft faces is the unwillingness to destroy its existing business to create a new business.

    Why won't Microsoft bring Office to Linux? Because that would undercut the Windows business.

    Why hasn't Microsoft gone ahead with a truly revolutionary approach to a MediaPlayer or Handheld? Because that would undercut the Windows business.

    It is about keeeping the Windows business going. Think about it, how many differnet flavors of "Windows" have we seen for totally different uses and platforms?

    Yours,

    Jordan
    • by tarunthegreat2 (761545) on Monday October 18, 2004 @08:13AM (#10555154)
      Why won't Microsoft bring Office to Linux? Because that would undercut the Windows business.

      Hafta take issue here....umm.. do you actually think that anybody in the Slashdot community would use Office if it were ported over to Linux? (I would, I don't mind Office as much as I dislike Windows, but I think I'm in a clear minority...)
      • by HBI (604924) <kparadine@@@gmail...com> on Monday October 18, 2004 @08:19AM (#10555183) Homepage Journal
        If Office were on Linux I could port all my end users to Linux without issue.

        OOO /Star/Koffice/whatever just aren't good enough to prevent the person proposing the change losing their job once the end users have trouble interoperating with Windows clients. If it's Office, just blame Microsoft and keep your job.

        And yes, I would keep a copy to stop from having to dual boot like I do now.

        • by prescot6 (731593) on Monday October 18, 2004 @08:31AM (#10555235)

          If Office were on Linux I could port all my end users to Linux without issue.

          I completely agree. Think about everything that your average user uses their computer for. You get internet/email and office, and a couple other programs such as Quicken... and games.

          If you have Office, it makes it so much easier for the user because instead of having to learn ALL new programs, they just have to use a different internet browser.

        • If Office were on Linux I could port all my end users to Linux without issue.

          If MS Office was ported to Linux, do you think it would operate in the same way? With the same features? I've seen other applications ported from Windows to Linux and the Linux version did not have nearly the same capabilities. For example, IM clients like AIM and Yahoo Messenger. The Linux ports of those apps are a bit different from the Windows versions. They may have less bugs (perhaps), but the application itself has a d

        • " If Office were on Linux I could port all my end users to Linux without issue."

          That's why Microsoft MUST make every program as monolithic as it can, in spite of all techical evidence that an opposite way would be simpler and cost effective.
          ...The trouble is programming costs are just too small in relation to revenue; this means that cutting programming costs by 5 % wouldn't be appreciated, whilst programming with a view to tie customers to the cash cow (office) is far more effective. It also sells bet
      • Lots of users would use MS Office because they're lazy and they know how to use it.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        I don't dislike MS Office either. I only dislike Micrsoft's practices, but not their products.
      • by gidds (56397) <slashdot.gidds@me@uk> on Monday October 18, 2004 @08:37AM (#10555267) Homepage
        Actually, the point is: how many Linux users would buy Office?

        Even in the Windows world, where users are used to paying exorbitant fees for software, Office would still be in trouble without OEM deals, bundling, and other reductions. Without those, and in a market used to getting software for free, the prospects can't look good...

        • The target group for any MS Office for Linux would be used to paying. The largest group is the corporate sector, where having your licenses in order is actually the norm, then not. How it fares for homeusers is something else. Some people do buy Office standalone, others pirate it, others can get it through their Office (that deal where you can install it on your home PC).

          If Office for Linux was out, I'd bet good money it would sell well.
      • do you actually think that anybody in the Slashdot community would use Office if it were ported over to Linux?

        Too late for me. I would have liked to use Microsoft Office ten years ago, but there was no version for AmigaOS. I probably couldn't have afforded it anyway, the price was pretty high for a highschool student. At the university using LaTeX was a requirement for some of our exercises. I still use LaTeX and is satisified with it. Plaintext works well with version control systems, and you don't have
      • by Devi0s (759123) on Monday October 18, 2004 @09:16AM (#10555509) Journal
        MS Office is the only tool that can correctly render *ALL* Microsoft Word .doc documents. Anyone who collaborates with clients by passing Microsoft Word .doc files around needs to use Office, with the exception of those who do not use custom templates or other Word features.

        In a recent thread about OpenOffice, (http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=04/10/13/13392 21&tid=185) I tried to summarize some of the major points that were repeatedly mentioned, and a major point was:

        OpenOffice's storage format is not .doc. Just like MS Word saves documents by defualt in it's (proprietary, closed-source) native format, .doc, to leverage all of Word's features (instead of .rtf or .xml or .sxw), OpenOffice needs to store documents in it's native (non-proprietary, open-source) format, .sxw, to leverage all of it's features.

        However, OpenOffice is a great tool to give to developers, IT staff, and anyone else that does not have to collaborate with clients, executives, and managers by passing around Word .doc files. A simple PDF of their sxw document will do and it's a hell of a lot cheaper (free).

        The lack of full .doc support in OpenOffice is one of about three remaining things that keeps me from moving to Linux in the workplace.

        2) Assonine developers that insist on perpetuating Microsoft's browser monopoly and closed standards that use Internet Explorer only technologies to deliver their content. (ActiveX tops my list here). Unfortunately, to do my business, I am unable to boycott all of these sites.

        3) The MS Exchange connector tools for Linux email clients are not yet capable of dealing with some of the features of Exchange / BackOffice that are leveraged by my employer.
        • As an IT manager, I've done a few things to try to whittle away at MS Office.

          1. Whenever a vendor sends me an MS-format file, I always send it back and ask for a portable format. Sure, I could open it with OOo, but these guys are trying to get me to give them money. They can work for it. And I do enjoy the confused reactions from salespeople who don't know that non-MS systems even exist.

          2. All desktops at my organization have OOo installed, even if MS Office is too. I can send out documents and kno
    • by DJ-Dodger (169589) on Monday October 18, 2004 @08:18AM (#10555174) Homepage
      How about: they won't bring Office to Linux because there aren't enough potential customers to justify the cost of the port?

      There may be more Linux users than Mac users now, but I believe and I'm sure their market research must show, that a much smaller percentage of Linux users would actually purchase and use Office.
  • Unpossible (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MadFarmAnimalz (460972) on Monday October 18, 2004 @08:09AM (#10555126) Homepage
    I almost feel sorry for Microsoft reading this article. He's right, and what's more I'd be surprised if many people at Microsoft didn't know it.

    But they can't; how precisely can Microsoft remain a profitable publicly traded company while embracing open source? Their software is all they have.

    IBM was in a fortunate position of being a major hardware vendor and therefore capable of switching revenue stream focus.

    But Microsoft?

    Can anyone else imagine Microsoft five years from now being known more and more as that company that makes really nice mice and peripherals?
    • Look at Novell? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by e6003 (552415) on Monday October 18, 2004 @08:21AM (#10555188) Homepage
      Netware (hammered throughout the 90s by Wintel servers) and Unixware (offloaded to Santa Cruz Operation after only about 3 years) was "all" that Novell had. They are going through a painful, but necessary and promising, transition into a software services company. I think the more accurate summation of MS' problem is that they've angered far too many people for far too long, and even if they take the Damascus road tomorrow they may find a severe lack of partners and customers would kill them instead.
      • Look at Mono?
        I figure that the whole point of standardizing .Net and getting Mono out there is to port Office to C# and, suddenly, when the big rock goes through Windows, you see a platform-agnostic Office release. Yes, you can run it on OSX, 'Doze, or Linux, no, you don't get no source code. Maybe sans Access.
        In other words, I think Mr. Softy has had the baleful eye on the wall for some time now, and steps are well underway to protect the soft, white underbelly.
    • Re:Unpossible (Score:5, Insightful)

      by JaredOfEuropa (526365) on Monday October 18, 2004 @08:24AM (#10555201) Journal
      But they can't; how precisely can Microsoft remain a profitable publicly traded company while embracing open source? Their software is all they have.
      The article suggests that Microsoft should embrace Linux, which has nothing to do with open source. Microsoft could, for instance, create a non-free, closed-source Linux version of Office to take advantage of that slice of the market. The main challenge for Microsoft would be the change in their business model; which is the fact that they can exploit the customers' dependance on Office and Windows to interoperate with other users. To communicate with others in the corporate world, you pretty much need MS. Office. And once you have learned to use that product at work, people naturally use it to work at home as well. And to run MS Office, you'll need Windows: that is what their business depends on.
    • Re:Unpossible (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Begemot (38841)
      Can anyone else imagine Microsoft five years from now being known more and more as that company that makes really nice mice and peripherals?

      Wishful thinking.

      What about this [microsoft.com], this [msn.com], this [microsoft.com], this [microsoft.com] ... oh well ... this [wikipedia.org]?
      • Re:Unpossible (Score:3, Insightful)

        by e6003 (552415)
        It's well known that 90% or more of MS' profit comes from Windows and Office. The other divisions you cite either lose money or just about break even/make a small profit (check MS' annual reports for full details). That profit isn't enough to keep the MS shareholders happy - yet a lot of MS' corporate debt is "hidden" in share options and they need to keep the share price high. A few months ago, MS had a higher market capitalisation (i.e. shares outstanding times share price) than IBM but which would you
  • 1st Article (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 18, 2004 @08:09AM (#10555128)
    Microsoft advised to learn to love Linux

    Martin LaMonica
    CNET News.com
    October 18, 2004, 09:40 BST

    A US management guru has advised Microsoft to acquire Research in Motion and pay closer attention to open-source projects on mobile devices, or face oblivion. Management guru Clayton Christensen has a paradoxical answer for Microsoft to the challenge posed by open source: invest in Linux applications for handheld devices. Christensen, an associate professor at Harvard Business School, is the author of the 1997 "Innovator's Dilemma," a book that describes how good companies often fail because business managers don't embrace "disruptive" technologies. Open source is a clear disruption to Microsoft and the software industry in general, Christensen told attendees at the Future Forward technology conference here on Thursday.

    "Where Linux takes root is in new applications, like Web servers and handheld devices. As those get better, applications will get sucked off the desktop onto the Internet, and that's what will undo Microsoft," he said. The software company can respond to this market disruption by setting up a separate business that will "kill Microsoft," Christensen said. If it doesn't react to the rise of Linux desktops on handheld computers, it will miss a coming wave of new applications and market opportunities, he said. Microsoft has already conceded that open-source software poses a significant challenge to its business. The company could not be immediately reached for comment on Christensen's remarks.

    Christensen has observed that companies regularly stumble when they follow the well-established management practices of planning and listening to customers. To succeed, companies should not only cater to customers and continue improving their existing products, he argues. They should also set up separate business units to capitalise on new technologies, even though these may be poor-quality, low-margin products. Digital Equipment, for example, grew rapidly in the late 1980s by selling mini computers, which were a simpler, lower-cost option to mainframes, he said. But when other PCs began to take hold, the company didn't pursue that market for economic reasons: PCs offered substantially lower profit margins and didn't meet the technical needs of existing mini-computer customers.

    In Microsoft's case, Linux applications on handheld devices are a threat to its lucrative business of selling desktop PC applications for its Windows operating system. "As computing becomes Internet-centric, rather than LAN (local-area network)-centric, their stuff runs on Linux, because it's all new," he said. He noted that people increasingly leave their laptop PCs at home when they travel and instead rely on handheld devices, such as Research In Motion's BlackBerry. Linux also provides a cheap, commoditylike alternative to Windows -- the basis of Microsoft's business. Although Linux didn't use to be as functional as Windows or Unix, adoption of the operating system grew rapidly because it met the needs of simple applications and is relatively cheap. A similar dynamic is now occurring in the database market with open-source products such as MySQL, Christensen said.

    Christensen said that Microsoft should move progressively into Linux applications over the next six or seven years, because that sector will offer better opportunities for growth than operating systems or databases. He suggested that Microsoft acquire Research In Motion to accelerate the move, rather than continue to invest in making Windows run better on handheld devices. "As the BlackBerry becomes more capable, applications will get sucked onto it. Those are kind of places where growth is," he said. "If Microsoft catches it, they'll be all right."
  • by DrXym (126579) on Monday October 18, 2004 @08:11AM (#10555139)
    Half-baked port of .NET to Linux w/ large licence costs. Half-baked port of various network management protocols such as WBEM, to allow Linux to be a node in network managed by XP. Re-animated mouldy, half-baked IE for Unix. New 'Services for Linux', half-baked Linux layer for NT. Ad Nauseum.

    All of the above will receive scant support and will be axed after one release. A MS spokesman will cite 'no interest' for the reason even though the half-baked, shitty software and uncertain future has more to do with it.

    • by korielgraculus (591914) on Monday October 18, 2004 @08:38AM (#10555268)
      Half-baked port of .NET to Linux w/ large licence costs.
      That would be Mono then.
      to allow Linux to be a node in network managed by XP.
      And that one would be Samba!
      New 'Services for Linux', half-baked Linux layer for NT.
      Or how about Services for UNIX? Already up to version 3.5. Apart from that a very reasoned out comment.
      • by DrXym (126579) on Monday October 18, 2004 @09:14AM (#10555492)
        Services for Unix is a BSD port. I'm speaking specifically of something which claims to run Linux software under XP. i.e. it works much like the Linux compatibility layer (lxrun) on SCO / Solaris.


        Such a thing is hardly insurmountable to do either, but I suspect if it ever did appear it would be buggered up beyond recognition (e.g. not supporting the LSB properly). I base my experiences on the SFU which is traumatic to install and lacklustre to run in equal measure. Cygwin beats the living crap out of it.


        Of course if Microsoft had a clue about doing this properly, they'd try to make User Mode Linux working on top of XP. Done properly it would be less traumatic to install, would be self contained, would be as-near-as-dammit a true Linux environment and might earn them a few brownie points in the process.

  • by nmoog (701216) on Monday October 18, 2004 @08:12AM (#10555145) Homepage Journal

    But it seems wierd that the guest speaker at an event hosted by Research In Motion [rim.net] would advise Microsoft to purchase Research in Motion.

    That seems a little, um, strange.

  • Two bits (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 18, 2004 @08:13AM (#10555152)
    1) MS Linux exists, and has existed, for a while. It'll appear whenever there's a business need for it.

    2) What's stopping MS from having a non-GPL applications layer which enables them to deply Office and whatever they'd want on THEIR linux. Assume they'd charge a little under the standard distro's, or even include it in the cost of Office for Linux.

    The only hassle will be hiding the DRM for said Office where it can't be seen/modified - so it can't go in the kernel, etc. Could a binary loadable MS Driver do this for them?

    • Re:Two bits (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      MS Linux already exists http://www.mslinux.org/ [mslinux.org]
      Been out for almost a year!!!
    • Re:Two bits (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Alomex (148003) on Monday October 18, 2004 @09:38AM (#10555667) Homepage
      MS Linux exists, and has existed, for a while. It'll appear whenever there's a business need for it.

      You really need to read Clayton Christensen's book. In it he describes how the old technology company keeps on asking its customers "do you need this new technology (e.g. Linux)" and the customers keep on saying no, we don't, because the new technology is so disruptive that it comes with its own set of customers.

      For example while M$ is busy asking corporate IT if they want Linux and OpenOffice instead of WinXP and MS Office, and they keep on hearing that no, they don't.

      Meanwhile average joe blow keeps on buying RIM blacberry's at a rate of a million per quarter, and suddenly you have a widely deployed platform. And yes, it turns out joe blow does want Linux and OpenOffice in his blackberry.

      So the "business need" never arose. M$ customers never asked for it. It was the non-customers who took over.

    • Re:Two bits (Score:3, Insightful)

      by BigGerman (541312)
      why exactly would they need "a non-GPL applications layer"?
      GPL in Linux only applies to the modifications to OS itself. Tons of companies release commercial soft for Linux: Oracle, BEA, ... Nothing prevents MS from releasing Office for Linux if and when they decide it is good thing to do market-wise.
      And it would not be hard technically because the y produce native ports of their soft to OS X every day.
  • by MadMirko (231667) on Monday October 18, 2004 @08:13AM (#10555155)
    It's an obvious business tactic to mimic a competitor if he is successful. Microsoft has done that before, and still does: Look at their Monad shell, which is designed by a team with an extensive Unix background. Microsoft is slowly testing the open source waters (f. ex. FlexWiki).

    It's not like another poster said that they fear it would undercut their Windows business. Why would there be an Office for Mac?

    So in conclusion, thanks for telling me the world isn't flat, Mr. Christensen
    • by Anonymous Coward
      MS needs a competitor they can point to and say "see, we're not a monopoly". Apple has done this "service" for years, and I see them continuing to do so as long as MS has any fear from monopoly proceedings (and as long as MS Office pays its way and then some).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 18, 2004 @08:14AM (#10555159)
    ...microsoft is about to show you some hard lovin'
  • Early days yet (Score:5, Insightful)

    by delta_avi_delta (813412) <dave.murphy@ g m a il.com> on Monday October 18, 2004 @08:15AM (#10555160)
    While I think this is encouraging, I feel that it's a little alarmist: Microsoft still have an incredible monopoly. Of you non-techie friends (if you have any unconverted) how many *don't* run Windows? How many are terrified by the prospect of having to learn something other than Windows? How many think that Windows, OfficeXP, IE, and Outlook are the only applications they need, apart from games, which lets face it, are mostly written for Windows.

    I think Microsoft would have to play a lot of consecutive bad hands before they'll cede their desktop stranglehold.
    • Re:Early days yet (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Alomex (148003)
      While I think this is encouraging, I feel that it's a little alarmist: Microsoft still have an incredible monopoly. Of you non-techie friends (if you have any unconverted) how many *don't* run Windows?

      Disruptive technologies creep on you very fast. One day they are laggards offering much inferior products and competing against well established monopolies, and then a few years later the old monopoly is gone and the new technology has taken over.

      All your comments above applied equally to IBM. They had an
  • by e6003 (552415) on Monday October 18, 2004 @08:16AM (#10555165) Homepage
    History is full of companies who fell out of the limelight because they couldn't or wouldn't adapt to new technology. One is happening right now as Kodak struggles to remain relevant in the world of digital photography (and it seems to me, they are trying to earn money from "traditional" photographic services such as printing, applied to digital photography - I'm not sure this will be successful). Where are all the typewriter manufacturers in a world of word processing? Despite the FUD and lock-in tactics (tactics that are becoming less and less successful with each iteration IMO), the same fate awaits Microsoft it they refuse to adapt. In contrast, look at IBM - in hibernation throughout much of the 1990s but emerging ready to do business with open source - and that's just one example of how they've adapted over the course of their history. Gates and Ballmer would do well to study this.
    • Re: Not Adapting? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Hassman (320786)
      But aren't they adapting? Here are some of their major complaints:

      1) Criticized of security problems
      -- Put a team of developers on making XP more secure. Release SP2 with focus on security. It isn't perfect, and there are still flaws, but they are listening to the critics and working on the public's number 1 concern. I believe we'll see Longhorn as a very secure. Does that mean it will be full-proof? No, that would be impossible, but I do think that it will be much, much better. After all, Linux
      • Re: Not Adapting? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by e6003 (552415)
        I mean, not adapting as in sticking to the model of proprietary software that may have served them well for 15 years, but is now becoming unmanageable. You cite the security issues and the steps they are taking to address them - I think this is a symptom of a much bigger problem, namely that Windows is now too big a project to manage in house. CPU power doubles every 18-24 months (a la Moore's Law) and that means your software has to increase in complexity to take full advantage of it - distributing this
  • by njdj (458173) on Monday October 18, 2004 @08:21AM (#10555186)
    The article seems confused. Microsoft is advised to develop Linux apps and "in particular" go for the Blackberry.

    But Research In Motion's Blackberry is not any kind of free-software platform. It runs yet another proprietary operating system, requiring (at the moment) proprietary development tools. It has nothing to offer over Windows CE (except possibly quality of implementation).

  • by xRelisH (647464) on Monday October 18, 2004 @08:26AM (#10555212)
    keep their RIM jobs?
  • by jbeaupre (752124) on Monday October 18, 2004 @08:51AM (#10555357)
    Take what Christensen says with a grain of salt. I used to admire Clayton Christensen, but over time found he was more business pop culture than substance. John Dvorak put it better than I could when he wrote a piece ome time back http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1759,1628049,00.as p [pcmag.com] Christensen's 15 minutes is up. Back to business.
    • by MooseByte (751829)

      "John Dvorak put it better than I could when he wrote a piece ome time back"

      I disagree - that link sounds like more of Dvorak talking out his ass again. Example:

      "The closest Christensen comes to a real disruptive technology is digital photography. But it was invented in 1972 and has never been "cheaper" than film."

      In what universe? The Land That Time Forgot? My digital camera saved me more than the cost of the camera itself within 6 months of purchasing it! The cost of a 36-exposure roll of film

      • by eclectro (227083)
        Dvorak can be off the wall occasionally, but I would not go so far as to say he is a gasbag. Taking what he says with a grain of salt, I have never found him annoying either.

        It's worth putting up with the occasional rant as he can be prophetic.

        Back in the day there was a time when every single pc on this earth was beige, the internet was being written in cern, and there was no modding to speak of.

        He predicted that colored and decorated computers would become popular. Obvious now, but I didn't see how it
  • by vettemph (540399) on Monday October 18, 2004 @09:18AM (#10555523)
    Please don't give microsoft any survival tips.
    signed,
    A guy who does not miss macro viruses. (or any viruses for that matter.)
  • by slashzero (524681) on Monday October 18, 2004 @09:26AM (#10555570)
    If Microsoft really wanted to get rid of Linux they should do exactly what they did to Java. Create a horrible version of Linux. Release it as an easy to use Microsoft branded version of Linux but purposely cripple it. People that don't know any better will try to use it. They'll notice that it's doesn't work as good as Windows (Due to the crippling by MS) Microsoft will then say that it's not their fault, it's innate to Linux then everyone will run back to Windows and believe that Linux is innately broken just like Java.
  • by museumpeace (735109) on Monday October 18, 2004 @09:49AM (#10555756) Journal
    Their products do have something in common [com.com]
  • by redelm (54142) on Monday October 18, 2004 @10:05AM (#10555882) Homepage
    Sure, MSFT could buy RIM. A Bush FTC might even let them, even though they are an adjudged monopolist and they are looking to extend their monopoly by eliminating/controlling a competitor.

    But portible devices are just too popular, and someone else will step up. There may be some patents to get around, but MSFT might face an anti-trust suit if it tried to enforce them.

  • by Riktov (632) on Monday October 18, 2004 @10:47AM (#10556168) Journal
    So, um, when do they love you?
  • What if.... (Score:3, Informative)

    by David Horn (772985) <david@nOspaM.pocketgamer.org> on Monday October 18, 2004 @11:07AM (#10556295) Homepage
    What if Microsoft decided to put some support behind Linux? Suppose they take the current source, fix the issues, get decent drivers and make it look pretty. They then slap their logo on it and release it. (Either by download or sticking it on a CD and charging for it.)

    OK, they've lost money on it. But if they suddenly switch half the Linux community to Microsoft Linux (never thought I'd say those two words together!) they then control that market too.

  • in a nutshell (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cabazorro (601004) on Monday October 18, 2004 @11:45AM (#10556601) Homepage Journal
    To put it succintly.
    Linux is to Microsoft today
    what Microsoft was to IBM/OS in the 80's:

    A cheap low quality alternative.

    Seems fate is not without a sense of irony.
  • Strategy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SamMichaels (213605) on Monday October 18, 2004 @11:54AM (#10556672)
    Perhaps they're realizing that they should listen to the old saying:

    Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.
  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Monday October 18, 2004 @11:55AM (#10556677) Homepage
    Available candidates:

    Christensen tells you not to listen to your customers too much.

    Drucker says that above all you must listen to your customers.

    Peters says you must have a corporate culture in place and it's more important that you follow the values of the corporate culture than what those values happen to be.

    I'm afraid I don't remember the name of the current that stress how vital it is to deliberately piss off and drive away the customers that are costing you money (e.g. by asking for tech support)...

    Whatever you feel like doing with your customers, you can find a management "expert" to back you up.
  • by eyepeepackets (33477) on Monday October 18, 2004 @12:31PM (#10556963)
    I for one don't welcome our (potential) new Microsoft overlords -- everything they touch turns into poor quality crap. That's why I started running Linux in the first place, I needed something that was reliable and just plain worked day after week after month after year.

    The IT guys where I work have figured it out: The only way to keep Microsoft products stable and secure is to run them as little as possible and to severely restrict what can be run and where they can go. Even then most of IT's time is spent trying to keep the Windows boxes working. Why? Because Microsoft makes and markets garbage, it's their business model: Just good enough to get the cash from the suckers who are fooled by a pretty GUI. Make the user sign a EULA agreeing that Microsoft isn't responsible for the poor quality of the product and ...profit!

    The only thing Microsoft should be doing in the future is pushing up the proverbial daisy. A fitting end considering that is what Windows machines do best: Sing Daisy.

Everything that can be invented has been invented. -- Charles Duell, Director of U.S. Patent Office, 1899

Working...