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Could Microsoft Buy Red Hat? 572

Posted by timothy
from the sure-they-could dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Various news sources including ZDnet are today reporting that Microsoft is considering buying out Red Hat, speculating that 'Microsoft could see Red Hat's acquisition as a nice way to undermine IBM, but might not consider that a sufficient reason to do it,' adding that Red Hat is however '...a company that wants to be Microsoft and, like Microsoft, makes its living packaging and selling other people's ideas.'" That description seems to miss the key point that Red Hat releases the software they package and sell as Free software, and that both companies pay coders to create and improve software in the first place.
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Could Microsoft Buy Red Hat?

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  • I don't think so... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bananahead (829691) * on Monday May 16, 2005 @02:23PM (#12545629) Journal
    This is just not going to happen. The Executive team at Microsoft is so focused on taking on and taking out Linux that this would be laughed out of the room for the following reasons:

    1. It would be seen as an admission that the Windows Server technology is not what it is cracked up to be, and be read by the market as such. The immediate impact to the server business would be significant, and it is the only segment at Microsoft that is growing.

    2. It would be seen as an admission that Linux MIGHT have some redeeming qualities, something that the Executive team at Microsoft has been avoiding at all costs. Just like Hertz and Avis, #1 should NEVER acknowledge #2 in the market.

    3. It would dramatically confuse the market at a time when Microsoft is trying very hard (read $100M+ marketing) to win the server space and defend the desktop.

    You may not like Microsoft, but they don't tend to make really stupid mistakes, and this would be one. It just ain't gonna happen.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 16, 2005 @02:25PM (#12545661)
      Or perhaps they could buy them out to shut them down?
      • by ZephyrXero (750822) <zephyrxero AT yahoo DOT com> on Monday May 16, 2005 @02:36PM (#12545806) Homepage Journal
        Same thing I was thinking...

        Being that Red Hat is one of the largest financial contributors to Linux and open source, Microsoft buying them and cutting that funding would take a huge chunk out of who they see as their only real threat at market dominance, the open/free community.
        • by Anonymous Coward
          They would also be able to use contracts to hold hostage Alan Cox and the majority of the other top kernel contributors.
          • i'd guess that anybody working at redhat (eg. alan cox) would quit, they wouldn't have a hard time getting jobs at suse (especially since suse would take that opportunity to grow into redhats market)
            • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 16, 2005 @04:27PM (#12547116)
              RedHat has all of their developers sign agreements with very interesting & strict terms. I've signed 2 of them in the past 3 years (changed projects). It's an understatement to say that they will not be quitting and working for suse any time soon.
              • by alw53 (702722) on Monday May 16, 2005 @04:44PM (#12547323)
                Microsoft hired some of Borland's developers at twice their salary and then put them on extended vacations, just to screw up development at Borland. I wonder if Alan Cox's contract prohibits him from
                retiring in exchange for 200K/year from Microsoft?

                ------

                Of course, like everything that Microsoft does, this was done by mistake, by a renegade executive, the dog ate the email server, it's not corporate policy.
        • by 0x461FAB0BD7D2 (812236) on Monday May 16, 2005 @02:43PM (#12545895) Journal
          And then the RH executives who lost their jobs as a result of the shutdown should just make a new company, with the same, or similar, products.

          How does Microsoft win?
        • by LnxAddct (679316) <sgk25@drexel.edu> on Monday May 16, 2005 @03:26PM (#12546389)
          Exactly... people dont realize how much Red Hat does for the community. Most distros just package up pre-existing software and bundle it in an easy to use way. Red Hat actually writes the stuff and pays a lot of devlopers a lot of money to do it. They've contributed far more code then any other entity in the kernel, they also nearly completely coded all of Gnome except for a few tidbits here and there (they even host Gnome.org) They've done wonders for Open Office on linux, including coding GCJ so that all the java components for OO.o could be compiled natively and distributed without a JVM.(They also played a big role in getting OO.o to use native widgets) Red Hat coders also do a hell of a lot of coding for Apache and make major advancements in all sorts of areas like File Systems and enterprise stability. They were a key force in getting SELinux into the kernel, as well as coding most of the drivers that are used in your hardware, and are in large part a reason why linux is considered business ready today. Now they are pushing major advancements in Linux's graphics capabilities and giving it a modern day desktop with modern day capabilites. The list could go on for quite a bit longer but I think I'll stop there. For all the knocking that people do of Red Hat, they sure as hell do alot for the community.
          Regards,
          Steve
      • by alexhs (877055)
        > Or perhaps they could buy them out to shut them down?

        How would react businesses currently using Red Hat ? Kindly switching to Windows ? I don't think so. They wouldn't be happy and would rather switch to either another Linux distro (like Suse) or another Unix vendor (like Sun).

        Microsoft can't possibly buy them all, and even if they were able to, they can't buy Linux (because of it's GPL nature), so new Linux distro would just appear. Would be somewhat like a wack-a-mole game...
      • by xQx (5744)
        I think America's (strange) anti-monopoly laws would be preventing Microsoft from purchasing redhat.

        Remember the hot water they were in with the DOJ late last decade because they owned too much of the software market and they were dragging out lines like 'apple / linux are a serious threat and have some of the market therefore we are not a monopoly therefore we are not guilty' ... Wouldn't it be a universally stupid move to buy out your only remaining serious competition (except for that apple stuff with a
    • by aralin (107264) on Monday May 16, 2005 @02:30PM (#12545738)
      The reason, why this is not going to happen is not the fact its a complete lunacy, but the fact that Microsoft already has a monopoly position in the market and has been convicted from abusing that position. Buying any company trying to create a competition in the PC Operating System market would be laughed out by the FTC. :)
      • by team99parody (880782) on Monday May 16, 2005 @02:43PM (#12545889) Homepage
        One more reason - They're much more likely to buy Sun first.

        Why?

        • Sun has valuable patents that fit Microsoft's new IP strategy.
        • The can get their 2 billion back from Sun that way.
        • Sun and Microsoft have a good working relationship; could be rephrased as McNealey makes Balmer Smile [slashdot.org]
        • and most importantly, it seems like McNealey wants to sell [slashdot.org]
        Buying RedHat wouldn't hurt IBM at all considering that they're at least as much a SuSE/Novell partner as they are a redhat partner.
        • On MSFT buying SUNW (Score:4, Interesting)

          by team99parody (880782) on Monday May 16, 2005 @02:45PM (#12545918) Homepage
          Another reason to buy Sun - Microsoft likes preaching about security, and Sun actually has a server line that can deliver there -- with even higher government certifications than any of today's linuxes.
          • by Tassach (137772) on Monday May 16, 2005 @03:13PM (#12546215)
            A MSFT-SUNW merger would be shot down by the FTC, and would be a bad move for MSFT, for the exact same reasons given against a MSFT-RHAT merger.

            MSFT has spent billions on marketing the idea that Windows is better in the server room than Unix and Linux. For them to turn around and buy a tier-1 Unix vendor would completely undermine that position. Likewise, Solaris is one of the few commercial OSes that can beat windows in the server room on technical merit, name recognition, and PHB appeal; for that reason it would be VERY unlikely that any merger would be approved.

            • Micosoft went into someone else yard (in this case the browser market,) and ended up using monopolistic, illegal anti-competitive marketing tactics until they dfecimated the opposition.

              They are planning to do the same thing with Linux. (They already tried to scare Linux users with SCO and it didn't work out too well.) They are going to 'improve' Linux until its dead as a door nail.

              If it not RedHat, it'll be some other player. Starting with RedHat is easier because they have the biggest client base.

              Then t
      • by geoffspear (692508) * on Monday May 16, 2005 @02:43PM (#12545890) Homepage
        You may recall that the decision to drop the monopoly case and not punish Microsoft for that conviction was made by the same administration of which the FTC is a part.

        I wouldn't count on regulators stopping Microsoft from acquiring a competitor any time soon if that's what they want to do.

      • Not a Bush FTC (Score:3, Interesting)

        by leftie (667677)
        Are you kidding? A Bush FTC won't do diddly-squat regarding enforcement of anti-trust laws.

        My suggestion is you guys re-examine your options regarding increasing your support of Debian.
    • by njvic (614279) on Monday May 16, 2005 @02:32PM (#12545755)
      Interesting, although I read this blog entry [ianmurdock.com] earlier and it is good food for thought.
    • by l2718 (514756) on Monday May 16, 2005 @02:33PM (#12545765)
      This is just not going to happen.

      Couldn't agree more. The Linux market offers little opportunities for complete domination. Moreover, could you really imagine Microsoft distributing software governed by the GPL after all the "viral code" FUD?

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 16, 2005 @02:39PM (#12545840)
        The Windows Services for Unix package includes GPL'ed code, including gcc.
      • by anonicon (215837) on Monday May 16, 2005 @03:23PM (#12546350)
        "The Linux market offers little opportunities for complete domination."

        In my uninformed opinion, if a company came out with a user-friendly Linux flavor that included all of the driver support of Windows, with none of virulent Linux zealot attitudes to go with it, it would totally dominate the consumer market.

        "Moreover, could you really imagine Microsoft distributing software governed by the GPL after all the "viral code" FUD?"

        Yes, and it would be easy since being two-faced isn't an issue for most companies. All they'd have to do is make the source available for download, and then sell their Linux products to that 90% of the consumer market that doesn't compile programs from source, and just wants to double-click a download to make it install.

        As for competition, sure, other programmers could run with the source, but could they make a professional-grade UI to stick on the front end, or are we talking the mid-90s UI of KDE 3.x? More importantly, how many developers would work with Microsoft source code, given the virulent anti-MS attitude of the Linux community?

        Frankly, if Microsoft entered Linux, I think the consumer market would embrace it big time to the tune of 15%-25% market share. Of course, who knows.

        Peace.
        • Perhaps the best troll I've seen, this.

          but could they make a professional-grade UI to stick on the front end, or are we talking the mid-90s UI of KDE 3.x?

          Because of course the Windows UI has moved ahead in leaps and bounds since the mid-90s. You look at a Win95 interface, and then at WinXP - well, you wouldn't think it was the same system at all!

    • by justanyone (308934) on Monday May 16, 2005 @02:33PM (#12545767) Homepage Journal
      ...an admission that the Windows Server technology is not what it is cracked up to be

      1. This could be viewed as a 'strategic acquisition' so as to provide 'leading edge technologies' from wherever they were. Then, they could release brain-dead and damaged versions of RedHat Linux that failed under certain conditions; ...that Linux MIGHT have some redeeming qualities...

      2. Admitting that Linux has redeeming qualities is not a problem given that the marketplace has already proved that. Like NASA's mantra, "Buy It and Kill It" (tm) would be an easy operation to undertake.

      It would dramatically confuse the market

      3. Dramatically confusing the market would work in Microsoft's favor. further, they would offer "upgrade paths" that start in Linux and go towards MS Server 2k3 in short order.

      As a way to reduce competition, this might make total sense. Yes, it would be profoundly evil, and the antitrust authorities might look at it that way, too, but given the Bush administration's justice dept., any challenge to (potential or actual) big money donors seems unlikely.
      • by MindStalker (22827) <mindstalker@@@gmail...com> on Monday May 16, 2005 @02:55PM (#12546044) Journal
        This would all make sense if RedHat could be purchased at a reasonable price. But right now RedHat is worth around 2 billion (they reported worth in their annual report of just over 1 billion based on at that time stock value or 7.25, stock is now 12.55, of course MS just needs to purchase a majority share.. And I'm not going to dig through their annual report that deeply.

        Anyways most of what is RedHat is a free open-source program. So what would Microsoft be buying.
        1. A building.
        2. Its Employees (many of which would jump ship)
        3. Some private code
        4. The name (would would immediently be destroyed in many peoples eyes when Microsoft buys it)

        This would effectivly be the worlds largest waste of money. While it may have some small long term goal of shutting down their compitition. Microsoft share holders would NEVER go for a billion+ dollar aquasition that would have almost nothing tangable about it.
      • by bheading (467684) on Monday May 16, 2005 @03:53PM (#12546664)
        "Then, they could release brain-dead and damaged versions of RedHat Linux that failed under certain conditions; "

        Bit of a silly contribution really. How easy is that going to be given that they also have to release the source ? Any tampering with the code has to be released under the GPL.

        And if Red Hat was deemed rubbish, wouldn't people just switch to a competitor (eg SuSE) much as they might do today ?

        "3. Dramatically confusing the market would work in Microsoft's favor. further, they would offer "upgrade paths" that start in Linux and go towards MS Server 2k3 in short order."

        MS already do this, in the form of things like SFU.
    • by oGMo (379) on Monday May 16, 2005 @02:33PM (#12545779)
      You may not like Microsoft, but they don't tend to make really stupid mistakes, and this would be one. It just ain't gonna happen.

      Actually I don't like Microsoft, and they do tend to make really stupid mistakes from time to time. Ignoring the Internet for so long. Microsoft Bob. WebTV. Others I'm sure we can think of.

      But I don't think they'll make this one, for all the reasons you mentioned, and possibly more: One, they're in denial. I think they believe they're superior in all ways, and unbeatable. Two, pride. "If you can't win 'em, join 'em", and they're not willing to admit they can't win, because they always have. Three, history: they never pick up on the latest technology until everyone else has, and they've still got a grip on the market.

    • 1. It would be seen as an admission that the Windows Server technology is not what it is cracked up to be, and be read by the market as such. The immediate impact to the server business would be significant, and it is the only segment at Microsoft that is growing.

      Microsoft is dedicated to innovating on behalf of you, our customer. With the recent acquisition of Linux vendor Red Hat, Inc. we will continue to deliver on this promise. Customers who have grown beyond Linux now have an easier upgrade path fo

    • by smitty_one_each (243267) * on Monday May 16, 2005 @02:35PM (#12545796) Homepage Journal
      I wonder if the Novell purchase of SuSe doesn't have something to do with this.
      Putting an old, familiar name on a distribution like Novell legitimizes the idea of using a Linux distro much more than reading, say, "polychromatic platypus" on the disks, especially when it all works well with Netware.
      Also, with Novell sponsoring Mono, and the threat of OpenOffice, seeing a C# port of MS Office to run on Mono would be an obvious way for Mr. Softy to keep the cash cow spouting the milk of currency.
      Recall, Redmond's only ideology is money; they leave the fanaticism to the FSF.
    • Ever Hear Of Xenix? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Black-Man (198831) on Monday May 16, 2005 @02:56PM (#12546062)
      Microsoft's UNIX in the 1980's? Based on AT&T's license and they basically killed off the product a few years down the road.

    • rebuttal. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jellomizer (103300) *
      1. It would be seen as an admission that the Windows Server technology is not what it is cracked up to be, and be read by the market as such. The immediate impact to the server business would be significant, and it is the only segment at Microsoft that is growing.

      Being that Linux is Open Source. Buying redhat, just to gain Linux technologies seems like an expensive and needless task, and they still have to keep what they added as GNU. Also being that Linux and Windows are more even on the server market
      • Re:rebuttal. (Score:3, Interesting)

        by uglyduckling (103926)
        Being that Linux is Open Source

        And that's the point, isn't it - MS could have its own linux distro, complete with a fancy graphical installer and partition wizard, out of the door in under 12 months if it wanted to. It wouldn't need to buy Redhat to do that.

    • 1. It would be seen as an admission that the Windows Server technology is not what it is cracked up to be, and be read by the market as such. The immediate impact to the server business would be significant, and it is the only segment at Microsoft that is growing.
      I dont see that happening. It would be a sign to MS's many customers that are a mixed shop that they dont have to choose all MS or no MS, which is a common perception. Windows Server is what it is. Other large vendors have multiple platforms:
    • I agree.

      There really isn't a story here. Anything but the single fact that these two guys met about something, and Gates got asked for comment. He didn't say anything to clarify, confirm or deny.

      All we know is that Ballmer and Szulik sat down and chewed the fat. We don't know what they spoke about, and we don't know what the topic was. Hell for all we know, they discussed underwear preferences (tighty-whities vs boxers).
  • by thewldisntenuff (778302) on Monday May 16, 2005 @02:24PM (#12545650) Homepage
    First off - the link goes to someone's security blog - Here are the links to the Zdnet/News.com stories -

    http://blogs.zdnet.com/open-source/index.php?p=275 [slashdot.org]">ZDnet story

    http://news.com.com/A+Microsoft-Red+Hat+warming+tr end/2100-7344_3-5701700.html?tag=nefd.top [slashdot.org]">News.co m story

    The ZDNet blog states the biggest problem posed to RedHat would be IBM settling with SCO and developing an OS for the new Cell processor. Why would IBM settle now? After http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/05/05/224209 &tid=136&tid=88&tid=123 [slashdot.org]">they just delivered their evidence to SCO, what would the point be in settling. The blog continues to state that most other distros (Linspire, Debian, SuSE) are largely irrelevant now, and goes on about how IBM would sell Linux/Cell-based workstations and servers. How close are we to cell processors? I thought we were still some distance from seeing as widespread use as the blog seems to state.........
  • by winkydink (650484) * <sv.dude@gmail.com> on Monday May 16, 2005 @02:25PM (#12545653) Homepage Journal
    Only this and nothing more.

    While the articles make a case that it might be beneficial for RedHat, what's in it for Microsoft? Plus, what are the chances of it clearing anti-trust hurdles?
    • Yes it sure looks that there is no substance at all to the blogentry apart from some whatif's.

      It appears they used the olde MS vs linux formula:
      combine MS and linux in one headline and you are guaranteed to have slashdot come over and look at your ads.

      Let's see what else I can come up with:
      MS hates Linux: for hash words on some conference
      MS denies Linux: same event, please tear me down version(but still give the attention)
      MS fights Linux: MS will make better product (in the future) then linux (as it is no
  • Selling ideas? (Score:5, Informative)

    by aweiland (237773) on Monday May 16, 2005 @02:25PM (#12545657)
    Doesn't red hat sell support?
  • by gatkinso (15975) on Monday May 16, 2005 @02:26PM (#12545680)
    Yes, 50 times over.

    Would Microsoft Buy Red Hat? Doubtful.
  • by SlayerofGods (682938) on Monday May 16, 2005 @02:27PM (#12545690)
    Gates: Your Internet ad was brought to my attention, but I can't figure out what, if anything, Red Hat does, so rather than risk competing with you, I've decided simply to buy you out
    Homer: I reluctantly accept your proposal!
    Gates: Well everyone always does. Buy 'em out, boys!
  • by the_skywise (189793) on Monday May 16, 2005 @02:27PM (#12545701)
    "Until Longhorn is fully operational we are vulnerable. Linux is too well equipped. It's more dangerous than you realize."

    "Dangerous to your OS division, not to my Office line."

    "Linux will continue to gain support along with OpenOffice as long as Red Hat continues to..."

    "Red Hat will no longer be of any conern to us. I've just received word that the Emperor has purchased Red Hat and has ordered a completely new version of Linux that will be released sometime in the near future... IE not at all. The last remants of Unix have been swept away."
    • by 0xABADC0DA (867955) on Monday May 16, 2005 @03:00PM (#12546092)
      almost...

      "Until Longhorn is fully operational we are vulnerable. Linux is too well equipped. It's more dangerous than you realize."

      "Dangerous to your OS division, not to my Office line."

      "Linux will continue to gain support along with OpenOffice as long as Red Hat continues to..."

      "Red Hat will no longer be of any conern to us. I've just received word that Emperor Gates has disbanded the Red Hat. The last remants of Unix have been swept away."

      "But without Red Hat, how will the local servers be kept on-line?"

      "Fear. Fear of lawsuits will keep the local system on-line. This monopoly is now the ultimate power in the internet."

      "Do not be so proud of this technological terror you have constructed; it is insignificant next to the power of the Source"

      "Don't try to frighten us with your Sourcers ways, Lord Bahlmer..."

  • Yeah, right. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by leomekenkamp (566309) on Monday May 16, 2005 @02:28PM (#12545708)
    I was reading this with a 'this just might be' attitude, until I came across "This combined with the the fact that the single biggest threat Red Hat faces right now is that of the possiblity of IBM could settling with SCO and then release its own Linux, (...)

    IBM settling with SCO while they seem to be holding them at their balls? And then releasing their own linux distro? Yeah, right.

    This 'article' is nothing, ziltch, nada, nop. No new facts, no reasoning, no nothing.

  • Oh, please.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dgrgich (179442) <(drew) (at) (grgich.org)> on Monday May 16, 2005 @02:28PM (#12545711) Homepage
    There is no way that this is remotely even feasible. Why would Microsoft want to buy Red Hat? Those with their tinfoil hats on would say so that could shut down Red Hat and thus, rid the world of a primary Linux-powered rival. However, think about it - someone would simply take their place - Novell, some corporate entity supporting a Debian or Gentoo distro - and they'd be right back where they started.

    Others might think that Microsoft is ready to get into the Linux biz. For those, I have a large iron structure in Paris that I'm trying to get rid of; perhaps you'd be interested in buying?
    • Re:Oh, please.... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Monday May 16, 2005 @03:37PM (#12546486) Homepage Journal
      Why would Microsoft want to buy Red Hat? Those with their tinfoil hats on would say so that could shut down Red Hat and thus, rid the world of a primary Linux-powered rival. However, think about it - someone would simply take their place - Novell, some corporate entity supporting a Debian or Gentoo distro - and they'd be right back where they started.

      After a while, yes. Let's play Devil's Advocate, though - I'm Microsoft and I can't get Longhorn out the door and Linux is catching up too fast.

      I need to slow down Linux.

      OK, who pays for a large chunk of Linux development? (it's easier to whack one big mole than several little ones) RedHat. RedHat contributes a heck of a lot of code to the open source community. IBM and Novell et.al. couldn't immediately take up all the slack if RedHat vanished tomorrow.

      Steps:
      1. Buy out RedHat. Announce no immediate changes.
      1.a. Some percentage of RedHat quits same day on principle and starts a new company
      1.a.I. It takes at least two years to get that company off the ground, with all the subscription management software, infrastructure, sales force, channel partnerships, certifications, etc.
      1.a.II. It takes 5 years to be back to the strength RedHat was at.
      1.a.III. These guys are out of the way.
      2. Announce all kinds of linux/microsoft synergies and interminglings
      3. Start a new .NET for linux project, and put most of the RHEL guys on it. Mono won't work for [fill in the reason].
      3.a. some of the team quits.
      3.a.I. Novell absorbs some of them
      3.a.II. IBM aborbs some more
      3.a.III Others get private sector jobs but have less time for open-source development. These guys are out of the way.
      3.b. Some of the team stays due to not wanting to move, etc. These guys are out of the way
      4. Repeat with other Microsoft technologies
      5. Ship Longhorn
      6. Cancel said projects. Disparage Linux as the reason. Move team to China.
      6.a. These guys are out of the way.

      There, another 5 years of market dominance achieved for a stock-leveraged RedHat takeover. The math is good. This is the right thing to do for Microsoft stockholders.

      Don't look at it as a long-term strategy, look at it as literally buying time. The Open-Source community may be able to out-code and out-architect Microsoft, but when it comes to dollars and cents Microsoft is king.
  • Big deal (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Danathar (267989) on Monday May 16, 2005 @02:30PM (#12545735) Journal
    If they did...what exactly would they be getting? a Duplicate company called...say "Blue hat" could pop up in a couple of weeks with a duplicate copy of everything Redhat sells (besides the copyrighted red fedora) and start selling copies just like before.

    Redhat's profits are primarily from service contracts and their automated patch udpates.

    Remeber...everything is GPL'd...so buying out Redhat would at most just give MS some time (against Redhat ONLY)....there ARE other LINUX distros out there....like Mandrake...SuSE.....MEPIS...debian......
  • by Sebby (238625) on Monday May 16, 2005 @02:30PM (#12545736)
    I thing they'd really just end up with the RedHat name, and nothing else.

    I don't think the community at large would really accept this buyout, and both companies' philosophies are quite different (at least the way I perceive it).

  • How Dumb (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GarfBond (565331) on Monday May 16, 2005 @02:33PM (#12545778)
    Not only would this not be likely to be approved due to antitrust rules and such, what would be the point of such a purchase? Paying a large chunk of change for a competitor to do...what exactly? Microsoft isn't going to suddenly say "WinServer 2003 blows, here's RHEL 4" to all its customers, undermining the last 5 years of FUD. A purchase like this would contribute nothing to the MSFT bottom line. Not to mention that this completely ignores the efforts of Novell and SuSE. If RH went out, someone else would line up to take its place in a heartbeat.
  • by amichalo (132545) on Monday May 16, 2005 @02:35PM (#12545791)
    With Star Wars III coming, I couldn't help but offer the idea that an MS buyout of Red Hat would create a huge "disturbance in the Force". MS would end up owning the leader in Linux software packages, but I think that a MS branded Linux would not be particularly well accepted by current Red Hat customers or current Windows customers.

    MS would benefit if they wanted to move the next-version-of-Windows-after-Longhorn to a Linux codebase, but they don't need to buy Red Hat to do it.

    Instead, MS would simply create a vacume in the Linux world which would be quickly filled by another distro vendor.
  • by shrapnull (780217) on Monday May 16, 2005 @02:39PM (#12545845)
    You really have to wonder who comes up with this information. That's not even a believable story yet it gets replicated and gives Microsoft another 5 minutes of exposure all over the blog media.

    Wasn't it just last week we were talking about how Microsoft was going to begin hyping their products using a paid blogger 'grassroots' campaign?

    You don't suppose a bullshit story like this that ends up on someone's blog could simply be testing the waters to see how effective the online rumor mill is, do you?

  • by ajrs (186276) on Monday May 16, 2005 @02:40PM (#12545866) Homepage
    Everone would quit and form a rivial company. Microsoft would have just accquired an empty shell of a company with lots of support obligations and no way to meet them.

    The new company,"Brown Bowler", would take a few years to rebuild their distribution chanel. Them maybe go public and let Microsoft make them rich again.

    The only thing owned by Red Hat is the company name, support contracts, distribution channel, some office space and hardware, and the logo. All of the real value would just walk out the door.
  • Sounds good to me... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Abalamahalamatandra (639919) on Monday May 16, 2005 @02:41PM (#12545874)
    Everybody would drop Fedora like a hot rock and move to a distribution that isn't just a free development vehicle for Red Hat to make tons of bucks.

    Gentoo, Debian, Slackware, Ubuntu... They'd all be the biggest beneficiaries of such a move, and Microsoft would be left with a worthless property.

    I dropped Red Hat after Red Hat 9, because it started to become clear to me that my customer space wouldn't be able to afford Enterprise and that Fedora was (by design) too fast-changing to support. I now run all my servers and desktops on Gentoo and it's working great for me. The main advantage I see is that I can control and minimize the dependency hell that Red Hat was and create tighter servers with less subsystems loaded on them to update in the first place.

    Overall, though, this is just pie in the sky - it'll never happen. It definitely must be a slow news day in the IT world if this is even a valid topic to discuss.
  • by rihock (680776) on Monday May 16, 2005 @02:41PM (#12545879)
    Instead of Red Hat, MSFT would be better off buying Sun- they both sell propriatary systems, both dislike linux (not Sun so much, but they do) and it would be an extension of many of the deals they have struck recently. I don't see where RH makes sense, but I can see a better story with Sun given the slump in their stock, etc....
  • by johno.ie (102073) on Monday May 16, 2005 @02:43PM (#12545900)
    versions 3.1 and 5.0 iirc. and i sold copies of it to a couple of local companies and got repeat business to support the servers they used it on. its turned out to be a very good deal for me. i think microsoft should buy debian instead though. thats what i use on all my servers these days.
  • FTC (Score:3, Interesting)

    by r_benchley (658776) on Monday May 16, 2005 @02:44PM (#12545912)
    As cowardly as they are, I really doubt that the FTC would allow this to happen. Aside from Apple (and OS X won't run on x86 hardware), Linux is the only real competition to Windows. I cannot fathom any circumstances under which Microsoft would be allowed to buy out the competition like that. Granted, there are other Linux distros out there, but Red Hat is the only real player when it comes to Linux in corporate America.
  • Answers (Score:4, Interesting)

    by hey! (33014) on Monday May 16, 2005 @02:48PM (#12545968) Homepage Journal
    Could Microsoft buy Red Hat?

    Yes.

    Will they?

    No.

    This is just the product of fevered imaginations, fantasizing what they would do with Bill Gates money. Gates has so much money precisely because he doesn't do stupid things like this. Microsoft is not going to buy a service business, which is pretty much valued at annual revenues. They're going to buy companies with IP, which are valued several times higher.

    They're certainly not going to buy a service business where many of the customers suspect that they are mortal enemy of the platform being serviced. Far from undermining IBM, this would be like the day Coke announced they were ditching the old formula. Pepsi gave it's employees a holiday to celebrate. They probably could have called it Our-Fiercest-Competitor-Makes-a-Business-Decision- So-Incredibly-Boneheaded-we-all-may-as-well-go-hom e-and-watch-their-embarassment-unfold-on-TV day.
  • Wow. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gdek (202709) on Monday May 16, 2005 @02:51PM (#12546011)
    For all of the insane articles that percolate to the surface on /., this article is impressively insane.

    So what "various news sources" are cited here?

    "News source #1" is Paul Murphy of ZDNet, who basically says "gee, I suppose it's *possible* that M$ could buy RH, but, um, not really."

    "News source #2: is "whitedust," the well-known... er, well-respected... er, who are they again? Anyway, the quote from "whitedust"...

    "On the surface of it, the concept of Microsoft buying out Red Hat does indeed seem rather humorous. However as commented in the ZDnet article; Red Hat is a company that shares much the same business model as Microsoft in that essentially it makes it's (sic) living packaging and selling other people's ideas. That alone is enough to give some credabilty (sic) to the notion of some kind of thoretical ethical union one that would perhaps be less likley (sic) with any other open source developer."

    So, to recap:

    Coke-snorting "whitedust" website claims that Red Hat and Microsoft are a perfect pair, editorializes that purchase is imminent!

    Really, truly, impressively insane.
  • by Acer500 (846698) on Monday May 16, 2005 @02:52PM (#12546027) Journal
    It's true that dinner between two important personalities can result in developments, but...

    See http://news.com.com/A+Microsoft-Red+Hat+warming+tr end/2100-7344_3-5701700.html [com.com]
    "Microsoft's Steve Ballmer and Red Hat's Matthew Szulik met for more than an hour at a McCormick & Schmick's restaurant in New York in late March"
  • by nurb432 (527695) on Monday May 16, 2005 @03:04PM (#12546133) Homepage Journal
    All they would really be able to buy is the 'VAR' components.

    The core is all open, so all that would happen is someone else would step up to the plate.

    It might ruffle some feathers and slow the corporate Linux world down for a few months, but in the end no real damage.
  • by xjohnx (796624) on Monday May 16, 2005 @03:06PM (#12546141)
    Is it just a coincidence that Michael Dell just invested $100 million of his own money in Red Hat, or could it be another case of insider trading?
  • by mpapet (761907) on Monday May 16, 2005 @03:13PM (#12546213) Homepage
    I have a controversial response to the part-line 'ain't gonna happen" comments.

    1. Both Microsoft and Red Hat are under a great deal of pressure to deliver profits.

    2. Currently, innovation is not coming at the pace that it did in the 90's. In any publicly traded industry, this leads to consolidation. (AdobeMedia anyone?)

    3. Price of both companies shares has stagnated. This generally fuels consolidation because shareholders demand high profits.

    4. Red Hat is not as cash-rich as MS, but they are the -clear- leader in enterprise linux.

    The acquisition would be good for Microsoft.
    -They buy the undisputed leader in the segment
    -Make Red Hat the red-headed step-child in terms of price and service to Winblows server. This crushes the Sun and Novell Linux strategy and puts them in-play versus IBM.
    -Fire most of Red Hat's engineers to keep the business profitable at rock-bottom prices, maintain the distro and stifle competitive innovation.

    Now, the humans running MS would likely be mortally opposed to it as many have pointed out. And from a common-sense perspective it should qualify as anti-competitive, but the legal world doesn't run on common sense.

    From a Microsoft business perspective, it is a -great- idea.

  • zerg (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Lord Omlette (124579) on Monday May 16, 2005 @03:16PM (#12546257) Homepage
    If Microsoft buys Red Hat, then will Fedora Core get better or worse?
  • Invest in, not buy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by geekwithsoul (860466) <{geekwithsoul} {at} {yahoo.com}> on Monday May 16, 2005 @03:17PM (#12546275)

    It would make far more sense for Microsoft to invest in Red Hat than buy it outright. Look at their investment in Apple if you'd like a precedent. The idea has several advantages:

    • Good hedge fund type investment. When MS succeeds, they get money. When Red Hat succeeds, they get money.
    • Opens the door for an expanded market. Just like MS provided versions of IE and MS Office for the Mac, they could provide server products to run on Red Hat servers that would allow for better interoperability
    • Co-opt the competition. Always a good strategy.
    • Street cred. "Look we support Linux in our own special way."
    • Avoid all the antitrust issues that an outright buy of Red hat would entail

    I'm not saying this is likely, but it would make a lot more sense and with as much cash as MS has, they can certainly afford either option. However, investing in an established rival is behavior Microsoft has exhibited before, and they do seem very much to not learn any new tricks.

  • by jusdisgi (617863) on Monday May 16, 2005 @03:20PM (#12546312)
    And in other news, Nike might purchase Birkenstock. Don't get me wrong, I've got no reason to think that'll happen, but hey, anything's possible, right? That's a good enough excuse for a story!

    Seriously...where's the evidence here? This guy just throws out this outlandishly wild conjecture, and has absolutely dick to back it up. What an asshole.

    Of course, that's not the only abject idiocy here...anyone who thinks IBM might settle with SCO has totally lost his marbles. And IBM won't ever release its own version of Linux under any circumstances....if AIX didn't prove to them that nobody wanted an IBM operating system, OS2 did. Those guys are shouting from the mountaintops about open systems and standards, and are making big money selling the services to go with them. They don't want to own the distro.

    But the big thing from my perspective is that this dickhead just totally made this story up based on some wild acid hallucination he had...there isn't a story here, but that's not stopping ZD.
  • by nadamsieee (708934) on Monday May 16, 2005 @03:28PM (#12546416)

    GrokLaw readers will recognize Paul Murphy as the SYS-CON writer who likes to defend SCO [groklaw.net]. The statement from the ZDNet blog that should raise a red flag is this:

    The second most important threat facing them is that an IBM Linux on Cell offering gives the Linux and general open source communities an opportunity to rebel against Red Hat's pretense of selling support with free licenses rather than licenses with free support.

    Anyone who isn't an idiot knows that F/OSS business are supposed to sell support with their Free licenses, not the other way around. The only rebellion I see against traditional software vendors like Microsoft, not RedHat. This guy is just spreading FUD.

  • FAQ (Score:5, Funny)

    by catdevnull (531283) on Monday May 16, 2005 @03:30PM (#12546444)
    Deep from an obscure unlisted URL somewhere in the slashdot FAQ:

    Q: Many of my article submissions on slashdot seem to go unnoticed. How can I generate more interest and responses--even if they're a bunch of flaming retorts?

    A: While the interests and levels of expertise on slashdot cover their entire respective spectrums, one sure-fire way to get guaranteed attention on slashdot is to post anything with the words "Microsoft" and "Linux" in the same subject line. You're likely to receive more attention if the submission implies any of the following:
    1. Microsoft does anything superior to Linux
    2. Microsoft wants to buy/cheat/steal anything from the Linux community.
    3. Microsoft makes any business move to check Open Source/FSF initiatives.

    Submissions that point out the obvious will be appended only with posts of the "Me too" nature. Be sure to punch it up with a new spin or a repeat of a post that is at least 30 days old.

    It should also be noted that any submissions or posts that are PRO-Microsoft will be rejected or modded down respectively. Be sure to bash MS thoughtfully and thoroughly with disputable data, imaginative spelling, and ambiguous grammar.

    SEE ALSO: Flaming, Linux Bigotry, Open Source Zealotry, and Mac Fanboy posts.

    [big, cheesy "I-just-bonked-your-daughter" grin] :-)
  • by PenguinBoyDave (806137) <<david> <at> <davidmeyer.org>> on Monday May 16, 2005 @03:32PM (#12546449)
    If they don't re-brand it as their own, they could buy them out and kill the product. Why not? It happens in the corporate world every single day. Buying Red Hat would cost Microsoft very little, and would actually give them exactly what they need...the insight into the Linux community and development process that they need.

    I don't like this idea, but I can't discount it.
  • Oh brother (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Monday May 16, 2005 @03:57PM (#12546710)
    Red Hat is a company that wants to be Microsoft and, like Microsoft, makes its living packaging and selling other people's ideas."

    Boy, that's a really stupid comment - even by Slashdot standards.

    Has our anonymous submitter ever bothered to look and see just how many of those "other people" that are doing the development work for Linux have email addresses that end in "redhat.com"?

  • by Wdomburg (141264) on Monday May 16, 2005 @04:03PM (#12546791)
    The biggest threat Red Hat faces right now is that IBM could settle with SCO and then release its own Linux along with workstations and servers based on the Cell processor.

    IBM doesn't need to settle with SCO to release it's own version of Linux. All it needs to do is... release it's own version of Linux. Hell, they could download RHEL, rebuild, rebadge, and sell that.

    Given that Cell outperforms x86 by an order of magnitude and doesn't have the security weaknesses built into the x86, this would leave them fighting to hold an ever decreasing share of a shrinking market.

    What insightful commentary. Anyone who seriously believes the Cell processor outperforms conventional architectures by "an order of magnitude" for anything but specialized tasks needs to lay off the crack pipe. That big impressing 256 GFlop figure that's been bandied around is the theoretical "if you fill every pipeline" number, is almost entirely comprised of FP operations (guess what - most business servers aren't busy rendering pretty pictures), and is for a single precision pipeline which rounds in a non-standard way.

    Know what the performance hit is for IEEE854 double precision FP? A full order of magnitude. There goes all that theoretical performance, and you lose the benefit of the industry dominant instruction set, and gain a whole set of programming peculiarities of the new architecture, such as the lack of a branch prediction unit even in the PPC core.
  • by cmholm (69081) <cmholm&mauiholm,org> on Monday May 16, 2005 @04:22PM (#12547059) Homepage Journal
    Someone at ZDNet or the blogs is trolling. A buyout would only work if it were a private transaction. Redhat is a publically traded company. The moment MSFT made a play for a major stake in RDHT, the market would drive the share prices through the roof. In the meantime, Balmer would need to give his shareholders a really good explaination why blowing their money on this boondoggle was a good idea. About the only ideas that would fly are:

    Break up Redhat to disrupt the Linux market

    Make Linux the core of MS' business model

    The former would be lame, since IBM is in the position to pick up the RH Enterprise Edition business with SuSE. The latter would be too revolutionary, and MSFT share prices would see an unacceptable drop. It would be reasonable to assume that IBM might react with a bid of its own. If IBM absorbed RDHT, it would still leave MS customers, shareholders, and employees with lots of (for MS) counterproductive FUD.

  • by dcavanaugh (248349) on Monday May 16, 2005 @04:43PM (#12547322) Homepage
    Full disclosure: I own a very small number of RHAT shares.

    I see no reason for MSFT to buy RHAT, even for the purpose of shutting it down. If MSFT was dumb enough to start such negotiations, RHAT would just let the rumor leak and drag out the process while their stock soars. RHAT shares have been doing quite well lately, fueled by nothing more than an OLD revelation about Michael Dell and his $100M investment. An MSFT buyout rumor would further pump the price of RHAT without any need for increased earnings or expanded market share.

    A real or vaporous MSFT buyout would be like tricking Al Qaeda into promoting US Treasury Bonds.
  • Cowards suck (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RedHat Rocky (94208) on Monday May 16, 2005 @05:20PM (#12547759)
    Man, I thought comments from ACs were bad, but story submissions from ACs REALLY suck.

    I guess it's too late to Not Feed The Troll.
  • by reallocate (142797) on Monday May 16, 2005 @05:33PM (#12547917)
    >> Red Hat '...makes its living packaging and selling other people's ideas.'

    We often see this assertion. It makes no sense.

    Unless you buy or acquire your software directly from each individual developer, everyone cranking out Linux distributions is packaging and selling "other people's ideas".

    You might as well argue that McDonald's got rich by stealing the idea of the hamburger.

    Nothing more than simple opposition toward and envy of anyone that's successful.
  • It's about money. Red Hat is an enterprise that exists to make money for its Shareholders. IF a deal paid a good premium to Red Hat shareholders, then, they would be foolish to sell out.

    It's not unusual to have more than one O/S. IBM sells you more than one kind computer and more than one kind of operating system and has made a fair amount of money on it for years. MS could do the same.

    It might save MS some money. They've got billions of dollars a year plowed into Windows R&D, and what are they getting out of it? Nothing? Where's the growth in Windows? MS could theoretically make a mountain of money simply by offering a migration path to Linux - everyone must migrate to their Linux Enterprise edition, and suddenly that's billions of dollars.

    Finally, having control over the premium brand is an excellent way to hedge your bets. Microsoft would control the trump of Windows and the trump of Linux. Certainly having all of those Red Hat developers could make for better ports of things like .NET, Office. Come on, if they actually had Visual Studio for Linux, KDE may as well just give up.

    In short, Microsoft jumping on the Linux bandwagon is nothing less spectacular than IBM jumping on the PC bandwagon some decades ago. Remember then, they said that elephants couldn't tap dance? History has a way of proving rebellious pundits wrong.
  • by DunbarTheInept (764) on Monday May 16, 2005 @06:19PM (#12548346) Homepage
    Can someone out there who actually understands the stock market (that wouldn't be me) answer this: What percentage of Redhat is publicly purchasable right now in the first place? Even if they wanted to, could MS buy more than 50% of the company at all?

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