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Linus On The Future Of Microsoft 382

Posted by Zonk
from the crystal-ball-activated dept.
An anonymous reader writes "There's a pretty good interview with Linus over at Good Morning Silicon Valley. The discussion seems focused predominantly on the future of proprietary software and what the tech landscape might look like if Microsoft's market share declines. 'Says Linus: I do not believe that anything can "replace" Microsoft in the market that MS is right now. Instead, what I think happens is that markets mature, and as they mature and become commoditized, the kind of dominant player like MS just doesn't happen any more. You don't have another dominant player coming in and taking its place -- to find a new dominant player you actually have to start looking at a totally different market altogether.'"
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Linus On The Future Of Microsoft

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  • by Richard_at_work (517087) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .ecirpdrahcir.> on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @05:15PM (#12876492)
    Easy - take a long hard look at IBM.
    • by node 3 (115640) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @05:23PM (#12876548)
      Easy - take a long hard look at IBM.

      Exactly. When IBM's consumer software market dried up, they simply moved more focus onto their hardware.

      MS will do the same, and when their consumer software market dries up, they'll focus on selling mice and keyboards for Linux and Mac PCs.
      • > Exactly. When IBM's consumer software market dried up, they simply moved more focus onto their hardware.

        And now they've moved into services, and create basically nothing tangible. Well, at least for a majority of their revenue. "What's left" on the hardware side is still pretty massive, this being IBM and all, but it's not their bread and butter.

        Anyway, IBM never had the penetration of the consumer market that MS has and is spending billions attempting to expand (xbox anyone?), so I don't think you
        • Anyway, IBM never had the penetration of the consumer market that MS has and is spending billions attempting to expand (xbox anyone?), so I don't think you can draw too many parallels. They're simply different companies with different markets. I can tell you that MS is not likely to become a logitech reseller anytime soon.

          Duh. It was a joke (the +4 Funny (at the time) ought to have clued you in), and not meant to be taken seriously.

          Wow. "MS is not likely to become a logitech reseller anytime soon." Just,
      • This has already started to happen... For the first time EVER, I saw a Windows advert on the TV (I live in the UK) that's WINDOWS, not those irritating "Get Microsoft, or your kids will be 'tards" adverts that play, and in the past week or so, about 10 people have asked me why Microsoft have put an advert for Windows - and all have asked me what the alternative is, if they're so scared to be advertising over here. Every single person who has asked me that question, I have showed them Ubuntu, and every singl
        • by fishbot (301821)
          Every single person who has asked me that question, I have showed them Ubuntu, and every single one has been impressed, up to the point when you show them that OpenOffice.org doesn't do drawing diagrams correctly...

          OT, but define 'correctly'... it does vector drawing, and it does dynamic link lines. Sure, it's no Visio, but it's not intended to be. It's drawing tool (hence the name), not a diagramming tool, and what it does, it does correctly.
          • by EastCoastSurfer (310758) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @06:41AM (#12879655)
            Instead of blaming the grandparent poster for not knowing that OO isn't meant to Visio type drawings, wouldn't it have made more sense to point them in the direction of a tool for linux that can do Visio type drawings? Have you ever thought that most users don't care what the tool is supposed to do (and don't want to be reminded about it either), they just want it to work for their needs.
    • He did (Score:3, Informative)

      by MegaFur (79453)

      From TFA:

      That said, I don't see the MS market going away very fast, and I don't see why MS couldn't continue to function as a software company even if they don't control the commodity market any more. In many ways I think MS is in the same situation that IBM was in two decades ago, losing control of the basic market -- and thus the dominance of the market -- but not necessarily going away or even necessarily shrinking. -- Torvalds

      I think Linus is a lot smarter, or at least a lot more realistic about

  • So it's no wonder that Microsoft is one of the very few players who really don't seem to like open source.

    Define "like open source". Do you think IBM or Sun "likes" about open source? Sure, they open source their products, but they're not doing so because it's a good development model or will produce better code. They're doing it for marketing and I guess it is working -- Seems to have Linus fooled.

    Also, lest we forget Microsoft has open source'd code too.
    • by HermanAB (661181)
      The main reason companies go to free software is for tax reasons. It allows them to write off bazillions of software development dollars as a charitable gift.

      How much tax do think IBM wrote off by donating Apache to the Apache foundation? Hundred million dollars? At least...
      • But the tax write-off amount is not so obvious. There is this myth that if you think you go free software that estimates to $5000, you write off $5000. That's really not how it works.

        It's also hard to make up numbers. For example if you claim you have linux on 20 dell boxes. You need 20 dell ID tags.

        • by HermanAB (661181)
          No, we are talking of a company donating a large in-house developed product to a charity. That is hundreds of millions of dollars in tax reduction. Just see who is in on the game: MIT, U Berkeley, U Columbia, Sun, IBM, AOL. The list goes on and on. There is a good reason for that! If you don't believe me, go talk to an accountant.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        What?!?!?

        http://httpd.apache.org/ABOUT_APACHE.html [apache.org]

        Apache originated at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
    • by node 3 (115640) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @05:46PM (#12876711)
      Define "like open source". Do you think IBM or Sun "likes" about open source?

      "Like", when applied to a corporation, is a metaphor. Define it with that in mind.

      They embrace open source because it helps them.

      They're doing it for marketing

      Not really. Yes, they take advantage of the marketing opportunities Open Source provides, but it's more than that. IBM has only so much capital to invest in future business. By embracing Open Source, they add to their offerings with minimal cost, so they can offer their customers just as much as before, plus what Open Source has to offer.

      Seems to have Linus fooled.

      Yeah, right.

      Also, lest we forget Microsoft has open source'd code too.

      One thing, an installer. Maybe they're up to two now, I'm not sure. IBM's support of Open Source compared to MS's is like comparing a Saturn V with an amateur model rocket.

      Actually, it's much worse than that for MS. Bill Gates calling Open Source advocates "Communists" more than negates the miniscule props they get for their one Open Source project. Add to that MS's demands that government not be able to use Open Source software (WTF?!)...

      In other words, MS is in absolutely no way a friend of Open Source software, and in *no way* is a friend of anyone who believes in Open Source/Free Software.
      • Actually, it's much worse than that for MS. Bill Gates calling Open Source advocates "Communists" more than negates the miniscule props they get for their one Open Source project.

        You make it sound like being a communist is a horrible thing. Mind you, I'm not a communist, but it has just as much merrit as calling liberals living in the United States "Un-American." Anyone else upset at how the word "liberal" has now become "naughty?" Now when people hear the term "Liberal Arts", they think it's left-wing

    • It's actually more than just marketing.

      IBM are in the software and hardware business, but more importantly, they are in the service business. They make nothing when they stick Windows on 1000 desktops. In fact, it costs them money. They also don't have the sort of control that they had on their mainframe operations.

      By using OSS, they save money and can do much more with the software to meet their clients needs.

  • 1998 called (Score:4, Funny)

    by The Bungi (221687) <thebungi@gmail.com> on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @05:18PM (#12876510) Homepage
    He wants his story back.
  • If only Linus... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by WRoach (863245) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @05:18PM (#12876511)
    Was born 15 years earlier...
    • by mattyrobinson69 (751521) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @05:31PM (#12876597)
      i dunno, in 1977 there weren't as many programmers as there were in 1992.

      if linus was born 17 years earlier, i dont think we would have linux as good as it is now.
    • If there had been no Microsoft, there would have been no Linux. The old x86 machines which newer versions of Windows are too bloated to run wouldn't have been out there, therefore there would be no supply of cheap hardware for early adopters to experiment with Linux on.
    • Rather irrelevant (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      gcc didn't exist on the x86 platform until 1987 or so. The 386 didn't come out until about 1985. There really wouldn't have been anything that Linus could've done until gcc was out (and C compilers are not his strength).

      And don't forget the GPL didn't come until 1983. Even if Linus had written on OS for the 8086,
      no one would've cared.

      If he had been born 15 years earlier, he would probably wouldv'e been too tied up with a real job
      to write Linux
    • then there would be no Minix for Linus to "copy" from, so linux would have never existed and maybe we would be using BSD instead of everyone saying BSD is dead.

      It thus becomes quite clear that you use BSD instead of linux, and wish it had a much larger following.
  • by seanmcelroy (207852) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @05:19PM (#12876518) Homepage Journal
    I'm not so sure about that. Think about foreign automobile makers and GM in today's world. GM is arguably a behemoth, and that in itself can be what drives a monopoly out of power. Even though this market is arguably very mature, market share can change fairly rapidly with innovation. Once you conquer enough of the market share, you will have a hard time keeping up with innovation in all the corners that could propel your rival to be serious competition someday.
    • He uses commoditized , I think he is thinking balkanized ...
    • GM isn't a good example. They produce cars, and arguably have a business culture that is very tied into its (outmoded) production faiclities and capacity. Newer companies, when building out their plants and factories, build inherently more efficent companies by improving on existing models. Platforming is a relatively new strategy for American car companies, whereas Japanese car companies are built on the concept of platforming (which is designing a diverse product line based on a few core foundations and p
    • Think about foreign automobile makers and GM in today's world. GM is arguably a behemoth, and that in itself can be what drives a monopoly out of power. Even though this market is arguably very mature, market share can change fairly rapidly with innovation.
      GM's situation is entirely different. Cars are interchangeable, there is no problem switching brands. The operating system, on the other hand, is a natural monopoly.
      • The operating system, on the other hand, is a natural monopoly.

        It may seem that way now, but the best outcome for consumers will be when we have commodity software on commodity OS on commodity hardware. Apple is heading down a part of that path by switching to fat binaries and abstracting the architecture and OS. Virtualised Linux, projects like WINE and even Hypervisor under Windows will contribute to the trend. It won't happen overnight, but it will happen.
  • by TooMuchEspressoGuy (763203) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @05:19PM (#12876520)
    ...is that what happened in the past does not necessarily mean the same thing will happen in the future. Microsoft has so many built-in defense mechanisms and ways of controlling and monopolizing the market that there's no real end in sight for their domination of it.

    Therefore, while I would like to believe that what Linus says is true, I sincerely doubt it will happen, at least not in the forseeable future.

    • All the "built in defense systems" won't keep a company alive forever if the market won't sustain them. Microsoft enjoys the Wal-Mart effect. People love to hate them and say "not here!" but they still go out and shop at Wal-Mart.

      If MS were so destined to die and were only cheating to stay afloat, they'd be gone by now. The market just isn't that forgiving.
    • Take a look at the Roman Empire. When they became a "monopoly", their morals lowered and they became disorganised.

      It was just a matter of time before the barbarians took over. Wait a minute... shouldn't the virus writers be considered barbarians? Deja vu...
    • I think you're mistaking "desktop market" for "personal computer-related market". When MS controlled the desktop in the 90's it really controlled almost all of the personal computer market. It did fairly well in the corporate market, though it never achieved the same dominance as in personal computing. But you can easily rattle off multiple areas where Microsoft has not dominated the personal computing market: from phones to search to music, Microsoft hasn't been a big player. Yet their Windows/Office/W
    • I'm having a bit of trouble with this analysis myself. Linus is talking as if it's all a foregone conclusion and we're just waiting for it to come to pass. He sites IBM as a big example of what will happen with Microsoft but it seems to me he's comparing apples and oranges.

      IBM produce hardware that ran software. Other companies produced a clone of that hardware to be able to run the same software. Software being the key to what people wanted. They could care less who made the machine as long as they
    • by MegaFur (79453) <<moc.nzz.ymok> <ta> <0dryw>> on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @08:16PM (#12877695) Journal

      Therefore, while I would like to believe that what Linus says is true, I sincerely doubt it will happen, at least not in the forseeable future.

      Please RTFA. Linus doesn't believe the MS empire will be crushed any year soon either. The closest he comes to saying that is

      I just don't believe in dynasties. Things erode over time. Successes start to take themselves for granted, and the successful companies aren't nimble and hungry enough any more.

      . . . So the question is how the decline happens, and in what timeframe. Will open source be a factor? Almost certainly. Will it be the factor? I don't know.
      That part comes at the end. Probably because the interviewer wanted to finish on a strong note. Earlier in the interview however, Linus said
      And yes, I think the big difference 10 years from now is not that MS is gone or even necessarily does anything very different, but that they have profit margins in line with the rest of the industry.
      and, continuing backwards
      That said, I don't see the MS market going away very fast, and I don't see why MS couldn't continue to function as a software company even if they don't control the commodity market any more. In many ways I think MS is in the same situation that IBM was in two decades ago, losing control of the basic market -- and thus the dominance of the market -- but not necessarily going away or even necessarily shrinking.

      In general, I'm rather annoyed with the way people have been responding to the article because it seems like they're not reading it, or if they are, they're only looking at it from out of the corners of their eyes. Linus has always seemed to me to be a very level headed, easy going, and above all realistic individual when it comes to discussing the future of MS, Linux, and IT in general. It should come as no surprise then that he's not really predicting the sudden and apocalyptic death of MS, but rather a very slow, very gradual, possible(!) marginalization of the company.

      You can leave the "imminent death of X"-style predicting to lesser people.

      Oh wait! This is slashdot! Oops, I'm sorry my bad... I forgot where I was posting for a while. Please. Forget everything I said. Thanks.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @05:20PM (#12876526)
    OMG .. Im gonna faint !!! Hail our Kernel-writing overlord !!
  • by Torgo's Pizza (547926) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @05:20PM (#12876527) Homepage Journal
    the kind of dominant player like MS just doesn't happen any more.

    Tell that to Google.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @05:21PM (#12876532)
    Seriously, with all the stories slashdot devotes to Microsoft thru the years, it's amazing they never get their own section. There are probably more MS related stories and Linux stories on a daily basis.

    Slashdot should put these stories in a dedicated section like they do with Linux, and Apple.

    Oh, and they should get rid of the Gates borg icon. It was never funny, and it just looks so lame and childish. How come no other topic beside Microsoft gets that kind of immature treatment?

    • by mpontes (878663) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @05:28PM (#12876579)
      I really wanted to make a "You must be new here" reply for the first time. However, before you mod me Troll, please think of what my [emacs] psychologist said to me this morning: that I'm only doing this because I have a high user-id and that intimidates me, so I am desperatly trying to fit in the /. crowd by acting like your average /bot.

      Or, if you prefer the Freudian approach: penis.

      How come no other topic beside Microsoft gets that kind of immature treatment?

      You must be new here.

    • by MmmmAqua (613624) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @05:29PM (#12876584)
      Oh, and they should get rid of the Gates borg icon. It was never funny, and it just looks so lame and childish. How come no other topic beside Microsoft gets that kind of immature treatment?

      You must be new here.
    • Seriously, with all the stories slashdot devotes to Microsoft thru the years, it's amazing they never get their own section.

      That's what the FRONT PAGE is for.
  • by soupdevil (587476) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @05:21PM (#12876536)
    How does he remain a hero of fanboys and flamebaiters?
    • I actually agree with your post. Linus is very honest, and does not make over the top flamebait claims. He tells it like it is, which is in stark contrast to his fanbase, who has a penchant for putting Linux on a heavenly pedestal and putting anything MS in a hellish glow, without rhyme or reason much of the time. It is refreshing to hear some sense from a person of his persuasion, and not just a bunch of fodder and spin-doctoring.
    • You assume the fanboys and flamebaiters actually bother to read what he has to say...
  • by HaFBaKeD (893874) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @05:22PM (#12876539)
    As long as Microsoft has the money to throw at new projects, it will be a VERY long time before it looses any significant market share. All the new and inovative technologies coming out to compete with Microsoft, are either later copied by them, or bought out by them. And when 95+% already uses MS and doesn't care about alternatives, they'll stick with them when it comes to new technologies.
  • People learn... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ochu (877326) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @05:24PM (#12876551) Homepage
    Linus is basing what he thinks will happen on his experience of past monopolies. How many of these have there been? Really? Maybe 10, 20? Nowhere near enough to start predicting the future on. We have had four and a half billion years of weather, and we still can't get that right, and god knows, big business is nearly as complex. The other problem, of course, is microsoft is learning every day how to protect itself from those other companies fates.
    • Re:People learn... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DogDude (805747)
      Linus is basing what he thinks will happen on his experience of past monopolies.

      You're right. And every "monopoly" is different. The PC market is completely different from most previous consumer-level markets that have existed in the past, and there's simply nothing to base this on. In business school, you do a *lot* of time reading and studying case studies of other companies because, you're right... business is so complex, it can't be boiled down to right and wrong answers, generally speaking. Yo
  • by creimer (824291) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @05:26PM (#12876565) Homepage
    A company that could replace Microsoft may not come directly from the computer industry. It could very well be Wal-Mart putting a squeeze on their inventory software that they decide own the entire the computer industry to get better effeciency out of their software.

    Then again, it could always be a humble Chinese vegetable seller bent on world domination one cabbage at a time.
  • by Jediman1138 (680354) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @05:27PM (#12876572) Homepage Journal
    Here's the way I see it.

    I understand completely why consumers, especially us, want there to be OS choice and
    OS competition for everyone. Having three or four major OS's that end user every-day
    Joes would use sounds like a Utopia. In fact, if I had it my way, there would be Windows,
    Mac OS X, a revolutionary easy to use, yet powerful, Linux (shh.), and another free OS.

    However, since most consumers don't know very much about computers, they're not going to
    understand that their software doesn't work between OS's without hard-to-use (for them)
    emulation software. With all of those choices, people are going to stick with the name
    and software package they trust. Windows is going to win no matter what, unless Microsoft
    goes the way of the dodo. The vast majority cannot handle the confusion and differences
    between OS's, and they don't want to understand it. Even if somehow all the OS's could
    use each other's software natively, then what would be the point in having more than one?

    I hate to see one operating system dominate the market just as much as you guys do, but
    there will always only be one primary operating system for (at least) the consumer market.
    Whether it's always going to be Windows, I cannot say. I just know that people are happy
    with standards, and they don't want to have to screw with migrating to something new, even
    if they know it could be better for them.
    • by Stanistani (808333) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @05:34PM (#12876623) Homepage Journal
      >unless Microsoft goes the way of the dodo...

      Actually, I see Microsoft going the way of the Passenger Pigeon [wikipedia.org]
    • I predict that once OSX/x86 is released, someone will start producing a commercial Windows emulation package based off WINE. It'll make the setup and execution trivial, and otherwise it will be WINE. They will make a lot of money.

      The day Microsoft releases an OSX emulation layer will be the day they've conceded defeat. It will happen.
      • I wish I could concede defeat and continue to dominate a market and make billions of dollars. They've had a 'emulation layer' for programs before, think OS/2 and POSIX. an OS X layer is not conceding defeat, its adding functionality to the base product that the consumer base wants.

        OS X on intel is not going to be some magic bullet, and will probably make very little impact.
    • by lafiel (667810) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @06:03PM (#12876848) Homepage

      Here's the way I see it:

      Despite most consumers not knowing very much about cars either, there's plenty of competition within the market there. A car is an extremely complicated beast, but you don't have to learn how to drive just a Ford, or just a Toyota. The interface becomes standard, things might be in a slightly different place, but there's not much difficulty necessary to adjust from one to another. Under the hood, the car is vastly different within the same brand, much less between different competitors. And yet this highly complicated machine somehow has plenty of competition and it can be hardly said that one maker 'dominates' the market.

      And yes, this analogy is flawed, but the premise that I am pointing out is the key. That you can hide all the gritty nitty surface details and present the consumer with exactly enough to do what they want. Typical competition will lead people from one OS to another, whether it be brand names, the placement of your start button, or the power underneath the hood.

      Just as I don't see the streets dominated by mass-produced Fords, there doesn't always have to be one primary operating system. Things will mature.

      • Also don't forget that the majority of users who are "afraid" of computers, or can only do basic tasks.. are those who did not grow up using computers.

        The personal computer in general is still very new. It still took until the late 90's before there were more homes with computers than without. Computers are becoming more and more important in people's lives.

        My daughter is in junior kindergarten right now and I know they spend quite a bit of time learning to use computers at school.

        So the way I see it is
    • There's one big difference between Linux and Windows/Mac OSX that most people seem to ignore. There is now single leader. Currently Microsoft is largely dirrected by Bill Gates and Steve balmer and Apple is run by Steve Jobs.

      While I know they are supposed to just be figure heads look at what happened to Apple when Steve left? It ended up being run by bean counters who wouldn't take risks.

      Linux would be put back by maybe one or two years if Linus died but it's setup like terrorist cells. Each tree can work
    • Well,

      There are those things called VIDEOGAMES... there are different brands, and they don't share the same sofware base...

      People understand that a PS2 game only runs on a PS2, and not on a PSOne, PSP or GameCube.

      Hell, even my 73 yeas old grandma knows that she can only give me GameCube games, because I own a GameCube and not PS2 or a Xbox.

      As soon as you state clearly that you got to by MacOSX software to run on you MacOSX based computer, and that you need to buy Windows software to run on your Windows c
  • by 3seas (184403) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @05:28PM (#12876576) Journal
    a market based upon supporting "Abstraction Physics" and "automated - code generation to execution".

    Steps in this direction can be seen with MS's "Software Factories ideology" though its of course biased to feed MS more than being genuine about Abstraction Physics. And there is Apples "Automator" and plenty of other "code generation" and "automation" efforts all leading to the same "different then now" market.

    This is relative to the "Software Patents battle ground" [ffii.org]
  • by suitepotato (863945) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @05:29PM (#12876581)
    Consider that the average user is willfully clueless with their machines and software. Consider just how much. Now imagine AOL throwing their resources at a tight, polished, bootable AOL-ified Linux which they push on all those CDs.

    Linux will continue to move places in the techie arena like with workstations and servers. End users who can't grok Windows? No, not until it gets polished.

    So from that perspective, Linus is right that Microsoft isn't just going away. Are they going to continue to have share eaten in serverspace? Yes. Not going away though.

    Overall very good replies by Linus, one billionth the level of intensity of the zealots who squak the most in the Linux world which is reassuring. I do think he's wrong that there won't be future Microsofts. There's plenty of innovations in tech to be made that one really lucky company may corner the market through sheer chance and idiocy of their competitors. Microsoft won where Apple, IBM, SCO, Oracle, Netscape, and Sun failed to take them down in various areas despite throwing massive energy into it. It could happen again.
    • AOL has been sliding for a while now... AOL is not going to be a viable business if they remain an ISP for much longer. The writing's on the wall for AOL: they simply don't offer much (if anything) of value, even to the most basic customers.

      Even so, what would the point of this be? What would AOL have to gain from spending massive R&D to build their own version of Linux? That doesn't make any sense.
  • by soupdevil (587476) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @05:30PM (#12876586)
    You misspelled *Is*.
  • It seems everyone I've talked to in the last 6 months is using FireFox. Plus everyone I tell FireFox about thanks me later. Everyone loves the tab feature and the "natural" defense against spyware. Anyhow... sure it's just a browser.
    • by WillAffleckUW (858324) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @06:23PM (#12877022) Homepage Journal
      It seems everyone I've talked to in the last 6 months is using FireFox. Plus everyone I tell FireFox about thanks me later. Everyone loves the tab feature and the "natural" defense against spyware. Anyhow... sure it's just a browser.

      Now, if I were Bill Gates, and there's no truth to that rumor, I'd be much more concerned with the open-source browser adoption and implementation.

      Why? Because if people aren't using IE - tightly bound into my OS or so I would claim - then they might realize they don't need my OS. And that would be double plus ungood.

      So, in a way, projects like FireFox could make it easier to switch from my OS (Windows Daddy Longlegs) to an open source OS (insert name here).
  • by erroneus (253617) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @05:47PM (#12876715) Homepage
    ...People look to Microsoft for brand name recognition and "trust." (I hear you laughing, but think like a consumer, not like a tech person.)

    People still don't know "Linux" even if they have seen the IBM ads. So there's not a lot of established consumer trust. That will have to come from company trust really... and let's be honest, we're still quite a way from that at the moment. (I don't deny the progress but I can't ignore the distance to the destination either.)

    When people realize that the OS and the Software as the means of operating on data instead of as "the thing" then we'll start to see an appreciation that software can be a commodity especially when they see that by divorcing Microsoft, their business data becomes free to be used by ANY software and not just Microsoft's. We've got a long way to go before that happens.

    Still, I like the language Torvalds is speaking on this matter...
  • to find a new dominant player you actually have to start looking at a totally different market altogether

    <chorus>to find a new dominant player you actually have to start looking at a totally different market</chorus>
  • Open source is well equipped to survive because of its long term goals. Successful open source projects are built from the beginning to be extended, to incorporate functonality that was not imagined from the beginning, and to be well integrated and share data with other applications. These are all qualities that you cannot depend on proprietary software for, it is at the whim of the project directors and other developers and users have no direct influence.

    If we take a page from the video game industry, am

  • and if it can get China to actually enforce - or permit enforcement, in practice - of patent law, then it still owns the marbles, even if others want to create solutions in that area.

    It's like walking across a minefield where every 2-3 feet a new mine exists - or doesn't. You can let a bunch of gerbils fan out across the minefield and detonate the mines - which takes time and uses up a lot of gerbils, not to mention funeral costs for them - or you can buy a map.

    Microsoft sells the map. Patents let them
  • Linus's comparison of MS with IBM is off. Without sounding like a PR person for MS, I'd like to point out the fact that in the history of IBM there has never been anyone at the top who is like Bill Gates. IBM is better known as a hardware producer, and even then it has recently lost quite a bit of luster by selling PC business to Lenovo and losing Apple as a client. IBM has always conjured up an image of a mammoth corporation with faceless techies, but the only image Microsoft projects is that geeky guy
  • Microsoft could very well fall down when customer backlash peeks. i.e. suppose Apple does decide to ship OS X for any x86 at just the right time.
    i.e. I just spent 6 hours cleaning CoolWebSearch and HomeSearch off a computer. I still don't think I've got all of it yet. There are now duplicates of every file in the C:\Windows directory with a random slight change to each one. I also have tons of TXT and LOG files with bizarre random names.

    If I a professional has to struggle so hard to remove this Trojan/
    • You're missing a point here. If what you suggest would happen, then it would have already happened. Clearly, though, it hasn't. Why not?

      Two reasons: Comfort and disbelief. People may curse Windows with their dying breath, but they're familiar with it, or at least think they are. Going to a different platform with different stuff is a HUGE barrier for most people. Furthermore, as much as viruses and malware and spam are destroying computers and data, people don't generally believe that it'll be any better (
  • by swb (14022) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @07:19PM (#12877364)
    MS isn't a company, it's a part of the economy.

    I work for a small biz computer/network consulting business and there are dozens of companies like is in our area, and 90% of what we do is Microsoft. Add this in to the really big players that feed off of MS as well, and you have almost an economic segment unto itself.

    It's hard to say "topple MS" when you have an economic entity almost as big (bigger?) than MS itself that makes money off of it.

    • A while (decade+) back, I was reading a report. At the time, the most successful product ever was the IBM 3350 disk drive. The second most successful product was the IBM 3340, which the 3350 replaced. The third was the Ford Mustang.

      In the same timeframe, the revenue of the IBM 3090 processor series constituted 0.1% of the US GDP. Yeah, 0.1% is a small number, but that big a fraction of the GDP is incredible. (Maybe I'm off by an order of magnitude, but the same would be true of 0.01%, against the US GDP.)
  • The vast majority of home computer users wants their operating system to be nothing but a GUI that makes it as easy as possible to run as much software applications as possible in combination with as much hardware as possible. This is the simple reason why Linux is not an option for mainstream home PC users, and won't be any time soon.
  • by dantheman82 (765429) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @07:43PM (#12877520) Homepage
    I for one am sick of the usual /. flaming against MS that smacks of jealousy and extreme idealism for "their pet OS". The point of Linus makes a lot of sense, and I think that yes the market will correct some of the rather hefty prices, as he says. Of course, the question is for the next 5-10 years, "What OS can my company bank on in the meantime?" I'd say MS is a pretty safe bet if (a)you have a lot of infrastructure that works well (Win2K/Win2K3/whatever) for the intranet where you have the knowledge and experience (and also support for the near future) and (b)you diversify with some *NIX (or even Windows Server) offering for the webserver where you have enough knowledge and experience to support it sufficiently yourself rather than rely on some company (RH) or other (pick your company).

    Basically, those who bet against MS have the burden of proof on their specific OS over the MS offerings that have worked for a lot of people...and their view may be right for their situation.
  • Celebrity Geek Match (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @08:01PM (#12877607) Homepage Journal
    Torvalds sounds pretty smart, even when he's not talking about kernels. The same is true of Gates, even though he's rarely quoted anymore talking about kernels, or actual tech nuts & bolts. And Gates' speech is always informed by the best research, filtered through the best marketing, that money can buy. Yet Torvalds seems to be speaking from personal conviction and his own research.

    How do we stage a nerd-off?
  • by IGnatius T Foobar (4328) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @08:36PM (#12877800) Homepage Journal
    Who do you buy mainframes from today? That's right, it's IBM, still the mainframe monopoly after all these years. But we're well past the period of "all computing is done on mainframes." How many of you have a 3270 on your desk?

    Similarly, even if Microsoft's desktop monopoly is never dislodged, the market will move on anyway. We're all starting to see it; applications are leaving the desktop and being absorbed back into the network. A network whose components are most certainly not monopolized by Microsoft. You can be sure that the Dark Lord of Redmond knows this quite well; that's why he wants to push XAML as the future of web based apps -- to keep a nice monopo-lock on things. Fortunately, the geniuses at Google have been showing us that you don't need a .NET/XML runtime embedded in your browser to do rich, functional web apps. And that means we get to continue on our merry way, towards a network-dominated future where if any operating system has an advantage, it's the one that serves well as an infrastructure component. You guessed it: Linux.
  • Troll (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Frankie70 (803801) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @11:50PM (#12878662)
    If Linus had actually posted on Slashdot "I do not believe that anything can replace Microsoft in the market that MS is right now.", then he would have probably been modded as a troll by the proLinux crowd on Slashdot.
  • by Kjella (173770) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @02:52AM (#12879150) Homepage
    I just read today that they are expecting a wave of OpenOffice use in local governance here. source in Norwegian [digi.no] How many people are that? About 430.000 of a workforce of 2.4mio. Linux OTOH is used on servers, but no real plans of Linux desktops yet (except in schools where we have the "School Linux" [skolelinux.no] software).

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