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Microsoft Doesn't Care About Destroying Linux 330

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the to-busy-drinking-baby-blood-i-think dept.
techie writes "A latest column on MadPenguin.org suggests that Microsoft may not be really interested in killing Linux for mainstream users. It's after something else, and it's getting its way already. Read on to find out what it is. The author states, "Love it or hate it, Microsoft's IP attacks will continue, Linux user numbers will continue to grow and broad spectrum adoption throughout the rest of the world will grow and flourish. Microsoft's not interested in destroying Linux in the slightest. Why would they? it's been a fantastic vehicle for them to land a firmer grip on the corporations throughout the US."
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Microsoft Doesn't Care About Destroying Linux

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  • by Pig Hogger (10379) <pig.hogger@gmai l . c om> on Monday July 02, 2007 @12:07PM (#19718445) Journal
    It makes sense. Without something to denigrate, what Microsoft could do? How could Microsoft claim to be "better"?

    For many business managers that went to business schools who know fuck-all about IT, it's very easy to believe that something that is "free" in both senses of the word is not good. After all, business is about control and profit, two things that are absent from "free".

  • by monk.e.boy (1077985) on Monday July 02, 2007 @12:08PM (#19718475) Homepage

    Microsoft need to make money. Not kill Linux.

    If they could see a way to make more money by working with Linux, they'd do that. Hell, they're not that stupid ;-)

    Just stating the obvious.

    monk.e.boy

  • Oh yeah (Score:1, Insightful)

    by ILuvRamen (1026668) on Monday July 02, 2007 @12:11PM (#19718507)

    Linux user numbers will continue to grow and broad spectrum adoption throughout the rest of the world will grow and flourish
    Oh yeah, what about those people that aren't even technical enough to run Windows? I guess they'll just have to stay behind and become Microsoft's main base of customers lol. But seriously, Linux is kinda hard to use even for me and I'm a programmer. I don't think it's for EVERYONE.
  • by jshriverWVU (810740) on Monday July 02, 2007 @12:20PM (#19718625)
    As long as OEM's keep selling machines with windows preinstalled, I seriously doubt if MS cares if you clean it and load Ubuntu on the machine. They still got their $75 for the license.

    That's one reason I respect Dell for having the guts to sell machines with Linux preinstalled.

  • by CaptainPatent (1087643) on Monday July 02, 2007 @12:22PM (#19718661) Journal
    until the corporate users realize "wolf" has been cried one too many times.
  • by stretch0611 (603238) on Monday July 02, 2007 @12:23PM (#19718669) Journal
    The article is pathetic. The author makes a haphazard attempt to explain the current situation then draws his conclusion. He does not explain how he arrived at that conclusion or give any evidence. The Psychic Friends network gives better supporting evidence.
  • by Shivetya (243324) on Monday July 02, 2007 @12:24PM (#19718691) Homepage Journal
    Hell, they don't even have to frighten business users. Linux already does.

    Look, hoping that Microsofts actions lead to more adoption of Linux isn't going to work. They don't have to do anything, its up to linux promoters to convince people that it will work AS WELL AS windows WITHOUT any interruption in their use of it, meaning that they don't have to think.

    Until you can provide a "don't think about it - it just works" Linux desktop the users aren't going to switch. Even then it had best come preinstalled and have a near seamless way to run windows software that they might want.

    Linux and Windows don't compete for the same people and the Linux people should understand that, it sounds like Microsoft already does
  • by gelfling (6534) on Monday July 02, 2007 @12:26PM (#19718729) Homepage Journal
    Redmond doesn't want to obliterate all comers such as Linux and Apple because that would trigger yet more legislation and court cases. Redmond has to 'suffer' a 10% or 15% market share to its competitors in order to preserve the illusion of a loyal opposition.
  • by kripkenstein (913150) on Monday July 02, 2007 @12:27PM (#19718741) Homepage

    Microsoft's not interested in destroying Linux in the slightest. Why would they? it's been a fantastic vehicle for them to land a firmer grip on the corporations throughout the US.
    That makes no sense whatsoever. How can their grip be any firmer than having a monopoly on all the software that is used by corporate America?
  • Linux Good for MS (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tjstork (137384) <todd@bandrowsky.gmail@com> on Monday July 02, 2007 @12:29PM (#19718771) Homepage Journal
    Linux provides Microsoft with a competitive reason to further intertwine its entire Windows software stack into a set of offerings targetted directly to different users. I imagine, in the future, there will be Windows : Developer Edition, that comes with some sort of Vista Pro and Visual Studio, or Windows : Home Edition, the comes with some sort of integration with XBox 360 integration and a slew of built in game subscriptions.

    These moves would shut out or down Windows ISVs, but would provide a bit more revenue growth for Microsoft. Were someone to cry anti-trust foul, Microsoft could, and has, pointed to Linux as a real competitor. This isn't unlikely. When Linux couldn't even run with many kinds of mice and had little hardware graphics acceleration, Microsoft claimed they were a competitor during the Netscape trial.

    It's the Dunkin Donuts defense, and it works. The backstory is that Dunkin Donuts drove Amy Joy out of business, but argued that it wasn't a monopoly because you could still buy donuts from Entemanns and other local bakeries. Microsoft is doing the same thing.

    And, the other thing, too, is that the consumer OS space really doesn't have much room for MS. Consumers generally don't go to the store to buy operating systems, all the MS money is in preloads. So, if consumers do switch to Linux, MS has already collected its first payment. Then, as most consumers do, they switch back to Windows, by going to the store and buying a copy of something like Vista. In other words, the more frequently a user switches back and forth between Windows and Linux, the more likely they will make Microsoft even more money.

    So they don't want to support Linux, but they don't want to quite kill it off either.
  • Non-sequitur (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mcrbids (148650) on Monday July 02, 2007 @12:30PM (#19718781) Journal
    TFA is a complete and utter waste of time to read. It doesn't make sense to itself. It's something like:

    Microsoft doesn't care about Linux because people are starting to use it more and more, but not as much in America and America is going to hell in a handbasket so Microsoft really doesn't care if Linux eats their lunch if they do it slower and that helps Microsoft get to the corporations with Ubuntu in their back pocket. /TRIPE.
  • by michrech (468134) on Monday July 02, 2007 @12:31PM (#19718789)

    Which do you think they'd pick? Granted it depends a lot on what kind of work needs to be done, but for something like web/email/sql server then Linux does the job very well. You can always have 1-2 Windows servers for those few clients that absolutely insist on having MsSQL and IIS.
    You answered your own question. Of course the hosting company would pick both, if "the bottom line" is all they care about (as you assert in your previous statement). Whether we like it or not, Windows is a HUGE market, and if all they want is to rake in the cash, there is no way they'd ignore those who wish to use a MS environment.
  • by Paulrothrock (685079) on Monday July 02, 2007 @12:40PM (#19718905) Homepage Journal

    Until you can provide a "don't think about it - it just works" Linux desktop the users aren't going to switch. Even then it had best come preinstalled and have a near seamless way to run windows software that they might want.

    I disagree. There's tons of stuff you have to think about when using Windows. The difference, however, is that Linux makes you look at a command line, while Windows wraps it all in pretty GUI screens that all do essentially the same thing.

    So Linux doesn't have to be "don't think about it - it just works" to succeed. It needs to be "don't think about it - just click OK" to succeed.

  • by quanticle (843097) on Monday July 02, 2007 @12:43PM (#19718943) Homepage

    Microsoft is forever expanding into new markets because Windows and Office aren't the "revenue streams" they used to be, and eventually they will be trying to get money from people using Linux.

    If they really wanted revenue from Linux users they would come out with Office for Linux. However, that's not what they want. The want to keep businesses locked into using Windows on the desktop and the server, hence the flood of patent litigation threats. This is just the latest iteration in their campaign to spread fear, uncertainty, and doubt.

    First they claimed that Linux was unreliable. Then they claimed that it was insecure. Now they're claiming that it allows for intellectual property violations. This isn't a change in strategy, just an adjustment in tactics. Their long term goal is still to scare businesses away from Linux.

  • by Tempest451 (791438) on Monday July 02, 2007 @12:48PM (#19719007)
    I disagree with your disagreement. What most Linux users dont seem to understand is that the majority of Windows users dont even know what a Command Line Interface is. Microsoft understood that years ago and thats why everything is wrapped up in a "pretty GUI". If at any point my 60 year-old mother-in-law has to know where to find the CLI, that OS has already failed.
  • by xvicex (1096231) on Monday July 02, 2007 @12:49PM (#19719025)
    That's just BS! Why would you need to claim your product is better then your oponent's one if there aren't any?

    In any case they do claim their product is better then the previous version just not in a clear way like "Way better then XP!". That's why in the product charts comparing the several Vista licencies they have fields that make no cense like "Better Security" with just the most expensive ones selected, are they saying the cheapper ones have crappy security? Are they assuming to be selling a unsecure software?
  • by nsebban (513339) on Monday July 02, 2007 @01:00PM (#19719177) Homepage
    ...perhaps because it's not a threat ? The linux end-users market share is a tiny one, and MS just doesn't want to spend money where there is basically none to be made.
  • Standard FUD Play (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rlp (11898) on Monday July 02, 2007 @01:09PM (#19719293)
    It's a bluff - if Microsoft went after say, Red Hat, they'd have to name the patents that were being "infringed". That would cause:

    1) Many of the patents to be invalidated due to prior art.
    2) OSS programmers to code around the "infringing" patents.
    3) IBM (and it's huge patent portfolio) to come after Microsoft. Since
          IBM has a huge vested interested in Linux.
    4) Enormously BAD publicity for Microsoft, and call for actual enforcement
          of the antitrust ruling against them.

    It would be an extremely self-destructive move. By talking about infringement (but not doing
    anything), they cast doubt over the competition and even get some gullible corporations to cough
    up some cash (woah! free money!). It's a FUD play, fairly standard in Microsoft's (anti-)
    competitive playbook.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 02, 2007 @01:16PM (#19719363)
    If the goal of IT management is running a cost effective operation, Linux has some advantages. However, if the real goal is preservation of budget and headcount, Windows is the way to go. Sometimes, the easiest money to get your hands on is the "non-discretionary" cash you need to maintain the status quo. Notice how IT management is quite content to outsource work to India and elsewhere, so long as the original IT management is still in charge of the projects and the bodies performing the work. Delivering IT systems and services is secondary; maintaining "control" is job 1. Rock the boat by making some of that infrastructure unnecessary, and you will have to beg and plead for every dollar -- even if you have day-1 savings that more than cover what you want to do.

    Bear in mind, that reducing headcount means one-time expenses related to severance, etc. And savings on license fees will take at least a few months to hit the bottom line (sometimes longer). In most cases, it takes at least a year to show the savings to be had by dumping MS. It may very well be worth doing, but the first year is not going to put big savings onto the scoreboard. And it may take a while before users discovers that things work more smoothly than before. In the short run, dumping MS might be a rough ride.

    Sadly, it is the people who don't spend much money who are often taken for granted. In many companies, the path to success in management is to grow your budget and headcount faster than anyone else.

    I have met a whole generation of IT professionals who like what MS does for their careers more than it does for their business.
  • by Shotgun (30919) on Monday July 02, 2007 @01:18PM (#19719377)
    Spot on, dude.

    Even worse, the conclusion he draws doesn't even make sense. Linux helps Windows domination in the enterprise (where it is a monopoly) when users switch to it at home (where Windows is also a monopoly)? How-d-hell does that work?

  • by Pharmboy (216950) on Monday July 02, 2007 @01:20PM (#19719401) Journal
    But the more fragmented the Linux market is, the better MS looks as a corporate choice. The Linux community is way fragmented, like the Unix market was 15+ years ago. Right now, I'm burning CentOS 5.0 because I don't want to pay RedHat to test and play with a new OS that I don't need support for, and it is only one of a few different RH clones.

    A clone of a clone.

    Microsoft has to be liking what it is seeing, with every day a new distribution of Linux coming out, and no single standard. Different files in different places...
  • by ricree (969643) on Monday July 02, 2007 @01:22PM (#19719425)
    Yes, but you are presumably already using Linux. And so are most of the other people who like to use the command line to get things done. The point is, making things less reliant on the command line will be essential for growth, because the majority of computer users would rather have a GUI. Most distributions seem to understand this perfectly well. Look at Ubuntu, for your average user, a lot of the average computer tasks can be done purely GUI, and I suspect that this trend will continue in the future.
  • by Eric Damron (553630) on Monday July 02, 2007 @01:37PM (#19719587)
    So I'll just come out and say it:

    Linux is NOT hard to use. That's very old FUD. T there are only about three possibilities to explain your post:

    1. You haven't tried using Linux recently or maybe not at all. This means you don't know what you are talking about.
    2. You are a Microsoft shill/astro-turfer.
    3. You are one of the crappiest programmer's in the world and really too stupid to be using a computer. You should find a different line of work.

    So, which one are you?
  • by Conor Turton (639827) on Monday July 02, 2007 @02:14PM (#19720011)

    But Linux is not "fragmented".
    Really? How many package managers? Some use apt-get, others RPM whatever. How many desktops? How many X Windows servers? Sorry but Linux is a good example of fragmentation. You wanted choice, you got it. What that means though, is that it's fragmented and for Corporate World, that's not good.
  • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Monday July 02, 2007 @02:29PM (#19720199)

    Really? How many package managers? Some use apt-get, others RPM whatever.

    rpm
    apt
    slackware's pkgtool
    gentoo's emerge

    And learning them would be included in the single day it would take for anyone familiar with any distribution to learn a different distribution.

    How many desktops?

    So it seems that you're trying to define "fragmentation" as "choices".

    Why is that?

    No one refers to the car market as "fragmented" just because you can buy a Ford OR a Chevy.

    And if you buy a Chevy you can get a sports car OR a pickup truck OR an SUV.

    And you can get them in manual OR automatic.

    "Choice" is not "fragmentation". Learning to drive a manual pickup truck does not prevent you from learning to drive an automatic sports car. And the learning process will take less than a day.
  • by tieTYT (989034) on Monday July 02, 2007 @02:34PM (#19720279)
    I'm not entirely convinced that open source is less expensive than closed source. I'm especially skeptical about your implication that close source software requires MORE developers than open source developers. Has anyone ever done an in depth study about this claim? You may reply, "It's obviously cheaper" but there are service costs, costs associated with understanding how to use the software, etc.

    But regardless, I think that the biggest benefit to open source software is that you can change it. If you discover a bug in Windows that stops you dead in your tracks but only effects .000001% of Windows users, MS may never fix the bug and you're screwed. With OSS, you can go in there yourself and fix it when you absolutely need to. I think that's the MOST comforting thing about OSS. Problem is, that's a very technical benefit that the MBAs may not understand.
  • by plague3106 (71849) on Monday July 02, 2007 @02:52PM (#19720535)
    Not the person you responded to, but I am a software engineer.

    1. You haven't tried using Linux recently or maybe not at all. This means you don't know what you are talking about.

    I had been running a Linux server since 1997 - 2006, and as a desktop 2002 to 2006. Using it was fine, updating it, getting it to work with my printer, finding an accounting program that I liked was difficult.

    2. You are a Microsoft shill/astro-turfer.

    Nope. I had supported Linux for everything.. but after getting married and doing things other than computers, I found myself not being able to easily manage my network. I couldn't easily deploy updates to all computers on the network, documentation was non-existent or outdated, and the community helpfully said RTFM, or worse, never answered questions at all. Sorry, I'd rather spend a few minutes clicking through a wizard than researching hours on the exact linux solution to the problem I want to solve.

    3. You are one of the crappiest programmer's in the world and really too stupid to be using a computer. You should find a different line of work.

    Every job I've had has consitently held me as a very good programmer. I've even been asked recently to come back to a former employer because they thought I did a good job.

    So yes, even programmers can think Linux is too hard to use. Those of us that don't sit in front of a computer 24/7 at least.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 02, 2007 @02:55PM (#19720555)
    You make an interesting point. Part of the tradeoff is level of service to the users. If it's OK to have the Exchange server offline 1% of the time instead of 0.1% of the time, then by all means go get a batch of MCSEs and turn 'em loose. I would rather have a small number of very smart, well-paid people than a large number of mediocre certificate holders. I prefer 99.9% uptime to 99%. I prefer to work someplace where people can tell the difference.

    I see many businesses where management takes a commoditized view of IT. This must be a popular concept in MBA school; those people seem to be the worst offenders.

    Although MS would like to market itself as an upscale competitor of Linux, they are actually a mid-level player. At the low end, you have businesses that can't afford the license costs. At the high end, you have businesses that can't accept the stability/security/licensing problems. In the middle, I can see how there is just enough money to pay for licenses and MCSE salaries.

    As you say, there is a certain category of software customer whose primary objective is the commodity replacement of internal IT support. That kind of thinking rarely leads to growing a business to the level where MS is no longer suitable.
  • by jedidiah (1196) on Monday July 02, 2007 @03:26PM (#19720897) Homepage
    Package managers? 2 major ones. (that interoperate)
    Desktops? 2 major ones. (that interoperate)
    X servers? 1

    Linux is hardly a good example of "fragmentation".

    Commercial Unix is a far better example of fragmentation.

    Compared to HPUX vs AIX vs Solaris a couple of corporate Linux distros that share 99.9% of their inner workings is not so bad really.
  • by misleb (129952) on Monday July 02, 2007 @03:45PM (#19721173)

    rpm
    apt
    slackware's pkgtool
    gentoo's emerge

    And learning them would be included in the single day it would take for anyone familiar with any distribution to learn a different distribution.


    How long it takes to LEARN one package system or another is irrelevent. The real issue is that each package front end means a different package *backend*. Actually, there are more backends (repositories) than there are package managers. That means: if you want to release a binary version of your software, you have to compile and package it for each and every distribution you wish to support. This is a sign of fragmentation.

    No one refers to the car market as "fragmented" just because you can buy a Ford OR a Chevy.


    No slashdot discussion would be complete without a car analogy. :-)

    And if you buy a Chevy you can get a sports car OR a pickup truck OR an SUV.

    And you can get them in manual OR automatic.

    "Choice" is not "fragmentation". Learning to drive a manual pickup truck does not prevent you from learning to drive an automatic sports car. And the learning process will take less than a day.


    No, choice alone is not fragmentation. But when one car requires diesel fuel and another requires unleaded gas, that is fragmentation. Add in cars that charge from a high voltage/current line, and you have even more fragmentation. Each gas station that wants to support all these cars has to implement all the different ways of refueling. Just as any Linux software vendor who wants to support all of Linux has to build and test packages for a dozen or more different distributions. And a corporation trying to decide WHICH flavor of Linux to adopt has to be worried about which distribution will get the support of third party vendors. THAT is fragmentation.

    -matthew
  • by HiThere (15173) <charleshixsn@earthlin k . n et> on Monday July 02, 2007 @05:26PM (#19722353)
    There is one problem though: dependencies.
    Different distros support different versions of different libraries. This is significant enough that a deb made for Ubuntu won't necessarily run on Debian Etch or Debian Lenny. And conversely. Even mixing packages between Etch and Lenny (stable and testing) is problematic. I often run a few Lenny packages on Etch, but if it ever starts to be a problem, I'd better be ready to do a full upgrade.

    So... if you want to use any feature that's under development, you're going to get lots of problems trying to just package a binary. Packaging a source is much safer, but even there you can run into problems. Basically you need someone to build a package on each system that you are targeting. Otherwise you can't be sure that it will work. (Yes, it will "probably work", but that's not good enough for a commercial product. And if it's a commercial product then you probably don't want to be distributing source anyway.)

    OTOH, you could just build for, say, Red Hat7.0, Ubuntu7.06, and then test for install on, say, Mandrake, etc. Then you say: "This program is for xxx and xxx, but is also known to install on xxx, xxx, xxx, and xxx." (If it installs, it will probably work, but this isn't guaranteed. I've got a copy of CivilizationCTP that I can install on my current system, but won't work unless I go back to a 2.4 partition. It's not the transition to 2.6, as it handled that, but sometime later some change was made in some system library that broke it. [I know that it has to do with the SDL libraries...but I'm not sure just what changed.) Still, there was a period of time when it would run under Debian testing (Etch), and the breaking was sudden (as the SDL libraries changed).

    Now if Loki were still in business, what should they do? SDL was in transition, and the new SDL wasn't stable yet. (At that time numerous SDL programs experienced a brief [around a week?] surge of instability, and it wasn't known to anybody but the developers [if them] how it would end. Everything MIGHT have been reverted.)
    Well, that was the testing distribution...but testing is, perhaps, the most widely used distribution on desktops. (Well, perhaps not right now. The last I checked Etch and Lenny are still pretty much the same, so there's not much incentive to change.)

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