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How Microsoft Beat Linux In China 313

Posted by kdawson
from the always-did-know-the-value-of-being-the-standard dept.
kripkenstein notes an analysis up on TechRepublic detailing how Microsoft beat Linux in China, and the consequences of that victory: "With the soon-to-be largest economy standardized on Windows desktops, desktop Linux does seem to have an uphill battle ahead of it." "Linux has turned out to be little more than a key bargaining chip in a high stakes game of commerce between the Chinese government and the world's largest software maker... The fact that... Linux failed to gain a major foothold in China is yet another blow to desktop Linux. After nearly eight years of being on the verge of a breakthrough, Linux seems more destined than ever to be a force in the server room but little more than a narrow niche and an anomaly on the desktop."
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How Microsoft Beat Linux In China

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  • Uphill battle (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sveard (1076275) on Saturday July 28, 2007 @04:33PM (#20025859) Homepage
    But Linux has always had an uphill battle, the hill just got a little higher.
  • by tsa (15680) on Saturday July 28, 2007 @04:34PM (#20025865) Homepage
    After nearly eight years of being on the verge of a breakthrough, Linux seems more destined than ever to be a force in the server room but little more than a narrow niche and an anomaly on the desktop.

    That is exactly the problem with Linux. It's always almost ready dor the desktop. And it will always stay that way as long as there isn't a standard interface and and a good office suite that does MS' .doc format. Sad but true.
  • by pembo13 (770295) on Saturday July 28, 2007 @04:41PM (#20025933) Homepage
    It matters because nothing Microsoft does benefits anyone but them in the long run. You've got to have noticed this by now.
  • by sumdumass (711423) on Saturday July 28, 2007 @04:45PM (#20025983) Journal
    I'm beginning to think that the people in charge don't want t to be accepted. It is one of those fears that they will lose their importance of they don't need to fight anymore. There have been quite a few decisions lately and of past that just show this to me. They want something that they are in front of an not something in front of them.
  • Re:What battle? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Phrogman (80473) on Saturday July 28, 2007 @04:54PM (#20026061) Homepage
    If Linux wins out in the end it will be in part for this reason. You can examine it for backdoors, concealed reporting etc, which you cannot do with a proprietary closed source OS. I have no doubt that if it was asked by the NSA to include that sort of thing in its product offerings to China, MS would be willing to comply. What company would be willing to rely on the goodwill of a foreign, potentially hostile or at least rival government's goodwill, when it can develop its own operating system and include these features itself and under its own control?
  • Trusted Computing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Geof (153857) on Saturday July 28, 2007 @04:57PM (#20026085) Homepage

    The Chinese government wishes to control the use of the Internet and of computers. The Linux community is hardly likely to help China take control of computers away from the users. But with Trusted Computing, Microsoft may be able to offer exactly that capability.

    For a government concerned about control, Microsoft's obvious motivations (control and profit) may be both more familiar, more predictable - and because Microsoft is centralized, mor tractable. This in comparison to the diverse coalition of interests making up the free and open source community.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 28, 2007 @05:02PM (#20026119)
    Read the article again more carefully. The maximum price outside multinationals will be $3; nothing near $100. Most people will be permitted to "pirate". The lesson from this is that the only way to negotiate with MS is to have a serious and already deployed Linux strategy. RedFlag remains crucial to China's bargaining. If you country doesn't have it's own RHEL based Linux distribution, it's time to start asking for explanations.
  • by LaughingCoder (914424) on Saturday July 28, 2007 @05:05PM (#20026151)
    Huh? As a graybeard I remember those horrible days where we got our OS from our hardware vendor, along with the "opportunity" to buy their crappy, proprietary, $10,000/seat applications. Further, as an application developer, I remember those dark, pre-Windows days when I had to test my software on reams of different hardware; it was not a good use of my time, but without a ubiquitous layer between my application and the hardware (any vendor's hardware), I had no choice. Counter to your assertion, I think Microsoft has played a major role in improving the life of people like me. Admittedly, they have gotten rich in the process; they weren't doing it out of altruism. But I do not begrudge them their profits. I gladly pay the "Microsoft tax", which is a pittance in the grand scheme of things, in return for the many benefits their efforts have afforded me.
  • Not So Fast (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RAMMS+EIN (578166) on Saturday July 28, 2007 @05:11PM (#20026211) Homepage Journal
    ``The fact that... Linux failed to gain a major foothold in China is yet another blow to desktop Linux. After nearly eight years of being on the verge of a breakthrough, Linux seems more destined than ever to be a force in the server room but little more than a narrow niche and an anomaly on the desktop.''

    Oh, come on. Just as those who have been proclaiming, the past few years, that whatever year it happened to be would be the year of Linux on the desktop were to early to proclaim victory, this is a bit too early to proclaim defeat.

    I seem to recall something about one of the world's largest PC vendors starting to ship systems with Linux pre-installed. Does that sound like "a narrow niche and an anomaly on the desktop"? To me, it sounds more like one step on the road to being a recognized and respected operating system.
  • Uhm... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BlueParrot (965239) on Saturday July 28, 2007 @05:18PM (#20026275)
    So, in a country governed by a surpressive regime which wishes to controll and monitor it citizen's as much as possible, a proprieatry closed system controlled by a centralised body is standard software rather than a free open system with an ideological emphasis on the freedoms of the users. Doesn't sound to surprising does it ? Now the real WTF is that the democratic world is using it as well...
  • by 3seas (184403) on Saturday July 28, 2007 @05:19PM (#20026287) Journal
    Unless the Chinese government outlaws linux and alternative OS, its only a matter of time for world wide open source software to improve beyond what microsoft can produce. Note, I said "Open Source Software" which is a wider base than the "Linux Kernel".

    But for this to be promoted as Victory of MS vs. Linux. Certainly it is a hype, as GNU/linux continues to replace Microsoft products in governments around the world. Before GNU/Linux what was the option?

    Sooooo, in the bigger picture, MS has been down graded from a sure thing, only option, to a need to announce and amplify the announcement of victory over the competition in specific cases.

    You will not find MS announcing competitors victory over them and maybe not even teh same level of media coverage.

    The fact that it took the open source software development model to create competition for microsoft, where all other MS competitors business models failed, says a lot as to what to expect of the future of open source software.
     
  • by jgrahn (181062) on Saturday July 28, 2007 @05:45PM (#20026485)

    Huh? As a graybeard I remember those horrible days where we got our OS from our hardware vendor, along with the "opportunity" to buy their crappy, proprietary, $10,000/seat applications.

    Microsoft didn't kill that hateful environment. Unix (and I suppose some others) did. Remember the term "Open systems" from the early 1980s? It was the reaction to the situation you describe.

    Further, as an application developer, I remember those dark, pre-Windows days when I had to test my software on reams of different hardware; it was not a good use of my time, but without a ubiquitous layer between my application and the hardware (any vendor's hardware), I had no choice.

    That too, wasn't Microsoft, but Unix and others. Heck, even the microcomputers of the mid-1980s had serious operating systems like AmigaDOS, RiscOS, Unix dialects ... Is your beard really gray?

  • by RAMMS+EIN (578166) on Saturday July 28, 2007 @05:45PM (#20026489) Homepage Journal
    ``These moves, coupled with building strong relationships within the Chinese government and opening a major research center in Beijing, completely changed Microsofts fortunes in China.'' (emphasis mine)

    So it was good old favoritism. Buy a can of politicians, get one nation free!

    This is why those with power should be watched and their use of said power closely scrutinized. Of course, there's no such thing going on in China.
  • by try_anything (880404) on Saturday July 28, 2007 @05:57PM (#20026589)
    I do the same as you, but I would never give up my crappy old laptop running Windows XP, because OpenOffice isn't absolutely bug-for-bug compatible with MS Office. I still have to go to the Windows machine occasionally to open a file.

    The rest of the "not ready for the desktop" stuff people talk about is a bunch of red herrings. What's missing is not technical capabilities in the kernel, UI slickness in the applications, or games but the massive entrenchment that Microsoft relies on to make Windows look magical: OEM installs, reliable drivers provided by hardware vendors, and a decade of user familiarity. No amount of work on applications or task schedulers will ever begin to address those issues. Linux-on-the-desktop fans should look for ways around those problems instead of obsessing over programming.

    To put it more concisely: Slashdotters are programmers; programming is the hammer; widespread desktop adoption of Linux is the problem; and no, it is not a nail.
  • Re:Big Picture (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Heddahenrik (902008) on Saturday July 28, 2007 @06:19PM (#20026745) Homepage
    You're missing two important things:

    1) The China regime gets a monopoly, not Microsoft.

    2) Payment to Microsoft doesn't go the USA. It goes to Microsoft's investments and business in China. China (or any other country) isn't going to to pay another country for bits that can be copied for free, unless they get something back.

    To me it's quite obvious that the Chinese regime clearly has seen the problem with free software that would make public control much harder. Now they just have to call MS and say "Hey, people are using bittorrent to download porn!" and it will be fixed in the next update.
  • by dannycim (442761) on Saturday July 28, 2007 @06:35PM (#20026869)
    I don't know but, if I were a Microsoft product user, I'd be mighty peeved that some guy on the other side of the world is paying $3 while I'm paying $150 for the same exact piece of software.

    Where's the fairness in that? Why the preferrential treatment? Are we rewarding criminals now?

    Pffft!
  • by twitter (104583) on Saturday July 28, 2007 @06:37PM (#20026887) Homepage Journal

    Does anyone really think China will allow their citizens to use a free OS? Does Bill Gates really think Communist China will make a good paying customer?

    Meanwhile back in reality, instead of conquering the world and prospering, M$ is in deep trouble.

    With less than 1% of China's population on line, it's a little early to be taking "victory laps". Communists have glad handled western celebrities forever, so there's really nothing new or special about China's treatment of Gates. Fears of US spying have not gone anywhere, nor have issues of cost and reliability.

    Bill Gates can hobnob with tyrants all day [slashdot.org], what he needs to worry about is acceptance in his own back yard. Vista and Office 2007 have made no difference to M$ or anyone else's bottom line [slashdot.org].

  • by filter_zero0 (934468) on Saturday July 28, 2007 @06:56PM (#20027001)
    All this talk of GNU/Linux competing over a slice of the user share is pointless.
    The only thing that matters is that I can use an OS without restriction.
    The only thing that matters is that ANYONE can use an OS without restriction.
    This is the only thing that free software does better than any other proprietary system out there.
    Even if GNU/Linux is dropped like a hot potato that's ok because free software
    will still get made by poeple who do it for the love of it.
    Using a computer is a human right not a privlege.
  • Re:Uphill battle (Score:2, Insightful)

    by CrossChris (806549) on Saturday July 28, 2007 @07:00PM (#20027029)
    On a recent trip to China, I saw zero Windows machines - plenty of Linux, though. I saw a few Windows machine in Hong Kong - at the airport check-in desks. They'd all crashed!

    Don't believe the Windows FUD!

    Game Over, Microsoft!
  • by Mspangler (770054) on Saturday July 28, 2007 @07:03PM (#20027045)
    And don't forget the "enterprise" apps. To get rid of Windows where I work we need not just Office replaced, but OSI's PI System has to be ported over to Linux (or whatever), Emerson's Delta-V control system has to come over, the Yokogawa DCS has to come over (which ironically used to run on Unix, but they are now a Windows Certified Partner, which didn't stop them from losing a sale when Bill dropped the version of Frontpage which their data historian access system depended on, and they couldn't meet our evaluation requirements without it.)

    We would also need Allen Bradley's and Modicon's PLC programming software to be ported over to Linux, Autocad (or something very similar), and Apollo root cause analysis software, and the ATR incident tracking system, as well as the 7i maintenance planning/inventory software, (web-based so it would easy except for the Active-X controls), our LIMS system, and I haven't even touched what the bean-counters in the corporate building might use.

    We still have an AS-400, even though IS would love to replace it with SQL Server, but it apparently can't be replaced by only one SQL Server; it would need several, and that has saved it for now.

    Getting Bill's virus-ware out of the system would take at least 20 years. It's not happening, as much as I would like it to. All the Linux community can do is convert the new startups, who are usually cash poor, to Linux from the start. As the new companies begin to grow, a market will develop that eventually will get the above list ported over, or create replacements for that software. Eventually the cost advantage of open source can win, but it will not be a fast transition.
  • by someone300 (891284) on Saturday July 28, 2007 @07:29PM (#20027249)
    Being a Linux/OS X user myself, and having just spent the last 2 hours setting up Ubuntu Gutsy Tribe III on my MacBook Pro, I feel that it's not quite ready to compete with OS X yet. Though, a considerable amount of what you said was factually inaccurate.

    Cutting and pasting a table from Excel into Word requires that both applications agree on what the format of that data will be

    Gross oversimplification. The real difficulty is what happens after one of the applications is closed. This post explains how the Windows clipboard works: http://mail.gnome.org/archives/desktop-devel-list/ 2003-September/msg00257.html [gnome.org]

    *nix applications are developed entiresly independantly of one another

    That's a bit of an odd thing to say. Applications on all OSes are developed somewhat independently of each other; that's what makes them individual applications. They aren't developed entirely independently of each other, otherwise they plain wouldn't work. They make use of each other's APIs, they talk to each other, they collaborate and depend on each other. A lot of apps on Linux tend to cooperate very well considering that they are developed pretty much all by third parties. 3rd party applications in Windows tend to be pretty bad for cooperation with each other and the OS in general... they tend to try and all compete for the user's attention in a highly uncoordinated way.

    if you want to cut something from gnumeric and past it into OOo writer, it's not going to work

    Copy and pasting from Excel into Word works fine. As does copy and pasting from OOo Calc into OOo Writer. This covers 95% of use cases. I wonder, though, how well things like Lotus 1-2-3 or Gnumeric/Win32 works when copying into Microsoft Word... I don't know, I've never tried... but I do know that a lot of the cooperation between Microsoft Office and third party applications isn't because of their solid foundation on standards, but rather because support has been hacked into the application. There may well be standards, but Microsoft in particular seem to be pretty good at diverging from even their own standards. Admittedly, clipboard is a bit of a soft spot

    X needs a "com"unication layer

    There is lots of session/system communication in Linux, all for different purposes and with different ideas. Many are agreed upon and collaborated with. DBUS is one.

    "just use Samba or NFS" you say? Ha. Linux security works at the OS level. If you're root on one system and you access a filesystem on another system over NFS you can modify files owned by root without having authenticated. That's a HUGE security flaw and it's been that way forever.

    You've fudged an awful lot of information here....

    It is true that NFSv3 works this way, but it is also true that NFSv3 should only be used on trusted networks. This is nothing to do with filesystem security being at the OS level. It's true that this is the case, but that's nothing to do with the fact that being root allows you to behave as root on other computers... this is purely the way that NFS is implemented. Filesystem security should be at the OS level... that's merely how applications interact with the filesystem. Applications mediate the network access to filesystems, so if they're running as root and allow external users to access as root, it's their fault. NFSv4 fixes a lot of these flaws.

    Samba/SMB/CIFS (or indeed AFS, DFS, or many of the other network filesystems) do not have this problem whatsoever. They work exactly the same as Windows File Sharing and in the case of Samba, is completely cross compatible with Windows.

    NFSv4 isn't anywhere near the "just works" stage

    I don't think it will ever be, and I think this is the idea of NFS. I don't think NFS was ever meant to be "just

  • by Eric Damron (553630) on Saturday July 28, 2007 @07:38PM (#20027323)
    In many countries it is a common business practice of giving "gifts" to the "right" people if you want to get something done. If you need a license in four months and not four years you bribe officials. Of course you don't do so in an obvious way but they reap your generosity anyway.

    It's usually done through third parties that are hired and given a large operational budget.

    Linux may be better for China but Microsoft money is better for some key officials.

    And that folks is the way it works.
  • by multisync (218450) on Saturday July 28, 2007 @08:20PM (#20027601) Journal

    That is exactly the problem with Linux. It's always almost ready dor the desktop


    I don't understand why you see a "problem with Linux." Success for Linux isn't measured in "market share" or whether the Chinese government (a shining example of rational decision making if there ever was one) decides to standardize on pirated copies of Windows. It's very existence is it's "success." The fact that I have a choice to run a stable, powerful, free OS that just lets me get work done is it's success.

    People who let the chair-throwers at Microsoft dictate the terms of what would be "success" for Linux are just playing in to their hands. We don't have to worry about bad decisions being made to appease shareholders, or unnecessary, expensive updates being forced down our throats. Don't like what Red Hat is doing? Try another distro. The ability to make such a choice is the success that free software represents.

    Regardless of whether Microsoft continues to grow and dominate or dies from it's inability to actually create useful, innovative software that - given other choices - people would actually want to use, there will be hackers banging out free software for all the reasons hackers have done so in the past. And users who value choice will benefit from the efforts of those hackers. Those who prefer to stick with the status quo will choose to do that.

    And that choice is success for Linux, and GNU and free software in general.
  • Slow down, cowboy! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by grcumb (781340) on Saturday July 28, 2007 @08:37PM (#20027687) Homepage Journal

    Whoa, Nelly! This article - and the discussion here - is rife with untested assumptions. Let's establish a bit of context here before going too far.

    Microsoft beat Linux? That most certainly is how Microsoft sees the situation. But their entire ethos is of conquest, control and coercion. None of these apply to Linux. While it's true that some have used Linux as a tool to gain leverage with Microsoft, Linux as an operating system has no goal, except to be good at what it does. Unlike Microsoft, Linux is not controlled by any single actor, or even by a like-minded group of actors.

    Linux doesn't fight Microsoft (though MS does fight Linux and FOSS in general). It just keeps improving for its own sake and for the sake of its users. If that has detrimental effects on Microsoft's control of the operating systems market - and it does - well, that is nothing more than a collateral benefit.

    So, from Microsoft's perspective, maybe they did 'beat' Linux, but even that defeat isn't complete or permanent. When China donates PCs to its development partners, what OS does it ship? Linux. Is Red Flag dead and buried? No. Is China dependant on Microsoft for its IT infrastructure? Hardly.

    What price victory? A more honest evaluation of the circumstances of China's decision to accept Microsoft at all shows that Microsoft's 'victory' may be more pyrrhic than anything. With trademark deftness, China has largely de-fanged one of the most effective and brutal corporate negotiating teams in the world. This is the corporation that managed to buy off the US government and avoid any real punishment following its conviction for abuse of monopoly powers. It's the company that has consistently and rather successfully thumbed its nose at the European Union, the largest economic entity in the world today. It has controlled standards processes, locked in countless corporations and ruthlessly dominated the supply chain world-wide.

    Yet Chinese negotiators got everything they asked for. Price reductions? They pay about 10% of what other governments do per seat. Control? They not only have access to the source code, they have to right to alter it to suit their purposes.

    Think about what that means to the Chinese. In economic, political and strategic terms, they've negotiated unprecedented access to an invaluable resource, and they've done it in a way that costs them next to nothing. Truth be told, Microsoft got almost nothing out of this deal. China still uses Linux whenever and wherever it wants.

    A deal that would make Stallman laugh. If we think about the Four Freedoms that underlie the GPL, the same four freedoms for which Richard Stallman and the FSF have fought so desperately to support and preserve, the same freedoms that are so perfectly antithetical to everything that Microsoft stands for... these are exactly the freedoms that China has preserved in its deal with Microsoft.

    Let's be honest here: Microsoft may have won the battle, but only by utterly compromising itself and its future in China. They have placed themselves in a virtually abject position vis à vis China. Happily, the Chinese know enough about loss of face to ensure that they never rub this in Gates' face.

    Bottom line: This is not a Linux/Microsoft story. Linux is a bit player in this story, a Rosencrantz to Microsoft's Hamlet. The real story is how China managed to pull a classic con on one of the toughest negotiating teams in the corporate world, and how they did it so well that Microsoft keeps coming back for more.

  • by 2Bits (167227) on Saturday July 28, 2007 @09:04PM (#20027839)
    Well, let me give you my view from inside China. I'm living in Shanghai.

    Sure, favoritism is a big thing, guanxi has to be built. But that's just about the same everywhere, including the US (what do you think those lobbyists do in DC?), it just seems more obvious in China.

    However, you have to give Microsoft credit for doing their homework, they invested in building that guanxi. Where are RH, Ubuntu, Suse, Mandriva, and the gang? I don't see any. They don't even have an office here. Microsoft learned the rules of the game in the US, that's why they have a huge lobbying budget in DC now. And I think they are playing the rules pretty well in China.

    If the Linux distros want to have a piece of the cake, they just have to be here. Go ask Motorola, Nokia, GM, Ford, KFC, McDonald... they set up shop here, and now, their chinese division is making tons of money, and has the highest growth rate in the whole entity.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 28, 2007 @09:21PM (#20027947)
    My wife is chinese, and i have been to china several times so i have a few things to say about this. First, i dont think this "idea" of not standing microsoft is universal. i think most chinese just want something with does the job (dont we all??). Maybe you find windows irritating, but the hundreds of machines in the chinese internet cafe's ALL run windows. The machine i'm using now is FC6, but i dont think i can get my chinese wife and kids to use it. I've installed chinese fonts, i've got the chinese IME working property... but guess what.. its just not that friendly to use, and lacks several important things (good kids games, visio, etc, etc). Sorry, linux people, but its true. She wants to use QQ like all her friends use to chat. Lets face it, when she's typing chinese, there's not a lot i can do to help her is there? her friends use QQ, and taught her how to use it, yes, i know that GAIM connects to QQ's network, but again, its not QQ is it?

    Instead i am tyring to find a way to purchse Simplified Chinese XP from within north america (not an easy task, called MSFT and was told by sales they dont have such a product if you can believe that).

    i think its about time people recognize sometimes windows is better, and that in general, people should work on improving linux instead of this near-constant anti-microsoft rants this board has become. While most of you sit here rantnig about MSFT, they are probably building new products and impvoving things. Im not a fan of MSFT, they are a simply a company with a product, but i am able to admit some products they have are damm good at what they do (One Note comes to mind).
  • by pogson (856666) on Saturday July 28, 2007 @09:42PM (#20028141) Homepage Journal
    Linux has been ready for the desktop for years. I was using that other OS 8 years ago and had no end of trouble with it freezing, crashing and losing our data. I switched to Linux on the desktop and it has been relatively trouble-free ever since. I have introduced hundreds of students and teachers to Linux and very few had any trouble as newbies. They liked the fact that for no cost I could provide them systems with greatly improved performance. The idea that Linux is not ready must stem from propaganda or low market share. Reality is much different. Free as in free beer installations are not counted in market shares. Web statistics are very unreliable. Surveys of OEMs and business show rapid adoption of Linux on the desktop. That is why Dell, HP, and many other firms are providing PCs with Linux pre-installed [lxer.com]. That is why the global market for Linux servers, service and applications amounts to billions of dollars and is growing rapidly. see IDC report 2007 [idc.com]

    Worldwide revenue from standalone open source software reached $1.8 billion in 2006. This revenue will reach $5.8 billion in 2011, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 26% from 2006 to 2011.
    see IDC report on Linux in China, 2007 [idc.com]

    On the other hand, 2006 was a good year for the Linux desktop. The Ministry of Information Industry, State Copyright Bureau and Ministry of Commerce first issued a joint decree that required all new PCs to be installed with a legal-version OS. This was followed by a directive that forbade the installation of FreeDos in new PCs. Given such a regulatory setting, the price advantage of a Linux desktop became more attractive and a number of PC vendors, who previously did not install any OS, quickly adopted Linux desktop products. This led to a sharp increase in OEM revenue for Linux desktop. At the same time, Linux vendors launched and heavily promoted new desktop products, which contributed to the robust development of the Linux desktop market that year. Bolstered by favorable government policies, Linux desktops shipments grew apace, rapidly reaching new users via OEMs. The value of the Linux OS also became more widely recognized, offering greater opportunity for active development and deployment of Linux desktop products, said Vivian.

    So, the reality is that Linux on the desktop is growing at 20% per annum in the commercial market which lags the personal/free market by a large margin. M$ had to cut its price to $3 just to stay competitive. That is all Linux needs, to be allowed to compete on price and performance. For years, M$ has had a free ride. That is soon stopping. Get used to it. It is doubtful that Linux will KO M$ because some will always want to pay too much or be swayed by sales campaigns , but M$ will fall into the pack with realistic prices and market shares. Remember the glory days of the Soviet Union, when every election resulted in the landslide for a single candidate of the party's choosing? Those days are gone forever in Russia and they will soon be gone for M$.

  • by tftp (111690) on Saturday July 28, 2007 @09:51PM (#20028209) Homepage
    Imagine that you are ill and the doctor offers you a choice of two drugs. One is free. Another works. Which one will you take?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 29, 2007 @12:40AM (#20029291)
    The first hit is always free.

    Microsoft's goal (as always) is to get people hooked. Once your documents are all in Microsoft format, once your hundreds of millions of users are trained in nothing but Microsoft software and once your entire IT industry is locked into the treadmill of Microsoft certifications sheer momentum ensures that unless the company starts publicly executing cute children there is no getting off the train. To reach this point MS will happily let China have whatever it wants -- for now and for years to come.

    MS will bleed red ink with a smile as long as it furthers their goals of future market domination. Just look at the console market if you want to know how far they'll go. Millions down the toilet and no end in sight.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 29, 2007 @01:13AM (#20029457)
    Excellent points.

    I'd add that the recent crackdown on piracy of Microsoft software in China has given Microsoft another very questionable victory. Many Chinese were able to get free, or extremely cheap copies of Windows and office. Now that piracy might be a bit more difficult, people who have much less cash than Americans will be forced to consider other free choices, namely Linux. Personally, I was very happy to hear of the piracy crackdown, as I firmly believe it will benefit Linux.
  • by selfdiscipline (317559) on Sunday July 29, 2007 @01:21AM (#20029495) Homepage
    Yours is a good post, but one that I disagree with.

    Well, I actually would agree with you that there is less money in open source software. However, I think this indicates not a failing of open source, but of commercial development. I agree with you that the commercial software ecosystem is very vibrant, with great profit potential. But I view this as a drain on the rest of the economy. Just think about how many web startups are using a LAMP stack... would their businesses be possible in a purely commercial software world?

    I'm not looking to see the software industry destroyed, or even crippled, since I hope to soon get a job developing software. I think there is money in development on demand, where developers make money for their labor in custom-tailoring software to a customer's demand. The software would be free, but of course the labor wouldn't.

    Now, this kind of business won't thrive in current climates, because there is more money and easier money in commercial software. But eventually free software will dominate, because in the long term how can something be more attractive than free? Of course there is support to think of, but I don't see any inherent reason that free software should be more expensive to support.

    So I think that whether we like it or not, free software is the future. And I choose to see that as a positive future, where software becomes more pervasive in our environment, more adapted to our specific needs.

    There'll always be money in software development until we create machines that are smarter than us in every way.
  • by kamapuaa (555446) on Sunday July 29, 2007 @02:37AM (#20029877) Homepage
    No. If you actually believe piracy is difficult in China then I have a proverbial bridge to cell. The bootleg seizures are a regular propaganda piece, they pop up in Western Media every six months or so. Pirated software and movies are everywhere, everybody knows it, and piracy sites operate freely [verycd.com] within the PRC.

    Linux in China is the same as the US; nobody uses it except for a few nerds.

  • by howlingmadhowie (943150) on Sunday July 29, 2007 @02:58AM (#20029969)
    it's interesting to see their old policies coming back to bite them on this one.

    microsoft leveraged their monopoly to make it impossible for customers for 6 years to get anything other than windows xp on a new computer. the result? customers think that a new computer means windows xp, and are deeply suspicious of change. now there's suddenly a new operating system none of their friends have. windows xp's main advantage was always its ubiquity. vista, due to being new, does not have this.

    microsoft has told the customer for years that different=difficult. now they are reaping what they have sowed.
  • It's true (Score:2, Insightful)

    by specific_pacific (904746) <sicapitan@gmail.com> on Sunday July 29, 2007 @04:33AM (#20030305)
    Read the article, it's true - no point in arguing. Ninety-percent I'd say run IE etc, so much so that hardly any webbies check on other browsers. Probably about the same percentage. They teach .net and java in schools. So OS on server shizzle is still there. Server wise, yeah hosting companies run 2003, but always offer a linux alternative through a CPanel/plesk interface.

    Chinese language and translation tools run on windows and IE better than they do on the mac and linux, so they use it for study along side their normal courses.

    My office is all mac with the exception of ubuntu server. The reaction is sometimes negative. Popular IM clients like QQ only run on PC's, unless you get the port (not as accessible). Then you get other IM's like off taobao (big online sales), thats windows only.

    Users don't know what Ubuntu is unless they're in their 30's and have worked in a senior role or admin role in languages outside of ASP. Oddly enough, the north is predominantly more windows-esque than the south. Perhaps the influence of the tech savvy of Hong Kong pushing north.

    Anyway as much as I hate it, having the edge or difference knowing all about OS-OS and carrying a Macbook Pro makes you unique :)
  • by Omni-Cognate (620505) on Sunday July 29, 2007 @06:07AM (#20030677)

    Also, I have to take issue with this:

    If you look at the latest incomes of the Open Source vendors it is down right disappointing after a decade of potential. For crying out loud Ubuntu is the result of a guy who made his money with something else and is supporting Ubuntu because he wants to have fun!

    So what? Why should I care what his motives are. And don't tell me that it's because the survival of Ubuntu is subject to his whims. It's open source.

    I don't really care about OSS "beating" Microsoft in any financial sense. I do prefer Linux over Windows at home (for practical reasons too numerous to bother listing) and it annoys me that I have to maintain a dual-boot system, primarily as a result of the dominance of the MS Office file format. So in that sense I suppose I would like Microsoft to lose out, but only because their dominance currently prevents me from using the software I want to use, which otherwise provides all the features I need. However, there's no particular need for OSS to "beat Microsoft on the desktop" for this problem to be solved, or even for Microsoft to suffer any significant financial loss.

    I will consider OSS to have succeeded on the desktop (note succeeded, not won), when I no longer feel the need to install a proprietary operating system on my home computer. That point has been getting steadily, inexorably closer throughout the decade that has passed since I discovered OSS, and the march towards it shows no sign of slowing. I therefore find your use of the past tense when discussing the "open-source era" rather perplexing.

  • by parasite (14751) on Sunday July 29, 2007 @06:40AM (#20030803)
    "I mean, plain ol' HTML has been incredibly disruptive to the government's media control, and technologies like Tor potentially allow any Chinese citizen to read any Ta1wanese newspaper."

    It doesn't do any of our fellows in the West any good to write BS like this when you know darn well it is BS. I work in China, for a foreign company, and in the office we cannot have any risk that the bullshit firewall will interfere with our operations. (This is very normal for foreign companies.) ALL OF OUR TRAFFIC is piped through Japan directly. That means every Chinese guy, while at the office, has *real* internet. . . I've chatted extensively with a large number of the guys, and guess what? Not a one of them has ever mentioned this or shown the least bit of particular interest in the extra "freedom" they have while at work work. They sure as HELL are not accessing "banned sites", when lunch time rolls around they are on the same bullshit Chinese youtube clone and other trash mainland China websites every retard in full-censored Chinese internet cafes is hitting. (I say trash sites because they will rip your browser a new A**HOLE. Try surfing some of them -- after 30 minutes you would no longer feel any pity if you heard all webmasters here were going to be lined up and shot.)

  • by I'm Don Giovanni (598558) on Sunday July 29, 2007 @08:30AM (#20031267)

    Actually, it sounds like he's describing any number of legit businesses.
  • Re:The Register? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by patiodragon (920102) on Sunday July 29, 2007 @11:26AM (#20032185) Homepage
    "If you've done your homework and you know something fund managers don't..."

    This is a joke, right? Every time there has been a stock market crash, there have been a ton of *professional* fund managers who are exposed as not knowing crap. Is it in there oh-so-brilliant plan to let the value of their fund fall by 10 or 20% (or more)? Please, just think a little about it.
  • Re:Uphill battle (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bob.appleyard (1030756) on Sunday July 29, 2007 @02:09PM (#20033239)

    This will go down as the only time in history when a private corporation defeated a sovereign government in war.
    East India Company
  • by Draek (916851) on Sunday July 29, 2007 @02:40PM (#20033503)
    sorry, but that's capitalism for you. It promotes innovation by rewarding the first ones to market, and then as manufacturing processes become more efficient and economies of scale kick in, commoditize the technology so that others may be able to innovate upon them and the cycle starts again.

    Linux is simply the natural succesor of MS-DOS, which got so popular because it was a cheap OS to put into cheap PCs at a time where licensing UNIX would've costed you more than the hardware itself. And just like we went from UNIX to MS-DOS and Windows, we shall go from them to Linux, for precisely the same reasons. Sure, some companies may die along the way, but others are already profiting from the new, service-oriented market that's growing with the commodization of the Operating System.

    don't like it? tough luck. It began, in fact, with the worldwide, widespread piracy of Windows (and Office, Photoshop et al), it's just that now it's being replaced by a legal alternative, and I doubt that there have been more Linux companies dying due to "cheapskates" than Windows-related ones dying due to piracy of their products. Even better, since the source is completely open, people who can't afford it are free, even encouraged, to help in other ways such as coding new features or making translations, whereas in the Windows world, if you don't have a wallet you're practically useless to the ecosystem at large.

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