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Linux vs. Windows 667

An anonymous reader writes "Technology Review has a great article discussing how pretty, user-friendly Linux desktops, cheap machines sold at stores such as Wal-Mart, and the growth of useful free software like Open Office have made Linux a 'key business risk' for our friends in Redmond. The story notes that Linux's market share for desktop computers has already surpassed Apple's. Says the Open Source Initiative's Eric Raymond, 'The sinister plan for world domination is right on schedule.' All right!"
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Linux vs. Windows

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  • Wal-Mart (Score:3, Interesting)

    by spungo ( 729241 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:33AM (#9948360)
    Yeah, well, this wonderful service they provide (cheap GNU/Linux boxes) may be great for all you Americans - but it ain't gonna take off in the same way throughout the rest of the World without a similar rock-bottom outlet doing the same. ( /me mourns living in rip-off UK)
  • by Osrin ( 599427 ) * on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:33AM (#9948366) Homepage
    ... the projected 6% desktop share is Linux helping new users reach out to computing, or if it is biting into Microsoft's market share. It will obviously be a little of both, but I wonder what the breakdown is.
  • Re:Wal-Mart (Score:3, Interesting)

    by a3217055 ( 768293 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:37AM (#9948420)
    Walmart is more evil tham Microsoft. Be grateful that you are not living in the land of shoppers of Satan. :) But yes there has to be a good distribution model for releasing these Linux boxes to the masses. I think there will be a day when people will not have real computers at home but some dumb client or ... piece of hardware like a sun ray box at home where they log on and watch movies go on the interent, read email. All this through very fast networks, and so you don't have to buy a computer every 3 years. .... And the server you log into run Linux ... maybe that is the future..
  • I've been using Linux desktops for six years, and I still impress my boss with the applications available for it, the ease of use, and the compatibility.

    Aside from our accounting package, there is nothing really holding us to Windows. E-mail, Web, DNS, and our main business programs run on some flavour of *nix, including the evil version, and with Mono/C#/.NET, we are starting to develop platform agnostic versions of most of our other apps.

    All we need is a good platform-independant financials package, and we would be able to use any platform we wanted to.
  • Software giant! (a la Crocodile Dundee). As I have pointed out 21.6 times, Wal-Mart will kill any and all competitors because of their immense size, discount ability, and general acceptance by the population. Microsoft may be a big software company, but Wal-Mart is #1 on the Fortune 500 for a reason!
  • Linux is real (Score:5, Interesting)

    by IGnatius T Foobar ( 4328 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:38AM (#9948448) Homepage Journal
    As much as the 'softies love to downplay the significance of the Linux desktop, and dismiss it publicly as insignificant, irrelevant, and unfeasible ... inside the walls of Redmond, they absolutely take it seriously. They know it is a serious long-term threat to their core sources of revenue, and being the financially wealthy but morally bankrupt bunch of criminals that they are, will stop at nothing to kill it.

    And here's why. In 1998, anyone running a Linux desktop was a true geek. But every year brings changes, improvements, leaps in usability and application availability. Ask a marketing weasel what this means and they'll tell you that the value proposition of desktop Linux is slowly but continuously improving. Add in the economics and they'll tell you that eventually that value proposition will become too high to ignore.

    Remember: there was a time when the PC itself was considered unfeasible. There was just too much momentum behind IBM's mainframes to ever unseat the venerable 3270 terminal from the business desktops of the world. How many of you are viewing Slashdot from a 3270 right now?
  • by Shivetya ( 243324 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:38AM (#9948449) Homepage Journal
    AOL is marketing a $299 computer to those who don't currently have PCs. This market is mainly seniors, blacks, and hispanics.

    Yes AOL is a royal pain, but it is in a unique position to market low cost internet access machines.

    Properly configured Linux boxes would reduce the risk that many of their users already present the web and rest of us. It would also fill the needs of the majority of their users. Most never leave the AOL installed programs (my grandmother is a great example of that).

    If not AOL then attempting bundling with an internet provider would still provide benefits. It could also be used as the basis to market to schools.
  • Re:Wal-Mart (Score:3, Interesting)

    by torpor ( 458 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [musibi]> on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:39AM (#9948468) Homepage Journal
    hey, its happening here in germany ... it'll happen in england soon enough...
  • Re:Lindows? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by alienw ( 585907 ) <alienw.slashdot@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:41AM (#9948493)
    You don't have a clue, do you? Linspire is a COMPETITOR to Windows. Therefore, they need to offer the same kind of features. Do you really think MS would have made WinXP half as good as it is if not for Linux? If Linux didn't exist, we would still be using WinME and complaining about BSODs.
  • by jlbprof ( 760036 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:42AM (#9948499) Homepage
    I think MS should become really scared, because Linux is doing to MS what MS did to Netscape. As Paul Maritz of MS said "cut off Netscape's air supply", now Linux cuts off MS's air supply. It is a good day :) Julian
  • Apple is still ahead (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Dixie_Flatline ( 5077 ) * <vincent.jan.goh@ ... om minus painter> on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:42AM (#9948506) Homepage
    Once again, rumours of Apple's demise are greatly exaggerated.

    This story [wired.com] from Wired basically claims that the PCs that are sold with Linux that are driving up the percentage are immediately being wiped and reinstalled with a pirated version of Windows. According to Google's stats, only about 1% of searches are done from Linux machines, compared with about 3% for Macs.
  • by otisg ( 92803 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:43AM (#9948526) Homepage Journal
    Rearding this:

    Says the Open Source Initiative's Eric Raymond, 'The sinister plan for world domination is right on schedule.' All right!" ... there is a bit of truth in every joke. He is not fully joking here.
  • by aussersterne ( 212916 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:44AM (#9948537) Homepage
    People keep saying that Linux isn't ready for the desktop, and they use examples of various ages of housebound women as examples of why.

    Well, since Red Hat 8, the first distro where I called and encouraged all of the people (including women) in my life to try Linux, the following people have installed and begun to use Linux instead of Windows, and they all did it without my handholding, in all but one case surprising me with a "guess what I just installed!" phone call:

    - My three sisters
    - My mother
    - My father
    - My best friend
    - His girlfriend
    - My cousin

    None of them are computer professionals. Most of them weren't even computer "geeks" at all and had just complained enough to me about Windows 95/98/ME/2000 (none of them had XP, it's true, AFAIK) that I thought they might like a change. The first time I had seen Red Hat 8, I pretty much decided it was time for Linux+desktop. A couple of them are still running Red Hat 8, but my mom and sisters have actually run the "upgrades" (i.e. downloading and burning the next version, then running the "upgrade" install on it).

    Red Hat 8-9 and Fedora Core 1-2 have very nice, clean, graphical, "click Next a lot" installers/updaters and autodetect pretty much every piece of hardware. Nearly all of the system services can be configured using their desktop tools in the GNOME menu, including things like print queues, wireless cards, modems, and other things that desktop users might want. These aren't IBM or Compaq PCs for the most part either, they're just white box PCs (there is one thinkpad in the group). One of my sisters even uses her Olympus digital camera with gphoto or some such application (I'm not even familiar with gphoto, I just mount a CF card in a card reader, but she found something in the menu that said "Digital Camera" or something like that and away she went...) to sell stuff on eBay.

    With the state of the Linux desktop right now, they can listen to and burn CDs without needing to read anything or even launch an application, they can browse the Web, use OpenOffice to write stuff (they all set up their own printers, with one exception). The couple that have installed software from RPMs haven't had any trouble, they just downloaded the software to their home directories and double-clicked on it.

    Linux isn't ready for the desktop? Maybe for some values of desktop. But for peope who just want:

    - Web/Email
    - Word Processing/Spreadsheet/Presentations
    - Printing
    - Music
    - Burning CDs
    - Solitaire

    it's there and it's been there for a long time already.

    Oh, there has been one question, and it is a place where Red Hat's GNOME desktop falls over: every one of these people did end up calling me at some point and asking how to access their floppy. I don't know why Red Hat ships a KDE desktop that has a floppy drive icon, but doesn't do the same with their GNOME desktop?!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:45AM (#9948558)
    What I'd like to see is Linux vs Apple stats for Slashdot.

    After all, on such a linux zealots website, Linux *should* be a lot higher than Apple... right?

    My guess is that even on Slashdot, Linux is lower than Apple in %.
  • by Ridgelift ( 228977 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:46AM (#9948562)
    Over the last three years, the fraction of home and office PCs powered by Linux has roughly doubled, to almost 3 percent, and it's set to double again before the end of 2005, according to market research firm IDC.

    I don't think Linux can compete directly with Microsoft. Their mindshare and marketing is too powerful. Where I see the opportunity to win is through the second PC.

    Many households are starting to buy more than one computer. If Linux came pre-installed and configured with Samba (to share and store files for the entire house) and streaming software to stream audio and video, then Joe Consumer could start relying on Linux to hold what's most important - their data.

    Maybe consumers won't see Linux as a front-line PC for awhile, but the super-reliable machine in the background storing all their save game data, their music collections and their work files will sneak its way into homes just like Linux snuck in to the datacenter. When Jane Doe is pulling her hair out because Windows needs 14 hours of download time to get it OS updates, anti-virus and anti-Spam signatures after being rendered unusable from the latest virus, the realization that reliability is ultimately more important than compatibility will finally dawn. "Hey, this Linux computer is still working. I'll get my report done on that machine"

    Of course once that happens, then more people will buy Linux machines. Then there will be a growing demand for native software. Linux compatibility will finally be addressed, because there will now be a market to sell games, applications and other stuff for Linux.

    Hopefully Billy Gates and his cohorts have a good supply of Diphenhydramine Hydrochloride. They're going to be losing a lot of sleep in the next few years.
  • Sure! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Xargle ( 165143 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:46AM (#9948576)
    All those systems sold as linux machines are still running linux. I bet. No really. Honest.

    I'd suspect a fair percentage of 'savvy' users are buying linux system to avoid paying for windows and then using dodgy knock off XP licences.

    Of course, that'd be wrong.
  • SNAP SNAP.... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by oliverthered ( 187439 ) <(oliverthered) (at) (hotmail.com)> on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:54AM (#9948671) Journal
    Got graphics cart performance or support problems, well you should be using SNAP.... [scitechsoft.com]

    startup problems, well used a desent SysVInit replecement that runs init's in parralle instead of serial.

    Want to run windows games, well WineX (Cedera) runns shit loads, and out of the last 4 games I brought 2 had native Linux support 1 had Mac support (and I didn't check the box before hand).
  • Re:Lindows? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Davak ( 526912 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:58AM (#9948724) Homepage
    Held linux back? Is the goal of linux to beat windows?

    When somebody learns about linux do you want to introduce them to a buggy GUI interface that requires them to spend more and more money to install lindows-blessed programs?

    I would rather walk them into my work's (hospital's) server room... or pull-up their uptime stats. Stuff like that is impressive.

    Your average joe that buys a computer a wal-mart wants to know how to run Doom 3... it's futile.

  • by HypothesesNonFingo ( 800736 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:58AM (#9948730)
    Just wait til Trash*Mart takes over the world and then you won't be able to buy a computer (or anything else) from anywhere else.

    In the recent list of richest people, Gates was at the top, but several Walton heirs were in the top 10. So be careful which collective to which you assimilate!

  • by general_re ( 8883 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @12:03PM (#9948809) Homepage
    WalMart didnt kill Lidl and Aldi when they tried to take on the German discounters on their home soil.

    A) German labor laws make it difficult for Wal Mart to build and employ their workforce in the same way they do outside of Germany;
    B) German zoning laws make it difficult for Wal Mart to build the sort of big-box stores that they do outside of Germany;
    C) German pricing laws make it difficult for Wal Mart to discount their goods as deeply as they do outside of Germany;
    D) Don't kid yourself about why Wal Mart has had a tough time in Germany - it has nothing at all to do with how clever their competition is, and everything to do with how the deck is stacked against them from the get-go. Take off the shackles by changing the laws, and I guarantee you'll see just how formidable they can be, even in Germany.

  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @12:04PM (#9948812) Homepage
    Not really, most of the "choir" here are repeating the same FUD over and over, or are basing opinions of linux on their experience with redhat 3.1 or Slackware 2.5 back in the early 90's.

    Mandrake 10.0 surpasses windows XP massively on the ease of install. I just did a demonstration of this to a group of techs here we are training to roll out our linux support at the help desk.

    I showed them a bare install of Mandrake 10.0 and then did a bare install of XP on identical hardware.

    Mandrake was ready to use and on the net at first reboot. XP I needed to go and download ATI radeon drivers, sound drivers for the on-board sound chipset, Drivers for the ethernet chipset, and Drivers for the IDE chipset before it was useable.

    It completely floored every tech there, (These are tier 3 techs) By the end of the class we were asked by over 60% of the attendees if they could get a copy of Mandrake.

    Linux is making insane inroads, is getting easier and better every single day. Windows has had no changes to it for over 2 years now.

    It's more of a "wake up and look" kind of article. linux is starting to overtake faster, but very quietly... and because of that a large number of people, even people that are "in the know" are getting caught off-guard.

    hell the local College IT classes we held a broadband talk for, the Professor told his class, "ignore the linux part of the talk, as linux is not in seroius use anywhere."

    needless to say, I changed our speech to start with, "linux is used in many fortune 500 corperations today, some completely rely on it like Chrysler, AutoZone and IBM......." It really pissed off the un-informed professor.

    but this is what is reality today, the "professionals" do not know what is happening... therefore this "circle jerk" as you put it is very important.
  • by Spencerian ( 465343 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @12:06PM (#9948849) Homepage Journal
    Not to take anything away from the Linux camp, but celebrations may be premature in thinking that they exceed the Mac base in home or business.

    This article claims that Linux marketshare has overtaken Apple's Mac OS marketshare, but without proof or source. Like the presidential campaigns, you should never simply take something as fact just because someone has stated it. Just because I say, "John Kerry secretly played Lurch in the 'Addams Family'" doesn't make it true (although the image is rather funny to me).

    Frequently here and elsewhere pundits confuse marketshare (the percentage of a company's computers sold in relation to the total sum of all computers sold) with installed base (the percentage of a particular company's computers in use in comparison to their competition).

    I do believe that Apple has as marketshare between 3% and 6% for its Macintosh line. (Let's not get into the iPods, where they enjoy a 75%+ marketshare--reminiscent of the company's similar marketshare in the late 70's computer heyday). However, the installed base of Macintosh systems must reside around 15 to 25%. In other words, 1 out of 6 or 1 out of 5 computers IN USE are likely Macintosh systems.

    My proof? The Macintosh software industry. Do you think these companies, from Apple itself, to game distributors such as Aspyr, from Microsoft and their Office software, to graphic software companies like Adobe and Quark, could survive from the sales of software to only 3% of the total marketshare? No. Would they survive on the sales of a larger installed base? Likely.

    My estimate is simplistic, of course, and does not fully account for systems that are older than 5 years and cannot run Mac OS X, of which most software made now requires to operate. Also, the 3% marketshare that Apple sells is stil a HUGE market of over 800,000 computers per quarter (their numbers).

    Linux can't easily be compared in this instance. For one, Linux is a commodity, but not to any one company, so you cannot fix its sales or lack thereof to any one entity. Two, because of the lack of a single source of sales and the availability of the software to anyone who can download it, determining an installed base, much less a marketshare, is difficult.

    In my couple of decades in working in businesses with Windows domains in the publishing and engineering worlds, I have counted a handful (I could count them on my fingers) of Linux systems in a business or professional environment. Hopefully there is a way to determine a true number of deployments, but I don't believe it from this article based on my personal experience of not seeing more boxen in the workplace.
  • by Warhaven ( 718215 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @12:08PM (#9948866)
    I'd never buy one from Walmart, on two accounts:

    1. Walmart isn't a fair-trade company. [google it if you don't know what I'm talking about]

    2. Can't play Counterstrike easily, reliably and efficiently without Windows. Linux just doesn't have all the games Windows does. Yes, you'll see a popular title here and there supporting Linux (Like Neverwinter Nights), but the pickings are still slim.

    On a side note, that article posted not too long ago about Linux surpassing Apple in the desktop market is a bit of a stretch. Their "desktops" included enterprise servers, business workstations, and even ATMs & cash registers. Since 99.99% of homeusers don't use a servers as their home computer, or have an ATM in their house, you can eliminate nearly half of these Linux desktops, which, unsurprisingly, puts Linux far behind Apple in the home-consumer market.

  • Re:Linux is real (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 12, 2004 @12:10PM (#9948902)
    In 1998, anyone running a Linux desktop was a true geek.

    what about us that were running linux to power our business in 1995?

    I relied on linux for my business's life in 1995.. I was able to start an ISP in a small town for 1/10th the cost of using a SUN or microsoft solution and do it with "cast-off" hardware. I made money in the first 24 months, UNHEARD-OF in small businesses. I was at 12 dial in lines in 4 communities by the time I was purchased by a larger company for an amount that I could not refuse in 1998.

    Anyone that ignores the power of linux and the amount of increased profitability and lower costs is a complete fool.

    And that is why I have ZERO respect for almost every CTO in america. there are a few I respect but not many and I write them off as fools.
  • Re:Irony (Score:5, Interesting)

    by An Onerous Coward ( 222037 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @12:17PM (#9948984) Homepage
    World domination by Microsoft is a terrifying thought. World domination by Linux and Open Source is just self-depreciating humor. A world where Linux dominates is a world where nobody dominates, because everyone who thinks there is a market for something different can just take everything that's been done so far and run with it.

    Marketshare is important, even to those who rightfully say that it's not an indicator of quality. It means that hardware manufacturers are more likely to write drivers, that applications are more likely to get Linux ports and interoperate with open file formats. It's all good.
  • MS Conundrum (Score:3, Interesting)

    by OYAHHH ( 322809 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @12:21PM (#9949047) Homepage

    Thought of this one.

    First MS argues that Linux has a higher TCO than Windows.

    But, doesn't that by definition mean there is more money being spent on services, etc.

    So therefore. how can they then argue that a business cannot make money selling Linux?
  • Re:Lindows? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by polyp2000 ( 444682 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @12:21PM (#9949056) Homepage Journal
    I agree, Microsoft may publically say that Linux is no threat, but the truth is that if they didnt take it as seriously as they do Linux adoption would probably be happening at a faster pace than it already is. In reality linux will continue to grow exponentially until no amount of fud will be good enough. In short sooner or later Microsoft wont be able to conteract its momentum any more. That will be the time we will see some shifts in their policies towards Linux and Open Source.. As the old saying goes ... If you can't beat 'em , join 'em ...

    A lot of people who have used linux for any great length of time dont look back. Why ? Because of one simple thing trust. It can only continue to grow, linux userbase just keeps getting bigger.
  • by ESR ( 3702 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @12:24PM (#9949085) Homepage
    Indeed. I was not joking, or to the extent I was it was a ha-ha-only-serious. I'm amused that the reporter thought I was joking.
  • by eam ( 192101 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @12:31PM (#9949179)
    The whole point of this is freedom. If the same freedom isn't available to WalMart, what good is it?
  • What revolution? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by westlake ( 615356 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @01:02PM (#9949620)
    Do you see Wal-Mart advertising Linux systems in print, on tv? Nope. It is all Windows. In our metro Sunday papers, thick with back-to-school promotions, not a single add for Linux.
  • by Coryoth ( 254751 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @01:02PM (#9949623) Homepage Journal
    Well, not debunked so much as it far overstated Linux's market share vs the Mac. They were counting sales, so many PCs are sold with Linux but a pirated version of Windows quickly replaces it, etc. Looking at Google Zeitgeist shows that the Mac is still well into the lead for desktop usage(for now)

    True, I think they overstated. I think the presumption that most PCs sold with Linux get a pirated version of Windows on it is guesswork though. Equally, there are a lot of PCs sold with Windows that have a legitimate version of Linux put on it.

    In the end that leaves Google as our best measure, and as you say, that puts Mac at 3% and Linux at 1%. It also has "Other" at 5%. I would be interested to know the make up of "Other" as it may well contain a few unidentified Linux boxes - I mean, your options of rother are (realistically) Solaris, *BSD, or possibly BeOS (with a smattering of other bits and pieces like Syllable, Zeta etc.), and to be honest I would be surprised if a combined Solaris, *BSD desktop market share (presumably not too many google searches are run from servers) totals to anything near 5% (I would guess around 2% maybe). That leaves some space for a lot of unknown. Note that I'm not trying to claim that this is all Linux, not that Linux has a bigger share than Apple (I strongly suspect it doesn't), just that Zeitgeist isn't all that helpful when we're dealing with the smaller market share OSs.

  • Re:That's the beauty (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Slime-dogg ( 120473 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @01:44PM (#9950219) Journal

    What's amusing about your post, is that you depict the road to open source as being like the road from communism to capitalism. If you really look at the organization of the open source community, you'll see that it follows a more communal approach than a capitalistic one.

    Sure, there is the label of "hacker" that people want, that is... ESR's "hacker," and not Time-Life's "hacker," but there's more of a "you have your job, I have mine, we make this work together" feel instead of "I pay you for this, I pay you more for this specialized thing." The "capitalistic" approach is more of the MS way of doing things, where they promote severe competition even amongst their own employees.

    I'm not really promoting communism as a governmental type, though. It's an ideal system that will never work in this un-ideal world.

  • What's amusing about your post, is that you depict the road to open source as being like the road from communism to capitalism. If you really look at the organization of the open source community, you'll see that it follows a more communal approach than a capitalistic one.

    When I look at Soviet Communism, what I see is a monolithic culture where the state, in almost feudal fashion, ran everything. Communism, I think, *has* worked for limited times in limited places for the same reason that other dictatorial state-control based systems have worked, particularly for certain types of unpopular but necessary infrastructure development. However, at a certain point, state control breaks down. I think that this is to a large extent what Marx was talking about in the progression from Feudalism to Capitalism. So Soviet Communism is merely Feudalism backed by Marxist propaganda. Socialism is of course just capitalism with some additional wealth redistribution.

    The move to capitalism from either of these state-controled systems involves the decentralization of control. This decentralization allows for greater economic agility, provided that the required infrastructure is available.

    So to, when you move from corporate control to ad-hoc social network control (even if at the center is a corporation or foundation, the network as a whole is still the primary influence on the development of the project), we should see the same trend-- the movement from a concrete control structure toward one which is more abstract and agile.

    This approach to production more closely resembles (Marxist) psychologist Wilhelm Reich's concept or "Work Democracy" than it does Soviet Communism. But what exists today to make this possible (but did not exist in Reich's day) is the existance of inexpensive, ripid worldwide communication. This is what fundamentally makes this possible.
  • by Jason Earl ( 1894 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @02:11PM (#9950586) Homepage Journal

    Actually, in every single case that you cited Microsoft was the low cost leader that ended up completely dominating an entrenched (and usually superior) product. "Good enough" and less expensive wins out in the end, and Microsoft is living proof of that. Microsoft has gotten where it is today by being less expensive than the competition, and now Free Software is using Microsoft's trick against them.

    Lots of businesses are currently gearing up to do battle with Microsoft on the desktop. All sorts of organizations from IBM and Novell to Linspire and Wal-Mart have Linux initiatives, and as these initiatives start to make money even more companies are likely to get into the act. Sure, these service and support based businesses aren't likely to generate the profit margins that Microsoft does with Windows and MS Office, but there are already plenty of profitable Free Software businesses.

  • by bheerssen ( 534014 ) <bheerssen@gmail.com> on Thursday August 12, 2004 @02:16PM (#9950638)
    According to Economist.com [economist.com], a natural monopoly is a monopoly that "occurs because it is more efficient for one firm to serve an entire market than for two or more FIRMS to do so, because of the sort of ECONOMIES OF SCALE available in that market."

    By this definition, Microsoft is not a natural monopoly because it not clear that it is more efficient for one company (Microsoft) to serve the entire desktop operating system market as opposed to several companies doing so. In software, it is hard to argue economies of scale since software may be scaled indefinitely, effectively making it a commodity that may be produced by anybody.

    Although government has not played a significant role in Microsoft's development as a near-monopoly, neither has that situation developed in an organic way. Rather, Microsoft used its increasing market share to unfairly compete in other areas that tend to enforce its position in its core market segments. That has negatively affected the overall market, distorting it to the point that it is now trying to correct itself.
  • Re:That's the beauty (Score:3, Interesting)

    by danila ( 69889 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @02:36PM (#9950928) Homepage
    That's the beauty of conditioning - of how the citizens of the United States have been thoroughly brainwashed into believing that communism is inferior to capitalism. Funny how you speak about the road from communism to capitalism being one-way, when in reality, it's completely opposite. Linux (open source) is a brilliant example of something, which by its very nature is communism not capitalism, even though at the moment it is possible to integrate Linux with capitalism. But in the very immediate future (several decades, I would say) the elements of communism will be much more prominent.

    And of course the actual transitions got quite differently. From slave-ownership society to feudalism, to capitalism, and finally to communism. Linux is just one example of this transition.
  • by fname ( 199759 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @02:45PM (#9951037) Journal
    I'll address since it seems to be such a strong claim here. Yes, there is 5% other. But that is not exclusive to desktop share. This includes mobile phones, handheld PCs, many servers which conduct proxy searches, the odd Win 3.1, BSD, and, maybe the biggest of all, desktop apps that search Google and probably don't provide that info.

    Yes, many Linux users change their agent string. But in order to reach 5%, that would suggest that 80% of Linux users have done this, and Google is not smart enough to figure it out. I thought in most spoofed strings, the real browser was ID'd somewhere in there? Heck, I run into about 1 site a week that "requires" IE, so I strongly doubt more than 20% are spoofing these days, which leaves that number in the range of the rounding error.

    Google isn't the best measure of desktop installations, but it's a great measure of Google usage; to argue otherwise suggests that you're viewing the evidence with an eye skewed towards a certain conclusion. Heck, IE numbers may be skewed low (ouch!), since MSN search is built into IE.

    The usage of Macs on the 'net is probably about 3x the usage of Linux on the 'net, TODAY. If you have facts to support a different conclusion, please present them, instead of believing that 80% of Linux users change their user-string (especially all those newbies using Linux who aren't techies). In two years, the number may be flipped.

What is algebra, exactly? Is it one of those three-cornered things? -- J.M. Barrie