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Microsoft Sells Linux To Wal-Mart 245

Several readers wrote in to let us know that Wal-Mart is planning to buy SUSE Linux vouchers from Microsoft in the course of building out its infrastructure. These are the support vouchers that Microsoft must distribute to hold up its end of the bargain with Novell. Wal-Mart has been a customer of Red Hat Linux. CBR Online notes that the deal is not entirely unexpected because Microsoft's COO, Kevin Turner, is the former CIO of Wal-Mart.
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Microsoft Sells Linux To Wal-Mart

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  • by inode_buddha ( 576844 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @06:59PM (#17730042) Journal
    Maybe is this the reason Novell and MS wanted that deal of theirs so much?
  • by andy314159pi ( 787550 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @07:06PM (#17730144) Journal
    We'll they'll have to deal with Daryl McBride and his SCO cohorts for selling their UNIX license without permission. Of course, he'll have to ask them to finance his lawsuit against themselves.
  • The obvious question (Score:3, Interesting)

    by acidrain ( 35064 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @07:11PM (#17730208)
    Ok I'll ask it. Is seeing Microsoft selling Linux to an insanely large customer a major victory or is this a SCO tax? Do we congratulate or mail-bomb Novell? And wow, eight years ago, running Slackware this was a slightly absurd scenario you would joke about while trying to fix your rc.d scripts after an update.
  • Good deal for MS (Score:5, Interesting)

    by John Jamieson ( 890438 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @07:23PM (#17730362)
    Well I don't see an upside for Linux. The article says

    MS gets rid of vouchers without creating another Linux customer. MS wins
    MS deprives Redhat of Revenue. MS wins
    MS will get some Windows boxes installed at the same time. MS wins

  • by Chaymus ( 697182 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @08:05PM (#17730866)
    With Vista being incomplete and a high profile customer Microsoft is better off with this decision. Let's say they don't do it, they lose money. Wal-Mart already uses Linux, smoother transition that is easier to negotiate. MS can "upgrade" the support beyond red-hat ...pauses for laughs... With Vista being THE OS microsoft wants to get everyone on board for I feel they just weren't ready and it was either this or lose the deal to someone else. It's not like they're going to gain a whole lot of support from the informed community, but this does set precedence for international sales on those who don't want Windows and want Linux for government applications. Now you're not voilating policy but paying for something you already have, plus a little garuntee of the moon (ie support + uptime). Everyone would love a Vista deal before it's ready, but MS Corp. isn't as stupid as some of their applications. Flexibility is required to stay on top.
  • by gillbates ( 106458 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @08:08PM (#17730890) Homepage Journal

    This takes the cake. Microsoft Linux is next. I predict within 5 years, Vista will become a legacy product, and all new computers will be shipped with Microsoft's Windows API hosted on a Linux kernel.

    For those that don't know, Billy G. made his first big sale of DOS to IBM before he even owned it - or so the rumors go. He bought the rights to what would become MS-DOS from a third party, and then sold it to IBM.

    And it shouldn't surprise anyone that Microsoft is selling what doesn't belong to them. I wonder how the Windows developers feel. Imagine if your job could be eliminated by Linux. Microsoft doesn't care, they're going to sell whatever makes them money.

    When you think about it, it makes perfect sense for Microsoft to sell their desktop, rather than the OS:

    • Kernel development is an overhead cost - it isn't seen by the users, and it doesn't sell the OS.
    • Why bother with HW issues when Linux already does that for you - for free?
    • Microsoft has actually been pretty good at making office software - considerably better than OS.
    • Linux has the security Microsoft wishes Windows had.
    • Linux doesn't have the spyware problem Windows does.

    So if Microsoft can hide the complexities of Linux under a familiar interface, they could produce a very compelling product.

  • by viking80 ( 697716 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @08:44PM (#17731236) Journal
    the big concern here is Microsofts relationship with Novell. Now that MSs strategy to support SCO has failed, MS has set their eyes on Novell. Novell, probably rightly, claim ownership of Unix.

    MS might not have a clear plan, but a close ralationship with Novell can be a way to keep close control over Linux as well.

    Imagine a patent/copyright/licencing/enforcement mutual agreement. Now MS sits on the right to enforce any Unix IP rights violation that might occur. MS might also have rights to Linux code released by Novell. Noticing that MS has a lot of money and Novell almost nothing, this or more like a merger, may be inevitable.

    If not a direct threat to Linux, this may make it more difficult for Linux developers in may ways.

    Should Novell donate the Unix I.P. rights to the FSF or the Linux community before it is too late?
  • Re:Interesting (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ratbert42 ( 452340 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @09:17PM (#17731522)
    It's not just Wal-Mart that's switching from Red Hat to SUSE. IBM switching to SUSE was a big driver in the enterprise market. Three years ago we had a handful of customers playing with Linux, all Red Hat. Today we've got dozens playing with Linux and two or three with firm serious plans to roll it out. Almost every one of them is running SUSE.
  • Re:Interesting (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rapidweather ( 567364 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @09:31PM (#17731644) Homepage
    I suppose Walmart wants a stable 100% OS to run their system on, and Microsoft wants Walmart to only stock Windows boxes in the retail stores. They have some linux boxes on their website for sale, but probably don't want to try and sell those in a store. Somebody is likely to pick one up, buy it, then bring it back with a lot of questions before Walmart has to give them a refund. That says something about the customers, and linux also. So called Linux boxes as they exist today don't belong in a retail environment where buyers looking for a "computer" are going to put them in the shopping basket and head to checkout.
    No secret that Microsoft knows that, and has to "dumb down" their operating system by keeping it "closed source" in order to successfully sell it to every Tom, Dick and Harry. It's dumb, in that getting "X" to run is no problem.
    Imagine a help desk at Walmart "XF86Config Help, 10AM to 2PM". or "Sound Help, 4PM to 10PM"
    Without Windows, that's what Walmart would face.

    (The above discussion has totally ignored the Viruses and Trojans that beset Windows, but hey, Walmart ignores them too!)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @11:41PM (#17733014)
    it's not a pretty sight.

    1997: It's not a threat

    When I was writing a feature about GNU/Linux for Wired magazine, I contacted Microsoft to find out their views on this new rival. At that time, they were so laid back about it, they were nearly falling over. In fact, GNU/Linux was such a negligible threat, they couldn't be bothered coming up with even a mild bit of FUD for me. They just said: "We have a very talented team of developers making sure NT is the most powerful, flexible, and easy-to-use operating system."

    1999: It's not very powerful

    By 1999, Microsoft's position that GNU/Linux wasn't a threat was no longer tenable. Articles started appearing in the technical press that not only dared to compare GNU/Linux with Microsoft's flagship Windows NT, but actually found it better. One, in a Ziff-Davis title called Sm@rt Reseller, for example, stated: "According the ZDLabs' results, each of the commercial Linux releases ate NT's lunch".

    But help was at hand. In April 1999, a performance testing company called Mindcraft issued a press release headed "Mindcraft study shows Windows NT server outperforms Linux". It then emerged that Mindcraft had been commissioned by Microsoft to carry out the study - the first, but not the last time it would adopt this tactic. A fierce argument between Mindcraft and the open source community ensued about whether the tests had been fair, and how to make them fairer.

    In fact, the end results of the re-run was not completely favorable to GNU/Linux, but something rather interesting happened. The open source community took the failures and used them to improve GNU/Linux to the point where it was indeed more powerful than Windows. By finding and drawing attention to free software's weak spots, Microsoft actually made it stronger.

    2001: It's not very nice

    In the face of the Mindcraft fiasco, and the growing strength of GNU/Linux, Microsoft changed tack. Steve Ballmer was wheeled out to bad-mouth the opposition, as only he can. In 2000, he said: "Linux sort of springs organically from the earth. And it had, you know, the characteristics of communism that people love so very, very much about it." In 2001, talking to the Chicago Sun-Times, he expressed himself even more forcefully: "Linux is a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches."

    Powerful stuff. Unfortunately for the FUDmeisters at Microsoft, this kind of name-calling didn't go down too well with its intended audience. Even Microsoft's own research showed this, as revealed in one of the entertaining Halloween memos leaked to Eric Raymond.

    2002: It's not very cheap

    Once again, a massive change of tactics was required. Having failed to convince people that free software was either broken or bad, Microsoft decided to "prove" that it actually cost more to use than Windows - the famous TCO, or Total Cost of Ownership, studies. To achieve this, it drew on the "facts" to be found in a number of white papers from various analysts, all of which, by an amazing coincidence, came up with the result that running GNU/Linux was indeed more expensive than using Windows.

    But it didn't take long for this story to unravel like all the others. First, it was not always clear whether Microsoft had commissioned the white papers that it liked to cite, or whether they were truly independent. This naturally tended to cast doubts on even those that were produced without Microsoft's input. Just as seriously, the TCO methodologies were often completely valueless, involving estimates of costs several years into the future, or the results were presented in a skewed fashion. When this became clear, people felt that they were being duped by Microsoft, and tended to discount the whole exercise.

    The final nail in the coffin of this ironically-named "Get The Facts" campaign from Microsoft is the recent appearance of yet another white paper, which provided cast-iron evidence that GNU/Linux's TCO was actually better than that of Windows (well, as c

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