Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?
Microsoft Software Linux

Linux's Role In Microsoft's Decline 532

nerdyH writes "As early as last quarter, Microsoft admitted that Linux and netbooks were eating into its fat profits. Recently, it came home, with the software giant announcing its first-ever layoffs. LinuxDevices interviewed Linux Foundation Director Jim Zemlin on Linux's role in Microsoft's misfortunes. Zemlin sums it up pretty well: 'Companies can offer their own branded software platform based on Linux. If Microsoft is getting 75 percent margins, you would like some of that high-margin business, too.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Linux's Role In Microsoft's Decline

Comments Filter:
  • by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Friday January 23, 2009 @05:05PM (#26580771) Journal

    IIRC, wasn't $2.1bn of that income from the recent (as in, early this week) sale of Comcast stock that MSFT held?


  • Re:Oh, Dear (Score:5, Informative)

    by je ne sais quoi ( 987177 ) on Friday January 23, 2009 @05:07PM (#26580813)
    Also, if you look at the trend in Microsoft Windows "market share" estimated by people like Net Applications [], you can see that the decline of Windows started long before the housing bubble deflated. They were still being rated at 96% of the market in 2004 and 2005 and have been in what looks like continuous decline ever since. Granted, it's not much of a decline yet, only 7% or so according to Net Applications, but it does serve as evidence that Microsoft's troubles did not start with the economic crisis, the economic crisis may have compounded their existing troubles though.
  • by XanC ( 644172 ) on Friday January 23, 2009 @05:21PM (#26581061)

    Well, I run Linux exclusively, on my desktop at home and my laptop for work. This is probably not the best forum to declare that nobody is using Linux on the desktop.

    Also, installing applications and dealing with dependencies are absolutely among Linux's strongest features over Windows, and always have been.

  • by bogaboga ( 793279 ) on Friday January 23, 2009 @05:31PM (#26581207)

    Yes, Linux marketed as a distro can do better. The good thing is that very soon, we'll have KDE with a business friendly license. What I would like Linux programmers to do is to get their act together and solve problems that continue to plague the Linux ecosystem.

    These come to mind:

    1: Multimedia. There are so many back-ends to choose from, each with problems of their own. The associated front-ends are even worse both in functionality and bloat.

    2: Polish. It seams that by default, Linux distros are less polished by default. In fact, I can say they are ugly by default. This does not help.

    3: Bloat. KDE is wonderful but suffers from bloat. GNOME is kind of OK, but it's interface looks ancient and lacks the functionality of modern systems.

    My 2 cents.

  • Look at their books (Score:5, Informative)

    by BlendieOfIndie ( 1185569 ) on Friday January 23, 2009 @05:47PM (#26581479)
    Microsoft Revenue/Growth
    Year Revenue %Growth
    2005 39,788 -
    2006 44,282 11%
    2007 51,122 15%
    2008 60,420 18%

    Red Hat Revenue/Growth
    Year Revenue %Growth
    2005 196 -
    2006 278 41%
    2007 400 43%
    2008 523 30%

    Red Hat is growing much faster than Microsoft, but Microsoft has 115x more sales.
  • by vadim_t ( 324782 ) on Friday January 23, 2009 @05:53PM (#26581559) Homepage

    I use Linux exclusively on desktop, laptop and server. I have a couple VMs for the very rare times when I have to compile a windows app, which get booted maybe once a month for the only purpose of doing a build.

    At work I have Windows on the computer, but all it gets used for is to start a VM with Linux in it. I turn it on, log in, start vmware, maximize, and do all the work in the VM. The only reason it's there at all is that I'm too busy to justify spending time on reformatting the box.

    In my opinion, until Linux gets a unified interface

    Will never happen. Ever. You can't go to thousands of people who aren't working for you and tell them "I decided that your project [insert toolkit here] is redundant and you should all go work on [insert other toolkit here]". They'll simply tell you to go take a hike.

    This also assumes that Windows is consistent. But it isn't. MS Office has long been using new strange widgets. Even antiviruses seem to for some reason need to reinvent the GUI. Nearly almost any hardware device will come with applications that aren't standard looking.

    I actually find that Linux is a lot more consistent looking than the typical Windows desktop.

    a sane way of installing applications and dealing with dependancies

    Like apt, for instance? Have you tried any recent distributions?

    and manages some actual commercial support

    Red Hat and SuSE will be happy to provide it. Though I don't know a single person who called MS tech support.

    Almost as unlikely as it having any significant role in Microsoft's presumed decline.

    You must have not been paying attention to the news. For a long time, "We're considering Linux" have been the magical words to get a nice discount from MS on a volume order. Without Linux, MS could be pretty sure that with Apple as the other possibility, not going with MS could well be more expensive. With Linux though, cost can be reduced to the internal cost of implementation, without any vendor getting a cent.

  • Re:Missing factors (Score:3, Informative)

    by Draek ( 916851 ) on Friday January 23, 2009 @06:03PM (#26581745)

    Put in Apple and the economic downturn, among the causes. Linux? You kidding? Have you seen the desktop market share of it?

    Have you seen the server and embedded market share of Linux? both markets where Apple is barely a blimp on the radar, and which also provide(d) lots of money for good ol' MS.

  • by jhfry ( 829244 ) on Friday January 23, 2009 @06:07PM (#26581795)

    Windows 95 was not MS's first "serious entry into the OS market".

    MS-DOS was a very "serious entry" into the OS market, as was windows 3.0, 3.1, and NT. In fact, I still support an old NT 4 server that predates the release of Windows 95.

    Please don't let your inexperience confuse you. Millions of offices ran on Novell, DOS, Lotus, and Wordperfect long before Windows 95 came along.

    Sure those early operating systems weren't anything compared to the UNIX workstations of the day, but neither were the computers they were running on.

    Also, you don't seem to realize that there is nothing that says that an OS has to have certain features to be a good OS.

    MS-DOS was a very good OS for standalone workstations where only one user was going to be interacting with the system and only running one application. The early PC's were not really capable of much more anyway, so DOS did what it was intended to do, and did it well enough at the time.

    Even though I hate to admit it, Microsoft has brought far more to the industry than you give it credit for. I wish that someone had provided some viable competition all these years to force Microsoft to innovate a bit more, but they pushed the industry fairly well for a monopoly. They didn't really have to, they could have stretched their releases apart by years more than they did and made even more money. Upgrades have never been a big money maker for MS, it's bundling with new pc's they depend upon anyway when people are replacing their computers every couple of years.

  • Re:Missing factors (Score:4, Informative)

    by ClosedSource ( 238333 ) on Friday January 23, 2009 @06:27PM (#26582095)

    You do realize that the iPod and iPhone are embedded devices, right?

  • First ever layoffs? (Score:3, Informative)

    by greg_barton ( 5551 ) <> on Friday January 23, 2009 @06:42PM (#26582331) Homepage Journal

    I was an employee of Microsoft in end user tech support in '94. I'd been a contractor for six months, then I went perm. About a month going perm, all ~200 of the remaining contractors at my worksite were let go, every last one of them. (This was including my roommate at the time.)

    So whe they call this the "first ever" layoff for the company, take that with a (salt lick sized) grain of salt. Sure, it might be the first ever for "perm" employees, btu I frankly don't see the difference.

  • by timmarhy ( 659436 ) on Friday January 23, 2009 @07:10PM (#26582725)
    1. nonsense

    2. eye candy sells, that fact that you don't get that is what's wrong with linux

    3. KDE is bloated as hell - that's what overcomplication is. GNOME is also bloated IMHO, so many packages and dependancies it's insane. it also lacks modern features like a consistent clipboard.

  • by westlake ( 615356 ) on Friday January 23, 2009 @07:11PM (#26582733)
    i have been looking a lot at netbooks online, at best buy and at staples and microcneter, and it is hard to even find a linux netbook - I seriously doubt this has caused any significant harm to MS

    Check out

    The Linpus Linux netbook - "not available in stores" - has a modest 512 MB of RAM and 8 GB of flash.

    For ten bucks more the XP netbook comes with 1 GB RAM and a 120 GB HDD. Mini laptops []

    It weighs two pounds and ships for 97 cents.

  • Re:Oh, Dear (Score:3, Informative)

    by Cromac ( 610264 ) on Friday January 23, 2009 @07:57PM (#26583247)
    Exactly. This isn't Microsofts first layoff, it's just the first time they've called it that. In the past they called it a "re-org" when they laid people off, both CSG and FTE.
  • by BlendieOfIndie ( 1185569 ) on Friday January 23, 2009 @08:36PM (#26583721)
    Care to share with us the source of this data?

    Google Finance []
    I looked at the annual income statements of both Microsoft (MSFT) and RedHat (RHT).
  • Re:Oh, Dear (Score:2, Informative)

    by Daengbo ( 523424 ) <daengbo AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday January 24, 2009 @03:36AM (#26586247) Homepage Journal

    MacOS is NeXT branded by Apple.

    Fixed that for you.

  • Re:Oh, Dear (Score:3, Informative)

    by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @04:11AM (#26586439) Homepage Journal
    Oh okay. NXT is BSD branded by Next Step.
  • Re:You forgot one (Score:3, Informative)

    by IllForgetMyNickSoonA ( 748496 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @10:12AM (#26588269)
    No they didn't.

    Republics of Ex-Yugoslavia had the right not to join the federation after the WWII. Once they joined the federation, they had no legal rights to leave. I should know that, my parents come from there. :-)

    I most sincerely doubt it's different in any other country in the world - no part of any country can just say "sorry guys, good-bye, we're leaving." and expect the rest of the country to say "oh, swell, farewell and send us a post card!"

    Ok, I already see the mountain of comments along the lines of "well, I surely wouldn't object if xxx chose to leave", but it doesn't change a thing about what I just said. :-)
  • Re:Oh, Dear (Score:3, Informative)

    by Jason Earl ( 1894 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @12:51PM (#26589617) Homepage Journal

    Yes MSI Wind has a much higher return rate for its Linux netbooks. Asus, on the other hand (which sells far more netbooks) says that returns are about the same for both Linux and XP [].

    Blame Linux if you want, but the real problem lies with the crappy job MSI did putting Linux on its netbook. I don't know if they are still doing it but their original Linux preloads didn't even support all of the hardware on the netbook. Either way, it's not like MSI Wind has stopped offering Linux. A few years ago getting a laptop pre-loaded with Linux was impossible. With the netbooks everyone offers Linux, even when it is pretty clear that they hope it fails.

  • by Jason Earl ( 1894 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @01:00PM (#26589699) Homepage Journal

    What, I'm serious. While my netbook has a smaller hard drive than the desktop I bought with Vista when Vista first came out, it has more memory a nicer video card, and the hard drive is solid state. The processor is more than fast enough to meet Microsoft specs.

    My netbook could easily run Vista. It just doesn't. That's more a function of the discounted price Microsoft is offering on XP than anything else. Well, that and the fact that I bought a netbook running Linux. Heck, HP will even sell you a netbook with Vista preloaded.

    It's easy to make jokes about Windows Vista sucking, but if Microsoft didn't create a loophole for Windows XP that's what you would see on all of the Windows netbooks.

Q: How many IBM CPU's does it take to execute a job? A: Four; three to hold it down, and one to rip its head off.