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Microsoft May Be Seeking Protection From Linux With Dell Loan 270

alphadogg writes "Microsoft's $2 billion loan to Dell is a sign that the software maker wants to influence hardware designs in a post-PC world while protecting itself from the growing influence of Linux-based operating systems in mobile devices and servers, according to analysts. As the world's third-largest PC maker, Dell is important to the success of Microsoft's server and PC software. Even though Microsoft's loan does not represent a big part of the total value of the transaction, the software maker does not throw around money lightly and its participation in the deal might be an attempt by the software maker to influence hardware designs in the post-PC world of touch laptops, tablets and smartphones, analysts said. It may also be an attempt to secure the partnership and to stop the PC maker from looking toward alternative operating systems like Linux, analysts said. Dell offers Linux servers and in late November introduced a thin and light XPS 13 laptop with a Linux-based Ubuntu OS, also code-named Project Sputnik. Major PC makers in recent months have also introduced laptops with Chrome OS." HP has released a statement in response to the deal which talks about how Dell "faces an extended period of uncertainty and transition that will not be good for its customers." Perhaps they're right; HP is certainly familiar with such a situation. However, it's likely Dell is simply hoping to avoid the same struggles HP has faced over the past several years.
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Microsoft May Be Seeking Protection From Linux With Dell Loan

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  • by the eric conspiracy ( 20178 ) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @08:29PM (#42803605)

    HP is a total wreck of a company. Blowing billions on WTF acquisitions and going through CEOs like shit through a goose, not to mention a completely ineffective board of directors.

    They used to be great. Their products were a dream of quality. I still have a personal collection of their to-die-for calculators. When the shuttle was first launched the astronauts were issued HP-41s in case they had computer problems or to aid in running experiments. []

    Now they are nothing. They get most of their income from ink cartridges.

    It started with Carly who gutted their R&D.

    It is not going to stop in the foreseeable future.

    RIP HP

  • by Taco Cowboy ( 5327 ) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @08:35PM (#42803635) Journal

    Microsoft's battle is not with Linux.

    Rather, Microsoft's future battle is with the smartphones and the tablets and all other new wearable formfactors of computing.

    Microsoft's OS is simply too large, too encumbering and too useless for devices that people will use in the future.

    Their investment in Dell is that they hope Dell can come up with something that can sell

    Microsoft tried their luck with Nokia, and Nokia is going nowhere fast

    Microsoft tried to forge it by themselves by their "surface" thingy, but it tanked too

    So now, it's Dell.

    Ballmer is waging a shotgun approach of computing war --- trying anything and everything --- because the guy has no idea what to do now.

  • Re:this is true.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tibit ( 1762298 ) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @08:40PM (#42803675)

    This is stupid. For there to be 1% or even 10% marketshare, there must be 0.1%, and it must not be stifled by artificial means like trusted bootloaders. I don't know who that "average" person is, but I've been using desktop linux, and now also OS X, for quite a while. I run pretty much the same open source software on OS X as I've been running on Linux.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @08:43PM (#42803727)

    Make Dell hostile to Linux. Good luck with that. Let us know how that goes for you.

    You can't be in the server business and not support Linux. You can't be in mobile and not support Linux, unless you're Apple. Pee Cee's? I'm not sure they matter to the fate of Linux any longer.

    But feel free to squander that bit of your Linux customer base, if you wish.

    This is just some tech writer generating page views.

  • by Dan667 ( 564390 ) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @08:59PM (#42803873)
    balmer is a good example of why you don't let a marketing guy run a technology company.
  • by Taco Cowboy ( 5327 ) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @09:20PM (#42804003) Journal

    Actually it is not wrong to let a marketing guy to run a tech company, that is, if that marketing guy has REAL BRAIN

    What had transpired in Microsoft is this, Bill Gates chose Steve Ballmer not because Mr. Ballmer has brain.

    Bill Gates chose Ballmer because Ballmer is one helluva "YES MAN".

    Anything and everything Bill Gates wanted to get done, Ballmer delivered.

    That's not the way to lead a tech company.

    A tech company needs a leader with a vision --- someone like Bill Gates or Steve Jobs --- someone with a vision that can see into the future.

    Not Ballmer.

  • by jafac ( 1449 ) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @09:32PM (#42804087) Homepage

    I think you're right.

    Windows started out life as an "Operating Environment". (DOS was the "Operating System").

    When you change the form-factor, and set of use-cases, significantly, from the Desktop/Workstation model, that strains the Windows "Operating Environment".

    Sure - in the "Server" case - having the Windows 3.1 GUI duct-taped on top of Windows NT 3.51 was acceptable. Barely. Windows never made any serious inroads into the server market until IIS matured, and Active Directory made Servers a little more bearable.

    And then Apache came along and ate their lunch.

    Surprisingly - Microsoft adapted this model VERY WELL to the game-console form factor and set of use cases. Nobody can argue that XBox was not a huge success. But then again - you can hide a crappy system behind the REAL content when the users are 99% into GAMES. But I dont' really want to go there - because Microsoft actually DID do a great job with XBox, and developers flocked to the platform in droves because of that.

    But they absolutely failed at media players.
    They have failed at netbooks.
    They have failed at tablets.
    And they have failed at smartphones.

    So it's not surpising at all to me that they're running scared.
    (and I'm one who believes that most of these other form-factors are really just fads, and that the classic "Desktop/Workstation" is NOT going to go away. The problem is: Desktop/Workstation BECAME a fad, and that fad faded away and was replaced largely by these other gadgets, because people were looking for solutions to the portability problem. We pros STILL need our Desktop/Workstations. We ALWAYS will.)

    In any case: Linux can adapt. Because Linux is not an "Operating Environment". It's an Operating System. It's forked and adapted to phones and tablets (android) and little devices (busybox, etc), and it's the mainstay of servers, and it does everything we really NEED on the desktop. It doesn't NEED to have the same front-end on all of them. As long as the back-end is still POSIX. (Microsoft doesn't *get* this. And Windows is freaking POSIX-compliant!) I think Microsoft is still so steeped in MBA-culture, that they're terrified to lose mindshare, so they feel they must use a "seat" sold on a smartphone, to "advertise" for a Server OS, and a Media Player, and a Tablet, and a Desktop. Fucking spreadsheet-jockeys.

  • Re:this is true.. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @09:59PM (#42804273)

    Desktop Linux apologists need to stop blaming Microsoft and actually make better software rather than lament the fact that, by and large, people do not want desktop Linux.

    I suggest you go and find (it's not hard) and read some of the documents that have come out of the various trials the Microsoft has gone through over the years. They did actively sabotage attempts to get other Operating Systems factory installed by strong arming OEMs and threatening to raise the price of Windows if the vendor did not supply only Windows on their hardware.

    The old argument was that people that tried Linux didn't like it because it was too hard to install. Well, that problem goes away if it is pre-loaded, but see paragraph one for why that was not happening. Heck for many years, it's been so much easier to install a Linux distribution on most hardware than Windows. For a long time, non-server Windows installer CDs didn't even boot, so you'd have to fuss with a DOS boot floppy and CD drivers. Then, when SATA came along and Windows didn't know anything about it, you'd need to find a floppy (again!) to have the installer load drivers. Don't bother arguing about slip-streaming drivers into the install CD, if someone can do that they can install a Linux distribution.

    Simple fact is, the Linux desktop IS good enough for people to use at home. There will always be some people that have files in some proprietary format for which there is no available software to open it, or some crappy $10 scanner that does not have driver available, but for those that want to do the usual kind of work at home, email, web, IM, type a document, it's fine.

  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @10:15PM (#42804373) Homepage

    They were the best. I hate HP. I think their design engineers go through a lot of trouble to use as many different sizes and types of screws as possible into each computer they create. Not impossible to work on but positively the worst to the point that I all but refuse to work on them.

    Everyone knows by now... everyone should know by now.... Any time a company takes money from Microsoft, they die very soon thereafter. Microsoft's money (not to be confused with Microsoft Money) is literally poison. Well that may be over simplifying things a bit. The money comes WITH poison would be more accurate to say.

    We all know Microsoft is struggling to remain relevant. They are prepared to do anything except change what they are doing to stay alive and relevant. And when they pay, excuse me, 'invest' in some company to ensure they do their bidding, the comnpany languishes in failure shortly thereafter. SCO and Nokia come to mind, but they also managed to screw over quite a few smaller operations as well. To accept money from Microsoft, you have to give something up. And it is invariably what they give up which kills them. Nokia was toying with Linuxes on phones and was probably about to join their brand with Android when Microsoft stepped in. SCO was doing "okay" with their Linuxes but their name was famous enough in the board rooms that no one at a high enough level cared whether or not SCO was actually any good or not. They took Microsoft's money in exchange for their credibility. If anyone thinks SCO didn't know they didn't have the rights to Unix, they weren't paying attention. They knew. They were just hoping that *maybe* the judges and juries wouldn't understand.

    Microsoft's and Dell's relationship goes way back. Some might say that it was evidence to the contrary of my assertions. It's not. The leverage Microsoft used over Dell was prices for a product that was all but 100% necessary to sell with a PC compatible. After all, no corporation can legally installed a volume licensed version of Windows onto a PC that didn't already have Windows or Mac OSX pre-installed. It's in the new license agreements now. Surely everyone knows about this by now -- that all desktop/client Windows volume licenses are "upgrades"?

    Dell got discounts... pretty much like everyone else. But unlike everyone else, Dell has been a bit more hesitant than the rest to join in with the Android and Linux crowds. Sure, there was the Dell Streak which was immensely popular but somehow lost momentum from Dell. Too hard to support? Not main-line enough? Can't me when Samsung and ASUS are doing so damned well with their Android devices. Nope. Dell "gave up something" and it's already costing them. But that's the way marriage works right? The least fortunate spouse is the one who gave up the most?

    Witness it happening.

    I'm going to miss Dell. I have only ever really used Dell. They have been the best servers, desktops and laptops I have ever owned, and the best supported. I'm really going to miss Dell.

  • Re:this is true.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by exomondo ( 1725132 ) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @10:30PM (#42804493)

    I suggest you go and find (it's not hard) and read some of the documents that have come out of the various trials the Microsoft has gone through over the years. They did actively sabotage attempts to get other Operating Systems factory installed by strong arming OEMs and threatening to raise the price of Windows if the vendor did not supply only Windows on their hardware.

    yet there were still vendors that produced linux desktops, and still no one wanted them. best buy tried it too, no one wanted them. hp and dell tried it, no one wanted them. microsoft certainly had a go at linux, just as apple has a go at windows, but in the end there has always been consumer choice, and consumers did not choose desktop linux, these days fewer are even choosing windows, instead opting for android, ios or osx for their basic computing.

    The old argument was that people that tried Linux didn't like it because it was too hard to install. Well, that problem goes away if it is pre-loaded, but see paragraph one for why that was not happening.

    we've had live cds for a decade, stop making excuses.

    Simple fact is, the Linux desktop IS good enough for people to use at home.

    that isn't a fact at all, even if it were, "good enough" is not enough! windows phone is "good enough", webOS was "good enough" but they won't disrupt the market.

    but for those that want to do the usual kind of work at home, email, web, IM, type a document, it's fine.

    and "fine" is not enough, it's an alternative for alternative's sake. Android and iOS rose to significance over windows mobile and blackberry because they weren't just "me too" operating systems, they were different and innovative in ways consumers actually cared about, desktop linux is none of those things, that's why it languishes.

  • Re:Its over. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by laxr5rs ( 2658895 ) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @10:55PM (#42804667)
    No, they don't. I was there in 1998 when Netscape released their code and not much later, the Cathedral and the Bazaar was written by Mr. Raymond, and everyone rejoiced. What happened then? Linux on servers, and hardly any dent on the desktop. Now we proclaim the death of the desktop, and perhaps this is a spot where Linux might, or might not eventually gain the upper hand. I was waiting through the 90's and the 00's for Linux to make more than a slightly measurable dent in personal computers, as opposed to embedded devices (a so so market penetration), and servers where it has done fantastic, but Windows is there too, in the server space. Having spent most of my time working in Unix/Linux shops and cobbling things together with roughly hewn programs, lacking, many times, basic documentation, I now happen to work in a Windows shop. The integration is astounding, and the Cathedral and the Bazaar was wrong in this way, it assumed that developers would develop to the nth degree for the sake of the cause. This doesn't happen. To get developers to achingly continue to get a project (interfaces, games, business programs like Office) *properly* prepared for the masses, you have to pay them mightily to do it. You have to dump the cash, or you get crap. No one likes busy work, which is all of taking a program from a rough stone, to a highly polished gem. Don't tell me about how, Linux rules. Personally, I can totally live without it. After all of the unintended and tacitly broken promises made by the Open Source community over the years, and all of the searching on Saturdays and Sundays trying desperately get something working before the Monday traffic hit, it's ironic to now see, crop after crop of people saying, "Linux won!" In your dreams.
  • by mug funky ( 910186 ) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @10:57PM (#42804687)

    there's a whole lot of netbooks out there using some kind of celeron thing. i have a toshiba that runs win7 very well. by "well", i mean the experience is good but the stability is not so and i get ~2 hourly BSODs. that's as well as you're likely to get out of a mac to be honest (i just bought one, and i've gotta say, linux is easier and faster to get to a point where it's useful).

    there's a lot of assumption out there about OS's that's actually quite wrong.
    - windows is unstable
    - linux requires a comp-sci degree to use
    - osx is stable and easy to use

    since buying my mac, i've realized that OSX is less stable than winXP and more difficult to set up than ubuntu (by a lot!). maybe it's because it was a fresh install of snow leopard, which is quite old now... but then winXP is very VERY old now, so apple have no excuse to offer less support to 10.6 than MS does for something they EOL'd long ago.

  • Bullshit, that is the same bullshit the press has been spewing and its as much bullshit as saying "Well now that the real estate bubble has burst houses are worthless now"

    Look its actually REALLY simple, okay? the period between 1993-2005 was a BUBBLE, no different than the housing bubble or financial bubble or any other bubble, it was an UN-NATURAL CONDITION brought about by what we now call the "MHz War". you look at PC sales before the MHz war, how often did people replace PCs? Every 5-7 years. Now that the bubble is over how often will people be replacing PCs? Every 5-7 years. As a guy down here in the trenches I can tell you that not only is the PC NOT "going away" but frankly most folks? Up to their asses in PCs. Before the bubble most had only ONE PC, now most have a PC for every member of their family PLUS one or more laptops.

    But the simple fact is once we moved away from simply raising the MHz of a single core into multiple cores PCs went right past "good enough" and straight into "insanely overpowered" for most users. I mean look at what I was selling on my LOW END builds FIVE years ago: A phenom X3 with 3GB-4GB of RAM and a 300GB-500GB HDD. Now how many of your average users are gonna max out that system? Damned few. On the laptop side i was selling Turion X2s with 2GB of RAM and 250Gb HDDs. Now how many people are gonna have needs when they are mobile that that system won't handle? Again damned few.

    You want a perfect example of the "typical PC user" just look at my dad, he runs Skype, checks his webmail, does FB, runs his QuickBooks and burns DVDs, about as bog standard as you can get. When the Phenom X6s got cheap i thought "Well it has been a few years since i built that Phenom I X4 for dad, maybe I should see if its time to replace it" so I ran a 3 week monitoring of his system load and then checked the results, what did I find? 43%, that was the MAX he had gotten with the system and that turned out to be a hung browser tab, when I removed that anomaly he averaged less than 35% load. I checked his Core Duo desktop at the shop, similar results.

    So the problem with MSFT is NOT Linux, and its NOT mobile anything, although from the way Ballmer is burning the damned company down trying to be Apple you'd think otherwise, but the real problem is they, like many on wall Street during the housing bubble, expected the bubble to last forever. Frankly MSFT could be making money hand over fist if they'd quit trying to ape Apple and ape IBM instead, sell services to that huge install base, but like most short sighted CEOs Ballmer only cares about being "hip and trendy" but no matter how many times he clicks his heels together and says "There's no place like Cupertino,There's no place like Cupertino," you simply can't turn MSFT into Apple and trying to force an iOS style OS onto the desktop is just running off new purchasers.

    But at the end of the day the PC is going nowhere, the amount of crap you'd have to plug into a tablet to make it equal the power of even a 4 year old PC would make it a bloated mess so people will continue to buy PCs, they'll continue to buy laptops, they just won't be replacing them every 3 years like they had to do from 93-05 is all. But at the end of the day the amount of power X86 gives you at frankly an absurdly low cost still makes having a PC VERY attractive but that same absurd amount of power means you just don't need to replace as often, that's all. Hell I personally LOVE to play FPS games and used to have to build a new machines every year, now I'm playing on a 3 year old X6 and feel no need to upgrade, the chips are just too damned powerful for even the games to slam anymore. so unless some "killer app" comes along that can blow through anything less than an octo-core i just don't see people needing to replace that often, doesn't mean there isn't still plenty of money to be made in PCs though.

  • by symbolset ( 646467 ) * on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @01:47AM (#42805621) Journal

    There is institutional inertia in Microsoft that demands product executives still "act as if" Microsoft were still the 800lb gorilla of technology, master of all they survey: an emperor so dominant that they demand their visitors be trained as supplicants wary of offending the Beast [] before they dare even approach.

    Once upon a time this is what they were. 2x above the nearest technology competitor and master of all that is invented and all that is prevented, deciding quarter by quarter which of their partners live and die based on which is most helpful to them. The bodies of their foes are immense and numerous: Sun, Novell, Borland are but a few. The bodies of their allies fallen from favor are even far more numerous. Technology companies, particularly startups, did kneel before the king. Microsoft leveraged their various properties to defeat every foe by being deliberately incompatible with the challengers and innovators of the day a few at a time.

    Today though Microsoft do not stand above the biggest company in tech by 2x. The biggest tech company is Apple which stands above them by 2x now. The second biggest is Google - a company Microsoft's CEO swore to kill when it was but a gnat, but somehow he failed and Google now is well ahead of them. Yesterday they were not even third biggest tech company. The IBM they thought they killed in the early '90s has in its quiet conservative way been creeping up on them and finished ahead in market cap again yesterday - soon a position to be made durable. Samsung is working on it too and may someday claim a solid fourth, relegating Microsoft to the fifth position in tech until Cisco spoils even that. Even Microsoft's mighty partners - the ecosystem that drove out innovation they did not control by proxy - is weakened beyond repair. It is just not profitable to make Windows client PCs. It hasn't been for a long time and they know it but are dependent on the revenue flow to maintain their size, clinging to that as they lose profitability permanently. Innovators are coming now not a few at a time to be vanquished and fed to the beast one by one, but in a flood that may drown the beast. They come bigger also now, so big the beast cannot wrap its jaws around them. The loss of the power to drive innovation isn't the most important thing for Microsoft. The loss of the power to prevent innovation they don't control is. That is what is killing them: Chromebooks that last all day, Nexus 10 tablets with insane resolution, iPads and iPhones and Android phones more powerful than a recent laptop that delight and amaze. And this is nothing compared to the fact that they're going into battle wielding their sword holding the wrong end.

    For Microsoft to survive the transition to mobile they have to reorient to being a scrappy startup striving for a place in a hostile world, not approach it as if they were entitled to appear and claim it as an entitlement of their dominion, swaying all with their massive billions. They don't have it in them to do that. They literally can't do it. The very concept is so alien that they cannot grasp the need for it. Anyone there who proposed such a thing would be walked to the door by security immediately. That is the problem they face: their inability to assess the situation and respond appropriately. From here the end is clear.

    All empires fall in the end. Usually for this very reason: the inability to see their own mortality.

  • by Anne Thwacks ( 531696 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @05:20AM (#42806375)
    Dont ignore the fact that most CEOs are manic depressives with a one month event horizon.

    Mark My Words (official introduction to doom laden prophesy)

    In 18 months, every family will have a tablet per member, plus a surface that has crashed, and will go back to using the laptop/desktop for school/work/email and will only use the tablet for videos (porn).

    Apple's model is to target fanbois and the follow-fashion monkeys. There is no shortage of them, so they are good for a few more years to come.

    I also predict BB will survive if they go back to having keyboards. Round here, all the schoolgirls use them for texting. (Business men need a bigger screen for porn) However, BBs problem is that three year old BBs work fine, so, at the end of a two year contract, they get a Samsung as well. When that contract runs out, they will probably replace their now five year old BB if the new model has a keyboard else it will be a new <random Android manufacturer's product>.

    Moral: Short MS, Hold BB and buy APPL

Thufir's a Harkonnen now.