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A coherent Linux strategy for Microsoft?

On a tangent from the thread, "IT shifting away from Microsoft" (see http://discuss.fogcreek.com/joelonsoftware/default ): where is Microsoft's strategy that will take full financial advantage of Linux?

For example, consider the following, hypothetical approach:

1) MSFT first releases closed-source Linux versions of its development tools, "eating their own dog food", and leading to...
2) release of closed-source Linux versions of its major system applications (e.g., Exchange, SQL Server) and...
3) release of low-level system software bundles (e.g., MMC, SMS, MSMQ) and, optionally,...
4) release of closed-source Linux versions of its Office/productivity applications...

o  This allows IT to have its cake and eat it too (e.g., free server software, but running well-understood and internally standardized, server-side applications)

o  ...allows Microsoft to commoditize the OS - which is happening anyway - by trivializing the underlying platform and stressing the importance of the server-side software that manages machines and networks

o  ...allows Microsoft to virtually extend the OS with its proprietary, high-end server-side software that has the most significant margins

o  ...reaps mindshare among developers with the (as everyone will acknowledge) best development tools in the business

o  ...permits a .NET story that truly includes Linux

o  ...doesn't cannabalize the desktop until/if step 4 is executed

Bottom line: is Linux now too big of a market for MSFT to continue to ignore?

dir at badblue dot com
Monday, December 29, 2003

Would that it were, but they won't.

jevus
Monday, December 29, 2003

>>>Bottom line: is Linux now too big of a market for MSFT to continue to ignore?

Not yet, but I think the day will come. If Novell, IBM and Oracle gain significant marketshare on the shoulders of linux, the fear of being left out will overcome the fear of the GPL...

Eric DeBois
Monday, December 29, 2003

Microsoft has enough cash to keep different competing strategies boiling. It's what you don't know that they are doing that would be interesting. Keep in mind that MS is probably still a fairly agile company.

This kind of means whatever you say about Microsoft will, or can be, true.

Anyway, even with the pointlessness of predictinging the future of the "beast, Microsoft has had strong competition in the server market for a long time.  So I can't see any that MS has any real need to change it's server strategy with respect to Linux. Linux might actually help MS sell it's server OS.

Thus, a least for a long while (5years), Microsoft's strategy will be to create "must have" features that just happen to only work on their server OS. For the few features that can be supported on Linux, these features will be designed so that the upgrades will cause Linux to trail in features or compatibilities.

.net and longhorn is clearly an example of this strategy (more embrace and extend). "Mono" (i.e. ".net elsewhere"  will be allowed to exist as a "see we are not a monopoly" example.

Linux will be irrelevent for the general desktop market for a very long time.

njkayaker
Monday, December 29, 2003

"Linux will be irrelevent for the general desktop market for a very long time."

Describe what you mean by "general desktop market"? As you are certainly well aware, there have been government after government, and city after city, adopting Linux for the desktop after analyzing and determining that competitive products exist, and internal apps could be rewritten or already exist as web applications. In several of the enterprises I've been involved with there has been a huge concerted effort to make most internal applications (customer relations, financials, etc) web applications to decouple the client machine: Whether it's Linux, QNX, or OSX is irrelevant, but naturally most firms would choose Linux.

My wife is like a tremendous number of general computer users, and her use of the computer involves almost entirely email and the web -- I have seriously considered installing Mandrake Linux on her machine quite simply to relieve myself of worries about email worms and activation nonsense.

Dennis Forbes
Monday, December 29, 2003

Do all these Linux zealots ever leave the basement?  According to Slashdot Microsoft is bankrupt and 80% of the world uses Redhat.  In the real world however, mention Linux and you'll hear a resounding "HUH?".

stop surfing slashdot
Monday, December 29, 2003

Linux zealots. Bwahaha. This is too funny. Yesterday I was called a "Microsoft fanboy" on Slashdot so this really puts the icing on the cake. I'm an MCSD, MCDBA, MCSE, I have personally got .NET adopted at more than one large organization, and damnit I'm currently owed $2000 by Microsoft for services I provided them (haven't bothered claiming it yet), and here I am stating that indeed Linux is making inroads (and in another thread I postulated that Microsoft has thwarted significant innovation in the computing market). What the!? I'm sure this causes great confusion to the morons that can only ever see the world in black and white. Morons who believe that we all have to carry banners proclaiming our faith to the one cause and dedicate our lives to stomping out the competitor. I am disgusted when I see this in Linux zealots, and I'm disgusted when I see it in Microsoft zealots.

Dennis Forbes
Monday, December 29, 2003

OS X != Linux.

See Bill Joy:
(1) dissing Linux ("I did that 20 years ago" or words to that effect);
(2) using OS X (based on BSB, which Bill worked on).

Walter Rumsby
Monday, December 29, 2003

Uh BSB -> BSD

Walter Rumsby
Monday, December 29, 2003

Dennis, grow up. The cities and governments "adopting Linux" are often nothing more than dumb politicians succeeding in forcing public servants to listen to sales spiels from IBM and assorted oss hangers-on.

Bill
Monday, December 29, 2003

Sorry Bill on this one I have to disagree.  Consider the one product that has made adoption much more acceptable, Office.  With OpenOffice, the needs of 90% of office workers is available without license.  In addition, being available on both MS and Linux, allows IT staff to determine when and if they wish to upgrade and to what. 

At the current office I am consulting with, they have over 500 users of office.  Switching them from windows 98/office 97 to OpenOffice, they see as a near no-brainer.  They get the upgrade, to Office2000, with open office, without the cost.  Further, their experience has been the learning curve is no greater than moving from Office97 to XP. 

As for Linux itself?  I am not sure with this client.  However, their staff uses the specter of it to force concessions from the MS reps.  Something unheard of even 3 years ago.

MSHack
Monday, December 29, 2003

" government after government, and city after city,"  Yes in places where they can't afford a MS solution or where they don't have a large investment currently.  When a fortune 100 changes all of it's desktops to Linux, then the Linux has arrived as far as the desktop is concerned.

Dennis.  Very good points.  It ain't all black and white.  The world needs pragmattic programmers and pragmattic sysadmins.

Mike
Monday, December 29, 2003

Boils down to money. XP never took off over in India, 'cause piracy was very difficult. Even so, there are pirated copies of XP available.

Linux and/or OpenSource and/or FreeSoftware will steadily keep gainining market share across the world, as long as the same proprietory software costs 1/3rd the average salary in Region A and 3x the average salary in Region B.

Indian Developer in India
Tuesday, December 30, 2003

<quote>
I'm an MCSD, MCDBA, MCSE, I have personally got .NET adopted at more than one large organization, and damnit I'm currently owed $2000 by Microsoft for services I provided them (haven't bothered claiming it yet)
</quote>


The above is what I'd type if I wanted to make myself look really really stupid.

stop surfing slashdot
Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Mmmm, veild name calling. You must be so smart to come up with that.

Eric DeBois
Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Are you addressing me?  I'm pretty sure veiled name calling has been around for a long time now, I didn't invent it, sorry.

I think calling someone really really stupid is obvious name calling.  You know what I call someone that takes personal offence to a generalised statement directed towards the 'culture of linux', then proceeds to attempt assert himself as an authority by reeling off a list of contemptible qualifications and further seeks to impress us all by not caring about the 2k owed to him by Bill Gates?  I'd call them a blowhard.

But back to the original point, which I will spell out more concisely seeing as nobody could connect the dots. Programmers and other IT people might think Linux is hot, BUT OUT IT THE REAL WORLD IT DOESN'T RATE.  The only places I ever hear or see anything to do with Linux are heavily biased trade websites like The Register and Slashdot and the occassional fringe geek.  For many years now these people have been pushing the idea that Linux is a force, but it's all bloody hot air. 

If your impression of the state of this industry is driven by trade websites, then I can understand how people could be given the idea Linux has made big gains. This forum is a perfect example. Given the volume of Linux threads of late, a novice observer might be fooled into thinking Linux was a major competitor to Microsoft, it ain't.  The reality is, as far as the desktop goes Linux is not on the radar for 99.999% of organisations. 

I'll spare all of us from my analysis on Microsofts problems and directions, suffice to say that Linux is grossly overrated as a threat. Microsoft is a lot more worried about Sony than Linux. Linux does them a favour though, by being competition in name if not in fact.

stop surfing slashdot
Tuesday, December 30, 2003

"then proceeds to attempt assert himself as an authority by reeling off a list of contemptible qualifications and further seeks to impress us all by not caring about the 2k owed to him by Bill Gates"

Assert myself as an authority with Microsoft certificates? Sorry, cowboy, but it's been a few years since I thought they had any authority whatsoever (though from a personal perspective I still think they're valuable to get). Instead all of the points quite clearly demonstrate that I have a lot of eggs vested in the Microsoft basket (probably a lot more than you do, I suspect), yet I'm not so defensive of where I am, or where I have been, that I can't see the value of alternatives in places while I huddle in a corner hoping it'll all go away and I won't have to learn anything new or concede defeat in some areas.

Dennis Forbes
Tuesday, December 30, 2003

"and further seeks to impress us all by not caring about the 2k owed to him by Bill Gates"

As a sidenote, and again relating to your defensiveness, the "not caring" was a statement to clarify that I haven't filled out all of the appropriate paperwork rather than Microsoft not paying on time (which I'm sure they will). I think anyone who wasn't striking out blindly in a desperate and futile attempt at maintaining the status quo might easily appreciate that.

Dennis Forbes
Tuesday, December 30, 2003

"For many years now these people have been pushing the idea that Linux is a force, but it's all bloody hot air.  "

One day you're going to wake up and realize that you're a crusty old Microsoft-ie, and that the world has completely changed around you. Maybe you'll be in the basement of an organization somewhere administrating or tweaking a legacy system. Good luck. Keep telling yourself that the PS2 is the next great threat to Microsoft, and the XBox is your saviour.

While all of these "basement Slashdotters" have been proclaiming that Linux has a force, it's gone from a small fringe OS by a couple of hackers, to an international OS that has the backing of a large number of extremely large organizations bound to see it through to total success. Linux has made huge inroads in the server sphere (such as Apache, generally on Linux, serves up about 35% of the Global 500 web sites, similar to how IIS serves up around 35%). A recent survey indicated that almost all of the fortune 100 organizations have serious Linux initiatives underway, or had trial projects underway. Yeah, it's all just a bunch of hot air.

Anonymizer
Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Well, I believe, albeit cannot conclusively forcast, that Microsoft will eventually port some or all of its software to Linux. I actually believe they are preparing a lot of it for just that now. (so they'll be more ready when the time comes).

We might actually see the day when Microsoft becomes just another vendor of UNIX software, which still has to maintain a legacy OS. (in a similar way that IBM still maintains OS/2).

Microsoft has ported its office suite to Macintosh in the past and still maintains versions of it for Mac OS X. The Linux server market is growing rapidly, so it is possible that MS will want to make a revenue selling server products for it. Similarly, if and when it gains enough marketshare on the Desktop, it is possible we will see Office and other things ported there.

But these are all speculations and deductions, so take them with a grain of salt.

Shlomi Fish
Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Re: Linux on the desktop. Well, Linux has still seen a very small deployment on the desktop. That fact is true. Whether and for how long it will be a distant second to Windows on PCs (or a distant third to Macintosh and Windows in general), remains to be seen and I'd rather not speculate on when and if it will happen.

But here's something to think about it: there used to be a time when Windows 95/98 was my OS of choice for general use. It was simply better than the clunky Linux desktops of that time. Now, I use Linux on my day to day use, whether development, E-mails, web-surfing, even most office work. And I can't stand working on Windows very much at the time when I do have to switch there. (no virtual workspaces, no Konqueror, no gcc/autoconf, less convenient command line, etc.)

Granted, I'm probably much more clueful than the average computer user, but most other users can either get used themselves to Linux by trial and error, or be re-trained to use it, without too much effort. (with KDE there are more similarities to Windows than differences) So Microsoft cannot tell themselves it won't happen, because the shift can happen everyday now.

Granted, some applications for Windows are much better than any equivalent Linux one I've seen. Excel, for example. However, this situation may or may persist into the future.

Longhorn seems like it will have quite a lot of usability and development improvements. (Most of them were ripped off from open source technologies, but nonetheless) I'll see how I can get along with it when it comes. Still, it probably won't supercede Linux as my desktop system of choice.

Shlomi Fish
Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Doesn't Tivo run on top of Linux?

Bill K
Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Yes, TiVo runs a modified version of the Linux kernel.

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Linux delineated:

> ... an international OS that has the backing of a large number of extremely large organizations bound to see it through to total success.

... A recent survey indicated that almost all of the fortune 100 organizations have serious Linux initiatives underway, or had trial projects underway.

Everything about Linux consists of claims that people are running a trial, or claiming it's good, or having legislation passed to make people like it, or little nobodies enjoying their picture in the paper.

Reminds me of the Mac guys.

Bill
Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Dennis, before you start mouthing off to me about 'defensiveness' I suggest you tak a long hard look at your own posts.  I regret that you're taking it all so personally.

You make a lot of assumptions in your laughable passive aggressive diatribe (ha!).  I am not a microsoftie, I have been in this game for a long long time.  What pisses me off about Linux is this noise has been going on for many many years.  It never gets any better.

I really would like to see some geniune competition to Microsoft.  Microsoft are a repressive weight on this industry.  The problem is that Linux fills that 'competitor' void, simply because of the lack of anything else, not because it's any good.  It is a false idol and it discourages the formation of real competition.  I would like to see more effort go into what really matters, the browser and in particluar Firebird. 

Now once again, the point you failed to address because you were too busy protecting your ego: Out in consumer land, on corporate desktops, in government departments Linux does not exist.  I often find myself checking what sort of systems people are using when I visit various businesses. I see people running DOS, I see people running antique versions of Windows, but I have never ever seen anyone running Linux.  You can pull out a handful of overblown stories of Linux implementations, but really, in the context of the entire planet what is that?  Nothing. Linux has a niche as a web server box end of story. Despite wishful thinking it is not going to progress meaningfully beyond that. 

I am damn tired of hearing all this Linux crap when it has such little relevance to the real world.  Linux is the definition of vapourware.  Please just STFU until you have something useful to say, or at least put your statements in some realistic context. 

Decry me for warning against following mob fashion.  Call me a heretic for calling basement dwelling nerds, basement dwelling nerds.  If anything, It's a good indication that I'm right. Linux is a long long long long looooooooooooooooong way from taking over the world.

stop surfing slashdot
Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Dude..
If it annoys you to the point where you cant keep from insulting people, may be you should just mind your own buissness. Why get involved in these discussions at all?

Eric DeBois
Tuesday, December 30, 2003

You don't have to participate either. I've made a simple point three times now, stop focusing on the sideshow for people that take themselves seriously.

At the risk of being labelled as 'defensive', I'm not posting in every thread about Linux am I?  I do feel I am entitled to make my opinion known and perhaps express my boredom with the whole Linux affair occassionally. 

stop surfing slashdot
Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Linux currently isn't currently widely used in corporate America, but it is quickly becoming widely recognized due to media coverage. I work at a well known brokerage and I'm not in IT. Most of my young coworkers know what Linux is, many of them run it at home. Look how Novell's stock has risen after acquiring Ximian and Suse.

Linux is slowly coming to corporate America as its price/performance ratio begins to destroy that of Windows. Those who get defensive when confronted with this fact should really grow up.

Andrew Murray
Tuesday, December 30, 2003

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