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Microsoft The Almighty Buck

OSS Officially On Microsoft's Financial Radar Screen 639

Posted by timothy
from the preemptive-boilerplate-yammering dept.
seldo writes "More news from Microsoft's latest quarterly filing: according to eWeek, Microsoft says it may have to lower its prices in response to competition from open-source software. From the filing: "To the extent the open source model gains increasing market acceptance, sales of the company's products may decline, the company may have to reduce the prices it charges for its products, and revenues and operating margins may consequently decline". This is a fairly major revelation from Microsoft, and if it happens, it may be one of the biggest wins yet for open-source software: what do you know -- competition works!"
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OSS Officially On Microsoft's Financial Radar Screen

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  • Prices??? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by skermit (451840) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @08:39AM (#5221970) Homepage
    How low does Microsoft have to lower prices to compete with FREE? All they have at this point is ther aftersales value, meaning customer support, etc. But eff 'em if they're gonna charge $30 a tech call, and don't take e-mail support questions anymore.
  • Success! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gazbo (517111) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @08:41AM (#5221983)
    It's about time we had this news. Really, OSS has no chance of competing with software backed by a large company, at least not when the price of the proprietary software are not unreasonable.

    By forcing Microsoft to release polished and well documented code at a reasonable price, OSS has pretty much achieved its goal.

  • by MosesJones (55544) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @08:42AM (#5221987) Homepage

    Before the muppets start talking about products can't compete with free, remember support costs, staff costs etc etc.

    One element on margin is that it is estimated that Microsoft work around the 30% mark, while IBM work around 7% and are booking multi-millions in association with Linux. So this means that Microsoft will be reducing their margin, not becoming unprofitable.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @08:45AM (#5221999)
    PR... nothing more than PR...

    It's not that they're wholly unaffected by the advance of Linux, but this statement should be bundled with others they use to show that "We have brutal competition... really!"
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @08:45AM (#5222000)
    It was about time.

    The thing that pushes ppl to Linux and Open Source is the price. Depending if MS lower its prices too much, it may cause a lot of ppl not to consider OSS software at all.

    Who would want use and a disgruntled OS if they may get nice box, nice gradient buttons, stylish consistent GUI for a reasonable price?

    Maybe it forces OSS software to evolve from merely copying proprietary functionalities to actually improve users' life in order to make a differentiation. A reason for ppl to use it. For now, it's price.
  • by signe (64498) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @08:47AM (#5222007) Homepage
    Microsoft has to put everything they could possibly think of that might conceivably cause the stock to go down even slightly in there, otherwise they could be held liable by their stockholders.

    So while it's certainly nice that they finally have to publically announce this as a possibility, it really doesn't mean anything. I've seen some wild things in quarterly and annual reports.

    -Todd
  • by caluml (551744) <slashdotNO@SPAMspamgoeshere.calum.org> on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @08:48AM (#5222011) Homepage
    Animals are most dangerous when they are cornered.
    Expect to see this beast with its hackles up, coming out fighting.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @08:51AM (#5222021)
    "OSS Officially On Microsoft's Financial Radar Screen"

    First they ignore you,
    Then they laugh at you,
    Then they fight you,
    Then you win.
    - Gandhi.
  • by Koos Baster (625091) <ghostbusters@xsS ... .nl minus distro> on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @08:51AM (#5222023)
    This is a fairly major revelation from Microsoft, and if it happens, it may be one of the biggest wins yet for open-source software: what do you know -- competition works!"

    Sigh. Since when was lowering Microsoft's prices a major objective of OSS?

    This is *not* a big win. Contrary: it reduces the perceived difference between OSS and MS from a consumer's perspective and may even force Linux vendors to lower their prices and thus reduce their revenues.

    ...Now if Microsoft interpreted the OSS threat the way they should and decided to counter it by open sourcing their stuff... THAT would be a major win for the OSS (by definition)!
  • by kahei (466208) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @08:53AM (#5222028) Homepage
    This is really quite analogous with what happned when MS's cheaper solutions began to eat the Unix market from the workstation up.

    At first, MS's main advantage was price, but gradually they innovated(*) and re-engineered so that their product was always high enough quality to attack the next layer up -- from word processing platform up through file/print server to heavy-duty servers and workstations.

    Now MS are being eaten from below by a new generation of even cheaper systems. Like early MS systems, these open source offerings are both derivative and weak except for their price advantage. However, a price advantage is enough to secure a foothold, and over time open source systems will be strengthened and will begin to innovate and will be able to take over better and better MS-held markets.

    In about 10-15 years, the cycle will probably start again, taking us another step further from the days of monolithic systems and proprietry hardware/os/support lock-in (which is where we were at before the Attack of the Killer Micros, young'uns). It's all good.

    (*)Rather than freaking out and writing posts about 'M$' and so on, why not go outside and get some fresh air?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @08:55AM (#5222034)
    While OSS is seen as the domain of geeks, M$ could put their prices up. When linux is as easy to use as windows (yes, it may be crap, but it's easy to use crap) then you will see a move to linux.
  • by Jondor (55589) <(gerhard) (at) (frappe.xs4all.nl)> on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @08:56AM (#5222039) Homepage
    > Microsoft can no longer afford losing millions
    > over millions on it?

    How many billions did they have on their account? They can afford it for many years to come. If it's smart, that's something else..
  • by Madcelt (574333) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @08:58AM (#5222049) Homepage Journal
    You will never see 'full conversion' to linux. There will always be people who prefer windows to linux and vice versa. It's what makes the world interesting.
  • Payback's a bitch (Score:2, Insightful)

    by hammarlund (568027) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @09:00AM (#5222059)
    Now they have a taste of what they did to Netscape by giving away IE. What goes around comes around.
  • Re:Prices??? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Madcelt (574333) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @09:01AM (#5222061) Homepage Journal
    It doesn't have to be free to compete with free. It has to be percieved as better value, that is entirely different.
  • by Kierthos (225954) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @09:01AM (#5222062) Homepage
    Okay, yes, technically, given the billions of dollars that MS has, yes, they could lose millions each year on a number of products. But guess what? They don't like doing so. All businesses are in the 'business' of making money. If they can find some way to increase their cash flow, or at least reduce the amount they are losing, it would be completely bone-headed of them not to take it.

    Kierthos
  • by Queuetue (156269) <scott@pantasFORT ... m minus language> on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @09:01AM (#5222064) Homepage
    Forks start appearing left right and center and suddenly every company has its own sponsered Linux distro.

    What part of this is bad? If My company can make our OS do exactly what we want it to, that's a win, not a loss.
  • by rseuhs (322520) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @09:01AM (#5222068)
    How many billions did they have on their account? They can afford it for many years to come.

    Well, if Microsoft starts taking heavly losses, Micorosft stock would evaporate and Bill Gates remaining stock would become worthless.

  • by Placido (209939) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @09:05AM (#5222083)
    This is really quite analogous with what happned when MS's cheaper solutions began to eat the Unix market from the workstation up.

    Except it's not because Microsoft is being eaten from the server down.
  • Servers? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mr_Silver (213637) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @09:07AM (#5222089)
    Given that I've seen Linux make inroads into Microsoft's server market it wouldn't surprise me that, if they do reduce their prices, it's only for the "server editions" of things.

    Despite all the comments on here about Slashdot readers, their Mum, Dad, Grandmother, Aunt, Uncle and kids using Linux on the desktop - I don't think the desktop users are making any significant decreases to sales of Windows XP just yet.

    A year down the line though, who knows ...?

  • by codepunk (167897) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @09:09AM (#5222104)
    No perhaps Joe will get to keep his job since he is mearly a line worker. Joes IT dept saved 1/4 million allowing Joe keep working. For most companies software is a total write off. Now what if marketing takes that 1/4 million and uses it to market some actual product. Now perhaps a few more Joe's get hired. In a down economy it is all about bang for the buck

  • by Jace of Fuse! (72042) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @09:12AM (#5222114) Homepage
    Really, I don't see how Microsoft lowering their prices could be good for anybody but them.

    Well, it would save a whole lot of people a whole lot of money, so I guess that IS good, I guess. But really I see Microsoft just strengthening their foothold, which is bad for everyone in the long wrong.

    Imagine if Windows cost $25? Instead of Joe-Blow doing cartwheels to get around XP Activation, they'd just buy 3 copies, one for each machine.

    Imagine if Windows cost $9.99? People would buy copies for their mothers, friends, families, etc, just to "free them of those stupid problems they have with Windows 98/ME".

    The fact is, Microsoft could probably still make some changes internally that would allow them to profit off of Windows if it sold for almost nothing, and THEN what would open source have to bank on? Moral righteousness? HAH. That'll sell.
  • by kahei (466208) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @09:13AM (#5222116) Homepage
    Ah, you spotted my deliberate mistake :)

    By 'up' I didn't mean spreading from client to server, I meant spreading from less attractive/lucrative to more attractive market segments.

    When MS were starting out, the lowest margin, most easily accessed market was the WP/spreadsheet client. Nowadays, clients are expensive things with lots of graphics and ram and commodity features, and it's the small server market that's low margin and easy to get into.

  • by rseuhs (322520) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @09:13AM (#5222118)
    What advantages has Windows over Linux?

    • Runs (nearly) all desktopsoftware, because they have 95% marketshare.
    • Support people are easy to find, because they have 95% marketshare.
    • If you hire new people they are already familiar with it, because it is so widespread.
    • All consumer hardware supports it, because it has 95% marketshare
    • OEMs preinstall Windows because it is so widespread.
    All advantages of Windows vs. Linux are a result of it's domination. If you take that away, Windows is dead. The OSS comunity can write most drivers for thousands of different devices and architectures. - Microsoft can't even support Alpha without hand-holding from Compaq, never mind write all the drivers for all those devices!

    No. There will not be a lasting coexistance between Windows and something else. Windows will die within a few years once it no longer runs on the majority of desktops.

    The pressure on Microsoft is getting bigger. Every year PCs become cheaper and the Microsoft tax represents a bigger and bigger share of OEMs revenues. They have just raised the cost for their corporate customers.

    The question is, where shall all the revenue come from? Nobody really needs any MS Office version newer than Office97 and nobody is really excited about Longhorn or however it will be called.

    Microsoft knows that they are doomed (that's why Bill Gates and all the other executives with a clue sell thousands of shares each month) and that it's right now just a matter of how much they can milk out of their customerbase.

  • Re:Success! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by The Lord of Chaos (231000) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @09:14AM (#5222126)
    Maybe that's your goal for OSS is. If that was the true goal of most OSS developers, to compete with Microsoft, it wouldn't be where it is today, because it would have only started about a decade ago.

    I for one hope that most OSS developers don't throw in the towel at this news since there will always be a need for a rich OSS community.
  • Finance speak (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sql*kitten (1359) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @09:15AM (#5222133)
    This is a fairly major revelation from Microsoft

    No it isn't, it's just financial boilerplate text that the lawyers bolted on. It's to cover their asses in case anyone tries to file a class-action suit against them if their profits fall. I used to work for a NASDAQ-traded company, and we had this crap in our quarterlies all the time. You have to enumerate every possible risk to your business, even stuff like we operate in country X and there is a risk of an earthquake, which may materially affect our revenue in that market, blah blah.

    Nothing to see here, move along...
  • by Iamnotalawyer (452226) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @09:16AM (#5222137)
    You couldn't be closer to the truth. This kind of public statement is surely to be referred to in defence at some future MS anti-competition trial. MS may even point to an unrelated drop in prices (such as the end in lifetime of a version prior to the release of a new one) as a sign of competing market forces at work. Points scored here by MS's counsel and PR team for being proactive in their strategy and points should be deducted from the press for actually printing this blatant spindoctoring.
  • by new death barbie (240326) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @09:19AM (#5222145)

    Now every Microsoft shareholder has become the enemy of OSS

    Now Wall Street analysts will be announcing to the world that Microsoft profits will be impacted by OSS --

    And if Microsoft is 'hurting', who else in this sensitive economy could be feeling the pinch from the free software terrorists?

  • Re:great (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rseuhs (322520) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @09:23AM (#5222161)
    Isn't that exactly what they do in Peru and India?

    Also, Microsoft spent 5 to 50 million $ on campaigning (you know gala-dinners, nice flights for politicians, etc.) to stop the German Bundestag from migrating to Linux. article here (in German) [heise.de]

    And the Bundestag still migrated the servers to Linux...

    With over 5Million$ in expenses and 5000 desktops the Bundestag runs, Microsoft has paid at least 1000$/desktop in campaigning. Not even the dumbest Micorosft troll can claim they have made a profit on that...

  • by Anonymous Bullard (62082) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @09:24AM (#5222167) Homepage
    Yet the fact remains that OSS is now officially deemed a competitive threat to the MS empire. Combine that with a few other facts: 1) that MS still doesn't know how to combat that threat and while the wet-noodle-slap legal ruling was a travesty of justice it'll still deter MS from using their most underhanded arsenal of tactics, and 2) Microsoft's financial pyramid scheme depends on ever-increasing profits and a reversal will result in all kinds of additional expenses compared to their past mode of operation.

    However the OSS community, despite being the ideal builders of level playing fields, are still far from having significant (let alone equal or over-riding) influence in the areas where MS holds their most valuable monopolies. Giving Microsoft's obscene profits ever so slightly bigger squeeze is just a minor symptom stemming from the battle over the control (or freedom) of crucially important standards, protocols and file formats. If competition is to work, that's where it really happens, not on Microsoft's product price tags.

    The dotNET thingy is where MS plans to create their next complete set of standards to obsolete those caught up by the OSS community so expect some semi-serious revamping of their Licensing 6.0 in the months ahead. But don't expect to see OSS mentioned anywhere in those announcements; it'll all be due to this great innovating company gracefully catering for their valued customers' needs and wishes and "giving them what they ask for"...

    It'll be interesting to see whether that can slow the adoption of OSS by any noticeable degree. I'm afraid (read: convinced) that Microsoft's hardballs are finally heading back home to roost.
  • by larien (5608) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @09:25AM (#5222169) Homepage Journal
    OK, Karma burning time...

    This quote appears on pretty much every "MS is scared of linux" article and has long since ceased to be "insightful".

    Can we drop, it please?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @09:29AM (#5222188)
    Absolute rubbish!

    OSS isn't *just* about cost, it's about having the power to fully control what software you install and run, the ability to freely modify that
    software to your liking and to use software that uses open standards, not proprietary ones.

    Sure, if the price of Windows drops, many organisations and individuals will be less inclined to migrate to OSS but I doubt very much that those people already using OSS will migrate to Windows because it's cheaper!

    Why do the majority of web sites run on Apache when Microsoft IIS is free??? (Okay, you need a license for the underlying Windows OS, admittedly.) OSS is not *just* about cost, it's about stability, security and customisability...
  • WinXP (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LiquidAsphalt (627915) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @09:29AM (#5222189) Homepage
    I have been a good user of Linux for quiet some time. As an avid geek a computer hobbyist, Linux is the best platform for me to play with. While MS does have the applications, support, and user base that Linux does not, its the shady practices that are going to make people go to Linux.

    Back in the day, computer users like me were power users. You can compare us to the car afficionado, but to Joe Blow, a computer is a tool that helps him browse websites, instant message, MP3s, porn, whatever. Back in the day I enjoyed BBSing and posting in forums thru my 9600 baud modem, back then Joe Blow didn't have a computer.

    What I have noticed throughout all this is people use certain things as tools, once they can't do what they want to do, they will find another way. With the advent of XP, windows hasn't become easier to use. I have a hard time figuring out how to do what. Desktop sharing? WHat a joke that is. What about Media PLayer 9, all that drm crap is going to make things HARDER on people. MS is not making the computer experience any friendlier, they are siding with the corprorations that are against the people anyways. THIS is what will lead people to Linux, software that people want, not corporations.

    MS is becoming desperate because they KNOW they made bad choices and OSS is going to bite em back. Not today, not tomorrow, but SOMEDAY. THem lowering the price make no difference, ultimatly its going to be what the people decide they want and not be told what they have to have.

  • by YeeHaW_Jelte (451855) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @09:31AM (#5222193) Homepage
    I couldn't care less about the price, and I think the majority of OSS users isn't motivated by the low price. Hell, I can get windows for free just as well, just talk to my l33t h4ck0r neighbour kid and ask him to burn me a copy. The price argument is old & tired: get off it!

    Even companies don't or shouldn't use OSS for it's price; dozens of researches have shown that the TCO (total cost of ownership) for windows and e.g. linux don't differ that much. They should use, as should individuals, OSS because they believe in the OSS philosophy and because the OSS style fits their own style of computer usage.

    For me, it's about these things:
    - From kernel to application, I can see exactly what it's doing and why
    - If it doesn't work the way I like it, I can change it or try to find someone who already has
    - I'm not a newbie, I know computers and I don't want to be treated as such
    - If the configuration changes, I want to be the one who does it, not the OS itself

    All these things add up to a package microsoft can't compete with, even if it would cost me more, not less that propriety software. And I wish everyone would stop hoping every last computer user starts using OSS, because it's just not going to happen, and it's just not necessary. Some people want ease-of-use, and others want power. Just so.
  • by gorjusborg (603799) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @09:35AM (#5222221) Journal
    I am unsure that this is a good thing. I think you all should be a little skeptical too.

    Why does anyone want to see Microsoft go down the tubes?

    Sure, they have been overcharging us for their OS and office software for years, but it isn't like the money didn't go to good use. After all, most of the features that we see in OpenOffice and other useful apps for Linux came from ideas that were original or at least perfected (I use the term loosely here) in MS apps.

    Sure, I love the GNU project, Linux, and OSS in general, but would we even have a target to hit with our free software if we didn't have a company like Microsoft to chase after?

    I hate to see the mob mentality take over with this 'Linux vs. Windows' stuff rather than contemplate what a collapse of Microsoft would really mean to us (as developers, users, etc.)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @09:36AM (#5222225)
    My point is that Windows sometime in it's existance must have shown some good sides, compared to other operating systems.

    Sure, as far as I recall Windows 95 wasn't as bad as Windows 3.1 and Windows 3.1 wasn't as bad as DOS but in both cases that was a matter of perpetuating an existing monopoly. DOS didn't need to be good, it rode on IBM's coat tails.
  • by dinotrac (18304) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @09:37AM (#5222236) Journal
    Sure, OSS is a competitive force to reckon with, but the big problem for MS was a little further down in the story:


    Microsoft also alienated many of its largest customers with its controversial new Licensing 6 and Software Assurance program, which took effect last year.


    Businesses are willing to pay for value delivered. They are not, however, willing to be raked over the coals, especially by someone who is making the profit margins that Microsoft makes in an economy that has everyone else scrambling to make a buck.

    Add in the costs of continual upgrades -- required by Software Assurance, BTW -- and the hardware to support them, and the lost productivity due to bugs and security flaws, and we have some unhappy campers out there.

    OSS alternatives mean that Microsoft will have to lower prices, probably to a level lower than pre Software Assurance days. Customer anger and memories mean that it may not be enough to keep some of those customers from going away for good.
  • by Technician (215283) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @09:37AM (#5222241)
    They may have to change more than the price to compete with OSS. Look for changes in the EULA, closed standards, and price. They will all need to change. I love the changes for the better the competition provides.
  • Re:Success! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hackstraw (262471) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @09:38AM (#5222250)
    By forcing Microsoft to release polished and well documented code at a reasonable price, OSS has pretty much achieved its goal.

    OSS has reached its goal? This seems to differ from the philosophy of the GNU project.

    Free software is a matter of freedom: people should be free to use software in all the ways that are socially useful. Software differs from material objects--such as chairs, sandwiches, and gasoline--in that it can be copied and changed much more easily. These possibilities make software as useful as it is; we believe software users should be able to make use of them.


    In fact, in their manifesto it states their goal as:

    Once GNU is written, everyone will be able to obtain good system software free, just like air.


    Now GNU is only one facet of OSS, but probably the biggest, and I don't see any victory here.

    I seriously doubt Sony was really happy when M$ dropped their prices to match the PS2, and were jumping up and down saying their goals were met.

    If anything, this is bad for free software, because it closes the gap between free and proprietary, so why wouldn't your average joe be more inclined to go with cheaper commercial closed source software?
  • OSS out of focus? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sonicboom (141577) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @09:48AM (#5222306) Journal
    it may be one of the biggest wins yet for open-source software

    So - is the OSS movement about crushing Microsoft now?

    I didn't realize that the OSS community was at war with Microsoft. I thought it was about making good software, and keeping the source open...

  • Re:That's good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EvilTwinSkippy (112490) <yoda@etoyEULERoc.com minus math_god> on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @09:48AM (#5222309) Homepage Journal
    Well I tested software for a living in a previous job, and let me tell ya, Windows has a piss poor track record. Our department was so sick of NT blue screening (and taking all the debugging information with it) that we ported the application to Linux. We were never really able to tell what was breaking NT.

    Now I will grant you, XP does not blue screen nearly as often. However, if I had a nickel for every time I got one of those "Dude your program blew up and we would like to send the report to M$" dialog boxes I would be rich. My wife has made a rather lucrative career in on-site tech support, and her best customers run XP. It may not crash, but it doesn't really work either. (I still have equipment that worked perfectly well under 98 that we still don't have the drivers working properly for under XP on the same hardware.)

    Now I do use linux on a day to day basis. It does crash a lot. Well, actually, the applications crash a lot. The operating system has locked up on me about 8 times in the last year, and that is over 12 Kiosks, 9 data center servers, and 10 or so desktops, all running experimental software.

    And can you tell me the last time you managed to get a current version of Windows to run on a 3 year old computer?

  • by MtViewGuy (197597) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @09:54AM (#5222342)
    ...It may just kill off a lot of the incentive for people to switch to Linux.

    What would happen if Microsoft suddenly cuts the pricing of a legal copy of Windows XP desktop editions by 50% or more for everyone? Because Windows is vastly better-supported in terms of hardware support than Linux, sales would definitely increase quite a bit.

    Yes, Linux is cheap when you get the personal edition distributions, but when you have to spend time to tweak it to support the latest hardware, plus the fact a lot of the latest hardware lack Linux drivers, the result is a potentially frustrating experience for non-experienced users. I think a lot of people don't realize that many of the posters on /. are pretty experienced computer users, people who are willing to spend the time to carefully tweak Linux to their own satisfaction and spend the time to chase down proper Linux hardware drivers.
  • by MacAndrew (463832) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @09:55AM (#5222352) Homepage
    Hey, their need for token competition may be the only reason Apple has survived. If they'd yanked Office for Mac, the Mac would have been in serious trouble. Scary that a suite of generic applications can have so much influence.

    Apple may be on its own legs securely now, as may Linux. It will be interesting when Microsoft has apples-to-apples competition, but because of Microsoft's efforts to shove everyone else off the store shelf it will be years before they can no longer manipulate "the competition."

    If Microsoft is smart -- how many sentences start with those words? -- it will begin to adapt, but also wring every last dime out of the legacy products. `They haven't done well in their efforts to dominate new markets where they don't benefit from the Windows foundation, such as the internet and little game boxes. Gates, despite his claims, has no vision.
  • Re:That's good (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @09:59AM (#5222370)
    Umm crashy? I find it amusing how people go on and on about Windows being so unstable;

    What is so difficult to understand that people use their systems in 100,000 different ways than you do? If you'll look outside of your little box you'd see that when people use their OS differently the OS will behave differently.

    yet in my ~10 years of using Windows the only time I've had it crash was due to a driver issue. Sure they should have done something to keep borked drivers from crashing it I'll grant you that, but in the end it's the drivers fault not the fault of Windows.

    So in one breath you're saying that Windows is architectually flawed and in the same breath you're blaming the driver manufacturers (whom as an OS vendor you should assume the worst from). Windows reputation for instability is well known and deserved. You don't get the kind of widely recognized infamous reputation for stability overnight that MS has earned. An OS as old as Windows should be easy to administer and rock solid even for a novice computer user. Clearly it isn't if only a few elite people (such as yourself) can properly configure, administer and use the OS and have it remain stable.

    Your claim of only driver issues crashing your machine (for the last 10 years) dates you back to Win 3.1 and right through the first Windows 9x release. Can you really tell me that again with a straight face?
  • by miffo.swe (547642) <daniel.hedblomNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @09:59AM (#5222374) Homepage Journal
    Altough it is nice and warming to see that MS may have to lower their insane prices i dont feel that happy. If this is true then Linux is really in the line of fire from Redmond. The ones who have proven time and time again that nothing is too evil or shoddy if it helps remove competition.

    I think we linux users should brace for an attack like nothing before from MS. They will use any meens avaliable to sustain their high revenues. A slight fall of the revenues and MS stocks will likely fall like a ton of brick. Considering how much stocks is owned by staff in all levels i presume there is an enormous internal incentive to thwart linux in its cradle.

    We should have a central site documenting every shoddy move and backdoor mudshot contest from Redmond HQ. I assume that would be some horrific reading on a site like that pretty soon now.
  • Re:That's good (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @10:02AM (#5222401)
    Sure. Blame it on the drivers.

    They all do.
  • by azzy (86427) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @10:02AM (#5222404) Journal
    <tongue-in-cheek>
    Anyone smart enough to install linux, already knows how to get MSWindows for free - and chooses not to
    </tongue-in-cheek>
  • by gadget junkie (618542) <gbponz@libero.it> on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @10:03AM (#5222410) Journal
    I don't agree with that. since most of the OS sales are pre-loads by OEM's, the final customer wouldn't see a great benefit, since hardware prices are going down anyway and 50 or 60 bucks don't mean much. In fact, that's part of the problem that drives MS to a annual fee model: people are not upgrading like they used to.

    Moreover, an upgrade cycle is drive by applications, and what's the added value of Office XP against office 97?

  • by Afty0r (263037) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @10:07AM (#5222427) Homepage
    What advantages has Windows over Linux?

    Simpler setup with very few questions.
    Smaller more focused set of default applications
    Simpler, centralised, graphical configuration tools
    Convenient, standardised help system with excellent searching and troubleshooting options
    In built support, from time of consumer device launch, for peripherals and card types (PCMCIA, USB etc. - Linux got late to market here).
    Advanced tools are hidden from basic users.
    System files are protected from inadvertent change.
    System rescue tools provided on disk (while Linux may die less frequently, when it does there's NO WAY for Joe User to recover).
    No confusing messages on startup.

    Linux has MANY advantages over Windows and is a technological marvel in some ways, but the sooner people realise Windows *is* better in some departments, the sooner Linux will start to catch up in those ways.
  • by unoengborg (209251) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @10:12AM (#5222450) Homepage
    Last time I checked, it was much faster to set up RedHat 8 than windows XP with SQL Server and MS Exchange. In fact, normally you set up redhat 8 including mail server and database server faster than a plain XP desktop installation.

    And what is easy to use can be very different for diffent kinds of users. In the windows world the user is supposed to do all the admining himself, while in the Unix world you have a trained sysadmin to help you.

    That way unix users can do more productive work, and the admin cost becomes visible to the management, this means that IT bottlenecks can be discovered and removed and productivity is increased. As Unix systems normally can handle 2-3 times more user than a windows admin Unix becomes a lot cheaper

  • Nah, OEMs decide (Score:2, Insightful)

    by SgtChaireBourne (457691) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @10:17AM (#5222478) Homepage
    Most people take what is offered in the stores. The key factor in what to purchase is determined by what is on sale that month. The OEM determines what OS comes pre-installed on the machines that are on sale. Once OEMs are no longer forced to bundle Windows, it and the monopoly-rent-inflated revenues will dry up and blow away.

    Most of the rest of the people couldn't give a rat's ass what OS is on their computer as long as it works. Now that Macintoshes are both a good deal and affordable, OS X will be popular in that group.

    However, StarOffice and OpenOffice run on MS-Windows, OS X, Linux and others -- without the bloat, security problems and incompatibility problems bundled with MS-Office.

    Even without all that above, License 6.0, software-as-subscription, DRM and DMCA pretty much ensured the demise of MS-Office.

  • by Alcohol Fueled (603402) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @10:22AM (#5222504) Homepage
    "I don't think OSS is making a big dent in MS revenues - it's still virtually impossible to buy a new PC without windows pre-installed (and pre-licensed)."

    It's not virtually impossible to buy a new PC without Windows pre-installed. I can look in my newspaper, and see ads for brand new PCs that don't come with Windows, or any other OS at all. You can buy the PC and install what you want on it. And there's always buying a "new" PC from parts on Price Watch and assembling it yourself. Then you can add whatever OS you want. See, it's not that hard to find a PC without Windows on it.

  • by nuOpus (463845) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @10:25AM (#5222536)
    Dont mind him ... he is just for MS Windows because he does not understand anything else. He has to push pretty pictures to get around or the computer will confuse him. Its kind of like making devices for children, if you want them to use it you create big colorful buttons for them to push.

    I personally like computers because they are computers ... not because I like the OS, so I will use anything that works as I will have a good understanding of how it works because I am smart enough ... like many of the people of this forum.

    Windows people are not really into computers ... they are into "Windows." When it comes down to it there is no understanding of code, structure or syntax or any innerworkings therein. They like using the desktop, not into the computer itself.
  • by rawshark (603493) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @10:25AM (#5222539)
    Also, as an Officer Of The Company, there are very strict limits placed by the SEC on when he can sell stock, so he does it when he can
  • by pandrijeczko (588093) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @10:33AM (#5222578)
    1) Go read a history of UNIX / M.I.T / Stephen Levy's "Hackers" book. Then you'll understand people were giving away software long before they had any ideas before making money out of it. Selling software is a newer idea... 2) OSS/FSF/GPL exist purely to protect the rights of those who *choose* to distribute software freely to continue to do that, to allow them (and anyone else) the ability to use and modify that software and to ensure that nothing is hidden behind proprietary standards. 3) Microsoft *sell* software. They are not innovaters, just damn good at repackaging the ideas of others and marketing it - or just buying the company that innovated it in the first place. They can, and have, used Open Source software ideas in their own products but, then, that's what it's designed for. (Yes, when you Windows people venture to the command line on your Windows boxes, whenever you "ping" something, you're using software that originated from the dirty, disgusting free software movement.) 4) OSS does not give a damn about Microsoft "competition". OSS/Linux/FreeBSD users, who probably have experience with Windows, might hate Microsoft (yes, I'm one of them) because of their business methods, rubbish software or simply because it's "cool". But OSS was there long before Microsoft as a defence against predatory practices from UNIX vendors and will be there long after. 5) Microsoft reducing the cost of their products / turning Windows into an operating system / sticking Gates' head on a pole outside 1 Microsoft Way might slow down the migration from Windows to OSS but it probably won't do anything whatsoever to those already using / developing OSS software. 6) Microsoft cannot buy OSS because there's nothing tangible to own, they can't stamp on OSS because it's too widespread, they can just continue to spread FUD as they've always done. End of OSS lesson...
  • by rseuhs (322520) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @10:34AM (#5222595)
    Simpler setup with very few questions.

    Wrong, SuSE lets you set up a workstation faster and easier than with Windows, even without MS Office which is NOT INCLUDED and requires and EXTRA INSTALL. (OpenOffice is included with SuSE and even RedHat)

    Smaller more focused set of default applications

    This is an advantage? Oh yeah, I know, "the confusion!"

    But wait, Windows runs more apps than Linux - so Windows is great because it runs more and less apps than Linux - at the same time.

    Simpler, centralised, graphical configuration tools

    SuSE has all of them centralized in the KDE control center. Just because RedHat is a mediocre desktop doesn't mean Linux is.

    Also, KDE's control center is organized tree-like. If they wanted to copy Windows, they would just take a random folder and throw all tools into it.

    Convenient, standardised help system with excellent searching and troubleshooting options

    OK, I give you that. The help system is a little bit lacking on KDE/Linux.

    In built support, from time of consumer device launch, for peripherals and card types (PCMCIA, USB etc. - Linux got late to market here).

    I already covered that.

    Advanced tools are hidden from basic users.

    No advantage. Basic users use the defaults. Just because Windows has fewer GUI tools (yes you read that right: You can do a lot more in KDE graphically when in Windows you would have to start registry digging) doesn't mean that's a good thing.

    System files are protected from inadvertent change.

    Like in Linux if you use users. (Hell, that's what it is for.)

    System rescue tools provided on disk (while Linux may die less frequently, when it does there's NO WAY for Joe User to recover).

    SuSE came with that for over 3 years.

    No confusing messages on startup.

    Oh wow, what a great advantage. "The confusion"

    I'll give you the help system. The rest is either not true or "the confusion" FUD.

    Linux has MANY advantages over Windows and is a technological marvel in some ways, but the sooner people realise Windows *is* better in some departments, the sooner Linux will start to catch up in those ways.

    Linux on the desktop depends A LOT on the distributer. RedHat sucks as a desktop (and is indeed worse than Windows in a couple of ways although it has improved lately), SuSE, Xandros and Mandrake shine.

  • by octothorpe (34673) <etwilson AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @10:39AM (#5222621) Homepage
    That driver argument is starting to really annoy me. I've almost never installed any version of MS-Windows where I didn't have to install separate drivers from the manufacturers website: Video drivers, sound drivers, motherboard drivers, AGP drivers, network drivers, printer drivers, scsi drivers etc. On the other hand, I've seldom had to download anything for Redhat, all the drivers I've needed are included in the distribution. And considering that my fiance just had to buy a brand new scanner to replace her three year-old one because the manufacturer said that they were not going to support Windows XP, I'm just now sure how you can say that XP supports more hardware than Linux.
  • by Anonym0us Cow Herd (231084) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @10:44AM (#5222658)
    This is not PR. This is CYA. (Otherwise called "Cover Your Posterior".)

    Companies have to disclose anything that might materially affect their business to both the SEC and investors.

    IMHO, it is high time that Microsoft started realistically stating how much of a threat Open Source is. It's not like Open Source is going to hurt Microsoft in the next couple of quarters. But it is a long term concern, which means something of interest to investors.
  • by mormop (415983) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @10:46AM (#5222667)
    Hang on a minute.

    One minute Supreme Court Judge oops, sorry - forgot she hadn't been paid yet, Judge Collar Cotelly comes out with her "Open Source is not a credible alternative to Microsoft" during her verdict and the next minute M$ are moaning that OSS is forcing them to push their prices down.

    Surely this is indicative of the fact that either CKK didn't have a grasp of the facts of the case or other factors were at work during her writing up of the outcome.

    Whatever, both scenarios surely show CKKs verdict to be flawed and any lawyers wanting to rack up another big bill should start packing their briefcases immeadiatly. And this time can we have someone who actually understands the terms monopoly and level playing field?
  • by AftanGustur (7715) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @10:54AM (#5222725) Homepage


    Even companies don't or shouldn't use OSS for it's price; dozens of researches have shown that the TCO (total cost of ownership) for windows and e.g. linux don't differ that much. They should use, as should individuals, OSS because they believe in the OSS philosophy and because the OSS style fits their own style of computer usage.

    After the XP license extortion, companies should begin to realise that they have been had..

    Companies paid tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in license fees to Microsoft and their gangs of henchmen (resellers) just to "extend" their software contracts.

    The company where I work paid about 230,000 Euros for the contract "Extension". And what did the company get in return ? Some upgrade called "XP" ??
    The tough question is, how is management going to justify this expensive payment if the company doesn't use this thing called XP ??

    And surely we installed XP. And what did it cost us ?? About 6-8-man years in preparation, testing and roll-out. And what did we get that we didn't have already in NT4 ?? Nothing !!

    Being in charge of your upgrade cycle is priceless..

    Hmmm, priceless...

    1 copy of Linux = 20$
    external consulting and training = 30,000$
    The feeling you get when the year report comes out that shows you saved the company hundreds of thousands in licensing fees .... Priceless..

  • by Anonym0us Cow Herd (231084) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @11:00AM (#5222751)
    It's to notify their owners (shareholders) why the share price may go down.

    Yes.


    It's a financially and publically responsible thing to do.

    I think you could have worded this better. Is this statement meant to somehow imply one or more of the following...
    • Microsoft is publicly responsible?
    • Microsoft has a social conscience?
    • Microsoft actually cares about investors? (or anyone else?)
    This is required by the SEC. Pure and simple. If they didn't have to disclose this, they wouldn't. This is nothing but CYA. (CYA is a legal term that means Cover Your Posterior) This way when some investor comes back later to sue because the stock takes a dive and doesn't recover, Microsoft can say "we warned you", and "we warned the SEC".

    Do you suppose that Microsoft is happy about having to (publicly) admit to the SEC that Open Source (a) threatens their business model and (b) might force them to lower their prices?

    Okay, I can see one way to interpret it the way you said. It is publicly responsible of Microsoft to disclose this information. After all, the alternative would be to try and hide it, bury it deep somewhere, and deny it. As Open Source takes hold more and more, keep the stock price up by licensing the newly patented Creative Accounting techniques. (Thus behavior would reinforce my points above.) Given that they are disclosing rather than hiding, then, I suppose I must agree with your second point; in some sense, it is publicly responsible of them. It is better than this paragraph's alternative behavior. So you're right. I agree.
  • by Junks Jerzey (54586) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @11:06AM (#5222785)
    - From kernel to application, I can see exactly what it's doing and why
    - If it doesn't work the way I like it, I can change it or try to find someone who already has


    OSS has advantages, but let's be realistic: the above two items are myths. Do you really understand the source to your kernel and every application you use? All ten million lines of it?

    Just because the source is available doesn't mean that someone can just pop in and understand the architecture of a large program. I've worked on many large projects in the same office as the other developers. And quite frequently someone pops into my office--or I pop into theirs--with a short question that requires a lot of digging and scribbling on a white board to answer. Frequently someone says "I want to change the way X works," and after a lot of asking around it turns out that X would be a bad idea because of various low-level interactions between features (for example). With most OSS, you don't have such easy access to the developers; they can't explain their code to everyone who comes along. You end up with people who blindly make pet changes that they don't understand.

    In short, access to the source is good. Being able to recompile the source is good. But understanding the source and being able to correctly modify it is not one of the reasons OSS is popular.
  • by geoff lane (93738) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @11:41AM (#5222977)
    The real reason they may have to drop prices is all those people who see no reason to upgrade.

    Despite MS, the modern PC + pre-installed s/w covers almost everybodies needs and the home market is very conservative and just will not re-buy the same s/w every 3 years just to maintain the MS share price.

  • by TKinias (455818) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @11:49AM (#5223039)

    quoth octothorpe:

    And considering that my fiance just had to buy a brand new scanner to replace her three year-old one because the manufacturer said that they were not going to support Windows XP, I'm just now sure how you can say that XP supports more hardware than Linux.

    This is a very important point, octothorpe. I am much more concerned about still being able to use good hardware years down the road than about getting the newest bells-and-whistles video card to work. With Linux (or OSS generally), once something is supported, it's unlikely to become unsupported for many, many years. You can still run Debian Sarge on a 386, for cryin' out loud. (Not that I've tried, but it's theoretically possible.)

    I just picked up a second-hand Dell laptop (P-II era) which would be suffering horribly if I tried to put XP on it. Running Debian, however, it's happy as a clam -- and so am I.

  • by twitter (104583) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @12:13PM (#5223203) Homepage Journal
    When a reader says that Office and Windoze prop M$ up, you say:

    I adore how cute it is when some FUD is propagated on Slashdot, and soon you can hear it being repeated verbatim as stone-cold facts time after time by Slashbots.

    and then go on to chatter about keyboards and Visual studio. Can you reasonably compare the proffit bassed on M$'s O$ to keyboard sales? The price of VB may pain individuals who cling to M$, but that individual pain does not collectivly match the vast revenues had when big dumb corporations stick Office on every one of their 7,000 peons desks. No, it's true that M$ is using it's O$ monopoly rent to get into other areas.

    The fact is that there is nothing new here but failure. M$ gets into each new market the same way, by dumping . The used IBM to make an O$ monopoly then dumped Windoze 3.1 to establish a desktop hegemity. They then used anti-competitive agreements with vendors to keep other O$ out and dumped their office to make familiarity. To this day M$ dumps their software on schools, then turns around and screws them in quater million dollar BSA raids. Their reduction of prices of their vastly inferior "server" software is par for the course but it will not be enough this time.

    People are realizing that free makes economic sense. They are starting to see that free software is better software and always will be. Better software does make for a lower total cost of ownership as it eliminates the intentional waste propriatory software vendors are famous for. More importantly, it does what YOU want it to do rather than what some marketdroid thinks it should do and it does it according to best practices. Slammer, Code Red, Nmedia, SirCam, I love you, Klez, la te da te da, the list goes on and on because the closed source, rape the user method does not work for anyone but the vendor.

  • by praedor (218403) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @12:27PM (#5223335) Homepage

    Homogenous enough to permit file sharing without getting dorked by a propriatory format. Homogenous enough to bring more games to linux. Homogenous enough that ISPs and the like actually know what linux is and can help out when there is a problem with it - or more importantly as I always handle the ISP connectivity myself just fine, no OS-specific discrimination vis a vis support: "Oh, sorry, our service only supports windoze". Homogenous enough to reduce the use of M$-specific tags and nonsense on the web. Homogenous enough that I can acquire tax software that works natively on my chosen platform rather than HOPE it will run in wine.

  • by flacco (324089) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @12:29PM (#5223350)
    OSS does NOT "compete" with MS in the traditional, economic sense - it rewrites the rules completely. Classic economic competition does NOT work against Microsoft. In that arena, they have several key markets totally sewn up, and competition simply does not exist because of their dominance.

    OSS is only making inroads because it plays outside the rules. There is no profit center, there is no company organization, there is no ownership...

    It's unhelpful to give credence to the fallacy that Microsoft has "competition".

  • by ckaminski (82854) <[ckaminski] [at] [pobox.com]> on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @12:32PM (#5223382) Homepage
    Are you crazy? First off, with SEC accounting rules, he's got to give the public some warning, 30 days, IIRC.

    If BillG sold all his shares, or even half, I think you could count on the COMPLETE collapse of the Microsoft balloon. $44 to $4. The act of a CEO cashing out so much stock would send investors running, even if it was for a good reason, like buying Nantucket Island, say, and building a summer home.
  • by pandrijeczko (588093) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @12:35PM (#5223426)
    What you talk about is the original Unix Way. If every program is a simple single minded program, and somebodt else would like to borrow a snippet of code, why not? And no, selling software is NOT a new idea. It's just another way to pay the programmers on code. And of course, if they open that code up, why buy their product (enter vicious circle)

    Sorry, I don't see the point you are arguing. OSS software originates from the geek/MIT hacker/hippie (delete where applicable) mentality where by keeping code open, you allow it to be improved upon. That mentality was carried on by Stallman (love him ot hate him) with the FSF and GPL. I was just defining that to less informed people in this discussion.
    If programming pays your mortgage, great - and if the software you create is useful, usable and good value for money, I'll buy it! As long as you support it, you keep the code as closed as you want.

    I think you misunderstand standards documents. Standards can be wrote in plain language that describe how something happens. Code is just an implementation of that standard.

    Yeah, fine but I knew how to "suck eggs" before you very kindly told me how to. What point are you making here?

    There's plenty of reasons why you would use Linux, rather than Microsoft stuff that would not be "I hate MS" topic.

    Yes, I just covered them also if you'd have read it properly rather than jumping in all emotional... bad software, illicit business practices, "cool factor", all reasons why people might choose Linux over Windows. I admitted I hate Microsoft but I'm no martyr - I've been around UNIX (and Windows/DOS) for about 15 years and found Linux a relatively easy transition. But I never forced myself to use it simply because of a personal MS backlash.

    If I could develop Windows stuff (and see basic windows programming like seeing the source for notepad and calc), I'd probably wouldnt have went to Linux.

    Erm, why do you equate OSS directly to Linux? There's a heap of Open Source Software on Windows and free compilers / programming tools also.

    I cant afford a Legit copy of MS programming suite, so I use GCC.

    Ahhh, so Microsoft didn't support you properly as a Windows developer so you moved to Linux. I'll add that to my list of reasons...

    What? So you wanna stick Gates' head to a pole which will speed up Open source?

    It's called "humour". A flippant, throwaway comment to cover all the bases - namely, it doesn't matter what gestures Microsoft makes, it won't damage OSS. It might slow down migrations but why does the OSS movement care anyway? It survived for years with a handful of hackers...
    Apologies for offending the pedantic amongst the Slashdot readership...

    Oh, just the dead horse getting beat.

    It'd be nice if you joined the same race I'm in first...
    How about some rational argument first, then we'll decide who won if that's important to you.

  • Re:great (Score:3, Insightful)

    by epukinsk (120536) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @12:58PM (#5223692) Homepage Journal
    Microsoft has paid at least 1000$/desktop in campaigning. Not even the dumbest Micorosft troll can claim they have made a profit on that...

    Microsoft's revenue stream depends 100% on the perception that Windows/Office is the only option. As soon as there are examples of large organizations that successfully deploy Linux/OO, that perception will be eroded and the game will be up for Microsoft.

    Microsoft couldn't give a damn about 5000 desktops. They're trying to prevent people from seeing the little man behind the curtain.

    Erik
  • Within 10 years... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Some Bitch (645438) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @01:07PM (#5223779)
    ...I firmly believe we'll see the first release of MSlinux. No-one can deny they have some of the world's most talented programmers working for them, their main problem is simply the code base they're working from.

    If the wind of change starts to blow 'due linux' then MS aren't going to sit quietly and die, they'll put together the biggest team ever applied to a linux project and release a distro that will blow RH/MDK/etc out of the water (assuming they survive till then of course). The geeks will still want debian/slackware/etc but MS will create a linux desktop as easy as XP/Win2k for the rest of the world.

    Once they're in the OSS game they won't be able to trample all over standards in their usual haphazard fashion because their distro won't be compatible then.

    Make no mistake, if linux starts to be where the money is then MS will go there.
  • First you win... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tony (765) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @02:32PM (#5224550) Journal
    ...what do you know -- competition works!

    Uhm....

    Competition hardly works. So far, Microsoft has been able to kill everything that would present true commercial competition. Linux had to completely re-write the rules (from Microsoft's perspective) by providing not only binaries, but source, for Free.

    Linux is not "competing" with Microsoft. Most Linux folks I know hardly give a damn about Microsoft. In fact, the way this whole affair has gone with me (since 1993) is (from Microsoft's perspective):


    First you [Microsoft] win
    Then they fight you
    Then they laugh at you
    Then they ignore you


    I think we are in the "Then they laugh at you" phase, in which we realize the fight is over, and that really, there was no fight; it was just us, writing code and letting people know we have something worth looking into.
  • by Slime-dogg (120473) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @02:54PM (#5224747) Journal

    I find it interesting that the debate of "competition" even comes up.

    The way I see it, Microsoft can only lose market share to Apple (MacOS X), Sun (Solaris), IBM (AIX), and other companies that decide to sell and operating system. OSS products aren't sold, as such there is no market for them. It's like air. Do we pay for air? Could there be a market for "commodity air?" --probably.

    See, Microsoft fails to realize that Linux and it's ilk are not created by some company that can be smacked down. Sure, there's companies that assist in the development of OSS, but they're business philosophy does not revolve around the sale of the software. Microsoft, on the other hand, sinks or swims based on software sales.

    Anything that is free will slowly undermine a market for the same type of product. It's only natural. The progression from non-free to free software may be slow, but it's an eventuality.

    This is why Microsoft needs to change it's business plan. The hardware end is good. The 'web service' idea may have worked. The pushing of .NET probably won't get them anywhere, but if they offer unique services and products over it... they might do well.

  • by CrystalFalcon (233559) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @04:57PM (#5226017) Homepage
    Let's see now:

    Microsoft gives its browser away for free vs. Netscape who sells it, MS wins - Slashdot cries foul.

    Microsoft sells its software vs. OSS who gives it away for free, OSS wins - Slashdot says "competition works".

    Hello? Anybody home?
  • by toopc (32927) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @05:05PM (#5226082)
    True, but he's already sold almost all his stock (all bar 10%, I seem to recall)

    Bill Gates holds 611,963,928 shares of MSFT [yahoo.com] or about 12%. At today's price that's about $29 billion.

    Even if MSFT stock was destroyed and dropped to $1/share he would still have more money then he could spend in 5 lifetimes. And of course, that's just his holdings in Microsoft, he has some $15 billion dollars in outside investments.

    Hell, he could just sell the Codex Leicester [amnh.org] for half what he paid for it and still have more money, $15 million, then most of us will see in our lifetimes.

    So before anyone here gets too excited about the idea of Bill Gates in the poor house, really try to undertand just how much money $1 billion is and then realize Gates has over 30 times that much.

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