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Harvard Concludes Linux Will Remain Second Best 460

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the i-said-number-two dept.
watzinaneihm writes "A Harvard Study which uses formal economic modelling to determine "Will OSS ever displace traditional software from its market leadership position?" came to a (not so?) surprising result. Linux is likely to remain second best as long as Microsoft has a first mover advantage."
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Harvard Concludes Linux Will Remain Second Best

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  • OSX (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Transcendent (204992) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @09:34AM (#16075328)
    Now that Macs are developing/supporting a BSD based OS, I think Linux will also lose some desktop share here as well.

    In fact, I know of a few friends who chose to get a MacBook and keep OSX on it because they described it as "Linux with more hardware support" (or at least better support directly for the Mac). Not saying this is true, but that it is another well supported Unix alternative.
    • by rolfwind (528248)
      I'm getting a Mac Book Pro for myself (after getting one for the parents) but I'm going to triple boot it, using Linux predominantly.

      I need very few Windows programs (actually, I'm just thinking of running Windows in OS X). I actually use Windows only about 5-10% as much as I used to 2 years back, it's getting less usable by the year since Win2K in some aspects.

      And Mac OS X is okay, I like the hardware/software integration the most. That and how installing programs is just drag and drop. It's really good
      • Re:OSX (Score:5, Interesting)

        by countach (534280) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @10:05AM (#16075427)
        I'm going the opposite direction to most people. I started off with Linux because it was far superior to other options back in the nineties. When Win XP came out I slowly reduced my use of Linux because XP was "good enough", it didn't crash, it runs games and iTunes and some other progs I need. I use cywin to make it somewhat Unix-like. Now I've had enough of Windows, it's fallen behind where it should be, but Linux is still too unfriendly for the rest of the family. It's still hard to set up hardware, and the gui, while similar to Windows on the surface, still has an underlying clunkyness still. So I'm moving to OSX shortly. I still like Linux and hope one day it will lose the clunkyness, but life is too short to be spending hours hacking around problems and I'm too old for that crap now.
      • Re:OSX (Score:4, Informative)

        by frogstar_robot (926792) <frogstar_robot@yahoo.com> on Sunday September 10, 2006 @10:10AM (#16075449)

        OS X has some minor issues, like having no "show desktop" button that I'd have to get a script for that doesn't always work correct.

        I largely agree with you but OS X DOES address that one. If you have the Expose stuff turned on, press F11 and all the Windows will scootch to the sides. Do whatever you have to do and F11 pulls them back in.

        • Re:OSX (Score:4, Informative)

          by countach (534280) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @10:13AM (#16075457)
          You can also use Active Corners. Configure it so that you move the mouse to the corner and the desktop appears.
        • by rolfwind (528248)
          Thanks, however I would like to minimize all the windows in order and then click on the program (say Firefox) to bring up all of it's Windows into view. F11 doesn't allow me to do that AFAIK (otherwise Finder->Desktop would be fine just to see the desktop), and click on the icon on the bottom usually only brings one window back in front.

          I could select the windows I want one by one from the icon, but's that's pretty slow. Maybe I'm just used to a gnome/windows toolbar in this regard.
          • by TheLink (130905)
            But why do you want to "show desktop". When I setup windows I usually set up a folder called "1 Explore" in the start menu.

            And in it I put a shortcut called "1 Explore Desktop"

            Target=%SystemRoot%\explorer.exe , /e, "%HOMEDRIVE%%HOMEPATH%\Desktop"
            Start in=%HOMEDRIVE%%HOMEPATH%

            So if I press winkey,1,1 it "explores" the desktop.

            I also have a "C Explore C" etc in the folder. so winkey,1,C = explore C. Same for the other stuff (My Documents, etc). Also have a "4 Command Prompt" shortcut and a "2 Tools" folder.

            I
          • Re:OSX (Score:5, Informative)

            by alanQuatermain (840239) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @10:51AM (#16075610) Homepage

            It isn't exactly 'minimizing', but there's always 'Hide [AppName]' and 'Hide Others' on the Application menu. So you can switch to Firefox and choose 'Hide Others' to reduce your clutter to only incode Firefox windows.

            There are also various little extra things you can do with, for instance, the Option key. Click on an application window whilst holding the Option key and the target application will be activated while the current will be hidden. Hold down the Option key and click the minimize button on a window (or while pressing Cmd-M) and all windows in the application will be minimized. While you're looking through the menus in may applications (chiefly it's the Apple ones that actually implement this, so try Finder & Safari), tap the Option key. You'll likely see some items change -- Minimize Window becomes Minimize All. Close Window becomes Close All Windows. The ellipses after things like shutdown, restart, logout, and empty trash all disappear (meaning it won't put up an 'Are you sure?' prompt).

            On the whole, the Macintosh interface is designed to make the things you need readily accessible -- in the words of Penny Arcade's Tycho, it's goal is that of "exposing functionality" -- and it does this pretty well. However, you'll likely find yourself surprised at the amount of more advanced functionality that's tucked just out of sight, yet always close enough that it isn't difficult to reach. The Option key is very often involved here, enough so that I sometimes just try doing normal things while hold Option, just to see if something different will happen...

            Hope this helps,
            -Q

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by jelle (14827)
          "If you have the Expose stuff turned on, press F11 and all the Windows will scootch to the sides. Do whatever you have to do and F11 pulls them back in."

          Unless you do it in Firefox, where F11 means full-screen? Or did they screw up Firefox too?

          And shutdown without saving is "Shift-F7 N Y"?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by OrangeTide (124937)
        Triple booting doesn't work on Intel Macs yet. you can have Linux and OSX, or Windows(using BootCamp) and OSX. The trouble is BootCamp currently doesn't function if you have more than 1 partition. And Windows can't really boot without BootCamp without doing some risky BIOS reflash.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by also-rr (980579)
      Curiously enough I know a reasonable number of people who have moved *from* OS X to Linux. Since the original wave of migrations to OS X (which was non-trivial) the state of things like WPA support, wireless roaming and general desktop tidyness and responsiveness has improved that a lot of the original reasons to migrate have gone. I'm seeing several hundred unique users per day on a tiny, unpublicised, backwater of the internet by OS X users... looking at Linux install guides.

      Once you move away from Micros
      • by MightyYar (622222)

        "I'm seeing several hundred unique users per day on a tiny, unpublicised, backwater of the internet by OS X users... looking at Linux install guides."

        Hey, you're talking about me! Actually, I was using my iBook to look up the guides, since I was installing Linux on my PC.

    • by RAMMS+EIN (578166)
      Of course, there are also people who do it the other way around. I, for example, bought an iBook just before they stopped being available (at my local Apple store), because of the great battery life (and some other niceties, like quick suspend and resume, nice look, manageable size and weight, etc.). But I run Linux on it, because I find it much nicer than Mac OS X.

      Perhaps it's just that I'm used to Linux, but it does have some objective advantages over OS X. In no particular order: it's more customizable,
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Fred_A (10934)
        This pretty much sums up my feelings here as well. I have a G4 iBook too and also I haven't converted it to Linux yet (my desktops have been running Linux/BSD for over 10 years), I'm seriously considering doing so. My major gripe with it being that I find the Aqua interface much less comfortable to use than KDE. To me OS X feels a bit like a very polished version of Windows w/ a full Cygwin install. It certainly has most if not all the tools one would expect but also lots of weirdness that makes it quite an
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by interiot (50685)

      The report's main finding though is that Window's initial install base, along with the network effects that all OS's have, mean that Microsoft Windows will ALWAYS win. Basically, that whoever's OS has the most market share is most likely to stay firmly fixed there, just because employers don't want to train employees on an OS they don't already know, and end-users don't want to relearn a new system when they already know one.

      That may be a bit of a repugnant finding (that MS can perform really badly at th

    • Well, the model described in TFA basically boils down to if OSS' two advantages of cost and openness will overcome MS' advantage of already being on top. They found that MS always remains on top as long as price is not a factor. If price is a factor, then OSS may force out MS.

      Throw Macs into that model: It doesn't already have a large installed base. It's not free or open.

      So, you may think that Macs will take away users from Linux, but TFA definitely disagrees.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by thelost (808451)
      this isn't necessarily a bad thing. While Linux advocates are a fiery lot they will probably agree that users switching to osx is better than users staying with windows.

      Having had experience of hardware support for both osx and linux I would agree with your friends description. However it goes far beyond hardware support. I think it comes down in the end to an OS that has been designed by people aware of users needs and who are aware of how to meet them. While the KDE and Gnome user interfaces are always be
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by GigsVT (208848)
        While Linux advocates are a fiery lot they will probably agree that users switching to osx is better than users staying with windows.

        Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

        Apple is worse in a lot of ways. While competition has driven them to use more open software, I don't view that as likely to remain the case if they were to become dominant.

        Apple, in the past, always worked on the strategy of telling the user what's good for them and not giving the user any choices. They've only discovered fairly recen
  • Second Best Where? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nbannerman (974715) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @09:36AM (#16075331)
    Surprisingly enough, I'm finding the exact opposite to be true.

    I've talked at length about how I deploy an entirely Microsoft-enabled enviroment for my college. 600+ machines, all running XP and Office 2003. 24 servers, all 2000/2003. A pretty typical Microsoft-enabled environment really.

    However, I've personally just gone down the Linux route for my work laptop, and I'm giving projects like Edubuntu serious consideration for older, non-Vista compliant hardware.

    I have no doubt that companies with ££££s to throw around will buy new machines that are pre-loaded with Vista, and they'll inevitably begin the Vista rollout come SP1. But big business is not everything; I know many of my fellow network managers in education are giving serious consideration to OSS solutions.

    We're educating the business people of tomorrow, and if they are introduced to OSS at a younger age, I think we'll see some interesting changes somewhere down the line.

    Well, I hope so... ;)
  • by Albert Sandberg (315235) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @09:40AM (#16075340) Homepage
    When we (and by we, I mean the linux community) hit a larger portion of user base, say 10% of desktop market (if that will ever happen) linux is going to be well known, and I don't mean that just by the name, but people will actually from time to time use a computer that has linux installed.

    Then and not until then will my mother think "why do I need this windows for anyway?" and might try linux out on the home computer. Then the kids start getting used to it (from home, school and most important, friends) and the adoption to linux REALLY hits, because no household will pay $$$ for an operating system if they know one that's usable for free. Not to mention the applications.

    Alongside, user friendly distros such as ubuntu, mandriva and feodora will grow even easier to use (as a matter of fact, I think ubuntu is easier (and faster) to install than windows XP or 2000).
  • Harvard is Wrong (Score:2, Interesting)

    by freedom_india (780002)
    As usual the "experts" got it all wrong.

    Harwatd may be brilliant in their analysis, but their conclusion is plain wrong.

    People and companies don't switch to Linux because of a single reason its free. They switch because they know Linux is a viable alternative to MSFT Tax and technically can "match" [yeah flame me, but that's what companies think] Windows.

    Harward was the one who predicted Nuclear powered cars would replace Gasoline cars in 1956.

    They are just plain stupid.

    • by jellomizer (103300) * on Sunday September 10, 2006 @09:59AM (#16075402)
      When ever I talk about purchases of computer and OS to bigwigs. It basically breaks down as LInux is a Free OS and could be considered good enough to do what they want to. What usually sowers the deal with Linux is the fact that the company usually has some software that is for windows only and moving off it is out of the question. Many times it is a CAD Program, other times it is some old custom app that cannot be replaced (Cheaply) and the people who made it are long gone. And on some other situation companies just went threw a painful migration from old Unix to Windows and they are not willing to go back to a Unix like platform for a long time (Even though Linux and newer Unix have far more to offer then their 1989 SCO box).
      • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Sunday September 10, 2006 @10:43AM (#16075569)
        What usually sowers the deal with Linux is the fact that the company usually has some software that is for windows only and moving off it is out of the question.

        Exactly.

        It isn't that Linux is not "better" than Windows TODAY.

        It is that Windows was "good enough" YESTERDAY.

        And yesterday, the companies deployed Windows and locked up their data / training / money in apps that are not supported on Linux ... yet.

        All the companies I see now have their data AND business logic locked up in Access database apps that have evolved over the years to the point where they are un-maintainable. But still "necessary" to the daily operation of that company.

        Where the Harvard study went wrong is that new companies are constantly forming and old ones dying. The base of companies are not static. It is dynamic. The new companies will NOT be bound by the headstart that Microsoft has in existing companies.
      • by Fred_A (10934) <(fred) (at) (fredshome.org)> on Sunday September 10, 2006 @12:00PM (#16075970) Homepage
        What usually sowers the deal with Linux is the fact that the company usually has some software that is for windows only and moving off it is out of the question.
        I would dampen this somewhat by rephrasing it as "moving to Linux right away is out of the question". However a lot of companies with in-house packages are considering moving said package to an OSS/Free platform. It is however understandable that it's not done overnight. But in five years, I expect that a number of the ones I work with will have made the switch.

        Commercial packages (such as the CAD software you mention) are a different problem which mostly depends on the market penetration of the OS. Although even then, some stuff will never be natively available to our platforms. While in some cases emulation through Wine can help, it's not something I'd wager my business on.

        Those two cases are indeed often forgotten by the enthusiasts who blindly believe you can easily replace windows by Linux on any desktop.

        And on some other situation companies just went threw a painful migration from old Unix to Windows and they are not willing to go back to a Unix like platform for a long time
        I don't have many examples of those, but the few I've met usually hate themselves for the switch because the main factor was the price of Unix workstations and they willingly ended up with what they knew would be a less versatile tool to save money. And now they find out they could have saved even more money by sticking with Unix. Sucks to be them. ;)
    • by gmack (197796)

      Some of the analysis is wrong too. They conclude that a Linux monopoly is the most benficial result and that a windows/Linux duopoly won't benifit the market but history shows us thats wrong. Just think how much microsoft has improved windows since Linux started to be seen as a threat. Windows is now much more stable (don't laugh just try running NT4 sometime)than it used to be and they actually seem to be making the OS more secure.

      Competition has also been good for Linux. Windows has forced the Linu

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by honkycat (249849)

      They are just plain stupid.

      Great insight, thanks for clearing that up for us.

      The cost of switching is a lot higher than just the "Microsoft tax." Most companies are heavily invested in particular software packages (CAD, accounting, payroll, etc). These are very specialized packages that often must be guaranteed (and often certified) to meet specific regulatory requirements. Unless the companies behind those packages can be convinced to migrate, there really is no option to switch for the company. When y

    • Harvard's study is perfectly OK. Not only that, but Ghemawat and Casadesus-Masanell say up front that what you are getting is the result of conventional economic modelling and acknowledge that might not be correct. They also say that the results were significantly different than they expected going in -- which is interesting. (at least to me) All they are saying is that if you take their assumptions and build a model, free (as in beer) plus access to source ("demand-side learning") isn't sufficient to d
  • Of course... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ackthpt (218170) * on Sunday September 10, 2006 @09:43AM (#16075351) Homepage Journal

    Intel always thought they'd be #1, eh?

    I think Vista is where Microsoft will fork strongly. There are several smaller forks out there, people who refused to leave NT or 2000 or 98 SE, their PC's do what they want and they see no reason to buy new hardware everytime Intel or Microsoft say "Yow! New! Must have!"

    • I think Vista is where Microsoft will fork strongly.

      Vista will be XP Mark 2. I believe 98 was the last time people were lined up all the way around the block to buy a latest Windows version. Vista will come pre-installed on Dells and will slowly trickle into homes that way. Businesses will continue to stay on XP or even 2000 as long as they possibly can. Equipment replacement cycles will force the issue for them though. It will take two to three years to become the most commonly encountered Window

    • Intel always thought they'd be #1, eh?

      Did they leave that spot from a market perspective? I mean, I don't remember seeing anything that said they had less than 80% of the CPU market.
  • As long as ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @09:45AM (#16075354) Journal
    What kind of conclusion is that, "Linux will remain second as long as MSFT has the first mover advantage"?

    It is like saying Tiger Woods will remain number one as long as no one comes along who is better. Or this guy will live as long as he does not die.

    You need to go to Harvard to come to lame conclusions like this? Nah, you need to go to Harvard to write escape clauses like this. If Linux become dominant you just declare, "MSFT no longer has the first mover advantage, so I am right". If Linux fades to obscurity, you can go "See, I told ya, Linux will never become numero uno"

    • Re:As long as ... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bhmit1 (2270) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @10:21AM (#16075487) Homepage
      It is like saying Tiger Woods will remain number one as long as no one comes along who is better.
      Not quite. It's like saying Tiger will have more fans forever because he started with more fans today. And that fan base will ensure that Tiger is always better than everyone else.

      The flaw in this article is that they assume:
      • Companies won't demand open standards
      • Every version of MS software will continue making significant improvements
      • MS will not start to get caught with the viral GPL license issues the way open source developers continuously get caught with patents. The nice thing about patents is that they eventually expire, GPL doesn't.
      What will really happen is the law of diminishing returns will kick in, and MS users will have even less of a reason to upgrade each time as more eye candy and unneeded features requires more hardware. At some point, the features that MS gives over linux will not be worth the cost of MS. Additionally, as formats open, and applications move to the web, the ability to leverage the monopoly will continuously reduce. The best thing MS has going for it now is application support and the bundling that is done by all the major PC builders. If they lose either of those, they will lose their grip on being number 1.
    • To expand on what daniil said: They are talking about their model.

      When they say something like 'as long as MS has first mover advantage' they mean 'when we put into our model that MS has first mover advantage'. The also ran the model where both OSs start with 0 users, which is the case where MS does not have first mover advantage.
  • While I haven't read TFA yet, I have some difficulty with the word "best". I can think of various definitions of "best" for which Linux has been ahead of Windows, and various definitions for which Windows is ahead of Linux. How that will change when Vista comes out is, I think, impossible to say at this stage. Even if we assume we know what features will be in Vista and what the overall package will be like, we don't know when Vista will really be released, nor what Linux (what Linux, anyway?) will look lik
    • While I haven't read TFA yet, I have some difficulty with the word "best". I can think of various definitions of "best" for which Linux has been ahead of Windows, and various definitions for which Windows is ahead of Linux.

      You should read TFA then. With "best" they simply mean: has the biggest user base.

      Bigger user base = more chances for profit, which is what mainly counts for most economists.

  • It seems to me like Linux could be very healthy with second place, if market share approached 30% of its primary market - server space. That's enough penetration that it can't be ignored for interoperability.
  • Rich Get Richer (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @09:47AM (#16075358) Homepage Journal
    Short version in English: Harvard says that because MS has more market share, it will have more market share.

    Isn't that the thinking that kept IBM in control of computing in the 1970s?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Klaidas (981300)
      Umm, it's not more, it's almost all market share.
      And well, when Vista comes preloaded with almost all PCs, and there's no other version of Windows availible, guess who continues XP's generation?
    • by sgtrock (191182)
      While IBM is still a huge company that no longer dominates computing in general, there's no doubt that they are pretty much the only game in town if you need a mainframe's OLTP capabilities. In that sense, IBM's domination has not changed. There are several key differences between IBM and Microsoft, though.

      IBM learned from the horrendous mess that was the System 360 and has continually improved upon their base OS ever since.

      IBM has followed a far more ethical business practice than Microsoft since at leas

      • by Doc Ruby (173196)
        How about IBM bailed out of the OS business after MS monopoly-judo'ed it by sabotaging OS/2, and bailed out of the PC and HD business that MS never touched when profit margins went negative?
  • And the moral is? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FishandChips (695645) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @09:48AM (#16075364) Journal
    As with economists, you could lay all of America's business professors end to end and still never reach a conclusion.

    Linux does not aim to be best, second best or ninety-third best. Take Debian: it aims to provide a free universal operating system. How well it does, in the perception of others, is only incidental to Debian's core purpose. So, looking at all this in terms of winners and losers or best and worst is largely illusory. Linux is doing just fine and does not have to hit some arbitrary bar - such as overtaking Microsoft's market share - to continue to do just fine.
  • Linux still has a lot to gain and Microsoft still has a lot to loose. I think the Market will finally stabilize (In the far future) with the following Percentages.

    Microsoft 45% (Will still be the dominate player with to much momentum to stop it, but taken such a hit that it is seriously competing with all others)
    Linux 25% (Will get a large gain in Market share as it becomes more User friendly and more and more software is developed for it)
    Apple 20% (Apple will follow in the success of Linux but by the f

    • by strider44 (650833)
      If Microsoft's market share is the only thing going for it then why would people still buy Windows if Microsoft doesn't have such a dominant market share?
      • Well it is simple. You are a manager you do not want to get fired. Choose Linux and there was a bunch of problems in the migration, then you boss will yell at you for choosing Linux and not going with a more "professional" brand. If you choose windows and the same problems occur your boss will go well it is normal problems and there is nothing you can do about it. When you have the market share you also have piece of mind that you are doing something that other people has done any many of them were very su
  • by antifoidulus (807088) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @09:50AM (#16075373) Homepage Journal
    here? You would think that to some people, knowing someone used a Microsoft product was akin being spit on. Why? I'm a mac user but that doesn't mean I really give a damn if someone else uses Windows, Linux or anything else. Hell, I use Linux at work. It's no skin off my back, my OS doesn't stop working because someone is using Windows.

    I consider my operating system to be a tool, not a way of life, not something that defines me. Maybe that is why I never understood OS evangelism. Can someone please explain to me that when someone says "Linux will not be the most popular desktop operating system in existence" Linux users feel the need to sling such insults as "numbnuts"(which by the way is not very mature and not likely to win you very many converts) towards them?
    • by babbling (952366) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @11:46AM (#16075885)
      It does matter which operating system other people use, because companies like Microsoft and Apple take steps to ensure that as a Linux user, I can't communicate properly with users of other operating systems. For example, I tried to apply for a job recently, and the government department that I was trying to apply to sent me a Microsoft Word .doc file. These files are in a secret, proprietary format that Microsoft won't tell people how to open. They want to ensure that only Microsoft Word will open such files.

      Another example, there's a radio station that I like to listen to online, and because they only offer Windows Media streams, I had to break the law (due to software patents) to play them on my Linux computer. Breaking the law isn't something I enjoy doing, and it shouldn't be something I have to do in order to not be excluded just because I am not using Microsoft software.

      The problem isn't that people aren't running Linux, it's that they're running software from companies who are trying to exclude me (a Linux user) from being able to communicate other people (Windows and Mac users).
  • Pick a Study. Any Study. G'head, g'head, pick two, we'll make more...
  • If the Linux community wants to have the "first mover advantage" it probably can.
    "Open Source" isn't a group of programmers in a single building with team leaders managing them. They're thousands of people across the world. Also, anyone can be an OSS developer.

    This should be a great advantage over Microsoft's way of doing stuff, and I'm really surprised that free/open source software isn't already orders of magnitude ahead of proprietary offerings. Perhaps OSS developers should spend less time copying Windo
    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      Perhaps OSS developers should spend less time copying Windows and/or Apple and start thinking about new ways of using our computers.

      And when they do, there is this other kind of poster who complains that OSS will never succeed if it isn't more like Windows. Maybe OSS developers should continue doing what they do best: Work on whatever they want to work on or are paid to work on.

  • by squoozer (730327)

    And they pay people to come up with this stuff?

    While I am loathed to tell people who know a lot more about economics than me how they should do their jobs I can't help feeling that they might have failed to (correctly) factor in some considerations. Not least is the consideration that Linux is free and always will be where as Windows will pretty much always be pay for even if it has a nominal price. Yes Microsoft could give Windows away in order to sell Office or other applications but that is a fundament

  • By the same logic, you could argue that cars will never replace trains, MP3s will never displace CDs, and so forth.

    Bottled water? Not a chance! Creeks and brooks not only come pre-installed in most landscapes but they also have an insurmountable first mover advantage, greater mind share, and a more "intuitive" user interface. Sure, a few special-needs groups will drink out of canteens that they fill themselves, but it will never catch on with the general public.

    And don't even get me started on the wh

  • MS would be in court so fast being accused of trying to monopolize, exploit their "monopoly", etc if they followed the idea put forward that they give away the OS to specific clients just to prevent any other OS //Linux// from gaining ground. On the server side there are only so many *nix/Novell installations to be consumed, once that is done seeing who takes the most of the others installations will show us the real market.

    On a side note, Microsoft doesn't need to "oust Linux". Yet it can make Linux irre
    • by also-rr (980579)
      The worse thing that could come down the pike for Linux is for Apple to get into the server OS market. Give the best of the *nix world with a friendly and intuitive face.

      Apple are *in* the server market and no one really seems to have noticed. It's one of the places where, for everything except trivial uses, you can 100% guarentee skilled staff (or an incipient disaster) so systems which are designed around making educated people more productive (flexible shell/scripting environments) will always come ou
  • by pembo13 (770295) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @10:03AM (#16075413) Homepage

    A lot of us aren't in OSS for the the ride to the top. I personally couldn't care if 1% of the population used OSS or 99%. As long as I have the freedom to use the software that I want when I want to, then things are fine with me. And _that_ is one of my peeves against the Microsoft Corp.: by the very nature of their marketing/functioning the people who use their software tend to be drones in that they know not how to function with anyone else doesn't have the dam 4 colored Windows logo all over them.

    I like Linux and the majority of OSS tools that I use because I prefer them to their Window's based counterparts, with a few exceptions. I have found that explaining to someone that Linux is "better" than Windows is like explaining gold is better than silver - they have a jewelry box full of a silver and their minds just aren't willing to absorb new information on that topic - and why, they think they are happy with what they have. All that will happen is that eventually, I will not know enough of Windows to troubleshoot their machines anymore

  • remember when linux was said to be just a hobbist os that would amount to nothing?
  • TFA suggests that FUD is a strong weapon against "Forward-looking" clients, and uses SCO as an example of that. The counter position is that Linux (and OSS in general) needs "strategic partners" -- large organizations (governments and corporations) who adopt for security or competitive reasons.

    From my perspective, the biggest threat to OSS adoption right now isn't precisely FUD, but the increasing conflict between how people use ideas and how governments regulate them. TFA points out that OSS is attractive
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @10:07AM (#16075434) Journal
    Looks like these two researchers are still using lessons learnt in the marketplace for actual physical objects and applying it to non-physical, intellectual products. The entire article introduces a term demand-side learning . But does not mention the words "vendor lock" or "switching costs".

    If you are selling garden hoses, the cost of switching to a competing brand is just the replacement cost of a garden hose. If a company is switching software from one vendor to another, the switching cost is considerably more than just plain cost of new software. Like changing the garden hose requiring you change all the plumbing fitting and pressure valves in your home! The first mover advantage is directly proportional to the switching cost. Where are Lycos and Hotbot now? All vendors know that and they strive hard to increase the switching costs, from AutoCAD, Ansys, Fluent, Cadence, to Oracle, MSFT every dominant vendor in the market tries as hard as possible to make it inpossible to switch.

    The reason why garden hoses, light bulbs and tires have low switching cost is because of standardization. Standards defined by independant third parties, not by the manufacturers themselves. People, consumers and corporations are beginning to understand the issue, as seen the recent moves by Massassuchetts to mandate ODF as the archival format for its documents. It is inevitable that people will see the advantages of interoperability and standardization. The first mover advantage will diminish as consumers level the playing field by demanding interoperability and standardization. At that time the "second mover" into these fields will be OSS with value added services.

  • by LinuxDon (925232) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @10:07AM (#16075437)
    You can make the entire discussion as complex as you want, but there is only one reason why Linux doesn't succeed on the desktop market: Most commercial application are written for Windows, among them are a lot of specialist applications like ERP systems and to name another example "analysis software which interoperates with an advanced metal detector to detect explosives in the ground". With these kind of applications you can't just switch to an alternative, because there are just too few that match your needs and often NONE of them support Linux. The only way for Linux to succeed in these kind of settings is to make Wine work flawlessly. While Linux suits my home needs and server needs -very well-, it's useless on the desktop at the company I work for.
    • by naelurec (552384)

      The only way for Linux to succeed in these kind of settings is to make Wine work flawlessly.

      Not necessarily. There *IS* the possibility of a thin client configuration (most office workers do not need a fat client at their desk) and run terminal services for legacy Windows apps. Granted this depends on the needs of the user/organization but this does provide Windows compatibility to the desktop without abandoning support (your running our Windows app in Wine?!? no support for you!!). In many situations, this

    • by g2devi (898503) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @11:35AM (#16075827)
      Any ERP worth its salt has a Unix port and Linux is easy to port from Unix, so this shouldn't be a problem. Since 2000, most ERPs have moved towards web based solutions, so this should be even less of a problem on the client side. WINE is just a wrong-headed approach. It's nothing more than a stop-gap for a reverse engineered moving target that changes at Microsoft's whims and for Microsoft's convenience. Win32 is also becoming less and less relevant in the MS world as .NET starts exerting its influence. I'd have a hard time justifying Linux for enterprise-wide deployment if I had to rely on WINE as an argument. If your ERP is deep in bed with Microsoft and you don't plan on changing, there it's likely that your vendor is also deeply int .NET. If that's the case, then its your job to petition that your vendor to fully support Mono 1.x or Mono 2.x on a non-Microsoft platform. It's not perfect, but it will buy you freedom and security. If they don't do that, then I strongly suggest on finding a vendor that isn't so shortsighed and ignores its customers and migrate towards that vendor. Ultimately, you'd be better off.

      > often NONE of them support Linux.

      Really. How about the following list: IBM, SAP, Oracle Corp. PeopleSoft ERP , and Lotus?
      (see http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1895,1730276,00.as p [eweek.com] , http://searchdomino.techtarget.com/originalContent /0,289142,sid4_gci817266,00.html [techtarget.com] )

  • by kbox (980541) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @10:11AM (#16075450) Homepage
    I'll wait to see what Yale thinks, Thank you very much...
  • ``Want to get a heated debate going among technologists? Ask them this question: Can the open source software movement defeat (or severely cripple) Microsoft in the marketplace?''

    I had hoped, probably somewhat naively, that the smart fellas at Harvard would be above thinking that it's all about petty avarice towards Microsoft. I, at least, don't feel I'm on any sort of quest to defeat Microsoft. I just want to use my computer, and make it do what I want, and make it do what it does the way I want it. Open-s
  • But, I'm not sure the article makes sense for servers. In fact, with servers it could be argured that *NIX systems had the headstart.

    Actually, the "first mover advantage" arguement has another flaw: msft is usually (always?) not the first mover. Apple had a popular PC before the IBM PC. Apple had a great GUI system a decade before msft had anything to compare. Netscape had the first widely used browser. Novell had the first widely used LAN software for PCs. Msft office products were the first, or the best,
  • I'm not having any illusions of Linux being the #1 OS in two, three, maybe even five years but its inevitable that someday it will be. Second-best is good enough. Extrapolate that mathematical model by a few more years and will be the best. While hundreds of millions of PCs ship each year, not counting the DIY PCs (that don't have Windows installed), this time people have a choice. The Linux revolution won't necessarily begin in the US. There are lots of 2nd, 3rd world countries where $99 a pop isn't a joke
  • ...to conquer the desktop, IMHO.

    1) Games. With Cedega and the Wine project, this hurdle has actually gone close to being cleared. Granted, our own native answer to DirectX would help, but the fact that Wine runs WoW in particular without too much screwing around is a huge plus.

    2) Package management that is truly good, and not just "good enough." Contrary to popular belief, this problem still has not been solved. I've written about this in a few other posts.

    3) We need something that will poll /dev and update
  • Linux is likely to remain second best
    Second best where? Desktops? I don't think so... More like third best (Ms, Apple, Linux).
    Servers? Maybe. Or maybe it is the Number one best there?
    Anyway, why is is called [some-number] best? Isn't "best" representing number one, and number two is no "best" at all? :/
  • I'm seeing quite a few commentors essentially bashing the authors of the study for "not knowing what they are talking about".

    While many Slashdot users are critical of Microsoft and management type academics/practitioners in general, you should note that Pankaj Ghemawat (one of the authors of the article) is a very well-respected researcher in the field of strategy and competition. Some of his books are widely used in business schools around the world to teach the field of strategic management, indicating (t
  • 1. OS X
    2. Linux
    3. Microsoft

    I could live with that!
  • 1- The words "OSS" and "Linux" are not interchangeable, they do not mean the same thing.

    2- OSS Vs. Microsoft is not limited to Linux Vs. Windows (think Open Office Vs. MS Word / FF Vs. IE)

    3- there is no Dynamic Mixed Duopoly: A Model Motivated by Linux vs. Windows, Linux is a generic word describing various distro's, and fails to account for other OSes such as *BSD's, and Macs. Furthermore, Claiming that there is a duopoly is wrong since Windows owns 90-something percent of the marketshare. And the rest

  • Stealing Windows (Score:5, Informative)

    by twfry (266215) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @10:24AM (#16075502)
    Interesting paragraph from TFA

    In addition to this main result, we were also surprised to find that piracy may end up increasing Microsoft's profits. To understand why, notice that there are two types of pirates: those who would not have bought Windows in the first place because it is too expensive, and those who would have bought Windows but now decide to pirate it. The first category increases Windows' installed base without affecting sales. As a consequence, this group increases the value of Windows. And thanks to these pirates, Microsoft is able to set higher prices in the future (because the value of the system goes up). In addition, having these pirates means that Linux's installed base does not grow as much as it would have if piracy weren't there. The second type of pirates (those who in the absence of piracy would have bought Windows) reduces Windows' sales and profit. Thus, if the proportion of first-type pirates is sufficiently large, Microsoft's profits will increase with piracy.

  • by Kjella (173770) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @10:32AM (#16075524) Homepage
    If you measure things on a complexity of say 0-100, then there's only a limited range of that which is profitable. That is, there's no money in making notepad clones and there's no money in extremely complicated features noone is able to use. However while there is OSS software that's trying to make money, a lot of it does not. Even in the darkest post-OS/2 days when Windows was completely dominating Linux evolved in a market that was essentially dead. That kind of development can't be stopped.

    That is why I think OSS software will slowly consume normal COTS software, because they will keep going after the commercial companies say "Well, we've now added every feature with a tolerable ROI". I'm not quite sure about the timescale, but I think the OSS software base is only in its infancy. Imagine 10, 25 or 50 years down the road, how many software packages have matured to a point where they're everything a user expects from a word processor/graphics editor/media player etc., feature-complete and bugfree.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by RAMMS+EIN (578166)
      ``and there's no money in extremely complicated features noone is able to use.''

      On the contrary, that's where the big money is. As you point out correctly, commodity software is slowly being overtaken by OSS; I think this is inevitable in a level playing field: open source will be developed as long as people are interest, no matter how unprofitable it is, but proprietary software will have a difficult time luring users away from open-source software. And open source tends to drive the price towards 0.

      The on
  • Whether or not you believe 'first mover advantage' is a factor in the 'innovation' business (which IMHO is absurd, especially when file formats can be emulated and network protocols are open by necessity), its inaccurate to call Microsoft a "first mover". Historically Microsoft has been the "vastly more powerful second or third mover". Microsoft is 'living proof' that first-movers don't have the advantage, particularly when subsequent players have more money and leverage.

  • About 30 years ago, weren't they saying the same thing about IBM and the mainframe? Granted, it was hardware, but still, it seems that all it took for IBM and it's lock on the computing world to be unseated was a misjudging of the market. What's to keep Microsoft from doing the same? They've sunk a lot of resources into their vision of computing but what if the market decides they don't like it or worse yet (for Microsoft), what if there are major problems with Vista or the next version of Office or thei
  • by HangingChad (677530) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @10:46AM (#16075580) Homepage
    What Harvard really concluded was there was a better chance of getting an endowment and new Comp Sci building from MSFT than the open source community.

  • They are somewhat right. Open Source and Linux development could be more organized. Teams do better together.

    And I believe someone should step up and do an tv advertising blitz for Linux.
  • One major thing that is holding back Linux in my opinion is the lack of a portable binary/packaging standard, LSB kind of tries that, but with rather little success (anybody ever spotted a LSB-conforming binary in the wild?). Without such a standard, I really don't see how any normal person can survive the packaging chaos under Linux.

    Peoples desire to use software doesn't stop with what the distribution provides, they want games, commercial applications and such and those must be easy to install and to

  • The study pointed out that, in most cases, Microsoft remains dominant as long as it has a first mover advantage. The question now is, why does Microsoft continue to enjoy a first mover advantage?

    My hypothesis is that Microsoft, by actively wooing game developers and turning Windows into a gaming platform, is using the games industry to retain a significant portion of users (gamers). These users then help Microsoft retain users by spreading the word about deficiencies in Linux (lack of gaming support). Th
  • "First of all, let us make a caveat regarding our approach. Our methodology is formal economic modelling. What this means is that we construct a stylized mathematical model of the relationship."

    I consider the economic nonsense they teach in universities today so far out of touch with reality, they may as well have created a theological model.

    Beyond that, one of the major problems of this is it only sees one competition between Linux and Windows. But this is not the case, there is a competition between Li

  • Standards (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RAMMS+EIN (578166) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @04:53PM (#16077289) Homepage Journal
    FromTFA:

    ``The basic trade-off is the following: With a duopoly, more individuals and organizations use PCs because prices are lower, and this raises welfare. However, with a duopoly, no operating system ends up exploiting fully its potential because developers' efforts wind up divided between the two systems. However, with a monopoly, the efforts to develop new software and improve the platform are directed towards one system only and this may turn out to be better from a social welfare perspective.''

    That is, unless there are standardized APIs between the competing operating systems. As it happens, Windows does not implement the same APIs that its competitors implement, and that's what really causes the duplication of developer effort. If, say, the competition had been between Linux and Mac OS X, the situation would have been much better.
  • by srobert (4099) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @06:14PM (#16077625)
    Harvard? Is this the university that bestowed an MBA on George W. Bush?
    How can we expect cogent analysis from a diploma mill like that?
  • by Russ Nelson (33911) <slashdot@russnelson.com> on Sunday September 10, 2006 @07:32PM (#16077856) Homepage
    Economic modelling is very accurate! It was used to successfully predict 12 of the last five recessions.
    -russ

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