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Will Linux Save Microsoft? 259

Chait writes "Check this article out looks interesting! Will Linux Save Microsoft? " Its a fairly logical piece, and certainly not saying anything that any of us haven't thought about. My opinion has always been that as long as the source stays open, I don't care, but it'll definitely be interesting to see what happens.
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Will Linux Save Microsoft?

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  • That's why, despite Mozilla, we still need a good browser that is GPL'ed

    Guess what... Konqueror, like all KDE apps, IS fully GPL'ed! :)
    That's funny, if you think that what has been the preferred target for free-software fanatics is now the only free-like-in-speech modern browser. ;)
  • I should point out before you get to into it that it won't build out of the box with Microsoft Visual C++.

    This is a known issue with some of the headers and templates and is expected to be fixed in the near future.

    The reason this wasn't considered a priority in the past was that everyone was happy using Metrowerks Codewarrior [] on windows, in part because it has better ISO standard compliance and in part because you can share IDE project files between the Mac and Windows.

    I was even cross-compiling in both directions at points, and when I got a new PC that was much faster than my old Mac, I did all my Mac builds under windows.

    It will build with gcc (although there are parts of the API that aren't implemented under Linux yet), so it's not hardwired to a particular compiler.

    If you have the cash, I encourage you to try out codewarrior, if you don't, work with the mailing list and we'll get you a visual C++ compatible version soon.

    Also note that I accidentally wrote some code that compiled fine under windows but not mac on codewarrior:

    class Foo{


    void Foo::MyMethod( int AnArg );


    This is obviously illegal - under codewarrior for Mac, it complained that there was an illegal using qualifier or something like that.

    When I brought this up with Metrowerks support, they said they had a "#pragma cpp_extensions on" on by default under the Windows compiler because otherwise a lot of Windows apps wouldn't compile.

    And in fact when I tried to ensure the correctness of my own code by setting "#pragma cpp_extensions off" in my zconfig.h file it broke the compile in the Microsoft headers where they were included by ZooLib's windows platform implementation >:-/

    Michael D. Crawford
    GoingWare Inc

  • by sheldon ( 2322 ) on Saturday December 09, 2000 @01:30PM (#569620)
    This is a fine example of how stories can spread on the Internet.

    The original story was told by Rex Ballard sometime in '95 in comp.os.linux.advocacy, at least according to searches.

    His claim was that as part of the agreement to sell all rights to Xenix to SCO, Microsoft agreed to never enter the Unix marketplace.

    I asked Rex for proof of this story, where had he heard it, etc. He claimed it was in the SCO Annual report. Asking him to perhaps provide pictures of this on the Internet resulted in a claim that he only does research for others at $100/hour.

    I've went and tried to find this in the Annual reports and was unable to locate it. I've also tried to locate the story in news articles, and have come up blank.

    Unfortunately every time I went looking for something to corroborate this story in the real world I came up blank. When I went looking for something to corroborate the story on the Internet all leads pointed right back to Rex Ballard.

    Whether this story is true or not depends on one question:

    Do you Believe Rex Ballard?
  • I don't see why Microsoft would do this.

    Before Microsoft would ever bother to sell a version of Linux they would first lower the price of the OS they now sell by a large margin, or perhaps even give it away for free.

    They might release the source code to the OS.

    But sell Linux? Doubtful, they already have a better OS in the way of Windows 2000 that they can do with as they please.
  • /*Which OS would you choose to install : a bare-bones MS/Linux hybrid OS, or a full-featured "classic" linux distro with hoardes of available software? */

    Depends. If I'm installing in a business where all I want is Office and "IT Approved" software, I'll take a stripped down MS/Linux w/Office and maybe a couple choice applications (probably written by MS). Business wants conformity, easy of administration, etc.

  • Can you tell me of a single revolutionary idea introduced by a "Linux"&open-source oriented company?

    Does Perl, one of the first widespread VHLLs, count? Not run by a business, I suppose, but contributed to by businesses. Am I allowed to suggest X, the first widespread network-transparent window system, again contributed to by many businesses? How about Mozilla's XUL? Maybe (a bad idea | a good idea whose time has not yet come), but a fairly radical idea.
  • Why would they have to ditch X? Most Linux distros are flexible enough that they could offer a choice of graphics system to the person installing - which is exactly what I suspect will happen as soon as the Berlin Consrortium [] manages to get a usable release out the door. And if the alternate system had an X compatibility layer, so much the better. Or X could concievably be modified to allow for more user-friendly configuration - if I read your post right, this is one of the problems with it.

  • Oh, yeah, I've been meaning to point out for a long time that the trend towards running applications via a browser is basically killing what free software set out to do.

    Sure, the web server developer gets to host his web application with apache and linux using free software.

    Usually, the end user can access the web application for free, or at worst have some banner ads or be tracked by cookies.

    But the end user doesn't have the web server software on their computer - to the extent end-users are doing their daily work over the web, they are using software that is generally closed-source and proprietary.

    You will feel this the worst when your favorite dot-com goes out of business, taking its source code with it.

    So, what I'd like to suggest is that someone draft some kind of "server GPL", that says that releasing some software in such a way that the GPL would then take effect, would be to allow the software to accept communications from a different computer, or to transmit them.

    That way people could write free web applications and if a company used your web application and modified it, they'd have to provide source if they allowed anyone to access it over the web at all.

    As it stands, they'd only have to provide source if they provided binaries of the web applications to people outside their company, which is not what happens when there is only one copy of the application executable itself, kept on a central server.

    Microsoft is not so stupid with their .NET. When people get used to just downloading their apps in an instant, they won't want to take the trouble to actually install software they'd posses themselves, even if that would ultimately benefit them.

    Remember, if you possess the original media your executable came on, you can still run the program when the original publisher goes out of business. That's not the case with web applications.

    Michael D. Crawford
    GoingWare Inc

  • I should point out before you get to into it that it won't build out of the box with Microsoft Visual C++. This is a known issue with some of the headers and templates and is expected to be fixed in the near future.

    Thanks for the heads up. I've been looking for a "hobby project" recently. Considering MSVC is my compiler of choice (or least the dev environment with which I have most experience), perhaps I will explore these particular problems.. :-)

  • When people get used to just downloading their apps in an instant, they won't want to take the trouble to actually install software they'd posses themselves, even if that would ultimately benefit them.

    Huh... you must know a different crowd of people than I do. I don't know anybody who'd rely on downloaded software instead of their own copy. Hell, I even download my antivirus updates, so I can apply 'em to several machines, instead of using the builtin "smart updates."

    Not to mention the fact that an app's startup time is a whole lot shorter if it's installed locally -- drive and bus transfer rates are still growing faster than broadband transfer rates, and I see no reason why that won't continue.


  • There haven't been any new products that Micros~1 has been able to sell, since the advent of the internet.

    Windows 2000 advanced server: $1199
    Office 2000 professional: $599
    MS Visual Studio 6.0 $1619
    The look on an ignorant OS zealot's face when he realizes just how far into his mouth he stuck his foot: Priceless
  • I prefer the BSD license to the GPL. I do not think BSD is losing anything from this. All I'm saying is that a lot of BSD people think that a surge of new apps are going to arrive for BSD, and the truth of the matter is that it is not. As for the improvements to the BSD base code, I'm not terribly sure, but as far as I can see, no new technologies have been put into Darwin. The most BSD might get from Apple is the XML config stuff. As for BSDi, I wasn't aware that they had anything to do with the Apple deal. If they don't and you just think that I am a crazed Linux weenie pushing GPL over BSD-license because of freedom issues, rest easy that I don't think at all that BSDi is stealing from BSD, and I must give them congratulations for the work they are doing on FreeBSD.
  • So, let me get this: If Microsoft made a OS with a kernel kinda like WinNT's and a Win32 server kinda like WinNT's, they would be making something exactly like MacOS X? ... Just checking.
    I said if MS made an OS with a kernel kinda like Linux, and a Win32 server kinda like NT's, then it would be similar to MacOS X. Let me break this down for you...

    In this analogy, Linux is the OSS kernel. This is similar to BSD and Mach.
    The Win32 server is the proprietory API and graphics layer for applications, this is analagous to Cocoa/Carbon and Quartz.

    English's a bitch, aint it?

    Everyone here is babbling about MS Office, but the real issue is things like Exchange and SQL Server which are also considerable profit centers for Microsoft. Any attempt to get these to run on a Unix-dervative would either require a considerable rewrite, or a emulation layer -
    No it wouldn't. It would require a server layer, and it has already been done before. Its been done before with NT. NT doesn't run Win32 applications, it uses something called the NT Native API. Win32 is simply a server that provides Win32 services to Win32 apps. This is how they get OS/2 apps to run on NT without recompilation. Apple is doing the same thing with OS X, they have a set of libraries that provides MacOS-type services above the BSD-layer. Hell, even WINE and BSD do this to provide the Win32 and Linux (respectivly) APIs on non-native platforms. There was a big hubub over this 5 or 6 years ago over things called personalites.

    which is exactly what MS FUDs Oracle and IBM about for their WinNT software. Furthermore performance would go into the toliet, leaving open the question whether Unix is really "better" >>>>>>>>>>
    WINE (if coded by MS) doesn't lose any performance running Win32 apps, NT doesn't lose any performance running Win32 apps, so what's your point? NT looks nothing like Windows, it looks like VMS (did look like VMS at least) This is simply Win32 on top of UNIX instead of VMS.

  • Let's assume MS does release an MS Linux.

    Back nigh twenty years ago, another company that dominated the computer industry released a platform that was open in specifications, except a small bit of proprietary code. The proprietary bit was cloned and others sold a nearly-identical product for less.

    It was IBM, and the product was the PC, and we know how that turned out.

    BTW, the browser wars were MS killing a potential alternate platform to their moneymaker with software that they *still* don't make any money from. So that analogy is useless, since MS in this case would theoretically want to continue to make money from OS sales. (Esp. if broken up...)
  • Huh? Again with the idealistic bullshit? Proof man! MacOS X is an example of an OS that manages to reconcile OSS software (BSD) and proprietory software (Quartz/Carbon/etc)
  • One thing that really sucks about quicktime 4 for windows is that you have to download about four megabytes for each individual machine you want to install the damn thing on.

    This sucks when you've got DSL at work and a 28.8 modem at home. A while back I downloaded the quicktime 4 for windows to a PC at work, and what you got was a little downloader stub app. You'd make your selection for installation options and then it would download the real thing.

    The cygwin installer works this way but what you get there are tar.gz files that you can share on a network or burn on a CD, and you can update individual packages at your convenience. You can then choose to install from a local archive of these downloaded files.

    But the Quicktime installer downloads this 4 megabyte file that allows one installation - right when you download - and then it's useless. Much to my disappointment, I found this out after I took it home and tried to install it on my PC at home. I ended up download 4 MB at 28.8.

    So be very wary even of downloadable software - be sure that the "network installer" allows an install from a local hard drive or the install archive burned onto a CD - or later, it won't be a matter of an annoying wait for a slow download, but when the package isn't available anymore online you won't be able to install at all.

    Michael D. Crawford
    GoingWare Inc

  • Microsoft could, in fact, co-opt the open-source movement the way it co-opted the Web-browser business -- after it found that its proprietary online technologies couldn't compete with the Internet formats that Netscape was popularizing.
    Yes, they could. But they won't. Two reasons: First off, they just don't have the Unix culture. Anybody remember Xenix? It was full of the usual Gatesian bit-twidling. People assume that MS's compulsive code-forking is motivated purely by monopolism. That's probably part of the story, but it's an objective fact that they don't play well with others, and like to fiddle and to do things their own way.

    Anybody ever been on a poorly managed software team that's in trouble because one or two engineers have to do things a certain way, no matter how badly their plans fit in with the rest of the project? That's Microsoft. And that's why they abandoned OS/2 (couldn't collaborate with IBM) and Xenix (couldn't collaborate with the rest of of the Unix community). They Linux community would be even more obnoxious too them.

    Come to think of it, the early history of commercial Unix kind of presages the current Open Source movement. It's true that you needed to buy a license to look at Unix source code -- but non-profit licenses were cheap, and most serious Universities had them. That's why so many important Unix features (virtual memory, for example) were developed outside Bell Labs.

    Anyway, here's the second reason: companies just don't canibalize their existing business, even when it's in their long-term interest to do so. This is partly economics (Wall Street is not known for thinking more than 6 months ahead) and partly ego (we worked so hard on this thing, and you're just going to abandon it?). That's why the PC port of MacOS was never released. That's why SCO was so late into the Linux game, even as their Unixware sales plummeted. And that's why MS will never, ever, go into any OS that competes with NT. And especially not Linux.

    Anybody notice what platforms the MS apps people code for? Primarily Windows, of course, but also for their three primary platform competitors: MacOS, Solaris, and HP-UX. You'd think Linux would be on that list -- surely there are more desktop Linux systems then either Sun or HP workstations. Maybe more than both together. But Linux is precisely where Microsoft just won't go.


  • I take it you haven't tried XFree86 4.

    XF86 4 FLIES in comparison to 3.3.x. Civ:CTP is nearly unplayable once you get to a certain point on my system (Celly 366, G400 MAX, 128MB RAM) under 3.3.6, but it zips along under 4.0.x.

    There's no problem whatsoever with speed under XF86 4. Anyone who says there is a problem is either lying or misguided.
  • "but as long as the 900-lb gorilla pushes it, it will achieve something"
    • Microsoft will never fail!
    • Here is another way they will not fail.
    • (insert statement here)

    Be more cautious of your statements. "but" roughly translates to, "here is where I start conning myself about something". At least in your statement above, you're talking yourself into "Microsoft will never fail!" again. That is not only a religious belief, it's not a particularly _interesting_ or _justifiable_ religious belief.

    Microsoft will either be broken up and use the opportunity to build a business model not based on uncontrolled growth, or it will be a trainwreck. There is no third option, and there is no 'but'.

  • by Petrophile ( 253809 ) on Saturday December 09, 2000 @05:55PM (#569680) Homepage
    Since Microsoft sells a product called Interix, which is logo-certified as UNIX(tm), I find that legend doubtful.

    Maybe it was true at one time, but the time-limit expired, or it was all over when MS finally sold their SCO shares. Anyway, you can bet that their experience with XENIX and Unix Industry Politics was one of the things that influenced them away from a Unix-base for Windows NT and towards a VMS style.
  • ZicoKnows (nothing about irony). Kinda metal ain't it boy?
  • Every Linux user won't migrate, but M$ will be the company that forks Linux into new versions. Businesses will evaluate M$ Linux as if it were the only Linux, the press will assume that any problems M$ Linus has will be problems for the rest of the Linux distros, because as we all know the media is pretty clueless about Linux and Operating Systems. All Linux coverage will mention Linux as being distributed by M$. Red HAt stories will mention that Linux is "An operating system distributed by Microsoft and several smaller vendors." MS-Linux will BE Linux to most users.

    M$ will go after the clients that SuSe and Red Hat get now, and all the business supported Linux Distros will die when faced with such a direct threat from Uncle Bill. There will be Debian, Slaskware and MS-Linux. All the others will be consumed by M$.

    We will keep the hobby market, but we will lose the business and desktop forever. Hardware support will become harder and harder as the Hardware companies make deals with M$ to give them the specs and not us.

    Enjoy the Glory Days of Linux. Enjoy them while they last, for soon, Linux will be embraced and extended by Microsoft.

    The doom of us all []
  • If you really had a good reason to believe they had taken the source, all you would have to do is sue them. Then, during discovery, you would have the right to inspect the source code. They would be committing perjury if they gave you something other than the real source, and while I wouldn't put that beyond their scruples, it would be easy to detect because it wouldn't build to make the product they're selling.

    The hard part would be to not get the case thrown out. You'd have to show a reasonable likelihood that they really were using the source - statements from turncoat employees would help there.

    But there's no mistaking reverse engineering. An ex-employee from a company I used to work for wrote a really buggy product that I was later hired to fix. His employment at that company ended. A couple years later, his new employer shipped a product with somewhat similar functions that turned out to have some of the exact same bugs as the product he'd originally written for us. The bugs were obscure enough and particular enough they couldn't possibly have been an accident

    We opened it up in ResEdit (a programmers tool for the MacOS, usually used to edit UI elements) and found text strings that had no purpose in this new program but happened to be identical to ones from his old product, the one I later fixed.

    This is when I learned about discovery. I asked my boss how we could ever prove they had our source code and he said the court would order them to give it to us.

    No lawsuit turned out from this particular case but it could well have. They got their comeuppance in the end anyway - because they hired this miserable joke of a programmer their product failed in the market. He nearly put the company I worked for out of business with what he did to our product.

    In the case of something like the linux kernel you could show that large chunks of the MS-Unix kernel were binary identical the the stock linux kernel if it was built with Microsoft Visual C, for example. Or you could look for the names of entry points, the interfaces of some data structures other than POSIX standards and so on.

    Basically you reverse engineer it to the point where you can convince a judge that it could be stolen linux, but you don't have to prove it really was - that's what the lawsuit is for, and for that discovery gets you everything you need.

    That's why the DOJ got to comb through Microsoft's email archives. You'd get to do that too.

    Of course, you'll have a big legal bill during the process and you'd damn well better not lose or you'll have to pay Microsoft's legal bill - including their expenses for cooperating with your discovery. You can bet they don't hire cheap lawyer's and then there'd be the administrative expenses too.

    Michael D. Crawford
    GoingWare Inc

  • I think a certain large blue company might step in at that point. IBM - defender of the innocent, protector of the weak. What a picture.
  • Web standards are rapidly replacing the X architecture as an alternative for thin clients. As such X has little or no future. However, very few applications build on X directly these days. On linux, many of the GUI applications rely on either QT, GTK or some other highlevel GUI API. Most of these libraries are portable (see the recent story on Gnome on win32). Any future architecture that runs these libraries will have a huge amount of applications readily available. So X or Wingui is not so relevant anymore. What is more relevant is the API people are writing to. For windows this will likely be the .net thingy, for linux it will be gtk and qt, for Java it currently is Swing, for the web it will be XML and HTML combined with stylesheets.

    X won't go away on linux because people like to use it because of the distributed nature. However, for application developers this will not be a big issue since they don't have to deal with the X API directly. Performance wise it will not be an issue either because of Moore's law and implementation improvements. Performance is already very acceptable if you are on a modern PC. Any perceived sluggishness is usually caused by poor application design rather that the X server.
  • I guess I dont get it

    I don't get it too. Why so many people are comfortable with the idea that every cpu on the planet in future would load a OS from a single company.

    Dell/Intel/Win2k solution versus a Solaris solution typically comes up 25-50% cheaper on MS's end

    Where in the article was solaris? This is about Linux, and Dell/Intel/Linux solution is the same price as a Dell/Intel/Win2k solution. And W2k has become so complex, that I would be carefull in claiming, that it would be easier to run than A Linux Box.

    Handhelds and CE devices are continuing to make inroads, embedded solutions like the NT Embedded group makes are popular.

    Another scene, with direct competition of Linux. Palm isn't going to disaeppear, and Mobile makers decided to go Epoc. They don't want to give their profit streams to Microsoft.

    But dont underestimate MS. They can trhow a lot of money at problems, and a lot of very, very, very good engineers. Don't fool yourselves into thinking that MS will just stop improving products.

    Yes, but how long can they do it, when they will have to drop prices to compete with free solutions, that do the same thing? For a while, but in long term they will run out of cash.

    I've personally monitored cases, where Commercial Unixen, w2k, and Linux where in table. So far Linux has been always selected. I think a lot of people will be surprised, when MSFT gives their first unexpectedly low annual report.

  • It's about migration, pure and simple. Windows 3.1 ran DOS apps. Windows 95 ran Windows 3.1 apps. Windows NT runs all of them. Naturally, people aren't going to hold on to their old apps forever, but the option to run them has to be there. I'd wager a guess that when the WINE project gets to the point where it can reliably run Win32 software at least as reliably as OS/2 ran Win16 software, without the need to install Microsoft DLL's, you'll start to see a shift. And why not? With a price tag of $0.00, it's attractive to both OEM's and large corporate installations. Out-of-the-box working Windows emulation is what's necessary to begin the mass migration. Once that starts to happen in significant numbers, there won't be a single ISV foolish enough to remain only on Win32 and not produce Linux native versions of their apps. Slowly and steadily, Linux becomes the native environment for all apps.
  • Many of the people posting to this story seem to be implying that MS is just plain evil and they will do anything in their power to close up open-source. That is plain and simply not true. MS in a large corporation that is in the business of making $$$$.

    What is your definition of evil? Breaking a commandment? Telling a lie? What? Is all fair in Love, War, and Business? What makes you think that making money is not evil. Selling the gold from the mouths of holocaust victims is making $$$$ (Definition of evil--- no Godwin's thanks).

    Just making money is not evil, granted, but making money at all costs (usually of others) is evil. Using unfair advantage to win is cowardly. When a person does this it is, but when a multi-billion dollar company does it, it pushes cowardly up to evil.

    So what is your definition of evil? Just making $$$ isn't an excuse.

  • Red Hat is a publicly traded corporation. Chances are Microsoft and its consituents have significant investment in them already, either directly or through pension plans, or mutual funds, or another form of third party investment. Microsoft isn't stupid - if there was money to be made on Red Hat then there is a good chance that Microsoft would have profited from it indirectly - up to trade laws or injunctions that prohibit such actions for Microsoft (which are weak, and difficult to enforce, respectively).
  • ...for posting related stories together so readers can get the whole picture. The "Will Linux Save Microsoft?" article seems inexplicable until you read the preceding "Crack for Sale" headline, and realize what Hal Plotkin was smoking.
  • Microsofts view of Linux is compleatly surreal and anything Microsoft offers for Linux would reflect this.

    The Linux community at core wouldn't touch anything Microsoft if they had to.

    Microsofts develupers wouldn't take it sereously and nither woule Linux develupers..

    On the technical side...
    It's a lot more posable than people may think...

    Win32 dosn't need to replace X11... Win32 would replace QT/KDE and GTK/Gnome. Done right we could have Win32/KDE.. GTK/WinGUI etc...

    As long as Microsoft respects the existing inferstructure it should work out ok...
    Existing Unix apps would continue to run with the new layer and new software could have a fallback position for people who won't use Microsofts layor.

    I think if Microsoft did this in say 1996 it would have been accepted.. But not today...
  • Many of the people posting to this story seem to be implying that MS is just plain evil and they will do anything in their power to close up open-source. That is plain and simply not true. MS in a large corporation that is in the business of making $$$$. Nothing more, nothing less. If MS begins to lose significiant market share to Linux, then the situation in the story may come true.

    No, Microsoft isn't pure evil. Neither is it simply in the business of making money.

    Microsoft still looks up to Bill Gates like a personality cult. Until and unless they change that, consider them less of a mere all-for-profit corporate entity and more of a large and powerful expression of Bill Gates' will. He may be just the CTO now, but he still has the authority of a monarch there.

    This is important because Bill Gates believes in central control--his central control. I believe that this central control is more important to Bill Gates, and thus to Microsoft policy, than even profits. This centralized control is impossible to achieve using Open Source software, and that is why Microsoft has not ventured there.

    My understanding is that Gates has a vision for user-friendly computing, and belives that he must control the entire show in order to provide that vision for the people. He's not evil, he's doing it for us, the users. I just think that his vision is sadly mistaken.

    Open Source Software threatens Microsoft's corporate profits. It also threatens Bill Gates' world-view, personally. If and when Microsoft enters the Linux or Open Source arenas, it will be for one purpose only--to destroy it.

  • I went to high school with Asa Raskin, son of Jef Raskin, so while this is a rumor, it's a rumor from a not totally unrealiable source. He claimed that one of the things OSX programmers kept in the back of their minds was "can this be easily ported to x86?" Supposedly, if MS gets broken up, Apple may make a push to expand their software empire by getting Mac software running on Intel hardware.

    Yes, again, this is just a rumor, take it with a grain of salt, but it makes sense to me. Perhaps it will occur.

  • by cpeterso ( 19082 ) on Saturday December 09, 2000 @03:06PM (#569711) Homepage
    I'm intrigued by ZooLib. I even downloaded the source code and I'm browsing it now. As a Windows developer, cross-platform compatibility is not my highest priority. However, I'm always looking for a way to simplify my code, to insert a well-architected layer between my C++ code and the grungy Win32 APIs.

    The ZooLib approach looks promising because it creates idealized API. Unfortunately, it is a lot of code and there are few examples and no API docs! Where should I begin?

  • I don't see anything negative about Microsoft using Linux in any way. If they develop new drivers or file systems for it, they have to share them. If they add support for some of the more obscure features of the NT kernel, they have to share that, too. That's good.

    If they come out with a mix of proprietary code, GNU command line utilities, and a Linux kernel (similar to what Apple did), that's good, too: no matter what, the end result will be closer to Linux than their current offerings.

    In fact, I see Microsoft's market dominance through proprietary standards diminishing anyway. While the Windows 3.x series (including 98 and ME) was such a mess that nobody could hope to clone all of it, Windows NT is sufficiently well modularized that people will be able to implement it well as a "personality" on top of all sorts of kernels. And C#/.NET drives the abstraction even higher, making it even easier for others to clone. The irony is that the complexity of software development forces Microsoft to clean up their act, but the same thing also means that they lose their market position.

  • by sheckard ( 91376 ) on Saturday December 09, 2000 @11:46AM (#569714) Homepage
    Even if Microsoft were to make their own linux distro, the *required* stuff would be open source, but all the Microsoft-contributed code would be closed. You better believe it. They will probably port over their Windows toolkit, and any versions of Office/IE/whatever that they make for linux will be dependent on their toolkit and ultimately their linux distro. If they're smart, they'll probably even make the underlying stuff freely downloadable and charge for the fancy windowing and UI (a la Mac OS X). They probably won't even use X.

    That article brings up good points... they'll just capitalize on all the R&D that the linux companies have done. Typical tactics. Heh... MS execs are probably even reading this right now saying "hmm, that's a good idea, maybe we should look into this!"
  • > His claim was that as part of the agreement to sell all rights to Xenix to SCO, Microsoft agreed to never enter the Unix marketplace.

    Microsoft did enter the Unix market with IE ports for HPUX and Solarus..

    Given that SCO dropped Xenix it's quite likely any such liccens agreement (if it ever existed) is void.

    Linux isn't Unix thus providing Microsoft with an easy endrun around that little issue...

    and it can be argued that Windows NT is directly aimmed at the Unix market...
  • ...because, after all, the more OSS programmers the better, right?

    Actually, I think that holds some water:

    • Headlines around the world proclaim: "Microsoft: 'If you can't beat them, join them.'"
    • PHB's and Grandma go, "This Linicks stuff must not be too bad if Microsoft is using it."
    • Microsoft releases a version of Linux with a nice wrapper overlaid--perhaps on the order of what they're wanting to do with .NET. They OSS the software.
    • Holes are found, holes are exploited. Because it's Microsoft, they move to act as quickly as the holes are found.

    End result? Maybe better software out of Redmond. Also, people may decide to get the binaries from MSFT and tack on their own features. Innovation improves. MSFT sees the innovations, and since they're in the public domain, they package it and sell it to the PHB and Grandma.

    Not that it's likely to happen, mind you: it's not a matter of business sense. Were Microsoft seeking to profit from Linux, they'd get enough expertise under their belts and be the mother of all enterprise-level support companies. But releasing their code is something seemingly antithetical to MSFT. But I honestly think it might be the best thing for them.

    Would that mean the revolution was won? =)

  • > Microsoft is stronger recently than it ever has been before, both in terms of stock price and liquidity.

    Stock: Hovering around 70 most of the year, as low as 55 a couple of months ago... vs what a year ago? "Stronger than ever before" ?

    Liquidity: Strong rumors going around that they would have reported losses several times over the last couple of years if not for a (probably illegal) "cookie jar" scheme. Additional rumors going around that in the most recent quarter they made more money off selling subsidiaries than off selling software.

    Failure papered over with cash in the bank is not a substitute for success.

    Every quarter they go through a ritual of announcing, loudly and repeatedly, that times have been tough and people shouldn't expect too much of their stocks. They keep it up until the stock analysts lower their predictions to a point just below what MS can actually report. Then MS does report, pats itself on the back for meeting the manufactured expectations, and tells everyone what a glorious quarter they're looking for next time. Repeat until failure.

    Then there's the myth that MS succeeds everywhere it throws its money. Did MSN kill AOL and the internet? Did NT kill Unix? Is W2K taking over the server market? (The high end server market? The low end server market?)

    > .NET may or may not be a technological failure, but as long as the 900-lb gorilla pushes it, it will acheieve something... even if it is only the same level of functionality we have today.

    That's a pretty low standard for "success", especially for a project that you throw billions of dollars at.

    MS really only has two product successes that it can brag about: Win9x and Office. And the continued success of those appears to depend on having monopolies in both markets, and exploiting the two monopolies for mutual support.

    They have repeatedly tried to exploit those monopolies to establish monopolies in other, slightly less inbred, arenas. It has resulted in expanded markets (e.g., server space), but no additional monopolies. And it is questionable whether they could have even expanded those markets without leveraging the existing monopolies.

    No, I don't think you can portray MS as a company destined to succeed at everything it does. Billg got lucky once, and has milked a trillion dollars out of it, but he doesn't seem to be the sort of genius that can generate noteworthy success in circumstances where he doesn't have either luck or a stacked deck working in his favor.

    Indeed, his myth may be working against him by keeping him and his advisors from evaluating his ideas critically. "Unbeatable" only works so long as you actually win; ask Napoleon about that one.

  • The core of the kernel would have to be GPL, but even other pieces of the kernel (dynamically linkable kernel modules, I believe) don't have to be GPL'd. This means that M$ can make their own proprietary APIs. That is what M$ Linux would be. Perhaps they would start lobotimizing Windows so that you needed Windows or M$ Linux to connect to it. Perhaps they pay (or threaten, or otherwise coerce) the major software houses to write only to the M$ Linux APIs.

    It's called "extend and escape". Alternately, it's called "extend, escape, and extinguish".

  • Most of that is paper revenue- Microsoft is mostly an investment engine at this point, most notably issuing buttloads of their own stock. Office revenue is actually down over last year. MS has been publically recognised as running a stock pyramid like Cisco: this is bound to fail. They do need saving. (deserve, on the other hand..)
  • by Kasreyn ( 233624 ) on Saturday December 09, 2000 @11:53AM (#569727) Homepage
    I'm beginning to wonder what future the Open Source movement has, if there's not way to legally enforce some piece of code's open-ness. I mean, how do you take M$ to court? Cmon! Gates carries around more money in his WALLET as spending cash than most Linux-developing companies have as net worth. I'm starting to doubt the supposed MS breakup will ever happen. There needs to be a legally unshakeable means to protect Open Source from Micro$oft's usual hijack move. Or at least, in a perfect world there would be.

  • by Nailer ( 69468 ) on Saturday December 09, 2000 @07:09PM (#569728)
    MainSoft MainWin, a Win32 layer for Linux based on Microsofts source code and developed by both MainSoft and Microsoft [who own and control a large chun of Mainsoft] already exists for Linux. Historically it was used to port IE to Solaris and HPUX.

    Get a 30 day trial of Mainwin here []. You can also download Microsoft Freecell for Linux on the same site.

  • Frankly, I suspect MS is getting out of the software market, or at least sidelining it away from their core business.

    They've saturated the market. They're resorting to various types of coercion to squeeze more money out of a market that isn't growing very fast anymore; but surely they realize that that won't work as a long-term solution (even without Linux around -- let alone with "help" from Linux).

    Actually, the server market is growing at breakneck pace, but it looks like Linux' untimely appearence has elbowed MS out of any chance of 0wning that particular market the way it 0wns the desktop. So sure, MS is raking in a lot of cash from bundling W2K on x86-grade server hardware, but they seem to be losing market share instead of gaining it, and a small slice of the pie isn't going to solve their bigger economic challenge.

    For years they've been boasting their software business by also selling computer hardware and buying up media companies. Linux won't offer much salvation there, either.

    Rumor going around says that they turned more "profit" in recent quarters by selling off assets (e.g., as ersatz investment bankers) than from selling software. Linux won't offer much salvation there, either.

    I suspect the X-box is seen by BG as his entry into the next world to conquer. Conquerers are never content; neither Napoleon nor Alexander were content to sit on the throne and enjoy their vast holdings. Better to gamble it all on yet another venture, than to fall into stagnation or -- worse -- decay.

    Stagnation may not even be an option, since MS is actually more about stocks than about software. And stocks, as you know, are variety of pyramid scheme, where stagnation is unsellable.

    BTW, that's just my armchair assessement; I never met Gates, Napoleon, nor Alexander in person. They might be nice people, for all I know.

  • by Chris Johnson ( 580 ) on Saturday December 09, 2000 @07:11PM (#569731) Homepage Journal
    Because they are basing most of their revenue on a stock pyramid scheme very like Cisco's approach, are suffering declining revenues on Office and hemorhaging money on projects like the abortive collaboration with SGI (anyone even remember what that was called?), X-Box, and .NET which is almost impossible to define in technical terms.

    They also cannot derive revenue from product sectors they've integrated such as IE, and are trapped maintaining those without hope of being paid for it.

    They are in very bad trouble. Their only hope of avoiding a bloodbath over their stock pyramiding is for people to continue to believe, as you believe, 'it's MS, so it can't possibly fail'. However, the reality of the situation is so ugly that blind faith only buys them some time. Technically, what's happening is that while they spend more and more on upcoming projects (much like Apple at its worst, flushing money away), they rely more and more heavily on the stock side of their balance sheet. Unfortunately, that is the side that will collapse because it has nothing backing it but collective belief.

    It is very possible that Microsoft will see the antitrust case totally (and illegally) abandoned, be cleared of all wrongdoing and _then_ collapse completely. At this point winning in court cannot save them, because they are just spending too much and earning too little- the earning is all paper, all stock, and revenues from actual products are both declining and insufficient to support the projects MS is undertaking.

    Result: splat.

  • by iso ( 87585 ) <`ofni.orezpraw' `ta' `hsals'> on Saturday December 09, 2000 @03:27PM (#569733) Homepage

    this all comes back to the Jobs' phrase "the whole widget."

    the idea is that Apple controls the hardware, so the software will work better and vice versa. it's all about adding value to their hardware.

    but to address your specific point, the relevant detail here is that when you control "the whole widget" you can make changes (hopefully for the better) much faster. a great example of this is USB. as you probably know, USB is an Intel standard, but in the PC world, it just couldn't catch on. Intel wanted to replace ancient serial and parallel port, but they ran into a lot of resistance. Microsoft didn't want to make the software widely available, and peripheral and PC manufacturers had non interest in making the hardware if Microsoft wasn't going to add full support.

    we all know the eventual outcome. Apple releases the iMac, completely doing away with the ancient peripherals in favour of USB.Apple, in control of both hardware and software, made the necessary changes to support this much-needed movement and made the switch. they were hammered for this by the press because there were almost no USB devices at the time, but in the end it turned out to be a pretty good idea. note that none of this would have been possible if Apple had relied on Microsoft for their operating system.

    now this method doesn't always work for the best. some Apple-only technologies didn't fly (NuBus come to mind), but when they get it right, it really works. now if only PC manufacturers would get the hint and start offering better support for Firewire we'd all be better off ;)

    at any rate, i hope i've made my point. Apple's idea is that by controlling both hardware and software, they can make a better product, and provide value-added features in their software to better sell their hardware. this also allows them to charge a premium on thier machines: as a PC manufacturer they'd have a very difficult time justifying their profit margins.

    in the end, it's an intersting model, and it may pay off for them. it works very nicely when Apple does their research and makes the right decisions (which they've been doing for the past few years). it fails miserably if they don't offer target the market effectively, for instance with the Cube and the lack of CD-Rs in their machines. i still think the model works for them however, and i own a couple of Macs myself for just this reason.

    now, a model that may work for Apple in the future is to move to Intel chips (for dirt-cheap hardware and to finally break free of Motorolla who's more interested in the embedded market), but to keep an Apple-only OS. they could offer their machines, but still only run Mac OS X on them (albeit on Intel), and emulate classic applications. but that's a whole new argument all together, and involves a lot of creative workarounds ;)

    - j

  • One comment regarding the forecasts of Microsoft's earnings made in the article. Analyst ability to forecast with any hope of accuracy has been greatly hindered by recent SEC regs. Companies are now not allowed to talk to analysts on background (i.e. no members of the public at large included) in order to 'guide' their estimates. Analysts are having a great deal of difficulty replacing this sub-rosa 'guidance' with other sources, so I'd take that into account when looking at any analyst estimates, particularly more than one quarter out. (IMO, the new regs are a contributing factor for the market's high volatility lately. It's leading to lots of 'surprises' in earnings announcements.)
  • > I worked for MS for sometime last year, writing code in several groups. What I dont get is why everyone thinks Linux poses a threat to MS.

    Well, MS seems to think so. You did hear about the Halloween documents, didn't you? You did see the silly anti-Linux ad in the German magazine, didn't you? MS isn't behaving like a company that has nothing to fear.

    > First off, a little over half of the software MS sells goes towards the consumer end, and small business end desktops. Linux isnt a threat here people.

    Visit and look at the number of Linuces downloaded last week. Add in the fact that isn't the only, or even the most obvious place to download Linux.

    Look at how many stores are carrying Linux boxes. (Recently, even bastions of the status quo such as Office Max have caved in.) Add in the fact that a brick & mortar store isn't the only, or even the most obvious place to buy Linux.

    With the PC market almost saturated, and MS having to resort to squeeze tactics to keep their cash flow up to the levels expected by their share holders, any competition, even at the 5% level, is dangerous competition.

    > If they can hire 5-7 MSCE types for 50k a year, as opposed to 3 or 4 UNIX gurus who make six figures, they will.

    I'm not so sure about this. What scares companies about payroll is headcount, not wages. More headcount means people to manage. More benefits packages. More shellouts for perks to keep the geeks from migrating. More years of retirement pay for employees no longer contributing to the bottom line. More building space. More workstations. More staff to maintain those workstations. More liability insurance. More lawsuits. More paperwork to maintain.

    Companies don't like headcount.

    > But dont underestimate MS. They can trhow a lot of money at problems, and a lot of very, very, very good engineers. Don't fool yourselves into thinking that MS will just stop improving products.

    MS isn't improving products now, and haven't been for a long time. Almost all their "improvements" are driven by marketing decisions. The changes are usually gratuitous, and sometimes positively harmful.

    The best engineers in the world aren't any good when they're yoked together to drag along billg's delusions of grandeur.

    > Win2k is a very good product. ... Its the first Microsoft product that is fundamentally able to made stable

    Yeah, sure. We know people who use it. Most of them still reboot it every night. And even if it ever does become stable, all that means is that MS has finally met the entry-level requirement for an operating system product. What's to recommend about an expensive product that merely meets the entry-level requirements?

    > (belive me, i have a copy of internal report from MS that would make you crap your pants - results of kernel stress tests and analysis)

    If you'll send it to me, I'll send you the postcard Elvis sent me last week.

    Even is such a report existed, and was more honest than most MS fare, and showed W2K to be stable, why should we crap our pants over it? I've had a stable box for years. MS will still have lots of other areas to play catch-up in. Such as price.

    ps - Certain keywords in your post make me think you were trolling, but you still provided a nice context for saying some things that some lurkers might need to know. Thanks.

  • by Chris Johnson ( 580 ) on Saturday December 09, 2000 @07:34PM (#569738) Homepage Journal
    When I read this article, what jumped out for me was the following thought:
    "Wow- some people will believe _any_ old nonsense to back up the idea, 'Microsoft will never fail'."

    Honestly, has anyone noticed the sheer madness of this suggestion? For one, it totally ignores W2K- for the idea to make sense it almost accepts that W2K will be a total wreck. It ignores the very real issue that a lot of Linux (or Mac for that matter) is 'not Microsoft' by choice. It ignores the serious risk MS runs in their stock strategy (you'd think a stock reporter would be paying attention to this) and the uncontrolled spending MS is doing. All to prop up the following syllogism:
    • Microsoft will never fail!
    • Here are some ways they might not fail.
    • (insert speculation here)
    The fact is, companies fail. They fail when they overspend, like Apple- when they build stock valuation bubbles that burst, like dotcoms- when they try to sell crappy ideas, like other dotcoms. Microsoft has risk for _all_ those reasons- in fact at this point I find it hard to worry about them anymore. Years ago I was desperately worried about them, because I thought they'd seize all the mindshare in the world and refuse to let anyone else into the market. Sure enough, they did, but I had no way of knowing they'd be quite _this_ overextended, dumping their entire fortune into dippy ideas like .NET (which is like an idea without a product: "Let's do something that is THE FUTURE!" "OK, what exactly?" "Um, dunno. But it's THE FUTURE!") and trying to expand a stock bubble that is still so overinflated. It's circular thinking- MS is valuable because it can't fail because it's valuable because it can't fail etc etc.

    Some people are going to be _very_ surprised when MS crashes and burns- might take some IRS audits or investigation of their financial practices because they _will_ lie as a last resort and may already be lying like rugs. However, at this point I wouldn't be surprised.

    The DoJ is not needed to destroy the monopoly- that would just be nice, as a matter of procedure and law enforcement. The monopoly has destroyed itself in the traditional way- complacency, just as Gates has always desperately feared. It now presides over flagship products that are losing money, and wild new experiments that will never congeal into products. Microsoft's heart has stopped, and it has only a few steps remaining before it falls, DoJ or no DoJ. It might fall harder if there is NO DoJ or breakup, because that action could have provided vitally needed 'surgery'. A breakup is the only thing that can save MS because it's an outside action that could serve as an excuse for serious re-organisation and re-valuation. Without it- they are compelled to keep bluffing until it all collapses.

  • >any of the people posting to this story seem to be implying that MS
    >is just plain evil and they will do anything in their power to close
    >up open-source. That is plain and simply not true.

    That's right. Microsoft is a particularly complicated form of evil,
    not plain evil :)

    While I'm at it, it wasn't Willie Nelson, but Merle Haggard and
    Willie Nelson that sang "Pancho and Lefty," on an album of the same
    name (a good album, at that . . .)

  • by Fat Rat Bastard ( 170520 ) on Saturday December 09, 2000 @11:58AM (#569740) Homepage
    .... they'd repackage a *BSD (most likely Free) along with the linux runtime packages and sell that. That way they can jump on the Linux bandwagon by selling something that is "compatible" without having to offer source.

    The reason I don't think they'll come out with a disto based on Linux is because, as a LinuxCare exec said in an LJ article about a year ago, even if they throw in some closed libs/APIs, its a hell of a lot easier to reverse engineer them when you see how they interact with userland programs on the top and the kernel on the bottom.


  • You have an excellent point there -- I installed QT4 on this box a couple of days ago, and went through the same process. It's almost enough to persuade me to stop using the app. I suspect Netscape 6 works similarly, although I haven't tried to install it to a second machine, given its wretched performance on the first.

    I understand your point: in the end it may not really be up to the user. But the choice of which software to use is up to me, expecially when I pay hard cash for it. QuickTime and Netscape are both free, so it's not like I have a lot of clout there. However, if "paying customers" are subjected to this same abuse, I'd expect them to protest loudly to the vendor; I know I certainly will.

    While I sometimes purchase downloaded software, whenever I can I also get an installable CD as part of the deal -- even if I have to pay a few dollars for it. And if I can't get that, I make a backup copy before I do the installation. I haven't seen a EULA yet that forbids me to make a backup copy for my own use. But you're right about QT4 -- it doesn't give you any of those options...


  • by Jim.Dean ( 151091 ) on Saturday December 09, 2000 @12:00PM (#569746) Homepage
    I read this article earlier and while the author has some good points I really don't see his scenario coming to take place. The faults in his argument are: 1) That MS would give up it's windows source base and move to Linux. For this to happen there would have to be some serious changes in the market in the next 5 - 10 years. MS has a strong windows install base, it has a code base that's at least decent in terms of stability/security in win2k (not to the level of linux/bsd but it has good potential I think if MS would put more effort into it). In short, there's just no reason right now for MS to make such a drastic move. 2) That MS Linux would be able to differentiate itself enough in the market as to become more popular than Redhat, Caldera, etc. MS has no experience with Linux dev. Look at what happened when Corel, a company with no Linux OS experience tried to market a distro. Microsoft's only hope in making MS Linux more popular would be in porting the Win32 API to the Linux kernel and making that proprietary along with Office. In short I just don't see how any of this could happen. It's going to be Linux vs. Windows for years to come. MS can't use it's normal business strategies against Linux, they just won't work. They're only hope is to make Windows a better (or at least good enough that SysAdmins won't weigh the benefits of switching greater than the difficulty in switching to Linux).
  • Remember what MS officially said?

    "We'll not sell unix. Period" or something to that effect.

    We have to bring this up from time to time, so people will not forget what they've said so firmly. Then, they'll stick to their vow, in order to save face (face ~ stock price)

    So, if Linux takes over say 3 years from now, and everyone still remember what they say, they'll not make the move.

    Then they'll die slowly.
  • They're quite welcome to do that. At least with the kernel and libc out of their hands, they will no longer dominate the way they do now. They won't be able to make the system unable to run the wide varietyt of Free software available. They won't be able to keep their apps from being virtualized under X.

    Even a fully MS corrupted distro will be modified to run X and provide CLI. Perhaps that will even show just how clunky MS apps really are.

  • I run a network of 6 sites and my stats show linux users ranking below windows 3.X surfers. That is quite sad considering all of the hype we heard the past 3 years.

    I run several Linux centric sites, and Linux users are still in the minority by a fair margin. Most of the buzz the last few years has been about servers and appliance deployment. Linux has definatly not penetrated the desktop market yet. Netcraft stats tell a very different story in the server market.

    Think of Linux on the desktop as being like a river slowly removing individual grains from the rocks it flows over. It won't dominate tomorrow, but give it time. MS has taken over 20 years to be where it is today.

  • by danheskett ( 178529 ) <> on Saturday December 09, 2000 @08:31PM (#569757)
    I guess I dont get it.

    I worked for MS for sometime last year, writing code in several groups. What I dont get is why everyone thinks Linux poses a threat to MS.

    First off, a little over half of the software MS sells goes towards the consumer end, and small business end desktops. Linux isnt a threat here people. Sure, some slashdotters might have made the switch, but realistically, Linux isnt ready for the desktop. Just remember that 99.5% of average home users dont want to go back to the command line (or go thier to start). They dont ever want to go to have to type commands or add modules or anything, ever.

    Second the rest of the software they sell go to medium to large size companies. For these people administration is the key to why they use Windows. If they can hire 5-7 MSCE types for 50k a year, as opposed to 3 or 4 UNIX gurus who make six figures, they will. It comes down to the fact that the perception is that Windows boxes are easier to manage over large numbers. True or false, thats were things are at.

    Next, MS is expanding very rapidly still. They have lots of new market room. They are taking market share now from Sun and HP, in that very critical 32-64 CPU market. In most cases, they are much, much cheaper - a Dell/Intel/Win2k solution versus a Solaris solution typically comes up 25-50% cheaper on MS's end.

    Beyond those three segments, they are doing well in other areas. Handhelds and CE devices are continuing to make inroads, embedded solutions like the NT Embedded group makes are popular.

    The fact is, to MS, Linux has yet to be proven as a threat. So why would they switch to Linux/*nix strategy if they dont have any reason to believe its a threat?

    Now I know what people will say: linux has loads of advantages. I agree. Its free, open, and in progress. But dont underestimate MS. They can trhow a lot of money at problems, and a lot of very, very, very good engineers. Don't fool yourselves into thinking that MS will just stop improving products.

    Win2k is a very good product. It has lots of future potential. Win9x crashed so much its a joke. Win2k and its siblings are proving to be a decent platform for a lot of things. Its the first Microsoft product that is fundamentally able to made stable (belive me, i have a copy of internal report from MS that would make you crap your pants - results of kernel stress tests and analysis).

    Now realistically, Linux is improving, and so is Windows. Linux will continue to gain acceptance, but how long do you think it will be until a linux os ships on an off the shelf box from Best Buy or Circuit City? How long will it be until the masses think of linux as more than a hobby OS (or nothing at all).

    One last thing: MS has designed products to appeal to the masses, and to be easy to use. They arent there yet completely, but they are getting closer every new development cycle. I've worked with, and talked to way to many avid Linux users and admins who dont want the mass public to use linux. This is probably the biggest threat to the wide spread adoption of linux. Slashdotters and all the *nix gurus of the world need to be ready to accept the possibility of millions of computer and linux newbies flooding thier message boards, chat rooms, and call centers.

  • Yeah, the Church eventually adapted, but how many
    were burned at the stake, tortured, nearly guilted
    to death, excommunicated, etc. before they
    finally decided that yes, maybe a bible isn't a
    bad thing.

    By Church, I assume you mean Roman Catholic. Let's
    not forget that while they may have accepted the
    bible, the services (in the US, anyway) were in Latin
    until just the past... 35 years?
    Change is not something that is liked by big,
    monolithic operations. That's why M$ should embrace
    the DOJ breakup: their corporate ship is now like
    the Titanic: too big to turn around, and not as
    indestructible as the captain thinks.
  • Let's say that 5 years down the line, there exists an "M$ Linux." Finally, someone will be able to throw a ton of money at Linux. It will still be open-source, so we will still be able to fix all the bugs that M$ will no doubt generate in their "we release on a marketing schedule not a quality schedule" craze. On the good side, you and I will have a browser that doesn't suck, an Office Suite compatible with the rest of the world, movies players that support ASF, Divx;-), etc., and with any luck, decent game support under linux. FreeBSD, Redhat (I guess), SuSE, etc will still be available to all of us 133t h4x0rs (I hope you see the sarcasm in this). But now they would (in theory) have much better support for new and upcoming technologies (eg, USB, Firewire, Divx, etc). With the upfront statement that all this will suck if M$ close-sources everything and just makes some sort of "Reverse-Wine," I actually look forward to M$ jumping into this. No, I would never run an M$ version of anything, but it would be nice if SuSE and FreeBSD (and others) had some M$ source code on which to implement DVD, USB, ASF, and all the other trimmings.
  • I think the fear is of the opposite scenario: MS Linux runs anything written for Linux, but all MS software for Linux fails to work on anything other than MS Linux.
  • I suspect that there are a few that know that they're just in it for the power trip, damn the principles. I can't give a better explanation for Bush and Gore collectively ripping up our democracy like so much bird cage liner.
  • Well the kernel will be free along with most of the software. However, media player won't be when they port that. Ditto for IE. Also, if they stick single platform they'll probally write some x86 machine language replacements for the shell utilities that will be closed source. They could also write a closed source kernel from scratch that implements the linux api and runs linux elf and a.out binaries. Sure this is worse case senario, but who cares. Personally if I was Microsoft I'd add the Windows api to FreeBSD and sell that.
  • Look I dont deny that MS says lots of BS. Win95 was never billed as a server os. or an os that was stable.

    Win2k kernel has been proven to be fundamentally sound (NOT the whole OS).

    Anyways, sorry you feel this way, but Win 95 WAS a better os than Win 3.1, and Win 2k IS a better os than Win 95. Its called progress. Why not compare an orignal Linux kernel with whats out now. What, was that OS a piece of crap? No, it was just an earlier version, and now its better.

  • I realize I'm posting too late to be moderated, much less positively, but oh well.

    Let's consider what a MS distro of Linux would actually mean. First of all, you can quit worrying about them hijacking the source and making it closed. The GPL prevents that for a reason. If you have a lack of faith in the ability of the GPL to protect against this, that's a topic for another time.

    If Microsoft ever tried to make a Linux distro, it would have to be good. Don't forget that in order to kill Netscape, Internet Explorer had to be that good. And, for the most part, it still is, although it seems to be on the decline. A crack quality Linux distro - how exactly would that be a bad thing? A world running an open-source OS - how would that be a bad thing?

    Secondly, an embrace of Linux would essentially mean a retreat from the Windows OS and a focus on applications. I see this as an improvement on what we have now. MS can't program anticompetitive "enhancements" into Linux itself without a serious GPL violation. And by this time, MS applications will likely have to face open-source equivalents. All of this means that if MS is creating a distro in our hypothetical future, they're actually innovating. I also use this to counter the argument that MS will use the kernel but write a proprietary window manager/desktop environment. For Linux to be successful to the point where MS feels threatened, we have to have some seriously good desktops. (insert call for the KDE folks and the GNOME folks to start cooperation)

    Gates is too smart to let his company die from competition. But it can be changed. And isn't that the point?


  • by bugg ( 65930 ) on Saturday December 09, 2000 @12:10PM (#569788) Homepage
    Do what I do with my work, such as chessd [] -- release it under a very lax license. All of my work, regardless of the project, is either under the public domain or a 3-clause BSD license.

    What's there to enforce? The copyright reproduction clause on the BSD license? First of all, it's not worth my hassle. Secondly, if someone does use a significant portion of my code, they'll probably reduce the copyright somewhere anyway- a line of ink is much cheaper than hiring an lawyer for even an hour.

    When you turn what we're doing, which is programming for our own enjoyment, into some political cause, you complicate the matter with having a legal headache and worrying about enforcing things. Relax, this is supposed to be fun, and don't use a license that reads like a contract- we get our share of legalese by watching the Florida recount..

  • This shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the licenses which prohibit taking open source software and selling it as part of a commercial

    You mean closed source product. The Open Source product may be commercial already, but whether it is or it isn't has no bearing on the GPL.
  • The two software paradigms of open source and proprietary closed source are fundamentally irreconcilable. The whole power of the open source movement is to build massive endeavors based on the contributions of many, many developers. It is crucial to note that these armies of developers are often motivated by non-tangible reasons -- often the primary motivation is the challenge of the task, which will benefit a wide community of like-minded individuals. In Eric Raymond's terminology -- the open source community is fundamentally based on "gift-giving". I would doubt that these same developers would suddenly leap onto a MS toolkit ported to Linux if it were proprietary, which it will be in all likelihood.

    Moreover, the less that MS complies with the open source philosophy, the fewer applications and utilities will be available for the hypothetical MS/Linux hybrid OS. Throwing away X, for instance, would throw away an enormous volume of X applications, which MS could never afford to replace. Which OS would you choose to install : a bare-bones MS/Linux hybrid OS, or a full-featured "classic" linux distro with hoardes of available software?

  • I don't think things will happen that way. After the venom spit between MS and the linux community, I think that if MS co-opted linux, the community would spit in their collective eye.

    The comparison to Netscape, although convienient, is not good. Netscape had to make money. Although some linux vendors also have to make money, others do not. If MS were to jump into the linux game, who would pay for their OS? No one. They may charge for the GUI, but what good is a Microsoft OS without the GUI?

    I think that MS is more likely to steal GPL'd code, integrate it into Windows, put an ultra-glitzy start menu on it. Then they can continue their "naked PC" campaign and continue asking corporate IT departments, "Who are you gonna sue when it all comes crashing down?"

    Why is Gnome pronounced with a hard G?
  • And what, exactly, makes you think that the largest, richest, most widely known software corporation in the world, needs saving in the first place?
  • Better support and better community? What the holy fuck have you been smoking? Linux being open means you get patches constantly but these patches can and sometimes tend to break other things. Unix in general has shit support in the hardware industry, unless of course you mean a proprietary Unix platform. The Linux community is all about thinking they're too fucking good for anyone else. When you log onto a newsgroup asking for help you don't want to be told to RTFM or have someone respond in more technodribble than the manuals are written in. Linux is not technically better than anything, anything you compare it to is different enough to make the comparison meaningless. You can only compare one variant of Linux to another. The comparison comes down to the difference between libc6 or glibc2.x or whether you've got the latest patch/hack to Apache. Here's a nice blanket statement, Solaris is better than Linux because it supports more processors and has a better Java runtime. Not very fair is it?
  • Ok, please learn to use the concept of numbers. Microsoft has an enormous share of the desktop/workstation computers in the country. Linux is lucky if it gets a single percentile. Linux in its current form is not fucking viable for consumers or in some cases even for professionals. Professional need to get work done, non-professional users want to get stuff done. Neither of these wants to spend hours fucking with the maze of often cryptic and obfuscated commands. Fuck the command line and fuck piping. If you want to bring Unix to the world of home-office computing follow Apple's lead. Candy coat the fucking thing; be adventuresome and go the next step by replacing non-intuitive shell commands with something that people might think of to use to open a file or move something. Distrobutions repackage the same Unix commands that have been in use for centuries. KNOCK IT THE FUCK OFF! Cars have power steering because the rack and pinion shit was giving people problems. When everyone can interface with a Unix system with relative ease and as little training as possible, Unix will become popular in people's home. Microsoft doesn't have a single worry about Linux because Windows' interface is pretty recognized and worry free for the most part; installing programs and getting hardware working is easy enough that most people now do it themselves rather than paying someone to. Linux has a long fucking way to go.
  • So far there have been quite a few cases where the GPL has come close to being tested in court. In every case the alleged GPL-offender has chosen to settle in some way.

    It seems to me that the reason for those settlements is not just the fear of losing a court battle, but instead the fear of bad publicity. It is easy to do the whole "Giant corporation against small idealist entrepreneur" thing.
  • As far as i knew, Microsoft doesn't need saving... Even with the stock market hoopla of the past few months, they've been hit much less hard than many other companies out there (AOL, Apple, Dell, Gateway, Intel, Redhat, VA Linux). Well, not really, but they took their drubbing right after the anti-trust case and since then have lost very little ground in comparisson to the rest of the industry that began their plummet around the time of the anti-trust case and have continued to fall through the floor ever since then.

    Plus, they're still sitting on piles upon piles of cash and investments...

    They're sure to be here for a while...
  • by cygnusx ( 193092 ) on Saturday December 09, 2000 @12:23PM (#569814) Homepage
    You want MS Linux? Here you are. [] :)
  • Well, I'm on FreeBSD, so my answer might not be the same as that of a Linux user, but for me it was... (drum roll)

    man XFree86

    Putting the directions in the manual section seems pretty intuitive to me, no offense.

    "Don't trolls get tired?"
  • The GPL doesn't really prevent MS from taking Linux over. Think about it, the GPL only prevents linking, not message passing. MS could simply use Linux as a "microkernel," put some fast messeging support in there, and then layer WIn32 services on top (like it did with NT) It would be required to OSS the changes to the kernel, but everything else remains MS. Linux gets a kernel with hooks for the GDI and all that, MS gets a more stable OS core, and users get a stable OS with all the MS goodies like fast OpenGL and sweet multimedia. In short, everyone is happy except the OSS community.

    Either way, I doubt that they would do that. Its not like Linux has anything that BSD doesn't, and if MS wanted a UNIX-cored OS, they would have just stolen code from FreeBSD.
  • by xtal ( 49134 ) on Saturday December 09, 2000 @12:45PM (#569824)

    I thought one of the conditions of their first antitrust trial was that they agreed to never directly release a version of Unix that would compete with offerings from SCO, Solaris, et al, and it wouldn't be too far a reach to argue that linux could be included in there, too. Of course, as we all know.. Gnu's Not Unix.. (oh, the irony if GNU/Linux came back to bite RMS in a legal battle with Microsoft over this issue..

    Maybe someone who knows more can comment - has the recent trials or breakup of the company changed this ruling from way back when (I feel old now)..

  • M$ has the worst "evil empire" rep in the world right now, and they're doing pretty well. They still have the vast majority convinced that they're the best thing since sliced bread, in terms of computing. Do you realize what salary you can start at if you have a slip of paper saying you're an MCSE? Their public image is only now beginning to come into *mild* doubt. It's another example of Hitler's "If you tell a lie loud enough and long enough..." concept.

    If you mean the publicity of crushing a smaller company like a bug under foot would hurt them, you're mistaken. Microsoft has crushed many a company and most simply regard it as the dog-eat-dog world of business. There's less romanticism in the public opinion than you think, unfortunately. I think if Microsoft made a determined effort to buck the GPL, it could, and that scares me. And in any case, the media know which side their bread is buttered on, so it's not too likely there'll be much open criticism of Microsoft if they decide to chew Linux up and spit it out.

    It's a damned shame I know, but I think it's best to be realistic about things and try to find a solution...

  • by znu ( 31198 ) <> on Saturday December 09, 2000 @12:26PM (#569826)
    Which Linux developers would sell out to Microsoft?

    Any of them that are publicly traded, if the price is right. They won't have a choice.

  • Well, I can tell ya what`ll happen.

    Can you, really? For MSFT to do Linux right and have it not be some fad thing, it will be a sea change for them. For them to do it wrong may just exacerbate their situation--especially if the true OSS Nazis [of which I would classify myself] could keep kicking their butts on stuff.

    For MSFT to go into this regime requires some philosophical changes. I think they will eventually realize that it's vital for them to do so--and perhaps even profitable!

    M$ releases a Linux distro that no serious Linux user will want to use, mainly because we know it will be put together without security, stability and compatibility in mind. M$ is known for not repairing bugs that are serious security holes in current products. Not because they can`t, simply because that don`t want to.

    If Redmond is going into this business, though, wouldn't they do well to hire people familiar with developing Linux [API's, kernels, drivers, etc.]? Those will be external people, and they might--might--change the MSFT culture. Maybe not.

    In steps the Open Source Business Model that so many depend on nowadays- Support Contracts. Sure, M$ will help fix the holes it created, but you have to pay, and your going to pay one way or the other.

    I'd argue that you might get better service from an OSBM than a CSBM, because you can check their OS'd source for BS. =)

    Of course, anyone that has the source can fix the bugs themselves, and eventually someone would release patches to fix everything M$ did wrong, right? Wrong. M$ won`t use a standard Linux licensing model, they will stick with the licensing model they`ve always used. You rent the product, no you may not see the source and if you spread around any information about a flaw in our product, you will be sue`d. Not to mention the forking that could occur if M$ entered the market and started making proprietary standards and forcing people to use their software to do certain tasks.

    I'll admit that it has the potential for wrong. But I think it will more likely screw them up. Hey, we're willing to run away from companies that make bad moves, right? Just look at Netscape--I used them exclusively until late '97 or '98...started using MSIE and Eudora on my Windows box, and I'm [relatively] happy with that combo, even though I don't like either company much. Something better comes along for my needs on a Windows platform, buh-bye.

    Do you really think M$ won`t release new kernels on a bi monthly basis just to make money? Whether they be good kernels that add functionality or not doesn`t matter when the bottom dollar is the reason for releasing it.

    Kernels? Probably not. Patches? Yep. Probably by a subscription offering, too.

  • Correction: Todays market runs Linux for these reasons. If what this article talks about happens, Linux will have grown to be used outside the dork/hacker nitch it currently occupies, and will be being used by jo user to connect to AOL, send email, and occationally type up a document.
    Basically, people who use windows now.
    Microsoft could use the kernel from linux, and make a decent UI for it, keep the UI closed and payware, and they get buzzword compliance, reduced development costs, etc. What they lose however is their greatest asset, backwards compatibility.
    Without the stranglehold of backwards compatability, Windows and Intel would long ago have lost out to better options(OS/2, NextStep, PowerPC, Alpha, etc).
    Backwards compatibility is one thing that adds so much cruft to the Windows OS, and the one thing that keeps them in business. Switching to Linux would destroy that.. Unless we provide a way to keep their old projects running forever on the new platform, ala WINE. Wine is evil! It must die :o) It may yet one day enslave us, or one day set us free... Only time will tell...
  • by goingware ( 85213 ) on Saturday December 09, 2000 @12:50PM (#569833) Homepage
    This is why it's important to choose the GNU General Public License [] over all other licenses when you write software that is meant to be free.

    You should only choose another license if you specifically intend to allow anyone to make closed-source, commercial use of your code.

    That's why it's pointed out in an earlier comment that Microsoft wouldn't base an offerring on Linux, but on BSD - as Apple is doing, with Mac OS X.

    The Free Software Foundation recommends against the general use of the LGPL [] - formerly called the GNU Library Public License but now called the lesser public license.

    Generally, you'd only want to use the LGPL if there is already an existing high-quality library that is available in closed-source form and you want yours to be adopted by people who want to keep the source to their applications closed. This was done, for example, with glibc, to make a replacement for the proprietary libc popular.

    But if you're writing a totally new library, or if you feel that your library is a significant improvement on an existing closed-source library, using the GPL rather than the LGPL will draw new free software into the world, and although it won't prevent people from selling your work, it will prevent them from holding the source closed.

    Licenses that would be inappropriate for competing with Microsoft would be the BSD License [] or the MIT License [], the Apache License [] or the Mozilla Public License [].

    That's why, despite Mozilla, we still need a good browser that is GPL'ed.

    For lists of a lot of licenses, see the [] approved licenses and GPL Compatible Licenses [] - these last basically can be combined in software with GPL'ed code. Also note License that are incompatible with the GPL [].

    Upon further examination, I see that if you are not going to use the GPL, you should at least use a license that would allow your code to be used in the same project with GPL'ed code. This is the case with the revised BSD license (without the advertising class) and the MIT license but not the Mozilla license, or, significantly, the Python license - in some cases the incompatibility is not caused by restrictions by what you can do with the code but in the case of Python it's because the licensed is governed by the laws of the state of Virginia in the U.S.A.

    Sometimes people do specifically choose to use things like the MIT License because they intend for it to be used for commercial use. My friend Andy Green who wrote the ZooLib [] cross-platform application framework is an independent consultant, and he had it in mind to make things easier for other consultants and small commercial developers, as well as free software developers. It was a complex decision but they people with an interest in the code ultimately agreed on the MIT license.

    On the one hand, this allows people like Microsoft to write cross-platform closed-source products that would compete with free software - so MS could port their products to ZooLib and have source compatibility with Linux, Windows and Mac (and BeOS too), and this source would be closed, which could be a problem.

    On the other hand, the ready availability of an open source but commercially-compatible crossplatform library gives power to the third-party developer at the expense of all OS vendors [] whether closed or open source, which I feel is arguably a good thing.

    So it is a complex decision, really. But I think that, when in doubt, use the GPL. If you hold the copyright yourself, you can always supply a separately licensed version to people who pay you for it. For example, while the CygWin [] library (a POSIX API for Windows, part of a GNU programming environment that is largely source-code compatible with Linux) is under the GPL, you can purchase a proprietary license for it from Redhat [] which is actually pretty expensive from the terms they used to have on their page.

    Michael D. Crawford
    GoingWare Inc

  • by PrimeEnd ( 87747 ) on Saturday December 09, 2000 @12:29PM (#569835)
    Microsoft will never have a Linux distribution. It could only hurt them. Either it would be a flop in which case they would have given credibility to Linux with no profit, or it would be successful. It it were successful it would do much more damage to Microsoft's Windows busines than it would to RedHat, Suse, etc.

    The idea of Microsoft buying RedHat is equally silly. If they did then ALL the key technical RedHat employees would resign. They would take their money and do something else (or maybe the same thing).

  • by Jason W ( 65940 ) on Saturday December 09, 2000 @12:29PM (#569836)
    The worst thing MS could do (and its very bad) is take every popular OS app that they needed (including Linux), and fork them. Change the name, change the code. Not keep records of what is what. Developers would be torn between sticking with the original code that follows the normal OS (usually slow) pace, or hacking on the MS code that has tons of paid programmers on it. Why bother messing with the original when all of the feature you add will have been added in the next release of the MS version, plus more? There would be no point.

    Also, it would be to MS's benefit to fork as soon as possible, so no-one has a chance to change their license from GPL to "GPL minus MS" or "GPL with a fully Open Source disto."

  • The two software paradigms of open source and proprietary closed source are fundamentally irreconcilable
    Idealistic bullshit. Its called MacOS X.

    The whole power of the open source movement is to build massive endeavors based on the contributions of many, many developers. It is crucial to note that these armies of developers are often motivated by non-tangible reasons -- often the primary motivation is the challenge of the task
    Which explains all the developer (ie. non-customer) oriented software.

    which will benefit a wide community of like-minded individuals
    You're not in hacker-land anymore. RedHat, Mandrake, Corel, etc are all trying to get into the mainstream. Its a different market entirely, driven by different demands.

    In Eric Raymond's terminology -- the open source community is fundamentally based on "gift-giving". I would doubt that these same developers would suddenly leap onto a MS toolkit ported to Linux if it were proprietary, which it will be in all likelihood.
    What ERS says may be applicable to OSS developers, but there is a whole new group of commercial developers trying to join the Linux bandwagon. They are not motivated by "gift-giving" but by gaining an advantage by being the first developers on a promising new platform.

    Moreover, the less that MS complies with the open source philosophy, the fewer applications and utilities will be available for the hypothetical MS/Linux hybrid OS. Throwing away X, for instance, would throw away an enormous volume of X applications, which MS could never afford to replace. Which OS would you choose to install : a bare-bones MS/Linux hybrid OS, or a full-featured "classic" linux distro with hoardes of available software.
    There are few people that would trade the Win32 GUI software base for the L*UNIX one. Most people would switch from the Linux software base to the Windows one in a heartbeat. Remember, Win32 has a whole lot of OSS ports.
  • open source and proprietary closed source are fundamentally irreconcilable. ... I would doubt that [free software] developers would suddenly leap onto a MS toolkit ported to Linux if it were proprietary

    Who said anything about free software? MSFT is more open than, say, Nintendo or Sony, but it doesn't see free software adding much value to the platform. MSFT may be weakened by the anti-trust trial but the X-Box's developer support demonstrates that it can still build a platform. (Customer acceptance, of course, remains to be seen.)

    If MSFT couldn't pull off a proprietary Linux toolkit, it wouldn't be for lack of apps.

  • quote:

    <I>Everything that is covered by the GPS has to be open-source and free</I>

    Everything that is covered by the Global Positioning System has to be open-source and free?

    Wow, that would usher in a new era.
  • I think they will do something similar to IBM. IBM is supporting their core business- hardware.

    Microsoft's core business is, on the face of it, their operating system. But in actual fact, it isn't- its the applications like Office that run on it. They make more money from that than Windows in fact.

    When/if Linux grows enough market share on the desktop, Microsoft will get less money back from their OS than they spend on it. At that point they might as well port Office to Linux and carry on making money from Linux.

    It makes very little difference to Microsoft- they can still deliver OS and Office together, it's just that they won't charge for the OS. They'll still have a huge monopoly on Office to milk for atleast the next decade.

    They will probably give up being an OS company- Linux is probably going to outcompete them- and its development is free for Microsoft whereas it would COST Microsoft money to do OS development...
  • Yeah, that sure would be bad. Oh wait, their forks (of GPLed software, that is) would have to be GPLed as well. They couldn't change the licence. So how would this be bad? It wouldn't.

    First of all, if the Microsoft software didn't continue to work with other distros, no one would code on it. Two, lets look at the hatred for Microsoft brewing around here. I might be likely to code for some Microsoft OSS if it had potential, but the zealots would not.

    Standard disclamer: My brain might not be working today.
  • While the linux kernel is distributed under the GPL, many programs traditionally provided on Linus distros are not, for example the Apache [] webserver has a license [] which permits closed-source versions of it to be sold - and I recall someone was selling a closed-source apache with SSL with the public-key code licensed from RSA, for example.

    Thus see my other comment in this discussion, That's why it's important to choose GPL [] and I think that it's particularly important that every function of any significance that's used on linux should ultimately get written by someone under a GPL license

    It's really not enough to just use open-source software if the license allows the source to be closed, if your aim is World Domination. Many of those who participate in Open Source, as distinct from Free Software, do so for their mutual benefit as closed-source commercial proprietary developers.

    Michael D. Crawford
    GoingWare Inc

  • by goingware ( 85213 ) on Saturday December 09, 2000 @01:06PM (#569846) Homepage
    This reminds me that when I was at Apple someone remarked in a meeting that people from other companies often asked Apple employees why Apple never produced a PC clone that ran windows.

    If their aim was to sell hardware, they could beat the hell out of any PC vendor selling windows boxes. Imagine something with the industrial design of an iMac or G4 cube running Microsoft software. It would be tremendously popular in the more image-conscious business environments.

    Taken from a purely business perspective, it would make a lot of sense for Apple to sell Windows boxes - they could come bundled with a lot of software to integrate them with Macs, for example, like AppleTalk networking.

    But this was never seriously considered for largely religious reasons. It was clear it would have caused an employee revolt.

    Michael D. Crawford
    GoingWare Inc

  • by SeanAhern ( 25764 ) on Saturday December 09, 2000 @12:33PM (#569847) Journal
    The article says that:
    The irony here is that Microsoft can wait until the money-losing Linux companies finally perfect their upstart open-source operating system. That would let Microsoft leverage -- some would say hijack -- every bit of the costly research and development done to date by the open-source software movement. Most Linux developers would probably be aghast at the notion that Microsoft will eventually be selling what they created.
    This shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the licenses which prohibit taking open source software and selling it as part of a commercial product. The license agreements simply don't allow this type of activity.

    If Microsoft decided to create its own distribution, Microsoft Linux, it would be forced to release it under the same license agreement that the Linux kernel is released under.

    Where they could start charging more is with their own applications and extensions that do not rely on open source code. In this case, they'd become just an application development house, not an OS vendor any more, at least from a financial point of view.

    That's fine, but that defeats the whole idea of the article. The point was that Microsoft could dominate the OS field by putting out their own distribution - simply not dominance that can happen.

  • If they used Linux as the base for a microkernel/macrokernel hybrid OS (kinda like NT), they could layer Win32 as a server on top of it. Its EXACTLY what Apple is doing with MacOS X. It's not like BSD is going to get any new software from the deal, and if MS put a Win32 server on top of Linux, it would just be a better Windows, nothing more.
  • by _|()|\| ( 159991 ) on Saturday December 09, 2000 @12:41PM (#569853)
    any versions of Office/IE/whatever that they make for linux will be dependent on their toolkit

    Hal's MS Linux scenario is absurd, so I won't spend time punching the straw man. Office, on the other hand, is an interesting scenario. With OLE/COM and VBA, Office integration has become a coveted logo for business apps. Red Hat's dominance, as demonstrated by proprietary applications supporting only Red Hat Linux, raises fears of one official Linux distribution. Likewise, KDE's adoption of the pseudo-free Qt raised fears that TrollTech would establish a toll booth on the Linux desktop (no flames please, I'm speaking in the past tense). Far more imposing would be a blitz by Office and supporting apps. like Visio to a proprietary Windows-on-Linux layer. Such a layer could quickly become popular by emphasizing performance at the expense of X's flexibility.

    The longer MSFT stalls, the less likely the scenario becomes. Reading about Bonobo and lightweight CORBA is just like reading about OLE five to ten years ago. Eventually, Linux will have a solid component architecture. In the meantime, MSFT has an opportunity to hedge its bets.

  • by grammar nazi ( 197303 ) on Saturday December 09, 2000 @12:42PM (#569854) Journal
    You hit the nail on the head, sheckard, about how Microsoft might distribute a version of Linux. I don't think, however, that it ever will.

    Many of the people posting to this story seem to be implying that MS is just plain evil and they will do anything in their power to close up open-source. That is plain and simply not true. MS in a large corporation that is in the business of making $$$$. Nothing more, nothing less. If MS begins to lose significiant market share to Linux, then the situation in the story may come true.

    Personally, I feel that the amount of market share lost to Linux in the desktop/server OS market will not be significant compared to the amount of potential market share to be gained in the areas of portable devices.

    Face it, the desktop OS has peaked in usefullness. Finally, computing is cheap enough to start putting the computers into stereos, phones, refridgerators... This will be the new market that MS tries to get a piece of. I would not be surprised if Linux does gain a significant portion of the desktop market. By then, MS would have their OS and apps running on everything else. The .net strategy isn't intended with only desktop systems in mind. They are going to use it to sync up your car,home, and portable stereos, or to sync up your refrigerator, bank account, and grocery store order....things like that.

  • by Petrophile ( 253809 ) on Saturday December 09, 2000 @01:13PM (#569857) Homepage
    So, let me get this: If Microsoft made a OS with a kernel kinda like WinNT's and a Win32 server kinda like WinNT's, they would be making something exactly like MacOS X? ... Just checking.

    The real reason this discussion is silly is that Microsoft has already made their bed -- when they chose not to build a Unix-deriviatve in the early 90s and instead chose hire a bunch of VMS engineers to design WinNT.

    Everyone here is babbling about MS Office, but the real issue is things like Exchange and SQL Server which are also considerable profit centers for Microsoft. Any attempt to get these to run on a Unix-dervative would either require a considerable rewrite, or a emulation layer - which is exactly what MS FUDs Oracle and IBM about for their WinNT software. Furthermore performance would go into the toliet, leaving open the question whether Unix is really "better" if you are an existing MS BackOffice customer. Would you dump millions of dollars and 8 years of development and tuning to switch from a VMS-clone kernel to a Unix-clone kernel? It's not like the Pointy Hairs would even notice.
  • by goingware ( 85213 ) on Saturday December 09, 2000 @03:30PM (#569860) Homepage
    Joing the ZooLib-Dev [] mailing list and also ask me questions [mailto].

    There's very little traffic on the list yet because almost all of the people on it have been using ZooLib for a long time and don't need to ask questions (or they mail each other directly) - it's only recently been released as open source but it was a proprietary API for a long time.

    But many of us are happy to answer questions, I know I am, and ZooLib author Andy Green is very helpful too. I try to field the questions as much as I can so he can concentrate on development of the library itself.

    API docs are coming, they will start as guides to the sample code, and additional sample code with Howto's on the various features. A proper detailed API reference will probably be a while in coming but it's pretty easy to get around the source code in an IDE or class browser or maybe you can run doxygen on it - one thing I mean to do is process it with doxygen and upload the pages and a tarball to the ZooLib website [].

    And even if you don't plan to go cross-platform, it is in fact a nice API. I find it lovely to use. It makes multithreading your apps much easier for example, gives you nice high-level C++ class interfaces to TCP networking. If you don't plan to be cross-platform at all, you can use ZooLib without any proprocessor guards and freely intermix windows and ZooLib code.

    Probably the hardest thing to figure out is the widget layout - the use of the ZPaneLocators. Widgets don't store their location in a member variable, whenever they need it they ask their pane locator where they are. Similarly buttons ask their pane locator for their highlight state.

    You're free to store these things in member variables of the pane locator but you can also calculate it at runtime, and a common thing to do is to say "He's just below this pane" or "He's to the right of that pane" and recurse until you hit the top-left corner.

    This makes adjustment for different text widths in localization or changing font size as a user preference automatic. If you change the width of the text in a button, just invalidate the window and everything will lay themselves out again.

    Michael D. Crawford
    GoingWare Inc

  • by daemonboy ( 250658 ) on Saturday December 09, 2000 @03:49PM (#569872)
    The only really funny thing about this post is that it is so true that nobody can really comment on it.
    And since they can't comment on it it will get much less /. mindshare than other garbage posts do. Ah well, that's the way of /.

    Every Linux user seems to think MS would use Linux, but they don't need to even deal with the GPL if they use code from the BSD's. Most would say that they already have borrowed from at least the Berkely TCP stack (finally)
    Is this the end of the world? No. If MS code is better we all benefit a little. Just think how much better at least US productivity would be if MS code wasn't so freeking buggy. If business apps didn't crash 10 times a day ...
  • Linux does not have the capability to replace Windows in it's current incarnation, and I can't imagine a way that it could change in the necesary direction.

    Any Linux distribution needs to have the proper geek toolset if they want any help from developers. That geek toolset is exactly what a consumer OS cannot abide. X Windows, for example. I wouldn't run Linux if I couldn't do remote windowing (overlapping, not like VNC), but I can't imagine any non geek would prefer that to the GDI accelerated Windows interface. No matter what pretty interface you put on top of it, it will be too unresponsive.

    So. If a Linux distro wants to slay Windows on the desktop, they might need to do something drastic like ditch X. And then they wouldn't get enough attention from the geeks they need to survive in the interim.
  • by Bongo ( 13261 ) on Saturday December 09, 2000 @01:28PM (#569874)

    The irony here is that Microsoft can wait until the money-losing Linux companies finally perfect their upstart open-source operating system. ... [and] hijack ... every bit of the costly research and development done ... by the open-source software movement.

    There's something that I find (all be it intuitively), odd about this line of reasoning. It's as if whatever MS does, they will succeed. If MS started selling cheese tomorrow, every other cheese maker on the planet is supposed to ceremoniously drown themselves in big vats of milk?

    No. Linux is a platform. Windows is a platform. Be is a... you get my drift. MS is not going to drop Windows and port everything to Linux. MS is Windows. MS is Office. MS has built a whole ecosystem of OS's & Apps and user base and image and market share and user attitude ("do it all the MS way"), that they cannot simply cut off a large part of their anatomy. Simply announcing a MS Linux distro would weaken their position.

    Witness the traditional way MS deals with competition, namely, 'Duplication': VBScript v. JavaScript, Direct3D v. OpenGL, Cool v. Java. etc. They don't challenge you on the playing field; they go off and build their own playing field, and charge you (the competitor) to get in!

    MS would not simply 'adopt' Linux, like some long lost child, who turns up on your door step a teenager, saying "hello daddy". MS could not be seen to be supporting and validating Linux. They would have to develop their own open source OS, and it wouldn't be called "linux", but "SourceX" or some such. They would start a big 'open' research project into the next generation global knowledge network or something. In short, they would try to take over the idea.

    Oh, but wait. A big company starts an open source project... that's like, Darwin, or Mozilla ... and Darwin's innards were mostly open before Apple got it's hands on it anyway...

    I think what we're seeing is that this idea of openness, propagation by usefulness, freedom to adapt, is more integrative and encompassing than what a single company could "suck up" and decimate in it's corporate vacuum cleaner. But I don't think we're going to see 'human freedom' transformed or anything like that,* but I do think that those who sought power and control via software, are going to have to go elsewhere for their kicks.

    * IIRC, the Church was real upset when the Bible became something that could be printed and widely circulated. The 'Word of God' was now something people could read for themselves, rather than have to ask a priest. Anyhow, the Church adapted and kept some power by other means

An elephant is a mouse with an operating system.