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Ballmer Claims Linux Is Top Threat To MS 500

Greyfox writes: "According to Techweb, Steve Ballmer now claims that Linux is one of the top threats to Microsoft going in to 2001. This up from his previous accounts of Linux as being nothing more than a toy etc. Expect to really see the FUD start flying now. As IBM found with OS/2, once MS percieves you as a threat, they attack like a rabid pit bull. I expect we'll see a lot more negative Linux press on zdnet, reporters paid to laud Windows and slam UNIX, fake grass roots movements, and all the other favorite MS tricks." Well, I'm not that quite that paranoid, but I'll be keping my eyes open
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Ballmer Claims Linux is Top Threat to MS

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  • The only way Microsoft can threaten Linux is to put out a product so great that people will be willing to pay for it rather than get something free.

    Although I admire the insight you show in your post, I disagree with this statement, because Microsoft has already demonstrated another way: they can coerce people into buying their product, by bundling it, and by using their market dominance to interfere with the establishment of competitive products, mostly using old Railroad Trust trick of creating gratuitous incompatibilities every now and then for no reason than to make competitors update and users upgrade. The Ralroad Trust, by the way, was the primary target of America's first antrtrust legislation.

    Although I hate words like this, what Windows and Office have on the desktop is synergy. The business market could give a damn what OS is on the desktop, so long as supports Office, which, although it runs on two platforms, only guarantees interoperability among instances running on (surprise!) Windows. MS didn't kill OS/2 with its Windows juggernaut; it killed it by withdrawing Office support.

    So as long as MS can say "if you want one, you gotta have the other," it's going to continue to sell both.

    Fortunately for us, the server side of the equation is dominated by pragmatists who--although we usually do have passion for our favorite products--insist on solutions that work, reliably by necessity and cheaply by preference.

    So we're safe, for now. But remember that MS has quitely taken over the Web browser market, and now that there's only one meaningful browser to access the web, they can start making sure said brower interacts better with one type of server, such as IIS on Win2k, than another, such as Apache or Netscape on anything. When this happens, the surviving e-commerce sites will ask a very pragmatic question: whether they want to give everyone in the world unreliable, half-assed access to their site, or give ninety percent of the world excellent service. When they choose option two, we will have lost the server market as well.


  • MS used to have their own UNIX. After they sold the rights to, a term of the contract was that they never produce another version of UNIX.
    What? Like they couldn't buy back SCO? (that and the rumors that they already voided the 'never make another *nix' stupulation).
  • by hawk ( 1151 ) <> on Thursday January 11, 2001 @06:20AM (#515355) Journal
    Ahh, but did you catch the part where her foot freezes in midair, and the techs had to come out and re-boot her?

    /me ducks, but doesn't apoligize for the pun
  • Any idiot can see that. What else IS? On the desktop any encroachment on something you completely own is a threat. If MS only had 40% of the desktop market then Lunix would be just another desktop scrabbling for scraps. When they have almost 100% then its an encroachment on their personal kingdom. What about the LAN space? IBM Lambserver? Novell? Ack. Midrange? Other than the usual gang of suspects nothing else new here besides Lunix. What did you expect them to say? That they plan to dedicate the focus of the company to unseat high end IBM SP's and z/OS mainframes? So of course they're going to go after the server space. Its where they are popular and vulnerable at the same time.
  • Linux is ready for the Desktop

    Just as Microsoft is declaring the Server is key and the Desktop is Dead. M$ knows that PC sales are now slumping, and that's a hit into their bread and butter (Windows upgrades, plus the bundled Office kits from OEMs). As Cringley wrote, nobody NEEDS 1ghtz when your 28.8 connection (the best most people get out of a 56K modem) is your number one bottleneck.

    Keep in mind the #1 problem with Linux is what many consider the #1 advantage of Linux : anything you can build and run on Linux can be moved somewhere else and run just as well. Heck, I just installed on a win98 laptop the NuSphere kit of MySQL, Apache, PHP4, Perl5. I've already had emacs, cygwin, mp3 encoders and players, and the jdk, and so the only missing piece now is mozilla and my win98 laptop has all the same software i regularly use on my Dell RedHat box. Linux may have built and/or popularized all that software, but Linux is not necessary to run it.

    THAT's what M$ is going to point out. That's the FUD they're gonna use, and its gonna hurt, 'cause its true. Open Standards made Linux, but Open Standards also make Linux irrelevant.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    "I expect we'll see a lot more negative Linux press on zdnet, reporters paid to laud Windows and slam UNIX, fake grass roots movements, and all the other favorite MS tricks. Well, I'm not that quite that paranoid, but I'll be keping my eyes open" Here are a couple of links to MS doing all of the aforementioned in their anti-trust case by a PR Watcher. l
  • by bfree ( 113420 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2001 @02:30PM (#515366)

    A huge percentage of companies have an IT stategy as follows:

    • IT staff are expected to deal with the systems not suggest/develop
    • Management staff talk to all sorts of people and make a decision whenever they think they might be smart
    Now in this case, MS will never win the managers because they don't have a clue. What they do know is that they are always told the XXX is down because the NT/2000 server is "just being rebooted, back in a mo" AND that they love the B.S.O.D. How many decisions have you seen made in a company to change YYY because of as badly formed reasons as the above...MANY in my case.

    If the company has an I.T. staff that actually have some power, then how long before someone brings in a GNU box just to serve ZZZ purpose, and how long before it's strengths in the single sphere push it out to take care of everything it should?

    MS may have a monstrous market share, but I do not believe for a moment it is loyal. If Sony relased a consumer product tomorrow running Linux with a windows alike UI (hack up a "complete" windows desktop) and one of the methods (working properly of course) to run win32 programs do you think anyone would be dismissing it because it didn't run MS Windows (or even how many people would pay an extra $100 on purchase to get said MS Windows)?

  • Oh yes, if Linux goes on like this (with even flames betweeen users about which distro is better), the Linux community will stagger to an end.

    But no, that's not what is going to happen. Linux will adapt, probably distros will become unusable because they are "too far off".

    Another probability is a shift in /which/ opensource software is going to be used. It's not only Linux under the horizon you know? We still have the BSD's and an C++ alike implementation of the Linux kernel (forgot the name, never used it).

    You say users need easier installations, but /what/ needs to be different? I recall clueless people installing MSDOS (which involved just as much trouble as earlier Linux distros) pretty easily.

    Yep, people are lazy, people don't want to read the documentation anymore and people don't listen to advices.

    I can recall a Redhat 7.0 installation for a demonstration computer at a bookstore I worked for last year. It was so enourmously simple! Nobody can confince me that a kid can't do the installation.

    But it's not only the installation. An even bigger part of a system is the maintenance. Every system needs it and you can't walk away not doing it. And that's were things are going wrong, because Linux is still based on the Unix prinicple: maintenance by commandline. And yes, there are tons of handy configer tools which allow you to do the stuff the easy way, but they allow you to bugger the system for around 50%. The power still lies in the shell for the other 50%, and that's were new users are getting stuck. Given the fact that most "users" in contrary with geeks, don't read the documentation.

    Just my 5c
  • This is sort of an open-ended question, but:

    What is Microsoft's #1 priority?

    I've been wondering about this lately. Eight years back it was multimedia; Five years back it was all things Internet. What is their goal now? (Based upon their recent actions, not their PR propaganda.)

  • Microsoft is known for a wonderfully innovative product that no one else ever thought of! MS Bob! It was so user friendly, it would offer to change the password for you if you got it wrong 3 times when trying to log in...

    Ok, I'll stop now...

  • by AME ( 49105 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2001 @03:31PM (#515370) Homepage
    M$Linux won't make any money for Microsoft... So there's no motivation to do it.

    Right. Just like they didn't make any money from Internet Explorer, and so didn't have any motivation to do it.


  • Oh come on now.. how many people do you know that fit into the categories of both "home user" and "I actually paid for my copy of Windows"?

    If you bought a computer with Windows installed the licensing fees were part of the price of the computer. Since most users will never install an OS, that means most of them paid for their copies of Windows.

  • It doesn't really matter. Sure, what they say is (generally) not true, but for every 1 false, misleading, or misdirecting denouncement of Linux that Microsoft has, there's 3 well-thought out rebuttals and 200 "MS sux0r!"s. Linux might not get the play and spin it deserves in the old guard of computer magazines. That sucks, but attacking them with words isn't going to win that battle. Linux-specific or Linux-inclusive publications are going the right way: attack the economy of the matter. If there's a large enough market for Linux information, business will try to assimilate, rather than lose customers. There are, already, a lot of other media sources that report Linux information. The newspapers manage to be remarkably inclusive in this department. Of course, traditional media is often clueless (I once heard a CNN reporter say, verbatim, that there were a lot of displays related to "Linux, a popular programming language." People might disagree over the definitions of kernels/OS/distribution [IMHO, GNU/Debian Linux is more logical than Debian GNU/Linux] -- but I think everyone agrees that Linux is not a programming language), but that's acceptable. All we really need is the interest and the people still interested in truth and positive advocacy.

    Forget Microsoft. Linux is better worrying about Linux than it is about Microsoft. With how outraged people get over Microsoft's FUD, I wouldn't be surprised to find a multiverse-esque Microsoftian Slashdot somewhere and a bunch of people talking about how the Linux nut cases are scared to death of Microsoft. Then again, there is ZDnet.

  • how about no. How bout not enforcing any common structure, but have a standard. if a program requires some more complicated configuration files it can do that...
    That's the same thinking that led to the current /etc problem ;) The trick is to have a common structure, but make that structure flexible enough that all programs can adapt to it. Even then, there will be the occasional (very rare and low volume, certianly no desktop ones) that need more complex config files, but they can always keep a custom text file in their own directory. Sendmail is the kind of thing you set up once, on a sever that stays locked in the closet. If it can't adopt to the system structure, then nothing is really lost by keeping its configuration seperate. The problem is that when you *don't* enforce a standard structure, app developers just find it easier to store config files their own way, when they don't have to.
  • I know you are looking for flame, or you are actually a Linux supporter attracting flames in windows. Anyway, I fell into it.
    No flames, just honest critism. Like I said, I don't dislike Linux, I just have exceptions with some aspects of it.

    If only NVIDIA would release its specifictions to linux community. After their hand-in-hand cooperation with M$ in XBox, I doubt NVIDIA would ever think of supporting Linux community in the future.
    I doubt it. History has shown that NVIDIA can drag MS around by the balls. Ever wonder why DirectX8 bears such a striking resemblance to NVIDIA hardware? There is nothing to indicate that NVIDIA will be the bitch in the MS-NV relationship.

    Now that 3dfx is bought by NVIDIA....there goes voodoo*. Nevertheless, it's not Linux to be blamed, it's the attitude of those 3d chips vendors.
    Wrong on both counts. It is entirely the fault of 3DFx for making crappy products.

    You can't deny the fact how quick Linux is be able to catch up with the performance without their
    Which is why exactly 1 OSS driver is faster than the closed counterpart? (Some of Matrox's OSS drivers were faster because the closed versions had major OpenGL problems.)

    B) Linux's stability won't play much of a part in this. Win2K is very stable
    Win2k is stable? I bet you haven't been trying to upgrade the hardware in a Win2K box. All I got is
    INACCESSIBLE_DEVICE_ERROR blue screen. Come on! I didn't even touch the disk! Just upgrade a damn CPU! It
    happened in old NT, which resolved this problem long time ago, now they bring it back. Well done!
    Then something is wrong with your machine. There is term in psychology (forget it offhand, its either a fallacy or the false concensus effect) that describes the overgeneralization of the characteristics of one example of a group to the whole group. This thinking is very dangerous because one's personal experiences are more or less irrelevant. I've had bad experiences with Win2K myself, particularly with relation to random crashes in OpenGL apps. However, the overall concensus (on ZDNet, Slashdot, and in other media organizations) is that Win2K is quite stable, and this idea seems to bear out in reviews of the product. So both you and I are going to have to chalk up our bad Win2K experiences to random chance and the wrong hardware. BTW> I've had consistantly bad experiences with Suse. I don't go around saying Suse sucks, because its most likely just a problem particular to my config.

    1) Confusing configuration. Get rid of /etc and replace it with something sane.
    Like scattering configuration files across all the disks is sane?
    Who said Windows did it the sane way? Take a look at Darwin and see how they do it. Now that's a good config structure.

    2) Stupid directory structure. My dad...
    I don't want to be rude, but I just could point it out, that, the directory structure, which has been around for 30 years, is not
    stupid, your Dad....
    I use my dad as an average user. You're going to have to get over this elitist mentality that many computer-literate people seem to have. Its the same self-superiority trait that makes (many) New Yorkers, Washingtonions (I'm from the area BTW), artists, drama and movie people, musicians, and philosophers such snots. Anway, UNIX is perfect because it has been around for 30 years? The fact that UNIX has been around for 30 years shows that it is good, not perfect. The directory structure is asnine for a desktop user. There's just no getting around that. The fact that Microsoft, Apple, Be, and countless others all have cleaner, simpler structures can attest to the fact that random directory structure was one of the mistakes that *NIX made.

    You know how to read a manual? A lot of people like you think a system is hard when it doesn't have a GUI.
    GUI? I'm programming my own OS and I'll be happy when I have a debugger! Anway, I can, and have read manuals. They are poorly written, full of crappy grammer, and confusing, but most of the time they work. However, there is no way in hell I'd expect a normal person to understand (or much less care) about them.

    Say, configure a Apache from default installation to release to public with adaquate security only take me 5 minutes. You know how?
    How? I've never configured Apache. Although, I've configured BeOS's PoorMan server, and that takes 30 seconds. Besides, we're talking desktop here, remember?

    I'm sure it helps if you use win2k more often. I'm a NT/2K admin, currently in hell.
    Don't even have 2K installed at the moment. (Or Linux for that matter.) I hosed my filesystem and have been using BeOS for the last three months. That's probably why I can't bear to use Linux. Not because Lin$ux $ux, but because I find it simply too messy for my taste, and BeOS does what I need to do, and faster.
  • A) Who said Win2K had a good directory structure? I like BeOS's, but Win9X's is nice too. There are only 3 directories on a clean install, "My Documents," "Program Files," and "Windows." The first is your's to do with as you please, the second is logicall organized by application, and the third is crappy, but you rarely need to go there anyway.

    B) Linux takes up just as much memory on my machine as does Win2K. Of course, I'm (was) running GNOME, KDE 2, and the full host of libraries, but only because I need good app compatibility. Don't even get me started on how pointless it is for GNOME and KDE's libraries to be incompatible (and thus memory wasting.)
  • Ummmm, there's no problem there. Binary only software for Linux is absolutely not an issue, unless they want to make proprietary kernel modifications, and then Linus has deemed that it's cool, as long as it's a kernel module. There's absolutely nothing stopping them, other than a resistance to eat crow.

    "Don't trolls get tired?"
  • by smartin ( 942 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2001 @03:34PM (#515393)
    Don't under estimate their power and cleverness. Take for example a certain competator that decided to port their office suite to Linux and contribute heavily to the Wine project. While it may be debatable whether Corel has made a big difference in the Linux world, the M$ response is clear. Send some big bucks their way, show them a possible alternative (and windows friendly) way of surviving. What happens? Corel drops Linux. Look for more of the same in other places. Microsoft has the cash and the balls to do what every they can think of to strangle a competetor and Linux is the biggest threat they have ever faced.
  • Is MS going to give it's OS for free? I doubt it, they want our money.

    Are they going to open up all it's API's? I doubt it, they want to make deals with favourable 3rd party ISV's. The DOJ ruling against them says they should open up it's API's so let's wait and see.

    Are they going to try hard to maintain backward compatibility? I don't think so. 3rd party ISV's love the idea that their software will become obsolete on an old version of windows so that their customer must upgrade to maintain compatibility. Can anyone say "winfax Pro 10"? This is also the case with hardware drivers.

    So what will it be?
  • by Snoobs ( 43421 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2001 @01:49PM (#515397)
    I'm sure that we will all be able to use Linux whether M$ percieves it as a threat or not. There is nothing that M$ can do to stop Linux. They can't buy it and make it go away. Tough shit M$.
  • Certainly this is a PR move, but there is truth in it. As you pointed out, "98% of home users who have Windows aren't going to go anywhere soon." However, the server market is what MS is truly worried about. Corporate sales, client access licenses and such are what really bring in cash for MS. The desktop is not their top priority and this is why Linux has become a huge threat.

    If Linux becomes a viable desktop easy enough for grandma to use, then MS will be in trouble. For now, MS is making some blunderous decisions that may push some users away from their products. Whistler, the next release of windows, will have anti-piracy tools built in to the OS allowing the OS only to be installed on one machine. Check here [] for more info. Combine this with the rising cost of client access licenses and you'll see that it is MS that is driving themselves into the ground
  • Paid praise for one side versus the other... Sounds like Election 2000 all over again. Let's just not leave to Florida to decide who has the better OS. ;-)
  • Then Microsoft will produce lots of documentation "proving" to managers that Linux is much more costly to run. I totally agree. The major challenge here is to the companies using Linux based servers and workstations to produce reports as to how much money they are saving by NOT using M$ applications/OS's. Hopefully, some of them will produce docs saying so and give real figures. Third party data is usually much better than first person (or company) propoganda if done correctly. The downside of third party 'testimonial' data is that there is no incentive for a corporation to produce it. M$, who has a huge marketing department (and a huge piggy bank) to produce and distribute thier spiel is counting on complacency on the behalf of these companies.There probably won't be much data in managers hands supporting Linux compared to all the nice, expensive, colorful, glossy booklets M$ sends them.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    just the standard "look, we really have competition, so don't break us up" Microsoft disinformation campaign.

    Sure, Linux is a competitor, but it's not Microsoft's #1 priority.

  • M$© With the way that they are closing the doors on windows it will be a wonder who will want to use it© They are coming up with anti piracy software in their new OS, and what is next©

    Hmm whats's next? You can install the software once, but if your HD crashes you must buy a new copy© No not yet, but I am sure they are going to try this©

    Software 'rental'© That is what ©net really is© You don't own the software you rent the use of the software, and they charge you by the month© Sure you may always have the latest and 'greatest', but is it really what you want? What about if they introduce file format incompatiblities? You also may end up with their latest beta, or as they call it a realease©

    Lets see, what else, could they do© I am sure they could do other things, but I think that they are most likely to hurt themselves© Oh, now I remember, they are doing that thing where you can only install software that is okayed by M$© Gee IF they do this all those developers may have a tough time©

    I don't want a lot, I just want it all!
    Flame away, I have a hose!

  • Get rid of /etc and replace it with something sane.
    After trying several distributions (among them SuSe, with their rc.config madness), I was so glad when I
    finally found Debian, with all of the configuration files still in /etc, at the exact location that the HOWTOs and the documentation of the individual programs tell you. /etc can be pretty sane, and it's actually a lot more sane than the registry.
    Why does everyone think in terms of the registry? The registry is a piece of junk and always will be. Take a cue from MacOS X to see how things should be done. As for Debian, it sounds nice, but the fact that the layout matches the one in the HOWTOs does't make the layout any better.

    You find the directory structure stupid. It's so complicated that your dad can't install programs. Well, tell him to look for what he needs on and then have him type "apt-get install packagename".
    True. And I really don't think that sequence would be a problem for anyone. I'm pretty sure the 20-something computer elite don't know it, but these older "illiterate" users DID use *NIX terminals back in tha day...

    After that, the docs are in /usr/doc/packagename.
    That sounds great. If only /usr/local/doc weren't there...

    And if you want, "dpkg -L packagename" tells you
    what was installed and where.
    That sounds stupid. I'm a hands-on type person. I like the previous example better.

    Try that with Windows.
    Don't have to. Everything is nicely organized in c:\program files. Though the doc thing is nice.

    And if you want to compile everything yourself, have
    a look at GNU stow, which helps you to keep the different programs separated so you can easily uninstall/
    upgrade them without leaving files of the last few versions lying around. You don't need to know where to
    put every single file, that's make install's job.
    Hiding complexity behind limited interface is the first mistake of UI building.

    I can't see how one can tolerate the windows\system32
    directory "structure" and be confused by a Unix directory tree.
    I can't tolerate the windows\system32 structure. That's why I use BeOS...

    Oh, nice that you mentioned how all UNIX console apps work together in a nice harmony of streams and
    pipes. This is the very reason I feel more comfortable with Unix when doing real work.
    Or BeOS ;) However, I have found the *NIX text "zen" to be one of the best things about it. Like I said, I don't hate Linux (and therefore UNIX). I just can't stand some of its more inane details.

    In this thread, and in pretty much every Linux-related article in the press, there is far too much emphasis on how hard Linux is to install or configure. But there are actually people who install once and work with their machine for years.
    And for my style of work, a few shell windows and Emacs are the best I have found so far. And yes, I did work
    with DevStudio on Windows, and did not totally fall in love with it.
    I've tried VI (and still use it whenever I don't feel like opening up BeIDE) but I have fallen in love with DevStudio. It is just so damn handy. (Well, as long as you stay away from the wizards and crap.)

    If you can't stand to use Linux, you're not really required to like it. Perhaps it would make more sense just to like Linux' development model or the always helpful and well-informed slashdot crowd instead.
    I *do* like Linux. I just can't stand to use it. Some of its details are what you could call "deal-breakers" for me (and many other people, or I would presume so...)
  • Considering that the file is XF86Config, and the command is ifconfig (ipconfig is for Windows NT 4.0), my guess is you don't have much experience in Linux
    Sorry, typo's. I've not only had a lot of experience with Linux, but I've compile XFree86 half a dozen times from source, used at least one version of every distro under the sun, and went through the painful libc5 -> glibc transition with good old Slackware 3.5
  • Actually, with the NVIDIA driver (they're the only ones that have even remotely close performance to their windows counterparts) the situation is reversed. XFree86 doesn't support page-flipping (with good reason according to Carmack) so as resolutions get higher, the memory bandwidth strain of having to blit the frame buffer starts adding up. However, even at low resolutions, performance is lower than it should be, so the page flipping issue is not entirely to blame. Either way, Linux should be *much faster* than the Win2K!

    Well from what I saw the difference beteen Windows vs. Linux was pronounced at low resolutions but the difference at high resolutions gets less and less as the resolutions get higher,
    until it's hardly even noticeable. This was based on Quake3A benchmarks.
    That's even worse! That means that Linux does a fine job crunching the geometry code, but can't handle sending data to the graphics card quickly enough. That means the disply system is f*cked. (Though with XFree86, I wouldn't be surprised if this was the case ;)
  • Make the system cohesive. Get back to the UNIX roots. You know how UNIX treats *everything* as a file?
    From a programmer's point of view, I agree with you (check out Plan9 from Bell Labs sometime, you'll probably like it). But from a user's point of view, that is irrellavant.
    Not really. A clean, consistant API breeds clean, consistant software.

    PS> As for the config files, who *said* they had to be scattered binary files? I just said they should be more structured. If there was one standard for config files, and one GUI tool that could handle that standard (preferably displaying embedded comments) then Linux configuration would be a cinch. As many people have pointed out, OSX does just this.
  • Because people have hard enough of a time getting past the "be" in my username, and even in topics where I *don't* mention BeOS, they think I'm comparing it to Linux. I'm really not in the mood to defend BeOS against a bunch of Linux weenies.

    PS> Not all Linux users are weenies, just the anti-BeOS ones ;)
  • Given how long GUI's had been aruond pre-apple, and how much experimentation/research with various GUI's, then why did it take until Apple to come up with something as "obvious" as pull-down menus?

    Xerox had a commercial product. (Dorado, I think.) There was SmallTalk which had a GUI. So there's at least two non-research, actual production GUI's that were around for awhile.

    Programs at the time would have "commands". The genius of the pull down menus, and menubar, is that you can hide dozens or hundreds of commands without taking any screen real-estate, except for a tiny ribbon of menu bar at the top of the screen. Yet the commands are instantly accessible (literally, if you have shortcut keys), and they "seem" like they're always there, even though technically they aren't drawn until requested by the user. It's a perfect example of what Apple UI Guidelines called a "spring-loaded" mode. Software had had modes for years. You go into "help" mode to see what commadnds are available. Execute a command. Escape from that mode back into the mode you were in.

    Pull down menus were an innovative invention.

    OneClick is obvious because if Amazon hadn't done it, someone would have in the same time frame.

    I believe there were some "pop-up" menus about the same time as Apple's pull-down menus. That is, you right-click on the exposed part of the desktop for a global menu. No other menus. No context-sensitive menus, etc. But the menu bar and pull-downs are a lot more intuitive because you can see the menubar on the screen. It is not assumed that you just have to "know" to right-click, and only on the exposed part of the desktop.

    Another thing about Apple's menubar at the top of the screen, vs. Microsoft's menubar on each window is that the top and corners of the screen are "infinitely deep". You can just *ram* your mouse to the top of the screen without any overshoot. Then just click. (And the pointer's collision with the top of screen doesn't hurt anything, cause any damage, or wear and tear.) It's sad that so many "modern" GUI's seem to have un-learned this.

    Pull down menus only seem obvious in hindsight. (Although I would be pissed if Apple tried to stop others from having pull down menus.)
  • by cje ( 33931 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2001 @05:16PM (#515419) Homepage
    1) Support tons of peripherals that Linux doesn't

    Non-issue. Linux supports all of the peripherals that I've got, and it supports them quite well. Obviously, if a hardware company is closely partnered with Microsoft, Windows is going to support new devices before Linux does. But for the 99% of Linux users who aren't living life on the bleeding edge of technology, it doesn't matter one bit if a driver for such-and-such device isn't available for Linux until next month. If it's popular, there will be Linux support for it, whether Bill likes it or not. Tough titty, as the kitty is reputed to have said.

    2) Have a nice standard, easy to use and intuitive GUI

    This is only an issue if your definition of "nice, standard, easy to use and intuitive GUI" is "the GUI that Microsoft uses with Windows." If this is the case, by all means, stick with Windows. There are plenty of window managers and desktop environments for Linux (and Unix in general) for people to choose from. To suggest that these are all "non-intuitive" because they're not the one you used in Keyboarding 101 is fallacious.

    3) Using MS means you never have to hear stupid arguments about licenses or asinine definitions of "free"

    Ditto for Linux. If you want to partake in these arguments, read Slashdot. Incidentally, the only time that I've ever been presented with intrusive dialog boxes threatening me to read the license "or else" and either click on Accept or Reject was for Windows applications. No OSS application I've ever downloaded and built has required me to quibble over terminology or sign my life away.

    4) Plus it will be a cold day in hell before you have Office for Linux anyway...

    Who cares? Not everybody does "office-type" tasks with their machines. And those who want to do such things under Linux have plenty of tools to choose from, many of which can read and write the "standard" office formats. But in the end, this is like your GUI issue .. if your definition of a "true OS" is "an OS that can run Microsoft Office", then by all means, stick with Windows. Microsoft needs your support. And keep those checks coming! :-)
  • M$ owns apple? i didn't know M$ made photoshop, director, flash, icab, bryce, fireworks blah blah
  • Sure, all you have to do is look at the history of Microsoft. Now, it is not uncommon for a company to simply buy up a competitor and make them more powerful by integrating that companies products into their own but Microsoft has a history of buying into/outright companies and then taking what they can integrate into Windows and cancelling the rest.

    Which brings up an interesting question.....Are there any products in Microsofts line up that are home grown (other than Bob and that paperclip?) I mean NT was purchased along with its development team, Windows conceptually was ripped off from the Mac, the basis of Internet Explorer was bought off of Blue Sky software or something like that, Excel was first ripped off of Visicalc and then bought etc, etc, etc. DOS was not even a Microsoft product initially, right? As I recall it was purchased off some guy in Seattle. Oh well I could go on here for some time, so.....

    Back to my argument: Recently Corel was one of several companies that Microsoft has purchased "or invested in", only to pillage what they want and put other products for competing OS's into the unknown. Remember Bungie? They started out as a Mac company doing Pathways into Darkness and Marathon, going on to Marathon Sequels and the Myth series. More recently they started development of Oni, and the game that I wanted most, Halo. Development was planned for Windows, MacOS, and Linux if I am not mistaken. However, Microsoft saw Halo as an ideal seller for the X-box and they bought Bungie. I have been told that the MacOS development is still being considered but the priority is X-box and Windows. My guess is that the Linux version will never come to fruition. This is where the DOJ's case could have gotten a-lot of steam right? How many products have dissapeared from consumers hands as a result of Microsofts dominance? Only recently, if Apple did not catch Microsoft red handed co-opting proprietary code, Quicktime probably would have bitten the dust, as Microsoft was attempting to blackmail Apple into dumping development of Quicktime. Quicktime by the way has every possibility of developing into its own OS for media distribution and I believe Microsoft knows this and it scares the hell out of them.

    Anyhow, enough ranting in this post.
  • In my own time I run a number of servers for other people.

    The number of times that a problem with the server is mentioned to me, along with the suggestion of "Why don't you just reboot it?" is scary.

    That is part of the MS mind set. If it doesn't work, reboot.

    I would rather that we found the cause of the problem, and then fixed it. It will stop it recurring, and... it may not require a reboot.

    On our Sun boxes here, there is only one problem that is fixed with a reboot. Oracle has problems when it's been up around 130 days due to some internal counter. Solution, Reboot...

    Here various products are used because they provide X or Y. We use exchange, not because it's any good, but because of the scheduling stuff. I would rather use a real mail program, but that is not acceptable as people can't then add appointments to my calendar...

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not against Linux. I just know what the arguments against using it that are brought up here are. I like Linux, I use Linux...

    But I work with a bunch of people, some of whom don't know anything about software development. They don't want to be able to read the source code, they want to be able to ask someone else why did your application/os/driver/hardware do THIS?

    These arguments are universally applicable and LinuxCare is a partial solution... If they were willing to go one step further and provide patches then I wouldn't worry. At least with MS the managers know if this fails because of a problem with the stuff Microsoft provided, then we can go ask microsoft to fix it.


  • Nice troll!

    Open Source is the ultimate in capitalism and competition. It says, in effect, that the product that competitors are selling isn't worth as much as those competitors claim, and backs it up by providing an open source equivalent, which gives customers benefits that they can't get from closed source and typically saves them money too.

    Otherwise, you may as well accuse Microsoft of being communist, for giving away IE and IIS.

    The communist argument is a kind of poison pill which people put out as deterrent flamebait. The truth is, we've always shared information in various ways. Academia is one big area in which information sharing is very successful. Being a successful competitor doesn't necessarily mean keeping everything you know secret. It may make more sense to share certain information, in exchange for other information from other people.

    Open source is exactly like that. It represents a shared knowledge that the global community has about software, an interchange of ideas, and a pool that people can draw on and contribute to in order to further all our interests. It doesn't make sense to claim that this amazing resource shouldn't exist, just because it superficially can be argued to have a slight resemblance to a widely-disliked political ideology.

    As for who pays the developer, the answer is, commercial companies. It's happening every day. If you think about what I've said above, you might start to realize when and how it could be in a company's interest to pay developers to work on open source software. As awareness of these issues is raised, I expect many more companies to do this, and we've been seeing this trend in action recently. An important point to remember is that not all companies are software companies (not yet anyway!)

  • 4) Plus it will be a cold day in hell before you have Office for Linux anyway...

    You are right.
    Linux will never run Microsoft Office []. It is stupid to think that Linux and X could ever run Microsoft Office [].

    I must have been out of my mind to even THINK of running Microsoft Office in Linux [].

    Thanks for setting me straight. Now everyone knows how it is impossible to do this.

  • A huge percentage of companies have an IT stategy as follows:

    • IT staff are expected to deal with the systems not suggest/develop
    • Management staff talk to all sorts of people and make a decision whenever they think they might be smart

    In my experience, this is true far more often than it should be. Most larger companies that I've done work for have an IT department which I can describe only as "castrated", and they are basically forced to implement whatever the rest of the company wants. The opposite of that, which I've also seen, is the BOFH IT department which implements "solutions" without consulting the hapless users who will be forced to take it or leave it.

    There has to be a middle ground where IT makes good choices based on user feedback and suggestions. There's a missing dialog.

    MS may have a monstrous market share, but I do not believe for a moment it is loyal. If Sony relased a consumer product tomorrow running Linux with a windows alike UI (hack up a "complete" windows desktop) and one of the methods (working properly of course) to run win32 programs do you think anyone would be dismissing it because it didn't run MS Windows (or even how many people would pay an extra $100 on purchase to get said MS Windows)?

    Windows adds $50-$75 to the purchase price of a new PC. To create an OS to compete with it, you're going to have to be able to match that price point. The idea that you'll be able to beat it by $100 is absurd (unless your company pays Dell to put your OS on their machines). The idea that you'll be able to match it after doing a ton of custom development is questionable. MS just has a hell of a head start, and a firmly entrenched distribution system, and the VAR price for their OS (98/ME) is (cough cough) reasonable.

    I do believe that licensing issues are going to take on a stronger role in the purchase decisions, particularly with the "anti-piracy" "features" of Whistler. I also believe that'll invoke a lawsuit (might do it myself) which will ultimately force MS to quit licensing per-machine. The bottom line is, though, that corporate clients are already growing weary of MS's licensing tactics, and that's one area where Linux is kicking their ass (as well as the collective ass of proprietary Unix).

    Sometimes I think that's what really has Ballmer awake at night.


  • Now that _really_ sounds interesting.... but guess which shell it'll being running?

  • Hehe, that's funny.

    Did anyone else notice how Ballmer refered to the 'Unix phenomenon '?

    If we look at Merrium Webster []'s definition of phenomenon:
    2. a : an object or aspect known through the senses rather than by thought or intuition
    b : a temporal or spatiotemporal object of sensory experience as distinguished from a noumenon
    c : a fact or event of scientific interest susceptible of scientific description and explanation
    3. a : a rare or significant fact or event b plural phenomenons : an exceptional, unusual, or abnormal person, thing, or occurrence usage see PHENOMENA

    Unix doesn't fit into any of these categories! Perhaps he should have said 'Unix foundation' because when you have a 35 year old server operating system, it seems pretty damn intuitive that it would be competition to a 5 year old Windows NT. There is nothing unusual or unscientific about that.

  • But Linus has never claimed to be innovative, unlike the evil empire.
  • by lunatik17 ( 91135 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2001 @03:58PM (#515465) Homepage
    1) Support tons of peripherals that Linux doesn't

    They already do and despite that fact Linux is still their enemy #1.

    2) Have a nice standard, easy to use and intuitive GUI

    Their GUI is already standard across Windows, but if MS were to create a Linux distribution, there is no way they could possibly preclude the installation of X and the window manager of your choice. So, moving to Linux would be a step backwards in homogeny for them.

    3) Using MS means you never have to hear stupid arguments about licenses or asinine definitions of "free"

    ...and instead means you never get the choice to argue about licenses and must put up with their terms or else, and "free" means free of cost, minus any actual freedom.

    4) Plus it will be a cold day in hell before you have Office for Linux anyway...

    Heh, is that supposed to make me quake in fear? :) They can have thier office suite. It won't be long at all before an open office suite matures to the point of useability and starts to really compete with them. Personally, I think Word is the most annoying word processor I've ever used.

  • I agree. I bet if we looked at the server logs for /., we would see a whole bunch of MS Explorer (no, it is not a swear word) hits.
    Linux is a great OS. But not many people understand it. Many graphics programs and software interfaces for Linux suck. Everyday I come into my lab and look at the KDE desktop on my server. Man, do I get the chills. Then I look at the Windows machine next to my server. It looks OK, but then I try writing some code in VB and I quickly run back to vi.

    You cannot bash one OS and exalt another, because most people DEPEND ON BOTH.

    I support Linux because of the things it does. I admire my server for not crashing as often as the other computers. I hope it gets better with time. I don't like MS not for the OS they produce, but for their corporate tactics, their stranglehold on the industry, and their poor service support.

    Which OS/company/ideology will I use? Both. Maybe a bit more of Linux, just because I like the fact that most other people who want to use my computer at work quickly move away because they don't know how to access Netscape on the desktop... But that's about it.

  • Especially obvious given that in the article at the bottom of the page they talk about AOL being their biggest consumer competitor. How many "biggest competitors" can one software company have? See the AOL article [].

  • by Kiwi ( 5214 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2001 @02:57PM (#515468) Homepage Journal
    The agreement Micorosft made to never make a version of UNIX was declared "Null and Void" back in 1997-1998. It even was a Slashdot story.

    - Sam

  • Alas, the lessons of the political season are so soon forgotten!

    Did it not occur to you that Ballmer's words are directed towards an audience in the government, courts, the press, congress and the new administration to support their earlier claim that Linux is a real competitor and that their so-called monopoly was precariously in danger of being overturned by the rapid changes in the IT field? (You know - the changes in IT - the ones that result from MSInnovation to Windows, etc. that Redmond alone should be allowed to continue to do, just like Sun alone should be able to do to Java?)

    Ballmer's announcement thus serves that purpose primarily, and only secondarily as a trumpet charge for a FUD barrage. (Expect: "If Linux wasn't such a threat then we wouldn't have mounted such a campaign!")

    In reality, the inertia of the installed base of Win16, Win32 programs and the MS lock on the definition of .doc, .xls and .ppt as well as the unavoidable, Win9x-came-pre-installed-on-MyComputer upgrade path to backward incompatibility and need for future purchases of MSware can pretty much be manipulated at will to provided the proper balance between a revenue cash cow and the appearance of proper competition for the benefit of Ballmer's intended audience.

    Expect the big guns not to be brought out until the DOJ annoyance has been either settled or safely litigated into an interminable appeals process.

    Sheesh, as if it weren't bad enough that they've already bought stakes in both Apple and Corel to keep some well behaved toy competitors!

  • Here [] is an interesting article on BrainBuzz [] about Corel dropping Linux.

  • So your argument is that they just don't care about their customers?

    Umm... not really. The point is that Microsoft has been satisfying most of their customers with every release. When you've got 90% of all PCs in the world, it's impossible to make everybody happy.

    So far they've done a pretty good job at making everyone as happy as possible with the OSes they have. There are times I want to shoot them for still hanging on to archaic concepts like drive letters or that godawful registry.

    You don't seem to understand that code monkeys like us are NOT MS' target audience. They're shooting for the crowd that doesn't want to work for their computer. Rather they expect it to be the other way around. In that aspect, they've succeeded. It is FAR, FAR easier to be productive in Windows with virtually no computer experience.

    When it comes to tweaking under the hood, yeah Linux is far more conducive to that, but the vast majority doesn't want to (or doesn't know how to) build new kernels, compile Apache with mod_perl and PHP (not the easiest thing) or learn why their Winmodem/printer/scanner/etc won't work anymore.


  • Yea, the Windows registry blows. They have the right idea, enforcing policy by creating a standard API to configuration data, but screwded with the simplistic key/value format and the brain-dead storage method. Something like the registry API (more flexible, though) that would store plain text files in a config heirarchy (or wherever the user wants) would probably be ideal. Then, write a GUI program that edits these standard text files, and away go all the configuration problems (or most anyway ;)
  • If I had been a bit more awake I would have said about $70 (sorry but the old Euro - dollar - IRP thing is starting to catch me out). If Sony came out with the Sony Desktop (think Helix cough cough ximian []) which ran Gnome, KDE and Win32 apps all from a winalike front-end from the user perspective (hacked KDE or Gnome) the cost to them would be minimal (compared to starting from scratch / purchasing IP), the cost to the end user could be near zero (you'll pay for getting it installed and configured and some ongoing development/support which to Sony would be pennies and they would carry to have Sony plastered at least in source all over machines software/desktop, how many peoples machines scream MS at you despite the slight possibilities open to them). Hardware issues would NOT be an issue as Sony's backing would have plenty of manufacturers sending out test kit to put Tux on the box, and as we have seen with Mac, complete subjegation to win compatible hardware is not a complete must (but Linux kicks Mac ass for Hardware compatibility in my book).

    I guess what I'm saying is that I do not evisage a new OS, but a windows face backed by a name people actually know (RedHat/Corel/Debian/Suse are not Coke/Levis/Nike/Sony). The Transmeta notebook may be the start (another reason to name Sony), perhaps Sony see the advantage of not having to pay anyone else a penny for software for their machines.....and saving the customer ???? I'd love to know the cost comparisons to Dell for example re their Linux V NT/2000 servers, and which costs Dell more! If they cost them the same price, why not build your internal strengths instead of assisting someone else? I guess for Sony it comes down to the likes of DVD playing..... anyone asked them if they'll write an Open Source DVD player and distribute it with a special TuxMan Mousemat (or some similarly low cost item), could it be done or could they just keep it outside US IP law and release it GPL (I doubt Sony the movie side would like that though :-(? I guess I'm also just spouting the next idea that went through my head for a true Linux convert company (SGI still aren't coming through enough for me but IBM aren't doing bad).

  • by grammar nazi ( 197303 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2001 @04:01PM (#515485) Journal
    They don't need their own *nix distribution. The Windows 2k kernel is a very nice kernel. Add to that a *nix filesystem and some GNU Tools and nobody would be able to tell the difference...
    ...except that Windows2k*nix would have better driver support than *nix.
  • by nightfire-unique ( 253895 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2001 @04:02PM (#515487)
    Yet the Halloween documents point out how M$ is going to try to smash open-source: not with copyright, but with patents.

    Fear not; most of the concepts have prior art dating back 30 years.

    All men are great
    before declaring war

  • "First they ignore you.
    Then they laugh at you.
    Then the fight you.
    Then you win."
    -Mahatma Ghandi

    That explains so much.

    No wonder *ix is beneath contempt to microsoft. If they can't play, no one should.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    .net means that whether you run Linux or Windows, M$ will be supplying you - or the services you use - with software.

    .net gets around the breakup problem by essentially turning Windows into a web platform for the PC. It also provides an extremely powerful rear-end to web-servers, both in B2B and B2C spheres. If you're a Linux developer and you fail to see that, you're probably getting to emotional about the software you choose/use.

    However... ;)

    As an essentially Darwinian OS, Linux will eventually grow very strong or die out. You guys decide what happens to it. Hopefully it will evolve into lots of strong variants that give Windows a run for it's money, but maybe, just maybe the lab engineered OS will beat the constantly evolving OS at it's own game.

    Competition is a good thing, especially in a dog eat dog world.... We have a lot to thank M$ for. Although they could be viewed as a potentially bad thing, where would computing be without them? No-one has paralleled them for applications.

  • I will go one step further than you. Linux is a nice lightweight server OS and a decent alternative embedded systems OS. It is not a threat to MS in the server arena: Solaris is. It is not a threat to MS on the client. OS X could be, maybe, but KDE/Gnome are not even in the running.

    Let me explain: on the server Linux is still holding strong because the number one use of low-end, x86-based servers has been pushing text along (maybe some files too) and Linux/Gnu/Apache/Perl/PHP have been more than adequate --actually quite excellent-- for that. However, the unix-heads (and I am one) keep ignoring that that's not where the future is, Linux will die and soon. Sun's Java/Brazil/JNI/whatever and Microsoft's .NET are about pushing services, objects and components, not text. The OSS field is too fractured to attempt anything close --witness KParts, Bonobo, Xparts, etc, etc.

    As for the client... one word: Office. Rented, copy-protected, or whatever else it is still by far the best (never mind widely used) suite in existence.

  • I have a laptop. I bought a SCSI ZIP drive with a SCSI PCMCIA card to go with it.

    Windows 98

    • Boot computer. Insert SCSI card. Crash.

    • Reboot computer. Insert SCSI card. SCSI driver install occurs. Crash.
      Reboot computer with SCSI card. SCSI driver loads. Uh... where is ZIP drive?
      Reboot computer with SCSI card. SCSI driver loads. ZIP drive shows up as removable drive.
    (BTW, this method won't work on NT at all because it can't handle dynamic loading of PCMCIA drivers)


    • (Computer never rebooted.) Insert SCSI card. Beep indicates driver load.
    • mount /dev/sda /mnt/floppy
    You're right. Linux is a bitch.
  • by MrEd ( 60684 ) <> on Wednesday January 10, 2001 @01:51PM (#515508)
    I think that this is much more likely another attempt to say, "Gee whiz, it's tough being Microsoft, we're constantly having to innovate and compete, don't break us up, please!" Linux is certainly a threat to NT/2000, but the 98% of home users who have Windows aren't going to go anywhere soon. Let's keep one eye on Redmond (isn't that always the case?), but I think that this press announcement is more DOJ appeal than anything.
  • Reading the first few comments for this story, is it really a good idea to fight Microsoft FUD with our Linux FUD?
  • I like your whole post except for "Star Office ... with its excellent Office interoperability." Like there's gotta be some simple way to import a comma-delimited file into the spreadsheet? Like on any real spreadsheet? Well, it's not on the menus, it's not in the help system (which sucks). I shudda rebooted to Windows and used a real program ... but wait, Applix handles it the way any user of real programs would expect ... now if only Applix weren't peculiar in its other functions.

    This is what I wasted a half-hour on earlier tonight. Look, I keep going to Star when I need to do something that would be simple with Lotus or MS or WP/Quattro - and every time it wastes 20 minutes or a half hour and I just swear at the damn thing. I keep forgetting it flat out sucks. There is no Linux desktop suite that's even up to the low standards of MS Office. Maybe IBM will have Lotus address that? Lotus's stuff is far better than MS's anyhow, more intuitive, more capable, cleaner interfaces. Come-on IBM, spend part of that billion on a Lotus port.
  • by KurdtX ( 207196 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2001 @01:52PM (#515512)
    A site dedicated to all the windows geeks out there pointing out all the shortcomings of linux... wait, shortcomings of linux... oh yeah, that's why there's not already a site like this.

  • This is what could be considered MS's first major fight since they took out Netscape. It'll be interesting to see if MS's continuing legal problems hamper it in any way.

    Historically speaking, Linux/Unix has the best chance of not getting crushed, IMHO. Borland, Netscape, Work Perfect, IBM all really didn't have a prayer.
  • by Dirtside ( 91468 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2001 @01:53PM (#515524) Journal

    First they ignore you.

    Then they laugh at you.

    Then they fight you.

    Then you win.
  • by pb ( 1020 )
    Ballmer is right.

    That's because if the breakup goes through, Microsoft will have to play fair...

    And, as we all know, they've never been able to win on merit, so it should be interesting to see what they do.

    P.S. I'd love to debate this with any rabid MS fanatics who think Windows is the greatest thing since sliced bread, but it might be too easy. Bring it on.
    pb Reply or e-mail; don't vaguely moderate [].
  • > Slashdot needs to grow up

    Tiger got to hunt
    Bird got to fly
    Man got to sit and wonder why, why, why
    Tiger got to sleep
    Bird got to land
    Man got to tell himself he understand

    (apologies to Kurt Vonnegut)

  • > What is Microsoft's #1 priority?

    To win.

  • by Midnight Thunder ( 17205 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2001 @01:54PM (#515535) Homepage Journal
    What about MacOS X? Taking the power of Unix based platform, the flexibility of OpenStep and the ease of use of the classic Mac environment this certainly makes it more than just a blimp on M$'s horizon.

    What will be interesting is whether MS will move to embrace and port all its office software to Linux or play its usuall dirty tricks, with lawyers et al. Somehow I believe from experience that the latter is true, unless someone is willing to let them have to non voting shares :)
  • by rabtech ( 223758 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2001 @01:56PM (#515554) Homepage
    From what I see by the submitter, he seems to think that any time a reporter praises something about Windows and/or derieds a *nix variant, that the reporter in question must be paid by Microsoft.

    The reality is, in my opinion, that the free software movement must learn to accept that is GOOD about other platforms, which includes Windows, and take people's criticisms to heart. If people are complaining that Linux doesn't have "FEATURE-X", in many cases energy would be better spend developing something similar (and hopefully, though not always, better) than in trying to tell people why "FEATURE-X" sucks or isn't relevant. (Granted, in some cases that mindset is appropriate.)

    Anyhow, those are just my musings.
    The IHA Forums []
  • by Zwack ( 27039 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2001 @01:57PM (#515561) Homepage Journal
    ...with infighting about package formats and which distribution is the best.

    Then Microsoft will produce lots of documentation "proving" to managers that Linux is much more costly to run.

    OS/2 was better than it's MS competition. It still lost because it wasn't marketed correctly. Linux has to be seen to be a viable, trustworthy and above all useful alternative for it to be accepted.

    Much as I hate to say this, MS has the minds of the managers, what Linux needs is...

    Easy install and use by "normal" users that are ALREADY used to the MS way.

    MS compatible applications.

    And above all, companies that are willing to provide paid for support for it so that other large companies will accept it as an alternative OS. "What do you mean that there isn't anyone responsible for fixing bugs?"

  • by el_munkie ( 145510 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2001 @01:59PM (#515582)
    I believe that MS was judging Linux as threat because its usablity has become much better. Aside from server type applications, where I think MS knew it had serious competition all along, I don't think that it thought that Linux would ever grow much in the desktop market. But the usability has grown very much over the years, and people are starting to choose it over windows. These people are not novices, but they aren't necisseraly hard-core computer junkies. I fall into this catagory, I am slightly less than a computer wizard. I use Gnome quite a bit, and I find it as easy to navigate as Windows, though it did take a bit of getting used to.
    Additionally, Linux seems to be making a toehold in the embedded markets, and since the convention wisdom seems to forsee a migration from large, centralized desktop computers to individual devices, I know MS wants a hefty share of what it sees as the future. Hell, Windows CE wasn't exactly a smash hit.
  • by DickBreath ( 207180 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2001 @06:21PM (#515590) Homepage
    It's unreal how much misinformation is floating around.

    MS did not rescue Apple. MS bought $150 million worth of Apple stock. A newsworthy event. But not a big deal.

    Apple was having financial troubles at the time. But that was because Spindler in his infinite wisdom didn't believe in the success of the PowerPC, and continued to build $1 billion worth of 68K-based inventory that nobody wanted. Before long Apple realized that everyone was buying PPC's, and nobody wanted 68K's anymore. Apple was sitting on $1 bil worth of machines they couldn't move. End result was one quarter where they had to take a $780 million charge to write off this inventory. Spindler "resigned". Apple changed CEO's a couple times. Copeland was delayed. Lots of various bad news for Apple about this time. Mainstream media stupidly seemed to think Apple is "dying". (As they've said each and every year since 1981.)

    Apple was about a $10 billion (revenue) company at the time. MS buying $150 mil worth of stock is not a "rescue".

    At this time, Apple began including IE as the default browser, while still including Netscape in install -- but just not making it default. Apple also begain including Outlook Express.

    There were rumors that MS was forced into this deal because they got caught with their hand in the till. (Stealing R&D secrets again.) But this is just a rumor.
  • by Chris Johnson ( 580 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2001 @09:11PM (#515598) Homepage Journal
    Actually there's another aspect to the first group, the Microsoft Zombie VB Developers. Yes, that approach is a lot easier than C programming, but guess what?

    MacOS has a comparable product- 'REALbasic []'. This was originally a labor of love by a single very talented developer, Andrew Barry, designed to be as approachable and _more_ sensible than VB. When Andrew Barry got exhausted and resigned, other programmers were hired and they successfully took over the development- including bringing it over to OSX.

    Most Linux developers may not be into this style of development- it's more drag-and-drop of GUI components and dropping code snippets (even dragging them from the online reference!) into the relevant control events. However, the MZA types will love it- and even if you're not a zombie idiot the accessibility and rapidity of it all is very nice.

    I wrote an airfoil data generation program in this language the other night- it literally took only a night of work to produce a working program that did the following:

    • drag and drop 'text clipping' with starter foil data into a text area: pre-existing capability of object
    • parse the text clipping into arrays from 0-100 on top and bottom wing surfaces with interpolation between missing points
    • plot arrays on a canvas object (relatively simple)
    • smooth the foil w. sharp or blunt edges (imperfectly executed but OK)
    • tweak points up or down including a width factor affecting adjacent points- _way_ easy using interactions between existing controls- most related events got only a line of code or two
    • print out the arrays into the original text format to be dragged back out of the window- very easy again, minor workarounds for twitchy editfield implentation

    I daresay a lot of people think you can only do that on Windows with VB (never mind that VB is more complicated with a steeper initial curve than REALbasic- you can literally drag stuff into a window in RB and build the program without writing a line of code and it won't _do_ anything but all the controls will 'work' already)

    However, even if there's not going to be anything as approachable for Linux (i.e. more dumb-simple than C console apps), a competing product already exists on MacOS and compiles to trad MacOS and OSX apps- and Windows apps for that matter, though the work the programmers have to do to keep that end afloat is 10X as much work as they have to do for the MacOS side, all the bugfix reports are invariably _loaded_ with 'Win' bugs that were fixed or worked around.

    Anyhow- not even VB is a permanent safe haven for MS. Comparable products exist.

    (BTW- 'the red pen'? Did you by any chance attend the Cambridge School of Weston? If so, you knew me as 'The Poet')

  • by the red pen ( 3138 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2001 @06:28PM (#515616)
    You could argue that Microsoft's desktop OS is "so great that people would rather pay for it," but it's pretty clear that they're losing that battle in the server marketplace. The change isn't going to happen overnight.

    First of all, there is the Microsoft Zombie Army. These are hoards of mediocre developers who have discovered that they can quickly and easily put together mediocre applications and systems using Microsoft technology. I've come across these people and they are entrenched. Basically they are motivated by fear of losing their '1337 status in a move to an unfamiliar technology.

    The second effect is what I call the "Japanese Car Effect." Those of you unfortunate enough to have been conscious in the early 70's will remember a time when the Detroit auto makers could Do No Wrong(tm) and Japanese imports were considered crappy "rice burners" bought only by Communists. Unfortunately for Detroit, everyone who "went over" to the Japanese imports discovered that they were high-quality and efficient. They never bought an American car again.

    Guess what (usually) happens when an NT user finally "goes over" to Linux?

  • by Afterimage ( 44695 ) <> on Wednesday January 10, 2001 @10:12PM (#515634) Homepage
    Actually, don't look at it as being Microsoft having to organize fights against Win 2K with Linux *or* Mac OS X. Microsoft, surely sees the writing on the wall. Both of their large market OS competitors are now UNIX-based or derived. They can (should and will) share resources.

    While the UNIX market fragmentation might have being one of Microsoft's opening (we can provide an end to end solution, desktop to domain controller...) in the mid 90's, the periphery is organizing itself around the target that Windows presents. It must be scary. Samba, Apache, PHP w/MySQL/Postgres, StarOffice...

    Suddenly, the argument that got Microsoft's foot in the door doesn't seem as compelling to the executive team.

    If I was Bill, I'd worry, too.

  • by rgmoore ( 133276 ) <> on Wednesday January 10, 2001 @02:02PM (#515655) Homepage
    As IBM found with OS/2, once MS percieves you as a threat, they attack like a rabid pit bull. I expect we'll see a lot more negative Linux press on zdnet, reporters paid to laud Windows and slam UNIX, fake grass roots movements, and all the other favorite MS tricks." Well, I'm not that quite that paranoid, but I'll be keping my eyes open.

    Interesting you should mention it, because the article referenced had this nice little bit:

    It is widely expected that Corel, which received a critical $135 million infusion in cash from Microsoft (stock: MSFT) in October, will dump its Linux line of products, such as its WordPerfect suite for Linux, to focus on Microsoft's .Net initiative.

    Now I'm not going to go and shout and scream about how Microsoft is buying off a potential competitor, but it does look kind of suspicious. Here's a company that could do a lot to boost Linux as a desktop competitor for Windows, and after getting a big cash infusion from Microsoft they're giving up their plans to do so. It's not a cut and dried as pay for non-competetion, but it does deserve careful scrutiny.

  • Why persist in comparing Linux to NT? We know NT is pretty crap, so by saying things like "No worse than NT can be.", all you're doing is elevating Linux to 'just better than crap'.

    Why can't we aim to "Make an elegant, well designed operating system" (like Apple are trying to do) instead of "Do things the M$ way, only marginally better"...?
  • by WebSerf ( 91322 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2001 @07:12PM (#515682)
    ..except that (unlike real Unices such as Linux) it will still have only token POSIX compliance, a proprietary window system, a proprietary programming API and will still break compatibility with other systems whenever Bill feels like it. No thanks.


  • by mgflax ( 207076 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2001 @02:06PM (#515690)
    It's been a full fifteen minutes since the original post, and I've already seen many articles bragging about how Linux can't be bought or otherwise made to "go away." Yet the Halloween documents point out how M$ is going to try to smash open-source: not with copyright, but with patents. They will find (or buy $$$) some lousy, overbroad, fundamental patent which is relied upon deep in the kernel, and while that won't dissuade the hobbyist, it will dissuade the system adminstrator and company management. And they'll keep throwing this sand in companies' face each time they consider using Linux in earnest. ("You, the company are responsible for violating our patents, regardless of how open the copyright is", they will say.) I hope I'm wrong. Perhaps smaller, more self-contained systems such as the *BSD might be less vulnerable, but that's another discussion. Marshall
  • by SquadBoy ( 167263 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2001 @02:06PM (#515708) Homepage Journal
    But if you follow the link you would see that Ballmer is much more interested in the server room than the desktop. Simple reason PC sales are way down but the server market is still growing. The following is from the article "In his talk, Ballmer identified Oracle Corp. (stock: ORCL) and Sun Microsystems Inc. (stock: SUNW) as second-tier rivals because "I think [server sales are] our biggest potential short-term return." And this is why the server room matters more than the desktop for now.
  • by em_tasol ( 166929 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2001 @02:08PM (#515721)
    At the end of last year at a Microsoft Direct Access briefing (yes, I'm a member, yes I sell and support Microsoft products, yes I make money out of it - cope with it), they had a video intro type thing for Windows 2000 Professional in which they had a female actress kicking the crap out of a guy in a penguin suit with her saying, "Still using Linux, sissy?", plus other little gems of class and character that show Microsoft for who they really are.

    The point they have completely missed is that people are not "still" using Linux, more and more people are just starting to use Linux because it's a more and more attractive option.

  • by pb ( 1020 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2001 @02:14PM (#515724)

    First they Ignore you.
    Then they laugh at you.
    Then they fight you.
    Then you get bought by AOL.
    Then they laugh at you.
    pb Reply or e-mail; don't vaguely moderate [].
  • by lemox ( 126382 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2001 @02:15PM (#515729)

    MS used to have their own UNIX. After they sold the rights to, a term of the contract was that they never produce another version of UNIX.

    So, I doubt that's going to happen.

  • by be-fan ( 61476 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2001 @02:16PM (#515734)
    While I do agree that Linux is the biggest threat to MS, that's not saying much. While on the server front, Linux has a fairly easy trip to the top, the desktop market will be a much harder road.

    A) Linux still hasn't proven itself on the performance front. Even after several months, the Linux NVIDIA drivers are noticably lower in performance than their Windows counterparts. This happens even at low resolutions where the bitblit thing is not an issue. And with DirectX 8 and, later, Whistler promising huge increases in 3D performance, I don't know how Linux will deliver. Of course, MS could be overinflating their performance claims, but if NT4 and DirectX7 (which essentially made DX faster and more featureful than OpenGL) are any hint, MS *can* make good products, it just depends on if there is the motivation. When you add mediocre 3D performance to the slow desktops (in comparison to Win2K's, anyway) and high memory use (same as Win2K) then you have little reason to use Linux if you're looking for (desktop) performance.

    B) Linux's stability won't play much of a part in this. Win2K is very stable, to the point where the average user (meaning one that shuts down at least once a week) won't be able to tell the difference.

    C) Linux is still hard to use, and problematiclly, disunified. MS has been taking more and more steps to make configuration and control of Windows more "sane." Linux has been taking more steps in the other direction, especially with new distro like Mandrake that introduce prorietory config scripts. Adding hardware in Linux is not the simple (plug the hardware and the disk in) that it is with Win2K, and doing anything non trivial (meaning intermediate level use) is decidedly difficult. While the desktops are more or less easy enough to use, the system itself needs major retooling. Here are the problems I see
    1) Confusing configuration. Get rid of /etc and replace it with something sane.
    2) Stupid directory structure. My dad can handle installing programs, but with the mess of /usr, /home/_username_, /usr/bin, /usr/lib, /lib, /opt, /usr/local/*, ad nauseum, I doubt he could handle it. I barely can. (Of course I'm just terribly pampered by /boot/apps and /boot/home/config/lib)
    3) Make the system cohesive. Get back to the UNIX roots. You know how UNIX treats *everything* as a file? You know how all UNIX console apps work together in a nice harmony of streams and pipes? You know how UNIX programs can be chained together to do complex work? You know how UNIX (well, BSD one's anyway) tools have more or less the same interface? Starting to get the idea? That means out go GnomeAPI and KDE-API and in comes Unified-Linux-Desktop-API (with GNOME and KDE serving as implementations) Out goes /etc, in comes a nice, organized config structure. Out goes LinuxConf, MandrakeConf, RedHatConf, DebianConf, ad-nauseam (yea, I'm making these up, but you get the idea ;) and in comes UnifiedConf. Out goes modules.conf, samba.conf, XFree86Config, etc, and in comes a unified text file format. Out goes ipconfig and friends entirely. Use text files or use programs, but choose one for god sakes. Well, you get the idea.

    Sadly, I enumerate all of these EVERY time an article like this comes out, and while everybody screams about how Linux has come so far, all I see are more propriatory configuration files, more stupid config programs, and a more fragmented set of APIs. Disgusting...

    BTW> Don't get the idea that I don't like Linux. I really do. I just can't stand to use it.
  • by dbarclay10 ( 70443 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2001 @02:17PM (#515763)
    I can think of tons of things MS can do to stop Linux. Like:

    1) Support tons of peripherals that Linux doesn't

    That doesn't mean Linux won't exist any more. It'll just mean that Windows supports more peripherals.

    2) Have a nice standard, easy to use and intuitive GUI

    Can't argue with the "standard" part. But it's not easy to use. It's easy to learn. It's not intuitive, it's just that everyone has already used it. Understand this: easy to learn doesn't mean it's easy to use. Mind you, I'm not putting down easy-to-learn interfaces, but the difference merits mention.

    3) Using MS means you never have to hear stupid arguments about licenses or asinine definitions of "free"

    Flambait alert! :) Yeah, and using Linux means you never have to hear stupid stories about software vendor lock-in, nor asinine definitions of "ownership".

    4) Plus it will be a cold day in hell before you have Office for Linux anyway...

    Hey, I've heard hell has the occasional cold snap.


    Barclay family motto:
    Aut agere aut mori.
    (Either action or death.)
  • by mosch ( 204 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2001 @02:11PM (#515764) Homepage
    After all, it'll be fully compatible with Microsoft Office, which, whoops, requires a binary only library that only ships with MSLinux. And besides, this next gen of Linux users wouldn't be geeks, they'd be the current generation of Windows users, and they wouldn't even know what was different. They'd just think it's cool that Windows 2003 seemed really stable.

    "Don't trolls get tired?"
  • by Silver A ( 13776 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2001 @02:17PM (#515765)
    Which won't be until RMS finishes rewriting the kernel in LISP, and figures out a way to convert the GIMP into an EMACS mode.
  • it's ok because linux is like a house infested with cockroaches. sure he can squish the corel roach. it's a relatively small one. now that big mutated thing in the corner giving balmer the bird that's star office :). it has koffice/gnumeric/etc running around at its feet.

    use LaTeX? want an online reference manager that
  • by slickwillie ( 34689 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2001 @02:19PM (#515771)
    1) Linux isn't Un*x.
    2) When was the last time M$ abided by the terms a contract if it didn't suit their needs?
  • by costas ( 38724 ) on Thursday January 11, 2001 @09:29AM (#515787) Homepage
    Sorry. I work for a datamining company; I use Java/C++/C/Shell/Python/SQL/XML/some esoteric stuff you've never heard of. The installations that I develop need GBs of RAM and tens and hundreds of GB of disk space. Linux doesn't have a chance there --and I know, because I also administer Linux Beowulf clusters (real ones, not one in my basement) on the side. The only thing that Linux does well compared to an enterprise OS is that it includes all the little utilities and shortcuts that make an admin's life easier.

    However, the fact that a Linux box maybe (and that's a big maybe) easier to administer than a Solaris/AIX/HPUX box doesn't make it better; technology should make it better and Solaris/AIX especially are years ahead.

    As for the text argument: I do *a lot* of XML. XML is great because it gives a better lower common denominator than flat text, but clearly it's not the end-all, be-all. Components/Objects over intranet/internet will be way more important: XML may be used to describe them and integrate them, but ultimately they would have to be delivered in some sort of compiled form.

  • by segmond ( 34052 ) on Thursday January 11, 2001 @05:44AM (#515792)
    I hate to say this, but you are wrong. Ignorance is a threat to Linux. Lack of vision is a threat to Linux, don't tell my mother to go get a vision or write code. As time goes on, the number of developers will become smaller while the users become larger, thus it is fairly important that by that time, the linux community has improved it's development process. (read "the emperor has no clothes" argument on the kernel dev list)

  • Linux is still hard to use, and problematiclly, disunified. [...] While the desktops are more or less easy enough to use, the system itself needs major retooling. Here are the problems I see

    Interesting, for virtually every shortcoming you mention, Apple is working to address in Mac OS X. This isn't purely a OSX evangelist session (I'll save that for later). But perhaps rather that working so hard to emulate Windows, maybe Linux developers should look towards OSX for inspiration (though stopping short of making exact clones of Aqua). From a system design perspective, Linux is far more similar to Mac OS X than to Windows.

    Apple has already solved a lot of the problems Linux distros are struggling with. Mac OS X stores a substantial amount of configuration information in NetInfo, a network-distributed database. This software is open sourced, incidentally. The remaining config information is stored in XML files in both the user's home directory and in system directories. Frameworks and Bundles greatly simplify software development and distribution. XML files (with DTDs defined by Apple) are used to store meta information about applications such as icons, localization information, and architecture-specific settings.

    Most of the many directories are named normal things like /Applications, /System, /Users, and /Developer. The BSD directories like /etc are still there, but they are hidden from the GUI and the user is not expected to interact with them. They are mostly there for running BSD apps. There are a few different APIs available (Carbon, Cocoa, Java), but all native apps use the same base application services for rendering and such.

    And to top it all off, the installation process is extremely easy and swift. Beats the pants off a Windows install. Don't be fooled by the casual appearance of Aqua. This is a brilliantly designed operating system, both in terms of architecture and interface.

    Apple is even making strides in making unix-based server functionality accessible to just about anyone. I suggest taking a look at the completely revamped version of Mac OS X Server [] which will be available this spring. I've used things like Linuxconf before, and it just can't hold a candle to the first-hand demos of this new version of OSX Server I saw at Macworld Expo.

    And in case anybody thinks I'm some sort of Mac bigot, please note that my servers currently run Linux, and I've been using various forms of Unix for around 6 years, including Solaris, SunOS and FreeBSD.

    - Scott
    Scott Stevenson
    WildTofu []
  • by softsign ( 120322 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2001 @02:21PM (#515801)
    Well, I'm not a rabid MS fanatic, but I disagree with your assumption that MS couldn't win on merit.

    Neither Linux nor Windows is good enough to become dominant given tabula rasa. Microsoft, through luck and clever marketing, however, has the upper hand presently (at least in terms of marketshare).

    Having said that, there's absolutely no evidence to suggest that Microsoft couldn't produce a significantly better OS given the impetus to do so. They've demonstrated in the past that they can produce excellent, excellent software (I point to IE5 for Mac as an example).

    The problem, up until this point, has been that they haven't had the pressure to do it right the first time (or the second time, or the third time...). Good enough has been the prevailing theme from Redmond for some time now when it comes to operating systems.

    This is rather unfortunate for us at times, but not for their bottom line it seems.

    I welcome any DOJ ruling that brings increased competition into the OS market. I don't think a DOJ ruling against Microsoft is necessarily a victory for Linux though. It doesn't negate the giant headstart MS has in terms of vendor support, nor does it preclude the leagues of developers at Microsoft from building a better OS to compete on its own merit. If anything, it might just have the opposite effect.


  • by Micah ( 278 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2001 @02:21PM (#515802) Homepage Journal
    Open Source Software WILL make MS change their entire business model -- or die. And sooner that most people think.

    I've long predicted that in the next recession, Linux use will grow by leaps and bounds. That's because licensing issues will be more important to people, and companies will be looking for more ways to save money. With OSS, no longer will companies need to pay exorbitant amounts of money to stay in the Windows/Office loop.

    And the recession seems to be coming -- just after KDE2 and Helix GNOME, Nautilus, etc. are finished, and Star Office is made GPL'd, with its excellent Office interoperability. Just when Linux is REALLY ready for the desktop. And yes, with a few exceptions that will soon be rectified, Linux is ready for the desktop.

    The best part is -- there's nothing MS can do about Linux! They can try FUD, but enough people know the truth by now to make it really effective.
  • by ichimunki ( 194887 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2001 @02:21PM (#515804)
    I'm sorry, but when it comes to general license crap, MS kicks all over inane arguments of Free. After all, they charge you a different heaping pile of money based on which semantic argument they are perpetrating on users at the moment.
  • by donutello ( 88309 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2001 @02:21PM (#515805) Homepage
    Did you even read the article?

    The article simply quotes him as saying that he considered Linux to be Microsofts biggest problem. He argued this on the basis that Linux was a competitor in a market Microsoft controls while Sun and Oracle hold market share which Microsoft aims to capture and by saying that he considered the former kind bigger problems than the latter. How can you possibly disagree with that?

    Every company has problems. Steve Ballmer was simply ranking MS's problems. No intelligent reading of the article can possibly read any more than that. Remember that this was a meeting organized by a financial institution - not a press release - most likely attended by people interested in the future business prospects of the company.
  • by dboyles ( 65512 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2001 @02:25PM (#515838) Homepage
    Let's just not leave to Florida to decide who has the better OS. ;-)

    That gives an even more literal meaning to the phrase "an OS my grandmother can install."
  • by Nailer ( 69468 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2001 @03:23PM (#515841)
    and much more geared to security

    I'm a Linux user and administrator, both at home and professionally. Do you really think Linux is geared towards security? I think the default permissions on most Linux systems are good. I think the default permissions on NT and 2000 are bad.

    But at the end of the day, the popular Unix rwxs permission system is pathetic. No systems should ever exist where the adminsitrator logs in as root. No daemon should ever run SetUID root either. Capabilities are a hack, and a nasty one at that. Sudo is laughable.

    As much as I hate to say it, the ACL permission system used in various trusted Unix systems, various Linux services, and Windows NT/2000, beats the shit out of Linuxs. The Linux Trustees project fixes it, but its currently not in the main kernel. As a result, if you be much easier for MS to make a Windows 2000 that was reasonably secure out of the box than for Red Hat to make a secure Linux.
  • by the red pen ( 3138 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2001 @02:27PM (#515845)
    A few years ago, I worked at an office with an early-adopter of Linux and Java. One of the small company "brags" was "You can use any OS you prefer" ('cause we work in Java, right?). Most of the developers used Linux, administrators and execs ran Windows and creative ran Macs. I decided to run OS/2.

    This resulted in a lot of snide remarks and one-upsmanship from the Linux advocates. At the time, OS/2 and Linux were a close match (and are still somewhat competetive depending on what you want). The Linux guys finally won the debate with one simple point: no matter how much I (or Team OS/2) loved OS/2, it was IBMs decision to promote it, improve it or continue it. As long as there is one person who really wants to use Linux, Linux will be alive.

    The only way Microsoft can threaten Linux is to put out a product so great that people will be willing to pay for it rather than get something free. In addition, Microsoft has to support it so well that people don't feel like they need to source so they can support it themselves. If that happened, we'd all be happy, but I expect it these events will occur right after the release of OS/2 Warp version 6 with accompanying Super Bowl ads.

    The real issue is whether or not we get to use Linux at our "real" jobs, which is increasingly the case. That's something that needs to be fought for and counts on market share, etc.

  • by Manaz ( 46799 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2001 @02:28PM (#515846) Homepage
    Now I'm not going to go and shout and scream about how Microsoft is buying off a potential competitor, but it does look kind of suspicious. Here's a company that could do a lot to boost Linux as a desktop competitor for Windows, and after getting a big cash infusion from Microsoft they're giving up their plans to do so.

    With all due respect, I think Corel have proven beyond reasonably doubt that they're incapable of pushing Linux as a competitor to Windows on the desktop - Corel Linux, designed for exactly this purpose, was a dismal failure. And Corel showed no signs of knowing how to fix it, or improve it.

    There are companies which are, I'm sure, capable of boosting Linux's share in the desktop Operating System Market, but I don't think Corel is one of them. In fact, Corel's entire product line has faltered recently, they've had a receding market share for all their products, and I think pulling out of the Linux market is a rationalisation move. Hooking up with Microsoft, simply good business sense - Microsoft aren't about to fail any time soon, despite the hopes and dreams of the anti-Microsoft movement.

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