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"Linux is *the* threat," Says Microsoft 673

Ami Ganguli writes "Anybody who works selling Linux into large accounts should read this leaked MS memo on The Register. Show it to your clients as well. The good news is that Microsoft is scared. The bad news is that these guys play tough. On the other hand, I've worked with IBM sales before, and they're no push-overs either." And it appears that they want to go after the the City of Largo as well.
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"Linux is *the* threat," Says Microsoft

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  • by AtariDatacenter ( 31657 ) on Monday November 12, 2001 @09:17AM (#2553208)
    Guns don't kill people. People kill people. For the same reason, Linux isn't the threat. People who use Linux to kill Microsoft are the threat. ;)
    • by Chocky2 ( 99588 ) <> on Monday November 12, 2001 @09:28AM (#2553246)
      It comes down to senior management, and most execs are non-techie. Much microsoft advocacy is down from a primarily business perspective, much nix advocacy (especially Linux) is done from a primarily technical perspective; until nix vendors do a better job fighting Windows on the finance, marketing and media battlefield they'll keep losing ground to Microsoft, irrespective of the technical merits of the products involved.
      • mod parent up! This says exactly what I've been talking about to my various managers for years. The big problem is, the argument is starting to fall apart. Win2k is almost acceptable from a technical viewpoint, so you need to get into more detail. Exec's don't want to hear detail, their eyes glaze over. At that point, you lose. I'm on the IT Architecture team here now, and I'm finding it difficult to even get the rest of the team to listen. grrrrr. I did manage to get them to consider allowing us to install a Linux box running Oracle 9iAS though, so I think I 'm getting a win. It occurs to me that we (us geeks and sysadmin types) are the only people really selling Linux, our counterparts in M$ land are professional sales people. We kick their ass technically, don't we? No wonder it's tough for us to beat them in the board room, closing the sale so to speak.
      • That's exactly the problem. Upper managements aren't techie and don't care about the technical merits, which so many of the Linux community seem to have so much trouble getting beyond.

        If Microsoft's people can walk in and convince upper management that their products can do the job cheaper than the Linux alternative, 9 times out of 10 they'll get the contract. Anything else would be foolish.

        Don't go on about how you don't have to pay license fees for the OS and how this makes Linux a vastly cheaper alternative. Most people realise the fact that OS licenses, in the real world, are a minor factor in the total cost of ownership compared to maintainance, management and training.

        It's time the community got together and came up with some significant financial and economic advantages associated with Linux and get beyond the 'free as $0' argument. Then Microsoft will have something to worry about.

      • by infiniti99 ( 219973 ) <> on Monday November 12, 2001 @11:07AM (#2553770) Homepage
        ...they'll keep losing ground to Microsoft...

        When did Linux even have ground to lose? I find it funny when people say that Linux has "lost" or "is losing" "The Battle" (tm). It's not like they've been duking it out since the beginning of time. Linux-on-the-desktop is a relative newcomer to the scene, and despite the ups and downs of the various Linux companies, the number of Linux users has continued to grow steadily.

        As far as I know, Linux has never lost any ground. But then, at this stage, there isn't really much ground to lose. Let's have this discussion again in 10 years when (let's make a hypothetical situation) Linux has 90% of the desktop market and Microsoft suddenly makes a comeback, pushing Linux to 89%. I would consider _that_ to be loss of ground, not anything going on presently.
        • clash of cultures (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 12, 2001 @11:18AM (#2553873)
          Linux can't be losing ground because it's not even playing in that game.

          Linux will always be there for anyone inclined to put it to use (unless it's outlawed as a terroristic tool). Windows will go the way of the dodo the minute Microsft pulls the plug.

          Microsoft is playing a second neural circuit game based upon "territory", where for them to win, someone else has to lose. (And for them to lose, someone else has to win).
          The people who truly get open source aren't even concerned with such matters. The develop what they have a need for -- and share the results with others. Everybody gains in that scenario -- except people who aim to profit by creating spurious shortages by controlling a resource.
      • by einhverfr ( 238914 ) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {srevart.sirhc}> on Monday November 12, 2001 @01:12PM (#2554287) Homepage Journal
        It comes down to senior management, and most execs are non-techie. Much microsoft advocacy is down from a primarily business perspective, much nix advocacy (especially Linux) is done from a primarily technical perspective; until nix vendors do a better job fighting Windows on the finance, marketing and media battlefield they'll keep losing ground to Microsoft, irrespective of the technical merits of the products involved.

        Red Hat markets primarily to CFO's.

        The basic issue is that people are migrating the majority of UNIX servers to Linux and Windows (Telecom being a major exception). Linux is picking up some of this market share and Microsoft does not like this. Microsoft has worked so hard to beat UNIX and when they win, along comes Linux to take away their prize-- server monopoly.

        BUT-- businesses are no fools. Many prefer a heterogenous environment despite interoperability problems because it provides an exit strategy from a single-vendor solution.
  • No News Here (Score:4, Insightful)

    by KingAdrock ( 115014 ) on Monday November 12, 2001 @09:17AM (#2553209) Journal
    To tell you the truth, the memo looks like one you would find in any major corporation. Microsoft and Linux are competitors, there is no doubt about that. I don't see why this is newsworthy.. But then again this is slashdot so I guess that doesn't much matter!

    No this is not a troll!
    • Re:No News Here (Score:4, Redundant)

      by Evangelion ( 2145 ) on Monday November 12, 2001 @09:20AM (#2553219) Homepage

      Exactly. This is probably like every other motivational sales memo you've ever seen.

      "[competitor] is the enemy. Make sure you never forget that, and focus on how bad they are and how good we are at [whatever we do]."

      I don't see what the big deal is. Some middle-manager salesman guy writes that Linux is *the* threat, and all of a sudden this is MS' stance on the matter?

      He's probably right, but that's beside the point.
      • Re:No News Here (Score:5, Informative)

        by zsazsa ( 141679 ) on Monday November 12, 2001 @09:36AM (#2553278) Homepage
        Brian Valentine isn't exactly "some middle-manager salesman guy," he's senior vice president [] of Microsoft's Windows division and has been at MSFT since 1987.

      • Sure, it's a standard pro-forma "foo is the enemy" sales memo, but it is notable that "foo" is Linux (though it's difficult to see what other enemy Microsoft's sales force faces for low-end stuff).
        • Re:It is news (Score:3, Informative)

          I don't think he's talking about low-end stuff. He's not bitching and moaning about Samba printservers -- he's talking about big UNIX applications that probably have strategic value that are not being migrated to Windows.

          And he's practically admitted defeat -- he knows that customers trying rid themselves of expensive midrange stuff by doing a straight migration will find Linux the cheapest bet.* What he's going for is find places where these apps are being upgraded, rewritten, or replaced and make sure that Microsoft has their salesbots in there before the UNIX guys go forward with their solution.

          All in all, I doubt he cares about 'legacy' apps. His real worry is that Linux migrations are an opportunity for Java and other cross-platform middleware to come into the picture.

          (* Even Microsoft's migration of Hotmail made heavy use of Interix [UNIX] as a compatibility layer instead of rewriting the software to be Windows native.)
      • by Moooo Cow ( 79655 ) on Monday November 12, 2001 @01:33PM (#2554409)
        "Some middle-manager salesman guy writes that Linux is *the* threat..."

        Actually, his quote simply said that "Linux is the threat" - no emphasis. Then, the register's article leads with the quote, adding a Nazi reference ("...memo to his Sales Brownshirts..."), and adding the "*the*" emphasis. Then, slashdot picks up the register's emphasis, puts it in the article title, and attributes it to Microsoft.

        It's not news that slashdot and the register are anti-Microsoft, but they both lose credibility when they manipulate the words that they attribute as quotes from someone else.
    • Re:No News Here (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Ami Ganguli ( 921 )

      I submitted it, so I guess I'm biased. I agree that this isn't unusual. It's news because most people don't get to see how killer sales operations work (as I mentioned, IBM is also very agressive).

      It's also useful for anybody who might be bidding against MS to have some insight into what they're up to. If you have a fortune 1000 client then it might be worthwhile to find out what their MS sales rep. has been up to.

    • I saw this first on that well know MS bashing site the Register [] what it seams to show is that MS sales droids are being incurraged to enguage in corperate espionage and where appropiate bribe the CIO's with as many discounts as nessacery to get MS through the door.
      Of cause the sales pitch avoids issues like licence lock in
      • bribery? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by KingAdrock ( 115014 ) on Monday November 12, 2001 @09:28AM (#2553248) Journal
        This is tantamount to saying that a car salesman should never go below the sticker price. Sales people have to sell. If it means giving discounts, so be it. I wish the sales people at my company did a better job of selling! Bribery is not the right term for what this guy is doing or what he is advocating others to do!
      • MS-bashing Site? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by FatOldGoth ( 207461 )

        I think you'll find that The Register is an everyone bashing site. They can be rather cutting and bitchy, but they are also pretty even-handed about it.

    • Re:No News Here (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Flower ( 31351 ) on Monday November 12, 2001 @09:46AM (#2553317) Homepage
      I have to agree. I didn't see one thing in that memo which was a big deal. Not even the note on Largo. The guy doesn't mention any odious tactics like the Halloween document did and it's the same sales pep talk you see even in smaller companies. "Rahrah! We got these sales. Rahrah! Go out and sell some more. Here's some tips for when you go out to the customer's site."

      And what tips did he give? Be observant and ask questions. Use your knowledge of the customer to tailor a pitch to them. Gosh, I've *never* seen *any* vendor do that. How awful.

      As for linux being the big threat, whatever. If Larry Ellison ever scored a couple of big sale with his thin client product you'd see a near boilerplate e-mail sent out telling the sales staff to watch out for them too. And it would have the same sense of urgency as this memo did. That's just the way this aspect of business works.

      • Re:No News Here (Score:5, Interesting)

        by llywrch ( 9023 ) on Monday November 12, 2001 @01:13PM (#2554292) Homepage Journal
        > I didn't see one thing in that memo which was a big deal.

        I did: Ameritrade tried to migrate to Linux servers & failed. And once the CIO left (obviously due to the failed migration), MS marketroids swept in & convinced them to go with Win2000.

        I'd like to know a little more about this failure. We need to learn from the mistakes made here, in order to improve Linux. (And when those Win 2000 servers start breaking, for the next person to come up with a better Linux/BSD implementation.)

      • by Weasel Boy ( 13855 ) on Monday November 12, 2001 @04:09PM (#2555089) Journal
        I agree that this memo looks like nothing more than ordinary motivational rah-rah blather. What I absolutely adore is the sense of entitlement.

        "EVERY propritary Unix server out there is a Microsoft sale waiting to happen, gosh darn it! Every time one of those faithless IT people swaps in a Free Unix to replace a proprietary Unix... they're STEALING our sale! That's money taken from OUR pocket! Linux is to blame for the tattoos on my ass! EVERY TIME ONE OF YOU BEARDED, TEE-SHIRT-WEARING HIPPIE SCUM BOOTS Linux, MICROSOFT CHILDREN GO HUNGRY!!!!!"
    • by MtViewGuy ( 197597 ) on Monday November 12, 2001 @09:48AM (#2553325)
      I think people are kind of forgetting that Microsoft identified Linux as a serious competitor at least since 1998.

      In short, you're right: it's OLD news for most long-time /. readers.
    • Re:No News Here (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Masem ( 1171 )
      I agree -- I would expect no less of, say, Coke or Pepsi internal sales memos when either wins over a restuarant or food distributor to their side. As long as they are using fair tactics, (in this case, numerous salespersons with the right spin on the data) there's no problem.

      We do need to keep vigilant, however, for when MS may abuse their monopoly position in order to extend their markets. If MS changed an internal protocol that failed to allow SAMBA or other file server software to intermingle with established desktop machines, and used that to say "Well, you can't use Linux and MS solutions in the same place", there would be trouble.

      This, however, is nothing, but does at least reflect that Linux is no laughing matter at MS. How's the mantra go? "First they laugh at you, then they compete with you, then you win"?

    • Right Right Right! (Score:5, Informative)

      by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Monday November 12, 2001 @11:08AM (#2553794) Homepage Journal
      I've seen exactly the same style of writing in just about every company I've worked for. They go "Here's where we're crushing our competitors" and they ignore the places where the competitors are crushing them. We pretty much know what Microsoft's focus is. If it weren't Linux it'd be Solaris and AIX.

      It does make a great platform for stressing where Linux has shortcomings again though. Linux calendar apps which support multiple users still seems like a weak area. I have yet to see anything that resembles MS Project on Linux, which would prevent even the technically inclined PHB's who'd be interested in trying the OS from giving it a shot. I think we should also leverage the Linux strengths by tieing all the remote administration potential of the OS into some GUI apps which could be used to propigate configuration changes and software updates across hundreds or thousands of machines on the LAN, possibly using broadcast packets. Updating an entire web server farm with a click of a button would be a pretty compelling feature and Linux is more that capable of it.

      We don't have to write those customers that Microsoft has claimed either. We should be out there talking to them and asking them what they would like to see in Linux. Ask them what the OS needs for them to switch to it. Such feedback would be very valuable for enhancing this OS.

    • Re:No News Here (Score:5, Insightful)

      by 4of12 ( 97621 ) on Monday November 12, 2001 @04:31PM (#2555192) Homepage Journal

      I don't see why this is newsworthy..

      Well, you've been reading Slashdot too long if you don't think this is newsworthy.

      The Register thought it newsworthy, and I agree.

      The reason is that the news is different. We're not talking about the typical sales pep drive where company X tries to beat company Y. No. Here we're talking about where Company X is attempting to drive out A Movement. That's different.

      Not to mention the news worthiness of anything that Microsoft is doing. After all, they are the world's single largest software company and their product is placed on over 90% of computer desktops worldwide. And, recently they have been involved in some court proceedings where the outcome of those proceedings could have far-reaching effects on the company and on computing in general.

      So, yes, it is newsworthy.

  • I don't see that happening, at least in the enterprise space. The last thing they want is to downgrade an application to the Windows platform. (Frankly, here, they are HAPPY to get rid of Windows boxes.) Good luck trying to sell people on a switch like that. It isn't realistic.
    • You haven't seen these guys work. They'll find somebody in the company to be their internal advocate and they'll keep feeding that person FUD, while building personal relationships over golf, dinner, etc.

      Did your company just get a new CIO, CFO, CEO, Manager IT, whatever? Microsoft, IBM, HP, etc. all know this and have already offered him dinner at a nice restaurant. They know that they don't need to convince the techies, just a few well-placed managers.

  • by kipple ( 244681 ) on Monday November 12, 2001 @09:20AM (#2553218) Journal
    isn't that a great way to make people talk about you? doesn't matter how, or what they say. just as they did when they blocked non-ie browsers to their website, *exactly* when they were launching xp..

    I refuse to believe that those 'memos' escape microsoft non-intentionally.. it just sounds suspect.
    just my .02 euros
    • I think I'm with you on this one. Just the opposite of "no news is good news": "any publicity is good publicity."

      Yes, we are talking about MS, but we are also talking about Linux in the same breath, and not in that conversation-ending kind of way.

      It seems that something so unassuming, so unpretentious (unlike their programmers) as Linux, is kind of like water. It will get into every crack, crevice, and nook, freeze in the winter and destroy us all =)
    • Open Source Monopoly (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Alien54 ( 180860 )
      As seen in these previous two articles: There is the possibility that Microsoft could face a situation where it could not embrace and extend and where it can not control that market, cannot monopolize it. Thus the efforts to outlaw open source: There are two basic ways to get ahead in this world.

      One is to build things up. The other is to tear things down.

      The problem comes when you view the freedom and success of others as an attack on your success. While any exercise of power will use both, when someone goes psycho or nuerotic on the second, then you have a real problem.

      It comes down to Microsoft being afraid of the freedom of others, or specifically certain people in MS are afraid of the freedom of others. Marketroids, etc. I'm willing to cut the coders some slack.

      Since the company is the vision and living embodiment of the vision of Bill Gates, not him.

      • Tatoos? (Score:3, Funny)

        by Alien54 ( 180860 )
        From the register article:

        Thank you team -- that's one less tattoo Mandy and crew will need to get.

        What kind of weird marketing practice is this? Have they take to branding and torturing the sales staff to help inspire them?


  • Good luck, MS (Score:2, Interesting)

    Not too easy competing with free, is it?

    They can't cry foul too hard though, since the relative cheapness of their platform and OS is one of the major elements that brought Wintel to the dominant place in the market...

    • Re:Good luck, MS (Score:3, Insightful)

      by daytrip00 ( 473461 )
      Well, Linux isn't necessarily free to use. If you want enterprise middleware (Application Servers, et al.) some buy WebShpere/WebLogic/whatever, which will set you back a few thousand bucks. MS platforms give you that middleware included in the price, moreover, if you're spending 80k on DB Server software, what does a couple thousnad bucks for Windows matter? Hey... But at least it's AN alternative.
    • Re:Good luck, MS (Score:3, Interesting)

      by einhverfr ( 238914 )
      Not too easy competing with free, is it?

      I would amend that statement:

      Not to easy competing with Free, is it?

      It is not the cost of the OS that matters but that there is an extremely large developer community working to make it better AND develop the kinds of application-building environments that Microsoft evengelizes. This helps to reduce the total cost and time to market. Whether Linux is there yet is a good question, and people like myself say it is, but the point is that it will continue to accellerate into other markets (desktop, etc.) and therefore is THE threat to Microsoft's very business model.1
  • by euroderf ( 47 ) <a@b.c> on Monday November 12, 2001 @09:23AM (#2553228) Journal
    This is another case like the Macintosh. With pressures coming from all sides in the department of Justice case, it can be easily seen that it helps MS greatly if they have a competitor.

    Enter Linux.

    Linux is not remotely a threat on the desktop - as long as it has multiple different GUI's and window managers and toolkits and all the rest, and a lack of a decent browser or office solution, it always will not be a threat.

    On the server end, Linux is more of a threat, but Microsoft has never had a big slice of this market anyway. If anything FreeBSD is a greater threat than Linux in this arena, as it is better performing.

    However, MS will always have a big place of the server market for as long as they produce a system that is easy to use. Not everyone can afford £60,000 a year for a Unix export, especially small businesses, to keep a server running. MS ensure that a boss can do such things part time - this has really driven the internet revolution, by opening access to the internet to many who would have been cut out by a skills shortage before.

    All in all, I can see that MS are wary of Linux, but in truth they have nothing to worry about, as the two OS'es operate in different spheres, and don't really compete at all except in the minds of unthinking Linux apologists and Windows Advocates.

    Windows will always have 95% of te market, MS need have no fear of that. The only way Linux will threaten this is if they start behaving in a more proprietry fashion by gearing things at the consumer and not at the Linux Geek.

    • Linux is not remotely a threat on the desktop - as long as it has multiple different GUI's and window managers and toolkits and all the rest, and a lack of a decent browser or office solution, it always will not be a threat.

      The latest Mozilla is more than decent.
    • I have been suspecting that Microsoft's strategy may well be along the lines of what the original poster suggested. Didn't the Hallowe'en documents emerge at a key point in the antitrust proceedings ? Isn't this memo now also emerging at a key point ?

      That Linux is making vast inroads at the server level is undeniable, but whether this by itself threatens Microsoft's OS hegemony is very, very arguable.

      However, with Microsoft seeding the public with the tantalizing possibility that maybe - just maybe - Microsoft no longer possesses the bone-crushing arm-twisting power of its former monopoly, they decrease the vociferousness of MS backlash and, more specifically, of DOJ remedies. Wouldn't breaking up Microsoft be silly if Microsoft no longer dominated the marketplace ?

      At this point, Microsoft can do no better than suggest that it has serious competitors. This may well be the rationale behind this (supposedly leaked) memo, just as it may well be the rationale for Microsoft supporting Apple with its cash infusions and now more recently with Office X.

      Don't believe everything you read.
    • This has already been labled as a troll - probably because it consists of common themes that surface and are debated. Its almost good old fashioned FUD. But enough bashing - lets hash out the issues.
      Linux is not remotely a threat on the desktop - as long as it has multiple different GUI's and window managers and toolkits and all the rest, and a lack of a decent browser or office solution, it always will not be a threat.
      I always enjoy these points. I might be failing to grasp the concept here - but I just don't see a problem with multiple toolkits, managers, etc. I can jump between KDE, GNOME, Winowmaker, Enlightenment, Sawfish... and still run all my apps without problems. What we're missing is tighter integration. It seems that KDE and GNOME are working on the architecture that'll provide the means for this integration in the future.

      Its all personal preference, but I'm finding the browser and office apps sufficient on Linux now. And they're improving. They may or may not be the best available - but then, "best" is only one of many factors in the IT industry. The biggest challenge may very well be nailing the moving target for office automation - MS Office data formats.

      On the server end, Linux is more of a threat, but Microsoft has never had a big slice of this market anyway. If anything FreeBSD is a greater threat than Linux in this arena, as it is better performing.
      *BSD may be a better performer - but we've already touched on the fact that doesn't mean everything. BSD doesn't have marketing buzz around it. IBM isn't supporting and pushing for it. And that's probably a shame - BSD deserves more credit for where it is now, and where it'll be in the future. But in the end its a moot point. BSD represents the same threat to Microsoft that Linux does. They both provide a route to Intel-based hardware without Microsoft.
      However, MS will always have a big place of the server market for as long as they produce a system that is easy to use. Not everyone can afford £60,000 a year for a Unix export, especially small businesses, to keep a server running. MS ensure that a boss can do such things part time - this has really driven the internet revolution, by opening access to the internet to many who would have been cut out by a skills shortage before.
      There are a lot of businesses that can't afford ANY kind of dedicated IT expertise. Heck - even major governments and corporations out-source. That's why IT has a thriving consultant / out-sourcing industry.

      I've found a rather nice consultant market supporting small businesses. Especially ones that started up their own internal IT and now need help. Running reliable network services requires more than finding somewhere to go clicky-clicky.

      In some cases, I've helped stabalize their Windows environment. Build up missing pieces. Sometimes missing pieces include Linux (or *BSD) solutions - including web/gui admin tools. Sometimes Windows machines get replaced by Linux. In the end, its about providing a reliable infrastructure. Windows or not - that takes some knowlege.

      All in all, I can see that MS are wary of Linux, but in truth they have nothing to worry about, as the two OS'es operate in different spheres, and don't really compete at all except in the minds of unthinking Linux apologists and Windows Advocates.
      If we assume the leaked letter is accurate, then the whole idea of the two OS not competing is already proven to be false. And its not too great a stretch to believe the letter could be true. Both Linux and Win2k provide viable server solutions on commodity hardware (even if it might be slightly more specialized server versions of that hardware). Once you hit that hardware, a major price point is hit. All you've got left to argue is licencing and support contracts. And in the end, that gets swalled up in marketing.

      Windows will always have 95% of te market, MS need have no fear of that. The only way Linux will threaten this is if they start behaving in a more proprietry fashion by gearing things at the consumer and not at the Linux Geek.
      You're talking desktop. As this article is covering the server side, I'm tempted to say its missing the point (as is all the other desktop talk). But it does touch on some interesting themes.

      The first is that Microsoft (like other tech giants such as Intel) know how volatile the tech industry is. They've profited by it. And they're paranoid that they'll fall victom to it. In short, current dominence does not guarentee the future. Enter .NET.

      We all know Microsoft is investing heavily in .NET and there are probably many reasons for this. In short, if Microsoft is going to have a future .NET is going to be it. So .NET needs to be successful. The more Windows servers out there the better. As Linux gains ground, the more impact it will have on the success of .NET. The future is far from certain for Microsoft.

      Linux could use some consumer-targeted improvements. But that doesn't have to happen at the expense of the "Linux Geek" or flocking to a proprietry stance.

      Linux is usable today.

      On the desktop, power users should have no problems. Complete novices should also have no problems assuming that the system is preconfigured (they would trip over either Windows or Linux if they had to do their own installs) and suitable applications exist (email, web browsing, etc). Its the desktop middle ground that will find Linux a challenge - perhapse more challenge than what they would get in return for the effort.

      On the server (where this article is really focused) Linux is a viable competitor. It provides services and hardware support that makes it attractive. It has invaded the space previously held almost solely by Microsoft.

  • by JonasH ( 183422 ) on Monday November 12, 2001 @09:24AM (#2553229) Homepage
    There are many other things that you need to watch out for with Linux and the Linux Compete Team has been busy creating some great collateral to help you win

    Oh! I volunteer for the Penguin Attack force[tm]. Can we have laser beams?

    Rasher - use it in new amazing ways.
  • Is the reverse true? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by webword ( 82711 ) on Monday November 12, 2001 @09:24AM (#2553234) Homepage
    Is Microsoft *the* threat to Linux?
    • Is Microsoft THE threat to Linux?

      I would say no. It may be argued that Microsoft may be a threat to RedHat, Mandrakesoft, Caldera etc. but they could never be a threat to Linux.

      Linus would continue to maintain the kernel, GNU would remain hairy, and ESR would remain mouthy no matter how much ground Microsoft may take from us.

      The only way Microsoft can threaten Linux is with crap like the SSSCA. Even then they can't use it to kill Linux, they could only force it out of the USA.
    • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Monday November 12, 2001 @09:50AM (#2553337)

      > Is Microsoft *the* threat to Linux?

      Yes. Linux is cutting off Microsoft's air supply. Microsoft will do everything in its power to kill Linux.

      And it won't be sufficient, for them, to merely get Linux out of businesses; as long as it merely exists they will continue to see it as a threat. So expect them to continue throwing money at businesses, OEMs, governments, etc., and to continue "oops"-breaking standards. But most of all, expect them to lobby for laws that will break the OSS paradigm under thinly veiled concern for IP, security, etc.

      After the DoJ cave-in it should be obvious that the only way for non-MS products to survive is to proactively destroy Microsoft. Unless you're vested in MSFT, you should be doing everything legal + ethical toward that goal (though there's no reason to suppose that MS will hamstring itself with the "legal + ethical" bit).
    • by Florian Weimer ( 88405 ) <> on Monday November 12, 2001 @09:58AM (#2553368) Homepage
      If you are referring to the Linux phenomenon/hype, I don't know.

      But if we look at Free Software in the broader sense, the answer is that even Microsoft is not powerful enough to crush the Free Software community. It might be harder than before to use Free Software (because you cannot access some content on the Web, or you cannot use certain hardware), but this would only result in a return to the level of, say 1995.

      Of course, there are threats to the Free Software community. The most dangerous one is abolishing the general purpose computer, i.e. a computer on which you decide which software you run and install. Abolishing the general purpose computer is certainly on the agenda of the copyright industry (look at all these copy prevention schemes), but it is not something Microsoft can do alone.
  • by TimFreeman ( 466789 ) <> on Monday November 12, 2001 @09:25AM (#2553235) Homepage
    Any guesses why they're pushing Windows 2000 as a substitute for Linux instead of Windows XP?
    • by Dynedain ( 141758 ) <slashdot2@anthonymc l i n . c om> on Monday November 12, 2001 @09:33AM (#2553266) Homepage
      Because there is no server version of WinXP (yet)....the memo was focused on server OS sales....which will of course in turn determine the client OS used.....

    • simple (Score:2, Redundant)

      by popeydotcom ( 114724 )
      XP Home & XP Professional are desktop operating systems. XP Server is the server OS, and it ain't out yet. 2000 is the only server product MS are pushing right now.

      And of course as we all know, Linux is a server OS, and isn't ready for the desktop ;)
      • Re:simple (Score:2, Informative)

        by Jenz ( 4055 )
        > XP Server is the server OS

        I've heard the server will be named .NET (from Microsoft in Norway).
    • 1) Because it's been tested more thoroughly. They don't want any nasty surprises, and pushing the customers towards an older, safer product is therefore a good thing.

      2) Once XP has been thoroughly tested/debugged/patched, they can send out their salesmen to explain/make up critical reasons to upgrade. This will make them more money.

      Any questions?
    • by bockman ( 104837 ) on Monday November 12, 2001 @09:43AM (#2553302)
      ... this is the reason.

      The memo says nothing new, actually. Companies are shifting from expensive proprietary platform (SUN, HP, IBM) to commodity PC, which now have enough horsepower for most of the common tasks tasks low-middle servers are purchased for.
      Without Linux, the 100% of these shifters would have gone in the arms of Microsoft. With Linux, they have to fight harder to get some of them.

      All this was already true two/three years ago, but now Linux is more recognized, also thanks to some advertising effort mainly sponsorised by IBM, and PHBs don't frown (much) anymore when their techs are proposing Linux-based solutions.

      This is why Linux it is considered _the_ threat for MS on the server market.

    • Any guesses why they're pushing Windows 2000 as a substitute for Linux instead of Windows XP?

      Because they're not competing on the desktop, but at the workgroup / data center level. This is clear in the article, why they are inventorying server rooms and competing with Sun, who don't have a much of a workstation presence outside specialist markets (engineering, finance, etc). Windows 2000 is the main server OS produced by Microsoft. I don't even know if there are plans for a server-optimized version of XP, possibly not, since the strategic objective of XP is to get the consumer market onto an NT kernel.
  • MS OpenMemo (Score:5, Funny)

    by imrdkl ( 302224 ) on Monday November 12, 2001 @09:26AM (#2553240) Homepage Journal
    From the memo: If any of you have additional wins against Linux, along with your strategies & tactics for winning, let me know for future e-mails!

    Yes, and be sure to CC the person who leaked this memo!

    • Re:MS OpenMemo (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Verteiron ( 224042 ) on Monday November 12, 2001 @09:31AM (#2553261) Homepage
      Actually we should send Linux victories to the person who wrote this memo. I'd wager this memo was intentionally "leaked" to have a demoralizing effect on the Linux community. We can only be so courteous in return.
  • interpretation (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jjshoe ( 410772 )
    this is all up to interpretation unfortunatly and what side your on depends if you use linux or something else.


  • Catch-22? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Yu Suzuki ( 170586 ) on Monday November 12, 2001 @09:29AM (#2553252) Homepage
    So is this good news or bad news after all?

    I guess the good news is that it shows GNU/Linux is gaining in popularity, enough that it is now "the long term threat against [MS'] core business" but -- do we want Microsoft using its substantial influence to retard the development and implementation of GNU/Linux and related free software? This basically a direct assault by MS -- look at the language they're using: "wins against Linux", "Linux Compete Team", etc.

    The free software community seems to be in a bit of a sticky point right now. We can no longer be completely ignored. However, the bigger we get, the more attention and fire we're going to get, and we're not really equipped to defend ourselves yet. It would nice to suddenly be the same size as Microsoft, to have that much power and influence, but the only way to get that influence is go through this very impenetrable gauntlet. It's a real Catch-22.

    Look at what happened to, say, Napster. When no one had heard of it, it was great. Then the meme started to spread, and more and more people adopted it, and it eventually trickled all the way into mainstream news. And as it broke onto the mainstream, the RIAA immediately caught wind of it (well, they'd probably caught wind of it earlier, but didn't need to take action against it until it was getting too popular) and shut it down. It's sort of like underground bands that steadily gain in popularity for their genuine talent, then suddenly use that popularity as a wedge to sell-out and become yet another generic pop group.

    Maybe GNU/Linux would be after all as a purely underground software phenomenom. Then the people who really need a free operating system can make use of it, without attracting fire from biased mainstream news outlets or monopolistic evil corporations. Maybe it's time to stop trying to position the growth of Linux as a "good" thing -- after all, you don't see ISO groups writing up Warez Advocacy FAQs, do you?

    Of course, there's really nothing we can do to STOP people from adopting Linux. It's just part of the cycle of things. The underground, real coders start an operating system (remember, DOS and Windows were the new kids on the block once), it gradually spreads to more and more people, it starts getting compromised by the mainstream, the underground jumps ship, the platform soon dies without the support of the underground, and the underground begins its work anew.

    To continue the MP3-sharing-software analogy, look at how Napster was abandoned in favor of Morpheus and Audiogalaxy. Now everyone knows about and is using them. So the RIAA sues them, and they've started to crack down. Now we'll have a bit of a "dead" period, but soon they'll be another wave coming out of the underground.

    It's all cycle.

    • Re:Catch-22? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ab315 ( 443209 ) on Monday November 12, 2001 @09:58AM (#2553367)

      There is no comparison with Napster.

      Napster was blatantly illegal and deserved to be shut down. It was just a warez site for music.

      If people were trading free music that would be different. Some artists produce free music and it is up to the public what they choose to listen to.

    • Re:Catch-22? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ethereal ( 13958 ) on Monday November 12, 2001 @10:06AM (#2553401) Journal
      The free software community seems to be in a bit of a sticky point right now. We can no longer be completely ignored. However, the bigger we get, the more attention and fire we're going to get, and we're not really equipped to defend ourselves yet. It would nice to suddenly be the same size as Microsoft, to have that much power and influence, but the only way to get that influence is go through this very impenetrable gauntlet. It's a real Catch-22.

      Here's the thing: free software is immune to Microsoft's normal kind of attacks. They can't buy it out, and although they can out-market it, the best and original Linux marketing was all word-of-mouth. Microsoft can't destroy free software as long as there remains one free software developer. They can only hope to contain it by competing on the basis of price and features. And competing with something that's free will eventually sap their strength, one way or the other.

  • Unix (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sql*kitten ( 1359 ) on Monday November 12, 2001 @09:34AM (#2553270)
    Note the emphasis of the article. Microsoft believe that they are being very successful in migrating people away from Unix. Linux is eating into Sun, HP, IBM et al at the low end. Microsoft don't appear to be worried about people replacing Windows with Linux, they are worried about people *not* replacing Unix with Windows, which isn't quite as triumphalist as the Slashdot story suggests.

    And the worry is not to do with TCO and administration and operations, areas in which many people believe Unix has a clear advantage (altho' Windows 2K and XP are catching up fast). It's the porting of existing applications, which is perceived to be easier from Unix to Linux than it is from Unix to Windows. But remember that you can buy tools (MKS Toolkit for example) that make it very easy to do, and that Rogue Wave et al sell APIs that make it easy, and that in a world of Java/EJB, the virtual machines on Windows are very good indeed - often faster than VMs from the same vendors on Sun.

    So what I'm saying is, Microsoft are taking Linux seriously, like they take *all* existing and even potential competitors. And, my general feeling from reading sources like /. is that Linux developers like to compete against MS, but haven't givin much thought to cannibalizing the existing Unix user base, and *that* is where this particular battle is being fought,
    • Re:Unix (Score:4, Insightful)

      by rutledjw ( 447990 ) on Monday November 12, 2001 @12:40PM (#2554146) Homepage
      I'm rather suprised to see some of the comments above:
      areas in which many people believe Unix has a clear advantage (altho' Windows 2K and XP are catching up fast)

      According to whom? MS? I think not, as these OSs grow they are also growing in bloat, stability may be increased, but the ratio of people needed to babysit those machines is far greater than *nix. Also the overhead of running those system means that you need more hardware to achieve desired performance. Neither is a big TCO plus. For large scale systems, I don't know of anyone who's pushing MS for TCO reasons. They're simply not viable

      areas in which many people believe Unix has a clear advantage (altho' Windows 2K and XP are catching up fast)

      WHAT?!? Which VMs are you speaking of? We justified migration to Linux based solely on speed tests (very basic tests) of Java on MS vs. Linux and Sun. Sun on SPARC wasn't really fair given HW differences, but Solaris and MS on Intel were neck and neck with Linux outperforming both by a comfortable margin (which suprised me all around).

      I haven't seen many J2EE deployments on MS. Developed - yes, deployed - no. Why would someone want to? You develop something that runs on multiple plaforms and then deploy on the Lowest Common Denominator. Why?

      I agree with you on the *nix front though. I think that much of the growth of Linux has been at the expense of lower-end *nix systems. The word is that Linux may not be eating away much at MS server numbers.

      However, I've had 3 projects in the last 1.5 years replacing MS solutions for J2EE on Solaris and Linux, so I think there is migration which will catch up to MS at some point. This is not a battle to be won overnight...
    • Grow or Die (Score:3, Interesting)

      by emil ( 695 )

      Remember that Microsoft is in a "Grow or Die" mode right now.

      They have finally saturated the desktop market. They are trying to sustain growth in that sector, but doing so generates more and more bad PR as they crack down on the license terms.

      In looking for areas in which to grow, the server market has become a primary target.

      The problem for Microsoft is that you can only pull the wool over their eyes for so long - eventually, everyone is going to realize that what they are charging for can be had from other vendors for free (with higher quality as a bonus).

      This fact will become even more aparent with UNIX releases tailored to run Win32 binaries (aka Lindows, etc.).

      Regardless of how much marketing they throw at this issue, they can't change the fundamental truth behind it.

      In a related vein, I heard a rumor that Microsoft is threatening the states that won't settle in the antitrust case with reduced licensing at high prices - supposedly some universities have been called and threatened with cutoffs or price increases.

      I really hope that Microsoft tries this. I would wholeheartedly approve of the state and/or federal goverment throwing a few million dollars at developing alternate Win32 platforms.

  • From: Bill (

    To: Brian Valentine

    Subject: Sales team motivation...


    I'm concerned about a lack of motivation on the part of our sales team in really pressing the benefits of XP, .NET, and the evil of Linux on our customers. As you know, Linux is the threat to our business, and we need all the wins we can get.

    That's why I think we need to take a more agressive stance in our internal communications with our sales people. Starting today, I'm authorizing you to initialize Operation Ink. The main thrust of this operation is:

    To make all staff aware that losses to our filthy Linux competitors will result in immediate butt-tatooing. Failure is not an option here people, and it will result in harsh, painful posterior inking of anyone who drops the ball. Staff should also be aware of the possibility of tatoo's being done by myself personally, with the additional possibility of sodomy.

    Please make sure that all staff are made immediately aware of this new corporate policy, Brian. I mean it. Don't make me subject you to "discipline".


  • by p3d0 ( 42270 ) on Monday November 12, 2001 @09:35AM (#2553273)
    "If they're the city of progress, why are they running Linux?", Brett jokes.
    Ha ha ha! Oh hoh hoh hoh! Oh Brett, you rapscallion. You really know how to turn a phrase.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 12, 2001 @09:35AM (#2553274)
    i think someone should point out that the register often prints rumors and other stories with only a slight reason to believe something is true and very little research.

    god knows i've seen countless articless there where they've just been entirely wrong.
  • by Carnage4Life ( 106069 ) on Monday November 12, 2001 @09:37AM (#2553286) Homepage Journal
    Hmmm, I expected something extremely damning when I clicked on the Register story but saw little to be surprised about. MSFT's biggest rival in the server space used to be proprietary UNIX, now that expensive proprietary UNIX solutions are giving way to cheaper Linux solutions it only makes sense that MSFT should refocus their energies at Linux. This is especially since the biggest UNIX vendors(IBM, HP/Compaq, Sun) have all embraced Linux in one way or the other from IBM's billion dollar campaigns to Sun ensuring that the next version of Solaris runs Linux binaries.

    MSFT didn't get where they were today by ignoring rivals and pretending they don't exist so I don't see why this memo should come as a shock to anyone. Frankly, what would have surprised me is if there were no internal emails flying around concerned about the growing popularity of Linux and how to tackle it.

  • ...Linux may well be a threat to M$, but according to this article [], a bug in Microsoft's new operating system could lead to actual physical harm of its users.
  • I don't see anything particularly vile or reprehensible in the MS memo. It looked like some fairly standard marketing diatribe and the kind of thing that any agressive company would promote.

    What's to be learned from this? That if you want Linux out there instead of MS, then you're going to have to market it. Whoever is selling Linux based solutions will need to be just as tenacious and aggressive as a MS marketer can be. No laying down just because Solaris/AIX/HP-UX/etc to Linux is a "natural" migration -- it's clear that MS will make it seem unnatural, slow, error prone, etc. After all, if they can sell IIS over Apache (and web service is one of Linux's strengths), they can certainly do it in other areas as well.

    IBM's marketing department has been aggressive for decades. And I know most small firms don't roll over and play dead easily either (or else they wouldn't be in business long), but this is a good reminder that there's competition out there.
  • by LazyDawg ( 519783 ) <lazydawg AT hotmail DOT com> on Monday November 12, 2001 @09:42AM (#2553299) Homepage
    Is great, because deep down inside we really are a plague. We have:

    1. Carriers --> the pre-installed masses out there who love the OS and tote it everywhere they can. You can't cure a carrier with the M$ vacciene, because they're stuck with the disease for life, for free, and don't even understand that its a problem, because they typically show none of the symptoms.

    2. Infection Vectors --> You can also spot evangelists, who might not be the best users or carriers around, but they sure do love to spread the word, show the symptoms of the "disease" of Linux, and make serious threats to Microsoft's soverignty.

    3. Symptoms --> Ranting about Emacs vs. Vi, BSD vs. GNU, wearing funny tee-shirts, or having epileptic fits about free software costing literally nothing at work, at home, during spare time, on dates, etc. People who do not learn to tame these symptoms can end up becoming terminal geeks, even if they are recovering Windows users.

    Which is probably why Microsoft sales people have to spot the companies with even a single Linux user, because they KNOW Linux will spread if left untreated.
  • "If they're the city of progress, why are they running Linux?", Brett jokes. "We're going in there to show them how much value exists in the Microsoft platform and take this win away from Linux!" Key in both accounts is the way Brett's team positions Microsoft's future .NET vision as well as providing great products like Windows 2000 to start building on that vision today.

    I think Scott Adams was right when he placed the sign: "Two Drink Minimum" above the entrance to Marketing.
  • Hey (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Spackler ( 223562 ) on Monday November 12, 2001 @09:46AM (#2553319) Journal
    "...where you see Sun machines, IBM, etc and ask them what they running on those machines"

    Fess up Linus, you wrote this, didn't you?
  • by KennyLB ( 303512 ) on Monday November 12, 2001 @09:48AM (#2553328)
    I highly suggest using DemoLinux [] to show people how easy Linux is to use. It has a lot of powerful features such as StarOffice, GIMP, etc. and requires no install to run. First download the .iso and burn it to a CD. Make a boot disk using the CD-ROM, insert both disks into the computer you want to demonstrate Linux on, and reboot. The computer will restart and load X Windows automatically. DemoLinux also gives the user the option to install Linux to the hard drive if the user likes it. This is a great way to demo Linux to anyone, a business or a home user.
    • Well.. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mindstrm ( 20013 )
      When I demo linux to a business.. I need to show them more than 'look you can open a word document'.

      If you try to simply show them a desktop, you may lose.

      I need to show them how one fairly cheap server can handle remote desktops with all the neat features using a bunch of crap PC's. I need to show them how it will be much LONGER before they need to upgrade their PCs to run new applications. I need to show them that, instead of upgrading all 20 pc's in their network in a few years, they will only have to add a new server (and even keep using the old one as well).

      And I need them to actually SEE this working, because otherwise they don't buy it.

      Then I show them how, oh, you have expansion plans? Well when you add 20 more staff, with this system, you don't NEED to spend a couple grand on each person for a computer.. you can buy terminals from so-and-so and just drop them in.. and they will simply work.
  • Not Yet (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Uttles ( 324447 ) <> on Monday November 12, 2001 @09:50AM (#2553338) Homepage Journal
    Linux won't be "the threat" to Microsoft until any average Joe can put in the CD's, select what they want, install, reboot, and EVERYTHING works. The one thing MS is good at is helping out the user when configuring the system. Now, don't get me wrong, it only works for a couple of days, then you get the blue screen of death or some sort of conflict, etc. The simple fact is though, any person can install any hardware as long as they have the Windows CD. The computer says: "I detect new hardware" and asks for the CD, and that's all you have to do. That takes away from the user control, and that is something I don't like.

    My main point is that I've just started to get into Linux and I really like it so far, but it's a pain in the ass to get everything working. I have a 6 month old Gateway with a P 4 and all widely used hardware, so the latest distros of RedHat or Mandrake should have no problem with it, but they do. I can't get my soundcard to work, my USB HomePNA device, and other stuff I probably haven't gotten to yet. I'm sure I'll figure it out, but I have a background in computers, it shouldn't take that to get a computer to work. That's the main problem right now with Linux, it's just not that easy to get everything up and running. On the other hand, the main advantage of Linux is that once it is running, it doesn't stop.
    • > Linux won't be "the threat" to Microsoft until any average Joe can put in the CD's,
      > select what they want, install, reboot, and EVERYTHING works.

      The type of installation we are talking about is one like mine, where there are 60,000 desktops. This is where Linux could be a threat to MS, think of 60K WXP and Office XP licences to keep track of. Think of the number of servers you have to keep up to provide file and print. Think of the effort you need to implement and maintain PDC/BDC or Active Directory. Moving that from Windows to Linux could really cost MS a packet.
    • I can give two recent examples:
      1. I recently upgraded vmware on Linux, which required me to change my video driver, because the vmware code for the video adapter changed. (Please note that this example works just as well when you upgrade video cards.) When I rebooted with the upgraded video device, my machine would hang. Apparently it's critically important to first tell Windows (98) that the video device is 640x480 standard VGA. It took several reboots to remove the offending adapter driver and get the machine working again.
      (BTW - on RH Linux, when I install a new video adapter, the on-boot hardware detection routine notices and asks me to configure it. One boot cycle to fully functional X windows. If I didn't need to power down to install the card, it would have required 0 boot cycles!)

      2. I recently acquired a Kensington USB video camera. Kensington no longer manufactures such devices, and has produced drivers for '95&'98 only. Users with 2000 or XP are simply out of luck. While I have a '98 machine on which I can use the camera, if I want to "upgrade" to a later version of windows, I'll need to buy new hardware.

      (BTW - Interestingly, on RH Linux I was able to get the camera working just fine with xawtv. Here a device is not supported by the manufacturer, no Linux drivers have been produced, and the free software geeks reverse engineered the functionality and produced drivers, then gave them away!)

      Don't even get me started on how dang complex all of this stuff is! My sister just got a cable modem and wants to set up a network so her kids can share the internet connection with her. She needs a firewall, proxy server/NAT solution, LAN adapters, cabling, ad nauseum! None of that is trifling, regardless of OS. (For her I'm recommending a dedicated device for firewall and a local consultant to assist with configuration.)

      WRT your problems, have you had the opportunity to seek assistance from any newsgroups/mailing lists? I'm not sure that I can be of great assistance, but I'm willing to try. Please email me if you are interested.
  • sales people (Score:3, Interesting)

    by More Trouble ( 211162 ) on Monday November 12, 2001 @09:56AM (#2553360)
    What a wacky nut this guy is. Reminds me why I hate sales people, particularly crazy used car salesmen cum M$ Sales.

    The question is, who's going out and pushing Linux like this? In my experience, sysadmins "sell" Linux in their organizations, not an external sales force. Unfortuntely, it's often the case that an external "expert" is more respected than any member of staff.
  • by IPFreely ( 47576 ) <> on Monday November 12, 2001 @10:17AM (#2553441) Homepage Journal
    The sales stories caught my attention here. They brag about their recent big sales/installations as wins.

    Maybe Linux needs a large advocacy site or two that specifically does these things:
    1. List companies/organizations that have switched to or are created new uses for Linux.
    2. Allow those companies to post their own progress reports, the good and the bad.
    3. The linux comunity could provide anything from advice to development support for these companies.
    4. Advocates could point to this site as a Linux testamonial and direct rebuttal to the same type of stories that MS uses. By showing the good and the bad it displays honesty (Which MS can't do) and by showing support activity, they see that there really is good support, and that bad senarios can be corrected with enough people available at your fingertips.

    I know lots of this type of support is available through news groups and other channels. I suggest this specifically as a commercial/sales type operation. It should be big and well advertised and pointed directly at the corporate officer, with specific examples of problems found and solved. This is MS home territory. Lets get the battle off our terf and onto theirs.

  • by Kefaa ( 76147 ) on Monday November 12, 2001 @10:18AM (#2553447)
    Microsoft and the current DOJ lawyers started with the economy card. Sue Microsoft, see the economy tumble. Next we had a judge whose orders were to settle this, out of court. Why? It appears she has a lack of both Anti-trust and technology experience.

    Then in a secret meeting between Microsoft's attorney (a former Reagan appointee) and the lead attorney for the DOJ (a current appointee), a deal less restrictive than accepted prior to the trail was accepted without the state's knowledge.

    This is an op-ed piece supplied for the consumption of U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly. As we start to enter the 60-day review period, this will give Microsoft more leverage to indicate they do have competition and the deal is fair. Of course, the exclusions put into the deal also ensure Open source will not be considered a legitimate third party to receive any advance notice or right to information.

    In addition, they can force those who do have 'the right" to sign non-disclosures, under the guise of ensuring security, and sue anyone attempting to provide access to open source. Then they begin legal action against anyone who uses the information to enhance open source.

    While it may make us "feel good" to know we are considered a threat, we are not. A threat is something you do not have a solution for. They have a solution and it is about to become a legal document by which they can exclude all open source from access.

    Consider how far we could push Linux, BSD, etc... into an environment where merely communicating with the existing NT network would be considered illegal. A simple API change we cannot mimic or duplicate and they can tie it up in court for years. The mere specter of such possibility will keep us out of many shops.

    Now is the time to re-read Ralph Nader's letter [] and create your own. Keep it specific to the agreement, factual and polite. This will become a legal document, not an editorial or slashdot forum. Revise, reread, and revise some more. When the 60-day period begins, print it off, and mail it. Start working on it now to be ready when the time comes.

    Note to editors: can we put up a forum where people can post their letters for comment?
  • Is it real? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Florian Weimer ( 88405 ) <> on Monday November 12, 2001 @10:38AM (#2553532) Homepage
    In the past, quite a few NTs appeared on The Register and had to be retracted later on. Can we believe this one? Let's check the available facts.

    Brian Valentine exists at Microsoft, he's the Senior Vice President of the Windows Devision []. Would he address his colleagues in such a way? Why not.

    JB Were's web site is partly dysfunctional, so not much information on this one. The City of Largo has just succesfully migrated to KDE desktops at the end of August []. It's a bit hard to believe that they switch again after such a short time, and that his wasn't addressed in Valentine's memo at all (maybe it's about the servers, who knows, but then things would be really, really bizarre). Ameritrade has already been a Microsoft customer [].

    So, if this one is faked, it was faked in a much more credible manner than the previous NTs.

  • by shut_up_man ( 450725 ) on Monday November 12, 2001 @10:53AM (#2553636) Homepage
    A much bigger threat to Microsoft than Linux is market stagnation. 90% market share means you have to look to other markets for customers (Xbox, keyboards, mice, Pocket PC), try and sell your product over again to the same people (XP), or change to a rental structure (.NET).

    Having salespeople trying to win business in the fractionally tiny sliver of the leftover 10% of the market "people who are migrating from unix to linux" is freaking lame - what about the rather hefty and lucrative segment "people who aren't migrating to XP because it doesn't offer anything compelling"?

    Microsoft should be spending its billions generating new demand, not trying to take its 90% market share to 92.5%. Where are the golden oldies, like voice recognition, speech synthesis, handwriting recognition, not to mention all the crazy stuff that no-one's dreamed up yet? Where are the VR interfaces, massive dataset visualisers, database filesystems, all built to smash my machine into whimpering shards and only run on XP(tm)?

    The only killer app driving upgrades seems to be games, and MS seems to be further stagnating that by shifting games like Halo to the XBox. If a PC version of "uber-Halo" required a P4 2Ghz & Windows XP, gamers from here to Osaka would be selling their livers to get on board, economic downturn or no.

    So Linux? A tiny dot in comparison.

    shut up man
  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Monday November 12, 2001 @10:57AM (#2553673) Homepage
    I went to visit the article and followed the links to the Halloween documents [] page provided there. I never actually read this set of pages before so I decided that I'd just go ahead and educate myself rather than relying on the concensus to set my opinion.

    As I read the Halloween information at the site indicated above, I decided to re-read the "Linux Myths" page at I had read that one before in its entirety but I wanted to refresh my memory once more. As it turns out, the "Linux Myths" page is either missing or has been moved. So I searched using their search facility.

    Entering "Linux Myths" into the search text box and "OK" I waited and waited for a response and eventually, the page came up with a header but a blank body portion of the page. "An error?" I thought to myself. I tried again with the same results. Then, I searched only "Linux" with the same results. Finally, I wanted to test the search to see if it was broken. I searched "Office 97" and was immediately given a long list of document references from the search. The search is not broken, it appears to be blocked!

    Is reference information regarding Linux blocked at Microsoft's site intentionally? Maybe someone could test that.
  • Installability (Score:5, Interesting)

    by olympus_coder ( 471587 ) on Monday November 12, 2001 @11:03AM (#2553730) Homepage
    Several people have made comments about how linux will not be truely competative until any joe can stick it in isntall and reboot:

    I work as a IT person. In the last two months I have done ~10 linux and ~10 windows installs.

    Total problems that caused install to take more than 2 hours with WinNT/98 - 6
    Total problems that caused install to take more than 2 hours with RedHat 7.1/7.2 - 1

    I'm not the average person, but if you just want to pop a cd in and go, redhat is MUCH better than any MS OS has ever been (although I haven't been able to try the XP install).
  • by AppyPappy ( 64817 ) on Monday November 12, 2001 @11:37AM (#2554043)
    As long as Gates can make Linux look like a threat, he can continue to say that Windows is not a monopoly. These "leaked" memos are intended for the courts, not the general public.

    I'll believe Linux is a serious threat when Bill Gates tries to crush it like a bug.
  • by jmccay ( 70985 ) on Monday November 12, 2001 @01:29PM (#2554391) Journal
    How do we really know this is real? Has anyone seen the email trail back to microsoft? I am just playing devils advocate here, but How do we know some didn't make it up the forward it to the Register.

    Can we call these the Turkey Documents?
  • by eramm ( 231397 ) on Monday November 12, 2001 @02:05PM (#2554517)
    according to this page (last updated june 01) tm

    " Ameritrade, one of the largest online brokerages, provides its primary web access through Linux--a substantial commitment given its 1.5M clients execute over 100K trades per day, for which security is an absolute. Ameritrade is also one of the fastest-loading homepages on the Web."

    a netcraft query shows they are running
    Server: Stronghold/3.0 Apache/1.3.12 C2NetEU/3011 (Unix) mod_ssl/2.6.4 OpenSSL/0.9.5a mod_perl/1.22

    sounds like they still have some linux left in them.
  • by flbeachlf ( 514817 ) on Monday November 12, 2001 @02:11PM (#2554542)
    I've been getting email from people about this '
    leaked memo' and wanted to let those interested know that in no way has our roadmap changed.

    We were contacted by Microsoft, and they asked questions about how we have deployed Linux and what issues are keeping us from using more Microsoft products. We expressed concerns about licenses, and about the number of people that can be run on Windows in a centralized environment on the same hardware (about 1 to 5 compared to Linux) and how many more people we would have to hire if we moved in that direction. We had a short meeting with them to review the XP product line and see it running in person. We have some stand alone PCs that are running at our library for patrons and at some point those machines probably will be running XP, so we wanted to check it out. We also run some Citrix/WTS products on NT and wanted to review what their plans are for the future to ensure we can continue to run those programs.

    We are still seeing Penguins for almost everything running here and in fact there are 3 servers sitting 15 feet from my desk that are spinning RedHat 7.2 right now and being prepared to enter production.

    Nothing has changed...and we certainly appreciate those people that cared enough to drop us a line.

    Dave Richards
    City of Largo, FL (Yes, "City of Progress")
    Systems Administrator.
  • Ghandi (Score:3, Insightful)

    by redelm ( 54142 ) on Monday November 12, 2001 @02:32PM (#2554667) Homepage
    After reading the orignal leaked memo at the bottom of the Register webpage, I recalled Mahatma Ghandi's quote about getting the British out of India:

    First they ignore you
    then they laugh at you
    then they fight you
    then you win.

    Microsoft has clearly stepped through to the fighting.

  • by Lethyos ( 408045 ) on Monday November 12, 2001 @03:25PM (#2554835) Journal
    This memo talks about "winning" customers from one platform or another. Reading through the posts here, I see lots of people saying how they got "wins" by switching some server to Linux from Windows or UNIX or whatever.

    This is the wrong strategy. This is playing by the rules Microsoft want to set. How about we follow the lead Linus sets and just do our thing and improve over ourselves, and not worry about what MS think.

    If peoeple are wise and insightful enough to use Linux over other solutions, let them reap the benefits. Otherwise, lets not waste our efforts cramming success down peoples' throats. If they want to suffer with Windows, let them. We'll still have the superior operating system, and their increased costs will enact Darwin's laws.

    We will lose if we play Microsoft's game. They have it rigged against us. Concentrate on code... write software, not marketing pamphlets.
  • by Junks Jerzey ( 54586 ) on Monday November 12, 2001 @03:49PM (#2554981)
    It took me a while to put my finger on exactly why this article--and many of the responses to it--annoyed me, but I think I have it now.

    You know that Ghandi quote that people who take Linux a bit too seriously love? The one that begins "First they laugh at you..."? The wisdom behind those words is that once you become an active participant in a so-called "battle" of this type, then you have lost. The quiet revolution is one that eventually bubbles to the surface because it is _honest_. People going about their lives, doing what they believe in, is a powerful thing. It is more powerful that calls to arms and out-and-out zealotry. In fact, the latter often tends to get people away from what it was they believed in in the first place; they get swept away by the grandeur of the "war," and no longer represent their original ideals.

    Linux was interesting when it was the honest bubbling up of what was perceived as a better solution by some people. Now that there has become obvious and pointless fighting between Linux users and Microsoft, it isn't Microsoft that has is Linux. All this energy devoted toward hating Windows, talking about Microsoft, putting down XP, and as a result a large, large segement of Linux users have become these aimless zealots who don't even know why they use Linux any more other than to crush Microsoft. And as such, Linux has lost.
  • by PD ( 9577 ) <> on Monday November 12, 2001 @06:20PM (#2555861) Homepage Journal
    From the article:

    if you see Linux and/or IBM in there with it, then get all over it. Don't lose a single win to Linux.

    Someone should tell that guy that if you lose, then it's not a win. It makes no sense at all to say that you "lost a win".

    Unless, perhaps win means Windows. If their customers lose their win, that means that they REALLY win.

    If I become a salesman someday, I'm going to play stupid head tricks with my fellow salesmen. For an experiment, I'm going to see if I can get everyone to say "come on and let's win the FUCK out of it." That would be funny.
  • by 3seas ( 184403 ) on Monday November 12, 2001 @06:33PM (#2555927) Homepage Journal
    It's funny how not only MS doesn't realize what it is deaing with but that even a large number of linux supporters don't realize.

    MS being fearful of linux/gnu/gpl is as silly as being afraid of the ground doing damage to the foundation of a house. Trying to dig the dirt away to protect the foundation.

    Linux/gnu/gpl is a natural evolution of common open computer science/industry/application that is only comming into focus now because MS's distraction (which started with Bill Yelling Piracy) is being seen for what it is, a distraction of what would have otherwise beter evolved.

    There is no way to stop this evolution, it's been held back long enough. And to add to this, IBM has begun to recognize the need to openly move towards auto-coding techniques - autonomic computing [] and an open source bridge tool eclipse []

    As a matter of genuine computer science and the core of autonomic computing there are the NINE action/function constants []

    In short: MS is trying to battle what is in essence genuine computer science, the natural laws of the physical phenomenon of how we use abstractions. Inherently MS will lose, for even it has to use these in the distractions and distortions it tries to create.

    The fact this direction is being called linux is perhaps a distraction from the GNU effort which is in fact just a label that is being used to identify this open source direction.

System restarting, wait...