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Microsoft Says IBM/Linux Their Biggest Threat 466

krypt0n0mic0n writes "An article at The Register shows that Microsoft sees IBM and Linux as the biggest threats to their market domination. Microsoft's Eric Rudder is quoted as saying that Linux is a "formidable" challenge and that "IBM is our greatest competitor. In the way they sell products and compete in corporate accounts." It goes on to say that they believe the NET server will be a challenge to these competitors."
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Microsoft Says IBM/Linux Their Biggest Threat

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 26, 2002 @01:38PM (#3959507)
    To defeat Microsoft, dominance of non-M$ technologies in the enterprise area is key.
    If they gain a significant foothold there, their control will be near total, and they'll
    have a cash source with which to fund the ultimate destruction of all competetors.

    Conversely, if Linux/Unix/Java win the enterprise space, Microsoft will have no new source
    of revenue and the encroachment of deskop alternatives (OSX and Linux and BSD) will
    eventually destroy their financial base.

    It's important to ensure that the .NET CLR is either a non-starter (as it's been thus far), or
    that quality, truly open source, implementations exist on non-MS platforms. Whatever they
    say, Microsoft wants to control the uptake of .NET in such a way that business software will
    really only run on their platforms. They're not producing a public standard for the sake of being
    good corporate citizens. They're going to try to ensure that they're the . in .NET, and that solutions
    that would have gone Java will go their way on their software. There's no incentive to have
    real competition in server platforms for .NET applications. The point of .NET is to sell more
    copies of windows, SQLServer, and Visual Studio.
  • by Frobnicator ( 565869 ) on Friday July 26, 2002 @01:41PM (#3959532) Journal

    I thought the systems were supposed to be useful, not just purchased. The headline shows corporate greed, once again.

    I would like to see a headline like "Microsoft is concerned IBM and Linux may offer more consumer benefits".

  • by lionchild ( 581331 ) on Friday July 26, 2002 @01:43PM (#3959549) Journal
    Let's all get in our good old Way-Back Machines, and travel back in time... Does anyone remember that joint venture product IBM was putting out? OS/2, version 1.3...then later version 2...and Warp, etc..? For anyone whose been fortunate enough to really work with any of the old OS/2 products, you'll remember that when correctly installed and configured, they're still a very rock solid product. Not much the same can be said for most of the current M$ products, save perhaps Win 2k.

    The difference between these two corporate giants is that they really are opposites of one another. You see, IBM -can- make good, rock-solid products...however, they couldn't market themselves out of a wet paper bag. :- While our "friends" and M$ could sell sand to a man stranded in the desert, sometimes the products they rush out aren't as solid as we'd like them to be.

    I can see how M$ would be threatened. If IBM learned how to market things, they could be a formidable player.
  • by turgid ( 580780 ) on Friday July 26, 2002 @01:50PM (#3959621) Journal
    ...and you've forgotten, or maybe are too young to remember, when it was IBM that had the virtual monopoly...

    Maybe Microsoft is about to Microchannel Architectur e itself? "The era of open computing has ended"

    Maybe intel is doing the same with itanium...

    There comes a time when the market can no longer sustain the over-ambitious revenue plans of monopolies.

  • by SuperHighImpact ( 463360 ) on Friday July 26, 2002 @01:52PM (#3959640)

    Before everyone gets overexcited and declares a victory of some sort, let's examine possible Micro$oft motives for saying this. It helps them "prove" that they are not a monopoly. By definition, monopolies don't have "formidable challengers."

    I have a hard time believing that this (and anything statements from M$) are anything but strategically thought out ways to further line their pockets.

    No, their not just being "frank."

  • by N3WBI3 ( 595976 ) on Friday July 26, 2002 @01:52PM (#3959646) Homepage
    Remember that at most company the techs dont make the decisions.. I work in an itdev shop and we had a PM come up to us and demend we screap of linux/apache web server and replace it with IIS because he like some of the widgets...
  • by kafka93 ( 243640 ) on Friday July 26, 2002 @01:55PM (#3959680)
    It seems that Microsoft has been using the "Linux is only free if your time isn't worth anything" argument far too often without any real response from the OSS/Free software community. Certainly, we all understand the fallacy of the argument, but I think that this is an underappreciated attempt on marketing spin by Microsoft which isn't being properly addressed.

    Yes, implementation always costs money. GNU/Linux is no different from any other operating system in this respect. But why is nobody in the media pointing out that *implementing and maintaining Microsoft software is similarly time consuming* and that, over any reasonable period of time, it's *at least as costly* as Linux? By allowing these constant references to "Linux being free like a puppy", and by not responding with incredulity, we're aiding Microsoft. It might seem obvious to you and me that the spin is silly, but journalists appear to be buying into it -- and so will potential users who are already frightened by the concept of arcane shells and incompatible office documents.

    The true benefits of Linux need to be restated - as well as being 'free', it's also robust, powerful, usable. I'm concerned that these concessions by Microsoft are really just new forms of attack upon Linux - attacks that are potentially more damaging than the previous tactic of ignoring the operating system completely, since they play to the concerns of non-technical users (and management).

    Thousands of happy Linux users can -- and must -- attest to the fact that Linux just works better for a large number of tasks. The ideas that it's more difficult to use well and involves more effort and money to deploy successfully are simply untrue, at least on the server market.

  • by essiescreet ( 553257 ) on Friday July 26, 2002 @01:55PM (#3959681)
    I was at a tech show a few months ago, and saw an IBM Linux demo by an IBM guy.

    He made a big deal about how much money IBM spent on linux development, and how they made it back within a year.

    He also said that they were going to port *ALL* of their products to *ALL* of their hardware lines at a point in the futire.

    Think of the implications of this. You can buy an eleventy thousand dollar site lisc. for Microsoft Whatever 2004 and a support contract with Microsoft, or you can buy a $40 copy of RedHat linux and a support contract with RedHat.

    That is quite a competitive standpoint for linux in general...
  • by alyosha1 ( 581809 ) on Friday July 26, 2002 @01:55PM (#3959685)
    "Rudder said in 2003 Microsoft must ensure .NET becomes the preferred architecture for application development. To achieve this, Microsoft must convert millions of developers using existing versions of C/C++ and Visual Basic onto .NET versions of the company's languages." So, I should stop writing C/C++ code that will compile on practically any architecture in existence, and switch to Microsoft's proprietary version that will limit my users to a single vendor's platform? The advantage to me as a developer is what exactly?
  • Open up! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by EvilBudMan ( 588716 ) on Friday July 26, 2002 @01:59PM (#3959714) Journal
    -- "We need to build a vibrant and healthy developer community. That's the lesson Linux has taught us. Having people to help. Knowing where to get questions answered," Rudder said. --

    M$, open up some of your source code. That might help.

  • by Corporate Troll ( 537873 ) on Friday July 26, 2002 @02:03PM (#3959749) Homepage Journal
    now that win 2K is stable enough that most people don't need to upgrade ever again

    Yes, that is what I said about Windows NT4. I liked it (once I understood it), and thought this is all I need. However hardware evolved and in came Plug And Play devices and later on USB (and AGP, but that was supported by the graphics card manufacturers). Both were never added to Windows NT4. Why is completely beyond me, but it all makes sense. To have those feature you need Windows 2000. Don't underestimate the evolution in hardware: if your OS doesn't support it you will need to upgrade. That is exactly what will happen in the next iteration of Microsoft operating systems. It's just a matter of time.

  • Re:Microsoft (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Richard_at_work ( 517087 ) <> on Friday July 26, 2002 @02:04PM (#3959762)
    doesnt linux have the largest chunk of the server market?

    depends which server market you are talking about.
  • by LibertineR ( 591918 ) on Friday July 26, 2002 @02:10PM (#3959816)
    First, Microsoft already has enough share in the Enterprise space with Exchange and SQL to insure enough revenue to for the foreseable future.Dont forget that for Database-driven web sites; SQL already is the marketshare leader.

    Second, the .NET CLR has a great deal of momentum already, and will certainly pickup marketshare from J2EE, because with the IDE, its just too damn easy. Say what you want about IIS, but as far as IDE's and languages go, Microsoft is as good as anyone.

    Third, with MS picking up Apache support for .NET, Microsoft picks up even more share. MS wont have any problems selling Visual Studio, they never do.

    If Linux is going to pick up Desktop share, its going to have to become as easy to install and configure as XP, and that aint gonna happen anytime soon. When my mother can install Mandrake like she installed XP, then I might agree with you.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 26, 2002 @02:14PM (#3959834)
    The advantage to me as a developer is what exactly?
    They'll make the tools so easy, friendly and full of wizards that you can you bang out simple applications in no time. If you are a lazy developer who is happy to be locked in to a single vendor solution, and bet your career on it, you'll buy it.
  • by NotesSauceBoss ( 568036 ) on Friday July 26, 2002 @02:31PM (#3959990)
    TCO studies are generally commissioned by the compared companies. Witness, for example, the TCO messaging studies comparing Lotus Domino and Microsoft Exchange.

    If there's going to be a real TCO study to compare, say, W2K and Linux, someone's going to have to pony up the cash to IDC or Giga or some other similar market research firm to do the leg work. It's gotta be a big firm with plenty of credibility in the market for the TCO numbers to mean anything to the enterprise.

    Who's gonna pay? RedHat? IBM? The UnitedLinux group?

    It's also worth pointing out that Linux might not come out ahead in a TCO study. It almost certainly isn't on the desktop, where training and support issues will be highlighted by interoperability problems across the enterprise. Even if the study is focused on server solutions, you still have to compare apples-to-apples. Are you comparing, say, web services? If so, are you running the gambit of Linux/Apache/MySQL as compared to W2K/IIS/SQL Server? If it's network services, then you're talking Linux/Samba compared to W2K, right? Nobody in TCO research cares *only* about the OS -- because the OS has no relevant *total* cost. TCO is focused on cost to solve some generalized need.

    Bear in mind that Linux knowledge is more expensive to hire than MS knowledge. Everybody's brother-in-law is an MCSE. But finding readily available OSS implementation experts can be very difficult for a corporate HR group. Sure, you can go out and learn from the source code & discussion groups easily enough, but then you're talking 6 months of *training* someone to be an expert.

    Any IT solution is an ongoing support expense, and it's certainly true that license cost is a trivial aspect of enterprise TCO. Microsoft isn't making a typically falacious claim there. It's just that the comparison is very, very difficult. And it might just turn out that the support, training, and integration efforts involved in the real world of corporate computing add up in favor of MS. Until the OSS generation of CS students hit the marketplace, at least.
  • by Ami Ganguli ( 921 ) on Friday July 26, 2002 @02:36PM (#3960042) Homepage

    If you think IBM can't do marketing you've never dealt with them. They are masters of marketing, at least to business. You might be right that they don't know how to sell to consumers.

    This is an oversimplification, but IBM started falling apart when they tried to enter the consumer market, and rebuilt itself by re-focusing on big business. They managed to keep a foot in the consumer market by selling parts to OEMs.

    The bottom line for Linux is that we don't need to worry about making it in the 'enterprise' anymore - IBM will take care of that. We're missing have a credible champion on the consumer side. Sony could do it, as could AOL, but neither has taken the plunge.

  • by jmu1 ( 183541 ) <jmullman@gaso u . edu> on Friday July 26, 2002 @02:39PM (#3960071) Journal
    Ahh yes, another major flaw in Western Economics... You must keep growing at an accelerated rate.... not work at the point of equalization and expand in the next year... one of the many reasons the Economy is in the poor state it's in... that and hype.

  • With the support of BIG BLUE, they might have a chance. When I read this article, the demise of LWN, and from (ala slashdot feed) ' "Other firms such as TurboLinux that had filed for IPOs eventually canceled their plans. The Nasdaq Composite has shed three quarters of its value since March 2000, and for the Linux stocks, the fall has been even harder. Cobalt and are gone, swallowed up by Sun Microsystems (nasdaq: SUNW - news - people ) and VA, respectively. VA itself now sells for under a buck per share, and founder Larry Augustin last week gave up the CEO job (he's still the chairman). His firm has changed its name to VA Software, and its media contact person declined an interview request for this story "because we're no longer a Linux company." ' I wonder wher the focus is.I ask why are the root and fundamental Linux proponets hitting the pavement and knocking on doors?

    IBM is choosing Linux, and doing what other companies have failed to do: Compete directly with MS on their terms...with MONEY. This competition is at the server level, but in time perhaps with adequate funding and a focus on applied resources, perhaps inroads will be made in the next few years to challenge Microsoft on the desktop. Microsoft now sees this threat, and recognizes that IBM has a new tool in their arsenal to take on MS. Bundling pieces of Linux in their corporate high dollar solutions is a fiscally prudent move. Additionally, with the fundamental state and nature of OSS the IBM team has a wider variety of Eyes & Hands on developers that are providing pro bono service. Definitely a great bullet for promoting this type of integration with the bean counter!

    So what does this boil down to? IBM has a recognized threat to MS server market. The ball is in the hands of IBM to push this, or the path to the Linux desktop will meet the fate of OS/2.

    Just my .01999999
  • by rseuhs ( 322520 ) on Friday July 26, 2002 @02:58PM (#3960259)
    Wait a minute. What about XBox? What about MSN? What about WinCE?

    Microsoft has a lot of branches that make losses and their stubbornness concerning XBox (it's so clear that it won't topple PS2, yet they keep pumping money in it without the remote chance of getting it back) will cost them fortunes.

    Also, the community has ported Linux and the BSDs to tens (hundreds?) of hardware platforms, while Windows failed on everytime they tried something other than x86 (PPC, Mips, Alpha and IA64 in a few years, you will see it)

    Microsoft is in a strong position because they control the OEMs. However they charge a bigger percentage every year, it's really just a matter of time until the Microsoft-tax becomes unbearable and OEMs start jumping ship - wait, Walmart already sells Windows-less PCs.

    In addition to that, only 35% [] of their money come from product sales, the rest is gathered through financial tricks and tax deductions with gullible investment money being Microsoft's single most important source of money.

    As soon as investors start asking questions (we just had Worldcom, remember? And Enron of course) this whole scheme might topple over and Microsoft will lose most of it's income and WILL START MAKING LOSSES. Also most employees will be pissed because THEIR income (which consists mostly of stock options) will only be a fraction of what it used to be. Microsoft is a house of cards and if XBox or Worldcom doesn't crush it, something else will. It's just a matter of time, it won't work much longer.

    See Bill Parish' page [] for more details.

  • by Neck_of_the_Woods ( 305788 ) on Friday July 26, 2002 @02:59PM (#3960272) Journal
    You really want some reasons that companies use IIS and not Apache when they upgrade.

    #1. InterDev - They can hire 3 point and click monkeys to one coder that knows java well.

    #2. Older code - They don't want to change what they use now. They would require whole coding projects to start over scraping what they have.

    #3. The Lead Developers would cry, because they are not near as productive in (c, c++, java, php) as they are in vb, vbscript, and InterDev.

    #4. Problems, they already have 99% of them worked out on nt40/2000 in their environment. They know it, they love it, they don't want to change it. They don't want the headache of changing code, OS, and all the problems and man hours that go with it. Just to have a "free os". They don't have the programers, they don't have the talent, and they don't have the downtime to do it.

    #5. No one likes change.

    #6. The CIO is a SQL/IIS old school user. You can't change 3000 hours of programing in ASP/SQL/XML into PHP/MySql/PERL/XML/CGI and not have a huge huge cost. More than anything you will ever see in savings from a system os. Plus you get all the problems...again.

    Then again, what do I know I am just a gimp.

  • by sheldon ( 2322 ) on Friday July 26, 2002 @03:18PM (#3960432)
    To defeat Microsoft, dominance of non-M$ technologies in the enterprise area is key.

    This is true.

    Conversely, if Linux/Unix/Java win the enterprise space, Microsoft will have no new source of revenue

    This is true as well.

    It's important to ensure that the .NET CLR is either a non-starter (as it's been thus far),

    This is bizarre. It's not true, and it's too late. .NET CLR is off to an incredibly good start.

    Whatever they say, Microsoft wants to control the uptake of .NET in such a way that business software will really only run on their platforms. [...]There's no incentive to have
    real competition in server platforms for .NET applications. The point of .NET is to sell more
    copies of windows, SQLServer, and Visual Studio.

    Well duh! That's also your goal as you stated in your first several paragraphs.

    Come on, at least learn to be honest with yourself. Then maybe others will trust you.
  • by reverse flow reactor ( 316530 ) on Friday July 26, 2002 @03:37PM (#3960661)
    No, Microsoft is their own worst enemy. Between their new pricing stategies, extremely restrictive licenses, and the general loss of useful features, they are their own worst enemy. They have given the world compelling reason to turn to Linux and IBM.
  • by jelle ( 14827 ) on Friday July 26, 2002 @03:41PM (#3960710) Homepage
    "There's a lot more than I/O and memory management to make up an operating system."

    Translation, they accept defeat on I/O and memory management efficiency and go on to claim that an OS needs a good flying madonna to be complete?

    Talk about changing the topic of discussion.
  • by anonymous cowfart ( 576665 ) on Friday July 26, 2002 @04:26PM (#3961089) Journal
    Its odd to see MS talking about TCO when that has been the argument that Macintosh users have been using for years for why one should use a Mac over a Wintel box.

    The Gartner Group and other researchers consistantly have confirmed such, but most do not listen. We'll see if MS's huge PR engines will have better luck.
  • by anonymous cowfart ( 576665 ) on Friday July 26, 2002 @04:28PM (#3961113) Journal
    Distilling their competitive evaluation, I noticed the following themes:
    • There are 27 different ways of doing foo on Linux, whereas Microsoft offers a clear, standard solution.

    This is true. Microsoft does tend to impose the One True Way (TM), which can simplify some things. However, other people regard the fact that you can choose the best technologies for your application as a positive.

    • Capability bar is available as part of Microsoft operating systems, but it's a seperate app in Linux.

    Also often true, but: a) a lot of those capabilities are Windows tools that you probably wouldn't use in a Linux project unless you had to for compatibility reasons, b) a lot of them were open source packages that are usually packaged by the various distributions and are an apt-get away from installing, c) if they're open source, the extra licensing costs are zero anyway, and d) who says building everything into the OS is a good idea anyway?

    • Some bits of Linux are immature and buggy

    And Windows is perfect?

    It's good news that MS are changing their arguments to push their products over Linux-based solutions, because it tends to suggest that their customers (at least in this application domains) weren't listening to their old ones.

  • by VivisectRob ( 550902 ) on Friday July 26, 2002 @04:31PM (#3961151)
    It makes sense when you consider how all they did before was silently threaten their competitors.
  • Re:Why? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jason Earl ( 1894 ) on Friday July 26, 2002 @04:58PM (#3961381) Homepage Journal

    The problem is that, so far anyway, the Free Software community hasn't given a fig for Java. They are perfectly happy with tools like Python and Zope, and Perl, and plain old C.

    Free Software hackers have a lot of experience chasing someone else's specification, and for the most part it has turned out to be much harder than simply creating your own software from scratch. The canonical example is Motif. Lesstif was in development for years before it was even halfway useful. GTK, on the other hand, sprang into existence relatively quickly. Likewise Kaffe has been somewhat useful for years, without being something you would be able to use in production. Recently it would appear that they have completely given up chasing the new Sun specifications.

    It's Sun's ball game to win or lose in this particular case, but Sun needs the Free Software community if they plan on beating .NET. Rest assured Sun isn't going to win over the Free Software hackers unless they release the code to their JVM. At the very least they need to release some specifications like Microsoft has done. Heck, there are quite a few hackers that are looking seriously at Mono, for crying out loud. Java hasn't done well in the Free Software world to this point, and it is likely to do much worse if a Free Software variant of .NET emerges.

    If Microsoft developers and Free Software developers both end up developing .NET applications Java will go the way of the dodo.

  • by Khalid ( 31037 ) on Friday July 26, 2002 @07:30PM (#3962146) Homepage
    The antitrust trial is about the *Desktop* not the server, Linux/IBM is indeed a competitor to M$ in the server arena, not desktop one. M$ does not have a monoply in the server.

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