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Ballmer Sees Free Software as Enemy No. 1 717

geekinexile writes "Bloomberg is running this Microsoft vs. Linux article as a top story on the Bloomberg system. Not so notable for what it says about Linux, but rather for the fact that the financial community is starting to actually get open source."
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Ballmer Sees Free Software as Enemy No. 1

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  • Figures... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Speedy8 ( 594486 ) on Thursday October 17, 2002 @09:22PM (#4475107) Journal
    If someone was willing to volunteer their work to replace the product that I made for a living, I would be scared too.
    • Re:Figures... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dirvish ( 574948 )
      He should see see it as enemy #1. It could very likely prove to be the source of Microsoft's demise. We will probably start to see M$ doing more and more to openly oppose the open-source community and its software in the near future. Obviously Steve is feeling threatened.
      • Re:Figures... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by King of the World ( 212739 ) on Thursday October 17, 2002 @09:46PM (#4475298) Journal
        In the last 6 months Microsoft's Balmer has revealed his strategy against OSS and Linux. He's trying to brand them an uninnovative rip-offs. That nothing original comes out of OSS. That if you trust in Microsoft's innovation you'll get a better product.

        (which is not to say that it isn't true, but hell, as far as I'm concerned it applies equally to the roots of Windows too, and it's no bad thing)

        They have also been trying to build up a community around them much more since .NET, but that's a lesser issue.

        • Re:Figures... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by modecx ( 130548 ) on Thursday October 17, 2002 @10:43PM (#4475642)
          While it may be true that MS will be spreading as much FUD as possible about OSS, I don't think that's where they will fight the war.

          If I were MS, I would do everything in my power to make sure that OSS users were isolated as much as possible from the main computing public, in what they do, and how they do it. As you have said, they are trying pretty hard to build up a community around themselves. .NET and maybe to a greater degree DRM with Palladium will be the things that form their community--by forcing those who disapprove to OSS. These are the devices that will enable them to wage war; and in regular MicroSoft fashion, I expect them to weild those weapons without mercy. They are banking on the fact that Joe Sixpack, his grandma and neice, and the rest of the non-professional (and possibly some professional) computer users will stick with their systems because it allows them to do the things they want to do--easier (or legally).

          If DRM legislation comes about, the sides may very well have turned. I, for one, am scared that the American Public will let it happen. Afterall, it's pretty clear that even with the outcry of hundreds of important industry leaders, the government doesn't really care about MicroSoft's anti-competative actions... This one will just be the action to end all competition.
          • It won't work (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Gerry Gleason ( 609985 ) <gerry AT geraldgleason DOT com> on Friday October 18, 2002 @01:48AM (#4476475)
            This is their strategy, but it is likely to fail. The whole .NET vaperware strategy is probably the most dangerous part of this, but I'm still expecting it to pretty much fall flat. Six or eight months back I was more worried that it might start to catch on, but MS has squandered so much good will in their customer base and with developers that I think it is more or less DOA.

            The DRM thing could be a problem too, but I really think it will be such a disaster that it will be completely rejected by consumers. The sticking point is not the basic erosion of fair use copying, but that it is going to be so broken in implementation that it will keep people from doing what they are supposed to be allowed. Average comsumers don't have a lot of patience for bogus technology that won't do what they want, and DRM is likely to screw them over and over. At least the single function DVD player will play the DVDs they rent and buy reliably, and a DRM enabled PC will fail to do this often enough to make them royally pissed off. Put that in your business model and smoke it!

      • China is enemy #1 (Score:5, Interesting)

        by chasm007 ( 618489 ) on Thursday October 17, 2002 @11:53PM (#4476019)
        Linux is a threat to the Microsoft monopoly. The greatest threat comes from national adoption of Linux by countries outside the United States. There a number of reasons for national governments to announce Linux strategies, including negotiating with Microsoft for a sizeable price break on license costs. Previous Slashdot stories cover adoption announcements by China [], Germany [], South Africa, Mexico [], and Korea []. The government most likely to back Linux as a national priority is China. China is the greatest threat to a Microsoft monopoly; it is in China's self-interest to make Linux a national standard because of the country's unique governmental and social situtation:
        1. China is a communist country. The government controls the majority of the chineese economy and can mandate standards and shared cost allocation. China may ban Microsoft products from all state run businesses and government functions, although I doubt they would interfere with sanctioned, entreprenual computing systems.
        2. China has unreliable relations with the United States. China needs control over its critical infrastructure, including its computing systems. A sudden change in relationships with the United States, e.g., an invasion of R.O.C. (Taiwan), could cut of imports, upgrades, and technical support from Microsoft. It is as prudent to mandate self-determination of operating systems as of electrical power.
        3. China can take a long term view. China is the Middle Kingdom, with thousands of years of continous civilization. China, unlike the United States, could decide to embark on a path and resist pressure until it pays off.
        4. China is large, really large. The factbook [] states China is 1,200,000,000 (1.2B) people with a GDP of over $5,000,000,000,000.00 ($5T). China is the only country that could easily decide to commit a million people to full time Linux development and support.
        The nighmare senario for Micosoft is that China makes the Linux operating system and open source applications a national security priority. Think of the effects of this quadrant of the planning grid:
        1. Massive Government Initiatives. China commits a million software engineers to Linux to start, with plans for an addition five million writers of open source over the next few years. Every day, all day, houndreds of thousands of engineers do nothing but address sniggley little issues, others flesh out the documentation, write device drivers, and create rock solid test cases for existing modules. New initiatives for open source software for offices, inventory and supply management, business process management, and educational/training software create credible free software.

          China leverages support for open source to build tighter relationships with countries besides the U.S. Open source authors are invited guests at massive conferences in Beijing. X-windows is replaced in two years. ChinaLinux preconfigured desktops surpass Microsoft in terms of reliability, ease of support, and scalability. Attempts to foster opposition in China due to massive revenuse from 100,000 person export-only support center.

        2. Minimum Market Share.Microsoft attempts to use monopoly power to force Windows only desktops and networks. Unfortunately, the market share of ChinaLinux has an absolute floor of 15%, the usage of computers by China. Some hardware and software suppliers break alliances with Microsoft rather than abondon significant customer loyalty. ChinaLinux is copied and recertified by American companies to avoid import restrictions.
        3. Cultural Imperative. Training and certification in ChinaLinux and other applications becomes point of cultural pride as rekindling thousands of years of governmental examinations. Chineese citizens see themselves as the center of the world, from where all new technology flows.

        A good future.



        • by kevcol ( 3467 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @12:31AM (#4476208) Homepage
          Let's just hope they get this message across on the People's Daily []: "Leave open port 25 to spammers and you will be executed as a dangerous COUNTER REVOLUTIONARY!"
        • by jlusk4 ( 2831 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @12:55AM (#4476291)
          I don't understand why you guys keep pinning your hopes on China. China has a long history of ignoring IP rights. Why should the GPL be any different? Is the source code for Red Flag out yet? (Has anybody looked at it to see what it's doing while it's booting w/a totally blank screen? Installing a keystroke logger, maybe?)

          They're already pirates on a grand scale, so what revenue would Microsoft be *losing* if they switch to Linux?
          • by FooBarWidget ( 556006 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @03:33AM (#4476807)
            "China" doesn't have a long history of ignoring IP right, the citizen have a long history of ignoring IP rights. Piracy in China is still illegal, and the citizen know that very well, but there are simply too many people.

            A few years ago, you could buy pirated software and CDs nearly everywhere. If you go to China now, you'll see that most of those dealers are gone (or at least hidden in dark, small places).
        • by Cheese Cracker ( 615402 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @01:07AM (#4476339)
          And despite all warning signs, the US government sucks up for the
          communists. They believe that China will fully open up their markets
          for American goods, but forget it. China wants to be self-sufficient.
          That's why they build their own Linux version, their own CPUs, their
          own motherboards etc. The communists doesn't see the west as a reliable
          partner, and just as you stated... they want to be able to say fuck off
          to the west if necessary.

          I make a big distinction between the Chinese people and the communists.
          (after all, the Chinese communist party just have 50 million members.
          The Chinese people are in general very nice and hardworking people, but
          the communist regime is a bunch of unreliable liars.
        • Re:China is enemy #1 (Score:4, Informative)

          by cpeterso ( 19082 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @01:14AM (#4476359) Homepage

          Microsoft makes about 60% of its revenue from sales outside the USA. So international markets are extremely important to them, especially when they need "new" markets because they already own 95% of the existing markets.
        • Re:China is enemy #1 (Score:5, Interesting)

          by bilbobuggins ( 535860 ) <> on Friday October 18, 2002 @01:36AM (#4476437)
          I don't mean to be a troll, but you seem to assume through all of this that China will be staying true to the GPL...

          what's to stop them from taking the code and running so to speak? RMS invades?

          much more likely, you will never see the first line of any serious linux based code written by the chinese government
          can you imagine lots of kiddies downloading the linux based kernel that drives chinese missile batteries? i think not

    • Re:Figures... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by CommandNotFound ( 571326 ) on Thursday October 17, 2002 @10:40PM (#4475613)
      If someone was willing to volunteer their work to replace the product that I made for a living, I would be scared too.

      Well, Microsoft created Linux, much like an antibiotic creates resistant strains. It's Gates' fault. Had he not gone into the Great Internet Panic of 1995, Microsoft would have maintained a steady 60-70% market share for years, with a solid second place competitor in each market followed by a distant third. But no, they went into panic mode much like a bull in a china shop, and by 2000 when the smoke had cleared they held 90%+ in almost every market except for personal finance.

      Free software isn't thriving necessarily because people are philanthropists. Free software is thriving because it's the only infrastructure software that can survive. No OS will be able to compete with Windows on its own turf unless you give it away. Ditto with MS Office, and even then it's an uphill battle. But Microsoft had turned the screws down so hard that it was inevitable that an entity would arise that could provide a free product indefinitely.

      I find it amusing (and this has nothing to do with the parent post) when people talk about Linux and OSS in terms of feel-good granola hippies.... Regardless of what the original intentions were, Linux and OSS are brutal dumping machines. These entities can ruthlessly dump product and survive forever in a way that would make 1980's Japanese chip makers blush.

      But IMO, Microsoft brought this on themselves by not allowing Lotus, WordPerfect, Novell, and Netscape keep a distant 25%-40% of their respective markets, like all mature markets generally develop (GM/Ford, Coke/Pepsi, Levi's/Lee, etc). When you get that big you need a number two competitor to lean on. Microsoft's management in general and Gates in particular should have considered the long-term ramifications of their actions.
      • by Gerry Gleason ( 609985 ) <gerry AT geraldgleason DOT com> on Friday October 18, 2002 @01:32AM (#4476420)
        MS didn't create open source. Stallman created the GPL before Windows even existed (remember MSDOS?), and it wasn't created in response to MS. Same with Linux, although the motivation was quite a bit different. It has almost nothing to do with competing with MS, it has to do with software freedom. Talking about it in terms of dumping misses the point completely.

        The motivation is to create software tools in a cooperative environment and be able to freely share ideas about the software without having to pay outrageous rents to companies trying to lock up software for only their own benifit. All of this would be happening whether Microsoft existed or not. As any number of people have pointed out, this doesn't mean nobody gets paid for software, just that the basic tools to do our work should be free (and are now to a large and growing extent). Lots of people get paid to develop free software and lots more get paid to use free tools to build very specific programs that are very specific to the businesses that use them (and pay for them, of course).

        Regardless of what the original intentions were, Linux and OSS are brutal dumping machines. These entities can ruthlessly dump product and survive forever in a way that would make 1980's Japanese chip makers blush.

        This is just plain wrong. You need to do some more research into the phenomenon of Open/Free Source. The incremental cost of making a copy of software is zero, so it isn't being sold below cost, and therefore it isn't dumping. MS is the one using monopoly practices to drive out the competition and raise prices.

        In the beginning, MS wanted all sorts of companies to make applications that would run on their OS, then one by one, they picked them off and drove them out of business. They used their dominant position in the PC OS market to do this, and now nobody trusts them. They are destroying their own market.

        Frankly, I find the whole thing pretty funny because they are attempting to put Linux and OSS in general in the crosshairs just like they have with each competetive challenger along the way, but it can't work because OSS projects don't compete.

        It comes back to the motivations I mentioned earlier, and it's not about any individual project anyway. All the projects, the whole spectrum from Free as in Speech GPL projects to less pure Open Source projects, are creating an entire network of interacting open standards as embodied in actual implementations. This is very much in the best interests of anyone who wants to use software to implement complex systems because this creates the stable interfaces necessary to create extended functionality through modular development. The embrace and extend approach of MS only helps you to get further locked in to whatever MS wants (Where do you want to go today?).

        What's really cool is that the business world is starting to figure this out. The really stupid thing is that so many software developers think this is the end of the world, and that they will never be able to make money writing software after GNU/Linux wins. Then others jump in and start blaming it on the immigrants. Give me a break.

    • by coyote-san ( 38515 ) on Thursday October 17, 2002 @11:39PM (#4475961)
      As Microsoft has repeatedly pointed out itself, the "total cost of ownership" almost always has the purchase price of the software down in the noise.

      Why companies are taking Linux seriously isn't because it's free-as-in-beer. They're taking it seriously because:

      <li>it's stable. No need to "preventative reboots" every night to keep your servers from crashing without explanation. (I know, XP is better, but I still have to rebot my XP workstation at least once a week or things start breaking. My grossly underpowered Linux servers (200 MHz, 32 MB) run for months without a bit of trouble.

      <li>it's secure. It's not perfect, but far easier to lock down than Windows.

      <li>it's open. I write a lot of documentation, and I HATE HATE HATE Word because once I put something into Word it ain't coming back out. In contrast, DocBook can be a pain to edit in a text editor (doing all tags by hand), but I can pull out information with ease. I can store it in a database and generate the material on the fly. There's no grief about different versions being unable to share files, or information hidden (or simply left) in the document, etc.

      <li>it's predictable. The GPL and BSD licenses are very clear, you don't have to worry about the vendor changing license terms in a year or two. They say it's "revenue neutral," your lawyers tell you it will cost you millions of dollars, all you know is your departmental budget is shot to hell.

      Finally, there's all the training costs associated with the different software packages. Learning Unix can be tough, if you've grown up with Windows. (But at the same time, I find Windows extremely difficult to use and non-intuitive...) Companies have trusted Microsoft that the cost of retraining wasn't worth the benefits, but they've ruined their own point by continuing to make changes in their own software. Unix retraining is a one-time expense, Windows retraining seems to be a recurring expense (in salary while people are in training, lost productivity, etc.)

  • by DRnetman86 ( 617230 ) <> on Thursday October 17, 2002 @09:24PM (#4475115) Homepage
    It's a good thing that Balmer isn't for open source. I don't think we'd want to see him at a major linux conference chanting "Developers! Developers!"
    • by el_mex ( 175423 ) on Thursday October 17, 2002 @09:28PM (#4475146)
      It's a good thing that Balmer isn't for open source

      Don't tell me we're better off with RMS!

  • No brainer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by el_mex ( 175423 ) on Thursday October 17, 2002 @09:25PM (#4475124)
    To a company that sells software for a living, how can free software not be enemy #1?
    • Re:No brainer (Score:3, Insightful)

      Quality is more important than price.
    • Re:No brainer (Score:5, Interesting)

      by jc42 ( 318812 ) on Thursday October 17, 2002 @11:33PM (#4475918) Homepage Journal
      This is a very shortsighted attitude. I'm working on a project for a small consulting firm that is developing software for a couple of big commercial conglomerates. We're doing almost all of our work on linux, with Windows and a few Macs around for testing from the user viewpoint. The free and open nature of linux means that we can get quick answers to questions (or read the source and figure it out ourselves). As a result, we can deliver much faster results than people working on proprietary systems, where they often can't get straight answers to critical questions.

      With a closed, proprietary system, our clients are at the mercy of a single vendor. With linux (or the BSD clones), GNU, and other open source software, they aren't at the mercy of anyone.

      But, of course, the DP departments in the big conglomerates are your typical bumbling bureaucracy who can't program their way out of a wet paper bag. So they hire a small team of hotshot linux hackers to do the job.

      Computers will always need programming, for far longer than any of us will be alive. Most people will never be programmers, just like most people will never be mechanics or accountants or surgeons. There will be a lot of work for a long time, unless the economy goes totally flatline.

      Having a quality OS and libraries that are open to study and modification is nothing but an advantage for everyone, both the programmers and the people who pay them to program.

      Microsoft makes shoddy software, and hides the details from users and programmers so they can't fix problems. They survive solely because they still have a humongous marketing budget (and the power to bribe politicians and top management). They deserve to fail.

  • by ActiveSX ( 301342 ) on Thursday October 17, 2002 @09:25PM (#4475128) Homepage
    from the no-comment-on-enemy-number-two dept.

    Would you talk negatively about your own company?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 17, 2002 @09:26PM (#4475139)
    this story is not only on Bloomberg's website. It is on the Bloomberg system as one of the top stories when you do news research on Microsoft.
  • by jtotheh ( 229796 ) on Thursday October 17, 2002 @09:26PM (#4475140)
    Michael Tiemman (sp?),CTO of Red Hat spoke to our LUG last night. He said that Wall Street is starting to use Linux to run custom number crunching software and I think Oracle. Big computational farm sort of things.
  • a fitting quote (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CoughDropAddict ( 40792 ) on Thursday October 17, 2002 @09:29PM (#4475157) Homepage
    First they ignore you,
    then they laugh at you,
    then they fight you,
    then you win.

    -Mohandas Gandhi
    • by istartedi ( 132515 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @02:40AM (#4476653) Journal

      First they help you,
      then they ignore you,
      then you invade your neighbor,
      then they skunk you,
      then they ignore you,
      then they threaten to skunk you even harder

      -Saddam Hussein

      First they ignore you,
      then they change channels.

      -Carrot Top

      First they listen to you,
      then they get screwed,
      then you get fired,

      -Neville Chamberlin

      Now for the serious side: Passive resistance only works when the enemy holds itself out to be civilized and cares what other people think. It worked against the Brittish in India for these reasons. Ghandi knew that; I don't know if he ever explicitly elucidated that, but he was able to make enough people understand so that they followed him to success.

      Neville Chamberlin worked opposite a force that was neither civilized nor concerned with world opinion. Passive resistance against the nazis was doomed to fail. They saw people as raw meat to be consumed.

      MSFT does not hold itself out to be "civilized" in any way analogous to the way a nation holds itself out to be civilized. MSFT is a business, and as such it regards cut-throat competition as a positive ideal. Any appeal to MSFT to be "nice" because "it's the right thing to do" understandably falls on deaf ears.

      The "caring about what others think" aspect does come into play in the form of advertising and public relations. Both sides have their wins and losses in that arena.

      Therefore, it makes sense to compete ruthlessly with MSFT in the business world, and try to change people's minds as much as possible. This is exactly what's happening, but neither side appears to have moral superiority as in Ghandi vs. the Brittish. Instead, this is more a fight of Liberal vs. Conservative where both sides have a different moral base and therefore arrive at different conclusions.

  • Balmer says ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BoomerSooner ( 308737 ) on Thursday October 17, 2002 @09:30PM (#4475168) Homepage Journal
    We have told our sales force to really understand that this is kind of job one, Ballmer, 46, said in an interview last week. People are saying by and large, It might be easier for me to move my Unix apps to Linux than to Windows, although we're pretty close to making that untrue.

    Lol, what apps are easier from Unix to Windows? Viruses? that is about it.

    I've switched all my companies servers to Linux and Solaris. I am slowly bringing linux on board at my full time job. When the shoe fits, wear it. Unfortunately for MS their shoe is a size too small.
  • by sacrilicious ( 316896 ) on Thursday October 17, 2002 @09:30PM (#4475169) Homepage
    While Windows-based server computers are growing increasingly powerful and can cost 40 percent less than Unix systems, open- source programs have improved enough to replace Unix systems, investors said.

    I totally don't get this statement. Can somebody please tell me how [hardware X + non-free-OS] can be cheaper than [hardware X + free-OS]?


    • From the quote, it sounds like when they say "Unix", they are talking about the proprietary Unixes. (Is that the correct plural?) That's probably a true enough statement; Windows really is cheaper, as is the commodity x86 hardware. (Of course, this is ignoring the elusive "TCO" argument, which is smoke and mirrors to the point that you can prove any price differential you want.)
  • what a shock. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by EvilStein ( 414640 ) <> on Thursday October 17, 2002 @09:30PM (#4475172)
    world + dog are surprised.

    unless, of course, Microsoft really means it this time and they were just warning us linux users the last few times they said this.

    Although.." Microsoft marketers must rely on studies that show the cost of maintaining a Windows system is lower than that of Linux machines. Research has yet to show that people are replacing Microsoft products with free programs, analysts said. "

    So we're going to be seeing MORE "studies" showing that Windows is cheaper to maintain? I'm sure they will be able to skew that towards Windows, but it's pretty hard to skew the fact that it costs quite a bit more to initially set up a Windows-based server infrastructure than a Linux-based one.
    As far as the other bit? The major software that people would be replacing is Microsoft Office. I wonder how many are replacing it with something *cheaper* - like Corel's office suite. Gateway is already doing that...
    • by BoomerSooner ( 308737 ) on Thursday October 17, 2002 @09:40PM (#4475256) Homepage Journal
      Like my company was. However that being said, what got me to finally breakdown and switch to Linux/Solaris wasn't the Nonexistent Security, Monopoly, the consistant Patches, the piss poor support or even the high cost. It was when trying to get my Exchange Server back up after it crashed for no apparent reason a book I was reading for help in running Exchange said:
      "It is often preferable to simply backup you Exchange Server Data and reinstall, instead of trying to find the one hidden setting that is causing the error in your configuration."

      That almost made me fall over in my chair.

      From that day on I decided on a course for MS freedom. We now run Apache/Tomcat for our JSP server, MySQL for our DB Backend (until migration to Oracle is complete), and QMail/Horde/IMP for mail. It took a little time but saved around $6000 in software licensing costs and $5000 in new hardware that would have needed to be purchased.

      So in the end I could deal with all the MS shit until the UI for managing Exchange got so bad it no longer became worth it to run MS on the server side. It was the best IT decision I've made (IMHO).
  • Of course... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by neksys ( 87486 ) <grphillips AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday October 17, 2002 @09:31PM (#4475178)
    Of course the financial community is starting to "get" open source software. It makes perfect sense that a group of people who are experts in money would opt for a system that is just as good, at a fraction of the cost. These people know money - and financially, it just makes sense for them to go open source for at least some of their applications.
  • by Centinel ( 594459 ) on Thursday October 17, 2002 @09:33PM (#4475202) Homepage
    All the penny-pinching and cost controls in corporate America these days are the kind of environmnet Open Source thrives in.

    Free and low-cost alternatives to Win32/Office like Red Hat's imroving desktop and are being looked at seriously now.

    Linux may have gotten alot of hype and speculative investment in the 90's, but the current economy is where its price/performance potential becomes evident.

    Not only is Ballmer scared, but Sun announced 4,400 layoffs [] today. The demand for commodity operating systems is kicking them in the pants, and their quality, but proprietary hardware seems less of a bargain as commodity hardware improves in price/performance.

    FWIW, open source is sending some proprietary UNIX employees to the unemployment lines already. Next, it's Redmond's turn as the desktop improves.

  • by Tangential ( 266113 ) on Thursday October 17, 2002 @09:37PM (#4475226) Homepage
    Let's see 2002 - 40 = 1962.

    Wow, All this time I thought Multics was in the late 60's and the first Unix came in November of 71.

    Guess journalism and math don't mix.
  • by wiresquire ( 457486 ) on Thursday October 17, 2002 @09:37PM (#4475231) Journal

    Research has yet to show that people are replacing Microsoft products with free programs, analysts said.

    "Just because the research doesn't show it, doesn't mean that it's not happening", said wiresquire, from his former MS box, now Linux box running Mozilla and StarOffice.

  • by ProfMoriarty ( 518631 ) on Thursday October 17, 2002 @09:38PM (#4475234) Journal
    ``He's got it tough,'' said Walter Price, who helps manage $35 billion at Dresdner RCM Global Investors and holds Microsoft shares. ``I don't know what you do to protect your shareholders and preserve your market capitalization except to out-innovate the Linux community.''

    He must be new ...

    Let's inform him on some of the "innovating" that Microsoft has done in the past ... shall we?

    DOS ... Nope, they bought it ...
    Windows (UI) ... Nope, got it from the Mac ...
    Internet Explorer ... Nope, got it from NCSA (Mosaic) ... in fact, they almost missed the Internet ...
    Word ... Nope, WordPerfect was already around ...
    DRM ... Nope, got it from the RIAA ...

    Hmmm ... seems that Micrsoft needs a little improvement for innovating ...

    BTW, don't miss the Dancing Monkey []

    • by ender81b ( 520454 ) <<moc.aksarbeni> <ta> <dllib>> on Thursday October 17, 2002 @09:57PM (#4475370) Homepage Journal
      While I agree with your post the same could be said of linux, linux very rarely 'innovates' (i'm talking about general Unix software now) other than you know that the software will likely be secure and stable. I mean, really, what was the last 'innovation' that occured in the *nix /world? Wow, we finally got journalling databases, and we are finally starting to get user-friendly UI enviroments. Whopee. Not the most technical of people so maybe the linux kernel does do some wonderfully modern stuff but to me it doesn't look like much.

      Of all the modern OS's I feel the *nix world copies the most and does the least innovation. Think of all that could be done with kde/gnome - but instead they became win98 clones until just recently. Not that *nix software is bad it just being a wee bit hypocritical.

      BTW, you missed .Net which is basically a suped-up version of Java to replace MS's previous failed java-usurper ActiveX. =).
      • by jkramar ( 583118 ) on Thursday October 17, 2002 @10:25PM (#4475519)
        Well, first of all, I`ll nitpick out that Linux is a kernel, not an OS, and that while it may contain some low-level innovations, it certainly doesn't innovate. In any case, I'd like to point to Liquid War [] as an example true innovation. In fact, this is probably the most unique game I've ever played, and it's GPLd. Most games are just variations upon simple themes, and the simple games are usually clones of games which are very old. However, Liquid War shows that innovation on a fundamental level is still possible, and can be created by the Free Software community.
      • by Malcontent ( 40834 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @12:10AM (#4476101)
        "I mean, really, what was the last 'innovation' that occured in the *nix /world?"

        zope, postgresql, jabber, rsync, http, email, ftp, tcp/ip, DNS, distributed file systems etc. are all innovations that occured in the *nix world. I just stopped there but there are tons more. Just about every single piece of technology that you use every day come out of the unix world.

      • by falzer ( 224563 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @12:28AM (#4476198)
        > linux very rarely 'innovates' (i'm talking about general Unix software now)

        What?! What about Tux Racer?
      • by Panoramix ( 31263 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @03:05AM (#4476732) Homepage
        I mean, really, what was the last 'innovation' that occured in the *nix /world?

        Jeez... are you serious? Come on, Unix is one of the more important platforms for research, if not the most important. It is flexible, it is reliable, most of the scientific community is familiar with it. And these days it is also free!

        Just talking about Linux I could point you to Berlin [], some guys with rather interesting ideas for building user interfaces. Or the Beowulf Project [], for massive distributed computing. Or RTLinux [] (and KURT []), for full featured real-time operating systems. How about ReiserFS [], that takes database-like balanced trees to the filesystem level. Or SELinux [], a research prototype of a high-security operating system.

        And the list goes on and on (forgive me for not looking up links, go Google for these ones): SPIN (a dynamically extensible operating system written in Modula-3, runs on Linux), all the research stuff at Mosix (including distributed shared memory, grid management, network RAM and more), the Hello Project (an operating system in Standard ML atop Linux), all the emulation stuff which hardly needs to be introduced, and all the kernel work for supporting different processor architectures.

        Also note BDS's Kame Project, an advanced implementation of IPV6 and IPSec; the evolutionary scheduler for Linux; the networking kernel stuff, including the QoS work; OpenBIOS; the User-mode Linux kernel. Look up also the "C10K problem" for an interesting paper on server performance, (and while you're on that, khttpd and TUX kernel webservers).

        Unix gave you the Internet, for root's sake. How much more "innovative" does it needs to get?

    • by driehuis ( 138692 ) on Thursday October 17, 2002 @11:18PM (#4475840)
      Let's inform him on some of the "innovating" that Microsoft has done in the past ... shall we?

      I'm not someone to stand up for Microsoft, but this comparison _really_ is too easy.

      What Unix users tend to forget is that Microsoft actually did some things right in Windows that Unix (or rather, the X Windows toolkits) to this date doesn't do right consistently. Take cut&paste. It's a basic feature, but the sheer scope of deviation among toolkits is just revolting. Tabbing between fields, same story.

      As a matter of fact, the thing that I hold against Microsoft is precisely _not_ borrowing successful concepts from other companies. My favorite: Apple for years had a highly successful magazine for Apple Developers, called (wait for it!)... "develop". If a developer asked "develop" a question illustrated by an example, it would be answered with regards to the technology, but equally important, UI goofs would be pointed out.

      If you look at MSDN, you will invariably see UI questions answered with "sure, you can do that, here's the code". No matter how counterintuitive or outright stupid the proposed UI is.

      Microsoft sucks at trying to sway developers to pay attention to the looks of the UI (and, matter of fact, the WIN32 API doesn't make it particularly easy to do screen layout right), but much of the groundwork for UI behavior is done right, and screwing it up takes a conscious effort. A shocking innovation? I don't think so. Done better than the average Unix tool? You betcha.

      Of course, Apple has much to answer for after they set the Dung Standard for user interfaces with their glitzy but totally unusable quicktime player [].
  • by Ghoser777 ( 113623 ) <[] [ta] [abnerhaf]> on Thursday October 17, 2002 @09:38PM (#4475240) Homepage
    ``We have told our sales force to really understand that this is kind of job one,'' Ballmer, 46, said in an interview last week. ``People are saying by and large, `It might be easier for me to move my Unix apps to Linux than to Windows,' although we're pretty close to making that untrue.''

    A quote that didn't make the article:

    We're just hoping that people aren't stupid enough to look at Linux and think it's related to Unix. For pete's sake, Linux stands for Linux Is Not UniX. There you have it. I feel a monkey dance coming on.

    In other news, Balmer has admitted publically that it is currently easier to move Unix apps to Linux than to Windows. May the mass porting begin!


  • by e_AltF4 ( 247712 ) on Thursday October 17, 2002 @09:42PM (#4475279)
    > ``I don't know what you do [...] except
    > to out-innovate the Linux community.''

    Hmmm - usually M$ has the reputation to out-innovate competitors by
    a) including the same features "for free" in the next release of Windows
    b) buying the product/company.

    Where Do You Want to Go Today?
  • by oh ( 68589 ) on Thursday October 17, 2002 @09:46PM (#4475292) Journal
    From the article.

    ``I don't know what you do to protect your shareholders and preserve your market capitalization except to out-innovate the Linux community.''

    If Microsoft can do that, more profit to them. If they can provide the products people want and can afford, then they have nothing to worry about.

    The problem is that they are a monolithic company. They have an official policy, some one decides to run a project, and throws programmers at it. They can make large scale (if not reliable) software quickly because they can afford to pay hundreds of programmers.

    What they can't emulate is the ideas that come from a grass-roots community. If any one person has an idea, they can start to work on it. They have a huge body of software to research and re-use code from, and if they can demonstrate something that other people find useful, they can quickly gather programmers to the project.

    Because it starts small, it may take longer to finish. But because it starts small, hundreds of ideas can be quickly tested, with the best being developed and improved by the community.

    Haw can one company out-innovate that?
    • by AltGrendel ( 175092 ) <ag-slashdot AT exit0 DOT us> on Thursday October 17, 2002 @10:44PM (#4475652) Homepage
      The stronger (i.e. lots of vitality) apps tend to get more community support. By better, I mean from a implementation standpoint.

      It's kind of a shotgun effect. Sourceforge [] and freshmeat [] are perfect examples. At freshmeat you just need to filter on popularity to see what I mean. The well run projects that are tools community finds useful and stable will tend to be at the top. But you will typically have a choice among several project. You don't have to take the top one.

      Microsoft can't do that in public. We've seen proof of that time and again. Their closed source model has gotten them in trouble time and again.

  • by VikingBrad ( 525098 ) <.moc.elttekruht. .ta. .darb.> on Thursday October 17, 2002 @09:47PM (#4475303) Homepage
    Slashdot is a quoted news source being used by Google News.

    Be afraid, be very afraid
  • by WhiteChocolate42 ( 618371 ) on Thursday October 17, 2002 @09:47PM (#4475305)
    >Microsoft sponsored a booth for the first time >at the LinuxWorld trade show in August in San >Francisco. The company argued that Windows is >cheaper to maintain because it has more >compatible programs and comes with better >support. Using the same type of reasoning, Microsoft went on to argue that Windows is more stable because it costs more and has little animated paperclips.
  • by jcoy42 ( 412359 ) on Thursday October 17, 2002 @09:48PM (#4475310) Homepage Journal
    On *this* article the half-screen ad that shows up is for visual

    Oh my..

  • by iSwitched ( 609716 ) on Thursday October 17, 2002 @09:50PM (#4475323)
    This conversation overheard outside Steve Jobs' Cupertino office...

    MINION: Master, your plan is unfolding nicely, Microsoft and the Free Software community are locked in mortal combat!

    THE INSANELY GREAT ONE: (Steepling his fingers) Yes, this is perhaps my most diabolical plan ever, while these fools argue, I shall take over the world!!! (Maniacal laughter). Now, leave me...there is much to do...

  • by Andy Tai ( 1884 ) on Thursday October 17, 2002 @09:57PM (#4475368) Homepage
    Ballmer makes no attempt in hiding his arrogance and agreesiveness. He openly called his competitors "noise." He now declares war on free software, seeing them as impacting Microsoft revenue, now that virtually no meaningful competition from proprietary software is left. Ballmer clearly thinks MS should have it all, and everything is rightfully theirs.

    With executives like this, we shall never expect Microsoft to modify its ways, except to the extent forced by the government or the courts. Microsoft will keep pressuring consumers, sucking them dry. This monster is still growing without bounds and consuming ever increasing amount of food, despite the damage to the "ecosystem." Eventually the system will collapse, bring Microsoft down with it. Replacing it will be the system of Free Software, regulated by the GPL.
  • by tmark ( 230091 ) on Thursday October 17, 2002 @10:14PM (#4475450)
    the financial community is starting to actually get open source.

    What do you mean by this ? Do you mean the financial community is coming around to subscribing to "open source", in the sense of contributing their code "back" to the community, or do you mean that they are just using open-sourced code internally ?

    Because if some company just realizes that open source software is cheaper or more effective to use, but doesn't release any code back (yes, I know they don't have to if they dont redistribute it), I hardly see why the open source community would be emboldened by this, and I can hardly see how the financial community could be said to "get" it.
  • by zentec ( 204030 ) < minus painter> on Thursday October 17, 2002 @10:18PM (#4475471)

    Microsoft is so busy being upset over people resisting their entitlement to the world's computers that they are missing the mark entirely.

    Companies are looking at Linux not just because it's cheaper or better, it's because Microsoft has cheesed-off most of the IT managers in the world with their arrogance.

    Software assurance, the history of constant upgrades as a revenue stream, security flaws, magically changing EULA's and Microsoft's patently bad faith dealings in the business world have people just sick and tired of Microsoft (and for the most part, the software industry as a whole).

    It's not just a question of what's better or cheaper. It's a question of what is tolerable as opposed to dealing with Microsoft, which for many companies is becoming intolerable.
  • It's a hard sell... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by weave ( 48069 ) on Thursday October 17, 2002 @10:57PM (#4475737) Journal
    Microsoft was trying to convince me to convert my college's e-mail system from unix to exchange server. Their prices for exchange are insane, even with heavily discounted educational pricing.

    Let's see, 20,000 inboxes times about $6/seat is $120,000 -- versus -- free. Yeah, Exchange does more than just e-mail, but for that kind of cash in a cash-strapped educational institution, it's just insane. Add in the need to retrain some of my unix systems administrators or fire and rehire (not easy in a government institution) and it approaches an impossible scenario...

  • by BrookHarty ( 9119 ) on Thursday October 17, 2002 @10:59PM (#4475742) Homepage Journal
    Win2k/XP is a rather nice Desktop OS. Its come a long way, finally stable, good features, and lots of applications and games. (Ya viruses too)

    Truely, I dont think linux has a chance on the desktop. Hardware support isn't there, Application are not isn't there (Loki is gone). I know everyone is working thier ass off to make it, but until the average joe will want to drop Windows boxes for a Linux box, linux will be mostly a server os. (I'm not counting the slashdot crowd, most of us dual boot, and/or have a dedicated linux/bsd server.)

    Servers are another questions, Unix is the only way I run my shops. After running DNS/SMTP/HTTP on unix and windows, I can tell from experience, a unix type os is the only choice. (We run Solaris) But hey m$ wins again, seems 1/3rd of all unix admin programs run only on windows or if they use a web gui, only IE is supported. (sigh/disgust)
    Do you GLTron [] ?

  • by Todd Knarr ( 15451 ) on Thursday October 17, 2002 @11:13PM (#4475810) Homepage

    There's one aspect of Open Source that Ballmer and his friends don't get yet. He talks about trying to adopt the open-source ideas to benefit Microsoft. That dooms him to failure right there. People don't contribute to open-source software to benefit someone else. They contribute to benefit themselves. They fix bugs and add features because they need that done. And the contribute it back because they've already benefited from previous contributions from other people. It's all aimed at the benefit of the customer/user. When anyone, whether they be Microsoft or Sun or whoever, sets up a similar system aimed to benefit someone other than the people actually doing the work, those people don't buy in and the whole thing kind of shambles off into oblivion.

    If Ballmer wants to adopt open-source ideas, the first one is going to have to be "How can our users add to and change Windows to benefit themselves?". As long as "How can users add to Windows to benefit Microsoft?" takes priority, it'll fail.

  • by Lethyos ( 408045 ) on Thursday October 17, 2002 @11:26PM (#4475881) Journal
    Know why? Because open source never has been, isn't, and never will be in competition with Microsoft. Ask Linus - he doesn't give a rats ass what Redmond or the world thinks about Linux. He just wants to make a good product, which is the crux of the issue.

    Open source is not a business. It's not an establishment. It's only a set of ideals that are suited to fulfilling a set of needs. For example, people who use open source software have a need for inexpensive, dependable, stable, secure operating systems. As a result, several such operating systems have been produced from open source development efforts. Microsoft does not, cannot, and will never fulfill those needs. Therefore, open source software and ideals will always thrive, just as they have for several decades now. (This nonsense about making software proprietary is still a relatively new one in the computer industry... and it's showing that it will soon fail).

    We're not in competition with Microsoft. We can just sit back, laugh, write good code, and use the execellent software we've created to complete our tasks and solve our problems. Meanwhile, they'll run around like mad, trying to compete with an entity that cannot be competed with, spending billions in the process while we go by without burning a single cent! Sure, some people use open source software to compete with Microsoft (RedHat, IBM, et al). But in the end, we are not a business and the fools at Microsoft don't know how to deal with it. Soon, they'll go the way of the dodo and that will be that.

    Microsoft will fail because they cannot identify needs and fulfill them. All this time, they'll be busy spinning marketing campaigns, filling magazines with FUD... when they could have been developing quality, open code. I suppose the customer is their last priority. This is a business doomed to fail.
  • by dh003i ( 203189 ) < minus physicist> on Thursday October 17, 2002 @11:38PM (#4475950) Homepage Journal
    The idea of M$ actually wanting to compete on a level playing field is laughable.

    They don't want to compete with Free Software. They want to illegalize Free Software, and force any would be Free Software developers to release their code into the public domain or under a BSD-like license: so that M$ can take all of their ideas, embrace them, extend them in their own products, and then give nothing back to the community.

    Basically, if it were up to M$, what's your's would be their's and what's their's would be their's too.

    Btw, for those of you blabbing about the Free Software community not doing any innovating, that's bull. Let's just take WM's for the moment.

    PWM -- any proprietary window manager out there that can adequately handle tabbed windowing, a vastly superior system?

    WindowMaker -- better than Win9x's UI or that of OSX, though WindowMaker and OSX share the same heritage, NeXT. Sure, WindowMaker was based off of the OpenStep standard, but it was an *open* standard. Can't blame the Free Software community for keeping something alive in a viable form when its own company had abandoned it.

    Those of you saying that KDE and GNOME are exactly like Windows are wrong; its similar to Windows to make transition easier for Windows users. However, KDE and GNOME each have their own unique features which distinguish them from Windows.

    Xfce is an excellent Free Software implementation of CDE; original? no, but excellent, yes.

    Alot of you people saying that Linux WM's and Desktop Environments are just Windows clones need to actually use these things instead of just looking at the screenshots from They offer many useful features which aren't found in Windows or Mac. There are also areas where Windows and Mac are better. Mac gets points for their universal file menu (any hope of them allowing us to make it hide-away?). Windows gets points for allowing you to make your desktop background a web-page, and for allowing you to add "docks" to the sides of it with your choice of applications/folders on them. WM's in Linux like WindowMaker get points for their elegant look and feel, simplicity (dock); PWM gets points for its excellent tabbed-windowing feature; Xfce gets points for being a nice desktop environment.

    Check out my website [] for some of my suggestions on what would make an ideal WM.
  • by bertok ( 226922 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @12:33AM (#4476214)

    Microsoft will never win against Linux unless they drastically change their licensing model. Currently, a copy of Windows 2000 Professional costs AUD 685.00 here in Australia. Compare this to their server products: Windows 2000 Server costs AUD 2184.00 and Advanced Server costs a stunning AUD 7900.00. The difference in cost between the workstation and server products is an order of magnitude, but the install CDs are virtually identical except for a few marker files. They even share service packs. It's not like the Server editions have email or database functionality thrown in for free, they just costs more and have different logos.

    Believe it or not, most PHBs actually believe they are getting more when they are buying Windows 2000 Server, and that's how Microsoft likes it. To be fair, it's not just Microsoft doing this kind of thing: Have any of you noticed how SMP servers always cost at least a thousand dollars more than single CPU servers or workstations? Are one extra CPU socket and a slightly different North Bridge chip a thousand dollars worth of extra hardware? I think not. Dual CPU machines are largely sold as servers, and most large OEMs have worked out that they can charge more money for server hardware, even if it is almost exactly the same as their workstation products.

    Linux, and open source in general, challenges such marketing hype. There is no workstation Linux or server Linux. Any home user or small business can set up a mail or database server without having to fork over five or six digits sums for software that isn't really all that special.

  • by micron ( 164661 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @12:43AM (#4476246)
    Small to medium business is the largest target market out there. A small business can invest $5,000 in a Microsoft software/ Intel hardware solution, and $5,000 in consulting, and get a solution that will work. The consulting market price is low due to competition. The system will run, and there are many people that can provide this service.

    Linux.. I can get the Intel hardware cheap, and the OS out of a book, or free. Not for the novice. I have to find someone who really knows what they are doing to get the apps set up and running. This takes time, and the cost can go through the roof.

    Don't confuse inexpensive aquisition costs with inexpensive solutions. Until the mom and pop shops of the world can get accounting systems and small business software up and running inexpensively and easily, Microsoft will be around and making money.
  • by witch ( 21633 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @01:42AM (#4476458) Homepage
    Odd that they would use the acronym N.O.I.S.E. -
    Netscape, Oracle, IBM, Sun, and Everyone else...
    The article says they don't talk much about Netscape
    anymore, or Sun, or Oracle. They still talk about
    IBM and Everyone else, plus Linux. I guess that
    means that their new acronym is L.I.E.
  • They cant get into their heads that many of the people looking at linux doesnt do it because of linux superiority. Microsoft has done a great job of alienating their own customers with high prices and shoddy quality. Not to mention how they have made a clear mark that anyone working together with them get a stab in the back.

    If they had cared anything about their customers they wouldnt be in this situation.

    All their talk about "fighting linux" is just BS. How big part of the market has linux? I think there are enough space to cater both but MS seems to think that ANY competition is dangerous.

    Why do they have such little faith in their own ability to compete on fair grounds? It feels liek they are grasping for straws. Maybe times arent so easy when there arent many companies to steal ideas from any longer. Any smart person with a wild new idea for a killer app just think Netscape and then puts it in a drawer until MS gets under control.
  • Free as in Market (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aron S-T ( 3012 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @02:32AM (#4476606) Homepage
    I recently heard a talk by a senior IT manager at a major brokerage firm/investment bank. His task: manage open source within the organization. His main point. The value of open source/free software for his company is not free as in beer, or free as in speech, but free as in market. Not being dependent on one software vendor allows him to have competitive bidding on all software projects. having multiple options also means that various groups within his organziation get the best software.

    Of course, Microsoft loses on all three counts - beer, speech and market. Which is why Ballmer has the big L on his forhead.

    Oh, and yes, the speaker "got" the idea that you have to, in his terms, "close the loop" and give back to the community. The financial model of open source/free software is very clear to a financial person. For every $1 you put in, you get back $1000 (the $1 every one else in the community contributed). This doesn't work with real money, as the dot-com bubble proved once more. But it sure as hell works great with intangible thought-stuff like software.
  • by schlach ( 228441 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @03:19AM (#4476775) Journal
    ... if everyone who used Linux bought a copy of XP =)
  • Quote from (Score:5, Interesting)

    by WizardofWestmarch ( 614827 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @04:00AM (#4476876)
    I saw this quote from someone working for the state of Utah and found it rather interesting (not surprising of course) "We buy Microsoft products, and we have this sort of love-hate relationship with them like everyone else, I suppose," said Phillip Windley, chief information officer for the State of Utah. "Last year, they forced us to conduct an audit, which was very painful. And it turns out that the bottom line was that we have overbought. They didn't offer to refund any of those overbought licenses. But if we had underbought, they certainly would have required us to pay more money, I trust."
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 18, 2002 @06:53AM (#4477251)
    Lets have a look at the facts besides Steves paranoia fud. Linux not really is the enemy, Microsoft or at least the twist the company did since Steve took over is it. Companies never really considered to switch to Unix until Microsoft almost blackmailed them with their new subscription program. I think the critical point will be around 2004 when the public support for win2k runs out. Most companies never really considered an alternative, many of them were happy to go the windows route (well the suites were, buy Microsoft dont have any issues in the management), but things have changed with the new licensing scheme. There is an alternative, a good community also is there, you can buy support if needed and it works and doesnt have all the licensing issues connected to Windows.

    The next stupidity out of Redmont now comes with Palladium and TCPA, do you really want to trust a mission critical system to an operating system where somebody might nail unasked an update onto. Do you really want to develop for a system where you in the long term might have to pay an annual tax to keep a signing key alive and do you really want to have somebody else decide if your program is allowed to run anymore or not... This is simply personal computing without personal computing. I think Microsoft and all the others will fall flat on their faces in the long term with this. And at that time, non TCPA implementing systems will be good enough so that you can push them onto the average joe.

  • by C A S S I E L ( 16009 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @07:21AM (#4477300) Homepage
    Yes, I *know* that Bill told you last month that security was our absolute number one priority here at Microsoft. That was last month. This month, destroying Open Source is our absolute number one priority. Open Source threatens our revenue stream, whereas nobody cares about security - we can just bolt that on later if we need to.

"Call immediately. Time is running out. We both need to do something monstrous before we die." -- Message from Ralph Steadman to Hunter Thompson