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META Predicts Linux Software From Microsoft in 2004 568

trandles writes "According to this story at NYTimes (FRYYY), META Group is reporting that Microsoft will begin selling Linux software in 2004. It also goes on to report that a META Group study comes to the same conclusion as the earlier (MS-funded) IDC study that Linux has a higher TCO than MS solutions for some applications." Remember, this is speculation on the part of META, and has to do with back-end software, not Office. (But if Microsoft wanted to, they could become the world's biggest producer of Linux software.)
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META Predicts Linux Software From Microsoft in 2004

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  • by morbuz ( 592480 ) on Tuesday December 10, 2002 @08:49AM (#4853361)
    Will we finally see MS solitaire for linux?
    • Re:LinSolitaire? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by cscx ( 541332 ) on Tuesday December 10, 2002 @09:15AM (#4853520) Homepage
      Windows Solitaire was written by the well-noted eccentric Wes Cherry [] when he was an intern at MS in the 80s. He wrote it while goofing off one day, a manager spotted it, and said "we've got to put this thing in Windows!"
  • by medscaper ( 238068 ) on Tuesday December 10, 2002 @08:50AM (#4853364) Homepage
    Or maybe LinuxX?

    Or Linux Professional.

    How about .Linux?

    Visual Linux.



  • Cool (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Squareball ( 523165 ) on Tuesday December 10, 2002 @08:50AM (#4853365)
    Hey, even if they wanted to put out Office for Linux, I say GREAT! If they started puting out apps for linux, maybe other companies will follow suit, and then maybe we can stop being dependandt on Microsoft for their OS.
    • Re:Cool (Score:3, Insightful)

      by turgid ( 580780 )
      But still be dependent on them for their applications?
      • Why not? At least you can [close|kill|deinstall] an application...
        • Re:Cool (Score:5, Insightful)

          by turgid ( 580780 ) on Tuesday December 10, 2002 @09:24AM (#4853568) Journal
          I think the point is to stop the MS monopoly by there being alternative products to those of MS, and allowing other software vendors to participate in the market. If M$ Office were suddenly to appear on Linux and every other version of UNIX, it's just possible that MS would kill any last vestage of competition. Luckily, OpenOffice etc. have got some momentum behind them already so that probably won't happen. Can you imagine a world in which you could choose whatever word processor you like as long as it's Word?
          • Re:Cool (Score:2, Informative)

            by MikeDX ( 560598 )
            Can you imagine a world in which you could choose whatever word processor you like as long as it's Word?

            Welcome to the world of 75% of all offices.

            You will use the software we provide as installed, or not at all.
          • Re:Cool (Score:3, Interesting)

            If M$ Office were suddenly to appear on Linux and every other version of UNIX, it's just possible that MS would kill any last vestage of competition.

            Well that's already happened, anybody that wants to can run MS Office on Linux via CrossOver. Running an app under Wine is pretty much the same as running it on Windows integration-wise, the only difference really being themeing (or lack of it). But somehow most of use all use OpenOffice. Perhaps because, good though Office is, it isn't worth the price they charge for it?

      • Re:Cool (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Squareball ( 523165 ) on Tuesday December 10, 2002 @09:33AM (#4853622)
        That is the thing. Most people don't use windows because of Microsoft applications, they use it because of other applications such as Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Flash.. etc. If Microsoft started porting their apps to Linux, then i'm sure Adobe would do the same and so would Macromedia. If you could run Photoshop, Dreamweaver and Flash on linux, then why pay the money for WindowsXP? Once other companies stop forcing you to use Windows to use their products, people can finally ditch Windows.
        • Re:Cool (Score:3, Insightful)

          Which thus concludes Microsoft will never write software for Linux as long as they want to make $$$ from their OS.

          To think it of another way, MS Applications are the 'value-added' portion of the Windows OS.
    • Re:Cool (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Junior J. Junior III ( 192702 ) on Tuesday December 10, 2002 @08:58AM (#4853407) Homepage
      I'm only in favor of MS Office if they open up the file formats so that .doc is fully interchangable with other office productivity suites. The level of interoperability we currently have is OK a lot of the time, but it could be better, and I won't be totally happy until the original application used to create the file is completely transparent to someone viewing the file.
    • by Surak ( 18578 ) <[surak] [at] []> on Tuesday December 10, 2002 @09:06AM (#4853457) Homepage Journal
      Admittedly, if Microsoft thought that OpenOffice or any other office suite on Linux or other OSes represented serious competition to Microsoft Office, all they would have to do is port Office to Linux and they would own the office suite market, but at the expense of their OS monopoly. The only reason Office for Macintosh exists is to keep the DOJ, the FTC, and the courts off their back.

      • too late (Score:3, Insightful)

        I went to pick up some RAM last night, and saw someone with a Microstar PC, running Windows XP Home, it had StarOffice plastered all over the box.

        Microsoft are slowly loosing there Office Monopoly, once that starts to dwindle then there OS monopoly is up for grabs.

        Async IO and N:P threading in the 2.6 kernel will help along the way.
        • once that starts to dwindle then there OS monopoly is up for grabs.

          Yeah! Because the moment they lose their Office Monopoly (which is illusionary anyway, but...) games will just MAGICALLY APPEAR on the Linux platform, causing a huge wave of gamers to switch to Linux.
          • Umm....
            Gamers all have licensed copies of Windows? come-on.
            Anyhow the majority of M$ software is in companies not in homes, Games aren't the big thing on Windows, Office is.
            WineX is coming along quite nicely if you want to play game not-on-windows or you could be a PS2.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I always wanted a blue screen kernel module.
  • Sure.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by simpleguy ( 5686 ) on Tuesday December 10, 2002 @08:51AM (#4853370) Homepage
    But remember there is a difference between selling

    1. Closed source, commercial Linux software
    2. Open Sourced/GPLed Linux software.

    Hah, they'll probably GPL notepad.

  • by oren ( 78897 ) on Tuesday December 10, 2002 @08:51AM (#4853371)
    Now that it is proved that Linux TCO is higher than Windows, why settle for a second best? Obviously they'd move to the platform more expensive to the customer. After all, they have to make a living, right?
  • by 91degrees ( 207121 ) on Tuesday December 10, 2002 @08:52AM (#4853373) Journal
    All they need to do is create a free (as in beer) X-semi-compatible, but faster GUI. Then release Word for it.

    Embrace, extend, control. After a while, everyone will write software for Microsoft X# or X++ or X-Windows(tm) or whatever they call it, and MS will call the shots.
    • Shhhh! Don't give them any ideas! :-P
    • by leehwtsohg ( 618675 ) on Tuesday December 10, 2002 @09:01AM (#4853428)
      They could also write a faster, more secure OS, that does not crash. Then sell it for production cost+1$/copy, and release
      the source code. That would ruin linux!
      • Re:Another approach (Score:2, Interesting)

        by ZeLonewolf ( 197271 )
        They could also write a faster, more secure OS, that does not crash. Then sell it for production cost+1$/copy, and release
        the source code.
        Have you used Windows XP lately? Not to be a troll, but it really is faster and doesn't crash anymore... I installed it 10 days ago, and it's been up and running since, under heavy usage too, I might add...

        As for secure, well, who knows...we'll see what the next big MS security holes are.. and as for price and open-source-ness, still a long way to go there.

        In terms of usability and stability, MS has really come a long way from then Windows 9X days...the latest Windows seems to, in my opinion, have caught up to Linux in terms of stability, and is close behind in terms of speed as well... Of course, the argument of MS being an evil monopolistic company with equally evil business practices still certainly stands :-)
    • by ishark ( 245915 ) on Tuesday December 10, 2002 @09:11AM (#4853492)
      All they need to do is create a free (as in beer) X-semi-compatible, but faster GUI. Then release Word for it.

      Ok, and the situation will end up being identical to today, with people locked in MS X# or whatever instead of windows. In what way would this take control of linux? X11 and all the apps would still exists and you would still be able to use them.
      The only consequence would be to get some extra kernel debugging and lots of linux kernels running in the background of desktop PCs.

      They can't change X# to make it only compatible with the special closed-source Microsoft-approved linux kernel, because the kernel is GPL. Actually, Microsoft would give a lot of power in the hands of Linus: a few touches here and there and it would be update nightmare for Microsoft to make sure that their interface runs on every new release of the kernel.....

      I think you are assuming that the only things MS wants is "control", while the aim is profit: control is only a mean to it. And this new scenario does not bring in any additional profit.
      • I think you are assuming that the only things MS wants is "control", while the aim is profit: control is only a mean to it.

        I'm not so sure about that. In the long term they are threatened by the emergence of new competition. It is in their best interest to prevent that emergence, so I think in any given decision control is viewed as a higher priority than profit.

        Whether the ultimate goal is profit is, I think, immaterial when the result is that every decision is made to favor control above all else.
    • Wow wouldn't that be something! Now you might assume that this would be a bad thing; I think a lot of slashdot users might think this way.

      However, the main downsides historicly for MS Windows is all the dirty tricks they pull to get more performance and features.. Putting graphics in ring-0 (kernel space), and even putting webserver stuff there!

      Now imagine MS X-Windows(Tm). All the UI research and man-centuries of coding pooring into it, however without control over the kernel, file systems, and based on (and hopefully even contributed to) gcc/glibc/etc. Linux filesystems, network stacks, and the other alternatives that already exist on linux!

      Then they might still call the shots for the UI (though XFree86 will still exist, so will kde/gnome) but the control over the 'platform' they would loose.

      This would have the same positive effect as the sugested splitting up MS into sepperate Windows, User Apps and Server Apps companies..

      Heh, if they ever do decide to do so, atleast we saved them the effort of porting linux to the X-Box They could even use wine as a basis to run 'legacy apps' ;-)
  • ...revive Xenix?

    Hmm, interesting. I think they'd more likely release software for *BSD. And probably colsed source at that or open source under a much more restrictive license than a BSD or GPL one.
    • Re:Or they could (Score:2, Insightful)

      by turgid ( 580780 )
      Xenix is a 16-bit unix. It was written for the 286. :-) They already did release Office for BSD i.e. Mac OS X.
      • Re:Or they could (Score:3, Interesting)

        by kingkade ( 584184 )
        Xenix is a 16-bit unix. It was written for the 286. :-)

        Well, I don't mean release the last version they had in the boiler room in Redmond HQ, holding the door closed :)

        They already did release Office for BSD i.e. Mac OS X.

        Good point :), but its certainly not under open and it's probably under their standard EULA.

        Well, if they wanted to release a new *nix variant, all they would have to do is go with a BSD system, like MacOS has done. Maybe even create their own windowing system like Apple. The BSD license will leave them free to do whatever they wish, to make a commercial BSD flavor without any IP/patent problems.
  • by agentZ ( 210674 ) on Tuesday December 10, 2002 @08:55AM (#4853390)
    This story was written by Reueters, not the New York Times. You can view this story at other sites with no registration. Yahoo [].
  • by Masa ( 74401 ) on Tuesday December 10, 2002 @08:55AM (#4853394) Journal
    Here's a story from ZDNet UK about this:

    ZDNet UK []

    No registrations required.

  • at last linux users will be able to ditch vi/emacs and use the cof cof powerfull cof notepad!
    the future is bright ;)
  • by zensonic ( 82242 ) on Tuesday December 10, 2002 @08:58AM (#4853413) Homepage
    ... if Microsoft wanted to, they could become the world's biggest producer of Linux software

    I can only say that I find it good that microsoft doesn't port their office suite to linux! MS Office is not a success in because of a well written office suite. Not by a long shot! Better alternatives exists (even for linux). The argument that microsoft office thrives on: "but all our buissnes partners have MS Office, so in order to exchange data, we gotta have it to", doesn't work if you can't get MS Office! So I think it's a good think that MS haven't ported MS Office to linux. It might mean that the better alternative will prevail for once.

    • by sql*kitten ( 1359 ) on Tuesday December 10, 2002 @09:26AM (#4853578)
      I can only say that I find it good that microsoft doesn't port their office suite to linux! MS Office is not a success in because of a well written office suite. Not by a long shot! Better alternatives exists (even for linux).

      Better applications exist, but only in very specfic domains. For example, if you know what you're doing, LaTeX is a superior typesetting program to MS Word. If you are editing very simple documents, then AbiWord takes less disk space. But there's no open source word processor that can compete feature-for-feature with MS Word, and open source lags even further behind for spreadsheet and presentation software.

      I know it pains Slashbots to hear this, but MS Office is actually pretty good, and outcompeted offerings from other vendors.
    • by chabotc ( 22496 ) <[chabotc] [at] []> on Tuesday December 10, 2002 @09:30AM (#4853594) Homepage
      Now i have been a linux user for quite a few years now, but this is news for me.. Even has a taste of a little bit to much pasion for disliking MS in it.

      Staroffice crashes as much as MS office does for me.. Some problems i had with older MS offices where they got very unstable on large documents but thats much better now.

      MS office does start up 100x faster then staroffice.. It also allows me to do whatever i need to do with min. hassle (as long as clippy is hiding) and i've seen complete a-technical people make great powerpoint presentations in MS office..

      Granted you are almost forced to have it to participate in the buisness world, and it's a little expensive and bloated.. And i dislike MS to, for all their dirty technical, legal and ethical tricks and behaviours, however MS office is not a 'bad product'.

      Saying so will only create more distance between you and the people you are trying to influance..

      Show a end-user he could do his work better, faster and cheaper in an alternative suite, and he will switch. Telling him what he uses is 'bad' will only make it less likely he will ever switch

  • 2008 winter olympics to be held in hell

    I'll believe this when I see it. Microsoft releasing any kind of product for linux would be like admitting defeat. Customers would ask why they develop product for an inferior[1] platform. What we might see is some microsoft funded third party developing linux software (as in frontpage extensions for apache)

    [1]: Not my opinion, but that's what they'll ask microsoft

  • MS OFFICE for Linux (Score:4, Interesting)

    by katalyst ( 618126 ) on Tuesday December 10, 2002 @09:01AM (#4853427) Homepage
    Microsoft is already planning to keep Office 11 on Windows 2000 and the XP platform only. It may make sense for them to actually market MS Office 2000 for Linux. After all, they make a helluva lota money from their Office suite. It's a product, it's an MS product and it's widely accepted. Ofcourse, that MAY encourage more users to jump to Linux, but atleast they will be generating revenues from the Office suite sales. The other questions is - will Linux geeks touch Office for Linux ? The point here is - if you are paying for Star Office, why not pay for MS Office, especially if it runs on Linux ?
  • Big news? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jki ( 624756 ) on Tuesday December 10, 2002 @09:01AM (#4853429) Homepage
    META Group is reporting that Microsoft will begin selling Linux software in 2004.

    I think it is rather obvious. As they must by 2004 have realized, that they cannot kill Linux as an OS - they will just have to start making money with it - by SELLING their products ported and tailored to run on it. It is just so easy to actively forget, that Microsoft is much more than just the operating system - they have multiple products that could actually benefit many - even (and especially) if people want to keep running Linux. I could easily name some Microsoft products, which I would like to see running on Linux - ones that would enable myself to stop running two operating systems at work, for example.

  • by mhocker ( 607466 ) on Tuesday December 10, 2002 @09:02AM (#4853434)
    Microsoft already produces a version of Office for a BSD-like operating system - MacOS X - so the skills are clearly there. Explorer and a few other products are produced through their "Macintosh business unit" which has a supposedly healthy relationship with the rest of MSFT.

    Actually, if you think about it, it makes a lot of sense for MSFT to have a "Linux business unit". Just like MSFT likes to keep Apple on a leash to provide them with cutting-edge ideas on user interface and applications, they could do the same with Linux in regards to security and server software.
  • ... thanks but no thanks. I like my linux box just the way it is. It's about time that clippy took a hint and stayed out of other peoples buissnes.
    • In a further shift, META Group said that Microsoft will also re-price or separate its Windows server operating system ``so that it can be favorably compared against 'free' Linux.''

    Surely they mean including all of their server software so that can favourably^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H be compare against 'free'
  • by wowbagger ( 69688 ) on Tuesday December 10, 2002 @09:14AM (#4853512) Homepage Journal
    <humor type="sarcasm">
    My condolences to the Gates family - what does Bill have? Cancer? Alzheimers? AIDS? ALS? CJD?

    Whatever he has, my condolences. I know what it is like to hear your loved one only has about a year left. The next few months will be hard, but know that you will get through it, and while it never gets better, it gets easier.

    Because the only way Microsoft will start selling software for Linux is over Bill Gates' cold, dead body. So the only way you can say that MS will be selling Linux software in 2004 is to say that Bill is not long for this world.

    And somehow I doubt Bill is even sick.
    • by sql*kitten ( 1359 ) on Tuesday December 10, 2002 @09:32AM (#4853612)
      Because the only way Microsoft will start selling software for Linux is over Bill Gates' cold, dead body.

      And he told you this personally, did he?

      MS write and have written software for a number of platforms. Office for Mac, MSIE for Solaris, CLR for FreeBSD to name but a few. Bill and Microsoft do what they do because they believe it will generate the most value for their shareholders - if the competitive landscape changes, so will they. Look how fast they changed their Internet strategy, for example.
  • Darn the monopoly, sorry nearly forgot.
  • Dollars to donuts... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Asprin ( 545477 ) <gsarnold@ya[ ].com ['hoo' in gap]> on Tuesday December 10, 2002 @09:19AM (#4853543) Homepage Journal
    This is refreshing - I've been saying this for a while now. I'll even bet MS has Office running on Linux in a lab somewhere in their unbelievably-secret-R&D department. Have you ever known MS to *not* hedge their bets? They'd have bougth Linux outright several years ago if that were possible.
  • by pubjames ( 468013 ) on Tuesday December 10, 2002 @09:21AM (#4853557)
    Is this likely? The question we need to ask ourselves is, could Microsoft profit from doing without hurting current cash cows?

    We all know that MS Office and the "Microsoft tax" (the price we pay for buying Windows desktops and servers) are by far Microsofts main sources of revenue. Could Microsoft support Linux and maintain these cash cows? I believe they could.

    Firstly, there is no reason why Microsoft couldn't sell their own version of Linux for the server, and charge the same as they charge for their current Windows server software. I am quite sure that it would sell well, and could reduce the numbers of people migrating to Red Hat, for example. Secondly, I see no reason why they couldn't come out with a version of MS Office for Linux and charge a similar price for it. This might also prevent people migrating to or Star Office.

    If they did this, they could also try to use their considerable muscle to sway people away from technologies they don't want people to use. So for instance, the MS Linux would probably not include MySQL and PHP, and perhaps not even Apache.

    I don't see any reason why they couldn't do this. Of course, they still have the long term problem of the erosion in value of what they offer as free competing solutions improve, but there's not much they can do about that other than try to fight off the inevitable.
    • Firstly, there is no reason why Microsoft couldn't sell their own version of Linux for the server

      Their own version of what? They couldn't even touch GPLd code with a 10 feet pole. They can't buy all copyright holders.

      They can only plant the seeds that will mutate Linux into one of their allies, and yes, this will be a very unhappy day for many folks. .NET is part of it, they are trying to seduce companies into using whatever developement framework they want, as long as it's theirs.

      Java is the only thing standing in the way, but as we all know, it's easier to develop for .NET and the will hedge te best by forcing everyone (as in sufficient critical mass x 3) to have to interface to .NET (F) code whether they like it not.
  • Web Services (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Earl Shannon ( 11797 )
    I can't help but think that Microsoft will back into production of Linux software via Web Services ( .NET ? ). If an application runs in a web browser then why won't it run on Linux AND Windows. Yes, I know there are issues with Microsoft and proprietary extensions. But by 2004 I bet that Linux on the Desktop will have begun to make inroads in the corporate workplace to such an extent that Microsoft will be unable to ignore (corporate) customer demands for compatibility. And open source software providers/developers will have some of the proprietary extension reversed engineered. At least, I can only hope.

  • If /. had stated:

    But if Microsoft wanted to, they could become the world's biggest owner of Linux software ... I believe that BG would be calling now a major pow-wow in Redmond.
  • .NET (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DevilM ( 191311 ) < minus language> on Tuesday December 10, 2002 @09:27AM (#4853581) Homepage
    As more and more of Microsoft's software is built on top of .NET it will become increasingly easy to move that software to other operating systems.
    • Re:.NET (Score:3, Interesting)

      And that is one of the covert aims of .NET. Having used Borland products for years, I can appreciate thier situation - for them Microsoft is both an opponent (in MS VC++, VB etc) and the owner of the playing field (Windows).

      MS's favourite tactic is not just to play the game well, but to move the goalposts, tilt the playing field, change the rules of the game, and mangle other sports metaphors :)

      .NET is a major shift, no doubt about it. In part it is there in order to give Micrsoft viable ways to deal with the challenges that they expect to face in the next few years.

      OS-dependence seems to be one of those. The option of rapidly decoupling thier apps from the Win32 OS kernel may be important to them, for Linux, WinCE or whatever reason.

      • Re:.NET (Score:3, Insightful)

        by sheldon ( 2322 )
        Having worked with .NET a bit over the past year, and having had experience doing C++ and VB over the past 6 years or so...

        The main advantage of .NET is to Windows developers as it gives them the flexibility and functionality of C++ with the ease of rapid development of VB. It's all about efficiency.

        Efficiency of development is the primary goal, anything else that .NET gives Microsoft is nothing but gravy on top of that. Such as ease of moving from 32-bit to 64-bit Intel platform.
  • by oliverthered ( 187439 ) <(oliverthered) (at) (> on Tuesday December 10, 2002 @09:28AM (#4853582) Journal
    It looks like most people didn't read the artical.

    'SEATTLE (Reuters) - In a major strategy shift, Microsoft Corp. (NasdaqNM:MSFT - news) will introduce software based on the Linux (news - web sites) open source operating system in 2004 for Web services and server software, market researcher META Group predicted on Monday. ' .......

    ; this will gradually include the major Microsoft back-office products, such as SQL Server, IIS, and Exchange," META Group said.

    So there going to sell insecure web services, over say Apache, web services is M$'s weekest market, and IIS i can see people buying IIS on Linux.

    SQL server, hmm... why.... Oracle, DB2, anything else except SQL server is already on Linux, they havn't a hope.

    There only viable Server port would be Exchange since there isn't a non-windows variant, but that would be dangerious for M$, since there are a few companies who only have windows boxes for Exchange.

    MONO are already doing .NET, so no room for M$ there either.

    I think there talking shit....

  • Microsoft *NIX (Score:2, Insightful)

    Well, I might be showing my age here, but didn't our old pals MS produce a desktop version of UNIX way back when? (wasn't it XENIX or somthing?? 'pologies if I'm wrong...)

    So really they're not *that* new to this, but, depending on your point of view, then either MS are trying to do a passable cover-the-bases routine, or they have some other plan in mind.

    Let's be honest here - and I think we all know this - if Bill & The Boys did go down the linux route, then it would change linux completely; can you see MS open-sourcing all their code for this project?

    No, me neither!

  • distro (Score:2, Funny)

    But Microsoft already has it's own linux distribution [] ready slated for release in november 2003. Knowing MS and it's slipping OS release dates this will probably end up being released in 2004.

  • I'm not sure I see it happening by 2004, but I can easily see Microsoft selling Linux products and even their own version of Linux.

    There are several reasons I can see:
    • Microsoft goes where the money is. Linux is going a lot of places, and M$ would want a cut from that.
    • Microsoft has to spend money on R&D and/or aquiring people. Linux work is being done for free around the world. There's a money-saver right there for Microsoft.
    • Linux has a good name. Microsoft can piggyback onto that. Ever heard that no one got fired for buying Microsoft? What if people could get Linux and have the M$ name to show to the boss?
    • Getting into the Linux game (and related?) is another way to jack up pressure on competitors and use leverage.
    • If M$ gets into Linux now they can avoid a potential future where Linux becomes a more serious enemy.

    I'd say getting into Linux would be in character for Microsoft.

    However, DON'T expect them to make it look like anything but a Oh-We-Care-For-Consumers routine. Expect something more along the lines of "Microsoft produces an advanced, user-friendly version of the popular operating system. Now you can take advantage of the best of both worlds" or something.

    BTW, if this happens, there may be a massive shift in what skillsets employees are interested in. Something to watch.
  • Cute... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by wesmo ( 181075 )
    Microsoft's argument against Linux sounds strangely familiar. Didn't Apple use this same tactic against Microsoft back in the 90's?

    "It's initially cheaper to purchase and install a [insert competitor here]'s hardware and software, but more expensive in the long run with regards to administration and people."

    Could this be a sign of desperation?

    Anyhow, the chances M$ will come out with a GPL'd version of Linux are like nil. Now, a proprietary version of Linux... that is more likely, especially if the level of desperation rises!
  • What's to stop MS from creating a free linux compatible distribution ("Bill Hat"), but not open source and then competing with the likes of Redhat? That would seem to me the only way they would do Linux software.

  • All the TCO studies I have seen include elements of initial capital cost, software maintenance and support.

    What they do not include are estimates of the cost of non-availabilty. Obviously this is difficult to quantify, since it varies according to the application and business. However since we are talking about Linux and Windows in the entreprise one ought to be able to put some kind of estimate or estimates together (this much per hour of down time in a small development shop, this much in a bank). I think one would then see what the real cost of ownership of each platform is.
  • ``and we're going to continue doing what we've been doing for customers.'' I guess I had Microsoft pegged wrong. They have been practising anti-competitive behaviour for me and the rest of its customers. So it's all ok now.
  • by Fefe ( 6964 ) on Tuesday December 10, 2002 @10:07AM (#4853896) Homepage
    What is all this hoopla about? Some soothsayer makes some outrageous prediction that is not backed by any data whatsoever, and all the world is acting as if it already happened!

    Hold your horses, gentlemen.

    Their German subsidiary just sold a well researched and completely unbiased prediction [] that Linux won't stand a chance against Windows on servers and desktops to the Swiss a few months ago. The study claims that Unix scales better than Linux and yet Unix will become a back-end, legacy OS platform by 2003.

    Oh, and they also pumped out a different study [] (which is, by the way, also completely unbiased and astoundingly well-researched) where they predicted Linux will grow from 25% to 35% in the next 2 years, only to be outpaced by... Windows 2000?!

    ROTFL! Nobody in their right mind can take these people seriously! I don't even have to contradict them, they do it themselves!

    BTW: The PDF is in German, but the pretty figures are all English, so you should have no problem understanding what they are saying.

    PS: What good luck we have that their study is a PDF! In it you will find the assertion that Star Office has "uncertainties" opening MS Office files and thus you can't use Linux. Um, well... ;)
  • by g4dget ( 579145 ) on Tuesday December 10, 2002 @10:07AM (#4853899)
    TCO depends on a lot of factors. If you hire good UNIX/Linux system managers, you only need a small number, your systems will run like clockwork, and your TCO will be low.

    If you are running a Windows shop and put people with only MCSE training to work on UNIX/Linux machines, they won't know what to do, they won't even know how to find out what to do, and they will hate it. Your systems will run miserably and your TCO will be high.

    What does that mean? Your Linux TCO depends on how your run your shop. If you do things right, the achievable TCO is better for Linux than for Windows.

  • by 4of12 ( 97621 ) on Tuesday December 10, 2002 @10:12AM (#4853943) Homepage Journal

    It's very logical for Microsoft to make Linux software at some point in time.

    They're still in the phase where they're fighting tooth and nail to swallow up the server market (as well as the console game, PDA, cell phone, and ISP markets:)

    Only when Linux makes more serious inroads into the server market will they commit to a product for Linux. For now, the more profitable strategy is the one they're currently pursuing.

    Microsoft's dilemna, though, will be that various free and open source software will fill in the holes of providing MS services on UNIX. SAMBA and Mono, for example. If they released it now, they could own .NET on UNIX, but it would unfavorably leverage against their other strategy of having Windows take over more of the server OS market. The latter strategy puts them more in the drivers seat as far as coming out with new products, calling the shots for upgrade cycles, etc. and is therefore preferable to them at this point in time.

  • by dipfan ( 192591 ) on Tuesday December 10, 2002 @10:26AM (#4854059) Homepage
    Microsoft's not yet ready for the "join 'em" part of the "If you can't beat 'em..." argument - especially as today's Wall Street Journal has a very long, detailed article on Microsoft's efforts to lure national governments away from open source software, using carrots and sticks familiar to many /.ers. It's worth reading, and good to see the mainstream press like the WSJ taking an active interest on how Redmond deports itself.

    It's a good piece, but it's subscription only ... so here (for review purposes only) are highlights of the article - well worth the time:

    Microsoft Wages Campaign Against Free Software
    Staff Reporters of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

    Sometimes it seems as if Microsoft Corp. doesn't want government to save money -- at least not if it comes by using free software. Microsoft is waging a major lobbying and public-policy campaign to stop government agencies in the U.S. and abroad from embracing free, "open-source" software, especially the Linux operating system, which poses a growing threat to Microsoft's Windows.
    In the past year it has argued with the Defense Department over the content of a report extolling free software. It has organized a world-wide lobby to oppose laws that mandate using open-source software. It has persuaded some congressmen to ask the new Office of Homeland Security not to fund research that uses certain open software.
    But even Microsoft is having a tough time persuading governments from Washington to South Africa that getting software free is a bad thing -- especially when rivals like International Business Machines Corp. are telling them that open-source software works just fine.
    Open-source software is software whose source code, or base layer of commands, usually can be copied freely and then modified, unlike most proprietary software, which is generally controlled by a profit-making company. It is championed by a far-flung community of programmers, researchers and companies who share their work over the Internet.
    Open-source software has grown in recent years to become a full-fledged rival to Microsoft, used by companies, universities and others in their computer rooms. Many open-source programs are free, or nearly so.
    The best known open-source software, Linux, increasingly is being embraced by computer companies including IBM, Dell Computer Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co. as a way to sell more hardware and services. According to International Data Corp., a technology-research firm, sales of server computers that use Linux grew 6% in the most recent four quarters, while sales of Windows-based servers grew just 1% in revenue.
    Microsoft says it isn't against the concept of open-source software. But it is working hard to prevent government researchers from adopting software covered by the general public license, or GPL, that governs reuse of much open-source software, including Linux. The GPL requires anyone who copies the software to freely share any improvements or additions they make to the code.
    Because commercial companies often adapt programs written by government-funded university scientists, Microsoft argues that wider use of GPL-licensed software would stifle innovation. Commercial companies, it argues, would have no incentive to sell "free" software derived from the research. What's more, Microsoft worries that its own developers could inadvertently combine Linux or other GPL-licensed programs with Microsoft programs, which could potentially make the Microsoft programs subject to free-sharing as well.
    "The GPL, in my view, is bad in all its dimensions," says Jim Allchin, the Microsoft group vice president who heads the powerful Windows group.
    In some cases, Microsoft has leaned on government agencies directly. The U.S. Defense Information Systems Agency, an arm of the Defense Department, says that last spring it granted a Microsoft request for an exclusive advance look at a report by research firm Mitre Corp., Bedford, Mass., on Pentagon use of open-source software.
    After Ira Rubinstein, a Microsoft lawyer, detailed Microsoft's objections, Dawn Meyerrick, chief technology officer at the agency, says she asked Mitre to make changes in the report. Among them, it dropped the conclusion that open-source software was more secure, and it added cautionary words about the GPL.
    Open-software advocates also perceived Microsoft's influence in a letter from a group of congressmen to Richard Clarke, who heads cyberspace security for the newly created federal Office of Homeland Security. The initial letter urged the government to continue past practices by "explicitly rejecting licenses that would prevent or discourage commercial adoption" of software developed under federal contracts.
    But as the letter was being circulated, Rep. Adam Smith, a Washington Democrat -- who receives the most donations of any representative from Microsoft's political action committee -- added a "Dear Colleague" letter to further explicate the original. That letter said that "licenses such as the General Public License (GPL) are problematic and threaten to undermine innovation and security," and suggested such open-source software shouldn't be developed by the government at all.
    That echoed Microsoft's position. A Microsoft spokesman acknowledges that Rep. Smith met with its chief technology officer, Craig Mundie, before the letter was sent, but only for "informational" purposes. Mr. Smith's press secretary says that the "dear colleague" letter was meant to clarify the original because "we believe in innovation."
    Open-source fans believe Microsoft is bringing its political power to bear because it sees a market threat to its desktop-software monopoly. But in some cases, Microsoft's appeals have fallen on deaf ears. Last year, according to people familiar with the situation, Microsoft objected "vigorously" when the super-secret National Security Agency developed a secure version of Linux and then posted it on the NSA Web site for anyone to download. But NSA didn't back down and the software is still available.
    In the developing world, where free software like Linux may have its greatest appeal, Linux advocates say they have "noticed that Microsoft has made a substantial portion of their quote 'gifts' to developing nations that have indicated a strong preference for open-source software," says Mark Webbink, general counsel of Red Hat Inc., a Raleigh, N.C., company that sells versions of Linux.
    In India, where at least one state government endorsed Linux recently, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates last month announced a $400 million gift of donated software and business-development aid.
    In South Africa, a Microsoft offer to provide software for 32,000 schools came just days after that country's National Advisory Council on Innovation called for the government to adopt open-source software to build local programming skills and avoid sending hard currency to the U.S. to pay for Windows. Nhlanhla Mabaso, a government chief information officer, says that while the free software from Microsoft is tempting, "Personally, I believe this is not good for South Africa."
    Bradford Smith, Microsoft's general counsel, says any donations "are made to meet a social need" and not to counter Linux.
    Microsoft concedes that its opposition to open-source software has sometimes backfired, and it says it intends to move the battle to more straightforward commercial issues.

    * * *

  • Sure, .NET (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Trinition ( 114758 ) on Tuesday December 10, 2002 @11:03AM (#4854388) Homepage
    No big surprise to me. We all just read that Mono works with ASP.NET [], now, along with all of its past successes. Why shouldn't a future, fully .NET version of Microsoft Office work on a Linux implementation of the .NET platform?

    Honeslty, I think .NET is very akin to Java (not just the language similarites, but the bytecode/CLR, VM, libraries, etc.). In fact, I think Microsoft will give up their OS monopoly that they've been beaten up about. Just before they giove it up, though, they'll finsih porting everything to .NET amd then sue any platform running .NEt without a license. Trading one monopoly for another.

  • Windows for Linux (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sunset ( 182117 ) on Tuesday December 10, 2002 @11:50AM (#4854820) Homepage
    MS Windows started life as a DOS application and remained that way, at least internally, thru Win 98. Over time it claimed mindshare and DOS died.

    Of course the equivalent Linux strategy is offering a replacement for X, including a Windows-like desktop and support for the Windows API. I'll bet they are already experimenting with this.

  • by rawrslashdot ( 628551 ) on Tuesday December 10, 2002 @12:09PM (#4854952)
    They will call it Windex(TM).
  • by melonman ( 608440 ) on Tuesday December 10, 2002 @12:26PM (#4855032) Journal

    What about the FrontPage extensions module for Apache? MS are not ideologues, they will do whatever suits their bottom line. And, as has been demonstrated on numerous occasions, they really don't care about performing u-turns.

    I can't believe some of the arguments being posted here, especially the 'no-one would buy MS products for Linux' one. That's been the argument for just about everything they have ever produced, and, in almost every case, they have ended up with the lion's share of the market. A couple of years ago, the story was that no-one would use Media Player instead of RealPlayer.

    And OSS wps are just so bad! Do any of the people singing the praises of Open Office actually use it in a corporate setting? I'm about to install W2K alongside my Linux network just so the clients can produce CVs that anyone else in the world can read more than one time in three.

  • by Baracus ( 628287 ) on Tuesday December 10, 2002 @12:45PM (#4855127)

    I have often heard from my friends at MS that they like their engineers to have a strong UNIX/LINUX background. As laughable as that may seem given the immaturity of MS products, this seems to make sense if MS is looking to get into the Linux market.

    For instance, if MS were to release Office for Linux I wouldn't be booting into Windows as often as I do (I have a dual-boot setup). I also think that by releasing Office they would succeed in luring in a whole new demographic into trusting MS that had previously only bashed them. The result would be Linux people using MS and Linux gaining respect in the eyes of non-techies. How is this good for MS? All MS would have to do is release MSLinux and everyone would migrate to it in a flash. If anything I think MS's OS business would grow along with their apps.

    I hate to admit it but when it comes to usability (GUI, ease of software installation, system navigation) MS is tops. A lot of you are probably grimacing at that last statement but after having seen my grandmother (age: 70+) competently surf the net, write emails, and install software only after a day or two of help from my 10 year old cousin I'm a believer. If MS comes out with Linux tomorrow I know I wouldn't have a dual boot anymore....

    • I think you probably meant to say, "I hate to admit it, but when it comes to usability (GUI, ease of software installation, system navigation) MS is what I believe to be the easiest system that I have used."

      Are you really going to try and back up the claim that Windows XP is easier to use than MacOS X? For everyone? Apple did lots of usability testing, and created an operating system that new users can just pick up and run with. Software is also distributed as one file, and the GUI looks much nicer than that of Microsoft.

      Of course, these are just the opinions of many happy MacOS users (except for the usability testing and the software distribution; those are facts). Personally, I can't stand to use Windows. I find Enlightenment _far_ easier to use for my daily tasks. I find the software to be much better for my needs. I even like it better than MacOS X.

      If set up properly, Linux can be easier for end users to casually use (Web browsing, word processing, email) than Microsoft operating systems. I know; I've helped to do it at the Agape House and I've done it at The Retriever Weekly . It can be customized down to the point of being as simple as possible, without the complexity of a Start Menu and other things which are unnecessary to the user of a few applications.

      I find that using Linux as my own desktop is like using vi as my editor. Yes, it took longer to learn than Notepad. However, I can do so much more with it now, and work so much more efficiently. Windows (on other people's machines; I don't dual boot) feels clunky in comparison.

      For new users, I think I'd recommend MacOS X. For serious computer people, I'd recommend taking the time to learn a free *nix type system (such as Linux or FreeBSD). I would really only recommend Microsoft Windows to people who are used to it and who don't have the time to learn their way around anything else, or the money to buy a Mac. Sorry, but not everyone feels the same way you do.

  • by Uhh_Duh ( 125375 ) on Tuesday December 10, 2002 @12:47PM (#4855136) Homepage

    This is no longer speculation. I was listening to CNET Radio on my way into work this morning and the Chief Research Officer of Microsoft was the guest.

    He confirmed that Microsoft was going to start developing Linux software and said Office was not on the list of things they had planned right away. IIS, SQL Server, and other such products would be placed on the burner first.

    He also admitted some other interesting things. Namely that by 2006 they expected Linux to be shipping on 40% of Intel servers and that over time, the TCO of Linux would come to be the same as Windows in the server market.

    I can't find any references to an announcement by Microsoft yet.. but you should be able to hear the interview in archive format at [].

System restarting, wait...