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Harvard Concludes Linux Will Remain Second Best 460

watzinaneihm writes "A Harvard Study which uses formal economic modelling to determine "Will OSS ever displace traditional software from its market leadership position?" came to a (not so?) surprising result. Linux is likely to remain second best as long as Microsoft has a first mover advantage."
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Harvard Concludes Linux Will Remain Second Best

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  • Harvard is Wrong (Score:2, Interesting)

    by freedom_india ( 780002 ) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @09:41AM (#16075345) Homepage Journal
    As usual the "experts" got it all wrong.

    Harwatd may be brilliant in their analysis, but their conclusion is plain wrong.

    People and companies don't switch to Linux because of a single reason its free. They switch because they know Linux is a viable alternative to MSFT Tax and technically can "match" [yeah flame me, but that's what companies think] Windows.

    Harward was the one who predicted Nuclear powered cars would replace Gasoline cars in 1956.

    They are just plain stupid.

  • Of course... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ackthpt ( 218170 ) * on Sunday September 10, 2006 @09:43AM (#16075351) Homepage Journal

    Intel always thought they'd be #1, eh?

    I think Vista is where Microsoft will fork strongly. There are several smaller forks out there, people who refused to leave NT or 2000 or 98 SE, their PC's do what they want and they see no reason to buy new hardware everytime Intel or Microsoft say "Yow! New! Must have!"

  • Re:OSX (Score:3, Interesting)

    by also-rr ( 980579 ) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @10:02AM (#16075412) Homepage
    Curiously enough I know a reasonable number of people who have moved *from* OS X to Linux. Since the original wave of migrations to OS X (which was non-trivial) the state of things like WPA support, wireless roaming and general desktop tidyness and responsiveness has improved that a lot of the original reasons to migrate have gone. I'm seeing several hundred unique users per day on a tiny, unpublicised, backwater of the internet by OS X users... looking at Linux install guides.

    Once you move away from Microsoft Apps and other junk to things in open formats... what's to keep you on any one platform? If all of your data is on web services or in open document format files moving is trivial. In the long run this means that the important step is the migration away from crap, where you go is not another platform but another pool of platforms where you can make your choices as and when they gain some feature that you really want.
  • Re:OSX (Score:5, Interesting)

    by countach ( 534280 ) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @10:05AM (#16075427)
    I'm going the opposite direction to most people. I started off with Linux because it was far superior to other options back in the nineties. When Win XP came out I slowly reduced my use of Linux because XP was "good enough", it didn't crash, it runs games and iTunes and some other progs I need. I use cywin to make it somewhat Unix-like. Now I've had enough of Windows, it's fallen behind where it should be, but Linux is still too unfriendly for the rest of the family. It's still hard to set up hardware, and the gui, while similar to Windows on the surface, still has an underlying clunkyness still. So I'm moving to OSX shortly. I still like Linux and hope one day it will lose the clunkyness, but life is too short to be spending hours hacking around problems and I'm too old for that crap now.
  • Re:OSX (Score:3, Interesting)

    by interiot ( 50685 ) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @10:10AM (#16075447) Homepage

    The report's main finding though is that Window's initial install base, along with the network effects that all OS's have, mean that Microsoft Windows will ALWAYS win. Basically, that whoever's OS has the most market share is most likely to stay firmly fixed there, just because employers don't want to train employees on an OS they don't already know, and end-users don't want to relearn a new system when they already know one.

    That may be a bit of a repugnant finding (that MS can perform really badly at this point, and still win). But I would think a meta-strategy would be for consumers to encourage OS's to standardize, to become more similar over time (and if it's possible to come up with an actual technical standard that mandates similarities where possible, that consumers would encourage that (though a proprietary entrenched winner would discourage that, of course)).

    Also, I don't know if the study takes into account things like AMD/Intel's virtualization support / VMware, etc. These allow end-users to have the best features of two or more operating systems at the same time. Might this diminish the first-mover advantage?

  • Re:From TFA (Score:4, Interesting)

    by i_should_be_working ( 720372 ) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @10:11AM (#16075452)
    I disagree. The article is quite interesting.

    They do point out that OSS is coming from behind in terms of market share becasue it is much newer. In addition, the /. summary doesn't quite get the conclusion right. From TFA:
    Our main result is that in the absence of cost asymmetries and as long as Windows has a first-mover advantage (a larger installed base at time zero), Linux never displaces Windows of its leadership position.

    One of the things the study suggested that MS will have to do to maintain its dominance is significantly lower Windows' price to the point where price is not a factor when choosing between MS and OSS. There were cases in the model where OSS 'beats' Windows, but they all assumed a significant price difference between the two, which, as OSS threatens MS more and more, may become less and less likely, due to MS lowering it's prices.

    The article also went into interesting points like which is better for the people. The conclusion was that an OSS monopoly is better than a Windows monopoly, but that a OSS-Windows mix is not always better than a Windows monopoly, due to a splitting of efforts. As a person who feels that the spitting of efforts in OSS is one of it's strengths due to the choices it gives us, I disagree with that one.
  • Re:OSX (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Fred_A ( 10934 ) <.gro.emohsderf. .ta. .derf.> on Sunday September 10, 2006 @10:14AM (#16075461) Homepage
    This pretty much sums up my feelings here as well. I have a G4 iBook too and also I haven't converted it to Linux yet (my desktops have been running Linux/BSD for over 10 years), I'm seriously considering doing so. My major gripe with it being that I find the Aqua interface much less comfortable to use than KDE. To me OS X feels a bit like a very polished version of Windows w/ a full Cygwin install. It certainly has most if not all the tools one would expect but also lots of weirdness that makes it quite annoying to use if you're accustomed to the Unix way of doing stuff.

    In my experience this sums up the feelings of pretty much every Unix user w/ a Mac that I've met so far (mostly senior sysadmin / IT types). Of course YMMV depending on what kind of crew you hang out with.
  • Re:OSX (Score:3, Interesting)

    by thelost ( 808451 ) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @10:23AM (#16075495) Journal
    this isn't necessarily a bad thing. While Linux advocates are a fiery lot they will probably agree that users switching to osx is better than users staying with windows.

    Having had experience of hardware support for both osx and linux I would agree with your friends description. However it goes far beyond hardware support. I think it comes down in the end to an OS that has been designed by people aware of users needs and who are aware of how to meet them. While the KDE and Gnome user interfaces are always being updated (for instance) to be more friendly and useful they are left coughing in the dirt by the side of the road by osx. To get a little bit dirty, osx is sex onna stick, a mecca of user friendliness.

  • by daniil ( 775990 ) <evilbj8rn@hotmail.com> on Sunday September 10, 2006 @10:24AM (#16075503) Journal
    When we (and by we, I mean the linux community) hit a larger portion of user base, say 10% of desktop market (if that will ever happen) linux is going to be well known

    You (and by you, I mean the linux community) have been beating this drum for a dozen years now. Somehow, I don't believe it will ever happen. If it will, it won't be the same Linux.
  • by khasim ( 1285 ) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Sunday September 10, 2006 @10:43AM (#16075569)
    What usually sowers the deal with Linux is the fact that the company usually has some software that is for windows only and moving off it is out of the question.


    It isn't that Linux is not "better" than Windows TODAY.

    It is that Windows was "good enough" YESTERDAY.

    And yesterday, the companies deployed Windows and locked up their data / training / money in apps that are not supported on Linux ... yet.

    All the companies I see now have their data AND business logic locked up in Access database apps that have evolved over the years to the point where they are un-maintainable. But still "necessary" to the daily operation of that company.

    Where the Harvard study went wrong is that new companies are constantly forming and old ones dying. The base of companies are not static. It is dynamic. The new companies will NOT be bound by the headstart that Microsoft has in existing companies.
  • by vtcodger ( 957785 ) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @11:54AM (#16075931)
    Harvard's study is perfectly OK. Not only that, but Ghemawat and Casadesus-Masanell say up front that what you are getting is the result of conventional economic modelling and acknowledge that might not be correct. They also say that the results were significantly different than they expected going in -- which is interesting. (at least to me) All they are saying is that if you take their assumptions and build a model, free (as in beer) plus access to source ("demand-side learning") isn't sufficient to drive Microsoft from the marketplace.

    Actually, there is, I think. a lot of interesting stuff buried in this study. Too much to assimilate and comment on quickly. For example, they seem to have found that so called "strategic buyers" (governments, large corporations) could drive Microsoft from a segment of the market if they trust OSS code -- which they can look at -- more than Microsoft code that they maybe can't.

    There are lots of hidden gems. e.g. Microsoft would benefit from changing its pricing strategies to make older products cheaper over time. I have no idea if that is true, but it sure seems to me that selling MSDOS licenses for $5 would bring in more revenue than telling folks that if they want to use MSDOS 6.22 they will just have to pirate it. Well, sure ... if that's really how you feel about it ... -- let's see "diskcopy a: b:", right?

    And there is an interesting discussion near the end of Microsoft strategies to deal with OSS. e.g. make it hard to run Windows software on the free Unixes, but make it easy to run OSS software on Windows. ... etc. Might pay system administrators to look at these closely just to see what Microsoft might do in the future that might have nasty side affects.

    Anyway, I think there is at least one basic problem with the study. It assumes that Microsoft is progressing toward some goal and that OSS is forever following. Could be, but the Vista fiasco looks to me like floundering, not progressing. So, one wonders if the model were altered to reflect a shrinking lag between Microsoft and OSS capabilities and also, an increasing fraction of the marketplace where OSS is good enough or better than good enough, if the results wouldn't be different.

  • Re:OSX (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jelle ( 14827 ) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @03:00PM (#16076862) Homepage
    "If you have the Expose stuff turned on, press F11 and all the Windows will scootch to the sides. Do whatever you have to do and F11 pulls them back in."

    Unless you do it in Firefox, where F11 means full-screen? Or did they screw up Firefox too?

    And shutdown without saving is "Shift-F7 N Y"?

  • Standards (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RAMMS+EIN ( 578166 ) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @04:53PM (#16077289) Homepage Journal

    ``The basic trade-off is the following: With a duopoly, more individuals and organizations use PCs because prices are lower, and this raises welfare. However, with a duopoly, no operating system ends up exploiting fully its potential because developers' efforts wind up divided between the two systems. However, with a monopoly, the efforts to develop new software and improve the platform are directed towards one system only and this may turn out to be better from a social welfare perspective.''

    That is, unless there are standardized APIs between the competing operating systems. As it happens, Windows does not implement the same APIs that its competitors implement, and that's what really causes the duplication of developer effort. If, say, the competition had been between Linux and Mac OS X, the situation would have been much better.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 10, 2006 @10:23PM (#16078425)
    twitter, please read this carefully. Following this advice will make Slashdot a better place for everyone, including yourself.

    • As a representative of the Linux community, participate in mailing list and newsgroup discussions in a professional manner. Refrain from name-calling and use of vulgar language. Consider yourself a member of a virtual corporation with Mr. Torvalds as your Chief Executive Officer. Your words will either enhance or degrade the image the reader has of the Linux community.
    • Avoid hyperbole and unsubstantiated claims at all costs. It's unprofessional and will result in unproductive discussions.
    • A thoughtful, well-reasoned response to a posting will not only provide insight for your readers, but will also increase their respect for your knowledge and abilities.
    • Always remember that if you insult or are disrespectful to someone, their negative experience may be shared with many others. If you do offend someone, please try to make amends.
    • Focus on what Linux has to offer. There is no need to bash the competition. Linux is a good, solid product that stands on its own.
    • Respect the use of other operating systems. While Linux is a wonderful platform, it does not meet everyone's needs.
    • Refer to another product by its proper name. There's nothing to be gained by attempting to ridicule a company or its products by using "creative spelling". If we expect respect for Linux, we must respect other products.
    • Give credit where credit is due. Linux is just the kernel. Without the efforts of people involved with the GNU project , MIT, Berkeley and others too numerous to mention, the Linux kernel would not be very useful to most people.
    • Don't insist that Linux is the only answer for a particular application. Just as the Linux community cherishes the freedom that Linux provides them, Linux only solutions would deprive others of their freedom.
    • There will be cases where Linux is not the answer. Be the first to recognize this and offer another solution.

    From http://www.ibiblio.org/pub/linux/docs/HOWTO/Advoca cy [ibiblio.org]

The party adjourned to a hot tub, yes. Fully clothed, I might add. -- IBM employee, testifying in California State Supreme Court