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Wintel "Thin" Servers to Compete with Linux 168

GenePrescott sent us a story that talks about Microsoft and Intel working together on a thin server thrust. They're going to try to use thin appliance type servers to compete with the Threat that Linux poses to them. Interesting article. Interesting tactic. Not sure if it'll work.
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Wintel "Thin" Servers to Compete with Linux

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    The free aspect primarily just allows it to survive in the marketplace while it matures into something that a particular user might think is appropriate. Conventional platforms cannot do this because that requires money. Atari's and Commodores and even Apple's need to remain profitable enough to survive.

    Free Software takes that need to survive as a commercial entity out of the equation and at last puts an OS on equal footing with WinDOS in that respect.

    In that respect, Free Software is just a means to an end: healthy competition in Operating Systems.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    This is the key... today we have commodity Intel boxes for the simple reason that the vast majority of users run windows and need to be able to run windows programs that are generally *only* available on Intel. (Yeah, I've got alpha, and PPC NT boxes, but they hardly count for anything in the consumer PC market)

    So... suddenly the Linux community has hardware mfgrs thinking that they can innovate again instead of just taking whatever motherboard Intel hands them and whatever crud MS hands them and slapping them together into an bland, undifferentiated white box.

    Suddenly hardware is fun again. If you don't need backwards compatibility with DOS, windows, or X86, you can do a lot of innovative and interesting things.

    I don't play games on my PC anymore, and the only time I use windows at all is to view/edit powerpoint or excel spreadsheets. So, what do I care whether my box's cpu is an Intel , Alpha, SPARC, ARM, or ??

    I build all of my stuff from source anyway, except some security patches to the OS.

    I think we're going to see a growing number of users who don't have any vendor loyalty for any parts in their computer. They just want the fastest stuff they can afford, and they want it to be standards-based and compatible -- or they'll just want a really cheap *disposable* PC. (If your TV, VCR, or microwave breaks would you fix it or buy a new one?)

    Personally, I think that Linux on WinCE notebooks could be a killer product. WinCE seems sort of crippled compared to 9X, NT, and the machines seem underpowered... BUT THEY'VE GOT THE RIGHT PRICE POINT... Put linux on them, and sell them for $800 or less and see how many/few people complain that it's not running an intel CPU.

    So, if we could pull the blinders off of some of these CE laptop mfgrs and get them to at least consider that their success isn't directly tied to WinCE or Microsoft, we might see some interesting stuff.

    Also, look at the embedded market -- many embedded systems are still DOS based, but with Linux, you can choose the most cost-effective architecture, recompile, and run with it.

    I don't think Intel is going away, but should they be scared of how well Linux runs on cheap Compaq Alphas? You Betcha!
  • I thought this stuff had already been done before... Web based management, simply plug in and turn on to set up, easy to use, cheap, embedded OS...

    This sounds like a pretty cheap ripoff of the Cobalt Qube/Raq to me...

    And embedded NT?? That's hilarious! Aren't embedded systems supposed to be cheap, small, and most importantly, stable?

    -- Dave
  • "A Web browser would serve as the interface to system management software and other applications instead of the ubiquitous Windows desktop."

    Doesn't that sum up the whole Windows operating system anyways?

  • They're going to try to use thin appliance type servers to compete with the Threat that Linux poses to them

    "Thin appliance type servers"? If they're a small office, they can just use a spare workstation as a server by installing FreeBSD or Linux on it. No need to buy some special device suited for a special purpose.

    Not that I think Windows 2000 [] will pose any threat in this area, mind you..

  • So this is what, the third time Microsoft has proclaimed the coming of Windows "thin clients"? Uh huh. Wake me up if they actually get anywhere with them this time.
  • The Cobalt Qube is an all-in-one, easy to set up low-end server solution, runs Linux, and costs $899. Why the hell would anyone want to pay $1000 - $2000 for something that runs on pricy Intel hardware and unstable MS software?
  • That's out there too. Gads. Talk about putting a bandaid on a ruptured spleen...

  • Just more MS FUD -- "Promise of Future Bliss" (I think that's #4 in the FUD 101 [] paper). Microsoft feels threatened by thin servers from Cobalt, HCC/Corel, and Linux Hardware Solutions (okay, so LHS isn't on their radar scope, grin, but we do have a thin server), so they're doing this vaporware "thin server" initiative in order to get customers to go with their promised future bliss rather than with already-shipping products like the Qube, Raq, or Netier.

    The sad part is that it'll probably work. After all, it worked back in the days when IBM did it all the time against rivals Amdahl and Fujitsu, and I don't see that the buying public has gotten any smarter in the meantime.

    -- Eric

  • Posted by The Mongolian Barbecue:

    I like how these are being called "thin" at $1500. I built a linux based server for under $500, which will handle email, web services, etc. What a joke.
  • Your point is based on the premise that NT is easier to develop on than Linux. This is a dubious assertion at best.

    What NT does have going for it is that if you want to use its nonstandard standards like DCOM, this works best in Windows. But that's circular reasoning, saying that Windows is a better development environment because you insist on using tools that only work well in Windows.

  • So assuming that they actually follow through with this, it looks like they'll actually be trying to compete against Linux by offering something better suited for their target market than what they're currently offering.

    It sounds like fairly steep money for what's basically an embedded server, and there should be plenty of room for Cobalt et al to knock down the price point. NT's still a heavyweight operating system, and it will be interesting to see how much they can actually excise from it while still maintaining the necessary functionality. My money has it that it's easy to build a much lighter weight server based on Linux than around NT. And while disks and RAM are cheap, the low end's a savage place where $10 savings on disk and $20 on RAM and $50 or whatever Microsoft's going to charge for the OS can add up fast.

    The big issue for any vendor of such a system is competing with the big guys on volume, methinks.
  • Agreed! Besides, as bad as NT is normally, there's something VERY frightening about NT in a sealed box where I can do exactly NOTHING if it crashes in some way that the mini web server won't come back up.

    The Cube in contrast appears to be quite ready for emergency procedures even though it's a lot less likely to have an emergency. Personally, I'm fond of the simple LCD interface for initial setup. Get an IP assigned by customer's admin, pre-configure, drop it in, and look like a genius!

  • by tamarik ( 1163 )
    My web server was a 486. Now its a p200 running IIS until I can figure out this httpd which will run again on the 486. Actually, it'll host 3 low intensity sites. My Internet connetion is a 384K pipe which allows me to ftp at 25K/s and host the few hits I get. We're a $40M trucking company, the site is only for phone/fax numbers and an intro.
  • Since when is Linux a threat to Intel?

    I suppose it is because Linux itself is processor agnostic and large amounts of the more valuable software that runs under Linux is available as source code and not just Intel binaries.

    Phil Fraering "Humans. Go Fig." - Rita
  • Whatever kind of "thin" hardware they develop for said architechture, Linux will certainly run on it. It will turn out to be another scenario where Linux could demonstrate that it is a better server OS than NT. So, they might actually be helping us a bit in the end.

    Go figure...

  • It gives me a chuckle every time I hear that phrase...

  • Is it just me, or are big companies (IBM, M$ for example) having a hard time not competing with themselves.

    NT Embedded v.s. CE, NT WS, NT Server
    NT WS v.s. Windows 9x.

    IBM is backing competing *NIX variants for IA-64.

    This whole "Thin Server Appliance" is not a "Thin Server" issue is crazy, as well. What is the difference? And why would anyone want to buy a stripped down version of NT? What would it come with? An empty hard disk.

    WinNT can't compete with Linux as is, so what makes the think that a stripped down version can? In an enterprise (I hate using busswords, forgive me) situation, support costs will be comperable. Actual software/licence costs are dramitically different. Linux is much more scalable than NT. You can throw in, or cut out just about anything you want. Just try to get rid of the NT GUI??

  • You forgot a few. Here's my list of versions they'll have to support all at once if they keep all their promises:
    • Windows 95
    • Windows 98
    • Windows 98 StepUp
    • Windows NT 4, in WS, Server, and EE flavors
    • Windows 2000, in Standard, Professional, and Advanced Server flavors
    • Windows NT Terminal Server Edition
    • Windows NT 64-bit (flavors?)
    • Windows NT Embedded Edition

    (I count systems with the same essential underlying tech with a few slight differences as "flavors".)

    And you know what? Everyone's worried about the Linux market fragmenting!!! What a laugh.

  • So, what's the difference between charging for the art or the entire package? Allocate your money however you want, you are still "selling" it. ("Call now and will give you this advanced digital watch FREE! ... with only $45 shipping and handling") :-)

    Several differences:

    • You get all the benefits of open source on the engine, including bug fixes, ports to niche/old hardware, new cool features, etc. These increase sales of your game files, and can improve your game's marketing (your ads and demos show BeOS engine clips, while competing engines can only afford a Win9x port and Win9x clips).
    • Others can write games for your engine, too, and sell them. That sounds like a disadvantage, since you're giving away the engine for others to make money off of. But since it's your engine, your brand gets an advantage, since everyone else's box will be advertising your brand for you, thus giving your game files a competitive advantage. Mindshare is a powerful thing - just ask Red Hat.
    • You can sell the games files separately from the game. If a user has the engine, buying new files can be a click-and-drag thing with the Internet. Of course, since it's your engine, your game files are displayed more prominently than others - if you even display others. Or, alternately, you can sell your CDs with a downloader for the engine, saving precious CD space.
  • Cobalt Networks has exactly what they are talking about. Easy to use, setup, configure, file server, print servers, with a web interface. I evaluated a cobalt raq that retailed for $1500 and it took me literally 10 minutes to get it up on the network using DHCP and half of that was me pulling out of all the packing material. The webserver took another 2 minutes to configure then add content. Comes configured with samba and printers are a breeze.

    Go figure Windows and Intel always following in some elses tracks.


    "Nuke it from space it's the only way we can be sure"
  • That's one of the things I learned from working at the Iowa State Daily. (Apart from the fact that I didn't want to be a journalist.)

    Not that it's necessarily bad for an article to have an opinion. (It's only good if you expect to sell your news to everybody.)
  • The only problem with your scheme is that a company of 10 people probably wouldn't have the in-house skills needed to setup/configure/maintain a unix machine. And they probably wouldn't have to money to hire a competent one either. Enter the device any idiot can use (course we could just make web admin stuff for linux... oh, didn't they already do that with the cobalt machines?).

    i mean, if they can't set up an NT box (even poorly) what chance do they have of setting up a linux box? very little, imho.

  • What is up with C|Net and CNN that give you these damn 2 paragraph stories? Why do they even bother? Why not just give us a head line, with no text underneath it?

    As for the story itself, this is a doomed concept.

    Let's say I own a small business and I have these choices:

    A) A Wintel machine that the saleman says will be easy to install, but will perform only very limited function and come with no support except the phrase "Buy a bigger server"

    B) A friend of the company who says,"I'll just set you up with Linux." Small Business Owner: "With what?" Friend: "It's cheaper, it works, I'll be done quickly. Oh and it's fully functional, so don't worry about expansion."

    Only a PHB buys Microsoft because of the name, but most PHBs don't start small businesses. Thus, no market for for thin servers, IMHO.

  • First of all, Linux places NO threat to Intel. Does Intel REALLY care what kind of OS runs on their chips? No. This is just another "initiative" announcement that means nothing. We will never see a "thin" server from this pair. Besides, the cost of ownership doesn't justify it. Maybe if it was about $500, then..... But that'll never happen either.
  • You forgot a few:

    ADO (or is it DAO?)

    Yup, nothing like well thought out technology to make your job easier...


  • Linux is not an appropriate environment for an embedded system.

    Linux is fine for thin servers, just ask the folks at Cobalt. Regarding embedded systems, the requirements of the system determine which OSes are appropriate. For instance, Linux would be a reasonable choice for non-realtime applications that boot from a flash device.


  • Intel is not a standard. REAL Commodities like SVGA monitors, the size of a soda can, analog clocks, and even winshield wipers ARE standards.

    Never spent an hour hunting through every Pep Boys/AutoZone/Wal-Mart in town looking for a set of wipers, eh? Auto manufacturers are just about the worst example of "standards" you could come up with. Aside from the fluids you put in them, there's about 0% "standard parts" in the average automobile... ;-)

  • Not that that is so much better than CE, but the article indicated embedded NT 4.0
  • Linux is not an appropriate environment for an embedded system. VxWorks is, QNX is, Linux is not.
  • That Intel doesn't really care for things to be portable. I mean, sure they're in favor of anything that'll run on their hardware, but they're less interested in seeing that same stuff run on other hardware. You can't really blame them, I guess; but still, it could *potentially* be harmful to the portability of open source stuff. I guess it just depends on how "nice" they decide to be...and how worried they are. If I were them, I wholdn't be *too* worried about it. I mean, most people are going to buy Intel, and it will fit their needs. They're a lot less "guilty" of ripping off their customers than MS is. MS *knows* their stuff doesn't meet anybody's needs!
  • You gave me something to think about. I thought maybe they were going to try to actually come up with a decent product to compete instead of FUD tactics, but perhaps this *is* just another tactic!
  • The other thing that is an issue is having an easy set up appliace that will basically do all your networking tasks. Yes linux can do this a lot better I think but can it do it with no or little configuration? The target audience for this equipment is for buisnesses that need networking between resources. One would have to make sure that any one can run this equipment when it is done. I haven't seen anyone ask this question yet (I didn't read all the posts I have to admit) but no vendor will put in linux unless they know that the customers will be able to use it and like it. It shouldn't take that long to make some scripts to make the system easy to use but does the vendor know this?
  • A product with this name actually came out a few years back. No idea (or interest) how good it actually was.
  • UNIX and other multitasking multiuser OSes have long shown that it's possible to run a full complement of software services from one machine. Not a very radical idea, I know, but I have worked with many folks who cower in fear at adding an "alien" piece of software to a "packaged system," even one running UNIX. Microsoft certainly contributes to this stupidity with their enforcement of the one-user, one-machine, personal part of PC, even on NT and even to this day. They are coming up with all kinds of clueless complexity like "'thin servers,' not to be confused with 'thin server appliances'" (quote from the article that this follows-up). I am not yet convinced that we need fancy new system designs to deal with users' needs.

    We keep flipping back and forth between single-user machines and timesharing machines - batch, timesharing, apollo/perq/pc's, 68k/x86 UNIX, client/server, applets, applicances, etc. It's all single-user or timesharing, and geniuses in suits keep changing their mind about which they think is the good one. (Clue: your OS should be able to solve both of these problems at once.)

    I certainly won't trust microsoft or intel to come up with a new OS/systems design until they can show me the first shred of evidence that they have ever designed a credible one before.

  • So far, these products haven't really taken off (at least in what i have seen). However, the concept of a "storage area network" or a "zero maintenance" system has an appeal for small offices, home offices, and people that just want turnkey solutions.

    Right now, NT sucks for turnkey work: stability, remote configurability, price, resource requirements, etc. all fail the model.

    Linux, on the other hand, is dominating these products. I haven't seen one that is Great yet, but things like the Whistle Interjet (?) are a good concept.

    MS knows where they need to expand the market. Linux hasn't really gone too far with the handheld market (yet), or with the "enterprise" market (yet).

    I am just curious how they can make money in it; the business model seems off. The MS name doesn't add any value to the product.
  • So, has anyone heard anything about the NetWinder lately? It really seems (from the marketing anyway) that this is the dream product. Good size, good options, small processor, low power consumption... And, in quantities, it might even make the $500 price point...
  • It's not; that's why Intel has invested in Red Hat.

    Intel is pursuing a sensible business strategy by supporting any and all efforts by OS vendors to use their chips instead of rivals AMD and Cyrix. If "Embedded NT" can sell a few thousand Celerons, so be it.

    The Red Hat investment ensures that any customer who wants Linux will run reliably on PIII, PII, Merced, etc.

  • Hmmm. Runs Windows NT variant. Closed box so you had better be able to get timely support from the single vendor you are locked into. Used by small organizations so it better have every single application you might want built into it from the start.

    I think I'm missing something.

  • For a small buisness, sounds like cheap hardware + linux would be the optimum solution in terms of price.

    Why pay $1500-$2000 for that? I picked up a no-frills p2 400 256mb ram for about $800 (no monitor of course) and put linux on it at no cost Used a cheap monitor from an old 386 i had around.

    Much better than a sealed NT Embedded box IMHO.
  • Linux is indeed a Threat to MickeyShaft, but not in the way they seem to think. It is not a Threat because it is cheaper, or because it is open source, but the biggest reason Linux is a Threat to MS Dominion is that IT FREAKING WORKS !!!! People are -mostly- interested in Linux, IMO, because FIRST OF ALL it is more stable, is more scalable, and more powewrful. It does the job better. I think even if it weren't 'free', (distros can cost), and even if it weren't open source, that it would still be very attractive to most because of its PROVEN ability to do the job. The other aspects just make it even -more- attractive.

    Unfortunately for M$, this is the only thing they can not face head on. Quality.

  • Really, this kind of functionallity can be achieved with Linux (Free) + old hardware that some companies are just throwing to the garbage or giving to schools.

    Since most companies have legacy harware in a stockroom somewhere, a server similar to what MS is proposing could be built for free.

    1500-2000$? gimme a break.


  • It seems to me there are a bunch of products that do this sort of thing. I think Cisco makes some boxes that are intended solely as web servers. And if you're looking for an easy to set up server to drop in your network, doesn't Cobalt make a line of thse? Of course, none of these use NT. Who the heck had the bright idea to make NT embedded? Aren't there a great many companies that make embedded OSes that have far more experience than Microsoft? I expect this initiative to fall flat on its face except for the inevitable "let's buy Microsoft because their stock just split again" factor.
  • I want one!

    And BTW, does anyone know if or when Cygnus might release their simulator/development system for Playstation 2? I talked to someone from Cygnus yesterday who said you had to get it from Sony. She didn't really know but thought they might release it to anyone later this year.
  • "(the kernel and all the tools required to develop and run applications on top of it) is amazingly cross-platform--look at how little platform-specific kernel code there is."

    I think I've read both from Linus and AC that the kernel is coded entirely in assembly, and if I'm not mistaken that is very platform specific... Think of how long it too to release the Alpha version of the kernel.
  • We're running a small network (15 machines) and we have a mail server, news server, internet gateway and 2 printers all hanging off of one machine, for less than Microsoft are charging for their thin server.

    The machine is, admittedly, a Windows 98 box, which is regularly taken down (once a week) and rebooted. But it works, it's fast and it didn't cost $1500 (it's a pentium 90 with 64MB of RAM).

    I can't see where Microsoft's Market for their thin server is.
  • I am afraid of adding "alien" software to our NT box. For good reason, too... it's an NT box.
  • Hmmm. That thought is just disgusting enough to actually be worrysome. Judging from past experience, they are VERY likely to do something like that. Funk dat. :(
  • (drop one if this is repeated... wtf is 'Cat got your tongue'?)
    Call me a weirdo, but I fail to see the advantage of doing this. Microsoft is attempting to combat Linux by cutting down hardware costs? Excuse me, but one of the major beauties of Linux is its ability to make supported hardware (e.g. less expensive older hardware) run at its full potential. Stripping off a little fat and making it run (stride? mope?) on a smaller processor isn't going to help. Its going to create another area in which Linux shines. If I'm not mistaken, this box is basically a PC minus video and keyboard.


    /me looks at the Linux 386 mail/dns-cache/IRC server sitting over in his closet with *AHEM* no video or keyboard *AHEM*...

    To me it seems rediculously easy to install linux and apache on one of these suckers... Even with no video and keyboard, its gotta be possible. And it could be a major selling point of Linux... I mean, they're going to put gobs and gobs of RAM in the thing to ensure that Microsoft doesn't constantly swap. The box will have pretty much all the hardware a small-to-medium-sized webserver needs.

    So, is it just me or will this completely and utterly fail to yield an advantage to Microsoft? And, btw, what does Intel care? The majority (afaik) of linux users use their architecture anyway...
  • NT5 is millions of lines of code with what appears to be lots of dependencies. That will be difficult to squeeze down, and it will continue to be expensive to maintain.

    In addition, NT doesn't have a tradition of remote administration or remote access, while Linux/UNIX has been used that way for a long time. Furthermore, a lot of server software, even for Windows, is written to POSIX APIs, and Microsoft doesn't enjoy the API advantage that they enjoy on the client. And the "high-end features" of NT that give it appeal in the business marketplace (Windows GUI based admin tools, fancy file system, etc.) matter much less on a thin server.

    One thing in Microsoft's favor is that they do have all the software necessary to make this work in-house (the OS, SQL Server, IIS), and the incremental cost to them of putting that onto a thin server is small.

    If they come out with a high performance, interoperable, thin database server at a good price, I'd actually be interested. I suspect, though, that that will be hard for them; with Linux, Oracle, and others, they are up against some good and established competition. But one can't fault them for trying.

  • From The Register [] full article []:

    Posted 08/04/99 9:07am by John Lettice

    MS, Intel demo mutant thin server appliance

    Microsoft's first showing of NT Embedded yesterday took the form of the first
    demonstration of an alleged 'thin server appliance' co-developed with Intel.

    But the implementation seems strangely changed from the thin server appliances Intel
    has been bashing on about since last summer, and it seems inevitable that the device's
    appearance does not signal a renewal of the formerly close relationship between the
    gruesome twosome.

    Intel's thin server concept is for a cheap, closed down box that's easy to install, and
    performs simple, specific tasks on the network. (Intel network scheme means war with
    MS) Something you plug into a small business network and then magically find your
    print, email and so forth problems are sorted fits the bill perfectly.

    Intel also doesn't want any nonsense about huge multi-purpose operating systems, it
    wants single or limited task ones. So traditional embedded operating systems fit the
    bill here, rather than bigger, multi-purpose ones like NT Embedded. Intel also insists
    that per user licensing is out of the window - if a thin server network is having to pay
    a couple of hundred dollars to Microsoft for each person connected, then it's not low
    cost at all, is it?

    We remarked on how obviously Microsoft NT didn't fit the bill as the operating system
    at the time of Intel's announcement, and we remain right.

    Yesterday's demo did make a small breakthrough on licensing. It would appear that
    Microsoft is willing to let the box host an unlimited number of users, but while this might
    appear to be a massive breakthrough on licensing, check out the catches. The thin
    server is intended to handle file and print sharing, not application hosting.

    It will deal with Internet connectivity, but the no application hosting aspect means no
    Web server hosting, so -- phew -- we're not going to have that problem of people
    trying to host Web servers on NT Workstation rearing its ugly head again.

    In its "thin server appliance" incarnation, NT Embedded is therefore crippled. How
    badly crippled remains to be seen, but as you begin to compare features with
    projected features for the next generation Windows 2000 NT variant, you'll no doubt
    note it is very badly crippled indeed.

    Microsoft is obviously trying to preserve revenue streams. It doesn't want to lose high
    margin business on NT server sales, and it doesn't want to lose all those lovely client
    licences. But it does have to do something about simplified, stripped-down boxes and
    network operating systems. And here it's shooting itself in the foot with this particular

    It's quoting a price for an OEM-built thin server appliance of $1,000-$2,000, which is
    of course basically a standard PC price. No surprises there, as there's going to be a
    standard PC in there with the screen and keyboard chopped out. The price leaves
    space for MS to charge something in the region of the usual amount for its software,
    so again no nasty precedents created here.

    But Intel's view of a thin server appliance lies more around the $399-$499 mark. You
    can do file and print perfectly adequately at this level, so what is it about the MS
    variant that's worth an extra $1,500? Users will vote with their wallets. ®
  • We have a classroom at my college that is comprised of 45 thin clients and 2 prolient servers running a winNT server terminal edition. They are the biggest pain in the a** and NT crashes like crazy. Stick to *NIX for term servers.
  • No, they're going to be running "embedded NT", which needs "only" 12-16MB to run.

    It's worth noting that Intel has its own thin server products, which are based on [34]86s and VxWorks, which sell for ~$400-600. Since this is non-MS, cheap, and no per-user licenses, MS hates it.

    This new thing looks like a truce between Intel and MS, but it's unlikely to work well. Embedded NT will be too expensive, and $1000-2000 for a box is just a PC without a monitor and keyboard - not really in the running compared to better tuned custom embedded solutions running a more appropriate OS - Linux for example.
  • Several things jump out; anyone know anything more?

    What's going to be inside one of these things for $1,500-$2,000?

    I'd expect a current $70 Celeron300A without floppy, CD-ROM, Linux installed, $40 SVGA video card, $90 motherboard with onboard sound, $40 NIC, $900 for a 18GB SCSI HD(for kicks), $200 for a SCSI card, and $500 for 256mb of SDRAM... $1800 machine, with totally awesome HD and more than adequate CPU for a small business, no? With only 30-100 people, right? Scrape the memory and HD down to say, 9GB SCSI and 64mb memory, and the price goes down to $1000 dollars or something =)

    If you cared about reliability(for a small office of only 30-100?) you could set up 2 of these machines mirroring each other, for $2000 dollars, right?

    I don't know that one could argue ease of use either, because in the Intel/M$ case, because it's sealed, if something goes wrong you aren't give the option of fixing it. In a Linux box, worse case, no one in the office knows how to fix it. Best case, one of the office workers originally set it up and can probably get it up to speed, or hangs out at /. and knows people who can, in less than a day or two.

    If this is such a hot market, why does Intel and M$ think they can beat out a $1000 Linux box?

    Why do they think they will dominate that market?

    Am I missing something?

  • I must admit I am confused, I fail to see how a stripped down closed NT box can compete with Linux. Aside from the Cobalt Qube, ease of use and simplicity are not Linux strong points. So what sense would it make to make a 'competitor' with these features. Plus given M$ problems with shipping and maintaining their products, can they handle another one.

    They fail to address Linux's strengths; stability, features, cost etc. So unless they are going after the Qube, I hear BOB.
  • Intel is setting itself up to win from all ends. If Intel wasn't doing this with MS, MS'd do it with AMD.

  • You should look into the Cobalt Qube. Highly nifty, and the new version comes with a 250MHz RISC processor, two 10/100 ports, a status LCD, and a Web interface...all running Linux. Here's PCWeek's review [] and here's Cobalt's product index [].

    Highly cool.


  • Seperating the engine from the storyline really makes sense for certain types of games. Games similar to the old style Sierra text/graphics adventures would really lend themselves to this kind of distribution. The game engine is developed and released for free. The artwork, music, and story are composed and then made available for purchase as a separate module.

    Since the source for the game engine will be available, anyone could make a game. An easy to use game development kit might then be produced to facilitate this. The quality of the game that you make would determine its value in the marketplace. An weekend of hacking a game together might produce something good enough to download. A couple of months of careful design by skilled writers, artists, and musicians would be worthy of purchase. Realisitically, the game would have to be killer to be able to survive in this type of market. Yet isnt this what we want? Tying the game to something with a strong brand-image would also help make it commercially successful. Movie tie-ins, background music by famous artists, and recreations of great storylines could set a profitable game apart from a free download.

    On the other side of the spectrum the game engine would be a great teaching tool. The intracacies of plot development could be studied by doing. Effects of visual images and music on a storyline would be very easy to play with. The creative process of game develoment is made available to everyone. Not only that, but lessons learned from the process could be applied to other more academic areas such as writing.

    Now if MS had a clue, they could make a thin server for games of this type, to allow multiplayer functionality. Actually, that might not be a bad use for these lil boxen. Any moron could setup a game server for a LAN party, or online multiplayer game. Shoot, that would be the only thing I'd really trust them with, and it could take advantage of the large base of game apps. Hmmmm MS Game Server 2001, almost sounds plausible.
  • Here is the most succinctly-put set of reasons I've seen yet about why Windows-NT won't work, and is not likely to start working right in the near to mid term future.

    An excellent analysis of the real costs NT will incur from IT in the coming months.

    Also, a few really good insights into the problems Microsoft faces in retooling NT5 for network portable client transparency and user context passing and preservation.

    The previous 3 articles in the series are worth reading, too. /ncw-06-1998/ncw-06-lastten.html []
  • by Praxxus ( 19048 )
    Indeed, I do not run a server, nor own a 486. It was just a freakin' example of what Linux is capable of.

    Though if I had any decent web connection at home, I can see getting some crappy lower-end machine to take over the serving duties. Maybe my mom's old P-75. =)

  • "Oh! You don't need to buy cheap Linux servers! Soon good ol' Microsoft will give you all the cheap servers you need! Friendly! Easy! Microsoft! You can click and drool through all your intranet needs! No scary text from Microsoft!"

    Six months later. . .

    "Oh, we found the implementation of thin servers to be too limiting. Our small business customers demand a more complete, robust, crappy, expensive solution. Just get NT 4* and a few P-III 600s."

    *, W2K will have been pushed back to a March '00 release by then.
  • Because it runs so damn well on old hardware, I'd guess. Why upgrade now to Intel's latest and greatest overhyped, extra-cached money sponge when you can serve your needs (and your webpages!) with that old 486 you had in the closet?

    Linux does NOT encourage the "upgrade cycle" that mainstream computing has fallen into. That could very well make Intel nervous.

  • Microsoft has to do this. Systems like Linux are very compelling on the server front, and this is about the only way that they can really compete with Linux. After all, they cannot give their bread and butter away for free now... can they?

    Moreover, Intel probably is not terribly serious about this market, as they will sell the server running Linux or running Windows. So this is at best a distraction, and a low profit (e.g. low attention span) direction. In Microsoft's case it is important, as the economics of Linux as a small workgroup server are really hard to beat, especially in direct comparison to NT server.

    I suspect that the company that is more concerned about this is Sun. Linux has already munched its low end business and this thin server idea basically nails the coffin on any realistic strategy that they might try as a comeback in this market. I have to admit that this is all getting rather amusing.
  • Actually this could prove extremely healthy for Linux. As far as a MS based developer is concerned (and there are loads and loads of them), the main problem with Linux is that we don't know how to develop on it. How, for instance, am I to make a DCOM server under Visual C if I'm using Linux (I know there is a unix dcom library, but it costs almost as much as NT server, and I still can't use ATL). Likewise an ASP page (without resorting to chillisoft's $900 odd ASP for Apache thing).

    NT has a completely different set of problems: Stability and Price (or to be more accurate, absurd licensing). Especially if you want to connect more than, say, five users. So the question is how to make the best of both worlds? How to make use of the inherent stability of Linux to run the database, net connection, etc. And host a middle tier on NT, where it's easy to develop?

    It seems to me that Embedded NT could help out here. It should be possible to make a diskless board boot from a Linux box and just host the middle tier. Bingo, we have an easy to develop for application layer. The Win95 clients can merilly connect via DCOM, share their files (and be logged on via) Samba, and everyone's happy.

    Have yourselves a URL.

    So, exactly how far out am I?
    Dave :)

  • Intel needs to sell chips and motherboards - lots and lots of them. Especially the pricy, "high-powered" pairs. Now then, along comes Linux and it runs just fine on a 486. "486?!?" shouts Andy Grove. Those are dirt cheap! Windows 9x are pigs on anything smaller than a Pentium 90 and to really appreciate the OS bloat you need a PII.

    So, Yes! Linux is a threat because it is more efficient on the same hardware. Does this logic boggle the mind or what?
  • They are creating another proprietary, non-scaleable solution. Unlike NT, You don't need a stripped-down thin version of Linux to create a thin server. With Linux, you can expand the system as your needs expand.

    What they'll miss with their approach is the entire segment of the market who are taking their old hardware and giving it new life as thin servers using Linux or freeBSD for essentially zero cost. In our company, we already have 13 old pentium machines functioning in this capacity. This would have cost between $13,000 and $26,000 using these new machines.
  • How does Microsoft compete in the server market?

    Take a look at Office 2000 and youll know the answer. They dont compete (as if they ever had).

    A little example?

    Until know the company I work for used NS products: Navigator, Enterprise Server, Proxy Server etc.

    Now they are in Microsofts Office2000 Early-Adopter-Program (Im not sure of the name but you know what I mean). So what happens?

    "Hmm, when we install Office2000 IE5 will be out there, so why not use it?"
    "Well, there are a lot of great new functions in Office2000, but we need IIS for that, so lets install some"
    "Oh, we have IIS running? What do we need NS Enterprise Server for?"

    Its like theyre saying: "We know our server is crap but hey, we posses the desktop (which is NOT the REAL problem, that is they posses THE STANDARD OFFICE APP). So lets do what we do best, produce some REAL GREAT NEW FEATURES which only work with our servers."

    And BANG, there goes competition.

    Im not sure how to compete whith that.

    We need something to compete with MS Office which is able to make the transition extremly simple.
    People in companies are NOT using Windows, they are using Word, Excel or Outlook. And companies are NOT going to change that if they have to send 25.000 employees back to "Linux-Office Training-Camp".

    But most important might be the "Openess of protocols" that is reading and writing of MS Office file formats. Give me an office application for Linux which reads and writes MS Office documents perfectly and I get rid of about 85% of my problems (not talking about Outlook, Exchange and that Mapi crap).
  • I'm sure that people will actually buy these things and Microsoft will probably make money, for a while. I think that what's beginning to sink in (for some, anyway), though, is that fighting free software is kind of like fighting the undead -- there's not much you can really do to stop it. I wonder if it's sunk in with Microsoft that with Linux, Gnu, etc. (and even the whole internet, in a way) they're not really up against a product per se, but a whole new paradigm -- where people are making money not from owning information but by actually performing services and doing work -- and we all know that you can't make billions that way.

    These are certainly interesting times.
  • Better parallel would be Chevy a threat to Shell Oil. If Chevrolet (Linux) comes out with a car that uses 1/10 as much gas, and has higher performance, you better belive that the oil company (Intel) is going to be right nervous.
  • ...becuase Microsoft server software never works reliably.

    The reason Microsoft can't relase reliable server apps (IMHO) is that they hide them under layers of GUIs and abstraction and crud.

    More complex = less relaible.

    Adding a "web administration" layer on top of this can only make it worse.

    If you want a cheap web server, try Linux running on an old Pentium box with Apache.
  • ...who want to go back to the mainframe / host days of computing? What's next, Visual COBOL? I mean, at least with client / server I can do work if the network goes down.
  • The knock on UNIX in recent years is that all the major companies (SUN, HP, DEC, IBM, SCO, etc.) had fragmented it too far.

    This is one of the original arguements that IT gurus used to open the door for NT.

    Now Microsoft is fragmenting their operation system offerings all by themselves.


  • This is more FUD from MS. How are they ever going to ship a scalled down version of Windows NT for thin servers.

    Contrary to earlier MS press releases they are increasing the number of Windows variants not decreasing. Soon we'll see Win95, Win98, Win98 version 2, WinNT, WinCE, and Windows 2000.

    I wouldn't bet on this thin server version of NT being out before 2010.

  • I'm not convinced what they're planning will be able to run
    Linux. They've been talking about this "WinCPU" thing -
    think WinModem and the trouble those are causing Linux at
    the moment.
    If M$ pay Intel a lot of money to develop a proprietary CPU that only
    M$ have the API for, I'm sure Intel would happily take their money.
    Then we end up with very cheap hardware that can only run Windoze...
  • That's exactly right. The only reason a proprietary software vendor would want to go open source is if it would boost the sale of a complimentary product. As an example, Apple makes their money on hardware sales. The OS is really a loss of revenue. Another example would be Netscape. They were already giving the browser away. They made their money on server sales. Doing work on the browser was a loss of revenue, but it did help support their server. They certainly didn't lose any money by giving away mozilla; In fact their was a big potential that giving away the source to the browser would increase their server sales. Unfortunately for Netscape, another open source project called Apache steam rolled right over all of the proprietary web servers.

    The companies that are going open source aren't software vendors. That would be corporate suicide.
  • How can you except _any_ company under _any_ business model to compete with the Linus Torvalds of the world who give away their products and don't have to pay their "employees?"

    Uhm, I don't. They can't compete. End of story :)

    The notion that software should be free because it costs next to nothing to distribute it is as plausible as the notion of paying on artist for the cost of his canvas and a can of point! Of course people should except to get paid for software they write. Not everyone is an artist capable of turning a bucket of paint and a blank canvas into a sight to behold!

    I'm not saying you don't pay the artist. His work is worth more than just the cost of the canvas and paint. But how much should prints of that painting cost?

    Programmers should still get paid the same salary for the act of programming, but the net worth of the software should not be how high it is currently.

    Freeing the source code just takes out the middlemen (software vendors) of the industry. They are the only ones that need to fear free software. Companies will always need, and pay, developers.

    Example: Netscape releases the source code for Navigator. Let's say you are a developer for Navigator. Suddenly you just lost your job because of this free software thing. It's ok though. There is a big ISP near by that uses netscape as it's default browser. Now that it has the source code for netscape, it hires you to hack on it and customize it for that ISP. So, you are still hacking on navigator like you were before it went free, still getting the same pay maybe even more, but instead of working at Netscape Inc. you are working for the ISP instead. You don't lose any jobs by going open, they just transfer from software vendors to companies that use the vendor's software.
  • by Hubec ( 28321 )
    What they'll miss with their approach is the entire segment of the market who are taking their old hardware and giving it new life as thin servers using Linux or freeBSD for essentially zero cost.

    Ummm, you expect Microsoft to target a market defined by the fact that it spends no money? Open a window, you need some air (no not that kind of window).

  • "thin" version of Windows?

    Isn't that what WinCE was for? Remember "Windows" everywhere?

    And what about NT 5? The Big Operating System that couldn't. That was for servers, I thought.

    Where's the logic?

    Windows is smart, it can multiply very rapidly: Win3.1 Win95 Win98 WinNT4 Win2000 etc etc.


  • Win CE?? That's a recipe for disaster.
  • There are some interesting issues with going open source. For a product that has stiff compition, going open source would allow their competitors to see how they designed their product and copy ideas more easily. Sure, going open source would gain them a huge user base because it is free, but what makes more money, 4.6*10^19 users * $0, or 20,000 * $100? If there is very little need for services on the software (the software is easy to use and performs a specific task with no customization), there is no way to make money.

    Like I said, OSS works great for areas of software where there is huge amounts of customization (operating systems, custom software, etc), but for anything less, it most likely will fail miserably. I'm not putting down OSS (I like it), just pointing out the limitations.

    Commercial propietary software is not all bad. A lot of it provides products to users that would never survive under OSS. 99% of computer users can't program, therefore it is impossible for them to help maintain their desired applications. Thats why most OSS projects today are tools made for coders by coders. Linux is a great example. Linus didn't want to pay for the commercial UNIX varients, so he set out to make his own. A tool for a coder, by a coder.

    Thus you can give away your game, and sell the artwork, msuic, story, etc. like any other copyrighted material such as books, paintings, etc.

    So, what's the difference between charging for the art or the entire package? Allocate your money however you want, you are still "selling" it. ("Call now and will give you this advanced digital watch FREE! ... with only $45 shipping and handling") :-)

    - Darrick
  • Programmers should still get paid the same salary for the act of programming, but the net worth of the software should not be how high it is currently.

    So if you are not selling the product, where does the money to pay the salaries come from? Remember, it is the company trying to make a profit, not necessarily the coder. The developer on Netscape is a good example on how the *coder* makes money by going to the ISP to customize navigator, but where is the company that developed it in the first place? They don't exist anymore. This is why most companies are not going open source. Sure, the individual engineer could still make money, but not the company.

    - Darrick
  • The economics of proprietary software are flawed. No other market sells a good that is as ridiculously over priced compared to it's creation costs as software

    Wrong. Creating software is more than just printing manuals and burning CDs. Most software takes teams of coders and quality assurance engineers years to produce. During this time, they are all drawing salaries and benefits just like any other profession.

    Lets say you have a team of 10 coders and 10 QA, each earning an average of $50,000/year. Assume the total cost to the company is 1.6 times their salary to account for benefits. If it takes one year write the software, it costs the company $1.6 million ($80,000*20 employess) before they can even sell it! And this is only counting the salaries of the coders and QA. This does not account for salaries of management and sales and marketing, or even paying the electricity bills. If you throw all that in you are probably getting close $3 million.

    Now assume they can sell the application for $100 profit per copy. At a production cost of $3 million, they would have to sell 30,000 copies (which is a lot tougher than you think) just to break even, let alone make a profit.

    Most software companies won't even try to make a piece of software unless they feel they can get five times the return on investment. This isn't because they're greedy, but rather a for saftey reasons. If they project the market wrong, or overestimate demand, they can lose their shirt really quickly.

    Despite the recent hype of open source software, the OSS model does not work in all areas of software. OSS works well in the operating system and software standards arena, but fails in the niche markets and small applications and games.

    Don't get mad at the "evil" software houses that charge for their software. Trust me, most of them are making about the same amount of profit as any other type of business. Its only the big ones with dominant market shares that rake it in because they sell millions of copies. And the only reason they sell millions of copies is because it is a standard necessity for people. And when something becomes a standard, this is when OSS takes over (Linux, GIMP, KOffice, etc).

    - Darrick
  • Keep in mind that some of those legacy Intel PCs have various components that Linux might not be directly anticipating. Learning of indirect sources of drivers, etc. may take more time than cost of a Cobalt machine.
  • Anyway, to tie all this together and keep it on topic; The problem is how does Microsoft compete with Linux in the server market? The answer is that it doesn't. We know that, but they don't, or at least they are too arrogant to admit it. So instead they come up with a dumb answer to the "Competing with Linux" problem: "Thin" servers running WinCE. Fortunately this is flawed too. They propose a $1500-$2000 solution to a problem that Linux already solves for about $150 worth of hardware. Just from a historical perspective I would note that we "moved" from Novell3.11 to NTS3.0 partially because 1 more Novell client license (from 10 to 11) was going to cost $2,500 (had to buy 25 to get 1). So MS "got it" at that time. I doubt if they will price "thin clients" to compete with the Linux price :-) until broad variaties of application software in use today run on Linux. For instance, we would need the "comfort" of the top 5 tax applications being available for Linux in order to "bet this farm."
  • Colbalt was featured in major story in current Wired. That seems to be the ticket to me. FWIW, we run 3 NTS machines and 5 NTWS machines using a wide variety of apps and don't incur the lack of NT stability issues many allude to on /.
  • Hasn't the media heard about the Cobalt Cube? I guess Cobalt needs to advertise a little more. :)
    If I had to suggest a drop-in server for a turnkey operation, a Cobalt Cube would be on my list of suggestions. Depends upon the customer's needs though.
  • I'll bet you that for every ten you pick at random from the list (not counting the kernel and tools required for an absolute bare-bones distribution), all ten will compile out of the box on an Intel-based system, but at least one of those ten will compile out of the box only on an intel-based system, and it's more likely to be two or three.
    You are confusing operating systems and the programs that run on them. Seperate the two and your uneducated arguments may gain some weight. Linux (the kernel and all the tools required to develop and run applications on top of it) is amazingly cross-platform--look at how little platform-specific kernel code there is. Application XYZ may or may not be portable, but just because someone writes Intel-specific code doesn't somehow ruin the services it utilizes.

    And I'll take you up on that bet. I have an Alpha sitting right here that I've never had a problem with; it runs all the software I've tried to compile. How many non-Intel machines do you own, and can you name an operating system component that isn't usable on it? I'm expecting a reply.

  • when they rever to "n alleged 'thin server appliance' "

    It's obviously not going to be positive at that point . . .

    I wish I could remember the old tale about the cub reporter getting the lecture on "alleged," "purportedly," etc. Before being sent to a society function.

    "Mrs. Johsnon is allegedly the wife of Jack Johnson, and claims that Paul Smith is her father . . ."
  • See -000003.html [] for a good demolition of the price competitiveness of this offering.

    It also contains the amusing quote:

    We remarked on how obviously Microsoft NT didn't fit the bill as the operating system at the time of Intel's announcement, and we remain right.

  • Microsoft and Intel working together... They're going to try to use thin appliance type servers to compete with the Threat that Linux poses to them.

    Since when is Linux a threat to Intel?

  • I don't know if the public has gotten smarter - but I do think it's gotten more angry at malfunctioning computers.

    At least when IBM ruled the roost, their systems stayed up ...


  • I think that what's beginning to sink in (for some, anyway), though, is that fighting free software is kind of like fighting the undead -- there's not much you can really do to stop it. Thank you for stating a thought that's been crawling through my subconscious for a long time! I guess we can now officially identify ourselves with the Zombie Hordes of the B-Class sci-fi horrors. You're absolutely right, of course. Open code is The Thing That Would Not Die. You can fork it, you can FUD it into submission, but you absolutely cannot kill it. Of course, you have now put a nasty vision in my head. I'll have to tell Illiad over at UF...
  • by DunbarTheInept ( 764 ) on Thursday April 08, 1999 @03:17PM (#1942833) Homepage
    MS just doesn't get it. They think Linux is being sucessful because it is stripped-down and featureless. They couldn't be any further from the truth. It is sucessful because it is exactly as featureful as you *want* it to be, and no more. Yes, it can be a stripped down file/print/network-bridge machine, but it can be easily expanded later when need be.

    They just don't get it.

  • by Millennium ( 2451 ) on Thursday April 08, 1999 @04:34PM (#1942834)
    Linux is hardly processor-agnostic. It strives toward that goal, and does fairly well, but just take a look at the verious programs out there. I'll bet you that for every ten you pick at random from the list (not counting the kernel and tools required for an absolute bare-bones distribution), all ten will compile out of the box on an Intel-based system, but at least one of those ten will compile out of the box only on an intel-based system, and it's more likely to be two or three.

    Linux is not a cross-platform operating system. It is an operating system for Intel-based PCs, which happens to run on some other platforms as well. It strives to be cross-platform; someday it might even achieve it. But it's not there yet.
  • by Sleepy ( 4551 ) on Friday April 09, 1999 @12:11PM (#1942835) Homepage

    Never spent an hour hunting through every Pep Boys/AutoZone/Wal-Mart in town looking for a set of wipers, eh? Auto manufacturers are just about the worst example of "standards" you could come up with. Aside from the fluids you put in them, there's about 0% "standard parts" in the average automobile... ;-)

    The wipers were an attempt at irony.. :-D
    There may not be a "standard" wiper, but the general design of them is not patented by Intel, unlike say SLOT ONE (or Two...).

    Socket7 was turning the CPU into a commoddity, so Intel's response was not to turn up the technology but to create a new socket and deny access to it, then make the techies take a back seat to Marketing. What a joke.

    At least Intel pay well, so they can steal employees from Motorola. Motorola is too busy being anal to their golden employee, and allowing a gestapo-like IT department to "force standardize" on INTEL computers, at the expense of working Motorola-based Apple (or even Windows NT/PowerPC).

    THAT must be demoralizing to employees who care about their company. They must have the same pointy-haired bosses middle-management "fat" found in places like IBM and Digital oops I mean Compaq.

  • by Sleepy ( 4551 ) on Thursday April 08, 1999 @07:00PM (#1942836) Homepage
    It IS a goal for Linux to be platform independant, and it does a fine job at it. You can run Linux on LOTS of old computers so it's not necessary to buy a new computer as often. For example, all the Windows users will be buying new PC's within a year of Windows2000 for the same reasons people bought new machines when going from Win3.1 to Win95: your old software MAY work just fine but if it's not supported you WILL cough up money for a new system.

    HOW MANY users of PhotoShop 3.0 still run on Windows 3.1? By contrast, how capable is the same machine running Linux. EVEN IF Linux were not faster than Windows, the very fact that you can OBTAIN a software upgrade for the computer may be enough to stick with it; some people are "cheap". How many users of 68040 MacOS 7.5 through 8.1 are still out there? LOTS. The systems are slow by today's standards, but you're not kicked down a flight of stairs like Microsoft users are.

    All things being the same: price, performance and software availability, would you rule out non-Intel CPU's for a dedicated Linux-only box? You would be foolish to do so. Intel has every reason to fear Linux... after the Microsoft takedown THEY are next!

    I'd *love* to see that Russian "Merced killer" become a reality, with a Linux port. CPU's are too expensive. The weakness of any product is allowing the customer to evaluate the competition; this is what software upgrades are all about. Intel's strategy is going to be to encourage BINARY file distribution, discourage commercial software from distributing the source (it's rare but it COULD catch on...), and attempt to introduce Intel-specific bits into libraries and kernels.

    Intel is not a standard. REAL Commodities like SVGA monitors, the size of a soda can, analog clocks, and even winshield wipers ARE standards. CPU manufacturers sell magical sealed black boxes that can't be peered into and are just as capable of screwing you over as the Microsoft monopoly.

  • by IntlHarvester ( 11985 ) on Thursday April 08, 1999 @03:19PM (#1942837) Journal

    It's my understanding that Microsoft still sells a few copies of OS/2 1.x (at the original not-cheap price of $500) for embedded applications. Why not use IBM OS/2? I don't know.

    NT-Embedded is designed to be a replacement for this product.

  • by IntlHarvester ( 11985 ) on Thursday April 08, 1999 @05:45PM (#1942838) Journal

    I doubt it. Microsoft has been working on Embedded NT for some time now.

    But it's good to be paranoid, because everyone's out to get you.
  • Actually, you can go open source and charge for your products. Niche markets where you are going to have five clients are a bit tricky, you probably can't go free redistribution in those markets.

    Games, on the other hand, are in a wonderful position to go open source. In all but a few cases, the code that runs the game isn't worth all that much, it's the story, artwork, and music that makes the game. Without the artwork, story, and music, the game is next to worthless. Thus you can give away your game, and sell the artwork, msuic, story, etc. like any other copyrighted material such as books, paintings, etc.
  • by Josh Turpen ( 28240 ) on Thursday April 08, 1999 @03:54PM (#1942840) Homepage
    The article states that Microsoft can't compete with linux in terms of price, but they believe that the ease in which you can port apps to these "thin servers" is what will give them an edge. I thought the main selling point of these servers is that they are thin and only serve one function. Why would you want to port an app to it?

    It's always nice to see Microsoft making bad business decisions. We'll see a lot more of them as they try and combat Linux.

    What can Microsoft do to stop the Free Software juggernaut? Their loss is inevitable; all they can do is slow it down. The economics of proprietary software are flawed. No other market sells a good that is as ridiculously over priced compared to it's creation costs as software. It's this flaw that made Gates the richest man in the history of the world, and it's the same flaw that will destroy almost all of proprietary software. If free software didn't come along to destroy the industry, piracy would have.

    I think it's kind of funny watching the industry topple. It's not as apparent with Microsoft (because we don't have the end user apps to topple them yet), but just look at proprietary unix vendors. Most of them are dead and the rest will be shortly. The only ones that are really making money are the ones that run on the Big Iron that linux can't do, yet.

    Anyway, to tie all this together and keep it on topic; The problem is how does Microsoft compete with Linux in the server market? The answer is that it doesn't. We know that, but they don't, or at least they are too arrogant to admit it. So instead they come up with a dumb answer to the "Competing with Linux" problem: "Thin" servers running WinCE. Fortunately this is flawed too. They propose a $1500-$2000 solution to a problem that Linux already solves for about $150 worth of hardware.

"The Avis WIZARD decides if you get to drive a car. Your head won't touch the pillow of a Sheraton unless their computer says it's okay." -- Arthur Miller