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Microsoft's New Hurdles 336

gnuadam writes "The New York Times (free reg. required) is now running a piece about how the recently accepted settlement between Microsoft and the DOJ will affect the ever-so-loving relationship between them and the "worldwide community of volunteer programmers" who work on Linux and associated programs. Of interest, one interviewee quipped, "My prediction is that within three years time, Microsoft will `give away' its operating system to preserve its revenue in the applications business." Would Microsoft give away Windows to sell Office? Stay tuned." Update: 11/04 19:33 GMT by T : In related news, an anonymous reader writes "In an interview with Linux and Main Free Software Foundation General Counsel Eben Moglen reacts to Friday's U.S. v. Microsoft ruling and describes how it and 'trusted computing' will figure in formulating the next version of the GPL, expected in the next few months."
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Microsoft's New Hurdles

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 04, 2002 @03:30PM (#4594891)
    Microsoft will probably start giving away a *nix-based .Net runtime first. Once you have all your products running on an abstraction layer, the OS becsome irrelevant.
    • That's what Sun thought with Java...
      • by ameoba ( 173803 ) on Monday November 04, 2002 @05:07PM (#4595359)
        The difference being that Sun wasn't giving the system away to sell software. Their business plan never really made sense to me; I'm sure that the widespread use of serverside Java has helped to sell a few systems, but mostly it seems to be a bit of charity. MSFT OTOH, in this scenario, would be giving away the .NET system so that they could sell their software; a connecton that seems to be a lot more direct.
    • by Lemmy Caution ( 8378 ) on Monday November 04, 2002 @04:41PM (#4595258) Homepage
      Great. The reliability and security of Microsoft on the server back-end, and the ease-of-use, consistency, and interapplication compatibility of Unix on the client.

      Welcome to hell.

    • Microsoft will probably start giving away a *nix-based .Net runtime first. Once you have all your products running on an abstraction layer, the OS becsome irrelevant.

      Like this one [] you mean? Microsoft have been giving away the a .NET runtime and development environment (including source) for FreeBSD since last March.
  • by Fastball ( 91927 ) on Monday November 04, 2002 @03:30PM (#4594893) Journal
    Would you cut off your right hand to become left-handed?
  • Never (Score:5, Interesting)

    by crumbz ( 41803 ) <(moc.liamg>maps ... uj>maps_evomer> on Monday November 04, 2002 @03:32PM (#4594903) Homepage
    Microsoft will never give away the crown jewels to save the application side of the house. It can keep the source closed and fight open source for the next twenty years and make billions at it.

    If they were foolish enough to open their Windows source, all the links and hooks for Office would be out for everyone to integrate into Open Office. That would kill their app business within a couple of years.

    No, they will depend on:

    1) DMCA
    2) Palladium
    3) Congressional lobbying
    4) DRM
    5) FUD

    to maintain their lead.

    Just my 2 cents.

    • Re:Never (Score:5, Informative)

      by trentfoley ( 226635 ) on Monday November 04, 2002 @03:36PM (#4594947) Homepage Journal
      Was anything mentioned about opening the source? I thought the idea was to just give away ths OS - Windows. That being said, it could remain closed. And, the "Crown Jewels", according to Microsoft, is the source code -- not the operating system itself.
    • You're confusing free - opensource with free - no money. MS will always stay closed-source, but they will charge no money for a product to gain or maintain share. eg: IE

    • Re:Never (Score:5, Informative)

      by PCM2 ( 4486 ) on Monday November 04, 2002 @03:48PM (#4595017) Homepage
      Microsoft will never give away the crown jewels to save the application side of the house.
      I guess that all depends on what you mean by "crown jewels." Office has long been more profitable for Microsoft than Windows has. Makes sense, if you think about it. Most copies of Windows sold come as a bundle with new hardware, which means they were licensed in volume to the manufacturer at a deep discount. If you want to install Office on the same machine, however, you often have to buy it separately. A lot of the time they only bundle a stripped down office suite (Microsoft Works?)
      If they were foolish enough to open their Windows source, all the links and hooks for Office would be out for everyone to integrate into Open Office. That would kill their app business within a couple of years.
      I didn't see anybody mention opening the source to Windows. They just said "give away" the OS. Free beer.
    • Re:Never (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Waab ( 620192 )

      Making Windows free-as-in-beer doesn't necessarily mean making Windows free-as-in-speech.

      Just imagine...Microsoft makes the latest-and-greatest version of Windows available for download free of charge. Joe User has purchased a copy of the previous Windows version because MS had him believing that it was a valid and good business transaction and that he was getting something concrete for his money. Now that he can get the newest OS free, he starts eyeing the latest version of Office, with the dandy new features that only work with the new OS. Since the new OS was free, the new Office package isn't just a good business transaction, it's a really good deal.

    • Bah. (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Vaulter ( 15500 )

      They'll keep selling it _because_ they can. IS budgets have been set for years now to accommodate it. In if, like most budgets, you loose it if you don't use it, they spend it on MS Windows.

      Besides, think of cell phones. Either you get a cheap free phone, and pay higher service charges, or you buy expensive phones, and choose your plan.

      Do you think any corporations sign up for the free phone deals, even if it _is_ from Verizon?

    • Re:Never (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ergo98 ( 9391 ) on Monday November 04, 2002 @04:15PM (#4595132) Homepage Journal
      I realize that your posting panders to the "Microsoft bad...everything else good" crowd, however I would like to call you on a few assumptions.

      a) What amazing abilities does Microsoft Office derive via these secret covert hooks that the source to the OS will reveal? This is an oft stated claimed, and I'm curious what the thought process is behind it. Will the "MakeOfficeProgramGreat()" API call suddenly make Open Office that much better? Of course this is all moot anyways as open source programs usually don't capitalize on OS specific hooks even where there are advantages.

      b) While this might be hard for the kids to believe, Microsoft Office earned the position that it's in right now. I recall when it was an underdog, and then review after review after review found it to be best. While it's far from perfect, in any overall, non-biased comparison it came out on top. It's my personal opinion that Open Office doesn't even remotely compare with Office XP.

      c) This same thing can be said about virtually any other MS program. I run Microsoft SQL Server because it's a very powerful, cost effective database system. I use Visual Studio.NET because it's a fantastic development environment that I've never used a rival to.
      • a) What amazing abilities does Microsoft Office derive via these secret covert hooks that the source to the OS will reveal?

        Naturally the APIs do not add more or better features to the application. However, the m$-proprietary APIs are probably more efficient and easier to implement than the stuff they tell the competition about...

        b) While this might be hard for the kids to believe, Microsoft Office earned the position that it's in right now.

        That's funny, I thought that m$ was found guilty of a number of anti-trust violations and abuse of their monopoly power. Silly me...

        c) This same thing can be said about virtually any other MS program.

        Ever hear of a product Scott McNealy refers to as lookOut? Outlook is a bloated piece of crap. Lotus Notes may have one of the worst user interfaces ever created, but the underlying features and functionality of Notes make it far superior to Outlook in virtually every aspect. The biggest thing that Notes users miss out on are the plethora of trojans that exploit Outlook...
      • Re:Never (Score:3, Interesting)

        by madfgurtbn ( 321041 )
        It's my personal opinion that Open Office doesn't even remotely compare with Office XP.

        I agree with you there only as with regard to power users and raw newbies. OOo is already quite usable by the ordinary user, and will continue to catch up with M$.

        Eventually, a couple of major corporations are going to realize that they would benefit by allocating some resources to OOo development thus saving many Million$ in licensing fees to Microsoft. There are a lot of worker bees out there with $300 installs of M$ Office who use about $3.00 worth of features.

        If a few of the Fortune 500 companies who each year send $Millions to Redmond would get together and donate human resources or a little financial capital to OOo development, OOo could soon be ready to replace M$ Office in many many businesses.

        Also, it wouldn't hurt if the OEM's would show some brass and ship OOo pre-installed. Don't count on that, though, since Judge K-K rolled over and played dead for M$.
  • by kannibal_klown ( 531544 ) on Monday November 04, 2002 @03:33PM (#4594916)
    I know I will get a lot of heat for this, but I think getting windows for free would be good for the consumer (though might screw Linux over big-time).

    First, let me say I am an avid fan of Linux. I only use it for light desktop work, but I see that it is great for servers and such.

    Now, let me also say that Windows is a good OS. While many people (most of which on this site) flame Windows XP... I think it's a great OS. The only thing that sucks is the draconian Activation scheme they used with it. Other than that, it's been even more stable than my Win2K box.

    Now, while this would be great for the average consumner, I'm afraid Linux would take a big hit. I mean, sure... Linux would be more powerful and not have all the GUI fluff of windows for server stuff. But a lot of people will look at the situation and say "Well, Linux was cool 'cause it was free, but now I can get Windows for free too. Who needs linux?"

    This might actually be the biggest step MS could take to squash Linux in the home.
    • by back_pages ( 600753 ) <<ten.xoc> <ta> <segap_kcab>> on Monday November 04, 2002 @03:54PM (#4595049) Journal
      Except that Microsoft has, for all intents and purposes, given away its operating system to everyone who bought a brand name computer in the last 10 years. For new computer buyers, this is a net change of essentially zero.

      It does mean that those who bought computers three years ago could get the latest software from Microsoft for free... and let it whip their three-year-old computer into a frothing frenzy of unimpressive performance. This is why so very few people actually buy a complete version or an update of an operating system. The prerequisites typically require new hardware which has for many years come with a free copy of the operating system.

      I'm fully aware that this does not actually represent the economics of bundled OSs, but this is definitely the perception to the end user. Besides, if it is impossible to buy a laptop without a copy of Windows, we might as well count it as a hardware expense anyway.

      Giving away their OS would be a great way for Microsoft to drum up interest in hardware upgrades. It certainly isn't a huge change from their current marketing strategy.

      Oh, and by the way, bundling Windows with every laptop and virtually every desktop sold in the last 10 years has not been very effective at squashing Linux in the home. If they give away their OS in a cardboard box rather than a steel box it won't be any different.

      • by hklingon ( 109185 ) on Monday November 04, 2002 @05:13PM (#4595382) Homepage away... essentially free...
        Umm.... No.

        If I'm a white-box OEM I have to pay ~$65 for XP Home or ~$105 for XP Pro at _miniumum_. This is for a sticker only. No CD, Manual, nothing. Office SBE is ~$150 and office pro is ~$250. Lets say some random person wants a $650 PC, for general purposes and working at home. The Microsoft tax is 33% of the purchase price. I'd hardly call that giving away!!

        Step into the wayback machine for a moment. It is early Fall 1992. I want a commodity PC. I'll have to spend about $2100 to get a reasonable system. Dos, Win3.1 for OEMs was less than $80. Office 4.0 (I think it was out then??) was about $85 for OEMs. This is about 7% of the purchase price of the PC.

        Dell, et al, have had to fight with MS tooth and nail to get non-ms products on their machines. Dell has some sort of really sweet deal on windows-- about $40 for the cheap version. Suddenly, MS wants to charge Dell $139 for that copy of XP Home because Dell is bundling RedHat. Or MS wants the volume agreement to include _every_ PC produced by dell to be licensed for MS Operating systems.

        And lets not even talk about some OEM copies of NT Server and 2000 Server-- Copies of windows that can not possibly be upgraded to more than 10 concurrent connections. You have to buy the "retail" version and your previous OEM version doesn't count toward upgrade. If by " pretty much Free" you mean "pretty much free" as in the same sense the local neighborhood crack dealer means "free", then, yes, I guess the oem copies of MS's stuff is "free".

        Windows XP Pro runs very well on our 3 year old PIII 550/256 mb ram systems. They used to have Windows NT 4.0 Workstation. XP runs remarkably well on these PCs. 2000 was slightly slower than NT4, but more stable, so I don't completely agree with the your apparent assesment that a retail software purchases don't really do any good.
      • by unicorn ( 8060 ) on Monday November 04, 2002 @05:18PM (#4595402)
        Windows has NEVER been free to new PC buyers. It's been "included" yes. But MS charges the manufacturer of the PC, and ALWAYS has. And I guarantee that Michael Dell isn't fronting the cost for you. It's absolutely included in the price of the computer. And for that matter, has grown to become one of the largest single costs of a new computer. How do you think WalMart can afford to sell the No-OS PC's so cheap. Because they don't have to give MS over $100 for a copy of XP. That's how.

        And why in gods name would MS care about drumming up interest in hardware upgrades? Last I checked they didn't market any of the parts that actually need to be upgraded regularly. Intel, Seagate, and the Dramurai owe their businesses to MS pushing upgrades. But MS doesn't get squat from that side of things.
        • by spitzak ( 4019 ) on Monday November 04, 2002 @09:30PM (#4596798) Homepage
          To the average *CONSUMER* Windows is free. I guess you just don't understand how to read the posts.

          How is it free? They look in the newspaper and see "I can buy this computer for $1295". They go to the store, and they buy a "computer". At no point whatsoever does it go through their mind that they are buying "a computer and Windows". They bring it home and turn it on. It is running Windows. At no point did the consumer ever think they were "buying Windows". At no point does the average consumer even have the tiniest smidgen of any concept of "I could save money by not buying Windows". For the average consumber Windows is FREE! in that it has no perceived cost!

          If MicroSoft gave Windows away for free, *all* computers would go down a few hundred in price because of the elimination of the "MicroSoft Tax". The result would be about the same as it is now, to the end user Windows is just as free as before. The fact that a computer is cheaper may be noticed, but the percieved cost of Windows would remain zero.

  • I think so, (Score:5, Interesting)

    by iplayfast ( 166447 ) on Monday November 04, 2002 @03:33PM (#4594919)
    MS is in the business of selling software. The juggernaut of OS's is comming to a close, so they have for the last few years been expanding into other areas. (If you own 99% of the market in one area, why would you stay there?)

    So now they've got office software, game software, mouse hardware, keyboard hardware, xbox hardware...

    They need to decide what is the best way to keep making money. Competing against OS which they cannot compete against, (and have already gotten the most market share they will ever get). Or giving the OS away, to keep the monopoly of other areas viable.

    It's a no brainer folks.

    • I could see them making the OS gratis. It would really be a smart move on their part, and I really hope they aren't that smart. Because you know, even if they do give it away, it will be free as in gratis but NEVER Free as in liberty. Unfortunately, if they did that, they might distract and confuse enough people to stay in power. And that would be a great tragedy.

    • The crux of the argument is that to sell Office, they'll give Windows away for free. Why would they do that?

      If the money is in Office and there is little money, and thus little value in Windows, then it would be better for them to port their apps to Linux, OSX, etc., offering their apps to a greater market, and still offering their OS at a (nonzero) price for those that can value Windows.

      More likely is that successful competition from OSX, Linux and OpenOffice and StarOffice increasing marketshare of these OSs and apps would drive Microsoft to:

      1) Port Office to Linux and OSX
      2) Offer Windows licenses at a reduced price

      This is a price discrimination argument. For those buyers that can understand/afford the Linux self-help model, they can buy the features (office) at a reduced price. For those that need the support they perceive from Microsoft, or those that can afford not to learn the new UI, or those that perceive whatever value they see in Windows, will pay more to buy Windows.

      Consider switching costs alone. People will pay not to have to learn new things and experience more risk. Even if Windows on PC had no value whatsoever in Microsoft's eyes, Windows on PC has lots of values to consumers of newer markets, that is, consumers of Pocket PCs, Tablet Computers, Microsoft Windows Phones, Microsoft Windows Cars, and even Microsoft Windows Routers. (Um, not to mention Microsoft Windows Navy Destroyers). Consumers of all of these devices will naturally prefer to use Windows, and some (most) will pay for that option.

      If Microsoft is moving to give Windows away, look for less and less R&D and marketing being spent on Windows itself. If Microsoft perceives value (and profit) in Windows, look for increased R&D and more marketing being spent on Windows, itself.
      • You forget that one of the main purposes of Windows is to let MS apps have a hidden advantage over any and all competitors. It's to give you the illusion that Microsoft is all you'll ever need.

        Let's say Microsoft makes a KDE port of Microsoft Office; now they're at the mercy of the KDE development roadmap. Or they make their own Linux GUI, but with MS-proprietary widgets to prevent other apps from fully using it; now they have to fight for mindshare in an entrenched battlefield.

        No, it is unreasonable to hope for Microsoft to migrate to a platform they don't control. The Mac ports survive due to special reasons, mainly the hardware factor. Porting to a Linux GUI would cost them a big chunk of control they have now.
    • Re:I think so, (Score:5, Insightful)

      by swordboy ( 472941 ) on Monday November 04, 2002 @04:41PM (#4595256) Journal
      MS is in the business of selling software.

      That is the first mistake that people make when trying to understand Microsoft. They don't sell software but, rather, they sell you the right to use it for a preset amount of time.

      Businesses do not have the right to transfer licenses - we saw that with the Kmart fiasco. Now that the licenses are tied to hardware, consumers do not have the right to keep their MS software when they buy a new PC.

      So really, one can only rent the software. This is where the DOJ went wrong - they need to force MS to license users and not hardware or legal entities.

      "Hi - thank you from ordering from Dell. To finalize your order, please give me your Microsoft Windows and Office license numbers and we can eliminate that cost for you right now."
    • ...doesn't mean they'll do it.

      First, they will NEVER give away source (there seems to be some confusion over what is being given away). The debate can only be over binaries.

      I completely agree with you - combatting piracy (or, alternatively, charging for the OS) will simply erode their monopoly. Their business simply depends too little on revenue from the OS not to give it away, when all their other business depends on a windows platform. In fact, the better question is whether this would be interpreted as anticompetitive pricing (ie, price dumping). The only response to that is that there is no competition now. ;)

      However, this doesn't mean they will do it, as M$ has historically made many decisions that aren't all that smart (though, granted, they've made a lot that were). They tend to be extremely arrogant institutionally, and piracy is a fight that comes from the top (ie, Bill). Giving the OS away will leave a taste of failure in his mouth, whether it is rational or not. So no, I really don't think they will ever give windows away. And they're even stepping up their fight against piracy. XP is their first OS to use spyware for registration (I believe).

      If they were smart and rational, they would continue to force OEM's to pay for crappy versions of windows, then charge for upgrades...similar to what they do now. But the key part of the plan is to back way off of piracy enforcement, as it was in the pre-BSA, pre-Win XP days. That way they have their Windows revenue AND monopoly, without fear of any "anticompetitive" claims.
  • They're already following the Gillette business model of give away the razors and make your money on the blades with the XBox. Granted, that actually discourage them from trying the same thing with their OS/Apps.

    I can almost see MS giving away the OS and charging for bug fixes.
    • I can almost see MS giving away the OS and charging for bug fixes.

      Ooh, if that's the case, I just can see them doubling their $40B cash in just six months ... and that's just for IE.

  • Never (Score:3, Interesting)

    by xingix ( 601512 ) <> on Monday November 04, 2002 @03:33PM (#4594923)
    I believe Microsoft will give away their operating system but will NEVER give their source code up. 3rd party companies would clean up and make their OS more efficient than Microsoft's bloated version, creating competition that Microsoft doesn't need. However, would Microsoft lose their footing in the OS department if other companies were releasing their own versions of Windows?
  • Wishful thinking? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by teetam ( 584150 ) on Monday November 04, 2002 @03:33PM (#4594925) Homepage
    If MS gives away its OS, it would lose revenue from its other applications and not the other way around.

    Remember that MS was virtually non-existant in the applications space till the Windows OS (with its secret apis) became a desktop standard - think of Lotus, WordPerfect and the millions of other applications that have been squashed over the last decade.

    • by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Monday November 04, 2002 @03:48PM (#4595015) Homepage Journal
      The words "give away" in this context could be read to mean at least two different things.

      The first, as you appear to assume (apologies if I'm misinterpreting where you're coming from), is that Microsoft opens Windows in the same way as AOL opened Netscape Communicator, or Sun opened StarOffice. This, however, seems unlikely - what would it benefit them?

      The other is that Microsoft "gives away" Windows like bars "give away" peanuts, or in software terms, like Microsoft already "gives away" Microsoft Internet Explorer, or Sun "gives away" Java. Microsoft continues to control the platform, and could offer any number of degrees of openness, including none whatsoever. However, Microsoft allows users to freely distribute its product, to obtain it for free.

      By doing the latter, Microsoft controls the APIs. At the same time, competition is reduced for the operating system because any cost advantage disappears and alternatives repidly become (er, always were?) the province of an interested minority rather than the mainstream majority.

      I can certainly see the latter being possible. If it means giving the OS out for free for Microsoft to continue to control the APIs, then all precedents are that they will do this. Whatever it takes. The means justifying the ends. Microsoft has certainly given away software for free in the past, software that's phenominally expensive to develop, in order to crush potential rival APIs (such as with MSIE) and has made enemies and reduced the power of its own system because of a desire to prevent a new API from being controlled by an outside party (as they did to Intel when Intel came up with a Multimedia API, the details are in the FoF.) This is, in some ways, far sighted. Microsoft knows exactly what it needs to control in order to survive. And that's what it's doing.

      • Right now Microsoft primarily only gives away things for free that don't have a market by themselves, but they offer a signifigant enhancement advantage. For instance the browser is a nice add-on for the OS. MSDE is a nice add-on for the Office XP Developer. .Net Framework is a nice add-on for the OS, etc.

        I don't see them giving away the entire OS, unless they intend on stopping support or further development. The OS line is one of Microsoft's higher overhead divisions once you calculate in the amount of testing and on-going support. I can see them reducing the price, however... Sell something like XP Home for $30-40, just to encourage everybody to buy it and install it. This would reduce cost of support over continuing to have Win9x machines out there.
    • History Lesson (Score:4, Insightful)

      by sckienle ( 588934 ) on Monday November 04, 2002 @04:18PM (#4595154)

      MS was virtually non-existant in the applications space till the Windows OS (with its secret apis) became a desktop standard

      Well, that isn't 100% true, which of course means that it isn't 100% false also.

      What MS did do, was buy, early and completely, into the windowing metaphor. They did make use of undocumented MS Windows APIs, yes. But I really don't believe that made any substantive difference between their products and the competitors.

      For example, before MS Windows was ever released, even in V1.0 form, MS was working on its Excel application, on the Mac. Not only that, they listened to the customers and Apple's user interface gurus on how to improve the product. The end result was that when MS Windows 1.0 came out, MS had a reasonably good worksheet program for it; and had a several year head start on the competition in how to create windowed applications.

      Anyone who claims that building windowed applications is the same, and a quick port, from DOS based ones hasn't even had to do that port. It isn't easy or intuitive.

      Add on to this the fact that many or MS competitors tried to create menu structures and interface conventions different from the "standard" (which, yes, was written by MS) only hurt them. I remember many journalists making a mark for themselves in the early Mac and MS Windows days by just finding and attacking those products which didn't follow the guidelines. (This was particularly true in the Apple world, where not following the guidelines was tantamount to being a satanist during the Spanish Inquisitions.)

      Microsoft has done many illegal and morally corrupt actions in their history, including the use of undocumented APIs. But that use of "hidden" APIs was not the main reason their applications succeeded and others failed.

  • Hell yes (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wiredog ( 43288 ) on Monday November 04, 2002 @03:34PM (#4594927) Journal
    If they had to. Given that Office already runs, somewhat, on Linux, they don't need to sell Windows to sell Office. And people care much more about the apps than they do about the underlying OS.
    • Re:Hell yes (Score:2, Insightful)

      OK, I'm not understanding the business model here. In the case of IE, I think the justification for giving it away was to eliminate competition from Netscape. Who would they put out of business if Windows was free? You can't put "Linux" out of business since it's not a company (much as the trolls like to say it is).

      How exactly does Microsoft lose if they charge for both Windows and Office. Even if people use Office on Linux, MS still makes more money by charging for Windows. I can't think of any situation in which this would change open source development. Are open source developers going to trust MS to continue to give the OS away for free? Anyway, cost is only half of the argument for open source software. Now if MS made the OS free as in speech - then the story would be different.
  • This wouldn't be a real new strategy for them. I mean - they're giving away the Xbox to sell games, aren't they?

  • Fair Settlement (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Chanc_Gorkon ( 94133 ) <> on Monday November 04, 2002 @03:34PM (#4594931)
    What would be a fair settlement is Microsoft doing exactly that. GPL'ing Windows would then allow a Red Hat Windows (if they so chose) or whatever. It would create competition in the desktop os category (or os for idiots it what you will). Personally, I don't see them as a monopoly but it makes things difficult when exchange users continually spread worms thus causing the internet excess traffic thanks to the infectious messages being transmitted.
  • Not exactly... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gpinzone ( 531794 ) on Monday November 04, 2002 @03:35PM (#4594937) Homepage Journal
    The Operating System isn't the "killer application" anymore. Windows XP doesn't really do anything remarkably different than Red Hat...other than run Windows apps better than any other non-Windows OS. They may not make Windows open source, but they could give it away for "free" in order to keep the real money-makers, the applications, alive and well.

    What surprises me is that Microsoft is also openning up the file formats of their applications more. Word is gonna be true XML. I gotta wonder what MS' plans are for the future of Word Processing in general.
  • by Rootman ( 110962 ) on Monday November 04, 2002 @03:36PM (#4594946)
    MS DID give away it's "OS" with other products? Most of you pups are probably to young to remember Windows Runtime that came with some of the bigger Windows apps.

    How about asking this, can MS afford NOT to give away their OS in a few years? Wine is making good strides in fucntionality, besides that a LOT of people are already skipping the next Office upgrade(s). I know our fortune 500 company is, we're bowing out of the OS XP and Office XP all together.

  • by jez9999 ( 618189 ) on Monday November 04, 2002 @03:37PM (#4594950) Homepage Journal
    My prediction is that within three years time, Microsoft will `give away' its operating system to preserve its revenue in the applications business.

    In other news, Microsoft announced that it will 'give away' its operating system to schools in Namibia to preserve their education system.
  • by TrollBridge ( 550878 ) on Monday November 04, 2002 @03:37PM (#4594952) Homepage Journal
    I've observed the movements of Microsoft lately, and it would not surprise me if they did start offering they're OS for free, and for a number of reasons:

    1. Free operating systems like Linux will become more popular. Revenue on Windows will drop and cease to be profitable.

    2. Microsoft will get into the service market. Be it enterprise services, or internet/media (they're not close to the xxAAs' positions for nothing), the nature of their core product will change.

    Giving the platform away will only encourage both enterprise and home users to go with the services that make the OS useful. Whether or not this is a Good Thing for the open-source community, I guess, is yet to be seen.

  • by ethelred ( 587527 ) on Monday November 04, 2002 @03:37PM (#4594953)
    Microsoft is already "giving away" windows, by allowing so many pirated versions to spread. If they wanted to, they could have made it very hard from the beginning. Didn't Steve Ballmer say something about piracy helping them to gain a market share?
  • Mu (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jACL ( 75401 ) on Monday November 04, 2002 @03:37PM (#4594955)
    Speech is conveniently located midway between thought and action, where it often substitutes for both.

    Ignore the noise.
    Keep coding.
    Keep releasing.
    That's what will win the battle.
  • really... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by eclectric ( 528520 ) <> on Monday November 04, 2002 @03:38PM (#4594960)
    as time extends out, the need for a "visible" operating system" is going to be less and less necessary. The OS will be a part of the hardware. When was the last time you upgrade the operating software of your television?

    As OS's become invisble, the need for upgrading them is going to be lost on consumers, so MS would have a hard time trying to sell it as a product. It will become a commodity only.

    I think MS's only options for maintaining a business model are to either expand into other software areas (there aren't many left) or to start renting software, which they seem inline to do.
    • by Tony ( 765 )
      When was the last time you upgrade the operating software of your television?

      When was the last time your television was connected to the internet, or balanced your checkbook?

      There will always be a need for "transluscent" operating system, at any rate. Kinda like Tivo. Sure, you won't necessarilly see the distinction between the OS and the applications, but there will always be a need for upgrades (if for no other reason that hardening the system against recently-discovered exploits).

      This is true for the forseeable future, at any rate. Perhaps someday, say in thirty years, we won't need operating systems. But that is so far in the future, we'd be fools to try to predict what will be visible, what will be hidden, and what is even important.

      I predict in sixty years we'll need upgrades to our brains' wetware to protect against newly-discovered exploits.
  • LOL (Score:5, Insightful)

    by giminy ( 94188 ) on Monday November 04, 2002 @03:38PM (#4594965) Homepage Journal
    The Linux strategy is to undercut Microsoft,

    Wow, is this really the Linux mission statement? I thought it was more about making a great operating system for free, not controlling the market.

    This article really doesn't say anything, and says the above quite wrongly I think. I doubt Microsoft will ever give away windows...that would be an interesting day if they did. Over here in East Germany, almost everybody uses StarOffice because it's free and just as good. Free Windows and Free StarOffice...nobody would complain (except microsoft)!
    • by Enry ( 630 )
      Linux's mission statement has been the same for 10+ years:

      World Domination. Fast.

      Then again, 10 years isn't bad for that kind of goal.
  • by mellonhead ( 137423 ) <> on Monday November 04, 2002 @03:39PM (#4594974) Homepage Journal
    And you thought AOL was over zealous when it came to mailing out CDs...
  • No Way (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Zech Harvey ( 604609 )

    Right now, Microsoft is becoming a huge partner in providing Operating Systems for periphials such as PDAs, Tablet PCs, Media Boxes, etc. etc. Heck, they're even help create hardware to further departmentalize their OS. They would never give that away. What they will do is help subsidize hardware research and development and make sure their OS is the only one that works on that new product.

    They don't need the PC market any more, they've found something much much better. *shudder*
  • by Alethes ( 533985 ) on Monday November 04, 2002 @03:42PM (#4594987)
    Despite what the summary says, I wasn't prompted for registration, but thanks to [],
    Here is the article [] sans-registration for those of you that are prompted.
    • by Ari Rahikkala ( 608969 ) on Monday November 04, 2002 @04:02PM (#4595078) Journal
      I didn't need to register to read the article, either. That's because I had already registered ( :) ). Trust me, it's in everybody's good interests, yours included, that you don't misuse the convenience methods that NY Times has granted to you only under certain (implied) conditions. They aren't forced to give you anything for free, nor without registration. No, I don't think giving a link with the partner=google link will make them stop putting free content on the 'net altogether. This is a matter of morality. It seems pretty much impossible to me that it would be more work for you to register and read the two (count it, two, and never more) e-mails they send you than it is inconvenient for them to have bogus statistics. So why should you think of only yourself? Because they're not you? Because they're a company and you're a person? Because you think you're doing others a service?

      This completely inane (I mean it, what I wrote IS inane!) moral sermon brought to you by someone who's not an AC. (now just try to figure out what I mean by that...)

  • In The Beginning... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Bonker ( 243350 ) on Monday November 04, 2002 @03:44PM (#4594994)
    "My prediction is that within three years time, Microsoft will `give away' its operating system to preserve its revenue in the applications business."

    Stephenson hints around this concept in 'In the Beginning was the Command Line' []. I don't remember the exact wording, but the concept was that the operating system is basically a commodity when compared to application software. The only thing that makes an OS necessary is that you'll use it to accomplish tasks necessary to run an application.

    We've seen this kind of commoditization in browser software. I know I'm not the only who remembers walking into an EB and seeing a boxed copy of Netscape on the wall. What Netscape realized and MS copied was that the browser was merely a commodity necessary for individuals to access the internet. There were already freeware browsers. Netscape essentially gave away its browser so that it's compliment, Netscape Web Server-- later iPlanet server-- would sell better.

    OS's are going the same way. Where does MS make its money? Windows revenue accounts for precisely *dick* when measured up against a million OEM MSOffice licenses, per-seat DB licenses, multiprocessor Exchange licenses, etc. (My company recently dropped $15k for MSSQL on a 2 processor box.) If Windows was more important in terms of revenue than Office, why is Microsoft still making Office for Mac? Why not force those users to switch to Windows to use Office?

    Microsoft wants to charge for Windows and bust people for using pirated copies simply because they still can get away with it at this point. When they can't-- such as currently is the case in the PRChina-- they'll start turning a blind eye to OS piracy and may even tacitly circulate a few copies themselves to increase 'market penetration'. Eventually, they'll start offering ridiculously low-priced 'Student Discount' copies of Windows, like they have in the past, with both OS's and development tools. Eventually, as OpenOffice, AbiWord, and other Office competitors mature, You'll start being able to get more and more Windows feature for free while MS continues to extract flesh for licenses for Office, MSSQL, Exchange, and other servers and apps.
    • I don't understand where this idea that Microsoft makes the vast majority of their revenue from Office not Windows. Both the applications and platforms divisions accounted for about $9 billion of Microsoft's revenue in their fiscal year ended in June []. Applications includes project, visio, and a few others (not VB its down in enterprise software. Server versions of Windows are also included in the enterprise divisions, so windows revenue is probably just a little bit more than office revenue. I have no idea which costs more to produce and sell, but I would guess that they are pretty similar. I have seen estimates that place about 40% of MS earnings as a result of each program with the remaining 20% coming from everything else they do. Like pre-Xbox hardware, SQL, VB, and MSN.
      Personally, I think MS will be giving the OS away for free in the same manner that they bundle the OS of the X-Box. I would also guess that they will try to make that their platform for the future, serving applications from their servers, and utilize passport to try to get a cut of e-commerce. I don't know if they will succeed, but at least they have some vision for how to build on their current situation. Incidentally, the register had a pretty good negative view [] of MS prospects comparing them to IBM.
  • by Locutus ( 9039 ) on Monday November 04, 2002 @03:46PM (#4595004)
    The price of Linux and it's many apps are starting to eat into Microsofts profit center and to combat that, expect to see the price for MS Windows to drop by shipping a bootable MSN client that stays running as long as you pay your monthly MSN bill.

    I wouldn't be surprised if the MSN client actually updated an INSTALLED MS Windows OS so that it is disabled if you stop using MSN. Of course this could only happen legally if you installed SP3 on w2k or wxp( via new EULA ).

    This would not surprise me at all. Opening up the source to MS Windows will not happen. IMHO.

  • You Betcha (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sckienle ( 588934 )

    I can really see this. But for one main reason: To keep PC vendors selling consumer Windows boxes. Without the price pressures, Dell et. al. may not bother with offering Linux installed. I can't be sure on this, but if MS moves to this model quickly enough, it could really kill the Linux installed PC market quickly.

    Why would MS do that? Well, not only to protect its MS Office, etc. franchise, which it may or may not do. But to keep developers on their side. As long as a majority of "developers" know only Windows programming, and use only MS tools, Microsoft can stay on top in the long run. In fact, MS is starting to show some of this now. Point of Fact, while not requiring it, MS is trying to entice developers to move to a subscription model for the tools. You won't buy VB6 anymore, but a year's worth of development using all MS tools. Paying every year....

    Keep developers on your tools, you keep selling the back end to support the applications those tools create.

    Remember in big business mindshare is everything.

    OTOH, I wouldn't mind MS giving away the OS, because then you'd see much less junk thrown in as part of the OS!

  • Windows Giveaway. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Deathlizard ( 115856 )
    "My prediction is that within three years time, Microsoft will `give away' its operating system to preserve its revenue in the applications business."

    I dont think that MS would be giving away the OS, as much as they will be possibly forced to in the Future.

    I Still say that the best remedy to the Antitrust case would have been simply to Force MS to GPL OSS all previous, current and Future Operating systems, as well as the software Attached to it, Such as Wordpad and IE.

    The reason for this being that for years MS competitors have claimed that MS used it's OS monopoly to create a monopoly around other markets, such as IE or Office, and to cripple products that compete with them. By Forcing them to OSS all OS's, competitors to these other marketrs, Such as Corel Wordperfect, could make their product better simply by Knowing exactly how the OS works, making their product work better with the OS. This also opens up the door to Windows Distrubutions such as the Case with Linux, Creating Competition in the OS Sector, and Creating Better Windows Emulation on Other OS's such as Wine for Linux.
  • by Grue ( 3391 ) on Monday November 04, 2002 @03:57PM (#4595060) Homepage
    Judge Kollar-Kotelly: Linux is not a viable competitor to Microsoft.

    Microsoft's own Steve Ballmer: "Linux is a tough competitor." []

    Sombebody's been lying...

  • by kruczkowski ( 160872 ) on Monday November 04, 2002 @04:04PM (#4595086) Homepage
    Windows may be givin away in magazines free, but that damn Plus! pack will cost you an arm and leg!
  • by Kwil ( 53679 ) on Monday November 04, 2002 @04:05PM (#4595091)
    .. I'm pretty confident we'll see MS giving away Windows very soon after they get Palladium and Digital Restrictions Management up and running properly.

    The reason being is that they know damn well that Palladium has the benefit of:

    1. Consistent, adjustable revenue streams
    2. Heavy network effects (as in, good luck finding an Open Office to translate Palladium documents)
    3. Governmental backing
    4. Removing unwanted illegal evidence
    5. Burying free software.

    The only trick to getting all of these is to get a widespread base of people using Palladium in the first place. What better way then to "concede" victory to Linux in the OS market and start giving away Windows? This would take away the one immediately tangible benefit that Linux boosters can point to.

    My reasoning to these benefits can be found at this here. []

  • This prediction makes no sense: On the one hand, with vmware and wine able to or soon will be able to run office, they can still sell it for those platforms. On the other hand, with open office, abi, staroffice etc, the handwriting is on the wall for Office as much as it is (or isn't) for Windoze. I don't think Microsoft is in any imminent danger though.
  • by Rick the Red ( 307103 ) <Rick,The,Red&gmail,com> on Monday November 04, 2002 @04:14PM (#4595127) Journal
    My prediction is that within three years time, Microsoft will `give away' its operating system to preserve its revenue in the applications business.
    What about the license? I don't mind Microsoft's OS's as much as their new licenses. I run Windows 2000 on one machine, but I refuse to downgrade to the SP3 license, and won't touch XP for the same reason. If they give it away free but retain the "right" to do any damn thing they want to my computer, there's no way I'll agree.

    Besides, their OS is on virtually every new PC sold in the last 20 years, so why bother to give it away? The only people who would benefit from that would be Dell, HP, Toshiba, etc.

  • by Duderstadt ( 549997 ) on Monday November 04, 2002 @04:25PM (#4595184)
    In a way, Microsoft has already given up Windows.

    Think on this for a moment. When Microsoft developed the Win32 API, one of the design goals was to take full advantage of the 32 bit chips from Intel. No problem. The other design goal was to make it as backwards-compatible as possible with Win16 and OS/2. Serious problem. While developers were able to easily port Windows 3.x apps to 95 and NT, the OS was crippled.

    Just as an example, the worst part of NT's core security protocol, NTLM, was not even written by Microsoft. It was coded by IBM for OS/2... and left in for backwards-compatability.

    Fast forward to the present. Microsoft Windows, as a platform, is insanely difficult to develop for (unless you are using VB). The learning curve to get started with C or C++ is insane. (eg: COM, COM+, OLE, OLE2, OLEDB, ATL, MFC, ADO, RDO, etc.) Not to mention the cost of getting your hands on Visual Studio.

    Linux, on the other hand, is easy to develop for. The tools are free, the compiler is free, and getting your code up and running is as simple as make, make install. It is one of the biggest advantages Linux has (forget security and stability for a moment). Also, Java never worked out on Windows. Even with the WFC extentions, Windows developers never used it to code Win32 apps.

    Now, however, MS has .NET. Thanks to its deployment mechanism (assemblies), its somewhat unique object code (CLI, the rough equivilent of Java's VM), and its code libraries (covering about 99% of the Win32 API, but not dependent on Win32), .NET is in a position to make Win32 obsolete.

    My guess is that the interviewee is right. MS's next version of Windows will most likely be a platform for .NET, with a stripped down API for 'native' apps. And MS wants .NET ported to everything. In fact, becuase the JITC compiles down to assembly, how much effort would it take to port .NET to Linux? On the IA-32 platform? That the JITC already compiles to? Think on that for a while.

    Windows is dead. .NET lives.

    • .NET is in a position to make Win32 obsolete

      Which will not greatly surprise Microsoft.

      Unfortunately, it's also in a position to make Linux obsolete, since Linux has no VM.

      The major open development streams (Kernel, Debian, KDE, Gnome, OpenOffice) have no plans for using a VM.

      There's Mono, of course, but I'm not alone in having misgivings about that.

      Which leaves Java... is it too late already?
    • by bkocik ( 17609 )
      Just as an example, the worst part of NT's core security protocol, NTLM, was not even written by Microsoft. It was coded by IBM for OS/2

      But...I thought Microsoft wrote OS/2 for IBM, at the same time they were working on Windows? Did this come in later on in OS/2's life, after MS was out of that picture?

      Microsoft Windows, as a platform, is insanely difficult to develop for (unless you are using VB).

      Whoa...hold on there. Lemme preface this by saying that I'm no MS serf. I've been running Linux for years, and I'm a Solaris admin by trade. But I also write a lot of code, and here's my guilty little secret: I much prefer to do my development on Windows if I have a choice. I can't disagree with your statement that MS's IDE's are expensive, but you don't have to have them. If you are lucky enough to have them, they're wonderful. VC++'s integrated debugger alone is nearly worth the price of admission.

      The first time I ever had to write anything remotely serious for Win32, I was terrified. I had to write an app that had the ability to walk through NT's process table (this was NT4), pick out a particular process by it's name, and inspect the memory the process was using, amongst other things. I had no idea how to even start. So I went to MSDN, and started searching. Very quickly I had explanations on how to do everything I needed to do, along with plenty of sample code in a couple of different languages (I was using C++). I can't help but wonder how a developer new to Linux would have accomplished the same thing. Man? Man what? I'm sure it's possible, but I doubt it's nearly as easy as MSDN made it for me.

      The learning curve to get started with C or C++ is insane

      Maybe, but that's hardly the platform's fault. C and C++ are complicated languages (one more complicated than the other, obviously). Are you saying it's easy to program in C or C++ if you just do it on Linux?

      Linux, on the other hand, is easy to develop for. The tools are free, the compiler is free, and getting your code up and running is as simple as make, make install.

      Getting your code up and running? It's only as simple as "make, make install" if you've taken the time to write the make files. That makes it easier for your users, not you (and I'm leaving out the part right now about library and package dependencies, which we all know can make any "make; make install" turn into a nightmare very quickly). You could just as easily say that under Win32, "getting your code up and running is as simple as double-clicking setup.exe". That may be true for the users, but neither case applies to the developer.

      Bottom line, I work in Unix all day long, and have been doing so for years. I love it. But when I go to do my C++ homework at night (back in school, like many others right now) I have my choice of any platform and compiler I want to use. I invariably launch Visual C++.

    • by sql*kitten ( 1359 ) on Monday November 04, 2002 @06:47PM (#4595836)
      Fast forward to the present. Microsoft Windows, as a platform, is insanely difficult to develop for (unless you are using VB). The learning curve to get started with C or C++ is insane. (eg: COM, COM+, OLE, OLE2, OLEDB, ATL, MFC, ADO, RDO, etc.) Not to mention the cost of getting your hands on Visual Studio.

      FUD, FUD, FUD. For a start, most Microsoft developers are using VB. Slashbots may flame them as not being real programmers, but they're as much programmers as those Linux people working in Perl and Python. The learning curve for VC++ is no steeper than the learning curve for gcc, but VC++ has a lot of stuff to help newbies that gcc doesn't, like code-writing wizards. MFC is certainly no more difficult than say Motif. And the plethora of APIs where have I seen that before? Look at the arguments between the KDE and GNOME camps for desktop applications. And C# is about as easy (or difficult) to learn as Java.

      Yes, Visual Studio Enterprise is expensive, but corporates pay for it; if you're a student it costs about $25. You can get a command line development kit including compiler and VM for .NET for free.

      Linux, on the other hand, is easy to develop for. The tools are free, the compiler is free, and getting your code up and running is as simple as make, make install.

      Developing is not the same as installing, my friend. After all, installing on Windows is as simple as double-clicking SETUP.EXE. I reiterate: writing a C or C++ GUI application is no easier on Linux than it is on Windows (and writing a tcl/app on Linux is no harder than writing a VB app on Windows).

      Also, Java never worked out on Windows. Even with the WFC extentions, Windows developers never used it to code Win32 apps.

      No, but Windows is the most common platform for developing Java applications.

      Windows is dead. .NET lives.

      You're completely right. It's just like when Win32 replaced Win16. And we all know how that turned out.
  • It's how I got NT4.0 (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    When I purchased Visual C++ back in 98', it came with NT 4.0 in the box. I had just bought Windows 95 at full price(~$200?) and that was kind of a jip when I could have just purchased Visual C++ and got an OS too for ~$99. Had I known about Linux, gcc, and X-Windows at the time, I would have bought them instead. In my opinion, the important lesson is that even if MS begins giving out its OS for free, it will never be able to rival a distribution like Redhat or Mandrake which has everything that MS has, in one package, and for much less. The only thing that I lacked was the knowledge that there was an alternative that had everything Windows had.
  • Giving away the OS? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Junior J. Junior III ( 192702 ) on Monday November 04, 2002 @04:33PM (#4595218) Homepage
    For all intents and purposes, from the perspective of the average user who gets Windows bundled with their OEMbox, MS has been giving away the OS for a long time. Sure, they charge you for it, but the cost is lumped in with the cost of the hardware and you never notice it unless you look carefully.

    Nowadays, of course, this point is somewhat diluted, since you *can* buy a blank-slate PC with no OS pre-installed, but even today 99% of your average computer users will want to buy a computer that comes with an OS installed on it, as it will be fairly useless until one can be installed.

    But during the crucial period when MS was building its monopoly on the strength of its control of the desktop OS, you really couldn't buy an OEM built PC that didn't have an OS already installed on it.
  • by skSlashDot ( 518871 ) on Monday November 04, 2002 @04:50PM (#4595297) Journal
    My prediction: Microsoft uses some fraction of the $40 billion or so it has in the bank to buy AOL from Time Warner. Eventually, this is integrated with MSN, and some future version of Windows becomes a subscription-only service.

    If this sounds crazy, go to the AOLTW corporate site and look at their financials [] for the last couple of years. There is already talk about undoing the merger (see the recent article [] in Businesweek, for instance), and although some of the issues in re-splitting the company are tricky (in particular, how to split debt between the two companies) someone coming along with a giant pile of cash would solve may of those problems quite nicely.

    Now that you know, try to act surprised when it happens.

  • I haven't seen any replies yet on the trusted computing update, so I thought I'd give my take on the situation.

    All you open source programmers, now is our chance. Palladium is still a few years down the road. If you truly believe that the open source model is better, then you believe that open source can do trusted computing better. Let's give them a better solution instead of complaining about Microsoft's solution. We have an unprecedented chance here to make a pre-emptive strike.

    Anything that cannot be done securely in open source, cannot be done securely at all. After all, the machine code is always available. Let's put our energy to good use and come up with a better answer.

    I think some great open source solutions have already been implemented for creating an environment which we trust to protect our personal data. These are always improving.

    Now everyone brainstorm an answer to the other side of the question:
    How can open source provide an environment that companies like the MPAA and RIAA will trust to protect their proprietary data?

  • "The Linux strategy is to undercut Microsoft..."

    And all this time I thought our strategy was to just keep making Linux better and to hell with anyone else...
  • by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Monday November 04, 2002 @05:18PM (#4595401) Homepage Journal
    They will end up giving it away discounted to 0$, but bundled to a $ copy of Office so that its not truly free. Perhaps even a small discount on Office if you get the 'package'.

    Sort of how its done with hardware now.. bundle @ a discount.. to get you in the door.

    And once you have both, you are tied in.. The rule will be you must run your copy of office ONLY with your copy of windows.. perhaps even key locked together..

    Sort of how its done with hardware now :)

    btw, has /. been horribly slow since the move, or is it just us in the Midwest?
  • Remember about 15 years ago when everybody hated IBM, and now they're more or less a friend of the hacker community after a major reinvention of themselves?

    I suppose it's possible that this can happen for Microsoft, with or without the flying pigs, but then I'm a bit of an optimist.

  • by sammy baby ( 14909 ) on Monday November 04, 2002 @05:34PM (#4595467) Journal
    Not that I usually criticize Slashdot for lack of editorial judgement - that would be like criticizing the devil for being naughty - but the "one interviewee" who foretold MS giving away Windows for free was Brian Behlendorf [], who can't exactly be called neutral [] where questions about Microsoft and open source software are concerned.

    In other news, Bill Gates says "We will crush Linux like a bug," and Steve Jobs says, "Mac OS X is just so insanely great, it's insane in its greatness." Ho hum.
  • If MS starts giving away Windows for free, they will have little incentive to improve it. Although, MS has plenty of cash, it will be hard to justify spending money on something that doesn't generate any revenue for MS.

    Linux gets improved by huge numbers of people willing to work on it. But without the source for Windows, no one could work on Windows.

    Eventually, people might switch because Windows has gotten so poor.

    I also don't get the notion from the posts that this will help MS Office products, because it seems that OpenOffice is closer to replacing MS Office, than Linux is to replacing Windows.

    My 2 cents.


  • BBC Article (Score:4, Interesting)

    by hether ( 101201 ) on Monday November 04, 2002 @06:05PM (#4595562)
    This BBC Article Microsoft looks beyond the court: []
    is pretty hopeful. At one point they say, "By contrast Linux is free and much more secure than Windows in any of its incarnations." Its nice to see that in print. :-)

  • If MS can get away with what they have, then Linux can get away with a hell of a lot more.

    For ever action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

    The degree of illegal and unfair action, there is a equal degree of fair and legal action.

    When was the last time you read the Declairation of Independance?

    Those in the US have a right and duty.... Those outside the US have a US document to use as a model or inspiration.

  • by GreekGeek ( 107994 ) on Monday November 04, 2002 @06:20PM (#4595629)
    Never use a lawyer to fix an economic condition. Throughout history, whenever a particular company has a commanding lead in a particular market, its gross profit margin is very high.

    Examples of former companies with high gross profit margins in their industries: IBM (computing), Rockefeller oil company (oil industry), US Steel (steel).

    Why is this the case? Because hardly anyone knew anything about the business of that industry at the time because it was tied to a new technology. The oil and steel were tightly attached to the automobile, train, electrical appliances, and electrical machine industries.

    In each of these cases, it took the consumer and technological investments from other companies to overtake these companies and make them just another company in the industry.

    Forget what the government does--it matters what you do and how you (the person or the manager) spend your money that determines the outcome of Microsoft and any other monopoly. Research your decisions properly and make a wise business investment based on 1) your company's goals, 2) your division's goals, and 3) your ideas about the technology industry and how it can be used as a tool.

    I truely believe that if people simply research the many different ways to solve a problem using technology that Microsoft would be by now simply one of many software companies out there.

  • by divide overflow ( 599608 ) on Monday November 04, 2002 @06:30PM (#4595711)

    Actually, this reminds me of the "old days" of Windows. Versions of Windows prior to version 3.0 were pretty limited and most copies of Windows were shipped packaged with a handful of applications like Pagemaker that depended on Windows for its GUI and printing functions. Windows was still in its infancy and most software was still being coded to run under MS/PC DOS. There was little acceptance of Windows at that time as it was very taxing on the Intel processors that were popular at that time (mostly 8088s and 80286s) and didn't yet offer enough advantages to convince developers to code to it.

    As a result only a handful of programs were written to use the Windows APIs and very few copies were sold to end users. To boost use of Windows, Microsoft provided Windows app developers a slimmed-down version of Windows that they would package with their applications. This "runtime" version of Windows would be installed first, followed by the application which would run under it. Digital Research's GEM interface was another GUI/shell that took the same approach; it was primarily known as the GUI for the original versions of the Ventura Publisher desktop publishing software.

    Then Microsoft released Windows 3.0, beating IBM's OS/2 to the market and providing the end user with a decent GUI OS shell that had support for the advanced features of the new 80386 processor. This was also the death knell for Digital Research's GEM product as developers migrated their apps from GEM to Windows. Windows 3.0 was an instant hit with the users (simultaneously making the lives of IS professionals used to simpler server-hosted DOS apps a headache) and it quickly became a popular product.

    From that time forward Windows has been a money maker for Microsoft, making "runtime" Windows a thing of the past.

Statistics are no substitute for judgement. -- Henry Clay