Did you see this news today? At the DOJ versus MS trial, the government
lawyer disputed claims that Linux or BeOS are threats to Microsoft. Here
are some excerpts. (Of course lawyers will claim anything if they think
it will help their case. But it sounds almost like he is blaming the
Linux community for this situation, which in a sense plays into MS's
hand, since MS can claim that its * is due to the failure of the
competition to come up with viable alternatives.)
"Schmalensee...asserted that two operating systems, one called Linux and
another developed by the firm Be Inc., could one day become popular
enough to topple Windows. That threat, the witness maintained, means
that Microsoft does not have the sort of long-term market clout to which
antitrust laws apply.
"Boies disputed Schmalensee's prediction, noting that Linux is
difficult for most ordinary computer users to install. "In looking at
the (Linux) box, did you notice how long the installation manual was?"
Boies said to the witness. "Would it surprise you to know that it was
300 pages long?"
"The attorney also argued that the Linux and Be operating systems have
only a fraction of the software that Windows has, making them less
attractive to computer users."
He said it, not me. My own opinion is a bit different, for those who are
interested. Personally, I don't think difficult installation is a major
problem with Linux. Assuming your hardware is supported, a SUSE 5.3 or
recent Redhat Linux installation is a piece of cake. The real problem is
that Linux is more difficult to administer than Windows NT by people who
are not professional Unix administrators, which is most of the SOHO
market and most home users. Applications are a problem only if you are
forced to use particular applications that are not available for Linux,
but again, that includes quite a few users. On balance I think Linux
could be a real threat to MS in certain situations. It's a threat
already in the Internet server arena. It's also quite conceivable, for
example, that certain large companies could decide to change over
entirely to Linux and other free software in order to avoid paying
per-seat charges for software use. In fact, it's already happening in
some places. Better clue in the DOJ lawyer, folks.
John De Hoog