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Harvard Concludes Linux Will Remain Second Best

CmdrTaco posted more than 8 years ago | from the i-said-number-two dept.


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

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OSX (5, Insightful)

Transcendent (204992) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075328)

Now that Macs are developing/supporting a BSD based OS, I think Linux will also lose some desktop share here as well.

In fact, I know of a few friends who chose to get a MacBook and keep OSX on it because they described it as "Linux with more hardware support" (or at least better support directly for the Mac). Not saying this is true, but that it is another well supported Unix alternative.

Re:OSX (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075392)

I'm getting a Mac Book Pro for myself (after getting one for the parents) but I'm going to triple boot it, using Linux predominantly.

I need very few Windows programs (actually, I'm just thinking of running Windows in OS X). I actually use Windows only about 5-10% as much as I used to 2 years back, it's getting less usable by the year since Win2K in some aspects.

And Mac OS X is okay, I like the hardware/software integration the most. That and how installing programs is just drag and drop. It's really good for my parents because no viruses/spyware, etc. I mean, it's nice in some other things and I like Aquamacs (an Aqua-ized emacs tweaked to make it native to OS X) better than Emacs but that is about it.

The major downside is just hoping the various *nix programs are compiled for it, otherwise it's a major PITA if I have to go through something like Fink Commander. Aquamacs is native and no problem, but things like Gnucash has to be run by seperately starting a X session and then starning the *nix program. Even then, things like printing don't go as smoothly.

I actually prefer Ubuntu with some linux programs like Digikam than OSX. OS X has some minor issues, like having no "show desktop" button that I'd have to get a script for that doesn't always work correct. I also prefer Digikam for storing pictures over iPhoto (is it me or is that the most overhyped, unintuitive kludge of a program? Get's in my way so many times.)

I don't really use the rest of the mac programs (itunes, imovie, etcetera) so I may be one of the few that don't really care about that stuff.

Re:OSX (4, Interesting)

countach (534280) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075427)

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

Re:OSX (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16075472)

Nice try, asshat. Do you at Apple really think people won't see that all the Apple-astroturfing comes from the same subnet?

Re:OSX (3, Informative)

frogstar_robot (926792) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075449)

OS X has some minor issues, like having no "show desktop" button that I'd have to get a script for that doesn't always work correct.

I largely agree with you but OS X DOES address that one. If you have the Expose stuff turned on, press F11 and all the Windows will scootch to the sides. Do whatever you have to do and F11 pulls them back in.

Re:OSX (3, Informative)

countach (534280) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075457)

You can also use Active Corners. Configure it so that you move the mouse to the corner and the desktop appears.

Re:OSX (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075527)

Thanks, however I would like to minimize all the windows in order and then click on the program (say Firefox) to bring up all of it's Windows into view. F11 doesn't allow me to do that AFAIK (otherwise Finder->Desktop would be fine just to see the desktop), and click on the icon on the bottom usually only brings one window back in front.

I could select the windows I want one by one from the icon, but's that's pretty slow. Maybe I'm just used to a gnome/windows toolbar in this regard.

Re:OSX (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16075462)

On OSX, F11 == show desktop. Other useful feature is option-right-click on app and select "Hide Others".

Re:OSX (2, Interesting)

also-rr (980579) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075412)

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

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

Re:OSX (1)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075418)

Of course, there are also people who do it the other way around. I, for example, bought an iBook just before they stopped being available (at my local Apple store), because of the great battery life (and some other niceties, like quick suspend and resume, nice look, manageable size and weight, etc.). But I run Linux on it, because I find it much nicer than Mac OS X.

Perhaps it's just that I'm used to Linux, but it does have some objective advantages over OS X. In no particular order: it's more customizable, it's easier to install software on it, _all_ software on it is kept up to date by the package manager, it's more of a standard platform (in terms of APIs and the like), it makes using my external hardware (printer, scanner, webcam, ...) easier, and the keyboard works more similar to on other systems (all this goes for Kubuntu and Debian stable vs. Tiger, but I'm sure it applies to other distros as well). It also feels more responsive, and I have more available RAM. I also feel more comfortable using only open source software.

Some of the above are really minor issues, some are pretty important, but on the whole, it makes Linux a much nicer environment for me. Don't even get me started on how it compares to Windows...

Re:OSX (2, Interesting)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075461)

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

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

Re:OSX (2, Interesting)

interiot (50685) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075447)

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

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

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

Re:OSX (1)

i_should_be_working (720372) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075481)

Well, the model described in TFA basically boils down to if OSS' two advantages of cost and openness will overcome MS' advantage of already being on top. They found that MS always remains on top as long as price is not a factor. If price is a factor, then OSS may force out MS.

Throw Macs into that model: It doesn't already have a large installed base. It's not free or open.

So, you may think that Macs will take away users from Linux, but TFA definitely disagrees.

Re:OSX (2, Interesting)

thelost (808451) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075495)

this isn't necessarily a bad thing. While Linux advocates are a fiery lot they will probably agree that users switching to osx is better than users staying with windows.

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

From TFA (0)

scenestar (828656) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075329)

However, OSS has disadvantages too. Most importantly, it comes from behind in terms of market share

That's because MSFT had a goddamn 10 year headstart.

This article is a troll.

And they have nothing more to add (1)

tentimestwenty (693290) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075347)

Microsoft developed a lot of "standard" principles and features but that period is now over. For most people, computers are powerful and complex enough. Where Linux can excel is NOT being first to add new features but simply refining the interface and usefulness of what we have now. Mac OS X has been extraordinarily effective at this and Linux can be too. Windows is only going to get more bloated and cumbersome.

From TFA-Tortise-hare. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16075365)

"That's because MSFT had a goddamn 10 year headstart."

Yes, but the typical slashdot argument is that the OSS development process is better than the MS one. So even with a "headstart", OSS should catch up sooner.

Re:From TFA-Tortise-hare. (4, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075423)

In case people haven't noticed, linux has not only caught up, but surpassed Windows, in terms of stability, modularity, customizability, ease of install, maintainability of the code base, etc.

That last one - maintainability of the code base, is a killer. There will be no Windows after Vista. Even Microsoft has alluded to as much.

BTW - That "etc" I mentioned includes REPUTATION. What is the reputation of linux vs windows? Ask any virus-writer.

Re:From TFA (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16075377)

This article is a troll.

That seems to be the attitude of the whole Goddamn county these days - don't like what's being said, it's a "Troll" so shut-up.

Have an arabic saying on your t-shirt, change it or get off of the plane.

Against the war, you're unPatriot, so shut-up!

For the war, "you're a war monger!", so shut-up

My fellow Americans, You don't know what freedom is.

Re:From TFA (3, Informative)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075389)

``That's because MSFT had a goddamn 10 year headstart.''

Did they, really? Slackware 1.0 was released in July 1993, years before Windows 95. Being Linux, it was 32-bit, had proper multi tasking, separation of tasks, permissions, the ext2 filesystem, etc. It also had X, and there was a dos emulator included, so you could run old DOS programs. Basically, a lot of features that Microsoft's offerings would only have years later.

I think GNU/Linux was there first...it just didn't have the marketing that Windows had.

Re:From TFA (3, Insightful)

twms2h (473383) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075537)

I think GNU/Linux was there first...it just didn't have the marketing that Windows had.
If you think that was all it lacked, you have been living in a world very different from mine.

Re:From TFA (3, Interesting)

i_should_be_working (720372) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075452)

I disagree. The article is quite interesting.

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

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

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

Re:From TFA (1)

repruhsent (672799) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075459)

Why is it that every anti-Microsoft article/comment is labeled as truth by idiots like you, but when someone criticizes Linux or open source even lightly, you label the entire thing as a troll?

Second Best Where? (5, Insightful)

nbannerman (974715) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075331)

Surprisingly enough, I'm finding the exact opposite to be true.

I've talked at length about how I deploy an entirely Microsoft-enabled enviroment for my college. 600+ machines, all running XP and Office 2003. 24 servers, all 2000/2003. A pretty typical Microsoft-enabled environment really.

However, I've personally just gone down the Linux route for my work laptop, and I'm giving projects like Edubuntu serious consideration for older, non-Vista compliant hardware.

I have no doubt that companies with ££££s to throw around will buy new machines that are pre-loaded with Vista, and they'll inevitably begin the Vista rollout come SP1. But big business is not everything; I know many of my fellow network managers in education are giving serious consideration to OSS solutions.

We're educating the business people of tomorrow, and if they are introduced to OSS at a younger age, I think we'll see some interesting changes somewhere down the line.

Well, I hope so... ;)

Re:Second Best Where? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16075403)

Whatever. We heard the exact same thing from the last generation of idiot college students who had just installed Linux and thought "THIS IS COOL!" before gaining any experience attempting to use it in the real world. What is it about college & university that makes people dumber?

Re:Second Best Where? (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075486)

"Whatever. We heard the exact same thing from the last generation of idiot college students who had just installed Linux and thought "THIS IS COOL!" before gaining any experience attempting to use it in the real world. What is it about college & university that makes people dumber?"

I've been out of college for decades, and according to your criteria, I must be really dumb, since I use gnu/linux as my only desktop all day long. For example, I'm not "smart enough" to try to find some setting by clicking a gajillion times ... I have to edit the files in /etc manually with vi. Gee, I must be a real retard according to your "standard" ...

What is it about Windows that makes people dumber? That makes them PAY for the "user experience" of viruses, computers that get so loaded-down with spyware adware viruses trojans antivirus scanners anti-spam etc? Oh, right ... its the "a fool and his money are soon parted" meme.

Hi, fool.

Re:Second Best Where? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16075544)

Hello dumbass. I use Linux as well. It doesn't mean I think it's going to be number one anytime soon.

What's in a word? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16075335)

"Will OSS ever displace traditional software from its market leadership position?" came to a (not so?) surprising result. Linux is likely to remain second best as long as Microsoft has a first mover advantage."

The only problem here is that OSS isn't the same thing as Linux. Apache is OSS, but it's not Linux.

Re:What's in a word? (1)

Klaidas (981300) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075510)

This sometimes bugs me. Most geeks understand Microsoft as "evil closed source paid source monster", while Linux is a "pure open source no cost" lovely puppy.
And that's what I hate. If you tell a linux geek that you run Windows, they imagine that you think that ALL open source sucks and there is no good open source program out there that you use (like Firefox.) It work the other way too - if you tell a Windows geek that you run Linux, they thing that you don't use any closed source programs...
That's the reason why this OSS and Linux confusing comes from.

problem right now is that linux is unknown. (5, Insightful)

Albert Sandberg (315235) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075340)

When we (and by we, I mean the linux community) hit a larger portion of user base, say 10% of desktop market (if that will ever happen) linux is going to be well known, and I don't mean that just by the name, but people will actually from time to time use a computer that has linux installed.

Then and not until then will my mother think "why do I need this windows for anyway?" and might try linux out on the home computer. Then the kids start getting used to it (from home, school and most important, friends) and the adoption to linux REALLY hits, because no household will pay $$$ for an operating system if they know one that's usable for free. Not to mention the applications.

Alongside, user friendly distros such as ubuntu, mandriva and feodora will grow even easier to use (as a matter of fact, I think ubuntu is easier (and faster) to install than windows XP or 2000).

Re:problem right now is that linux is unknown. (4, Interesting)

daniil (775990) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075503)

When we (and by we, I mean the linux community) hit a larger portion of user base, say 10% of desktop market (if that will ever happen) linux is going to be well known

You (and by you, I mean the linux community) have been beating this drum for a dozen years now. Somehow, I don't believe it will ever happen. If it will, it won't be the same Linux.

Numb nutts (0)

Stumbles (602007) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075342)

Big flaw there Harvard boys. Linux doesn't use "formal economic modelling" techniques, whatever the hell that is. I'd suggest Harvard get together with the "MIT deep divers" SCO used, I'm sure they would be helpful.

Harvard is Wrong (1, Interesting)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075345)

As usual the "experts" got it all wrong.

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

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

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

They are just plain stupid.

I think you are wrong. (3, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075402)

When ever I talk about purchases of computer and OS to bigwigs. It basically breaks down as LInux is a Free OS and could be considered good enough to do what they want to. What usually sowers the deal with Linux is the fact that the company usually has some software that is for windows only and moving off it is out of the question. Many times it is a CAD Program, other times it is some old custom app that cannot be replaced (Cheaply) and the people who made it are long gone. And on some other situation companies just went threw a painful migration from old Unix to Windows and they are not willing to go back to a Unix like platform for a long time (Even though Linux and newer Unix have far more to offer then their 1989 SCO box).

Of course... (5, Interesting)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075351)

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

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

Re:Of course... (1)

frogstar_robot (926792) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075435)

I think Vista is where Microsoft will fork strongly.

Vista will be XP Mark 2. I believe 98 was the last time people were lined up all the way around the block to buy a latest Windows version. Vista will come pre-installed on Dells and will slowly trickle into homes that way. Businesses will continue to stay on XP or even 2000 as long as they possibly can. Equipment replacement cycles will force the issue for them though. It will take two to three years to become the most commonly encountered Windows.

As long as ... (4, Insightful)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075354)

What kind of conclusion is that, "Linux will remain second as long as MSFT has the first mover advantage"?

It is like saying Tiger Woods will remain number one as long as no one comes along who is better. Or this guy will live as long as he does not die.

You need to go to Harvard to come to lame conclusions like this? Nah, you need to go to Harvard to write escape clauses like this. If Linux become dominant you just declare, "MSFT no longer has the first mover advantage, so I am right". If Linux fades to obscurity, you can go "See, I told ya, Linux will never become numero uno"

Re:As long as ... (0, Flamebait)

daniil (775990) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075425)

You didn't actually understand a word they said, did you?

Re:As long as ... (4, Insightful)

bhmit1 (2270) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075487)

It is like saying Tiger Woods will remain number one as long as no one comes along who is better.
Not quite. It's like saying Tiger will have more fans forever because he started with more fans today. And that fan base will ensure that Tiger is always better than everyone else.

The flaw in this article is that they assume:
  • Companies won't demand open standards
  • Every version of MS software will continue making significant improvements
  • MS will not start to get caught with the viral GPL license issues the way open source developers continuously get caught with patents. The nice thing about patents is that they eventually expire, GPL doesn't.
What will really happen is the law of diminishing returns will kick in, and MS users will have even less of a reason to upgrade each time as more eye candy and unneeded features requires more hardware. At some point, the features that MS gives over linux will not be worth the cost of MS. Additionally, as formats open, and applications move to the web, the ability to leverage the monopoly will continuously reduce. The best thing MS has going for it now is application support and the bundling that is done by all the major PC builders. If they lose either of those, they will lose their grip on being number 1.

Re:As long as ... (1)

i_should_be_working (720372) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075515)

To expand on what daniil said: They are talking about their model.

When they say something like 'as long as MS has first mover advantage' they mean 'when we put into our model that MS has first mover advantage'. The also ran the model where both OSs start with 0 users, which is the case where MS does not have first mover advantage.

Best? (1)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075355)

While I haven't read TFA yet, I have some difficulty with the word "best". I can think of various definitions of "best" for which Linux has been ahead of Windows, and various definitions for which Windows is ahead of Linux. How that will change when Vista comes out is, I think, impossible to say at this stage. Even if we assume we know what features will be in Vista and what the overall package will be like, we don't know when Vista will really be released, nor what Linux (what Linux, anyway?) will look like by that time.

Re:Best? (1)

Flyboy Connor (741764) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075536)

While I haven't read TFA yet, I have some difficulty with the word "best". I can think of various definitions of "best" for which Linux has been ahead of Windows, and various definitions for which Windows is ahead of Linux.

You should read TFA then. With "best" they simply mean: has the biggest user base.

Bigger user base = more chances for profit, which is what mainly counts for most economists.

Misleading headline (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16075356)

The authors don't simply come to the conclusion that linux will stay second best - in fact, they never use these words.

What they are really doing is make a complex analyisis of the linux vs windows issue and try to point out different circumstandes in which linux or windows will succeed over the other or coexist.

This is without a doubt a very interesting read, unfortunately it seems to be to complex for /. so you chose to turn this into yet an other stupid and uninformed flamefest. The article would have deserved better.

Maybe it doesn't matter (1)

sloth jr (88200) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075357)

It seems to me like Linux could be very healthy with second place, if market share approached 30% of its primary market - server space. That's enough penetration that it can't be ignored for interoperability.

Re:Maybe it doesn't matter (1)

jrobinson5 (974354) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075483)

Umm, IIRC, Linux is at least 30% of the server marketshare, if not more.

Rich Get Richer (2, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075358)

Short version in English: Harvard says that because MS has more market share, it will have more market share.

Isn't that the thinking that kept IBM in control of computing in the 1970s?

popular != best (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16075361)

Linux is in many aspects a great operating system. Problem is that many people tend to confuse transparency and choice with difficulty.

Alternatives to Linux (like Microsoft Windows) focus more on usability and 08/15-users. Windows (for example) is very popular which, like statistics of rootkit, trojan and virii development proove, is not always a good thing.

Developers who try to make Linux "Ready for the Desktop" (== more popular) come up with stuff similar to autorun or a progamm (hal) that keep reading an empty CD-R while the cd recorder tries to write to it. That stuff made people switch from Windows to Linux. Because Linux (without those Trojans from the "Ready for the Desktop" camp) is a better OS. Not popular, but better.

BTW... How accountable are universities like Havard or MIT these days? Only recently MIT had an article released with "the Best 35 innovator below age of 35" or something... That is infotainment for a tabloid, not scientific related news.

And the moral is? (4, Insightful)

FishandChips (695645) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075364)

As with economists, you could lay all of America's business professors end to end and still never reach a conclusion.

Linux does not aim to be best, second best or ninety-third best. Take Debian: it aims to provide a free universal operating system. How well it does, in the perception of others, is only incidental to Debian's core purpose. So, looking at all this in terms of winners and losers or best and worst is largely illusory. Linux is doing just fine and does not have to hit some arbitrary bar - such as overtaking Microsoft's market share - to continue to do just fine.

Define best (1)

xinu (64069) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075367)

Harvard is a business school not exactly *the best* technical school. But I digress. I'd rather hear from MIT or Berkley or Perdue or whatnot on the matter...

They don't mention customer support, security and bug releases, interoperability with large scale Solaris/AIX/HPUX environments, proprietory protocols just for silly documents, business ethics, embedded devices, etc.

I'm no Linux zealot but I have to say any conclusion of any sort would be an egotistical and hubris opinion meant to spread FUD.

When I reach into my toolbox I definately don't say it's pliers vs screwdriver which is best tool and come to a conclusion and then write a paper on the topic.

The nerve of some people...

Not to surpised. (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075368)

Linux still has a lot to gain and Microsoft still has a lot to loose. I think the Market will finally stabilize (In the far future) with the following Percentages.
Microsoft 45% (Will still be the dominate player with to much momentum to stop it, but taken such a hit that it is seriously competing with all others)
Linux 25% (Will get a large gain in Market share as it becomes more User friendly and more and more software is developed for it)
Apple 20% (Apple will follow in the success of Linux but by the fact their OS will only run legally on their hardware they will not get past the top two because they will work on a wider choice of hardware)
Others 10% (With M.S. being severely reduced in market share other OS companies will be getting some more business because people will be more willing to fill the gaps for their needs.)
These are not zealot based guesses. But you can't ignore MS market share and Linux ability to run on a wide range of hardware would make it a good second. And for others is because as time goes on more and more people are able to differentiate the difference between the computer and OS, and will be able to make better decisions in the future.

Re:Not to surpised. (1)

strider44 (650833) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075381)

If Microsoft's market share is the only thing going for it then why would people still buy Windows if Microsoft doesn't have such a dominant market share?

Re:Not to surpised. (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075430)

Well it is simple. You are a manager you do not want to get fired. Choose Linux and there was a bunch of problems in the migration, then you boss will yell at you for choosing Linux and not going with a more "professional" brand. If you choose windows and the same problems occur your boss will go well it is normal problems and there is nothing you can do about it. When you have the market share you also have piece of mind that you are doing something that other people has done any many of them were very successful, you know what you are doing isn't wrong. Going with linux you are taking a risk with a possible small gain and a big loss.

Why does this kind of thing ilicit so much emotion (3, Insightful)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075373)

here? You would think that to some people, knowing someone used a Microsoft product was akin being spit on. Why? I'm a mac user but that doesn't mean I really give a damn if someone else uses Windows, Linux or anything else. Hell, I use Linux at work. It's no skin off my back, my OS doesn't stop working because someone is using Windows.

I consider my operating system to be a tool, not a way of life, not something that defines me. Maybe that is why I never understood OS evangelism. Can someone please explain to me that when someone says "Linux will not be the most popular desktop operating system in existence" Linux users feel the need to sling such insults as "numbnuts"(which by the way is not very mature and not likely to win you very many converts) towards them?

Re:Why does this kind of thing ilicit so much emot (1)

Yetihehe (971185) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075424)

I consider my operating system to be a tool, not a way of life, not something that defines me.
Funny, I thought Apple commercials with hip guy are telling everyone mac SHOULD be the way of life.

Good reason .. it hurts you! (1)

larryau (983008) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075518)

Some of this comes from the fact that Microsoft behavior and tactics are akin to a monopoly. You ask then how can people feel so strongly about this. Microsoft has basically destroyed competition using tactics not so ethical.

By acting like a monopoly they have limited your choices to what you can buy or use. Someone made the analogy in an other post comparing a toolbox and the tools to the different OSS. You reach into the toolbox to get the tool you need for the job. What Microsoft has done is made it so that when you reach into that toolbox you only have one choice of tool to use, there's. You don't get to choose a different brand or kind of tool.

Something was on the verge of being done about this, but then the Bush Administration and there buddies stepped in and save Microsoft. Think about it there are plenty of reasons to not be a fan of Microsoft.

The unending threat of FUD (1)

xoundmind (932373) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075374)

We conjecture that there are multiple equilibria and that the use of FUD to mold perceptions about future value becomes crucial.
Well, you are certainly helping with that one.
I'm surprised they didn't make the bold prediction that Compuserve will remain a dominant player in the dial-up accesss business for years to come.

Yale Concludes Harvard to Remain 2nd Best (1)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075376)

Pick a Study. Any Study. G'head, g'head, pick two, we'll make more...

Call for innovation (1)

free space (13714) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075378)

If the Linux community wants to have the "first mover advantage" it probably can.
"Open Source" isn't a group of programmers in a single building with team leaders managing them. They're thousands of people across the world. Also, anyone can be an OSS developer.

This should be a great advantage over Microsoft's way of doing stuff, and I'm really surprised that free/open source software isn't already orders of magnitude ahead of proprietary offerings. Perhaps OSS developers should spend less time copying Windows and/or Apple and start thinking about new ways of using our computers. Or, since the source is open and developers plentiful, have multiple groups where some work on recreating the Windows experience and others creating the next generation of software.

I suggest that IBM/Google etc, create a "blue sky" projects group. And give it a lot of publicity and support. Let's stop the "Microsoft is ahead" idea already!

Re:Call for innovation (1, Troll)

frogstar_robot (926792) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075411)

Perhaps OSS developers should spend less time copying Windows and/or Apple and start thinking about new ways of using our computers.

And when they do, there is this other kind of poster who complains that OSS will never succeed if it isn't more like Windows. Maybe OSS developers should continue doing what they do best: Work on whatever they want to work on or are paid to work on.

Wow (1)

squoozer (730327) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075380)

And they pay people to come up with this stuff?

While I am loathed to tell people who know a lot more about economics than me how they should do their jobs I can't help feeling that they might have failed to (correctly) factor in some considerations. Not least is the consideration that Linux is free and always will be where as Windows will pretty much always be pay for even if it has a nominal price. Yes Microsoft could give Windows away in order to sell Office or other applications but that is a fundamental shift in the market and I don't think anyone could truly predict what the outcome of that could be.

Assuming that Linux continues to advance at the pace it is currently advancing it will match Windows for ease of use and features in a couple of years. The stumbling block is, of course, drivers but lets face it 98% of computers fall into one of two camps: those that never suffer driver upgrades because they are bought from "Dell" or they are run by people who know what they are doing.

Make that third best (0, Troll)

Nice2Cats (557310) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075386)

They forgot Apple.

By the same logic (1, Funny)

MarkusQ (450076) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075387)

By the same logic, you could argue that cars will never replace trains, MP3s will never displace CDs, and so forth.

Bottled water? Not a chance! Creeks and brooks not only come pre-installed in most landscapes but they also have an insurmountable first mover advantage, greater mind share, and a more "intuitive" user interface. Sure, a few special-needs groups will drink out of canteens that they fill themselves, but it will never catch on with the general public.

And don't even get me started on the whole "forks and spoons" fad.


piracy may even result in higher profits (1)

TimothyTimothyTimoth (805771) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075390)

From the article "piracy may even result in higher profits to Microsoft!". Now that is interesting.

They certainly don't know their subject (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16075397)

Consider SCO, a small Swiss-based "vulture" firm
Utah has mountains, Switzerland has them, too. It could happen to anybody, I guess.

we were also surprised to find that piracy may end up increasing Microsoft's profits
Wow, what an insight. If they find that surprising, they can't have read much on the subject prior to creating their model.

We find that while a monopoly of Linux is always preferable (from the point of view of societal welfare) to a Windows monopoly, it is ambiguous whether a duopoly Linux-Windows is better than a Windows monopoly.
They find monopolies in general preferable because they have never heard of problems with software monoculture.

I don't find it very surprising that a journal like Management Science can't tell if authors don't know what they are talking about. Bah.

This is why /. sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16075401)

So, we have an incredibly interesting interview with two economists from Harvard who tried to determine factors for the succes of Linux and Windows over one another.

This is good and interesting, isn't it?

Now what does /. make of it?
It features an incredibly inaccurate and inflamatory headline which leads to a bunch of idiots who obviously couldn't be bothered to RTFA to spew some incredibly stupid bs about the article they couldn't be bothered to read.

Man, that's annoying to say the least.

I fart in the general direction of this paper (1)

prurientknave (820507) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075406)

I'm sure the first mover advantage enjoyed by mercedeez, audi, etc. translate into market share right?


The vast majority of people are happy just driving around cheap, reliable, toyotas and hondas that meet their minimal transportation needs. The modders and street racers, also prefer these cars because they are well laid out and easy to modify. (ever try to mod a luxury car with the dearth of documentation? )

Professional racing uses specially constructed cars for their needs. So where does the luxury car fit into the car market? RIGHT! the social status market i.e. people with more money than sense, which incidentally is a good description of the windows vista market.

Too many of their solutions for MS are silly (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075409)

MS would be in court so fast being accused of trying to monopolize, exploit their "monopoly", etc if they followed the idea put forward that they give away the OS to specific clients just to prevent any other OS //Linux// from gaining ground. On the server side there are only so many *nix/Novell installations to be consumed, once that is done seeing who takes the most of the others installations will show us the real market.

On a side note, Microsoft doesn't need to "oust Linux". Yet it can make Linux irrelevant by maintaining the market percentage it has or combining forces with someone else to do so. OS/X is a great alternative and doesn't hurt MS nearly as much anymore. Why? Well there is that boot camp for the new machines which can result in continued Windows use and that little thing called "Office".

The worse thing that could come down the pike for Linux is for Apple to get into the server OS market. Give the best of the *nix world with a friendly and intuitive face.

Re:Too many of their solutions for MS are silly (1)

also-rr (980579) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075464)

The worse thing that could come down the pike for Linux is for Apple to get into the server OS market. Give the best of the *nix world with a friendly and intuitive face.

Apple are *in* the server market and no one really seems to have noticed. It's one of the places where, for everything except trivial uses, you can 100% guarentee skilled staff (or an incipient disaster) so systems which are designed around making educated people more productive (flexible shell/scripting environments) will always come out 'best'.

In the server market OS X competes as a 'proper' unix box, using unix tools... but running on expensive hardware per flop (even a few percent means a lot when you are running razor thin margins) and with only one hardware supplier. What possible advantage can it have there, since no one can seriously suggest that web pages look slicker when served from Apple Brand Apache, right?

Most of us don't care (4, Insightful)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075413)

A lot of us aren't in OSS for the the ride to the top. I personally couldn't care if 1% of the population used OSS or 99%. As long as I have the freedom to use the software that I want when I want to, then things are fine with me. And _that_ is one of my peeves against the Microsoft Corp.: by the very nature of their marketing/functioning the people who use their software tend to be drones in that they know not how to function with anyone else doesn't have the dam 4 colored Windows logo all over them.

I like Linux and the majority of OSS tools that I use because I prefer them to their Window's based counterparts, with a few exceptions. I have found that explaining to someone that Linux is "better" than Windows is like explaining gold is better than silver - they have a jewelry box full of a silver and their minds just aren't willing to absorb new information on that topic - and why, they think they are happy with what they have. All that will happen is that eventually, I will not know enough of Windows to troubleshoot their machines anymore

See Linux is moving up !!! (1)

3seas (184403) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075414)

remember when linux was said to be just a hobbist os that would amount to nothing?

Is it just FUD vs. Strategic Clients? (1)

DingerX (847589) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075419)

TFA suggests that FUD is a strong weapon against "Forward-looking" clients, and uses SCO as an example of that. The counter position is that Linux (and OSS in general) needs "strategic partners" -- large organizations (governments and corporations) who adopt for security or competitive reasons.

From my perspective, the biggest threat to OSS adoption right now isn't precisely FUD, but the increasing conflict between how people use ideas and how governments regulate them. TFA points out that OSS is attractive because OSS developers like to collaborate and to share ideas; in fact, free exchange of information is a basic human trait. Even the costs incurred in the discipline and training needed to evaluate such information (=education) makes people uneasy. Intellectual Property as a concept came pretty late.
But that's where the threat is: apply/change the law to legislate F/OSS out of existence.

The rest of the article is pretty straightforward: large institutions, such as governments, have it in their interest to use F/OSS, since non-proprietary, open code is cheaper to maintain (vendor lock-in does not occur). But governments do not have perfect access to the information: by its market position, Microsoft (and, mutatis mutandis, big ISPs in their anti-net Neutrality bids, and so on) has a privileged voice in legislation.

And that is where FUD is useful: not to discourage "forward-looking" clients, as to use legislation to change the playing field to their advantage. With the right targets, F/OSS jsut disappears.

No mention of vendor lock and switching costs (5, Insightful)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075434)

Looks like these two researchers are still using lessons learnt in the marketplace for actual physical objects and applying it to non-physical, intellectual products. The entire article introduces a term demand-side learning . But does not mention the words "vendor lock" or "switching costs".

If you are selling garden hoses, the cost of switching to a competing brand is just the replacement cost of a garden hose. If a company is switching software from one vendor to another, the switching cost is considerably more than just plain cost of new software. Like changing the garden hose requiring you change all the plumbing fitting and pressure valves in your home! The first mover advantage is directly proportional to the switching cost. Where are Lycos and Hotbot now? All vendors know that and they strive hard to increase the switching costs, from AutoCAD, Ansys, Fluent, Cadence, to Oracle, MSFT every dominant vendor in the market tries as hard as possible to make it inpossible to switch.

The reason why garden hoses, light bulbs and tires have low switching cost is because of standardization. Standards defined by independant third parties, not by the manufacturers themselves. People, consumers and corporations are beginning to understand the issue, as seen the recent moves by Massassuchetts to mandate ODF as the archival format for its documents. It is inevitable that people will see the advantages of interoperability and standardization. The first mover advantage will diminish as consumers level the playing field by demanding interoperability and standardization. At that time the "second mover" into these fields will be OSS with value added services.

Re:No mention of vendor lock and switching costs (1)

Sumadartson (965043) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075543)

Amen. And that is why the file formats and networking protocols Microsoft produces are closed format. It's not "to keep a competitive advantage", it's to further entrench their monolopy. Neelie Kroes is right.

Where it all boils down to (4, Insightful)

LinuxDon (925232) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075437)

You can make the entire discussion as complex as you want, but there is only one reason why Linux doesn't succeed on the desktop market: Most commercial application are written for Windows, among them are a lot of specialist applications like ERP systems and to name another example "analysis software which interoperates with an advanced metal detector to detect explosives in the ground". With these kind of applications you can't just switch to an alternative, because there are just too few that match your needs and often NONE of them support Linux. The only way for Linux to succeed in these kind of settings is to make Wine work flawlessly. While Linux suits my home needs and server needs -very well-, it's useless on the desktop at the company I work for.

Re:Where it all boils down to (1)

naelurec (552384) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075525)

The only way for Linux to succeed in these kind of settings is to make Wine work flawlessly.
Not necessarily. There *IS* the possibility of a thin client configuration (most office workers do not need a fat client at their desk) and run terminal services for legacy Windows apps. Granted this depends on the needs of the user/organization but this does provide Windows compatibility to the desktop without abandoning support (your running our Windows app in Wine?!? no support for you!!). In many situations, this type of setup makes a LOT of sense -- much lower TCO, centralized backups/redundancy, centralized support, portable office workers (hop on any thin client and get access to everything .. infact, your desktop including all running apps can follow you from one thin client to the next...).

cheese, swiss, vulture, darl (tagging beta) (1)

theskipper (461997) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075439)

FTFA: "Consider SCO, a small Swiss-based 'vulture' firm"

Now we know why the lawsuit has so many holes in it.

Re:cheese, swiss, vulture, darl (tagging beta) (1)

Mr Z (6791) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075545)

I read that "Swiss-based" part and said to myself "WTF?" I thought they were a Utah-based company. The original SCO (Santa Cruz Operation) was obviously not Swiss. I don't see Switzerland mentioned anywhere on the Wikipedia page either. [wikipedia.org] I do se Santa Cruz, CA and Linden, UT mentioned though.

Pff, Harvard? (3, Funny)

kbox (980541) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075450)

I'll wait to see what Yale thinks, Thank you very much...

Defeat? (1)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075456)

``Want to get a heated debate going among technologists? Ask them this question: Can the open source software movement defeat (or severely cripple) Microsoft in the marketplace?''

I had hoped, probably somewhat naively, that the smart fellas at Harvard would be above thinking that it's all about petty avarice towards Microsoft. I, at least, don't feel I'm on any sort of quest to defeat Microsoft. I just want to use my computer, and make it do what I want, and make it do what it does the way I want it. Open-source systems suit me better than closed-source ones. But I don't care much how many people use Windows and how many people use Windows, although I find it sad when people make what I see as wrong choices because they don't have the right information or because they refuse to consider it. However, that has nothing to do with Microsoft, and everything to do with caring about truth and fairness.

Article isn't about "best" (1)

Thrip (994947) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075458)

The poster's summary is extremely misleading. The article is not about which OS is best, it's about whether OSS can grab most of Microsoft's marketshare. If you're basing decisions about "best" software on marketshare, then congratulations, you will doubtless be regularly promoted up the toady pole until your company goes out of business. Soon.

Arguement makes some sense for *desktops* (1)

walterbyrd (182728) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075460)

But, I'm not sure the article makes sense for servers. In fact, with servers it could be argured that *NIX systems had the headstart.

Actually, the "first mover advantage" arguement has another flaw: msft is usually (always?) not the first mover. Apple had a popular PC before the IBM PC. Apple had a great GUI system a decade before msft had anything to compare. Netscape had the first widely used browser. Novell had the first widely used LAN software for PCs. Msft office products were the first, or the best, or the most popular, for a long time.

Still msft's monopoly on the desktop makes it virtually impossible for Linux to ever catch-up:

- Since windows has 95% of the desktop market: HW/SW makers will make for Windows first. If the make stuff for Mac or Linux, at all, it will be a distant afterthought.

- Msft, with tens of billions of dollars in the bank, has enormous influence with hw/sw makers and politicians. Msft freely, and massively abuses the legal, political, and business systems; both in the USA and internationally.

- IMO: the most important thing for an OS to do - by far - is to run your applications, and work with your hardware. If an OS doesn't do that, it doesn't matter how fast it boots up, or how virus resistant it is, or anything like that. First and foremost: the OS must run what you need to run. Few people run an OS just to run the OS.

- Popular F/OSS apps are always ported to windows. Which means that in terms of apps, windows users are insured the best of the both worlds.

2nd best? (1)

owlman17 (871857) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075463)

I'm not having any illusions of Linux being the #1 OS in two, three, maybe even five years but its inevitable that someday it will be. Second-best is good enough. Extrapolate that mathematical model by a few more years and will be the best. While hundreds of millions of PCs ship each year, not counting the DIY PCs (that don't have Windows installed), this time people have a choice. The Linux revolution won't necessarily begin in the US. There are lots of 2nd, 3rd world countries where $99 a pop isn't a joke.

Games are the only reason I (and lots others I suspect) haven't totally switched to Linux. This was exactly the same reason a lot of people in the early to mid 90s didn't entirely switch to Windows from DOS yet, till it became a viable gaming platform.

Biased study (1)

tvvitter (1000880) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075468)

This study is useless. Didn't Bill Gates go to Harvard? Did M$ reward his alma meter with a little grant in exchange for a decent review? Everyone knows that non-free software is a sinking ship. Free software long ago surpassed non-free, which is something everyone except M$ is waking up to. People are realising that M$ is stagnating and that Vista will suck, and that GNU is the way to go.

Linux needs four things... (1)

petrus4 (213815) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075474)

...to conquer the desktop, IMHO.

1) Games. With Cedega and the Wine project, this hurdle has actually gone close to being cleared. Granted, our own native answer to DirectX would help, but the fact that Wine runs WoW in particular without too much screwing around is a huge plus.

2) Package management that is truly good, and not just "good enough." Contrary to popular belief, this problem still has not been solved. I've written about this in a few other posts.

3) We need something that will poll /dev and update it automagically, a la Windows, since Joe Sixpack cannot be expected to know how to manually send SIGHUP to udev after they've plugged in new hardware. Driver support for individual devices is an ongoing issue, as well.

4) People need to stop caring about the patent issue re mp3 and other file codecs. They might be patented, but it's the proverbial unenforceable, pie crust law. I've never heard of anybody being sued for using mp3, gif, or other codecs anywhere else. Just use them. ;)

Re:Linux needs four things... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16075523)

A woman needs 4 things to becoma a man:
1) Balls
2) Penis
3) No boobs
4) Right attitude
Tell me when that happens... (I mean, not women becoming men, but linux on top of desktops.)

SCo3k (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16075476)

be a lOt 5lower

Where? (1)

Klaidas (981300) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075479)

Linux is likely to remain second best
Second best where? Desktops? I don't think so... More like third best (Ms, Apple, Linux).
Servers? Maybe. Or maybe it is the Number one best there?
Anyway, why is is called [some-number] best? Isn't "best" representing number one, and number two is no "best" at all? :/

Unjustified bashing of authors? (1)

leeum (156395) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075492)

I'm seeing quite a few commentors essentially bashing the authors of the study for "not knowing what they are talking about".

While many Slashdot users are critical of Microsoft and management type academics/practitioners in general, you should note that Pankaj Ghemawat (one of the authors of the article) is a very well-respected researcher in the field of strategy and competition. Some of his books are widely used in business schools around the world to teach the field of strategic management, indicating (to me, at least) that he might not be as incompetent as some would like to believe.

That being said, I think we should reserve judgement on the quality of the research until we have actually read the published and peer-reviewed article as such. The key sentence in the article on the Harvard Business School website is: "The model captures what we believe are the most important features of the Linux-Windows competitive battle (faster demand-side learning on the part of Linux and an initial installed base advantage for Windows), but makes important assumptions regarding other aspects."

Until we know what these "important assumptions" are, it's quite premature to say whether this study adds any value to the discussion or not.

So that would be..... (1)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075493)

1. OS X
2. Linux
3. Microsoft

I could live with that!

Troll. (1)

Chaffar (670874) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075494)

1- The words "OSS" and "Linux" are not interchangeable, they do not mean the same thing.
2- OSS Vs. Microsoft is not limited to Linux Vs. Windows (think Open Office Vs. MS Word / FF Vs. IE)
3- there is no Dynamic Mixed Duopoly: A Model Motivated by Linux vs. Windows, Linux is a generic word describing various distro's, and fails to account for other OSes such as *BSD's, and Macs. Furthermore, Claiming that there is a duopoly is wrong since Windows owns 90-something percent of the marketshare. And the rest is equally split up between the other distros.
4- The OSS community doesn't really care about remaining second best, all we need now is for hardware manufacturers to take our case seriously and to provide "open" drivers for the stuff they make.

Market leaders are usually unhorsed ... eventually (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16075496)

There is a long history of market owning companies being knocked out by disruptive technology. Large powerful companies usually can't profit from such technologies. That allows those technologies to develop until they are a real threat to the market leader. By that time it's usually too late. Such technologies thrive with consumers who are over or under served by the market leader. An example would be governments in the third world. They really can't afford to continue to enrich Microsoft. FOSS is good enough for them. As long as such a market exists FOSS will continue to develop until it is as good as, or better than, Microsoft's products. Other than giving away their products for free, there's not much Microsoft can do about it.

Microsoft's strategy so far has been to buy up competing companies and their technologies. They can't do that with FOSS. Anyway, first mover advantage doesn't last forever.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disruptive_technology [wikipedia.org]

Stealing Windows (5, Informative)

twfry (266215) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075502)

Interesting paragraph from TFA

In addition to this main result, we were also surprised to find that piracy may end up increasing Microsoft's profits. To understand why, notice that there are two types of pirates: those who would not have bought Windows in the first place because it is too expensive, and those who would have bought Windows but now decide to pirate it. The first category increases Windows' installed base without affecting sales. As a consequence, this group increases the value of Windows. And thanks to these pirates, Microsoft is able to set higher prices in the future (because the value of the system goes up). In addition, having these pirates means that Linux's installed base does not grow as much as it would have if piracy weren't there. The second type of pirates (those who in the absence of piracy would have bought Windows) reduces Windows' sales and profit. Thus, if the proportion of first-type pirates is sufficiently large, Microsoft's profits will increase with piracy.

For shame! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16075512)

Economics just isn't something I'm knowledgable about and I'd probably make a complete ass of myself if I wrote a paper on it. Regardless, I'm going to start a site offering 'working knowledge for business leaders'. Making an ass of oneself and being totally clueless on a subject you're advising people about isn't something one should be ashamed of. Thanks Harvard, pioneering work like this gives hope to uneducated amateurs all over the world.

miNus 1, Troll) (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16075521)

I think a simple economic model gives answers (4, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075524)

If you measure things on a complexity of say 0-100, then there's only a limited range of that which is profitable. That is, there's no money in making notepad clones and there's no money in extremely complicated features noone is able to use. However while there is OSS software that's trying to make money, a lot of it does not. Even in the darkest post-OS/2 days when Windows was completely dominating Linux evolved in a market that was essentially dead. That kind of development can't be stopped.

That is why I think OSS software will slowly consume normal COTS software, because they will keep going after the commercial companies say "Well, we've now added every feature with a tolerable ROI". I'm not quite sure about the timescale, but I think the OSS software base is only in its infancy. Imagine 10, 25 or 50 years down the road, how many software packages have matured to a point where they're everything a user expects from a word processor/graphics editor/media player etc., feature-complete and bugfree.

Microsoft is not a first mover (1)

popo (107611) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075526)

Whether or not you believe 'first mover advantage' is a factor in the 'innovation' business (which IMHO is absurd, especially when file formats can be emulated and network protocols are open by necessity), its inaccurate to call Microsoft a "first mover". Historically Microsoft has been the "vastly more powerful second or third mover". Microsoft is 'living proof' that first-movers don't have the advantage, particularly when subsequent players have more money and leverage.

Didn't they say the same thing about IBM? (1)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075529)

About 30 years ago, weren't they saying the same thing about IBM and the mainframe? Granted, it was hardware, but still, it seems that all it took for IBM and it's lock on the computing world to be unseated was a misjudging of the market. What's to keep Microsoft from doing the same? They've sunk a lot of resources into their vision of computing but what if the market decides they don't like it or worse yet (for Microsoft), what if there are major problems with Vista or the next version of Office or their security suite, etc.

The view of the article also seems to be pretty US centric, or at least western centric. What about the upcoming third world markets? China has a lot of potential sway in the outcome of what is adopted technology wise. Same with South America, Africa, India, and other non-European/US countries.

Will these countries as they develop their own IT industry rely on being tied to the US and Microsoft or will they look elsewhere? The answer to that question may ultimately decide what the status of OSS is in the future.

Big Mac (1)

DarkClown (7673) | more than 8 years ago | (#16075530)

Since McDonalds sells more burgers than anyone else they are obviously the best burgers - best tasting and best for you!

Or course (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16075532)

I don't think that Linux is second in every area but I do think it is next to impossible for Linux to take over the areas where Microsoft now is king.
Microsoft are of course doing what they can to protect their business by making it easy to switch to their product, hard to leave and impossible for others to make competing products.
It is a good strategy for them to have their own closed standards, that they can protect from reverse engineering, using IP/DMCA/patent laws and what ever.

In a world where everyone uses a product from one vendor who has their own protected standards that prevents others from making a better product and be compatible with the rest of the world.
How can anyone catch up with that?

Wait... Linux second best? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16075533)

Are you implying Windows is best in something? Now what might that be? Best malware platform?
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