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Linux's Role In Microsoft's Decline

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 4 years ago | from the karma-catching-up dept.

Microsoft 532

nerdyH writes "As early as last quarter, Microsoft admitted that Linux and netbooks were eating into its fat profits. Recently, it came home, with the software giant announcing its first-ever layoffs. LinuxDevices interviewed Linux Foundation Director Jim Zemlin on Linux's role in Microsoft's misfortunes. Zemlin sums it up pretty well: 'Companies can offer their own branded software platform based on Linux. If Microsoft is getting 75 percent margins, you would like some of that high-margin business, too.'"

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532 comments

Oh, Dear (4, Insightful)

hardburn (141468) | more than 4 years ago | (#26580555)

As early as last quarter, Microsoft admitted that Linux and netbooks were eating into its fat profits. Recently, it came home, with the software giant announcing its first-ever layoffs.

Yeah, it couldn't be because there is a massive economic crisis going on. It's all Linux.

Re:Oh, Dear (5, Funny)

Wandering Wombat (531833) | more than 4 years ago | (#26580575)

Shut up! You don't know what you're talking about. Obama's made of kittens and sparkles, held together with HOPE... and more sparkles! If anything bad happened this week, it's Linux's fault!

Re:Oh, Dear (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#26580723)

Obama is made of fried chicken grease and pig shit, just like any other black burr-head spook barbarian. Our nation could be so much better off if we just got rid of these mongrel animals, just send the apes back to the trees where they belong. But I don't see that happening any time soon, now that our president is a chimp in a business suit. Oh well, c'est la vie.

Yours in Christ,
Hal Turner

Re:Oh, Dear (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#26580787)

Thrash, dinosaur, thrash!

Re:Oh, Dear (4, Interesting)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 4 years ago | (#26581293)

now that our president is a chimp in a business suit.

I wasn't even in a trollbiting mood, but this just made me laugh.

Eight years of misunderestimating the nukeyoular policies of a man who even looks simian, and you think this president is the chimp?

Re:Oh, Dear (1, Interesting)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 4 years ago | (#26581187)

Obama's made of kittens and sparkles, held together with HOPE... and more sparkles!

I'll tell you one thing though. Whatever it is, he's certainly made of different stuff to every other politician in power at the present time.

Re:Oh, Dear (2, Interesting)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 4 years ago | (#26580631)

There have been a couple of economic crises in Microsoft's history, but no one was let go. Admittedly, this one may be worse, but it is not unprecedented.

Re:Oh, Dear (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#26580797)

Actually it is unprecedented. This is the worst economic crisis that has occurred during Microsoft's history which is why they are forced to lay people off for the first time.

Re:Oh, Dear (5, Informative)

je ne sais quoi (987177) | more than 4 years ago | (#26580813)

Also, if you look at the trend in Microsoft Windows "market share" estimated by people like Net Applications [hitslink.com] , you can see that the decline of Windows started long before the housing bubble deflated. They were still being rated at 96% of the market in 2004 and 2005 and have been in what looks like continuous decline ever since. Granted, it's not much of a decline yet, only 7% or so according to Net Applications, but it does serve as evidence that Microsoft's troubles did not start with the economic crisis, the economic crisis may have compounded their existing troubles though.

Re:Oh, Dear (4, Interesting)

es330td (964170) | more than 4 years ago | (#26581441)

I think that what has probably happened is that MS knows their share has been declining but hasn't had to lay anybody off because the decline simply allowed them to not replace people who left through natural attrition. The economic slowdown made people more likely to hang on the security of their job and forced them to let go the people who would normally have left on their own.

Re:Oh, Dear (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#26580775)

Completely agree. I don't think the 1% user share that Linux has is cutting into Microsoft that much - plus, MS's Win2k8 is apparently doing well, and I've heard a lot of people say they actually like it.

Not to mention this choice quote:

'Companies can offer their own branded software platform based on Linux.

I know very few companies that have "their own branded software platform based on Linux." That sounds like they're talking about releasing a custom Linux OS branded with their company? Is that really that prevalent? It's a lot easier (and you don't have to hire super specific people) to install Windows. Or a generic Linux distro. Or whatever.

Re:Oh, Dear (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#26580879)

I suspect, both from the statement, and from the fact that this is a Linux Devices interview, that the "own branded software platform[s]" in question are more likely to be replacing WinCE or WinNT/XP Embedded(which does, indeed, seem to be happening a fair amount). To a lesser extent(though still a notable one) netbooks have been doing some of the same.

Re:Oh, Dear (1)

hardburn (141468) | more than 4 years ago | (#26580913)

I think they're talking about a modified OS to fit a very specific purpose, e.g. TVs. The Sony Bravia [wikipedia.org] runs Linux, for instance.

Re:Oh, Dear (1)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 4 years ago | (#26581063)

Completely agree. I don't think the 1% user share that Linux has is cutting into Microsoft that much - plus, MS's Win2k8 is apparently doing well, and I've heard a lot of people say they actually like it.

Did we just jump from quoting desktop statistics to talking servers?

Re:Oh, Dear (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#26581227)

Yes, because we're talking about "Linux" vs. "Windows" causing Microsoft to die. But Linux, by far most popular in the server world, is not killing Microsoft just yet in that area.

Re:Oh, Dear (4, Insightful)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 4 years ago | (#26581105)

It's not just the more enterprise market share that Linux can get. It's also the threat of more market share as a negotiation tactic. Before companies didn't have much choice. Windows or higher priced Unix servers. Now they can negotiate with MS. MS lowers their pricing or they threaten to migrate to Linux.

Also the Linux threat in the interview is not just in the Enterprise Server market. Embedded devices and netbooks are going with Linux due to its ability to run lean. Vista is not currently lean enough for these applications. XP is lean enough though but not as customizable as Linux.

Redhat and Novell/SuSe offer their Linux solutions. IBM and HP will support these distros and others. That's 4 major players right there. Also this doesn't just apply to companies. China has their own brand and Russia is exploring one as well.

Re:Oh, Dear (1)

CaptCovert (868609) | more than 4 years ago | (#26581199)

Also the Linux threat in the interview is not just in the Enterprise Server market. Embedded devices and netbooks are going with Linux due to its ability to run lean. Vista is not currently lean enough for these applications. XP is lean enough though but not as customizable as Linux.

Que the intro to Win 7. At least 'lean' is becoming a MS option again, by all accounts.

Re:Oh, Dear (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 4 years ago | (#26581419)

I know very few companies that have "their own branded software platform based on Linux."

Pretty much every Linux netbook is branded, somehow -- the EEE PC in particular.

Of course, that's not saying much -- Windows ends up almost as "branded", for better or worse, usually worse. I'm going to go with the theory that this is probably happening much more with embedded devices -- if you have to develop pretty much the entire UI and application, Windows CE would have to really provide some kick-ass development tools for you to be willing to license it instead of starting with Linux, BSD, etc. And there's a reason Windows CE is often abbreviated as WinCE.

Re:Oh, Dear (3, Insightful)

thtrgremlin (1158085) | more than 4 years ago | (#26581507)

When an OEM negotiates a price agreement with Microsoft, they now have a viable alternative. It changes the negotiating relationship.

1% isn't that much, but Microsoft MUST make deals with EVERY major OEM to keep their position, and before Microsoft had the leverage to ensure that every OEM MUST have Windows. The game has changed, and even though every OEM is still going to sell Windows, having Linux on the table to wave in their face makes Microsoft sweat a little. Especially with netbooks because an OEM CAN walk away if they don't get whatever price they feel like asking. Apple sells its own products, so what did Microsoft have to compete against? Nothing! While it isn't much, Linux offers not just competitive options for users, but OEMs. The fat Microsoft had before was the monopoly. Remember that market share is only a warning sign of monopolistic practices; remember Cisco Systems and their investigation? Cisco successfully argued that their market share is directly related to innovation and a superior product, nothing else. Microsoft on the other hand HAS been playing dirty. Microsoft is now being forced to play in the real world where a Microsoft computer tax will no longer be status quo.

I think they mean company branded Linux in the same way HP, Dell, and the old Compaq and others brand Windows and the machine bios. I'll agree this isn't any kind of advantage, but only because this was always reasonably easy to do with Windows.

Re:Oh, Dear (4, Insightful)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 4 years ago | (#26580839)

Windows sales (or at least revenue) shrank by 8% (CNN blames Vista sales in particular [cnn.com] ). Since PC/Server sales in the industry overall didn't drop (let alone by that much), and netbooks only count for 5% of the whole market (with Windows + Linux netbooks combined in that figure), it stands to reason that there are other factors besides economic malaise that contributed to the losses.

Re:Oh, Dear (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#26581005)

..Or most people being perfectly content with XP

Not Vista either. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#26580845)

Oh no, it's definitely not Vista. It's Linux's fault.

Re:Oh, Dear (2, Interesting)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 4 years ago | (#26580877)

That was my first thought also. If it's all Linux, why did IBM announce massive layoffs in the same time frame?

Compare margins and cash on hand (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#26581237)

Didn't you say in the past that MS could give away Windows for free for 7 years before they started running out of money?

Could IBM manage that?

If so, why didn't you say it then?

If not, there's your difference.

Re:Oh, Dear (1, Troll)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 4 years ago | (#26580929)

Obama is president now, there is no crisis.

Also Linux is ran by hippies, who most likely caused the economic crisis in the first place. Pretty sure Linux hippies caused the dot-com crash too.

Re:Oh, Dear (2, Insightful)

Jamie's Nightmare (1410247) | more than 4 years ago | (#26581081)

It's even worse than that. Intel is going to shut four plants and lay off 6,000 workers. [computerworld.com]

I'm no business analyst, but obviously Linux (the netbook market in particular) is severely cutting into the profits of computer giants like Microsoft, Apple, Intel, and IBM. If you needed a sign for the year of Linux, this is it!

Re:Oh, Dear (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#26581401)

Apple just reported their best quarter ever.

Re:Oh, Dear (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#26581245)

We are on Slashdot, where everything is Linux :)

Re:Oh, Dear (1)

mweather (1089505) | more than 4 years ago | (#26581381)

Yeah, it couldn't be because there is a massive economic crisis going on. It's all Linux.

The didn't lay anyone off after Black Monday, did they?

Would be Nice for Independant View (5, Insightful)

geoffrobinson (109879) | more than 4 years ago | (#26580573)

Of course the Linux guy will say Linux. And the Apple guy Apple. So on and so forth. And there is probably a mixture of truth to all that.

But it would be interesting to get that internal memo.

Re:Would be Nice for Independant View (1)

Jurily (900488) | more than 4 years ago | (#26580653)

Of course the Linux guy will say Linux. And the Apple guy Apple. So on and so forth. And there is probably a mixture of truth to all that.

Oh, and that little global economic crisis may have something there, too...

Re:Would be Nice for Independant View (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#26580811)

>> Of course the Linux guy will say Linux. And the Apple guy Apple. So on and so forth. And there is probably a mixture of truth to all that.
>
> Oh, and that little global economic crisis may have something there, too...

Yeah, because no one is going to be more interested in a ZERO COST product during a global economic crisis.

Of course: as others have said, this isn't the first recession that Microsoft has seen.

Re:Would be Nice for Independant View (1)

Jurily (900488) | more than 4 years ago | (#26580915)

a ZERO COST product

Technically, copying Vista costs the same as copying Ubuntu. Development is already paid for.

Re:Would be Nice for Independant View (2, Interesting)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#26581037)

>> a ZERO COST product
>
> Technically, copying Vista costs the same as copying Ubuntu. Development is already paid for.

What you are describing is a FELONY.

You personally don't get to make extra copies of Windows and sell them.

Although you bring up a good point. As Linux has been rising up as a reasonable
alternative, Microsoft at the same time has been making it more difficult for
casual pirates to copy their OS. This is a real corporate brain fart.

Re:Would be Nice for Independant View (1)

Jurily (900488) | more than 4 years ago | (#26581233)

You personally don't get to make extra copies of Windows and sell them.

Not me. Although here in Hungary, I can legally download anything for strictly personal use.

My point is, manufacturing costs are the same, regardless of the actual software.

Re:Would be Nice for Independant View (1)

CelticWhisper (601755) | more than 4 years ago | (#26581417)

What? Surely that can't be right. Copyright infringement for personal use is a tort at worst. It's the people who massively copy and distribute, or who copy and sell, who get brought up on federal charges when and if they get caught.

Re:Would be Nice for Independant View (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 4 years ago | (#26581467)

Except that if you're going to avoid lawsuits and possibly criminal prosecution, you're going to be obtaining them through legitimate channels.

And a legitimate copy of Ubuntu costs far less than a legitimate copy of Vista, even without factoring in the other crap you'll have to buy with Vista (antivirus, Office, etc).

Re:Would be Nice for Independant View (1)

mark72005 (1233572) | more than 4 years ago | (#26580663)

He points out many catalysts, but mainly that companies like HP and IBM and Google are innovating, creating high margin platforms from which people can make more money, whereas Microsoft is only being reactionary and relying on lock-in.

Re:Would be Nice for Independant View (1)

mark72005 (1233572) | more than 4 years ago | (#26580695)

I also thought the point that Office makes more than the operating system does was a great point. How can Microsoft react to things like OpenOffice? They don't have any ideas right now, that I can tell.

Re:Would be Nice for Independant View (2, Interesting)

aurispector (530273) | more than 4 years ago | (#26580799)

The article cited the ODF fiasco, which indicates their degree of dependence on the Office revenue stream. The mere existence of Open Office, Google Docs and the like gives people a valid alternative - and wakes them up the fact that they have a choice as to whether they want to be held hostage to proprietary data formats.

MS doesn't innovate, they copy, then leverage their market share...and the market responded.

Re:Would be Nice for Independant View (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#26581509)

"MS doesn't innovate, they copy..."

I always thought of it more as Microsoft purchases it, integrates it, markets it and then calls that "inovation"!

Re:Would be Nice for Independant View (1)

mad_clown (207335) | more than 4 years ago | (#26581459)

Office makes more than the operating system

It makes one wonder why Microsoft hasn't more fully embraced Office as a marketing vector in the same way that Apple has used the iPod to push sales of its hardware/OS.

What that marketing would look like... I don't really know. It seems clear, though, that Microsoft's business model might have to start adapting from a Windows-centric model to one that's focused on their more popular product(s) like Office.

Re:Would be Nice for Independant View (0)

Finallyjoined!!! (1158431) | more than 4 years ago | (#26580667)

OK, here's an independent view:

They deserve what they get. Full stop.

As my old grandma used to say: "You can only reap what you have sown". This is of course, rubbish; I just nip over the fence & reap what other people have sown :-)

I dunno (5, Interesting)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 4 years ago | (#26580589)

I think most of their lost profits are from people negotiating lower prices because of the Linux alternative, not so much that people are actually choosing Linux.

Re:I dunno (1)

Smidge207 (1278042) | more than 4 years ago | (#26580655)

Do you need the literal version? Here, let me draw a picture.

I need lateral vision; can you draw me a picture in profile?

=Smidge=

Re:I dunno (4, Insightful)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 4 years ago | (#26580679)

I think most of their lost profits are from people negotiating lower prices because of the Linux alternative, not so much that people are actually choosing Linux.

From TFA... Actually the first question in TFA.

Q1 -- Jim, thank you for your support in talking with LinuxDevices today. Do you think it was really Linux that hurt Microsoft? Or was it the emergence of netbooks? XP seems to ship on most, but Microsoft isn't making much money selling XP for low-cost PCs [story], are they?

A1 -- When an OEM negotiates a price agreement with Microsoft, they now have a viable alternative. It changes the negotiating relationship. It's a combination of Linux, missteps by Microsoft, and not enabling Vista for a low-power, long battery-life device.

I wonder if you can be modded insightfull for "insights" from the article? No one reads them anyway...

Re:I dunno (2, Insightful)

sigismond0 (1455695) | more than 4 years ago | (#26580689)

Agreed. I wholly plan on getting an HP Mini 1000 at some point. I'm getting the Linux version because it's cheaper, and then putting Vista/Win7 on it. Fuck paying for the OS.

Re:I dunno (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#26581177)

Just use linux. That way you won't be a criminal and that machine will do all that it's capable of.

Re:I dunno (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#26580803)

That certainly seems to be the case in netbooks. Once MS got going there, the proportion of netbooks running linux dropped fairly sharply. On the other hand, MS had to commit to keeping XP's corpse stumbling along a while longer, and for only peanuts a unit. That must have sucked.

Ironically, Linux probably does more to strangle MS's non-OS products than it does its OS products. Historically, MS's non windows/office divisions have had a great deal of strategic freedom, because MS could afford to keep burning money until the product finally found its feet(See Xbox, MSN, MS Research). If the windows/office margins suffer, the other departments become a liability, they'll have to succeed fast, or get axed.

Linux netbooks selling out quickly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#26581309)

And there being only Windows netbooks left had absolutely nothing to do with it at all, then?

If ASUS put Linux on 1/3 of their systems (approximately true) and don't reorder until they're running low, then more than 60% of the machines sold will have Windows on them because there won't be any alternative unless you got there the day of the new shipment.

And if everyone turned up that day, they'd still only be able to buy all the Linux machines and then have no choice again.

Missing factors (1, Redundant)

edivad (1186799) | more than 4 years ago | (#26580599)

Put in Apple and the economic downturn, among the causes. Linux? You kidding? Have you seen the desktop market share of it? And this comes from an heavy Linux user and enthusiast.

Re:Missing factors (4, Interesting)

JCSoRocks (1142053) | more than 4 years ago | (#26580747)

Not to mention the fact that if companies *did* start selling machines with their own flavors of Linux I'm sure they'd quickly spiral into garbage. Think of the crapware on budget PCs. Now imagine an entire OS bastardized, branded and sold to the highest bidder. I could see custom manufacturer Linux distros quickly becoming a total nightmare.

Re:Missing factors (4, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#26580911)

Linux doesn't need any marketshare in order to do damage to Microsoft.

Just the fact that it's out there as a bogeyman is enough.

The ressurection of XP on netbooks is a good enough demonstration of this effect.

Re:Missing factors (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 4 years ago | (#26580941)

I suspect it's mindshare, not marketshare, that's doing the damage. If any.

Re:Missing factors (1)

Cajun Hell (725246) | more than 4 years ago | (#26581469)

Linux? You kidding? Have you seen the desktop market share of it?

You don't need to see the desktop share; you just need to see the desktop. That's when you say, "Hey, this'll work great," and then Microsoft says, "Ok, I'll sell you Windows for 50 cents per unit and under the table we'll send a hooker to the PO signer's house," and suddenly they're not looking so profitable.

Linux renaissance by Laid-off MS employees (4, Interesting)

screenbert (253482) | more than 4 years ago | (#26580611)

Making $4 Billion in one quarter isn't much a decline. Looks like layoffs were induced by greed, so that executives stocks options go up. It would be interesting to see if some of those 4000-5000 employees use linux as a platform for a technology startup.

On the bright side if I were laid-off I'd have plenty of time to juggle [youtube.com] .

Re:Linux renaissance by Laid-off MS employees (2, Informative)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 4 years ago | (#26580771)

IIRC, wasn't $2.1bn of that income from the recent (as in, early this week) sale of Comcast stock that MSFT held?

/P

Re:Linux renaissance by Laid-off MS employees (4, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 4 years ago | (#26581023)

THANK YOU....

Most large corporate layoffs are for greed reasons only. to make the books look a little better for next quarter. It's trendy right now and you wont be questioned if you do.. Look GM is dying! we can too!!!

There is a crapload of shady things going on right now in the business world. Look at every bit of it with a heavy dose of skepticism and never ever trust a company as far as you can physically throw it.

Re:Linux renaissance by Laid-off MS employees (2, Insightful)

The End Of Days (1243248) | more than 4 years ago | (#26581277)

I guess the right thing to do is keep the dead-weight workers on, pay them good money for no reason, and keep the hippies happy, right?

Re:Linux renaissance by Laid-off MS employees (2, Insightful)

east coast (590680) | more than 4 years ago | (#26581091)

Sure, companies should keep on dead wood through a decline so that they don't just ride the edge but they go over and EVERYONE loses their jobs.

I know that it's a popular option around here for the future of MS but try to understand that keeping the same staff to produce less product isn't a very good business model. A company should not be forced into the red before they do what's best. AFAIC Microsoft has an obligation to shareholders to keep things running in a possitive direction.

Funny how when a company does this it's nothing but greed but as their going out of business so many around here cry out that they didn't do enough to adopt to changing market coniditions. Pretty ironic, eh?

Re:Linux renaissance by Laid-off MS employees (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#26581179)

Companies should get rid of their dead wood when they become dead-wood. That's what performance reviews are supposed to be for, identify the dead wood and get rid of them then, not through mass layoffs where the good goes out with the bad.

Re:Linux renaissance by Laid-off MS employees (1)

pete-classic (75983) | more than 4 years ago | (#26581123)

Okay, you keep linking that video. I have to ask. Why, oh why, do you wiggle your ass like that when you juggle?

-Peter

Re:Linux renaissance by Laid-off MS employees (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#26581321)

Did you not listen to the music? It's better than dancing [youtube.com]

Economy (0, Flamebait)

qoncept (599709) | more than 4 years ago | (#26580613)

This is the dumbest fucking thing I've ever read. It just goes to show how idiots can come up with stupid ideas and believe they came to a rational conclusion.

Re:Economy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#26581149)

Yeah, someone claiming that it is JUST the economy is pretty fucking dumb. They already had to go through other weak economies and never had to lay off employees so it's obviously something else.

Err, or were you trying to say that it was just the economy? If so, sorry bro, you're missing all the other facts around that. Linux may not be the only reason they are declining but they surely ain't helping them either.

trimming fat ? (1)

cheap.computer (1036494) | more than 4 years ago | (#26580705)

CNN claims that these companies are on the heavy side as far as employees are concerned. The lay offs numbers are global, not just in the US.

Vista? (1)

Jurily (900488) | more than 4 years ago | (#26580719)

FTFA:

It's a combination of Linux, missteps by Microsoft, and not enabling Vista for a low-power, long battery-life device.

Translation: it's the most bloated OS, ever.

Let's see, how they handle 7.

I don't buy it (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#26580785)

Netbooks are NOT that big a market yet. It just became a market in late 2008. Too recent for any conclusive statements to be made.

But even if that were the case, it is well within Microsoft's power to keep WindowsXP alive and supported for use on Netbook devices. I have seen some custom loads that run extremely well on the ASUS 900. They can do what they want -- it's their retiring OS.

What about MS's role in it's own decline (5, Insightful)

jhfry (829244) | more than 4 years ago | (#26580795)

Microsoft isn't losing because of Linux, it's losing because of Microsoft.

Essentially, if MS dominated the industry by creating the BEST product, then they wouldn't have a problem. Their problem is simply that their target customer isn't willing to be abused any longer. That and the of years of abuse have pushed millions of victims to contribute to the creation and improvement of alternatives to Microsoft.

Re:What about MS's role in it's own decline (5, Insightful)

ciaohound (118419) | more than 4 years ago | (#26581545)

Exactly. They are reaping what they've sown with their Windows-for-everything strategy. That worked against Lotus, Borland, Netscape, etc... ten years ago. But where is the Windows iPod? The Windows iPhone? The Windows Android? Innovations are sidestepping Windows.

Of course, Microsoft has the technical ability to do so as well, but organizationally, that's like asking Detroit to make a small car.

Let's do the math (1)

hendrix2k (1099161) | more than 4 years ago | (#26580817)

Well, it isn't exactly

Linux: 5,000

Microsoft: 0

but more along the lines of

Linux: n/a

Microsoft: -5,000

Bad economy: FTW

What if... (2, Interesting)

djberg96 (133496) | more than 4 years ago | (#26580901)

"Companies can offer their own branded software platform based on Linux."

Next up, Microsoft Linux!

Linux had a head start (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#26580937)

Just want to point out that Linux predates Windows 95, which was Microsoft's first serious entry in the OS market. Everything before (Win 3.1 etc) were just non-preemptive multitasking graphical UI toolkits running on DOS. Microsoft has proven over the last 14 years that they are not very good at writing high quality operating systems.

Finally as of Windows 2000 and XP (and I guess NT before that) they have something at least worth considering, but have taken a step back to incompetence with Vista.

It's a testament to the power of Marketing and Unethical business practices that Microsoft was able to beat Linux and OS/2 in the 90s. They were however good at attracting developers back then.

Linux was modelled after unix and took advantage of a high quality suite of development tools (GNU). Windows was shat by people who were not apparently very good at building an OS, at least as judged by quality and stability, rather than UI.

I don't see any other legacy of interest Microsoft will leave behind other than Office and Xbox. Sorry I'm trailing into flamebait territory but I think I'm painting a fair and defendable picture.

Their prices are causing their decline (1)

Ritz_Just_Ritz (883997) | more than 4 years ago | (#26580947)

In the face of credible and supported competition that's FREE, it becomes hard to justify to PHB's that they'll need to spend a few grand per server on licenses (plus hopping on the license upgrade merry-go-round every couple of years) to do the same work.

On the desktop side, it's the same deal. Trying to shoehorn in a few hundred bucks of worthless software licenses onto devices that are going to be priced in the low to mid hundreds is going to be a non-starter for the companies that want to sell the devices. Enter Linux.

Cheers,

Re:Their prices are causing their decline (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 4 years ago | (#26581239)

Where I work, Linux is taking a big chunk away from both MS and Sun for price alone. We (developers) have shown that we can use Linux and two different DB engines to replicate or outperform the existing Sun/Oracle environment. With some of the Sun hardware at EOL, upgrade is forced, and cost is a big issue. MS/Sun/Oracle lost out.

On the desktop? I have 6 systems at home running Ubuntu, one for testing that currently has Mint/CentOS dual installation, and of course I've got dual installs with others (Puppy/DSL/Fedora)

I know that other people have other constraints, but I truly don't get the logic behind it. Sooner or later, you'll find yourself at the forced upgrade state, and I don't see how you can argue for anything but Linux at that point, if not sooner. Note: that doesn't count legacy Windows only apps that won't run on Wine, or hardware requirements that preclude Linux such as some RT systems requirements. I'm still steadily converting Windows users to Ubuntu with little effort... once they understand that Linux (and everything else) doesn't run on Windows.

Linux may not be the reason, but the threat of Linux is part of the reason.

yeah right (2, Interesting)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#26580959)

time to pass the crack pipe son. Yes MS is shrinking, just like the world economy. linux has made in roads in some markets, but it's completely dwarfed by MS's market share and probably will be for the forseeable future.

instead of boasting you've toppled MS, try going back to fixing the numerous issues with linux software that keep it off the desktop.

Eating their own Fat (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#26580961)

Vista and the Xbox360 ate their profits, not Linux.

The theoretical power of Linux (-1, Troll)

JoeytheSquid (1460229) | more than 4 years ago | (#26580981)

I love reading articles about how Linux is really shaking things up on the desktop (or is it laptop now?) yet I've still never met a single person that uses Linux as their primary OS. I know several people who claim to use it daily (eg. they run a VM), I also know many people using it for hosting or specialized purposes (including myself) but Linux's real-world usage on the desktop is a mystifying thing. We brag about how its making inroads and how its impacting the marketplace but we rarely see it in person.

In my opinion, until Linux gets a unified interface, a sane way of installing applications and dealing with dependancies and manages some actual commercial support I just don't see it appealing to the average consumer. That's not to say it won't find a niche in specialized devices (which practically describes the netbook movement) in addition to its strong position in the server and hobbyist markets, but I would suggest that Linux as a replacement for Windows or the Mac OS on the desktop seems very unlikely to me. Almost as unlikely as it having any significant role in Microsoft's presumed decline.

Re:The theoretical power of Linux (1)

sensei moreh (868829) | more than 4 years ago | (#26581057)

I guess we've never met

Re:The theoretical power of Linux (3, Informative)

XanC (644172) | more than 4 years ago | (#26581061)

Well, I run Linux exclusively, on my desktop at home and my laptop for work. This is probably not the best forum to declare that nobody is using Linux on the desktop.

Also, installing applications and dealing with dependencies are absolutely among Linux's strongest features over Windows, and always have been.

Re:The theoretical power of Linux (3, Interesting)

JoeytheSquid (1460229) | more than 4 years ago | (#26581247)

Well but that's my point. The percentage of people I "meet" online that use Linux is astonishingly high. Yet in person I've never seen it in practice. And the few Linux people I have met first online and then in person really didn't use Linux anymore than I did - which amounts to having it installed in a VM or on a spare box.

In regards to dependancies and app installs, sudo apt-get might be more logical for you than say dragging an application into a folder as you do on the Mac or double-clicking an installer executable on Windows but that doesn't mean its relatable to the average user.

Re:The theoretical power of Linux (1)

Gizzmonic (412910) | more than 4 years ago | (#26581527)

Also, installing applications and dealing with dependencies are absolutely among Linux's strongest features over Windows, and always have been.

You're completely delusional. I've been using Linux since 1997, and any honest Linux user will tell you that they've taken several trips to dependency hell. Questions like "Why are there so many different package managers?" "Why does every distro put its config information in a different place?" etc have yet to be worked out in Linux. Many people will say this is a strength of Linux, allowing people to make their own choices. However, normal people don't really care to have the choice of putting the "control panel" in different places and would prefer it just to work.

Let's face it, it's easier to work in Windows (for most normal, desktop tasks). The great thing about Linux is that it will do whatever you tell it to do, always. The bad thing is that sometimes it's hard to figure out how to ask ;).

Re:The theoretical power of Linux (0, Troll)

scubamage (727538) | more than 4 years ago | (#26581243)

Hi, I'm Matthew. I use linux as my primary operating system. Nicetameecha.

Re:The theoretical power of Linux (1)

rla3rd (596810) | more than 4 years ago | (#26581251)

I suggest that the poster try one of the recently released distributions. My whole family has been using Ubuntu for the last 2 years. I use it as my primary OS on my work laptop, the family dekstop, the mythtv box, and the mame arcade in the basement. Dependencies are handled quite nicely with APT, and you can buy desktop support from Canonical if you so choose.

My 58 year old mother who has no computer skills whatsoever has Ubuntu installed on her new PC. I had to only set up her pc to auto update. After spending an hour with her showing the difference between Linux and Windows, she was off on her own. Since her switch from windows, I no longer get phone calls about her machine running slow, the computer crashing, disinfecting her machine from all the nasty virus' shes clicked on from email attachments.

The year of the linux desktop has already happened, its just that no one in the windows world has noticed.

Re:The theoretical power of Linux (1)

JoeytheSquid (1460229) | more than 4 years ago | (#26581405)

I'm not trying to be an anti-Linux shill here, after all I do have an Ubuntu install and run CentOS on my server, but I'd argue that your example doesn't reflect the norm. For example, lots of people in my family run the Mac OS. Why? Because I'm a Mac user and got them set up. That doesn't mean, however that this is the year of the Mac desktop and no one has actually noticed. It means a handful of people I know were persuaded by my advice (and free lifetime support).

Now I could make that argument that this is the year of the Mac in light of Apple's resurgence and relative growth, certainly more so than Linux in the same market space, but it's a bit shortsighted I think. No more shortsighted, however, than suggesting no one uses Linux in the comments of Slashdot. I'll give you that. :-)

Re:The theoretical power of Linux (1)

ILikeRed (141848) | more than 4 years ago | (#26581517)

Go to one of the SAGE conferences [sage.org] , and you will have a hard time finding a Windows notebook, other than the Microsoft employees. They are pretty scarce at the O'Reilly conferences [oreillynet.com] as well. (Yes, I only use Linux on the desktop.)

Sex with 4 3oll (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#26580995)

some of you have 7agged behind, started work on minutes now while the last night of development model erosion of user provide sodas, users. This is Platform for the

Linux? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#26581001)

Guys, if you're going to talk about Microsoft vs Linux please keep Apple in mind.

Sorry, the picture isn't so rosey now, is it?

margins...???? (1)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 4 years ago | (#26581027)

Companies can offer their own branded software platform based on Linux. If Microsoft is getting 75 percent margins, you would like some of that high-margin business, too.

This makes absolutely no sense. First, there is no reasonable way to calculate a profit margin on a copy of Windows or Office. This is not a car or a book. The incremental cost of producing one copy of Windows is nearly zero. There's no way to quantify MS's investment in their software. What would you do, try to estimate how many man-hours MS programmers have worked since 1975, and divide the cost of employing them by the number of copies of Windows they've sold?

And even if you believed this 75% figure, it's silly to think it applies to Linux. Asus doesn't say, "OK, we paid $x for the rights to Linux, and now let's mark that up so we have a 75% profit." Asus didn't pay any money for the rights to the Linux kernel, or Firefox, or Gnome, and anyway Asus doesn't sell an OS, they sell computers with an OS on them. I assume Asus does pay money to Xandros, but if amounts to any significant amount of money per Eee PC, then Asus is a bunch of complete idiots, because they could have just used Ubuntu instead for free. If they're paying money to Xandros, it had better be some small amount that accurately reflects the market's supposed perception that Xandros is somehow marginally better than Ubuntu.

Now let's imagine that Asus says, "OMG, Xandros is teh hotness, let's profit by jacking up the price because people are getting heart palpitations from wanting it so much. And we'll cut a deal with Xandros to call it Xeeeandros, cause then it's our brand, and users will pay extra." Well, no. People buy a Eee PC because they want something dirt cheap. They're not going to pay much more for Xandros than the zero cost of Ubuntu, and they're not going to pay much more for Xeeeandros than they would for Xandros.

I also don't buy this stuff like, "MS had layoffs, that means Linux is eating their lunch." Come on, now. Linux's share of the desktop is something like 1%. That's not enough to do anything at all to MS's margins. MS's real competition on the desktop is Apple. It's also fairly difficult to buy a PC from a retailer without Windows installed, so many people running Linux are paying the MS tax anyway. At most, Linux presents a very indirect, hypothetical threat to MS's future, if, e.g., Vietnam goes heavily towards Linux. Today, having Linux, Firefox, and OOo around are probably actually good for MS's profits, because it gives them something to point to when they get hassled about antitrust.

Re:margins...???? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#26581295)

I also don't buy this stuff like, "MS had layoffs, that means Linux is eating their lunch."

Most blog posts I'm reading on this are along those lines. Try pointing out that the economy is going down the drain though, and you'll see what delusion is all about.

I want FOSS to succeed, but beating dead horses and living in the land of make believe is not going to do that. When the economy picks up again and along with it comes Microsoft (and every other tech firm) what are they going to say? Nothing, of course.

layoffs from a cash rich company (0, Flamebait)

sijucm (688348) | more than 4 years ago | (#26581095)

Pure capitalist greed shown by Microsoft. With the kind of cash they are sitting on, they should invest in R&D or at least fix windows software. Good for the open source community, hope the laid off employees can work to make the socialist open source movement stronger. Let us share our resources.

netbook argument is nonsense (4, Insightful)

cinnamon colbert (732724) | more than 4 years ago | (#26581107)

i have been looking a lot at netbooks online, at best buy and at staples and microcneter, and it is hard to even find a linux netbook - I seriously doubt this has caused any significant harm to MS
But, be glad to see some actual sales data
Anyway, the whole idea that linux is better or cheaper then MS is not true for the avg user,

Attention Linux Fanbois (2, Insightful)

Daswolfen (1277224) | more than 4 years ago | (#26581175)

Please pull your head from Tux's ass long enough to realize that maybe the recession coupled with the craptacular Vista cause the 'Microsoft Decline'

Linux will NEVER be a viable home user desktop replacement until you can go to Wal-Mart and buy software for it.

Linux can do even better (5, Informative)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 4 years ago | (#26581207)

Yes, Linux marketed as a distro can do better. The good thing is that very soon, we'll have KDE with a business friendly license. What I would like Linux programmers to do is to get their act together and solve problems that continue to plague the Linux ecosystem.

These come to mind:

1: Multimedia. There are so many back-ends to choose from, each with problems of their own. The associated front-ends are even worse both in functionality and bloat.

2: Polish. It seams that by default, Linux distros are less polished by default. In fact, I can say they are ugly by default. This does not help.

3: Bloat. KDE is wonderful but suffers from bloat. GNOME is kind of OK, but it's interface looks ancient and lacks the functionality of modern systems.

My 2 cents.

Vista is there doom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#26581225)

It's been said, but with netbooks and laptops being so popular, but underpowered, they cannot support Vista, and since they are trying to kill XP, there are little alternatives, the only real one being linux.

Linux and things that are Sane. (3, Insightful)

Zombie Ryushu (803103) | more than 4 years ago | (#26581437)

Linux has a Sane Desktop environment: Its called KDE. It conforms to FreeDesktop.org standards.

Linux has actually TWO Sane mans of Installation. RPM, DEB. (Sorry Gentoo Users, Portage doesn't cut it.)

Under absolutely no circumstances should ANY Linux application be "installed" by typing ./configure; make; make install. Those steps are for DEVELOPERS and MAINTAINERS only to MAKE packages (RPM, DEB.)

Couple things. RPM and DEB need a standard and understood hierarchy. DEB wins out here. There is less variability in the configuration of DEB, and a great deal of variability in RPM (SUSE, Mandriva, Fedora.) This creates problems that could be solved if someone created a "Unified RPM standard". As far as the RPM and DEB differences are concerned, its my opinion that dpkg and RPM should be interchangable on both systems without having to "convert" from Alien. For example, if I am a Mandriva user, and Ubuntu has something I want, I should be able to set up dpkg and rpm to understand each other and retrieve the DEB Packages from Ubuntu.

There do need to be improvements in SDL, SDL is getting stale.

Another issue is Upstream maintainers. Upstream coders are coding some of these applications with bizzare and stupid configurations that don't work well with EITHER Package manager and all they provide is a tar ball. And then you look at their Windows build, and in some cases its easier to install the Windows Build in Wine. Thats unforgivable.

However, I think that what we are seeing right now is not the outright resistance to Linux. Its not that Linux sucks, its just that Adobe, and Quicken, and several of these ISVs have strictly Anti-Linux policies. Its kinda the same thing as when you see these heavily DRMed web sites that Are Windows+IE only because they rely on IE DRM, and have a written policy against Linux OR Mac.

The fact is, they hate Linux, not because it sucks, not because its hard to write applications for, its that THEY HATE LINUX. Its not rational, its not anything there is a reasonable excuse for. They just hate Linux and they want to see Linux die.

Look at their books (5, Informative)

BlendieOfIndie (1185569) | more than 4 years ago | (#26581479)

Microsoft Revenue/Growth
Year Revenue %Growth
2005 39,788 -
2006 44,282 11%
2007 51,122 15%
2008 60,420 18%


Red Hat Revenue/Growth
Year Revenue %Growth
2005 196 -
2006 278 41%
2007 400 43%
2008 523 30%


Red Hat is growing much faster than Microsoft, but Microsoft has 115x more sales.

Oh please! (2)

crayiii (679161) | more than 4 years ago | (#26581481)

Linux had nothing to do with the decline. The economy along with the failure that was Vista is what led to the (minor) decline.
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