Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Microsoft May Be Targeting the Ubuntu Desktop

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the no-not-with-lasers dept.

Microsoft 583

mjasay writes "Microsoft is advertising for a new director of open source strategy, but this one has a specific purpose: fight the Linux desktop. 'The Windows Competitive Strategy team is looking for a strong team member to lead Microsoft's global desktop competitive strategy as it relates to open source competitors.' For a variety of reasons, this move is almost certainly targeted at Ubuntu Linux's desktop success. With the Mac, not Linux, apparently eating into Microsoft's Windows market share, what is it about desktop Linux, and specifically Ubuntu, that has Microsoft spooked?" Reader christian.einfeldt notes Microsoft's acknowledgment of the FOSS threat to their business model within SEC filings, and suggests that this job posting could instead be about maintaining Internet Explorer's market share lead against Firefox.

cancel ×

583 comments

I'm targeting frosty piss (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26764291)

east my asshole!

Re:I'm targeting frosty piss (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26764371)

Niggerbuntu will give you AIDS.

woo (0, Troll)

nomadic (141991) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764317)

what is it about desktop Linux

Maybe it's that mighty 2% market share. After TWENTY FIVE years of effort. Microsoft must be terrified at that sort of "rapid" growth.

2009 is going to be the year of linux on the desktop! THIS time I mean it! Not like the other TWENTY FIVE times.

Re:woo (5, Informative)

tenco (773732) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764343)

After TWENTY FIVE years of effort.

2009-1992 = 17

Re:woo (3, Funny)

nomadic (141991) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764349)

Ok, SEVENTEEN. My point still remains. I'm just bad at math.

Re:woo (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26764389)

Actually no it doesn't. When did this drive to the desktop actually start? in 1992? not likely..... Try maybe 1998 or something. So we are talking 10 years and developed by "volunteers". I would say that is a formidable threat to a multi-billion dollar international corporation. So laugh all you want, but if I were you I would get by (ba/c/tc/k)sh skills up..... Your gonna need them when your company says we are going linux. Windows admins need to get their resumes together.....

Re:woo (5, Funny)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764649)

This is slashdot if you are going to post something like that we require proper regex syntax.

m/(ba|c|tc|k)sh/

Thank you

Re:woo (2, Interesting)

binarylarry (1338699) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764413)

Yes, but you forget that decent desktop environments have only been around since the early 2000's or so.

Look at what Nextstep did. They took BSD and made their OS built on that foundation. For a decade they sold it only to a select technical user base. During this time, they worked on improving the interface. Then Apple bought them used that as a base for Mac OSX. A little bit of polish and you have a very nice Operating System.

As you can see, there are many parallels there with Ubuntu and other nice Linux-based distros.

Re:woo (1)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764481)

Desktop environments only around since the early 2000s? I guess I just imagined all those PCs we had in high school.

Or is this one of those magical cases where you define "decent" as whatever it needs to be to make you right?

Re:woo (1)

binarylarry (1338699) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764495)

Sorry, I forgot to add "Linux desktop environments" for my context clue detection impaired buddies.

By decent, I mean ones that weren't fugly that revolve around terminal windows.

Re:woo (1)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764557)

and it's already happened with the HP 1000 [hp.com] which has a very nice GUI on top of Ubuntu.

Re:woo (5, Interesting)

Erikderzweite (1146485) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764755)

Microsoft has been actively fighting FLOSS since at least 1998. Just read Halloween documents or internal documents regarding EDGI group from Iowa case (dated 2002 IIRC) with ist infamous "under NO circumstances lose to Linux" quote.
You may also read Bill Gates' concernes about how they can cripple ACPI so Linux won't be able to use it (they have made their own DSDT compiler which allows for much more errors than industry-standard intel compiler Linux uses).
They were afraid back then and fought tooth and nails, they continue to do it now. And if you read the documents I mention, you'll see that they have understood that the relative success of Linux on servers was due to open standards. What we have now is that main reasons which hinder Linux' adoption has nothing to do with Linux itself. Office formats, Exchange, DirectX, ActiveX -- all of the above are closed standards and technologies not to mention crippled HTML. Combine that with iron grip on OEM's and you'll get some more reasons for relatively slow growth.
Ultra-cheap netbooks and falling hardware prices have changed the landscape though. Now MS isn't able to threat OEM's with raising per-CPU lincense costs if they sell something else pre-installed. They have prolonged XP's live and give it away for a bargain price instead. They will be able to maintain their grip for some time but this time they'll have to lower the prices. Sure, they remain profitable as all they sell is hot air, but they'll raise much less money than expected.

Re:woo (5, Interesting)

binarylarry (1338699) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764363)

Yeah but if the growth goes exponential, it could be bad news for Redmond in a short amount of time. With other big vendors starting to use Ubuntu on their equipment (see HP and Dell), Microsoft had better be careful.

Personally, I think in the next 5-10 years, the market is going to go through a big equalization. Microsoft will still be important but not the huge Monopoly like they are now. The current recession is a good way to get the ball rolling on that. A lot of places are interested in switching to Linux-based OSes, but they don't want to deal with the costs associated and their current Windows stuff works.

But with Vista and Windows 7 being lackluster, it makes good business sense to start looking at migrating to other solutions. Linux is really the only other game in town. You can't "upgrade" to Mac OS X like you can upgrade any machine to Ubuntu and have it just work. And Ubuntu has made the GNU and Linux systems easy to use for anyone from Grandma to business drones.

Re:woo (5, Insightful)

ConceptJunkie (24823) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764377)

Maybe Microsoft has finally realized what the rest of the world knows. They simply have nothing new to offer. They have to find some way to beat Linux because they can't compete with it. It's only the momentum of their monopoly, 20+ years in the making, that is keeping them ahead now.

After releasing Windows XP-ME, er, Vista, it's obvious to see that Microsoft, despite its numerous "reboots" in the development process, is still so mired in its Soviet-style bureaucracy and upper management that thinks it is entitled to its 90%+ market share.

They are going to have to fall back on FUD more and more as more people (like me) are sharing success stories of unburdening themselves from Microsoft's shackles, even if the actual percentage of users is still small. What Microsoft is realizing is that number of people who are now seeing them as we've always known them to be, arrogant to the point of blindness, utterly contemptuous of users and completely beholden to their shady business practices and monopolistic behavior to be able to do anything else.

In short, time for more FUD.

Re:woo (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26764407)

They are going to have to fall back on FUD more and more as more people (like me) are sharing Ubuntu fanboi FUD

Fixed that for you.

Re:woo (5, Interesting)

sleigher (961421) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764439)

If Microsoft would put half the effort into R&D that they put into "owning" the market they would crush everyone. I cannot believe that a company with their resources cannot come up with great new ideas in computing. They are being threatened by a bunch of "kids in their moms basements?" (I know that is BS) Really? If that is true then it is time for them to move aside.

Re:woo (4, Interesting)

jascha.cohen (1130859) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764715)

I think you're partially correct in your statement. They *do* put a LOT of money into research, and do actually grind out some interesting ideas, prototypes, etc. Where they seem to be dropping the ball is turning those ideas into marketable, usable commercial products.

Exponentiation fears (3, Interesting)

neapolitan (1100101) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764393)

No, Microsoft is being proactive. They sat around during the early days of the internet while we struggled with Trumpet WinSock (remember this, guys?)

I kid you not, but I am responsible for three people switching to Linux this week alone, running XP in virtualbox. Their PCs got so slow they wanted to wipe everything and install Vista, but they liked XP, so this is the perfect solution.

If these people convert a few more people, the whole computing shift will change extremely rapidly. In a few years, people will potentially shift quickly and not look back. Windows 95 took hold pretty quickly. Only somewhat related, but look at hardware shifts, which also happen quickly (PATA to SATA in 2004 or so, birth of 3D cards in 1995 or so.)

It is logical for them to do this, and they are smart to be scared. In a way, I wish they would just sit on their hands.

Re:woo (1, Redundant)

iammani (1392285) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764435)

Maybe it's that mighty 2% market share. After TWENTY FIVE years of effort. Microsoft must be terrified at that sort of "rapid" growth.

Do u mean all linux had tried in past 17 years was to outpace MSFT in the *desktop* market and has failed.

Clue: there is something called a server market too.

Re:woo (1)

Gerzel (240421) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764765)

Also there is more than one measure of pace for the desktop market.

There is the measure that compares number of desktops running system A vs system B.

There is also the number of new desktops that run a vs b.

Also keep in mind that many of the Linux systems are often reported twice as dual boot systems with both windows and Linux.

Re:woo (0)

nomadic (141991) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764799)

Clue: there is something called a server market too.

Well, a) the story is about the desktop, not the server market, and b) Linux had a huge jump on MS over the server market, but that lead was almost crushed overnight when MS released their lousy IIS. MS keeps beating Linux with inferior software, which is frustrating enough without the linux fanboys somehow convincing themselves Linux is beating MS.

Re:woo (2, Informative)

A12m0v (1315511) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764515)

It is GNU/Linux you insensitive clod!

Re:woo (5, Insightful)

knarf (34928) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764531)

If you try to start thinking straight for a second... ...you might start wondering about the correlation between the lowering prices of hardware and the impact this has on a company which depends on software license fees. There is a hard bottom limit to the price of any computing device with for-pay software: the price of the hardware (design, manufacture and distribution) + the ongoing costs of supporting said software + the desired profit for the software distributor. In case of Microsoft those profit margins are traditionally very high for the operating system and application software business, and that is the software which we're talking about here. The same hardware with for-free software can be priced much lower. Now that the for-free software is largely equivalent with the for-pay alternatives (and hold the incessant 'aslongasitdoesnotlookandworkexactlylikewindowsorofficeitisnotreadyforthedesktop' complaints) it is a very attractive proposition for a hardware manufacturer to use the for-free alternative. They can either keep the prices similar and reap much higher profits or lower the prices and most likely see higher sales, again leading to higher profits. They also don't have to bend to the will of an unreliable business partner which has shown time and time again that it has no qualms about backstabbing its partners.

Now I leave it to you as to whether free software is better than, worse than or equivalent to proprietary software. The answer to that question wholly depends on what you expect from the software, what you use it for, what you have used in the last few years and in what discipline you use the software. It has however become clear that for many common purposes there is free software which is fully adequate, and in several cases the free software is better than the closed alternatives.

Re:woo (5, Insightful)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764553)

A mac is expensive (i know, not always) and since OSX only comes with apple hardware (in theory) there isn't as much to worry about. With Ubuntu, any Dell, HP, Acer, etc, can have Ubuntu installed. That is a threat, since it runs on the hardware made by your best partners. Not to mention, new versions of Ubuntu (or other linux flavors) run great on Netbooks with a very small flash drive and ram. The only comparable Microsoft product is 9 years old, and about to be two versions behind.

Re:woo (1)

Jens Egon (947467) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764593)

I get less than 1%, and with a growth rate of only around 40% over the last two years [hitslink.com] there's really nothing to be afraid of?

Re:woo (1)

DSmith1974 (987812) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764627)

w32 can keep its lions share - that way the malware writers don't target much else and all the clueless users clog up the windows forums, leaving a high signal to noise ratio in the unix groups.

Re:woo (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26764629)

2009 is going to be the year of linux on the desktop! THIS time I mean it! Not like the other TWENTY FIVE times.

In the last 6 months, 3 real persons (not geeks) around me migrated from Windows to Ubuntu. Before that, nobody that I am aware of.

I am still happy with my Mac OS X, which is much more polished. But I am glad to have a fallback solution for the day when Apple begins to behave badly...

Re:woo (2, Informative)

sqldr (838964) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764667)

2% might not be much, but the rise (and fall) of linux (like all things in statistics) will be a bell curve. 2% is the bit where the graph starts to look pointy.

That said, first microsoft have to do something about the fact that half of their customer base can't tell the difference between windows 7 and kubuntu..

http://www.zdnet.com.au/insight/software/soa/Is-it-Windows-7-or-KDE-4-/0,139023769,339294810,00.htm [zdnet.com.au]

Re:woo (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26764673)

if linux makes a version that any idiot could install their fucked.

Re:woo (1)

Gerzel (240421) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764685)

Actually it will be just like that other twenty five times with a small but steady and increasing GROWTH rate.

ITP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26764347)

Speculation, much like the year of the linux desktop.

Re:ITP (2, Funny)

binarylarry (1338699) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764437)

You realize major PC vendors are now shipping Linux desktops on mainstream retail hard you can buy RIGHT NOW, right?

It's not exactly speculation... the Linux mothership is arriving and its pissed.

Re:ITP (1)

binarylarry (1338699) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764445)

I just realized that the last sentence is much more funny for my UK friends.

Just say no to drunk driving, k? :)

Re: Pissed Linux Mothership! (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764493)

That's awesome! I want to see a picture of that by one of y'all with talented art skills.

The only example I can think of is that episode of Voyager with that species that forced the Borg into a truce because it was so brutally lethal it was smashing them. (Now I have to go find it and watch it again.)

Re:ITP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26764759)

the Linux mothership is arriving and it's pissed.

Yeah! We, nerds, are going to take over the world. People will finally realize we are meant to be the true leaders of this world. We will get out of our server room and install Linux on the desktop of every cheerleaders in this world... and have sex with them!

Simple (4, Insightful)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764361)

The reason for targeting Ubuntu is simple. Its getting attention as a credible desktop alternative by the main stream. If one Linux destop is a credible alternative than its only a short leap for the public to make that any Linux desktop solution might be a credible alternative. At that point products start getting evaluated on the merrits and how well they suit a the purchasers organization or individual needs. Windows may or may not come out on top if subjected to any rigor in the decision process.

Apple is one company and the sole provider of a Mac OS solution. They can be controled; there is a specific target to go after if they become more of a problem. Microsoft can deal Apple a good deal of hurt buy just shutting down their own Mac Business unit. Ubuntu on the other hand if allowed to become to popular can't be stopped so easily. If that popularity speads to Linux desktop distributions more generally then Microsoft no longer has a specific entity to go after. The want to make sure desktop a meaningful desktop Linux business remains something that is going to be still born so to speak.

What is it about desktop Linux? (5, Interesting)

Zakabog (603757) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764365)

With the Mac, not Linux, apparently eating into Microsoft's Windows market share, what is it about desktop Linux, and specifically Ubuntu, that has Microsoft spooked?"

Mac OS X doesn't run natively on all PCs, so Microsoft doesn't have anything to be afraid of. Plus Microsoft has software already developed for the Mac, so they could still make money even if Macs dominate PC sales.

Microsoft doesn't have that with Ubuntu, not only does it run on the same hardware as Windows, but it's being offered as an alternative to Windows by a major player in the PC market.

Re:What is it about desktop Linux? (2, Interesting)

camperslo (704715) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764611)

With the Mac, not Linux, apparently eating into Microsoft's Windows market share, what is it about desktop Linux, and specifically Ubuntu, that has Microsoft spooked?,/i>

Mac OS X doesn't run natively on all PCs, so Microsoft doesn't have anything to be afraid of. Plus Microsoft has software already developed for the Mac, so they could still make money even if Macs dominate PC sales.

Yes, and it's Linux, not OS X, that is the current most-viable legal option to Windows for both OEM customers (new machine builders) and the upgrade-what-I-have PC market.
Ubuntu would certainly meet the OS needs of many, spare them the time/cost of dealing with most malware, and provide an impressive array of bundled or trivial to load applications.
No doubt some would also appreciate that Ubuntu is essentially free too!

OS X and Apple machines are great and will continue to get a growing share, but it's Linux that could suddenly convert a big share if OEMs defected in a major way and got behind Ubuntu with some marketing. Perhaps some OEMs could even show some ability to innovate and do some development for Ubuntu...

Re:What is it about desktop Linux? (2, Interesting)

bondsbw (888959) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764713)

I wish everyone who cried "Apple is stupid for not allowing OS X to run on PCs!" would read your post.

Why in the world would Apple set themselves up as a direct market competitor to a company known to squash competition?

Maybe later, when they reach a point that even Microsoft gets worried... then, and only then, would I expect Apple to consider licensing OS X to run on all PCs.

Re:What is it about desktop Linux? (1, Funny)

Goffee71 (628501) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764813)

True, but i'd like to be in the MS boardroom the day Apple announces that move - with a mop and waders!

Re:What is it about desktop Linux? (1)

ceejayoz (567949) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764863)

Mac OS X doesn't run natively on all PCs, so Microsoft doesn't have anything to be afraid of.

If people never bought new computers, this might be true.

Ubuntu needs to stop being racist first (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26764367)

Linux's "scratch an itch" GNU foundations almost by definition make it unsuitable for mass desktop deployment. You don't choose a philosophy that deems goal X irrelevant and then expect the ultimate implementation of that philosophy to be the achievement of X. (On the contrary, many admins and programmers are also the geeks who develop Linux, so Linux is successful here.)

But to my main point: why the disproportionate number of women and black men on all the Ubuntu merchandising pages? This sort of stupid appeal to political correctness died off in the early '90s (unless you're the BBC), and everyone who isn't in chronic denial knows that most Linux users are non-black men. It all adds to the horribly culty image of Linux as some cooperative dream rather than a tool to get a job done. I'm no WASP, but I am Spanish, and if I saw 50% Mexicans on the Ubuntu site to try to make me feel "welcome" (or, worse, to make liberals feel like they're giving me a helping hand) I'd be entirely put off. As it is, I look at the site and think, "How would I feel as a woman/black man?" and I'm put off downloading Ubuntu.

Advice for not looking like your page needs an "ebony and ivory" backing track:
1. Don't put a single token black man on every page;

2. Don't try to balance the ratio of women and men if it's blatant that your market isn't anywhere near 50/50;

3. Moreover, if you want to represent two typical users, don't choose one woman and one black man - it's obvious what you're doing;

4. If you're going to build this facade of "oh everyone from every background uses our product", at least don't fuck up entirely with images such as this one [canonical.com] where the truth comes out in the guy trying to cop a desperate kiss of the woman. This man is the only one to actually represent the typical Linux fanboy, and he demonstrates what is - in the same politically correct world that requires (1) and (2) - sexual harassment.

Oh, and just to anticipate it:

5. Don't reply to this post with, "Oh, I didn't notice the people's gender/race. I'm sorry that you're so put off by people's gender/race! You must be sexist/racist." It requires 5 minutes in any sort of marketing position to know that anyone involved in such a photoshoot will notice the colour and gender of participants - if juat to make the very sort of patronising faux pas that makes Ubuntu look like it's stuck in the '80s.

Re:Ubuntu needs to stop being racist first (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26764457)

Ubuntu for human beings..

humans come in all different shapes and colours so I don't see how:

1) What your saying makes any sense
2) Why you bothered to write so much on a couple of jpegs on ubuntu.com

Re:Ubuntu needs to stop being racist first (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26764603)

Someone should move you to marketing, Sir. "X is so great that everyone will want it!" is the standard cry of any corporation (when they want your money) and cult (when they want your love).

Also, I "bothered to write so much" because, unlike the average Linux geek, I am aware of the power of good and bad marketing. Anything that patronises black men by making sure to "token black" every page is likely to discourage them from using it.

To put it bluntly, you don't appeal to someone of a particular race/gender by making sure to display a smiling photo of that race/gender in artificial proportions that would never have come from chance.

See how Apple does it? See how their efforts are more advanced than I'd-like-to-buy-the-world-a-Coke groups of smiling twenty-somethings (I guess Ubuntu's not for anyone not 18 to 30)? Good. Now learn. Because for all the supposed technical appeal of Linux, it's doing really badly at targetting the average desktop user, and you're not going to get anywhere by blaming people who try to offer constructive criticism.

Re:Ubuntu needs to stop being racist first (1)

quadrox (1174915) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764761)

I sort of agree with your general message, but I would recommend not to write in such a hostile tone if you want people to listen. And you may think that your tone was not hostile, but thats the way it comes across.

Furthermore, you may want to think about whether most people really DO care about it as much as you think - they might not. Personally it bothers me as well, because as you said, the entire thing looks/feels artificial. But I still use ubuntu for its own merits.

Re:Ubuntu needs to stop being racist first (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764521)

Hm. Is the fact that it's headed by a *white South African* entrepreneur related at all? Maybe that's Mark Shuttleworth's unique perspective at work - he has a country legacy of apartheid we don't have to deal with, so I think there's a background there somewhere.

Re:Ubuntu needs to stop being racist first (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26764691)

The legacy of de jure apartheid is de facto apartheid. As in Russia, those who were once violent on behalf of the state are now organised criminals, while too many of those oppressed have followed the example of their ex-oppressors. It's a shame that, apparently, at least one historian and one psychologist weren't there to warn of this in considering the country's long term post-apartheid future.

I have family and friends who have lived and worked in South Africa, black and white, and the general direction they like to travel is out. Trying to get some enlightened message from South Africa into a Linux distribution is likely to lead to failure.

Regardless, South Africa is mostly black: if you're considering your native country's population, to show mostly whites with a token black on each page is more insulting than showing no blacks at all (a naive approach successfully lampooned by.. South Park). It shows you've definitely made a conscious effort to be patronising instead of possibly just not considering colour.

Re:Ubuntu needs to stop being racist first (1)

Gerzel (240421) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764829)

Dude "Scratch an Itch"? You do know that philosophy has been mostly out for nearly a decade now? You do know that most Linux development is down by programmers who are being paid by a company to do so?

free is MS worst nightmare (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26764381)

What if there will be an accepted alternative, for free! That's worse then a Mac, how can you compete if it is really good and really free? Competition is a threat, but this is a death threat to MS.

Alternate summary (4, Insightful)

EdZ (755139) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764385)

We'll arbitarily assume Microsft is targeting Ubuntu specifically, then post the question: what is it about Ubuntu that's making Microsoft target them specifically?

Re:Alternate summary (5, Insightful)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764399)

Probably the over 10 million desktop user base is my guess..

Re:Alternate summary (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26764447)

...what is it about Ubuntu that's making Microsoft target them specifically?

Somebody showed Steve Ballmer this bug report [launchpad.net] ?

Bug #1 (liberation):
Microsoft has a majority market share

Re:Alternate summary (2, Interesting)

mysticgoat (582871) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764601)

We'll arbitarily assume Microsft is targeting Ubuntu specifically...

Hardly an arbitrary assumption. Erosion to Apple has been on-going for a decade or more, and I'm sure that Microsoft has that fully analyzed and has a multitude of strategies and tactics all ready to roll out to counter any conceivable move from Apple. But Ubuntu has arrived by a comet's orbit out of what had looked like empty space: there really was not much in the other Linux distros to attract Microsoft's core markets. Creation of this position is more likely a response to Ubuntu than to any of the known threats to Redmond's hegemony.

...what is it about Ubuntu that's making Microsoft target them specifically?

As mentioned above, the speed and brightness with which Ubuntu has emerged on the scene is definitely part of the reason.

A bigger part is that the Ubuntu distro provides, for free, with its standard 7-click installation that even a cave man can manage, not only an alternative to Windows, but also an alternative to MS Office, MSIE, FrontPage, Access, and even MS Outlook. Oh yeah, also MS Server. Ubuntu undercuts many of the few profitable products that Microsoft has left to sell.

Microsoft should be afraid. It should be very afraid. It will be interesting to see how it responds, because its jungle model of killing the competition does not look very effective against the Ubuntu tsunami.

Maybe they will make an offer to buy Canonical?

Re:Alternate summary (3, Insightful)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764641)

There are several other goofy things about the summary.

For a variety of reasons, this move is almost certainly targeted at Ubuntu Linux's desktop success.

As you pointed out, there's no evidence that this is specifically about Ubuntu. The other goofy thing in this sentence is the reference to "desktop success," which makes it sound as though Ubuntu is already a successful competitor, and MS is responding to that. Now I use Ubuntu, love Ubuntu, and I think it's great that companies like Asus and HP are shipping machines with Ubuntu preinstalled, but as far as anyone can tell, Linux's share of the desktop is still stalled at about 1%. Asus and OLPC are actually no longer exclusively tied to Linux. I think it's much more reasonable to interpret this as a move to fight against a competitor that is currently not successful at all in any quantitative sense, but threatens to become successful (i.e., start growing beyond 1% market share) in the future.

With the Mac, not Linux, apparently eating into Microsoft's Windows market share, what is it about desktop Linux, and specifically Ubuntu, that has Microsoft spooked?

There's no evidence to back up the part about "specifically Ubuntu."

Reader christian.einfeldt notes Microsoft's acknowledgment of the FOSS threat to their business model within SEC filings, and suggests that this job posting could instead be about maintaining Internet Explorer's market share lead against Firefox.

Uh, except that that MS job announcement specifically refers to desktop Windows. They're clearly advertising for a position for someone to be a cheerleader for Windows versus Linux, to head off any hypothetical future erosion of their market share to Linux.

We continue to watch the evolution of open source software development and distribution, and continue to differentiate our products from competitive products including those based on open source software. We believe that Microsoft's share of server units grew modestly in fiscal 2004, while Linux distributions rose slightly faster on an absolute basis.

The SEC filing refers only to servers when it comes to competition from OSS. That's because the server market, not the desktop market, is where MS currently has to compete with Linux and BSD on relatively even terms. So the final paragraph of the summary brings up two points that are unrelated to each other (browser versus OS) and unrelated to the job position (which is about desktop, not server).

So much for Apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26764411)

So Apple is now a stronger and more viable company than it was in the 90s, and now Microsoft is off to fight a battle for an even smaller fraction of the market?

What gives? I mean, I know Stevie's not doing too well health wise, but unless they have increased their stake in Apple beyond a few shares of stock and Office 2008, it makes no sense to ramp up efforts on something smaller and ditch what is most likely one of the biggest competitors (Server business aside)

What company in their right mind wouldn't focus their energies on challenging better markets or, how's this, making superior products?

Oh, wait. Right. Nevermind.

Re:So much for Apple (1)

binarylarry (1338699) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764733)

I think it has to do with Apple's culture. They don't want to be the next Windows, in fact they like to openly mock Windows. The want to stay exclusive and cater to their niche.

There's a reason you don't see Ferarri trying to compete with Chevrolet's economy cars.

Ummm (3, Insightful)

DrugCheese (266151) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764419)

Maybe it's the point that linux has been doing things on the desktop for 10+ years that microsoft is just barely starting to implement. And most of that is just the eye candy, they still need to copy all the extra functionality.

Re:Ummm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26764489)

...they still need to copy all the extra functionality.

They should copy the broken clipboard. That provides great functionality!

Netbooks, anyone? (5, Insightful)

stanleypane (729903) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764421)

I bet the netbook market has their attention. I can walk into a Target, Best Buy, or Wal-Mart and purchase a sub $300 netbook loaded with Linux. That's damn near the cost of Vista Ultimate -- sans computer.

I'll tell you what scares them (5, Interesting)

transporter_ii (986545) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764425)

That Ubuntu is not only well supported, but secure...something they themselves have not been able to manage.

A friend is bringing his system over today for me to install Ubuntu on. Why? Because he is just sick to death of the malware.

You know what? Sick to death is one thing, but sick to death with a good alternative...Microsoft can't have that now, can they?

And the other thing that scares them (2, Insightful)

transporter_ii (986545) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764449)

When you install Windows, you have to dig around for a key. When you install Linux, you just install it.

Terrifying, isn't it...

Re:And the other thing that scares them (1)

mR.bRiGhTsId3 (1196765) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764621)

Gasp! It's so hard to find the key that is STAMPED ON every OEM computer preloaded with windows.

Re:And the other thing that scares them (1)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764701)

Because it's always stamped in a convenient place, right.

I love the fact that in some cases, part of reinstalling Windows involves physically moving the computer so you can read the 25 digit code.

Don;t get me wrong, I understand why it's there, but you have to admit that the inconvenience of the serial number (and the Windows Genuine We Think You're A Criminal thing that makes you activate it) only harms the consumer. Any illegal copies of Windows have a cracked serial, a key gen or an enterprise key included on the burned dvd....

I have Mac OS X and Ubuntu desktops - neither install disk requires a serial number and I like it that way, simple inconvenience or not.

Re:And the other thing that scares them (0)

mR.bRiGhTsId3 (1196765) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764847)

Maybe I've been desensitized because of the garbage that is Dell tech support, with whom I have spoken with frequently, and require a number that is as long or longer (I've not counted) as the serial number. Still, once or twice a year I'm not going to complain. I still can't bring myself to complain when they have to do something like this to keep people who don't know any better from trying to install on multiple computers. Yeah, it doesn't stop pirates, but it does foil those people who think that their one disk gives them license to install on every computer in their house etc.

Re:And the other thing that scares them (1)

Shikaku (1129753) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764635)

It's also EASIER TO INSTALL. The Desktop is even almost 100% usable while it installs!

Barring Wubi, the only hurdle is figuring out how to boot to a CD.

paranoid penguin wrote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26764429)

linux hydra!

lol... (3, Interesting)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764453)

just a day or two ago I was reading right here on slashdot about how MS will be adopting OSS; that the main OS was a loss and they would focus on making all their software for OSS.... ... and now MS is gonna strategize against it. Seems to me like people writing these articles actually have no effin idea what is going on.

the acorn becomes the mighty oak...yeah yeah (4, Interesting)

Ritz_Just_Ritz (883997) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764465)

:)

But seriously, I installed Ubuntu last night. I've been a diehard RHEL/CentOS user for years. It just plain worked out of the box for me on a relatively new laptop. It found the Wifi,sound, my bluetooth mouse, asked me if I wanted the "non free" binary accelerated Radeon X1600 video driver, etc. Pretty slick.

I realize that I'm not a typical clueless windows user, but I think this is downright easy to migrate to for a Windows user, especially when Firefox 3.x and Openoffice are bundled along with it. That's enough to satisfy a huge swath of userbase and it's completely free. The entire install only took about 10 minutes too.

Kudos to the Ubuntu team.

Re:the acorn becomes the mighty oak...yeah yeah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26764607)

Kudos to the Ubuntu team.

Kudos to the Debian team (the people who actually do all the hard work).

Re:the acorn becomes the mighty oak...yeah yeah (1)

boredhacker (1103107) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764657)

Ah, the mythical clueless windows user, if only such a beast existed!

In my experience, these "clueless" users have an unsavory tendency to grow and learn... and given enough time... eventually use Unix ;-)

MSFT must prevent this from happening or they'll find that they have captured a lot of user mind-share but there won't be any decent developers to churn out software for the drop-outs. You can't blame them for being pro-active.

Re:the acorn becomes the mighty oak...yeah yeah (2, Interesting)

apoc.famine (621563) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764735)

I just posted a semi-rant to some friends about a woman I work with who was charged by Dell $350 to wipe her virus-ridden machine. She lost all her photos and documents, because $350 isn't enough to save them, apparently. I do wonder how it would have gone if she had instead been instructed to install Ubuntu on the free space of the drive, and been shown how to find her pictures.

My second point was that Apple did the linux world a ton of good with the misleading "I'm a Mac, and I'm a PC" commercials. That was a nice introduction to the masses regarding the fact that there is more than one platform, and that they are not alike, nor are they interchangeable. I questioned how a similarly misleading "I'm Linux, and I'm like a free version of OSX that will run on your slow/infected/broken PC" set of commercials would help the linux world out.

Re:the acorn becomes the mighty oak...yeah yeah (1, Flamebait)

stubear (130454) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764827)

I'm sure all your Windows apps worked just fine and all the-mail you had saved in Outlook opened just fine in Ubuntu. /s

Linux must be fought abroad. (4, Insightful)

onefriedrice (1171917) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764471)

Microsoft is indeed in danger of losing some marketshare to Apple in the U.S. and I would say that's mostly due to college students. Microsoft is not doing nothing to counter this like the summary suggests, it's just that they haven't been very successful yet. They realize by now that they're screwed up with Vista and even their marketing efforts haven't been great, but they should be able to get back on track if Windows 7 actually turns out to be good.

As for Linux (on the desktop), that is a serious threat to Microsoft from abroad, not so much in the U.S. Face it, most (by far) Americans are not going to fiddle with Linux, even if they're told it's free and superior, merely because they don't want to relearn anything that was hard enough to learn the first time, and they just want to use whatever is on their computer (Windows). Abroad, developing countries choosing Linux for school and government is a threat because it raises generations of non-Microsoft users who they will have less control over.

They're targeting Ninnle, not Ubuntu... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26764517)

...because they recognize NinWM as the cutting edge window manager, not the Ubuntu one.

Let them go after Ubuntu (-1, Troll)

sombragris (246383) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764547)

Let Microsoft go after Ubuntu. Because Ubuntu is slow, buggy, and not a good desktop.

Ubuntu is not the best GNU/Linux distribution. For starters, their quality assurance could be much better, and it is not economical in resource usage. Moreover, it was infected with the "Red Hat" disease of patching everything, introducing more, difficult to track and patch, bugs.

Worse yet, Ubuntu uses by default the GNOME Desktop. It's my personal preference, but I can't stand GNOME, period. It is so aggravating I can't even use it. A GNU/Linux desktop using GNOME is like using a Ferrari car only in first shift. Its vast potential is completely underused.

Therefore, my guess is that Ubuntu is in fact a low-hanging fruit. Let Microsoft go after Ubuntu; meanwhile... KDE will eat their lunch. 4.2 is just the harbinger of things to come and it's that terrific. Period.

Re:Let them go after Ubuntu (1)

binarylarry (1338699) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764561)

Windows is slow, buggy and not a good desktop as well.

And it's the market leader.

What's your point?

Re:Let them go after Ubuntu (1)

meist3r (1061628) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764681)

Let Microsoft go after Ubuntu. Because Ubuntu is slow, buggy, and not a good desktop.

I don't know which Ubuntu you are talking about but the three machines that I run don't have any problems that they wouldn't have under (or because of) Vista. And I can maintain all three free of cost. Let's not forget that Ubuntu still beats Vista in benchmarks. A "good desktop" is a matter of expectation. Ubuntu with it's GNOME interface is much more than Windows ever was for me. Just because it doesn't fulfill your expectations doesn't mean it's not a good desktop. Windows doesn't fulfill mine ... so what do you say to that?

Ubuntu is not the best GNU/Linux distribution. For starters, their quality assurance could be much better, and it is not economical in resource usage. Moreover, it was infected with the "Red Hat" disease of patching everything, introducing more, difficult to track and patch, bugs.

With Microsoft it's literally IMPOSSIBLE for an end user to track and patch bugs. So you're saying?

Worse yet, Ubuntu uses by default the GNOME Desktop. It's my personal preference, but I can't stand GNOME, period. It is so aggravating I can't even use it. A GNU/Linux desktop using GNOME is like using a Ferrari car only in first shift. Its vast potential is completely underused.

Correction: It's a FREE Ferrari that outruns the MS Ferrari at many many occasions and you don't have to buy a special screwdriver for thousands of dollars to open the hood. What is KDE then? A Lamborghini in first gear? Same here, they do a lot of stuff but it has it's problems too. Yeah, the lack of dedicated mechanics makes GNU/Linux less competitive in some areas (namely gaming) but that's not Linux' fault but that the mechanics focus on making more money with special screwdrivers. If some more people would dedicate their time to improve OpenSource interfaces like GNOME, KDE, Xfce, E17 etc. you'd probably get the results you're demanding. Right now there is not much of a coordinated effort to push this into the right direction because the people who COULD work on this are either to busy making money in the closed source market or don't care about Linux at all.

Therefore, my guess is that Ubuntu is in fact a low-hanging fruit. Let Microsoft go after Ubuntu; meanwhile... KDE will eat their lunch. 4.2 is just the harbinger of things to come and it's that terrific. Period.

Oh so you're just a KDE fanboy? Nevermind that KDE copies Windows usability in all aspects even the bad ones. I like what GNOME does and compared to KDE4 I'd choose it any time of the day. Simply because every time I start KDE I'm reminded why I stopped using Windows in the first place.

Btw. in case you didn't realize it. The Ubuntu Desktop is all variants of Ubuntu. They're not losing market share to GNOME they're losing market share to free Linux distributions with usable interfaces. Which includes RedHat and as window manager your beloved KDE.

Why not Apple? (3, Interesting)

argent (18001) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764567)

Why not Apple? Because Apple isn't selling generic OS X that competes head to head against Windows on generic PCs.

If Apple changed that, you can bet Microsoft would be on to them in a flash.

Microsoft need not worry for now (3, Interesting)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764595)

This is because there is trouble in the Linux space. We can't agree on a way forward. Look, the other day, our benevolent leader Linus stated: "Multiple Distributions "Absolutely Required..," as if that would help in stemming Microsoft's progress.

Let me say this: There will always be multiple distributions of "Linux" but what we need is a fully functional desktop with a single supported desktop environment. Nobody...I repeat, nobody is saying there should be *one* Linux desktop or server. Nobody! Other distros can continue to exist but this particular desktop should get the bulk of resources to succeed.

On the desktop now, KDE 4.2 is good and it has always shown promise. By the way, I am a die hard GNOME user who contributes to the project from time to time, but I must say the truth. What troubles me is that folks sing "Linux is great" and so on then they go ahead to dedicate resources to other projects. This approach does not help.

Then we have those who I would say are almost bigots. Why? Because users tell them "...we need a single accepted API so that apps will install across Linux distros..." What happens is that these folks' ideas are shot down but these bigots.

Microsoft need not worry for now. Look at what Apple did. They broke compatibility...took another direction but because they have a single platform with unique names at every incarnation, they own more of the desktop then all the Linux combined.

We can beat Apple because we are open. Then we have folks that create multimedia files in Flash before putting up our very own .ogg files. These folks should at least put files up at the same time. We should at least be seen to eat our own food.

Folks. Let's listen to what the ordinary user is saying.

Does one ever wonder why we who use Linux still command a tiny percentage of the desktop despite having been around for almost a decade now?

Microsoft need not worry for now.

Start handing out free Vista/Win7 discs (3, Insightful)

meist3r (1061628) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764597)

Or shut the hell up. How does one even want to compete with something that's free. Certainly not with the quality of their own products, the incredible support services or recent history in innovation.

Re:Start handing out free Vista/Win7 discs (1)

somenickname (1270442) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764655)

Or shut the hell up. How does one even want to compete with something that's free. Certainly not with the quality of their own products, the incredible support services or recent history in innovation.

Monopolies don't need to compete. They just need to maintain their monopoly.

Re:Start handing out free Vista/Win7 discs (1)

SupremoMan (912191) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764671)

My guess is they'll start handing hardware out for free... What was it that Bill gates said a few years ago? Oh yeah hardware should be almost-free [geek.com] . Let's see he said 10 years out in 1995, I guess he missed it by few years, eh?

Funny thing is that it is almost free, if you don't have to pay for windows ;)

Re:Start handing out free Vista/Win7 discs (1)

meist3r (1061628) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764763)

I'd gladly keep paying for my hardware if that means I don't have to use Windows. I can see a subsidized model for computers like cellphone carriers have been running for years now but if that means I'll have to buy into a 24 month contract with Microsoft where everything is metered and billed according to my use ... I'd much rather buy regular hardware and use FOSS. Currently you don't even have a choice. You can buy a hugely expensive un-branded cellphone and then still have to maintain a contract with the carrier. In this model you pay twice if you want "your" hardware. Same thing with using proprietary hard/software. You pay for the hardware AND for the software. One of those will have to go, since software obviously CAN be free I guess hardware will have to stay or you'll end up in one of these contractual monitoring models. Millions of people would sign up, I'm quite sure. But it wouldn't be a good thing.

Re:Start handing out free Vista/Win7 discs (1)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764729)

Ballmer did say he'd rather someone used an illegal copy of Windows over another operating system, so it's not outside the realms of possibility that they'll give you windows for free just to continue the monopoly.

Re:Start handing out free Vista/Win7 discs (3, Insightful)

meist3r (1061628) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764783)

Ballmer did say he'd rather someone used an illegal copy of Windows over another operating system, so it's not outside the realms of possibility that they'll give you windows for free just to continue the monopoly.

Of course he says that, if you'd calculate the actual number of "Genuine" windows installations compared to the pirated ones their "95% installbase" would melt quicker than ice cubes in a firestorm.

Re:Start handing out free Vista/Win7 discs (1)

rudlavibizon (948703) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764743)

Software compatibility? Maybe they are going to "persuade" commercial sw companies not to make Linux compatible apps.

Re:Start handing out free Vista/Win7 discs (1)

meist3r (1061628) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764831)

Software compatibility? Maybe they are going to "persuade" commercial sw companies not to make Linux compatible apps.

They already do it's called "Games for Windows". Right now the market is divided in companies that accept FOSS and see it as a valid market and those who have stupid pre-occupations about it and don't use it's potential. I don't know maybe some developers think that publishing software for Linux means you will give away your code. Apparently they don't get the implications of binaries. I've never seen a single line of code from my native Linux games and I bought them just as every other game. Same goes for other applications. The problem is simply that the knowledge around development for Linux and the potential is underrated at best. I'd even say it's a matter of prejudice caused by lobbyism.

rewrite the present (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26764617)

If you write about it enough times, maybe it will come true...

Evolution of Linux is one way (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26764651)

Microsoft views Ubuntu migration as one way. Once someone starts using Ubuntu, chances are they'll never buy Windows again.

This is because Linux can only get better. The idea behind open source is that quality never digresses, because if something sucks, it just gets changed or forked. So, the evolution of Linux is one way. It will always be better and better. This means it's users will always be more and more. It may be slow at times, but it's inevitable. Microsoft is beginning to realize that Linux's market share will always be increasing, and eventually that share will be larger than theirs.

I think they can fight all they want, but unless they can figure out a way to nullify the GPL, the progress will continue.

Mac is a fad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26764653)

I think they're more worried about Linux because Mac is more of a fad.

I can tell you what they're afraid of (4, Insightful)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764699)

...what is it about desktop Linux, and specifically Ubuntu, that has Microsoft spooked?

I can tell you exactly what has them spooked. We have Ubuntu desktops in our office and users get along on them just fine. No massive retraining costs, no one whining they can't get their work done, no software licensing to manage, we can create a custom installation image and drop it on a network drive that comes complete with productivity software, graphics software, web browsing, everything you need. Combine that with corporate Gmail, PHP and MySQL and you have an office that runs just dandy without any Microsoft products or .NET in the mix.

That's what they're afraid of and for good reason. Because running a Ubuntu office is low-cost, low-stress and we can run twice the number of machines per admin we could with Windows. And we don't have to dance on MS's string for product activation, put up with their DRM, pay extra for anti-virus or site licensing. We don't have the virus/trojan of the day suddenly interrupting our day and we're free to focus on productive labor rather than putting so much effort into serving the software and MS.

And my wife, the most potentially destructive computer user anywhere, a person who can trash almost any computer and almost any OS. Always by accident. Ms. I wasn't doing anything and the screen just went black...the hard drive started making a funny noise...it just died...is the screen supposed to be all blue like that? A person who couldn't tell you what a command line was, let alone type anything into one. She gets along just fine on Ubuntu. I haven't had to work on that machine since installing 8.04.

MS should be worried. Ubuntu is a great product.

Re:I can tell you what they're afraid of (1)

Mimfort (1440441) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764871)

Since switching my family (parents, grandparents, siblings and children) to Ubuntu I am no longer the helpdesk punching bag at family gatherings. I keep four different build/configs on a thumb drive. You can pick up chicks with a ten-minute Ubuntu demo. Ubuntu is the right product, with the right message, at the perfect time.

What? Microsoft worry? (0, Troll)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764711)

I submit that Microsoft need not worry that much and here are my reasons:

Joe Six Pack tells Linux Programmers: " I need to double click to install my app. Programmers response: No! Just type "apt-get install ". Six Pack's idea is shot down!

Whatever happened to "The customer is always right!"

Joe Six Pack tells Linux Programmers: Where can I get help on this application?
Programmers: RTFM! Or connect to #linuxhelp on irc.freenode.com. When Joe Six Pack gets there, he's asked to RTFM.

It's as simple as that folks!

Right now, my MythTV setup is spewing errosrs like hell...telling me that ivtv0 cannot record fast enough. Ity also says that "Mythtv mpeg buffers afe full...". This makes MythTV exit after about 8 minutes of playing cable TV. I have been asked to RTFM so many times that I am going to simply reformat and install.

Microsoft worry? I do not think so.

More scary than Apple? (2, Insightful)

Bralkein (685733) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764745)

If Microsoft are more worried about Linux/FOSS/etc than the popularity of the Mac platform then in my opinion it wouldn't be that surprising.

Regardless of how big a slice of the pie Apple might be taking, they ultimately work in more or less the same way as Microsoft. OSX and Windows are both traditional proprietary software which are written and sold on a per-license basis. I doubt that Microsoft appreciate the competition exactly, but at least they are both playing by the same set of rules.

Free Software is different, because obviously anyone can have the source code and fiddle about with it and you don't generally need to purchase licenses or whatever. The nature of Free Software is such that if its use ever becomes truly widespread in the consumer market, it is going to change what people (both end users and computer retailers) expect from software as a whole. Since the current way has obviously been very lucrative for Microsoft, that would explain why they would be so worried about Linux etc.

P.S. I'm trying not to make a value judgement on FOSS vs. proprietary software here, this is all Just What I Reckons TM.

What has got Microsoft spooked? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26764749)

"With the Mac, not Linux, apparently eating into Microsoft's Windows market share, what is it about desktop Linux, and specifically Ubuntu, that has Microsoft spooked?"

Apple sell their OS combined with the hardware it runs on.

But Ubuntu runs on the same hardware that Window runs on. They are a direct competitor and gaining ground on several fronts.

Ubuntu is also a well known brand. Many non technical people I have met know of it even if they don't know it is a version of Linux. They even think it's cool to use it.

Ubuntu (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26764753)

Ubuntu is nice and its getting better. Hardware support is very solid. Every time i get the itch to run Linux i end up reverting back to Windows because the applications are 1000X better than the crap that's freely available. I wont argue that the Ubuntu OS is better but the lack of good software is just not worth it. Will it take another 17 years (29 by some calculations)? Who knows.

They HAVE to fight Ubuntu (4, Insightful)

dcavanaugh (248349) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764769)

The threat from Apple is somewhat contained because OS X only runs on premium-priced Apple hardware. Windows is still the OS of choice for the corporate sector and [ironically] the computer illiterate people who call upon their MS-based colleagues, friends and relatives for free tech support. I always found it amazing that the platform that needs the most tech support was so popular with the people who need the most assistance.

Ubuntu is a big threat, and it goes way beyond price. Nobody is going to take their existing Dell or HP machine and reformat it for OS X. But they can certainly do it with Linux. Ubuntu has the slickest packaging of the various Linux options, making it a "Poor man's OS X that can run on the hardware I already have." Historically, only a small percentage of users have abandoned Win2K or XP in favor of Linux. But Vista is another matter entirely.

Microsoft is a company built on the principle of Moore's law. Exponential increases in hardware capability means unlimited new possibilities for new features and a fresh desires from the user community (sometimes fueled by marketing hype but desires nonetheless). Each version of Windows was more bloated than the one before, but nothing stopped the users from merging a new version of Windows into their upgrade cycle.

Three events changed everything:
1. Vista "jumped the shark" on bloat while the rest of the market moved the other way.
2. Cheapie Ubuntu netbooks can do almost everything people really need to do.
3. The iPhone is threatening to turn itself into a hand-held OS X machine.

Running Windows XP on a netbook is like fitting a 350 pound driver into a golf cart. You can do it, but you won't carry many golf clubs. Running Vista on a netbook won't even pass the giggle test.

Windows Mobile was their only lightweight option but it never picked up enough traction to seriously compete with a "real" operating system. Apple had more apps running on the iPhone in the first six months than MS ever had for Windows Mobile.

Microsoft needs to slow down the adoption rate of Ubuntu netbooks while they figure out how to exist in the small, light, low-powered world of ultra-portable hardware. They will need a community of people other than themselves to provide a robust portfolio of applications.

MS is one of the few companies that tries to win a race by slowing the other guy down. In this case, they need to speed themselves up and get in the game.

I'll tell you what it is about desktop Linux. (4, Insightful)

hey! (33014) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764819)

It demonstrates one simple, incontrovertable fact that is absolute poision to Microsoft's business model: operating systems aren't all that important.

Oh,back in the day, when you couldn't shoehorn a real operating system onto a machine with a sixteen bit address bus, it was a given that operating systems for personal computers were horribly inadequate. Every time a new version of the operating system came out, it'd take advantage of something that was now affordable on a desktop that never had been before. So you looked forward to an OS release as a release from some piece of pain or another. So an operating system release was a big deal.

We are in the era of diminishing returns when it comes to new OS releases. Oh, they maybe handle new version of hardware that are marginally better than they old hardware, like Sata vs. ATA, or going back farther in time, more convenient support for things like wifi. And, of course, the OS developers fix mistakes they made way back in the old days.

The problem for MS is trying to drum up the old excitement (with its influx of cash), like when we went from Windows 2 to Windows 3, which made it easy to run more than one application at a time (which was not a concern back when you'd only had 256K of RAM). You've got to add features and treat them like they're revolutionary.

Ubuntu is not without its problems, the biggest of which is getting to work on notebook hardware whose manufacturers consider getting the BIOS to work with Windows getting the job "done". But, once you get it running, you don't sit down to work at your computer and say, "gee I'm working on Ubuntu." Good Linux distros fade into the background, where they belong. Operating systems are just packages of functionality which make it easy for you to get at your data and manipulate it with your preferred tools.

What's scary about a distro like Ubuntu is that it doesn't compete against Windows. That's how Microsoft has won for years, when competitors look at MS products and decide they have to follow Microsoft's lead, even if they were first. With each new Linux distro release, you don't get an attempt to revolutionize the desktop experience. What you you do get the same experience you had yesterday, with a few problems sorted out and a couple of modest refinements. In contrast, with each new version of Windows, MS seems to scrape the bottom of the change barrel a bit deeper, down to renaming and shifting around control panel applets so there's absolutely no way you could mistakenly think you didn't get an upgrade.

Of course, MS has a great deal of opportunity for just fixing the mistakes of the past, which is a good thing. Vista could have been the best Windows ever, except it had too many competing agendas. Windows 7 is shaping up to be the kind of incremental release on Vista that we're used to in the Linux world, and by contrast it will seem wonderful with the XP to Vista transition.

Apple is selling hardware, not software (2, Insightful)

Britz (170620) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764857)

I do believe Apple and Microsoft are not direct competitors, because Apple is selling computers and Microsoft is selling software. And many people even run Microsoft Windows on Apple computers. The only thing Apple does not do is sell computers preinstalled with Microsoft Windows like the other companies that build PCs.

Since Apple is not planning on licensing their os to other computer manufacturers (they did this and the company almost went bancrupt, but was saved by Microsoft) the only os that does compete with Microsoft for coming preinstalled is Linux. If you think of all the companies that sell PCs.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...