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Microsoft's New Hurdles

timothy posted more than 11 years ago | from the now-just-observe-the-following-rules dept.

The Courts 336

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

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Hardly (1, Insightful)

jkeychan (525704) | more than 11 years ago | (#4594883)

The newest versions of Office will only with with W2K SP3 and XP, so I don't think they will ever give away the software -- just force folks to upgrade or lose functionality

Re:Hardly (3)

mccalli (323026) | more than 11 years ago | (#4595024)

...just force folks to upgrade or lose functionality

You don't lose functionality by not upgrading. You just don't gain anything new.

Honestly, it's not unreasonable to expect Microsoft to change their base coding level once in a while. And SP3 is free. Yes, I'm aware of the licensing issues but if you don't want to use it, well then stay at the level you're at. You lose nothing.


Re:Hardly (1) troll (593289) | more than 11 years ago | (#4595129)

Not true. You loose support. Many vendors will only support the latest service pack.

Re:Hardly (3, Insightful)

pyros (61399) | more than 11 years ago | (#4595053)

But that's just it. Many companies are looking at the upgrade license terms & fees, and deciding that what they have is good enough. They don't lose functionality by not upgrading, they just don't get the new features

Re:Hardly (3, Insightful)

jlower (174474) | more than 11 years ago | (#4595134)

Not quite. Since MS is changing the file format for Office documents, companies will lose the ability to open documents created in the new versions. This will effectively force them to upgrade, even if they don't care about new features.

3 years is too late. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4594889)

At the rate of Linux development. In three years Linux will be very far ahead of Windows, BSD, Mac...

.Net Runtime negates the need for this (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4594891)

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

Re:.Net Runtime negates the need for this (1)

ArmorFiend (151674) | more than 11 years ago | (#4594915)

Heh, hasn't their OS monopoly destroyed any need for .Net runtime? I mean who would want to run MS apps on a non MS system anyway?

Re:.Net Runtime negates the need for this (1)

Ponty (15710) | more than 11 years ago | (#4595081)

I think there are a hundred thousand Office for Mac owners who might disagree.

Re:.Net Runtime negates the need for this (3, Interesting)

larien (5608) | more than 11 years ago | (#4594969)

That's what Sun thought with Java...

Free Windows for sale of Office? (3, Insightful)

Fastball (91927) | more than 11 years ago | (#4594893)

Would you cut off your right hand to become left-handed?

Re:Free Windows for sale of Office? (2, Funny)

Atomizer (25193) | more than 11 years ago | (#4595113)

No way man! That would stupid, I'm already left-handed.

Re:Free Windows for sale of Office? (2)

Angron (127881) | more than 11 years ago | (#4595156)

Would you cut off your right hand to become left-handed?
I honestly don't see how this applies at all; it's not like MS would stop becoming an OS vendor and start becoming an applications vendor; it already is an applications vendor. A better analogy might be:

If you were ambidextrous and someone was threatening to kill you unless you chopped off your right arm, would you do so?


Free? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4594894)

Free shit is still shit...

Re:Free? (3, Insightful)

Paul Neubauer (86753) | more than 11 years ago | (#4595138)

Quite true.

But what browser is the most common?
Not the best, not your favorite, not my favorite,
but the most common?

Isn't that IE? The "free" browser Microsfot gives away?

Not the same as an operating system, but there is precedent for giving something away in order to profit elsewhere.

I would not use Windows even if it's FREE! (1, Interesting)

MrJerryNormandinSir (197432) | more than 11 years ago | (#4594900)

back in 1994 I found an OS that ran Vis5D extremely well, and it also became an excellent
programming and application platform for me.
That OS is Linux of course, and I will NEVER go back to any Microsoft OS! Even if it's FREE!

Never (5, Interesting)

crumbz (41803) | more than 11 years ago | (#4594903)

Microsoft will never give away the crown jewels to save the application side of the house. It can keep the source closed and fight open source for the next twenty years and make billions at it.

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

No, they will depend on:

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

to maintain their lead.

Just my 2 cents.

Re:Never (1)

Streiff (34269) | more than 11 years ago | (#4594945)

The headline (I never read the article) said they'd give away windows for free. They did not mention that they'd open the source.

Re:Never (5, Informative)

trentfoley (226635) | more than 11 years ago | (#4594947)

Was anything mentioned about opening the source? I thought the idea was to just give away ths OS - Windows. That being said, it could remain closed. And, the "Crown Jewels", according to Microsoft, is the source code -- not the operating system itself.

Re:Never (3)

Vinson Massif (88315) | more than 11 years ago | (#4594957)

You're confusing free - opensource with free - no money. MS will always stay closed-source, but they will charge no money for a product to gain or maintain share. eg: IE

Re:Never (5, Informative)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 11 years ago | (#4595017)

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

Re:Never (2, Insightful)

Waab (620192) | more than 11 years ago | (#4595025)

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

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

Re:Never (1, Redundant)

Hatter (3985) | more than 11 years ago | (#4595067)

They're not talking opening Window's source code here. They're saying they'll make the OS a free as in beer OS, much in the manner they pushed Netscape down with IE.

Giving away basic Windows and charging for the extras like Office/Productivity, Finance, or even maybe multimedia features sounds like a pretty solid plan to me.

Bah. (2, Interesting)

Vaulter (15500) | more than 11 years ago | (#4595079)


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

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

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

Re:Never (5, Insightful)

ergo98 (9391) | more than 11 years ago | (#4595132)

I realize that your posting panders to the "Microsoft bad...everything else good" crowd, however I would like to call you on a few assumptions.

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

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

c) This same thing can be said about virtually any other MS program. I run Microsoft SQL Server because it's a very powerful, cost effective database system. I use Visual Studio.NET because it's a fantastic development environment that I've never used a rival to.

Crossover Office their biggest threat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4594904)

Right now, the biggest threat to their OS is Crossover Office. Why use Windows to run OFfice when Linux can do it so much better?

Re:Crossover Office their biggest threat (5, Interesting)

WCMI92 (592436) | more than 11 years ago | (#4595097)

"Right now, the biggest threat to their OS is Crossover Office. Why use Windows to run OFfice when Linux can do it so much better?"

I wonder how long before MS uses the EULA hammer and the DMCA anvil to crush things like Crossover Office and WINE? Not long now that CKK has given Ballmer and Co. a mild tap on the wrist (not even a slap) despite their being CONVICTED of a corporate felony.

Reading the CKK ruling, MS is going to be "monitored" by a comitte that will be made up of... MS board members. Not likely to see any evil.

Frankly, I see one great silver lining in the stupid ruling of yet another federal judgetrix: MS will not be saved from ITSELF by the government.

MS's greatest enemy isn't Linux, but itself. Management that thinks it's shit doesn't stink. Management that thinks that they can REALLY foist anything on the public, charge ANY price, and they will buy it.

If you think what MS has done with XP, product activation, Office XP, and Licensing 6.0 are bad, just you WAIT until their strategy gets emboldened by their "win" in CKK's court.

Every time you read about them sending the BSA after a school, threatening to block a merger (Bluelight), or price increases to the point where Windows/Office is by far the single most expensive part of a PC, Microsoft is marketing Linux.

A billion dollars spent on Linux marketing couldn't do as good a job as MS's own actions.

Ashcroft and CKK saved MS from breakup. But who will save MS from themselves?

Hahaha! fools! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4594905)

slashdot - you are so NIAVE!!! Have you not been paying attention for the last 15 years?!?!?!

Sad news ... Stephen King dead at 55 (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4594913)

I just heard some sad news on talk radio - Horror/Sci-Fi writer Stephen King was found dead in his Maine home this morning. Apparently, Mr. King slipped on a banana peel that his wife had left on the living room floor, and fell headfirst into an aquarium full of pirahnas that his son Owen was keeping for a science fair project. I'm sure he will be missed by the Slashdot community - even if you didn't enjoy his work, his sniping skills in Unreal Tournament were second to none. Truly an American icon.

This decision was bad news for MS in the long run (-1, Interesting)

PhysicsGenius (565228) | more than 11 years ago | (#4594914)

All the Linux zealots who know nothing about economics are dismayed that MS is getting off with a slap on the wrist, totally unaware that this decision actually spell the end of MS as we know it.

Microsoft has always been one to cost-optimize their revenue side financials. Under the new agreement, however, they will need to inflate their income-stream differentials which is a well-known death rattle for a large corporation.

Re:This decision was bad news for MS in the long r (1, Offtopic)

iplayfast (166447) | more than 11 years ago | (#4594967)

This is interesting. Could you expand on what you mean by revenue side financials and income=stream differentials? I'm not familiar with those terms.

Re:This decision was bad news for MS in the long r (1, Offtopic)

scotch (102596) | more than 11 years ago | (#4595032)

Please don't feed the Trolls []

Re:This decision was bad news for MS in the long r (1, Offtopic)

iplayfast (166447) | more than 11 years ago | (#4595080)

If you've got nothing useful to say....

Why are you saying it?

Re:This decision was bad news for MS in the long r (1, Offtopic)

Stonehand (71085) | more than 11 years ago | (#4595110)

You didn't check the guy's posting history, obviously. "PhysicsGenius" is a troll who's making a monkey out of moderators by getting karma for buzzword-heavy bullshit.

Huh? (1)

fanatic (86657) | more than 11 years ago | (#4594982)

Microsoft has always been one to cost-optimize their revenue side financials. Under the new agreement, however, they will need to inflate their income-stream differentials which is a well-known death rattle for a large corporation.

What does that mean in English, please?

Re:Huh? (4, Insightful)

Zeinfeld (263942) | more than 11 years ago | (#4595107)

What does that mean in English, please?

Same thing that the original article means, the author is speaking out the back of his trousers.

Microsoft has no intention to make Windows free, the anonymous comment came from a Linux weenie in need of a clue, the revenue comment was a deliberate troll.

The Microsoft decision means only that the states lost and in the process the cases brought by Sun et al were gutted. Sure they can rely upon the monopoly findings by Jackson, but the appeals court threw out the singificant ones. In particular CK-K found that Microsoft had a right to bundle an incompatible VM. Microsoft has a right to rely on that finding of fact in the Sun suit.

Microsoft will publish a small amount of additional information about their product. That is pretty unimportant since what is really needed is for Microsoft to write an architecture guide for Windows. VMS used to be like Windows, a vast operating system with an amazing amount of complexity. The key to understanding the 'gray wall' was a single volume called the VMS architecture guide. If you read that you knew how to use the rest of the documentation. There is no single similar guide for Windows, there are twenty partial attempts.

My experience of programmers set to work on Windows stuff is that they frequently cry 'Microsoft is the fault' when the real problem is that they can't be bothered to read the manual. Blaming Microsoft is a great excuse for the lazy or incompetent programmer. Now Microsoft certainly does not put out all the info it should, but don't think that it is any different out there in Redmond. If you work with those guys you will soon hear them complaining of having to do the type of reverse engineering that non Microsofties complain of.

Re:This decision was bad news for MS in the long r (1)

exoduz (100720) | more than 11 years ago | (#4595000)


How does this work again??? I knew I should have taken economics101 :P

Re:This decision was bad news for MS in the long r (1)

L. VeGas (580015) | more than 11 years ago | (#4595048)

It's this kind of astute analysis that's sadly lacking in most IT circles. You have summed up in three sentences what it took Greenspan seven books to say.

[OT] Parent is gibberish. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4595092)

Guys, the parent post is gibberish from a gibberish posting troll. Please be more careful; parent is a well-known troll who likes to post technobabble.

I'd actually like that (5, Interesting)

kannibal_klown (531544) | more than 11 years ago | (#4594916)

I know I will get a lot of heat for this, but I think getting windows for free would be good for the consumer (though might screw Linux over big-time).

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

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

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

This might actually be the biggest step MS could take to squash Linux in the home.

Re:I'd actually like that (1)

BgJonson79 (129962) | more than 11 years ago | (#4595011)

My question, though, would Microsoft make Windows Free as in speech or beer? I'd be willing to bet some cash that the correct answer (to this and many other questions) is beer.

Re:I'd actually like that (4, Insightful)

back_pages (600753) | more than 11 years ago | (#4595049)

Except that Microsoft has, for all intents and purposes, given away its operating system to everyone who bought a brand name computer in the last 10 years. For new computer buyers, this is a net change of essentially zero.

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

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

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

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

you are missing the point (1)

b17bmbr (608864) | more than 11 years ago | (#4595153)

but now I can get Windows for free too.

most people get windows for "free". whether preinstalled or "pirated", it has always been "free" for most. the activation scheme only came in when m$ knew there was no other option, for both xp and office. for the first time, many people had boxes that could do the upgrade. it was a calculated gamble. as for the OS, m$ sees the writing on the wall. the computer business has become commoditized, except for their chunk of it.

what they are doing is creating a revenue model, they are opening areas for greater penetration, i.e., .NET. they realize the OS is becoming in some ways obsolete. if yo remember, win95 was fairly cutomizable, and every version of windows has become les so. why?

most people don't want to be bothered with the OS. they just want to use applications X, Y , and Z. m$ is betting the farm on web services, and the ability to rent software, not sell it. big risk. yes. but they are as business savvy as any US corp.

think, where is m$ biggest revenue source - client licensing, and where are they weakest - servers. if they can put the two together, holy f***!!! that is their gamble. the underlying desktop OS is becoming meaningless.

fp (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4594918)


I think so, (5, Interesting)

iplayfast (166447) | more than 11 years ago | (#4594919)

MS is in the business of selling software. The juggernaut of OS's is comming to a close, so they have for the last few years been expanding into other areas. (If you own 99% of the market in one area, why would you stay there?)

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

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

It's a no brainer folks.

free maybe Free never (2)

Arker (91948) | more than 11 years ago | (#4594959)

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

The Gillette Model (2, Funny)

Waab (620192) | more than 11 years ago | (#4594921)

They're already following the Gillette business model of give away the razors and make your money on the blades with the XBox. Granted, that actually discourage them from trying the same thing with their OS/Apps.

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

Re:The Gillette Model (3, Funny)

SourKAT (589785) | more than 11 years ago | (#4594979)

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

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

Never (3, Interesting)

xingix (601512) | more than 11 years ago | (#4594923)

I believe Microsoft will give away their operating system but will NEVER give their source code up. 3rd party companies would clean up and make their OS more efficient than Microsoft's bloated version, creating competition that Microsoft doesn't need. However, would Microsoft lose their footing in the OS department if other companies were releasing their own versions of Windows?

Wishful thinking? (3, Interesting)

teetam (584150) | more than 11 years ago | (#4594925)

If MS gives away its OS, it would lose revenue from its other applications and not the other way around.

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

Re:Wishful thinking? (4, Insightful)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 11 years ago | (#4595015)

The words "give away" in this context could be read to mean at least two different things.

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

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

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

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

Re:Wishful thinking? (2)

sheldon (2322) | more than 11 years ago | (#4595098)

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

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

History Lesson (4, Insightful)

sckienle (588934) | more than 11 years ago | (#4595154)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pfffffppt (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4594926)

Wrong. They are more likely to give away Word and Excel than they are to give up their Operating system. With Linux beating them at the OS game;
they have to figure out how to leverage their monopoly strength in marketing to create a new distributed/wireless/tablet computing model.

Hell yes (3, Insightful)

wiredog (43288) | more than 11 years ago | (#4594927)

If they had to. Given that Office already runs, somewhat, on Linux, they don't need to sell Windows to sell Office. And people care much more about the apps than they do about the underlying OS.

They've done it before . . . (2, Insightful)

vizualizr (462581) | more than 11 years ago | (#4594928)

This wouldn't be a real new strategy for them. I mean - they're giving away the Xbox to sell games, aren't they?

Re:They've done it before . . . (2)

EyesWideOpen (198253) | more than 11 years ago | (#4595077)

they're giving away the Xbox to sell games, aren't they?

How do you mean? The last I checked, the Xbox was $199 (with one controller). There are package deals where you can get the 'box with games included but the console itself still isn't free.

Re:They've done it before . . . (2)

frovingslosh (582462) | more than 11 years ago | (#4595130)

I mean - they're giving away the Xbox to sell games, aren't they?

No. Last price I heard was $199.99 US for the X-box. Selling at a loss is not the same as giving away.

Fair Settlement (4, Insightful)

Chanc_Gorkon (94133) | more than 11 years ago | (#4594931)

What would be a fair settlement is Microsoft doing exactly that. GPL'ing Windows would then allow a Red Hat Windows (if they so chose) or whatever. It would create competition in the desktop os category (or os for idiots it what you will). Personally, I don't see them as a monopoly but it makes things difficult when exchange users continually spread worms thus causing the internet excess traffic thanks to the infectious messages being transmitted.

Not exactly... (3, Insightful)

gpinzone (531794) | more than 11 years ago | (#4594937)

The Operating System isn't the "killer application" anymore. Windows XP doesn't really do anything remarkably different than Red Hat...other than run Windows apps better than any other non-Windows OS. They may not make Windows open source, but they could give it away for "free" in order to keep the real money-makers, the applications, alive and well.

What surprises me is that Microsoft is also openning up the file formats of their applications more. Word is gonna be true XML. I gotta wonder what MS' plans are for the future of Word Processing in general.

Re:Not exactly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4595094)

Microsoft XML Strategy = Embrace and Extend

Re:Not exactly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4595146)

Yes, and using SOAP they can first forward everything to a microsoft service, regardless of where you are intending it to go. Why... because they can, it is designed to do so, and they will.

I'm curious!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4594938)

What will happen is M$ were to actually give its OS for free, and lets say even make it opensource. Will it lead to a migration of many users/developers from the Linux bandwagen to the GNU/Windows bandwagen? Will it lead to merger of the two into a GNU/Windux.
IMHO, it might even work out in M$'s favor considering that it will be able to free up its resources from development of the OS towards development of applications and OS will become just what it should always be, simply a platform for applications to run and nothing more.
Just a thought.....

Doubtful (1)

GeckoFood (585211) | more than 11 years ago | (#4594942)

I imagine M$ will never give away Winblows, as I am sure they believe that they are invincible. Why give stuff away when they can ignore the court orders and still get away with it? That strategy has worked in the past, so why is this time any different? And if Palladium makes it through...Ugh.

Hmmm, remember when . . . (4, Interesting)

Rootman (110962) | more than 11 years ago | (#4594946)

MS DID give away it's "OS" with other products? Most of you pups are probably to young to remember Windows Runtime that came with some of the bigger Windows apps.

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

Re:Hmmm, remember when . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4595162)

Sure, I remember that.
I used to run Windows 386 (runtime) to be able to run MasterTracks Pro! It was a weird situation: Running a Windows runtime to run an Amiga app!
Not that it WAS an Amiga app, it was a PORT of MasterTracks to DOS/Windows, but still.
Anyhow, to get to my point; I don't think you could package Windows XP as a runtime to run an app... It would just be too huge, wouldn't it?

make it use hexadecimal not decimal now. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4594949)

Decimal is bad. Any company that uses decimal is bad.

In other news... (5, Funny)

jez9999 (618189) | more than 11 years ago | (#4594950)

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

In other news, Microsoft announced that it will 'give away' its operating system to schools in Namibia to preserve their education system.

Re:In other news... (0)

tolan-b (230077) | more than 11 years ago | (#4595027)

lol, nice! ;)

Microsoft won't make it's money on the OS (4, Insightful)

TrollBridge (550878) | more than 11 years ago | (#4594952)

I've observed the movements of Microsoft lately, and it would not surprise me if they did start offering they're OS for free, and for a number of reasons:

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

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

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

they already do it (sort of) (3, Insightful)

ethelred (587527) | more than 11 years ago | (#4594953)

Microsoft is already "giving away" windows, by allowing so many pirated versions to spread. If they wanted to, they could have made it very hard from the beginning. Didn't Steve Ballmer say something about piracy helping them to gain a market share?

Re:they already do it (sort of) (1)

PositiveGround (61498) | more than 11 years ago | (#4595102)

That's true. I can say that I personally haven't paid $0.01 for any piece of Microsoft software.

And why would Microsoft give away its software for free? They are already making a killing now as it is. Linux and its open-source variants are nothing more than a fly, buzzing and annoying the giant behemoth... I seriously doubt that something that they consider a mere annoyance will cause them to change their entire business plan, that is unless they drop below 75% market share.

Mu (5, Insightful)

jACL (75401) | more than 11 years ago | (#4594955)

Speech is conveniently located midway between thought and action, where it often substitutes for both.

Ignore the noise.
Keep coding.
Keep releasing.
That's what will win the battle.

really... (4, Insightful)

eclectric (528520) | more than 11 years ago | (#4594960)

as time extends out, the need for a "visible" operating system" is going to be less and less necessary. The OS will be a part of the hardware. When was the last time you upgrade the operating software of your television?

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

I think MS's only options for maintaining a business model are to either expand into other software areas (there aren't many left) or to start renting software, which they seem inline to do.

Re:really... (not!) (3, Insightful)

Tony (765) | more than 11 years ago | (#4595063)

When was the last time you upgrade the operating software of your television?

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

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

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

I predict in sixty years we'll need upgrades to our brains' wetware to protect against newly-discovered exploits.

LOL (5, Insightful)

giminy (94188) | more than 11 years ago | (#4594965)

The Linux strategy is to undercut Microsoft,

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

This article really doesn't say anything, and says the above quite wrongly I think. I doubt Microsoft will ever give away windows...that would be an interesting day if they did. Over here in East Germany, almost everybody uses StarOffice because it's free and just as good. Free Windows and Free StarOffice...nobody would complain (except microsoft)!

Re:LOL (2)

Enry (630) | more than 11 years ago | (#4595112)

Linux's mission statement has been the same for 10+ years:

World Domination. Fast.

Then again, 10 years isn't bad for that kind of goal.

Just watch... (4, Funny)

mellonhead (137423) | more than 11 years ago | (#4594974)

And you thought AOL was over zealous when it came to mailing out CDs...

Non-registration version (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4594977)

Can someone post a copy? Or, better yet, an
account name and password for those of us who don't
want to register? Thanks.

No Way (2, Insightful)

Zech Harvey (604609) | more than 11 years ago | (#4594984)

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

They don't need the PC market any more, they've found something much much better. *shudder*

The Million Programer March on Redmond (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4594986)

Remember - that the decree requires that Microsoft do nothing to stop anything that has 1 millioin or more installations of a non-microsoft middle ware component.

Question: GCC - How many users have downloaded this package? I know it is *VERY* popular in the cross development enviorment.

Question: How many CYGWIN packages have been downloaded in the last year?

Do these things count as non-microsoft middleware?

If so - do they not qualifiy or count towards that 1 million mark?

What about star office? How many downloads a year have occured?

Hell I'd register all my GNU stuff - if it would some how count towards that 1 million mark.

-Let us start the Million Programer March....

Here's the article without registration (3, Informative)

Alethes (533985) | more than 11 years ago | (#4594987)

Despite what the summary says, I wasn't prompted for registration, but thanks to [] ,
Here is the article [] sans-registration for those of you that are prompted.

Re:Here's the article without registration (4, Insightful)

Ari Rahikkala (608969) | more than 11 years ago | (#4595078)

I didn't need to register to read the article, either. That's because I had already registered ( :) ). Trust me, it's in everybody's good interests, yours included, that you don't misuse the convenience methods that NY Times has granted to you only under certain (implied) conditions. They aren't forced to give you anything for free, nor without registration. No, I don't think giving a link with the partner=google link will make them stop putting free content on the 'net altogether. This is a matter of morality. It seems pretty much impossible to me that it would be more work for you to register and read the two (count it, two, and never more) e-mails they send you than it is inconvenient for them to have bogus statistics. So why should you think of only yourself? Because they're not you? Because they're a company and you're a person? Because you think you're doing others a service?

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

In The Beginning... (5, Interesting)

Bonker (243350) | more than 11 years ago | (#4594994)

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

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

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

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

Microsoft wants to charge for Windows and bust people for using pirated copies simply because they still can get away with it at this point. When they can't-- such as currently is the case in the PRChina-- they'll start turning a blind eye to OS piracy and may even tacitly circulate a few copies themselves to increase 'market penetration'. Eventually, they'll start offering ridiculously low-priced 'Student Discount' copies of Windows, like they have in the past, with both OS's and development tools. Eventually, as OpenOffice, AbiWord, and other Office competitors mature, You'll start being able to get more and more Windows feature for free while MS continues to extract flesh for licenses for Office, MSSQL, Exchange, and other servers and apps.

Bootable MSN is what will probably follow. (4, Interesting)

Locutus (9039) | more than 11 years ago | (#4595004)

The price of Linux and it's many apps are starting to eat into Microsofts profit center and to combat that, expect to see the price for MS Windows to drop by shipping a bootable MSN client that stays running as long as you pay your monthly MSN bill.

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

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


What would happen in Windows became open source (1)

SurturZ (54334) | more than 11 years ago | (#4595005)

Has anyone considered what would happen if Windows did become open source? How would this affect Linux? Would a significant proportion of Linux programmers "jump ship" to "Open Windows"?

I can certainly see new Open Source programmers starting on Windows, and never even trying out Linux.

OTOH, perhaps it would simply be a "bigger pie"... Open Source Windows = more Open Source coders?


Free Windows to sell Office! (1)

iamdrscience (541136) | more than 11 years ago | (#4595010)

In Neal Stephenson's book "In The Beginning... Was The Command Line" he talked about how he thought Microsoft should get out of the OS business and start just selling software. If that idea seems startling to you pick up the book, he makes a good case for it. It's only like $10 and it's a very interesting and well written book, pick your copy up today!

Basically his argument was that Microsoft is okay at writing application software and they really suck pretty bad at writing operating systems (when compared to MacOS, Linux/BSD/? or BeOS). Also, that tying their applications more and more into their OS weakens their applications' good attributes.

I think .Net really is a good indicator that Microsoft might be moving in this direction. Although at first it seems like a way to trick people into using Windows and making things even more proprietory, it also makes it so that programs written using the .Net libraries will ultimately be easily portable independant of Windows (...and will also trick more people into using it giving MS more REAL ULTIMATE POWER).

In about the same section of the book Neal Stephenson also talks about how Apple is in a similar situation with their hardware and their OS, their OS is great, but the hardware just weakens it (granted it's not bad hardware, just that it's proprietory and expensive). Again if this seems shocking pick up a copy of the book and give it a read. I think there really is a good chance that Apple will eventually drop their hardware, even if a lot of you believe it will never happen.

So yeah, basically my point is that Neal Stephenson's "In The Beginning... Was The Command Line" is a really awesome book, it's cheap, insightful, short (but not too short) and overall well written (not boring tech-speak, but not not devoid of technical ideas).

Re:Free Windows to sell Office! (1)

iamdrscience (541136) | more than 11 years ago | (#4595056)

I put salespitch markup tags around my particularly enthusiastic remarks, but apparently that didn't go through. Nuts. Anyways, I also wanted to say that even if Microsoft gets away from operating systems that I really doubt they'll open source it, they *might* release it for free though.

You Betcha (2, Insightful)

sckienle (588934) | more than 11 years ago | (#4595013)

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

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

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

Remember in big business mindshare is everything.

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

Think about this ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4595016)

Who in the blue hell is going to get their OS for free, and then pay $800 something for Office when they could get OpenOffice for free?!?!!? Microsoft would be MORONS to do this.

Can have the cake and eat it... (1)

g.a.g (16798) | more than 11 years ago | (#4595020)

All it takes is to hand out Office to the starving masses - the ones running this free (both versions, but mostly as in beer) OS, and they can make money from the free Linux _and_ keep their OS market profitable. Windows doesn't need to be the killer application any more in terms of revenue, just so that it can feed itself nicely.

Windows Giveaway. (2, Insightful)

Deathlizard (115856) | more than 11 years ago | (#4595030)

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

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

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

The reason for this being that for years MS competitors have claimed that MS used it's OS monopoly to create a monopoly around other markets, such as IE or Office, and to cripple products that compete with them. By Forcing them to OSS all OS's, competitors to these other marketrs, Such as Corel Wordperfect, could make their product better simply by Knowing exactly how the OS works, making their product work better with the OS. This also opens up the door to Windows Distrubutions such as the Case with Linux, Creating Competition in the OS Sector, and Creating Better Windows Emulation on Other OS's such as Wine for Linux.

Nope, Linux isn't competition.. not at all (5, Insightful)

Grue (3391) | more than 11 years ago | (#4595060)

Judge Kollar-Kotelly: Linux is not a viable competitor to Microsoft.

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

Sombebody's been lying...

The Plan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4595062)

1. Get everybody on the .Net platform.
2. Force people to pay MS in order to sell software on .Net platform.
3. Profit!!!

Depends on your definition of "free" (1, Redundant)

starX (306011) | more than 11 years ago | (#4595073)

Will microsoft open source windows? Never. But will they perhaps give away a "basic" version in the hopes that you're going to buy their apps? Perhaps. I can see a future where there is a stripped down version of Windows that Microsoft gives away for free. It comes without any really useful applications, it requires internet activation, is suseptible to automatic updates, and the whole DRM nightmare. In return, you get a free OS for your computer that is capable of running the fine line of Microsoft Home products.

This in no way interfears with the sale of more complete versions for buisiness, developers, and enterprise environments, and allows MS to keep tabs on its user base in a way that is a little more than creepy. Now, you can of course by a personal edition without the rights restrictions, but the free version is what comes pre-installed, so everyone gets used to it. Perhaps the free version even includes some crippled features that only allow applications developed (or approaved) by microsoft to run on it... this really wouldn't be a big anti-trust thing because the OS is, after all, given away, and nothing stops you from spending a few hundred on a version that will let you run other applications.

All those ad wizards have to do is some up with a sugar sweet enough to coat this poison, and this could very well become a dangerous reality. Then again, based on recent history, their ad wizards seem more like bumbling magi, so even if they make the decision, it'll probably be a few years until they can sell it to the masses. But this thought actually scares me; they could maintain an absolute monopoly by just giving away Windows, and even if we get a legitimate DoJ someday, there wouldn't be thing one that they could do to prevent it.

OS free, but Plus! pack $$$ (3, Funny)

kruczkowski (160872) | more than 11 years ago | (#4595086)

Windows may be givin away in magazines free, but that damn Plus! pack will cost you an arm and leg!

Not to sell Office, but.. (4, Insightful)

Kwil (53679) | more than 11 years ago | (#4595091)

.. I'm pretty confident we'll see MS giving away Windows very soon after they get Palladium and Digital Restrictions Management up and running properly.

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

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

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

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

You people don't get it, do you? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4595109)

We are their #1 enemy. That doesn't mean that to them we're a veteran space marine armed to the teeth. No, Microsoft's enemies are nothing more than annoying bugs that need be simply squashed. We're nothing more than a cute little penguin that a big-ass shotgun would quickly take care of. Catch is, if they use the shotgun on us, the symbolic PETA will arrive with all sorts of lawsuits and propaganda. The Linux community is a tiny little penguin with a stick, trying to destroy a naval carrier U.S. Army style. Just because the DOJ has taken decisive action against Microsoft doesn't mean we have a BFG to point at Bill Gates's head. We have a goddam STICK, THEY have the BFG. It's a shame retreat isn't an option.

Makes no sense (2)

vanyel (28049) | more than 11 years ago | (#4595122)

This prediction makes no sense: On the one hand, with vmware and wine able to or soon will be able to run office, they can still sell it for those platforms. On the other hand, with open office, abi, staroffice etc, the handwriting is on the wall for Office as much as it is (or isn't) for Windoze. I don't think Microsoft is in any imminent danger though.

Free? With that license, who cares? (4, Interesting)

Rick the Red (307103) | more than 11 years ago | (#4595127)

My prediction is that within three years time, Microsoft will `give away' its operating system to preserve its revenue in the applications business.
What about the license? I don't mind Microsoft's OS's as much as their new licenses. I run Windows 2000 on one machine, but I refuse to downgrade to the SP3 license, and won't touch XP for the same reason. If they give it away free but retain the "right" to do any damn thing they want to my computer, there's no way I'll agree.

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

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