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An Open Source Tipping Point?

michael posted more than 9 years ago | from the one-can-hope dept.

Microsoft 261

jg21 writes "Over at LinuxWorld there's an article arguing that open source will be propelled to market predominance by the same disruptive mechanism that brought Sony, Microsoft, and others to be market leaders at the moment. 'The improbable is possible - leaders have been dethroned in the past,' writes the author, who is also apparently the producer of an upcoming documentary entitled, 'The Digital Tipping Point' to be released in September 2005. The story refers to a corroborating article from South Africa and to Clayton Christensen's Seeing What's Next which backs up this general idea."

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Posted to avoid shitty formatting of page (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10669490)

From http://www.linuxworld.com/story/46891.htm?DE=1 There's an article in there somewhere. Here it is:

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Rumors of Microsoft's Demise Are Premature...But Not Unthinkable
"The improbable is possible - leaders have been dethroned in the past"
October 29, 2004

Summary
Penguinistas have long loved to ruminate over a beer about the potential reversal of market share between Microsoft and companies offering open source solutions. But such ruminations were often left to discussions at the pub or the local LUG meeting because in a corporate business setting, even the most die-hard Penguinistas might be cautious about being thought of as wacko - at least in North American and European business settings.

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Penguinistas have long loved to ruminate over a beer about the potential reversal of market share between Microsoft and companies offering open source solutions. But such ruminations were often left to discussions at the pub or the local LUG meeting because in a corporate business setting, even the most die-hard Penguinistas might be cautious about being thought of as wacko - at least in North American and European business settings.

Software market watchers are now taking more serious assessments of the penguin versus butterfly competition, as Microsoft matures and Linux continues to put large growth numbers on the board.

The more vocal observers' voices in this choir are typically located outside the United States. For example, Tectonic, an online open source magazine based in South Africa, recently quoted Novell SA systems engineer and business manager Allison Singh as going on record that Microsoft's Windows juggernaut will become an operating system for niche tasks while Linux takes over the mainstream desktop and server roles. According to Tectonic, Singh forecast that users who need specific applications written for Windows only will stick with the OS, but for most other users, the rapidly evolving Linux desktop will become the standard operating system. Here's the link for that story: www.tectonic.co.za/view.php?id=324.

But wait! Tectonic calls itself "Africa's Source for Open Source News," and Singh, a Novell SA employee, could not be called an impartial observer. Penguinistas might put stock in Singh's vision over a beer, but the kind of market observers who carry weight with Wall Street would never consider discussing open source as a serious competition for the software market incumbent, would they?

Perhaps not in such blunt terms, but renowned business scholars such as Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen, the innovation guru, are taking a hard look at the prospects of open source taking serious market share from Microsoft.

In his recent book, Seeing What's Next, which he coauthored with Erik Roth and Scott Anthony, Christensen provides a sober, theoretical framework for circumstances under which companies offering modular open source solutions have a competitive advantage over companies offering the integrated architectural solutions such as Microsoft's Windows franchise.

In a nutshell, Christensen and his co-authors argue that when modular commodity products such as the Linux kernel are "good enough" for the jobs of price-sensitive market tiers, those commodity products are positioned to take market share from integrated solutions that "overshoot" the performance demands of customers in any given market tier, particularly the more price-sensitive lower market tiers.

The Christensen team writes that as companies race to meet the performance expectations of the more functionality-sensitive upper-tier customers, who are willing to pay a premium for the latest and greatest, those companies will inevitably innovate ahead of the performance demands of the more price-sensitive market tiers. For customers in the more price-sensitive market tiers, performance of the modular commodity is often "good enough" to win the job bid or close the sale.

Most industry observers are now coming to see that for the average desktop functions, the operating system and the office productivity suite are basically "done." In other words, the market leader has overshot the demands of customers such as schools, governments, and businesses who only need to provide their office workers with basic office productivity functions and Internet accessibility.
It's the Packaging, Stupid...
The secret is out. The value of open source business models is in the packaging - whether you are talking about the value-add of HP's SUSE Linux nx5000 desktop, or IBM's GNU Linux blade servers, or Google and Amazon.com offering access to their GNU Linux-powered search and merchandising services, or whether you are talking about the mass-customization of Linux software packaging and maintenance offered by Red Hat and Progeny.

Publishing whiz Tim O'Reilly believes that this new software business is so different from the traditional model followed by vendors like Microsoft that the new model deserves to be called a "paradigm shift."

For example, in his keynote speech at the Open Source Business Conference 2004 in San Francisco, he asked the packed room of business managers how many present used Linux. All but 20% raised their hands. He then asked for a show of hands as to who uses Google. Everyone raised their hands, at which point Tim noted that the 20% who didn't raise their hands the first time are still operating under the old paradigm. It's the packaging, stupid. Businesses will be able to challenge Microsoft because they are using new models to make an end run around the market leader's hammerlock on the desktop.

If this mode of software packaging is really a paradigm shift, shouldn't there be a fancy new theory explaining it all? Yup. And there is. It's what Christensen's team calls "the law of conservation of integration." Here's how Christensen and his coauthors explain this law in Seeing What's Next:

Conservation of integration holds that, when an interdependent system architecture is necessary to optimize performance at a stage of value added that is not good enough, the architecture of the product or service at the adjacent stage of value added must be modular and conformable in order to optimize the performance of what is not good enough. In simple terms, modular stuff must surround integrated stuff to optimize the integrated stuff.

Christensen's team says that the Linux kernel is a perfect example of innovating in ways that wouldn't work with Windows:

Consider the difference between Microsoft Windows and the Linux operating system. Windows is a highly integrated, interdependent operating system. To optimize the operating system, applications developers must conform their products to meet Microsoft's interface requirements. Efforts to try to modify Windows to improve individual applications would be disastrous; any individual change would have literally thousands of unanticipated consequences and operating system problems. Linux works the other way, because its goal is to enable optimized applications. The Linux operating system itself is modular. As long as you follow the rules, you can modify it to optimize the performance of an application.

This conservation of integration continues to drive the sales growth of Linux wrap-arounds. For example, in an article dated August 25, 2004, Michael S. Mimoso, senior news editor for SearchEnterpriseLinux.com, cited a Gartner study of the second quarter of 2004 showing that worldwide server revenue grew 7.7% to $11.5 billion. As of the end of that quarter, IBM remained the leader in global server revenue with 30.7% market share, HP was at 27.3%, Sun was at 13%, and Dell was at 9%, with Dell enjoying the biggest revenue jump (20.1%) year-over-year. The money is definitely there for those with a business plan to find it (http://searchenterpriselinux.techtarget.com/ originalContent/0,289142,sid39_gci1002420,00.html) .
Microsoft Is Maturing
Here's another poorly kept secret: Microsoft is maturing. On July 20, 2004, Microsoft announced its intent to issue the largest stockholder payout in history in the form of a stock repurchase of over $30 billion and an increased dividend for a package that could total $75 billion over four years. Such an investor reward is more typical of a so-called "widows and ophans" stock, rather than the growth rocket of the Microsoft of yore.

In an article for the eCommerce Times dated August 21, 2004, Steve Lohr wrote that Microsoft's decision to turn its venerable Office Suite into an office "system" is an attempt to fend off challengers such as Sun Microsystems' StarOffice and its brother, OpenOffice.org. Steve Lohr concluded that such a decision was "key" to Microsoft's future in light of its slowing growth:

Although Microsoft's Office business grew 14 percent last year, analysts forecast the rate would slow considerably this year along with the financial impact of upgrade contracts that Microsoft pressed customers to sign a few years ago. The underlying growth rate of the business, analysts say, is 6 percent to 8 percent.
- www.ecommercetimes.com/story/35988.html

Melanie Hollands, an independent IT business journalist, thinks Microsoft might have peaked in October or November of 2002, according to her article in the online IT Managers Journal on July 7, 2004:

Yes, Microsoft has a ton of cash on the balance sheet. But it's not balance sheet cash or market share that propels a stock price upward. It's growth. And growth leveled off at Microsoft about 18 months ago, when the company went ex-growth and ex-cash.
- http://management.itmanagersjournal.com/ management/04/07/06/1351259.shtml

The best evidence of the effect that open source software is having on Microsoft comes from Microsoft itself. Consider this quote from a recent Microsoft SEC filing, as reported by Jo Best of the online journal Silicon.com on September 3, 2004:

For fiscal 2005, we believe industry-wide factors such as PC unit growth and the success of noncommercial software could significantly affect our results of operations and financial condition. PC unit growth was very strong in fiscal 2004, increasing approximately 13% from fiscal 2003. We do not expect similar growth to occur in fiscal 2005.

We continue to watch the evolution of open source software development and distribution. 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 increase in Linux distributions reflects some significant public announcements of support and adoption of open source software in both the server and desktop markets in the last year. To the extent open source software products gain increasing market acceptance, sales of our products may decline, which could result in a reduction in our revenue and operating margins.
- http://software.silicon.com/os/0,39024651,39123685 ,00.htm

Microsoft has proven itself to be nimble in the past, especially in regard to its famed reversal of its view of the Internet. However, Clay Christensen notes in his book The Innovator's Solution, which he coauthored with Michael Royston, that 95% of all members of the Fortune 50 have stalled some time during their tenure on that list between the years 1955 and 1995. Consider this passage from Christensen and Roysten's book.

Probably the most daunting challenge in delivering growth is that if you fail once to deliver it, the odds that you ever will be able to deliver it in the future are very low. This is the conclusion of a remarkable study, Stall Points, that the Corporate Strategy Board published in 1998. It examined the 172 companies that had spent time on Fortune's list of the 50 largest companies between 1955 and 1995. Only 5 percent of these companies were able to sustain a real, inflation adjusted growth rate of more than 6 percent across their entire tenure in this group. The other 95 percent reached a point at which their growth simply stalled, to rates at or below the rate of growth of the gross national product (GNP). Stalling is understandable, given our expectations that all growth markets become saturated and mature. What is scary is that of all these companies whose growth had stalled, only 4 percent were able to successfully reignite their growth even to a rate of 1 percent above GNP growth. Once growth had stalled, in other words, it proved nearly impossible to restart it.

Of course, Microsoft still has lots of new revenue tools to pursue, but I do think that Microsoft has some really big problems in light of the fact that their growth is slowing and their two main revenue engines have been commoditized (Windows, Office commoditized by GNU Linux and OpenOffice.org/StarOffice). So the question might be posed as follows: Will Microsoft be able to increase revenue in its up-market defenses (Office "system") and its "peripheral" ventures (Home Entertainment Hub, aka the Xbox) faster than the wave of low-end disruption erodes its revenues from its revenue leaders (Windows, Office)?

It is counterintuitive to think that Microsoft could be reduced to a niche mar-ket player as boldly predicted by Novell SA's Allison Singh. But look at the long fall that undisputed market leaders RCA and Harley Davidson took when they were hit by the disruptive technologies of Sony's transistor radios and Honda's small supercub motorcycles. You would have been laughed at if you had suggested that RCA and Harley would have been displaced when they were in their prime. Customers in North America sneered at Sony and Honda at that time, but those market entrants thrashed the market leaders with their disruptive technologies.

The improbable is possible. Leaders have been dethroned in the past. The vast majority of Fortune's 50 largest companies stalled. Many of today's serious software market observers think it could happen again with Microsoft and open source software.

Ah, bugger. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10669520)

I copied a few of the ads at the start as well. Sorry, folks.

Re:Posted to avoid shitty formatting of page (1)

Ithika (703697) | more than 9 years ago | (#10669523)

Could at least have gone to the effort of cutting out the adverts when you posted the article. It's actually harder to read here than it is on the original page, where at least the adverts were in a different colour.

Re:Posted to avoid shitty formatting of page (4, Insightful)

Geste (527302) | more than 9 years ago | (#10669588)

Awwww, bugger. I thought he posted it that way to make a sarcastic point about how unreadable the LinuxWorld web site is. I mean, is their webmaster on drugs? Does Sybase pay money to be associated with such madness? And what the heck did that article say?

Re:Posted to avoid shitty formatting of page (1)

Ohreally_factor (593551) | more than 9 years ago | (#10669897)

My theory is that the unprofessionalism is intentional, an attempt to make the world of linux look unprofessional. I base this on the anti-linux bias of many of the articles.

Where can I download MKS Toolkit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10669712)

I purchased this years ago, but they try to ream you for each version upgrade.

I've paid for it 3 times, that's enough. Where can I get the latest version for gratis?

Could Definitely Happen (5, Insightful)

pipingguy (566974) | more than 9 years ago | (#10669516)


If the sleeping giant that is America's small business community goes for Linux (possibly as a result of being introduced to the open source concept by Firefox), Bill has a really big problem on his hands.

Re:Could Definitely Happen (2, Interesting)

Dionysus (12737) | more than 9 years ago | (#10669555)

If the sleeping giant that is America's small business community goes for Linux (possibly as a result of being introduced to the open source concept by Firefox), Bill has a really big problem on his hands.

Why? You don't think Microsoft can adapt? It seems to me that Microsoft is the master of adaption. Why can't Microsoft go the IBM route?

Re:Could Definitely Happen (1)

pipingguy (566974) | more than 9 years ago | (#10669708)


It might just be that Microsoft has seen this coming. It is a natural progression after all. MS could adapt but they'd have to compete or cooperate with disparate, individual Linux developers worldwide. That doesn't fit well with their current way of doing business.

But what do I know?

Re:Could Definitely Happen (1)

msully4321 (816359) | more than 9 years ago | (#10669804)

Why can't Microsoft go the IBM route? I'd be more than happy if that happened, because that would still mean Linux is predominant OS.

Re:Could Definitely Happen (4, Insightful)

Jason Earl (1894) | more than 9 years ago | (#10669978)

Microsoft will adapt, but no matter what they do their glory days are done. Heck, Microsoft routinely posts profit margins of over 80% on its MS Office and Windows businesses, and as the market moves more and more towards commodity software those profit margins are going to evaporate.

Microsoft's real problem is its own success. Microsoft is crawling towards single digit growth, MSFT has a Price/Earnings ratio over over 30, and everywhere you look Linux is taking the profit margins out of potential Microsoft markets. Eventually the analysts aren't going to be able to spin Microsoft's lack of growth into a scenario that justifies MSFT's stock price and things at Microsoft are going to get truly ugly. Bill Gates and his cronies have structured Microsoft around the idea that the stock price always heads up. They have made stocks a huge part of their incentive plan, and everyone at Microsoft has a huge percentage of their personal wealth wrapped up in MSFT. When the stock price corrects itself then Microsoft is going to look vulnerable, and Linux will be waiting in the wings looking for wins. Every time Microsoft wants to push another upgrade on the public Free Software will be there to pick up stragglers. In the past Microsoft has been able to adapt because they had ridiculously lucrative businesses to back up their crazy plans. Microsoft has lost billions on the XBox (they lost over a billion last year alone). Instead of throwing in the towel Microsoft is instead rushing their next gen hardware so that they can throw more money down a hole. In a world where Microsoft has to lower prices on Windows and MS Office to compete with Free Software it is going to be much harder to convince investors that the billions wasted on the "next big thing" is truly a good idea. Investors are going to demand growth, and Microsoft simply hasn't delivered in recent years, and things are getting steadily worse.

Don't get me wrong, Microsoft isn't going to disappear in a puff of smoke, but for a high flyer like Microsoft being relegated to one solution of many turning a 10% profit margin is a long step down.

Re:Could Definitely Happen (2, Insightful)

goon america (536413) | more than 9 years ago | (#10669678)

Business goes wherever the business press tells it to go -- think "Buy internet stocks now! Will this gravy train ever end?" -- and, I don't know if you've ever read any, but is pretty well analogized to Teen Beat and its fellow travellers: dumb, marketing is job #1, idiotic hysteria, herd behavior, PR-whoring if not outright shilling for the moneyed interests. What you read in any business publication is mostly adapted from press releases. What solution is actually better from a technical point of view never comes into play -- and Microsoft knows this. They've always known it, and that's how they've gotten as far as they have. (Incidentally, this is the same way we make political decisions in this country.)

Re:Could Definitely Happen (1)

pipingguy (566974) | more than 9 years ago | (#10669766)


They've always known it, and that's how they've gotten as far as they have

Microsoft got to where they are by providing easy-to-use and inexpensive (relatively speaking) software for business. This was a revolution.

The next revolution is about to happen as people (not you or me, we're ahead on the curve) become disillusioned and want alternatives. It's starting now with Firefox and the general public is becoming more familiar with the internet.

Will take some time (4, Informative)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 9 years ago | (#10669740)

I am a consultant with many small business customers. A few are pondering the use of Linux (I charge more for monthly maintenance of Windows systems because they take more of my time). But there are a few obstacles which completely prevent a few of them from using Linux (these are sufficiently small businesses not to have any dedicated servers).

The largest obstacle is that many of these businesses depend on vertically targetted web sites and programs which may not work on Linux. Yes, we could get many of these to work probable with Win4Lin or Crossover. However, the uncertainty and supportability is an issue.

But other clients of mine are already committing to Linux. In one case, we saved $20,000 for a customer in license fees alone, not to mention the support costs in network simplification by using Linux-based VPN appliances rather than an equivalent on Windows. In another case, we have a very successful Linux desktop deployment. In another case, we have a customer thinking about switching so he doesn't have to pay me to swing by every month to run a spyware/virus scan.

It will happen, but slowly.

Re:Will take some time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10669861)

So what do you suppose would be the turning point for your customers pondering Linux?

How much would have to change or improve for them to decide in a wholesale way to jump ship.

Of course there will be plenty of people that will still go for Windows, that's understandable...

Or do you think that it will continue to go the way it's going now, step by step. A sort of glacier movement, slow but impossible to stop...?

Re:Will take some time (3, Informative)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 9 years ago | (#10669893)

So what do you suppose would be the turning point for your customers pondering Linux?

How much would have to change or improve for them to decide in a wholesale way to jump ship.


They would need a guaranteed way of running the applications that they require in a supported way.

Let me give you an example. A local insurance agency is a customer of mine. They connect to a terminal server in New York to do most of their work so in theory maybe rdesktop would be a good solution. In practice, it isn't so simple. The server uses propritary and Windows-only software (Simplify printing) to redirect the printers. And they also need to access IE-only sites like Safeco as well as use Windows-only tools such as those for IBQ and Progressive. I could sell them on the Linux solution easily if these problems were solved.


Or do you think that it will continue to go the way it's going now, step by step. A sort of glacier movement, slow but impossible to stop...?


For now. I think that when Linux desktop market share starts to move faster (spurred by adoption by large businesses) that the dam will start to break. With Munich, Brazil, and possibly Paris, this could also start to move faster.

Re:Could Definitely Happen (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10669777)

possibly as a result of being introduced to the open source concept by Firefox

Couple reasons why this is a poor comparision:
1) FireFox is for all intent and purposes a Internet Explorer clone. It is 99% compatible with IE for most users.

Linux (beneath the skin) is nothing like Windows and has very little compatibility.

2) Firefox has almost zero TCO. You can download it, run it, and switch back to IE, all within the time it would take you to read the RedHat release notes. There's no situation where an OS is that cheap to use.

Re:Could Definitely Happen (1)

Rupy (782781) | more than 9 years ago | (#10669885)

Microsoft has so much cash sitting in the bank that even if M$ *did* somehow start turning losses from open source taking the lead they would have years to ride it out on all of their profit. That being said I dont think that open source will realisitically dominate the desktops for many years to come, some things like drivers just plain old dont work (yet) on *nix. Not to mention many applications dont function 100% (using WINE) or at all. Until granny can plug-something-in and it works it just aint gonna happen...

does MS care (5, Interesting)

cinnamon colbert (732724) | more than 9 years ago | (#10669519)

Maybe MS has already recognized that the OS is a commodity product, and they don't care if linux succeeds. MAybe MS has already put the OS on a low priority, recognizing better ROI from office or integration of entertainment. In the long run, all technology becomes a commodity, and only monopolies (att ) or truly exceptional companies (ibm) who can reinvent themselves. can command high prices for more then a few years. So, in that sense,the demise of MS is inevitable. My dad always used to talk about the linotypers union: in the 40s and 50s, they were gods: nothing got printed without thier ok. today ?

Re:does MS care (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10669598)

Certainly they care ($10 billion / quarter would make even the most jaded person care); but I think you're right in that they recognize that OS's are commodities.

Even Oracle recognized the fair price [cnn.com] for a similarly old and commodotized technology.

Even with operatings systems as commodities, though, Microsoft's demise isn't inevitible, though. There still is bleeding-edge-high-tech software.

Until I can walk up to my computer and say "Remember that picture of the cute looking monkey I took on that long ago vacation? Print a picture this big [gesturing with my hands] and send it to my mom", there's still more software to be written.

Re:does MS care (2, Informative)

agent oranje (169160) | more than 9 years ago | (#10669787)

Maybe MS has already put the OS on a low priority, recognizing better ROI from office or integration of entertainment.
This is what I hope for. I don't think that Microsoft software is particularly a Bad Thing(tm), but the operating systems are complete crap. I'd much rather use Microsoft Office than OpenOffice or an open-source equivalent... It may be "bloated," but it's still gobs faster, and much more polished. For that matter, the best version of Microsoft Office is for OSX... which shows that Microsoft is definitely able to develop good software for alternate platforms. Why not Linux?

The XBox, I hope, is Microsoft's way of weening children off of the Wintendo and onto a machine that is intended for gaming. XBox 2 sounds like it's trying to be the all-in-one digital entertainment center. So, either Microsoft is realizing they should focus on things other than their OS, or they're just trying to get a monopoly in a new market. But given that their OS is many, many years behind in terms of security and stability - and always will be - I hope that they start encouraging people to move to better platforms... but I think that migration will happen slowly on its own.

MS Does care (4, Insightful)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 9 years ago | (#10669799)

MS is faced with a problem. Their major money makers are Windows and Office, both of which are facing rapidly maturing competition from open source alternatives. They can continue to try to grow their market, but it will not be easy (must combat piracy in the third world, and expand the markets for those two products elsewhere). Their other products and services are two small to deliver the revenue that Microsoft and their stockholders expect.

So what happens as Linux and OpenOffice expand? The cost of bringing Windows and Office to market is astronomical, and the cost to produce each unit is very small, so each sale lost hits Microsoft surprisingly hard.

This quest to expand the market shows up in Media Center and Automotive editions of Windows, and in the new services which come as a part of office.

There is a problem. I have learned that if you "innovate" for the sake of innovation, your ideas will be only useful to a few, and the good enough solution takes over. I don;t see a unifying strategy for Microsoft anymore. Disclaimer: I am a former Microsoftie.

I see Microsoft as going down surprisingly quickly. It won't take long once the tipping point is actually reached (maybe with Linux hitting 10 or 20 percent of the desktop).

HA ha! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10669524)

First fuckers!!!!!1111!!!1111

Re:HA ha! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10669552)

Yah, Ha ha! You were laughing at yourself

Re:HA ha! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10669604)

No, it was you I was laughing at (loser :-). Eat THAT!

Re:HA ha! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10669644)

Sorry, dude, your the looooser for claiming 1st post and you weren't even close! I just rubbed your nose in it.

Re:HA ha! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10669676)

I'm still laughing HAHA :-P

Re:HA ha! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10669623)

BTW, welcome to pwned sucker land, population you. HAHahahahyaHAHaqhaHaHah

make your opinion known when vendors come in! (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10669525)

I had whiterock networks and luminous networks reps in last week. They were demoing their new oc-48 gear. I made comments with both groups asking why an open source browser with a java plugin was not certified with their webgui. I asked the other vendor why they did not have a client server software for linux or freebsd.

I told them windows was unacceptable and solaris is not what we use. (Although the soft switch uses dual sol servers for the db.)

anyway. complain loudly to these vendors that they
need to support what we use in the data center.

Re:make your opinion known when vendors come in! (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10669627)

I remember around 1997 some LabVIEW reps from National Instruments came in to our lab. They were showing a new version of their product. I asked when they'd have a Linux version... [blank stare] and one finally said something to the effect: It isn't cost effective to make a Linux version because no one will use it.

Well, look at what we have from National Instruments today: http://www.ni.com/linux/lin_lv.htm/ [ni.com]

Never say never

You Win (0, Troll)

dhoonlee (758528) | more than 9 years ago | (#10669532)

I am won over by the sheer persuasive logic of your argument. I SUBMIT!

Rose-coloured glasses (4, Insightful)

coupland (160334) | more than 9 years ago | (#10669534)

I've seen many articles like this in the past that suggested there was some "boiling point" at which Linux / OSS / Free Software would be unstoppable and would take off like wildfire. They are fun to read and dream about, but they don't reflect a realistic view of the software scene. Linus has often said that Linux on the desktop would be a long, tiring battle. I agree. We will never hit a point where Windows will suddenly be rejected and open solutions will become the de facto standard. I think we need to fight for every % of market share we get. It won't be easy but -- to be honest -- I find the challenge pretty damn fun. :)

Re:Rose-coloured glasses (1)

0racle (667029) | more than 9 years ago | (#10669564)

Maybe they hope that if they say it enough, one year they might be right and they can hold themselves up as visionaries or something.

Re:Rose-coloured glasses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10669695)

I agree... I don't think we'll ever see Linux just spread like a wildfire on the desktop. But someone commented here some time ago that we'll just wake up one day and notice Linux is everywhere. It will creep in and be assimilated slowley. It may never be a 95% desktop share but I could certainly be a significant mumber.

Re:Rose-coloured glasses (1)

iabervon (1971) | more than 9 years ago | (#10669710)

The "boiling point" idea makes more sense between applications than with the first application. Once everyone uses at least one OSS program, they'll be much more likely to use more, just because the licenses and process will be familiar.

Re:Rose-coloured glasses (4, Interesting)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 9 years ago | (#10669713)

The tipping point exists in many things. Once you get over a certain % then you're no longer the also-ran and people start taking you seriously.

The tipping point for voters in this country (UK) for example, means that the 3rd party (Liberal Democrats) only has to get around 25% of the votes before their number of seats climbs considerably... that's a statistical anomaly that comes out of the quirky way we do our elections here (eg. in a pure 2 party race it would be theoretically possible to get 49% of the vote and zero seats. You can get 74% of the vote and lose, by the same measure... real world statistics of course aren't that clean).

If Linux got to 20% market share for example, would there be games for it? You bet - who's going to turn down that kind of cash. Would there be preinstalled machines on the high-street? Very likely.

Windows went through the same thing - for long time everyone wrote for DOS because nobody had Windows... then a point was reached where it became economically viable to write for Windows, and DOS went into decline quite rapidly.

Re:Rose-coloured glasses (0)

noselasd (594905) | more than 9 years ago | (#10669824)

These 20%, will they magically happen all of a sudden ?

Didn't think so.

Re:Rose-coloured glasses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10669834)

The problem with the Windows/DOS comparision is that it was more of an exception than a rule. Windows (as crappy as it was) provided enormous benefits that just weren't avaiable with DOS. DOS locked people into a 1981-style computing experience, while Windows unlocked 1991-style hardware. DOS wasn't "good enough" and Windows was.

Meanwhile, Linux only provides marginal benefits over Windows (and has it's deficits as well). On the desktop there's very little case that Linux would provide users with some capability that Windows does not have.

The historical record is that being "better than Windows" never got OS/2 or even MS' own WinNT over ~5% markethshare. And OS/2 / NT had positive stuff going for it, while Linux case for the desktop seems to be based on "Windows suxx0rz".

Re:Rose-coloured glasses (2, Insightful)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 9 years ago | (#10669979)

Meanwhile, Linux only provides marginal benefits over Windows (and has it's deficits as well). On the desktop there's very little case that Linux would provide users with some capability that Windows does not have.

That depends heavily on your environment, my friend.

In a typical workstation/server model, you are right. But what if I want all my programs to run on differnet servers for centralized administration and have them share your home directory? Not so easy on Windows unless you start running lots of add-ons. Now, what if I still want my email client to run on the laptop so I can work when I am not on the intranet? Breeze in Linux, not so easy on Windows (yes, there is folder synchronization, but CodaFS is better).

Now lets look at a different angle-- as part of a business pilot program I need to install a small database server and add a bunch more software to some of the workstations. Open source provides for very little beurocratic buyoff while proprietary software licensing will slow this process down.

Solution: Build apps that are cross-platform! (1)

SendBot (29932) | more than 9 years ago | (#10669793)

I've been thinking frequently that what would help spread linux like wildfire is network delivered applications that make the platform irrelevant.

Simple web based apps are nice, but there are many limitations such as not having a framework for interface, making developers write their own widgets or integrate other software after researching available solutions.

I've just started using XUL (pronounced 'zool') for an application that will load simply by visiting a url with mozilla/firefox. You can install local apps that have priveleged access to resources, but for my needs all data interaction will be handled by a central system.

If anyone could have a fully working computer that just worked reliably all the time with most software you could ever want available to you for the cost of internet access, I think *that* is the kind of appeal that would help cause accelerated growth in open souce adoption in the consumer market.

Check out XUL: http://xulplanet.com [xulplanet.com]

Java (-1, Troll)

3770 (560838) | more than 9 years ago | (#10669862)

I've never tried XUL but from what I read it sounds pretty good.

But I've always thought, for as long as I can remember, that the best way to help Linux is to write your applications in Java.

The backers of Java are very powerful, IBM, Sun, BEA, Oracle. The list goes on.

If Java truly would be write once, run anywhere and if Java gets fast enough (it is pretty fast now already but it is fighting a common notion that it is slow) then the operating system becomes irrelevant. This is why MS worked so hard on undermining Java.

So everytime people advocate Perl and PHP and other toy languages (Yes, that's right, I said toy languages. And spare me the flames. I will take this back if you show me a PHP or Perl application server which is comparable to BEA WebLogic) I feel as if it is an opportunity lost for Linux.

I have heard people say that the terrorists of the world wants Kerry to win. Well, Microsoft would rather that you used Perl and PHP than Java.

Hence, use Java if you want to promote Linux.

Re:Rose-coloured glasses (4, Interesting)

grcumb (781340) | more than 9 years ago | (#10669850)

"Linus has often said that Linux on the desktop would be a long, tiring battle."

I agree with Linus' assessment, inasmuch as making Linux an ideal desktop environment is concerned. But I don't think it has any bearing on the tipping point argument.

The longest, most tiring battle of my 15 year career in IT has been supporting Windows under increasingly difficult conditions. I now refuse to recommend or administer Windows servers, and I provide my customers with compelling reasons for this stance. The vast majority of them are receptive to my reasoning and discover for themselves that Linux servers are more cost-effective.

The huge upsurge in Windows exploits and the daily onslaught of malware and spam gives consultants like me all the fodder we need to argue for FOSS on the desktop too. Note that I'm not saying 'Linux on the desktop'. This is a transitional game we're playing, and conversion to Linux-based desktop systems won't be immediate. It will happen, though, unless something comes along that's got more momentum and greater robustness than Linux.

It's critical to note that Microsoft has never written robust, secure software. Pronouncements to the contrary notwithstanding, it doesn't know how to do it. As software security becomes a dominant criterion for product selection, Microsoft's appeal diminishes. More and more frequently, organisations are willing to compromise on polish and integration in exchange for lower overall running costs.

This is precisely the wedge that Linux - and FOSS in general - need to break into the market. There will be a tipping point past which it becomes easier to move to FOSS than to remain with MS. The real question is when this will occur. You seem to be suggesting that this will be a long time in coming. I believe that rampant security problems will bring about the change much sooner than many suspect.

making history (1, Funny)

g-to-the-o-to-the-g (705721) | more than 9 years ago | (#10669539)

I wonder if in the future kids in school will learn about "hackers" like "lunis toorvalsd" who changed the way we download pr0n and read slashdot.

In all seriousness, as a full time Gentoo user myself, I think I would prefer it if Linux remained a well kept secret (as far as the general public is concerned). Sure, a slightly larger market share would be nice, but it wouldn't be as l33t if everyone and their grandmother was using Linux. I'd love to see Linux thrive, but on the other hand what if Linux became the new monopoly and it's quality began to degrade the same way Windows(tm) has? Ramble ramble ramble. I forget what I'm karma whoring about.

Re:making history (1)

g-to-the-o-to-the-g (705721) | more than 9 years ago | (#10669605)

...just think, maybe it'd be on the same level in terms of history events as things like the russian revolution or the french revolution. With the way technology has become a part of most people's lives, I don't see how governments can stand by and let some company run the show. If governments came after software, I bet the governments would want a lot more control over the situation. ie. think health care. The principals behind government is pretty fundamentally similar to open source (well, in Canada anyways). Info is supposed to be made available to the public, and if the government had it's say I think it would probably agree with many open source ideals.

In other words, I don't understand why the government doesn't step in and say "Hey MS, you need to be a little more open, or you can take your products elsewhere". I think the chinese government did something like this, but I'm not up to date on my china news. I would think that government would really like the idea of open source because theres no secrets. Although, some might say that theres too much corruption in some governments (hopefully not here!).

Just my 3 cents.

Re:making history (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10669664)

i bet something like this already happened and been there a long time, i bet the US secret service, NSA, FBI, CIA all have a back door in to windows, but microsoft wont admit to it, and this backdoor is what crackers and viruses keep finding, so microsoft has to re-configure the back door - until the bad guys find it again, then ms does the same thing all over again, reconfiguring the secret back door again, sort of like a dog chasing its tail...

Re:making history (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 9 years ago | (#10669691)

I'd love to see Linux thrive, but on the other hand what if Linux became the new monopoly and it's quality began to degrade the same way Windows(tm) has?

Then you could move to *BSD, or some newer alternative such as syllable. It's not like linux is the only hobbyist OS out there.

Tipping Point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10669541)

According to Slashdot circa 1999, the tipping was ... you know.. 1999.

This looks more like the tripping point to me.

It's a nice thought (4, Insightful)

nels_tomlinson (106413) | more than 9 years ago | (#10669548)

It's a nice thought, but I think that the evidence is a little weak: we have a Linuxworld article, a Novell engineer's blog, and a Harvard academic blathering about disruptive technologies.

It could happen that MS will become a niche player, but if I had to bet money, I'd bet on MS surviving with a large market share. There's jsut too many people who have budgets to justify, and the one thing that Libre software can't help you do is squander money.

Re:It's a nice thought (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10669684)

Of course MS will survive. Even if there is some irrational mass exodus from Windows, they're a business, they'll adapt and go where the money is. What's to stop them from taking one of the BSDs and adding on a Windows compatibility layer in addition to the Linux compatibility layer? Then they'd have the one single OS that could run Unix / Linux apps as well as Windows apps. Compatibility would be their selling point, as always.

Re:It's a nice thought (1)

Nafai7 (53671) | more than 9 years ago | (#10669857)

Compatibility would be their selling point, as always.

Serious question... when has true compatibility been a Microsoft selling point? Not trolling, just interesed to see a few examples of that.

Re:It's a nice thought (1)

grcumb (781340) | more than 9 years ago | (#10669887)

"What's to stop them from taking one of the BSDs and adding on a Windows compatibility layer in addition to the Linux compatibility layer?"

A level playing field.

Creating a system like the one you describe would even the field by allowing FOSS applications to be recompiled to run on their BSD variant with little or no additional effort. This would represent a free ticket into the game for any player. This would leave Microsoft one criterion to compete with: quality.

Microsoft can't compete with FOSS on development cost. So in order to develop software of equal quality, they have to spend more money. Which means they have to charge more. This means they lose market share to competitors who are willing to accept razor-thin margins just to get on the same platform as Microsoft.

For Microsoft, compatibility is suicide.

Re:It's a nice thought (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10669715)

It is a basic article of faith for the Linux True Believers -- In (X+2) Years, Linux is going to take over and destroy Microsoft financially or market share-wise. (Where X is any year after 1997). Everyone from Eric Raymond on down has espoused this. (With Raymond even going so far saying that "Linux will be successful when MSFT hits $X/share".)

The "Linux is predestined to kill Microsoft" mentality has taken such root that slashdotters will frequently confuse the prediction with reality. Microsoft reports record profits, Microsoft market share keeps going up (over 50% for servers now) -- but on Slashdot it is _obvious_ that M$ is in freefall and Linux is will take over next tuesday.

Couple points though (4, Insightful)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 9 years ago | (#10669876)

Not sure if you are trolling. But anyways....

Businesses tend to be risk adverse, which is generally a good thing. This means also that they are afraid of change. So this slows down Linux quite a bit.

Home users tend to stick with what they use at work. So until Linux takes over on the corporate workstation, it will be a slow tough fight.

All that being said, I think that Linux will kill windows. It will just be a slow process until a certain market share is reached. At this point application compatibility will be less of an issue. But progress is occuring much faster than some people realize: Linux is certainly killing proprietary UNIX (as is Windows), and the fate of OS X is uncertain, though I suspect that it will slowly be open sourced bit by bit, and they may slowly subsume eachother.....

Consider that 5% of the PC's which shipped last year ran Linux (mostly Linspire and Mandrake). Even after you count those where Windows was later installed, that was still up to three percent of *new* PC sales. Yes, Microsoft's monopoly has begun to collapse already. This year, maybe, it will be more.

Linux is already causing Microsoft real headaches in a few very key markets such as internet server and embedded system markets. The real beacheads are business web application development, desktop, and groupware now. But it is a slow process at the moment and will be for some time. I do predict though that it will be a fierce war for the desktop by the time Longhorn ships.

BTW, Linux has been good enough for the desktop for the last 5 years. It is just getting better :-)

Also, Microsoft's last year of record profits was the year XP was launched. This is to be expected. But their market share is another question-- how do you measure market share? In dollars? If so then the slow demise of proprietary UNIX and Netware gives Microsoft greatly inflated numbers. If in deployments, then the simple answer is: we don't really know what real numbers are because we have no good way of measuring them.

Now, is there a tipping point? You bet. At a certain point, people won't write their business web tools for IE only (as Safeco does). Vertically targetted tools will be available for Linux, etc. and all basic productivity tools will be open source. At this point, I expect Linux useage to take off much faster.

Article text (1, Informative)

mistersooreams (811324) | more than 9 years ago | (#10669550)

Only a handful of comments and already the site's down to a crawl, so here's the article text:

Penguinistas have long loved to ruminate over a beer about the potential reversal of market share between Microsoft and companies offering open source solutions. But such ruminations were often left to discussions at the pub or the local LUG meeting because in a corporate business setting, even the most die-hard Penguinistas might be cautious about being thought of as wacko - at least in North American and European business settings.

Software market watchers are now taking more serious assessments of the penguin versus butterfly competition, as Microsoft matures and Linux continues to put large growth numbers on the board.

The more vocal observers' voices in this choir are typically located outside the United States. For example, Tectonic, an online open source magazine based in South Africa, recently quoted Novell SA systems engineer and business manager Allison Singh as going on record that Microsoft's Windows juggernaut will become an operating system for niche tasks while Linux takes over the mainstream desktop and server roles. According to Tectonic, Singh forecast that users who need specific applications written for Windows only will stick with the OS, but for most other users, the rapidly evolving Linux desktop will become the standard operating system. Here's the link for that story: www.tectonic.co.za/view.php?id=324.

But wait! Tectonic calls itself "Africa's Source for Open Source News," and Singh, a Novell SA employee, could not be called an impartial observer. Penguinistas might put stock in Singh's vision over a beer, but the kind of market observers who carry weight with Wall Street would never consider discussing open source as a serious competition for the software market incumbent, would they?

Perhaps not in such blunt terms, but renowned business scholars such as Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen, the innovation guru, are taking a hard look at the prospects of open source taking serious market share from Microsoft.

In his recent book, Seeing What's Next, which he coauthored with Erik Roth and Scott Anthony, Christensen provides a sober, theoretical framework for circumstances under which companies offering modular open source solutions have a competitive advantage over companies offering the integrated architectural solutions such as Microsoft's Windows franchise.

In a nutshell, Christensen and his co-authors argue that when modular commodity products such as the Linux kernel are "good enough" for the jobs of price-sensitive market tiers, those commodity products are positioned to take market share from integrated solutions that "overshoot" the performance demands of customers in any given market tier, particularly the more price-sensitive lower market tiers.

The Christensen team writes that as companies race to meet the performance expectations of the more functionality-sensitive upper-tier customers, who are willing to pay a premium for the latest and greatest, those companies will inevitably innovate ahead of the performance demands of the more price-sensitive market tiers. For customers in the more price-sensitive market tiers, performance of the modular commodity is often "good enough" to win the job bid or close the sale.

Most industry observers are now coming to see that for the average desktop functions, the operating system and the office productivity suite are basically "done." In other words, the market leader has overshot the demands of customers such as schools, governments, and businesses who only need to provide their office workers with basic office productivity functions and Internet accessibility.

It's the Packaging, Stupid...

The secret is out. The value of open source business models is in the packaging - whether you are talking about the value-add of HP's SUSE Linux nx5000 desktop, or IBM's GNU Linux blade servers, or Google and Amazon.com offering access to their GNU Linux-powered search and merchandising services, or whether you are talking about the mass-customization of Linux software packaging and maintenance offered by Red Hat and Progeny.

Publishing whiz Tim O'Reilly believes that this new software business is so different from the traditional model followed by vendors like Microsoft that the new model deserves to be called a "paradigm shift."

For example, in his keynote speech at the Open Source Business Conference 2004 in San Francisco, he asked the packed room of business managers how many present used Linux. All but 20% raised their hands. He then asked for a show of hands as to who uses Google. Everyone raised their hands, at which point Tim noted that the 20% who didn't raise their hands the first time are still operating under the old paradigm. It's the packaging, stupid. Businesses will be able to challenge Microsoft because they are using new models to make an end run around the market leader's hammerlock on the desktop.

If this mode of software packaging is really a paradigm shift, shouldn't there be a fancy new theory explaining it all? Yup. And there is. It's what Christensen's team calls "the law of conservation of integration." Here's how Christensen and his coauthors explain this law in Seeing What's Next:

Conservation of integration holds that, when an interdependent system architecture is necessary to optimize performance at a stage of value added that is not good enough, the architecture of the product or service at the adjacent stage of value added must be modular and conformable in order to optimize the performance of what is not good enough. In simple terms, modular stuff must surround integrated stuff to optimize the integrated stuff.

Christensen's team says that the Linux kernel is a perfect example of innovating in ways that wouldn't work with Windows:

Consider the difference between Microsoft Windows and the Linux operating system. Windows is a highly integrated, interdependent operating system. To optimize the operating system, applications developers must conform their products to meet Microsoft's interface requirements. Efforts to try to modify Windows to improve individual applications would be disastrous; any individual change would have literally thousands of unanticipated consequences and operating system problems. Linux works the other way, because its goal is to enable optimized applications. The Linux operating system itself is modular. As long as you follow the rules, you can modify it to optimize the performance of an application.

This conservation of integration continues to drive the sales growth of Linux wrap-arounds. For example, in an article dated August 25, 2004, Michael S. Mimoso, senior news editor for SearchEnterpriseLinux.com, cited a Gartner study of the second quarter of 2004 showing that worldwide server revenue grew 7.7% to $11.5 billion. As of the end of that quarter, IBM remained the leader in global server revenue with 30.7% market share, HP was at 27.3%, Sun was at 13%, and Dell was at 9%, with Dell enjoying the biggest revenue jump (20.1%) year-over-year. The money is definitely there for those with a business plan to find it (http://searchenterpriselinux.techtarget.com/ originalContent/0,289142,sid39_gci1002420,00.html) .

Microsoft Is Maturing

Here's another poorly kept secret: Microsoft is maturing. On July 20, 2004, Microsoft announced its intent to issue the largest stockholder payout in history in the form of a stock repurchase of over $30 billion and an increased dividend for a package that could total $75 billion over four years. Such an investor reward is more typical of a so-called "widows and ophans" stock, rather than the growth rocket of the Microsoft of yore.

In an article for the eCommerce Times dated August 21, 2004, Steve Lohr wrote that Microsoft's decision to turn its venerable Office Suite into an office "system" is an attempt to fend off challengers such as Sun Microsystems' StarOffice and its brother, OpenOffice.org. Steve Lohr concluded that such a decision was "key" to Microsoft's future in light of its slowing growth:

Although Microsoft's Office business grew 14 percent last year, analysts forecast the rate would slow considerably this year along with the financial impact of upgrade contracts that Microsoft pressed customers to sign a few years ago. The underlying growth rate of the business, analysts say, is 6 percent to 8 percent. - www.ecommercetimes.com/story/35988.html

Melanie Hollands, an independent IT business journalist, thinks Microsoft might have peaked in October or November of 2002, according to her article in the online IT Managers Journal on July 7, 2004:

Yes, Microsoft has a ton of cash on the balance sheet. But it's not balance sheet cash or market share that propels a stock price upward. It's growth. And growth leveled off at Microsoft about 18 months ago, when the company went ex-growth and ex-cash. - http://management.itmanagersjournal.com/ management/04/07/06/1351259.shtml

The best evidence of the effect that open source software is having on Microsoft comes from Microsoft itself. Consider this quote from a recent Microsoft SEC filing, as reported by Jo Best of the online journal Silicon.com on September 3, 2004:

For fiscal 2005, we believe industry-wide factors such as PC unit growth and the success of noncommercial software could significantly affect our results of operations and financial condition. PC unit growth was very strong in fiscal 2004, increasing approximately 13% from fiscal 2003. We do not expect similar growth to occur in fiscal 2005.

We continue to watch the evolution of open source software development and distribution. 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 increase in Linux distributions reflects some significant public announcements of support and adoption of open source software in both the server and desktop markets in the last year. To the extent open source software products gain increasing market acceptance, sales of our products may decline, which could result in a reduction in our revenue and operating margins. - http://software.silicon.com/os/0,39024651,39123685 ,00.htm

Microsoft has proven itself to be nimble in the past, especially in regard to its famed reversal of its view of the Internet. However, Clay Christensen notes in his book The Innovator's Solution, which he coauthored with Michael Royston, that 95% of all members of the Fortune 50 have stalled some time during their tenure on that list between the years 1955 and 1995. Consider this passage from Christensen and Roysten's book.

Probably the most daunting challenge in delivering growth is that if you fail once to deliver it, the odds that you ever will be able to deliver it in the future are very low. This is the conclusion of a remarkable study, Stall Points, that the Corporate Strategy Board published in 1998. It examined the 172 companies that had spent time on Fortune's list of the 50 largest companies between 1955 and 1995. Only 5 percent of these companies were able to sustain a real, inflation adjusted growth rate of more than 6 percent across their entire tenure in this group. The other 95 percent reached a point at which their growth simply stalled, to rates at or below the rate of growth of the gross national product (GNP). Stalling is understandable, given our expectations that all growth markets become saturated and mature. What is scary is that of all these companies whose growth had stalled, only 4 percent were able to successfully reignite their growth even to a rate of 1 percent above GNP growth. Once growth had stalled, in other words, it proved nearly impossible to restart it.

Of course, Microsoft still has lots of new revenue tools to pursue, but I do think that Microsoft has some really big problems in light of the fact that their growth is slowing and their two main revenue engines have been commoditized (Windows, Office commoditized by GNU Linux and OpenOffice.org/StarOffice). So the question might be posed as follows: Will Microsoft be able to increase revenue in its up-market defenses (Office "system") and its "peripheral" ventures (Home Entertainment Hub, aka the Xbox) faster than the wave of low-end disruption erodes its revenues from its revenue leaders (Windows, Office)?

It is counterintuitive to think that Microsoft could be reduced to a niche mar-ket player as boldly predicted by Novell SA's Allison Singh. But look at the long fall that undisputed market leaders RCA and Harley Davidson took when they were hit by the disruptive technologies of Sony's transistor radios and Honda's small supercub motorcycles. You would have been laughed at if you had suggested that RCA and Harley would have been displaced when they were in their prime. Customers in North America sneered at Sony and Honda at that time, but those market entrants thrashed the market leaders with their disruptive technologies.

The improbable is possible. Leaders have been dethroned in the past. The vast majority of Fortune's 50 largest companies stalled. Many of today's serious software market observers think it could happen again with Microsoft and open source software.

Dear short-term memory editors (4, Interesting)

Fnkmaster (89084) | more than 9 years ago | (#10669554)

After the last LinuxWorld debacle [slashdot.org] I now refuse to click on LinuxWorld links. For once, I am not reading the article, and for a principled reason. Until LinuxWorld terminates Ms. O'Gara and denounces her page-view-whoring troll tactics, they will get no ad impressions from me.


This is almost as bad as posting Roland Piquepaille submissions.

It's not as OT as the mods think! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10669649)

LinuxWorld really did run O'Gara's story with SCO's latest spew, and should have been a bit more careful.

Now then, it's not that parent doesn't have a point about O'Gara taking SCO's word for things a *wee* bit more than should have been reasonable, but I would suggest you all read what else PJ of Groklaw wrote about that whole issue here:

http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=200410261 33519345 [groklaw.net]

Not that most Slashdotters will likely heed her advice...

C'mon. O'Gara is HOT (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10669723)

Just kidding.

Not only is she dumb, but she's ugly. As in "hard on the eyes".

Sorry if that's a slam, but the woman literally makes up stuff in an article, puts her picture like a vulture, and I'm supposed to think "oh wow, she's not well thought out".

Nope, I'm thinking STUPID FUCKING WHORE!

Admit it, you are thinking the same thing.

Re:Dear short-term memory editors (3, Informative)

dtfinch (661405) | more than 9 years ago | (#10669946)

I don't expect they'll publish any more of Ms. O'Gara's articles. But all the other sites owned by their parent will continue to do so. So the ad revenue will flow.

The LinuxWorld editors tried to apologize, blaming it on the LinuxBusinessWeek editors and mentioning that several LinuxWorld editors threatened to resign in protest. Since they're both owned by SYS-CON, both infact running basically the same site, they're expected to cross publish certain articles.

http://www.linuxworld.com/story/46821.htm [linuxworld.com]

The LinuxBusinessWeek editors on the other hand say they disagree with the LinuxWorld editors about the quality of the article, and that LinuxBusinessWeek stands by that article and look forward to publishing more of Maureen's works. But "We will no longer provide news content to LinuxWorld Magazine's accompanying Web site."

http://www.linuxbusinessweek.com/story/46854.htm [linuxbusinessweek.com]

So the ad revenue will still flow to the FUD flingers (parent company), but if the LinuxWorld editors have their way the FUD will stop appearing on LinuxWorld, or they'll resign, or they'll get raises.

cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10669556)

i want to see history in the making, i want to see microsoft's windows fall off the desktop everywhere, and ms be redused to a small niche maket sort of like the shoe on the other foot, now the penguin will rule the desktop. WooHoo :^)

Indeed... (1, Funny)

excaliber19 (750206) | more than 9 years ago | (#10669558)

I for one happily welcome our soon-to-be Monopolizing and Evil Microsoft Clone (TM) overlords.

Just because it's happened before... (4, Insightful)

airjrdn (681898) | more than 9 years ago | (#10669573)

It happened not too long ago in the video card arena....Voodoo anyone?

I don't doubt open source will dominate in many areas, but I doubt it will overtake Microsoft anytime soon unless there's a major shift torward software compatibility and enhanced intuitiveness for Windows users.

For instance, I'd switch my Mother to Linux just to degrade her chances of a virus, but 3 or 4 little games she plays; Kyodai Mahjongg (this isn't normal mahjongg) Bubble Shooter (There's a similiar one, but it's got a ways to go to catch up to Bubble Shooter), Bookworm, etc. aren't available on Linux that I know of.

The other issue is that, people are comfortable with where to go & what to do when there's trouble brewing in Windows. In Linux, even veteran Windows users are often at a loss.

If you do something wrong installing video drivers in Windows, you get a smack on the hand by the OS forcing you to 640x480, where you have to deal with what you did. Make that same mistake in Linux, and without knowing what file to edit in a command line editor, most Linux newbies are looking at an OS reinstall. That's way too harsh and unfortunately, drives users right back into the open arms of Microsoft.

Heh a blunder [thisoldgarage.com]

Re:Just because it's happened before... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10669595)

You'd switch your mother for Linux???? JUST TO DEGRADE HER????

Dear lord in heaven what has become of this heathen youth of today???

Re:Just because it's happened before... (1)

3770 (560838) | more than 9 years ago | (#10669659)

What one has to realize is that the cost of the software itself often is marginal for the total cost of using a computer. Most people are more productive with Windows than they are with Linux. That is however not as easy to measure as the dollars spent on the software.

I used to be a hard core Linux advocate. I still love Linux and run it when I have the chance (I happen to be a Debian-head but thinking about trying Gentoo).

But as a software engineer, I have to be honest with myself and admit that it is easier and cheaper to develop applications for Windows than for Linux.

Re:Just because it's happened before... (1)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 9 years ago | (#10669939)

Most people are more productive with Windows than they are with Linux. That is however not as easy to measure as the dollars spent on the software.

Strange. I have generally foudn that once people are comfortable with the system they are more likely to be more productive on Linux. There is a learning curve, but after a short time, this is more than made up for.

But as a software engineer, I have to be honest with myself and admit that it is easier and cheaper to develop applications for Windows than for Linux.

Hmmmm.... Not sure I agree with you. But I will agree that it is different developing apps for Linux. But then I find Linux programing very intuitive and really don't much like Windows programming....

Re:Just because it's happened before... (4, Interesting)

Yaztromo (655250) | more than 9 years ago | (#10669707)

For instance, I'd switch my Mother to Linux just to degrade her chances of a virus, but 3 or 4 little games she plays; Kyodai Mahjongg (this isn't normal mahjongg) Bubble Shooter (There's a similiar one, but it's got a ways to go to catch up to Bubble Shooter), Bookworm, etc. aren't available on Linux that I know of.

I upgraded my mother to Linux a few years ago (RedHat 8.0), and she's been exceedingly happy with it. Indeed, Bubble Shooter is one of her favorite games as well, and its developer (Absolutist) does indeed have a Linux version, which is identical to its Windows counterpart [absolutist.com] .

Mom-On-Linux (MOL) has had some major advantages. If her system needs maintenence, I can easily do it remotely through SSH, can can even export X apps (it helps that we're both on the same broadband network, mind you). Plus, as she doesn't have root access, she can't mess anything up. And wheras I had to watse a few days the last time my brother got a major virus infestation on his Windows laptop, Mom's machine is completely immune.

Mom's happy because she gets to run the games she likes, run Mozilla, and check her e-mail. I'm happy because the machine hums along problem-free without my constantly receiving calls from her asking for assistance or for routine maintanence.

(Mind you, since I bought myself my Apple PowerBook, and shoed her a picture of the new iMac G5, I think she's wanting an "upgrade" :) ).

Yaz.

Re:Just because it's happened before... (1)

airjrdn (681898) | more than 9 years ago | (#10669822)

Awesome, I didn't know there was a Linux version as I hadn't looked in a while. Thanks for posting that.

Heh a blunder [thisoldgarage.com]

Re:Just because it's happened before... (1)

pipingguy (566974) | more than 9 years ago | (#10669848)


I don't doubt open source will dominate in many areas, but I doubt it will overtake Microsoft anytime soon unless there's a major shift torward software compatibility and enhanced intuitiveness for Windows users.

The only company that could realisically challenge Microsoft is Google. MS has the war chest but Google has the hearts and minds. They won't be making any rash moves, they'll be slowly improving.

Goodwill-wise, MS scores about a 4 while Google is approximately 9. People really respect honesty and no-nonsense, that's where Google really shines.

Re:Just because it's happened before... (1)

ILuvUAmiga (578974) | more than 9 years ago | (#10669936)

Dude please!!! Get over yourself, there's a whole world of people who LOVE Microsoft. A lot more than the ever tedious Linux posse I'm sure. Google really shines because its FREE! Heck, even you linux dorks would give MS a 10 if everything they offered was free apart from a few silly adverts.

It's not like Microsoft and Apple are standing sti (1, Insightful)

ShatteredDream (636520) | more than 9 years ago | (#10669581)

Microsoft has made some amazing improvements on the performance of Windows from the average user's perspectives. Face it, Windows XP was a very big and impressive release to the average user. MacOS X, even more so.

Linux now has the big players' attention and they are busting their balls to compete on merit. How are Linux developers going to respond to the tight integration in Windows and MacOS between the different teams building the parts of each OS?

What Linux developers will need to do is make sure that there are no weak links.That means that X.Org, Linux, KDE/GNOME, etc will have to fit into each other's design very well and as tightly as Windows and MacOS X.

So far so good, but just remember that these companies have a big advantage int hat area that cannot be underestimated.

Re:It's not like Microsoft and Apple are standing (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10669671)

No they don't. What Linux developers will need to do is nothing in particular. In other words, they just need to continue to make sure the stuff they work on makes them happy. Everything else follows quickly and easily from that.

Status Report (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10669582)

I am now reading Srashdot dot cohm

kekekekekeke ^_^

Interesting but.. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10669591)

Call me ambivilant, but so what? I find it irrelevant to wonder whether Linux or open source software in general will perhaps have the greatest market share at some vague point in the future.

The fact is there's a lot open source software available that solves problems now and solves them well. I use it exclusively at home and at work because I like the general philosophy and more importantly because it gets the stuff I need to do done.

Whether or not Microsoft lives or dies or becomes a smaller company is (for me at least) not important. This may not be true if your business relies heavily on Microsoft products and/or apis.

Article in Desktoplinux.com (3, Informative)

at_slashdot (674436) | more than 9 years ago | (#10669628)

Desktop Linux has just published this article: The Best Free Desktop Linux . . . and how to make it better [desktoplinux.com]

This is a great article that shows what a Desktop Linux could do. It's a great piece for Linux advocates to forward to people who'd like to switch but think that "Linux is way too hard to install and use".

0$ price it's very hard to beat, I expect that the forces of the economy will swipe MS away as soon that people realize that they could do with Linux the same things they do with Windows (only more secure and cheaper) . Good times ahead :)

Brazil (3, Insightful)

LordMyren (15499) | more than 9 years ago | (#10669629)

its going to be brought about by Brazil, India and Germany when they hire a couple guys to sit down and hack some software to deploy linux to their COUNTRY.

linux remains a very difficult thing to deploy. there are going to have to be better tools for centralized system management before linux can roll out and roll over microsoft. corporations arent the place to foot the development of these rollout-configurators, countries could concievably be. in the end, everyone will benefit.

i'd say when a country doesnt have much difficulty doing installing linux, microsoft is going to have a hard time justifying themselves. thats a long way to go though; we're talking automagic kerberos+ldap /w unified userdb for nfs, samba, ftp, web, shell and a powerful web admin system. good outward scalability. i mean, hell, dragonfly bsd might have a better chance than linux when you think of how far there is to go. ;)

Myren

Re:Brazil (2, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 9 years ago | (#10669803)

Strongly disagree. Linux is much easier to deploy than windows. With windows NT, if you make a system image, you can't deploy it on (typically) even a slightly different system or you will get an INACCESSIBLE_BOOT_DEVICE error at boot time. I've heard people say that you can use the generic IDE drivers but that doesn't work with all systems, and you will then have to go manually change the ide drivers to suit the new system. With Linux, you can either compile in support for everything, or use a big initrd and use modules, either way your system will come up and "just work" provided you follow some simple rules between machines, like making the hard disk the primary master.

COMMENCE THE OSS CIRCLE-JERK (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10669637)

Let's get back to reality people.

Dream on Losers - Longhorn will finish off Linux (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10669655)

With almost 100% of the market, Microsoft has nothing to worry about from the "open sores" community. You guys write poor code, you are too disorganized and you fight amongst yourselves more often than you fight us. Apple has permanently destroyed any chance of making the best Unix be under the GPL, and Microsoft continues to show why Windows is cheaper and more secure than anything the open sores community can come up with. In short, your collective asses are grass and Bill Gates is driving a big ole lawn mower named Longhorn.

Microsoft helping Open Source (5, Interesting)

kafka47 (801886) | more than 9 years ago | (#10669672)

Microsoft has helped the Open source revolution happen.

Look at the UI. Look at the applications. The basic look and feel hasn't changed significantly since 1995. Almost every new technology "innovation" has been either bought or copied (poorly) by Microsoft.

OSS' growth has been more viral, more grassroots, more innovative than the top-down "we know better than you" approach that Microsoft has successfully imposed on its users in the last 5 years. It is with this suppression of innovation that Microsoft has directly spawned and contributed to the open-source revolution!

On another note, after 10 years on Wintel, I switched to Macintosh recently. After 5 minutes inside of OSX, I experienced more innovation and creativity than I had on Windows for as long as I can recall.

Thank-you Microsoft for helping me switch to truly useable applications.

New to you doesn't mean it is fresh innovation (1, Interesting)

3770 (560838) | more than 9 years ago | (#10669761)

Not to bash Max OS X (I have a Powerbook and I love it). But if you move to a different operating system altogether than it would be very surprising if you didn't see features that wasn't availalble in Windows and appear new to you.

If you had used Mac OS X since 95 and just had moved to Windows you would have marvelled over all the innovations there.

the same disruptive mechanism will provide drivers (0, Flamebait)

jeoin (668566) | more than 9 years ago | (#10669685)

one day linux will actually work on every computer.

I'll believe it when I see it.. (0, Redundant)

d_jedi (773213) | more than 9 years ago | (#10669754)

but now, I'm not buying the argument. Microsoft isn't going away anytime soon.

Tipping Point (1)

bhny (97647) | more than 9 years ago | (#10669782)

This phrase comes from a book by Malcolm Gladwell. [amazon.com] The basic point is that a new idea with the help of a few influential people can suddenly become the latest trend.

Linux is still used by a very small percentage of people and this is also it's main disadvantage. Once the percentage of users creeps up to a more visible level (15%-20%?) then that disadvantage falls away and suddenly it's popularity will explode.

FF (2, Interesting)

Southpaw018 (793465) | more than 9 years ago | (#10669800)

Just look at Firefox - it's currently the subject of an enourmous grassroots movement. SFX just signed up over 10,000 people in 8 days for their New York Times ad. FF has been downloaded over 6.8 million times now. People are taking notice; there have been discussions here on /. estimating the "geek" usage at 90%. And I wouldn't doubt it.

Bla bla bla (2, Informative)

sn0wflake (592745) | more than 9 years ago | (#10669802)

I'm sorry to say that Linux will not win over Windows as long as you can't play new games like The Sims 2 or do simple things without opening a console. Yes, I know that DirectX is closed-source and I know that Linux is a very smart OS. But Linux is way to hard to learn and configure. I've tried many times to convert to Linux and everytime I'm missing a game or simply don't want to read the telephone sized FAQ's. Doing simple tasks like changing screen resolution should not involve opening a console and typing in obscure commands. I know I'll get modded down, but seriously Linux guys. Face it, Linux is to hard for normal users to use. Mom users like their puzzle bubble and surfing the web with Mozilla, but as a Joe Smoe user I can only say that using Linux for everyday tasks is still way too hard and I don't want to invest years just to learn Linux when Windows simply work with a click of a mouse.

Re:Bla bla bla (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10669864)

Get a console if you just want to play games. Judging an OS by its ability to play the latest games is moronic.

Re:Bla bla bla (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 9 years ago | (#10669966)

And yet there are some very good games out there that are written exclusively for windows, Do you suggest that the people who enjoy these games should give them up because the OS is better? the OS provides the framework for the applications to run. Ideally, you shouldn't even notice its there.

listen up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10669807)

When laval pours out near the sea surface, tremendous volcanic explosions sometimes occur.

Re:listen up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10669823)

The time before a dive is always a tense time.

Re:listen up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10669870)

When lava flows underwater, it behaves differently.

Re:listen up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10669914)

The crew have devised a contraption to capture a dandelion in one piece.

THE TRUTH (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10669809)

Ladies and gentlemen of the United States of America, I have an announcement to make. You may not like it, you may deny or you may try to silence me. This is only to be expected because this is how very shocking and ground breaking this announcement is. But remember that this is the truth, and the truth shall set you free. This is what happened. This is the truth. Niggers did 9/11.

Now, I know that you are shocked and appalled that the Negro peoples of America have committed such treachery, but what is to be expected? For more than a century the niggers have plagued the peaceful towns of the South, raping women and killing children. What they do to the men, I do not know, nor do I wish to know. Ever since the great atheist Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves against the wishes of God Himself, this country has been driven into the ground by the niggers. Why? No one may ever know what the true motives of the niggers are, but know this, my fellow Americans. The Negronic races of the Earth have been spawned by Satan himself and conspire with the niggers of the Middle East to destroy our way of life. Slavery was not suitable in containing the niggers, for traitors to our white Christian race such as William Lloyd Garrison have twisted the Lord's Word into supporting nigger emancipation. Nigger media martyrs such as Frederick Douglass have manipulated the minds of the Aryan peoples to believe their nigger propaganda. This, my fellow countrymen, is not the American way.

For far too long have our leaders and fellow citizens have been puppets of the nigger race. These base savages have wreaked havoc upon the very foundations of white civilization. They have secured seats in our colleges, used their race to escape punishment and they even control our President. You may think that after the niggers and their sand nigger allies would have been found out if they were guilty, but this is not the case. The niggers controlled the 9/11 commission and the President so that they would land our brave white soldiers in Iraq to die like rats. It is a well known fact that not one nigger has been killed in Iraq. They are secretly working for their sand nigger allies.

The niggers are even using their blind white puppet Michael Moore to destroy his own race. Moore's book, "Big Fat Stupid White Men" is taking abolitionism into the next phase. The niggers have achieved equality in society. Now they aim for new a segregation in which the niggers will be treated as superiors. The proud white Christian peoples of the world will be herded into camps like animals. The men will be hunted by the niggers for perverse amusement. They will rap our woman and create mulatto vermin. Our children will be used as sex slaves for nigger pedophiles, of which there are many. Our army has been devastated by the nigger death traps of these fictitious "weapons of mass destruction." Now they are blowing themselves up so appease their great nigger god Allah, whose name translates to "homosexual rape." Our brave Jewish allies are fighting a losing war in which their niggers have risen up against them. Will we let the same happen to us? Our brave boys in the Ku Klux Klan have been fighting a losing war against their nigger oppressors for far too long.

My fellow Americans! I urge, nay plead you, to join me in arms against our nigger oppressors! We must defeat these minions of Satan and restore America to what it once was! We must finish the task set before our forefathers by God Himself; to cleanse America of all of its nigger races! We must fight for the day when we need not fear for our women and children! We must fight for the day when roving bands of niggers do burn our towns to the ground and destroy our buildings in service of their nigger god, Satan! Do this for America! Death to niggers!

Re:THE TRUTH (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10669836)

Fuck you, cracker bitch!!!!

The raggedy saliva-smeared anuses of your thinly-veiled white supremacist hegemony will be torn asunder before the mighty and heroically-girthed Gay Nigger cocks of the GNAA!!

GNAA!!! GNAA!!! GNAA!!! GNAA!!! GNAA!!! GNAA!!!

Re:THE TRUTH (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10669854)

Alu ackbar, Hitler is great. Mohammed was a homosexual. Jews control the media.

Oh, yes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10669811)

Yes, sure, next year is definitely The Year Of Linux On The Desktop(TM). No doubt.

damnations (1)

discogravy (455376) | more than 9 years ago | (#10669929)

I thought it was going to be about an Open Source IDS/IDP [tippingpoint.com] (think snort or tripwire but more embedded-hardware-based and more adaptive).

That said, I think the real tipping point w/r/t OSS software getting mindshare and being a Big Thing is going to be via either simple devices running linux (mythTV setups sold cheaper than linux, for e.g.,) or when linux/freebsd gets a UI that is more MacOSX-like (by this I mean that you can do everything via GUI; current linux GUIs are getting closer to the simplicity and adaptability of MacOSX, but aren't going to be there for a while yet.)

Consider that most desktop systems are trying very hard to simplify things, and also consider how people raised with MS environments have trouble with a professional environment like MacOSX, just because it's not what they're used to. Not to say that it's impossible, just difficult.

rap song (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10669930)

spigot: I'D LIKE TO OPEN THIS MEETING WITH THIS RAP SONG ABOUT LINUX!!!!!! I MADE IT ON THE BUS!!!!
spigot: A PTTH
spigot: A FRPFPR
spigot: DEAD BATTERIES
spigot: DOES ANYONE HAVE A CORD THAT CAN GO FROM A WALKMAN TO THE WALL OUTLET!?!!!?
spigot: A PPTHTHTH
spigot: I SPRAINED MY NECK
spigot: FOLKS, "PUFFIES" REFER TO PUFFY NIPPLES

who gives a rat's ass (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10669961)

Ignore all that stupid hype and just keep writing great software. The people will choose with their feet. If that means linux gains market share, then great. If not, you still have a tool that meets your own needs.

Well maybe not great software at first, but with hard work and dedication, it can become great software.

Hate to disagree but (2, Informative)

ewe2 (47163) | more than 9 years ago | (#10669969)

Most of this article just extrapolated corporate WishThink. The "inevitability" of the end of MS blissfully ignores the dependence of hardware manufacturers at one end, and the GUI-dependence of users at the other. Nor is the OS a done deal, and most of the "commoditization" of office apps is still Microsoft OS-based, whatever the attractions of OpenOffice/StarOffice.

I can't hammer this point enough: MS has a gatekeeper mentality because it IS the gatekeeper. That is what needs to change. If MS could shoot down the GPL, it would not hesitate to sell an MS shell over a linux core, if it can justify dumping the NT asset. Okay, that's two if's but they're realistic if's. Otherwise, MS will stay put and strong-arm everyone.

What linux needs is shrink-wrapped POS systems. Shrink-wrapped accounting/stock-management. Take out those dependencies and you'll get a huge slice of market share.

Not tipping quite yet... (2, Interesting)

smug_lisp_weenie (824771) | more than 9 years ago | (#10669980)

Open source has two main strengths:
1. quality
2. easy fixes/improvements

The minor successes so far I think are clearly due to quality: Even mainstream technology enthusiasts can recognize that Apache, Firefox, and a few other tools are super-solid and finely-tuned applications.

But appreciation for a specific application does not translate into success for open-source as a whole, because it does not engage the user in the paradigm of open source.

But someday, the second strength of open source will become more evident: The ease with which it can be fixed and improved, and by this I mean improvements that are personal and specific to the user, something that is still very rare and unappreciated.

Consider, for instance, an average user of a mail program muttering to him/herself "I wish my email program could set off my alarm clock if I get an early email from work in the morning..." Suppose that person could post $100 improvement fee to a website, where it might be merged with similar requests from other users and leads to a new extension to be developed by an independent developer...

This idea is often discussed, but it is still only in its infancy. However, I believe it is critical for the success of open source, because it both engages the user in the OS philosophy and also allows a viable financial model to exist for mainstream software companies to participate in the OS revolution.

How can we make this happen?
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