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How Microsoft Beat Linux In China

kdawson posted about 7 years ago | from the always-did-know-the-value-of-being-the-standard dept.

Microsoft 313

kripkenstein notes an analysis up on TechRepublic detailing how Microsoft beat Linux in China, and the consequences of that victory: "With the soon-to-be largest economy standardized on Windows desktops, desktop Linux does seem to have an uphill battle ahead of it." "Linux has turned out to be little more than a key bargaining chip in a high stakes game of commerce between the Chinese government and the world's largest software maker... The fact that... Linux failed to gain a major foothold in China is yet another blow to desktop Linux. After nearly eight years of being on the verge of a breakthrough, Linux seems more destined than ever to be a force in the server room but little more than a narrow niche and an anomaly on the desktop."

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Uphill battle (5, Insightful)

sveard (1076275) | about 7 years ago | (#20025859)

But Linux has always had an uphill battle, the hill just got a little higher.

Re:Uphill battle (1)

derrida (918536) | about 7 years ago | (#20026031)

And steeper.

Re:Uphill battle (1)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | about 7 years ago | (#20026263)

And covered with snow.

Re:Uphill battle (5, Funny)

modecx (130548) | about 7 years ago | (#20026543)

So, you're saying it's a Good Thing some Penguins love to climb up very steep, snowy hills.

Re:Uphill battle (3, Funny)

rustalot42684 (1055008) | about 7 years ago | (#20026765)

So, you're saying it's a Good Thing some Penguins love to climb up very steep, snowy hills.
Duh! Only then can they race down the other side! [planetpenguinracer.com]

Re:Uphill battle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20026827)

No. It just says that "But Linux has always had an uphill battle, the hill just got a little higher, steeper and covered with snow".

Re:Uphill battle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20026549)

...and an avalanche when it goes down the other side.

What stupid hype. Vista is a Failure. (1, Insightful)

twitter (104583) | about 7 years ago | (#20026887)

Does anyone really think China will allow their citizens to use a free OS? Does Bill Gates really think Communist China will make a good paying customer?

Meanwhile back in reality, instead of conquering the world and prospering, M$ is in deep trouble.

With less than 1% of China's population on line, it's a little early to be taking "victory laps". Communists have glad handled western celebrities forever, so there's really nothing new or special about China's treatment of Gates. Fears of US spying have not gone anywhere, nor have issues of cost and reliability.

Bill Gates can hobnob with tyrants all day [slashdot.org] , what he needs to worry about is acceptance in his own back yard. Vista and Office 2007 have made no difference to M$ or anyone else's bottom line [slashdot.org] .

Re:Uphill battle (2, Insightful)

CrossChris (806549) | about 7 years ago | (#20027029)

On a recent trip to China, I saw zero Windows machines - plenty of Linux, though. I saw a few Windows machine in Hong Kong - at the airport check-in desks. They'd all crashed!

Don't believe the Windows FUD!

Game Over, Microsoft!

It's always been like this (2, Insightful)

tsa (15680) | about 7 years ago | (#20025865)

After nearly eight years of being on the verge of a breakthrough, Linux seems more destined than ever to be a force in the server room but little more than a narrow niche and an anomaly on the desktop.

That is exactly the problem with Linux. It's always almost ready dor the desktop. And it will always stay that way as long as there isn't a standard interface and and a good office suite that does MS' .doc format. Sad but true.

Re:It's always been like this (1, Insightful)

sumdumass (711423) | about 7 years ago | (#20025983)

I'm beginning to think that the people in charge don't want t to be accepted. It is one of those fears that they will lose their importance of they don't need to fight anymore. There have been quite a few decisions lately and of past that just show this to me. They want something that they are in front of an not something in front of them.

Re:It's always been like this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20026017)

Well, OpenOffice.org can do .doc files.. And, personally I enjoy using OpenOffice over MS' Office 2007 Suite, which on my computer seems to hog my resources. In the graphics department Vista looks nice, but sucks up resources again, while Linux w/ Beryl wins that draw. Although Windows XP, is definitly a great OS, since MS has had much time to fix all the issues with it, it still does not have the customization of Linux. Linux's problem mostly, is that companies won't provide software that runs on the Linux platform. If Linux could run Windows executables and other windows type extensions but still kept the same principles such as not being a memory hog, and still providing the things that people come to Linux for.. such as stability, customization, etc, it would definitely be on top of the hill with Microsoft.

Re:It's always been like this (1)

init100 (915886) | about 7 years ago | (#20026171)

If Linux could run Windows executables and other windows type extensions

That will always require jumping through some hoops. Windows software expects a Windows environment, with a registry, drive letters and the Windows filesystem hierarchy. Running Windows applications will require some conversion, not only from Win32 calls to native calls, but an emulation of the registry and other Windows peculiarities.

Re:It's always been like this (2, Interesting)

cpghost (719344) | about 7 years ago | (#20026771)

Why would that be impossible? Technically, it's quite feasible:

  • The COFF-PE format is well documented, so a dynamic linker for that is trivial to write in a clean-room environment. Probably been done already.
  • The Win32 API is stable and well documented as well, so wrapping it in an emulation library is also easy. Been done in the Wine project.
  • A registry is nothing more than a little database: implement it anyway you like, e.g. with flat files, with a DB server, SQLite etc... and provide hooks in the supporting emulation libraries.
  • Other Windows idiosyncraties are similarly relatively easy to duplicate / emulate.

The real problem is not as much technical as it is legal / red-tape: the APIs are copyrighted by Microsoft, and some stuff is almost certainly patented as well. So any emulation that we can come up with will necessarily by encumbered in some way. This is completely different from FreeBSD's Linuxulator, which doesn't suffer from legal interoperability problems (and which was MUCH easier to write and maintain since the mapping between both very similar systems is almost trivial).

Re:It's always been like this (4, Informative)

drooling-dog (189103) | about 7 years ago | (#20026127)

It's been ready for my desktop for years; in fact I stopped dual booting with Windows a long time ago and haven't looked back. Almost every week I read about some critical thing I'm not supposed to be able to do with Linux (like deal with .doc files), even though I've been doing it without problem or fanfare all along. Did I not get the memo, or could it just be misinformation and FUD?

I'm still amazed at the crap my Windows friends put up with on a daily basis, but they just regard it as the cost of doing business with their OS, I guess...

Re:It's always been like this (5, Insightful)

try_anything (880404) | about 7 years ago | (#20026589)

I do the same as you, but I would never give up my crappy old laptop running Windows XP, because OpenOffice isn't absolutely bug-for-bug compatible with MS Office. I still have to go to the Windows machine occasionally to open a file.

The rest of the "not ready for the desktop" stuff people talk about is a bunch of red herrings. What's missing is not technical capabilities in the kernel, UI slickness in the applications, or games but the massive entrenchment that Microsoft relies on to make Windows look magical: OEM installs, reliable drivers provided by hardware vendors, and a decade of user familiarity. No amount of work on applications or task schedulers will ever begin to address those issues. Linux-on-the-desktop fans should look for ways around those problems instead of obsessing over programming.

To put it more concisely: Slashdotters are programmers; programming is the hammer; widespread desktop adoption of Linux is the problem; and no, it is not a nail.

Re:It's always been like this (1)

Chris_Stankowitz (612232) | about 7 years ago | (#20026867)

Ready for the *home* desktop and ready for the office desktop are worlds apart, and because most (read: average user) would be more comfortable using the same OS at home that they do in the office, you're not going to see a change in the current market share. Did you miss the memo? Well, there was a memo that stated businesses aren't ready to adapt linux in the office for a large number of reasons. Least of which are application.

Re:It's always been like this (2, Insightful)

Mspangler (770054) | about 7 years ago | (#20027045)

And don't forget the "enterprise" apps. To get rid of Windows where I work we need not just Office replaced, but OSI's PI System has to be ported over to Linux (or whatever), Emerson's Delta-V control system has to come over, the Yokogawa DCS has to come over (which ironically used to run on Unix, but they are now a Windows Certified Partner, which didn't stop them from losing a sale when Bill dropped the version of Frontpage which their data historian access system depended on, and they couldn't meet our evaluation requirements without it.)

We would also need Allen Bradley's and Modicon's PLC programming software to be ported over to Linux, Autocad (or something very similar), and Apollo root cause analysis software, and the ATR incident tracking system, as well as the 7i maintenance planning/inventory software, (web-based so it would easy except for the Active-X controls), our LIMS system, and I haven't even touched what the bean-counters in the corporate building might use.

We still have an AS-400, even though IS would love to replace it with SQL Server, but it apparently can't be replaced by only one SQL Server; it would need several, and that has saved it for now.

Getting Bill's virus-ware out of the system would take at least 20 years. It's not happening, as much as I would like it to. All the Linux community can do is convert the new startups, who are usually cash poor, to Linux from the start. As the new companies begin to grow, a market will develop that eventually will get the above list ported over, or create replacements for that software. Eventually the cost advantage of open source can win, but it will not be a fast transition.

Big Picture (3, Interesting)

kripkenstein (913150) | about 7 years ago | (#20025875)

Let's look at the big picture here of Microsoft monopolizing the Chinese desktop market. The US trade deficit with China is $233 billion. If, in several years, there are (say) 1 billion computers in China, and each pays $100 for Microsoft products (Windows, Office, OneCare, who knows what else by then), then Microsoft will be responsible for $100 billion going in the opposite direction than the $233 billion. That is, Microsoft's income from China will be about the same order as that of the entire trade deficit.

(Of course there are many assumptions and guesses here - I don't think this is a serious economic prediction. But it does show the general idea.)

Two conclusions:
  • There is massive motivation for the US government to bolster Microsoft in any way possible. Don't expect any antitrust lawsuits in the US any time soon.
  • China's adoption of Microsoft products may be temporary. Other nations have done it in the past - adopt Western ways, modernize their economies using them, and then replace those technologies with their own (e.g., Japan and the auto market). China sees Microsoft as the quickest way to modernize their computer industry. But, especially as a central authoritative government, they can change strategy later on, when the 'Microsoft Tax' becomes a burden.

Re:Big Picture (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20026115)

That is, Microsoft's income from China will be about the same order as that of the entire trade deficit.

And all this because MS is too chicken shit to enforce WMA and all that weaselshit on Chinese users. That's held in reserve for US customers, where MS has bought the government.

Same as the big pharma companies -- let the stupid fucking USians pay the big bucks for prescription drugs, while every other country on earth tells them to shove their fat prices up their fat asses.

It's damned well time that we install a government that will protect the American consumer instead of constantly kowtowing to the murderous bastards running China.

For starters -- how about guaranteeing the average American consumer walking in off the street a 10% lower price than the lowest price paid anywhere else in the world?

Jesus, even from here, I can hear the American-government-protected fat cats pissing gushers in their $5000 suit pants.

Government for the people, my hairy asshole.

Re:Big Picture (2, Informative)

kornkid606 (1076023) | about 7 years ago | (#20026597)

It's damned well time that we install a government that will protect the American consumer

Who is this we? I can't remember the last time that voting Americans installed a government that really gave two shits about the American people. And as far as protecting the American consumer, shit, not in this republic. In this republic the slogan is "Cash rules everything around me." Like George W Bush gives 2 shits about the American consumer.

don't get me wrong, I totally agree. It would be nice to see a government of, by and for the people. But chances are slim and getting slimmer all the time. As long as cut-throat capitalism rules the day, its every person for themselves. As such, big corporate rules our lives and administration and there is not much we can do about it.

Hopefully in time things will change, but I doubt it will be as soon as November '08 and it is going to require the American people actually speaking up and taking charge of their nation. But that's doubtful.

There's also Canada...

Re:Big Picture (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20026823)

"There's also Canada..."

Nah the same shit happens here too we just get taxed more and the government wastes the money pretending to something.

$100... less than $3; how China beat MS with Linux (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20026119)

Read the article again more carefully. The maximum price outside multinationals will be $3; nothing near $100. Most people will be permitted to "pirate". The lesson from this is that the only way to negotiate with MS is to have a serious and already deployed Linux strategy. RedFlag remains crucial to China's bargaining. If you country doesn't have it's own RHEL based Linux distribution, it's time to start asking for explanations.

Re:Big Picture (1)

Cassini2 (956052) | about 7 years ago | (#20026199)

There is no way Microsoft is ever going to get $100 billion out of China. If the Chinese don't choke on that concept, U.S. tax law will.

Microsoft will open divisions in China, slowly "localize" software development, and quietly move to China. It might not be official policy, but most of that money will never leave China.

To do otherwise exposes Microsoft to a) the possibility of a local Chinese competitor, and b) a massive tax bill on the $100 billion in profits.

You're off by 2 orders of magnitude (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20026399)

I congratulate you on making an intelligent argument here. However, you are off by two orders of magnitude, and that changes the picture completely.

First, there are about 1 Billion PC's worldwide (IIRC, it's supposed to hit 1 Billion this year). PC's are out of reach of the common person there; in fact, most of them are just working to survive. A far more realistic (and still optimistic) estimate might be around 100 Million PC's. That's a factor of 10 difference right there.

Secondly, if you had read TFA, you'd realize that China is only paying Microsoft about $3 for it's software. Even if that were to grow to $10, you're still off by another factor of 10.

So, instead of getting $100 Billion from China (which is a total pipedream), Microsoft would be lucky to get $1 Billion. That's far more realistic, and is basically chump change as far as the deficit goes.

This would be far more in line with business as usual. And it hardly makes the argument to keep them above the law. While I don't expect another anti-trust case while Bush is in office, Microsoft is still quite vulnerable to this issue being raised by its domestic competitors after the next Presidential election.

it says MS can get $700 million now from china (1)

totalctrl (974993) | about 7 years ago | (#20026757)

i think the $3 fee is not true for average users in china. it is probably just an offer MS made only for government-use licenses. otherwise, how can MS get $700 million dollars from china? i think 1 billion is too conservative given that they can already get $700 million dollars a year from china.

Re:Big Picture (1)

westlake (615356) | about 7 years ago | (#20026407)

> They can change strategy later on, when the 'Microsoft Tax' becomes a burden.

Someday the Geek may lose his fascination with talk of the "Microsoft Tax."

Today Gates openly concedes that tolerating piracy turned out to be Microsoft's best long-term strategy. That's why Windows is used on an estimated 90% of China's 120 million PCs. "It's easier for our software to compete with Linux when there's piracy than when there's not," Gates says. "Are you kidding? You can get the real thing, and you get the same price." Indeed, in China's back alleys, Linux often costs more than Windows because it requires more disks. And Microsoft's own prices have dropped so low it now sells a $3 package of Windows and Office to students.

Microsoft's China strategy is clearly paying off. More than 24 million PCs will be sold this year, adding to the 120 million already in place. Although the company's China revenues average no more than $7 for every PC in use (compared with $100 to $200 in developed countries), Gates says those figures will eventually converge. How Microsoft Conquered China [cnn.com] [July 17, 2007]

> China's adoption of Microsoft's Products may be temporary.

Don't get your hopes up. From the same article:

In 2003 the company offered China and 59 other countries the right to look at the fundamental source code for its Windows operating system and to substitute certain portions with their own software - something Microsoft had never allowed in the past. Now when China uses Windows in President Hu's office, or for that matter in its missile systems, it can install its own cryptography.

But it was a relatively small step in 1998 - the opening of a research center in Beijing - that proved a turning point. "We just started it here because we thought they'd do great research," says Gates, who raves about the quality of the country's computer scientists. The lab was what Gates calls a "windfall" for Microsoft's image. It began accumulating an impressive record of academic publications, helped lure back smart émigré scientists, and contributed key components to globally released products like the Vista operating system. The lab soon became, according to polls, the most desirable place in the country for computer scientists to work.

-----

Mr. Bill Gates! Mr. Bill Gates!" a young woman shrieks as the black car pulls up. A pallid student in a nylon windbreaker pushes his way through the security line and hands the world's richest man a small envelope with a floral design. "It's very important," he pants.

Another day in China, another round of adulation. Today the Microsoft hairman is being named an honorary trustee of Peking University. Yesterday it was an honorary doctorate from Beijing's Tsinghua University - the 13th in the school's 82-year history. Gates, wearing the same lopsided grin he has had on his face for the past few days, takes the envelope from the young man. For him this is a triumphant visit to China, a victory lap of sorts, on which I've been invited to tag along. The country is his.

No other Fortune 500 CEO gets quite the same treatment in China. While most would count themselves lucky to talk with one of China's top leaders, Gates will meet with four members of the Politburo on this four-day April trip. As one government leader put it while introducing Gates at a business conference, the Microsoft chairman is "bigger in China than any movie star." Last spring President Hu Jintao toured the Microsoft campus in Redmond, Wash., and was feted at a dinner at Gates' home. "You are a friend to the Chinese people, and I am a friend of Microsoft," Hu told his host. "Every morning I go to my office and use your software."

Re:Big Picture (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 7 years ago | (#20026477)

and each pays $100 for Microsoft products

Not gonna happen. $100 is a weekly salary for many in China. Most PC users have pirated copies. If MS and/or gov't clamped down, then alternatives would look attractive.
     

Re:Big Picture (1)

JimDaGeek (983925) | about 7 years ago | (#20026979)

Your salary estimate is a little high. Many in China make $200-$300 a month. Here is a chart of average salaries [abroadchina.org] in Chinese yuan. For example, the chart shows that an urban worker makes an average, at the national level, of about 897.56 RMB a month which in USD is $118.69 a month! Cost of living is low so they can afford food, housing, etc. However, they could never afford even to spend $50 USD (378.10 Chinese yuan) on an MS Windows/MS Office combo. That is almost half of their monthly income.

To put these costs in perspective, the average US household income is about $43,318 / 12 = $3,609.83 a month. Now imagine paying $1,804.91 for MS Windows and MS Office ;-)

Re:Big Picture (4, Insightful)

Heddahenrik (902008) | about 7 years ago | (#20026745)

You're missing two important things:

1) The China regime gets a monopoly, not Microsoft.

2) Payment to Microsoft doesn't go the USA. It goes to Microsoft's investments and business in China. China (or any other country) isn't going to to pay another country for bits that can be copied for free, unless they get something back.

To me it's quite obvious that the Chinese regime clearly has seen the problem with free software that would make public control much harder. Now they just have to call MS and say "Hey, people are using bittorrent to download porn!" and it will be fixed in the next update.

Re:Chinese math (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20026749)

That's a nice example of "chinese math"...

Pass the Bong, Dude. (1)

twitter (104583) | about 7 years ago | (#20027003)

Microsoft's income from China will be about the same order as that of the entire trade deficit.

For software? You think China is going to spend one hundred billion dollars each year on software, something they could copy with impunity. Let me ground you right here, before you get further carried away. M$ is falling apart and the monopoly is over. [slashdot.org]

microsoft wins, we lose (0, Flamebait)

larry bagina (561269) | about 7 years ago | (#20025903)

not "we" as in linux or open source, "we" as in internet users. Looks like China will soon be the largest economy and the largest source of zombie spam pcs.

Why does it matter? (1, Interesting)

superphreak (785821) | about 7 years ago | (#20025907)

What does it matter to people if Linux isn't accepted as a "desktop norm"? I know there's the MS-hate/defeat-the-top-dog attitude, but other than that... what? Is somebody going to make big money if Linux takes off? Sure, you could argue pretty convincingly that botnets/zombie pcs would drop off significantly, but I would think that it would be a whole lot easier to educate people a bit on MS/Windows security than to get them to switch to Linux. Why does this keep coming up as a big deal?

Re:Why does it matter? (2, Insightful)

pembo13 (770295) | about 7 years ago | (#20025933)

It matters because nothing Microsoft does benefits anyone but them in the long run. You've got to have noticed this by now.

Re:Why does it matter? (5, Insightful)

LaughingCoder (914424) | about 7 years ago | (#20026151)

Huh? As a graybeard I remember those horrible days where we got our OS from our hardware vendor, along with the "opportunity" to buy their crappy, proprietary, $10,000/seat applications. Further, as an application developer, I remember those dark, pre-Windows days when I had to test my software on reams of different hardware; it was not a good use of my time, but without a ubiquitous layer between my application and the hardware (any vendor's hardware), I had no choice. Counter to your assertion, I think Microsoft has played a major role in improving the life of people like me. Admittedly, they have gotten rich in the process; they weren't doing it out of altruism. But I do not begrudge them their profits. I gladly pay the "Microsoft tax", which is a pittance in the grand scheme of things, in return for the many benefits their efforts have afforded me.

Re:Why does it matter? (3, Insightful)

jgrahn (181062) | about 7 years ago | (#20026485)

Huh? As a graybeard I remember those horrible days where we got our OS from our hardware vendor, along with the "opportunity" to buy their crappy, proprietary, $10,000/seat applications.

Microsoft didn't kill that hateful environment. Unix (and I suppose some others) did. Remember the term "Open systems" from the early 1980s? It was the reaction to the situation you describe.

Further, as an application developer, I remember those dark, pre-Windows days when I had to test my software on reams of different hardware; it was not a good use of my time, but without a ubiquitous layer between my application and the hardware (any vendor's hardware), I had no choice.

That too, wasn't Microsoft, but Unix and others. Heck, even the microcomputers of the mid-1980s had serious operating systems like AmigaDOS, RiscOS, Unix dialects ... Is your beard really gray?

Re:Why does it matter? (1)

notaprguy (906128) | about 7 years ago | (#20026579)

I think you're fooling yourself. Various flavors of Unix certainly played some role in driving standardization in hardware but Windows deserves the lionshare of the credit. Before Windows (or DOS...) there was no high-volume, mainstream OS that ran on commodity hardware. Love 'em or hate 'em but MSFT had the business sense to build and license their OS to anybody who wanted to use it. The result was a huge amount of innovation in hardware devices and software that worked with Windows. I'm not arguing that Windows was the only OS to do that but it was the only one that was widely available at low cost to anybody who wanted it. Apple, had they had better business sense, could have done the same thing but they didn't.

Re:Why does it matter? (1, Troll)

Viol8 (599362) | about 7 years ago | (#20026659)

"Before Windows (or DOS...) there was no high-volume, mainstream OS that ran on commodity hardware"

Never heard of CP/M then?

"The result was a huge amount of innovation in hardware devices and software that worked with Windows"

Oh please. The PC up until maybe 5-10 years ago was anything but innovative. The Amiga and Mac in the 80s were light years ahead of the PC in both hardware and software.

Bill Gates had a good business head but his software and OSes were shit and only recently is any quality starting to show and some would debate even that.

Re:Why does it matter? (1)

notaprguy (906128) | about 7 years ago | (#20026713)

CP/M high volume? RIIIIIIIGHT. Show me the long list of hardware and software for the Amiga and then compare that list to what was available for Windows. No comparison. The Mac has a slightly better story but the variety of hardware devices and apps pales in comparison. I guess "shit" is in the eye of the beholder. I'd rather have had shitty old Windows that runs on thousands of different hardware platfoms and runs tens of thousands of apps than an Amiga that ran basically nothing. By the way, I've owned MANY Mac's so I'm not a PC-only bigot.

Re:Why does it matter? (1)

SerpentMage (13390) | about 7 years ago | (#20026899)

>Never heard of CP/M then?

You mean the guy who did not have the senses to think big volume? The guy who was too dumb to see a good thing when he had it?

>Oh please. The PC up until maybe 5-10 years ago was anything but innovative. The Amiga and Mac in the 80s were light years ahead of the PC in both hardware and software.

I have no idea how old you are, but having gone through the Vic20, Pet, and many other computers the PC did one thing that all of these other computers did not. They made the computer a commodity. It was truly amazing. The PC provided a platform for general purpose computing. It was not flashy, but it worked.

To illustrate how old I am, when I was using the Pet and C64 in high school the network was called Kermit and to write to a floppy over the Kermit network you had to literally yell, "Writing on disk." Otherwise two computers would overwrite each others work. The Vic, the Amiga, and Mac had flashy graphics, but they forced you to go down their route. Mac meant Mac hardware and at the time things were pricy! It's not like today where you can pick up a 250 GB harddisk for a couple of hundred bucks! At that time harddisks cost thousands of dollars...

Software? Ha! Dream on... Learned how to write your own basic code? No the PC was a revolution and innovative due to its shear simplicity...

Re:Why does it matter? (1)

LaughingCoder (914424) | about 7 years ago | (#20026849)

I think the word I used was ubiquitous, not "serious". The fact that millions of machines from scores of hardware vendors could run my applications, and I didn't have to test on each and every variant, is what I meant by ubiquitous. People bring up CPM, and Unix, and others, but only Windows achieved broad-based support across many different vendors' hardware. Sure, any of the others *might* have been better, or *could* have been the winner, but the simple fact remains that Windows won the race, and people like me reaped many benefits because of that.

And yes, as proof of my graybeard credentials, I remember the silly Open Software Foundation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_Software_Founda tion [wikipedia.org] ) when the old guard hardware/Unix vendors tried desperately to remain relevant by allying with each other. In fact I was called to an all-hands meeting to witness (live via video) the various CEOs commit their respective companies to this new alliance. But nothing ever came of it because the horse was out of the barn already. FWIW, I also remember snickering, as an early PC adopter who could readily read the writing on the wall.

Re:Why does it matter? (2, Interesting)

HitekHobo (1132869) | about 7 years ago | (#20026155)

I'm going to have to disagree with that. Overall, yes, MS makes money from their products - that's what companies do.

They have pretty well set the desktop standard and pretty much anyone that uses a computer can sit down at most any workstation and accomplish a task. That is a hell of a benefit. Unfortunately, it comes with a monopoly that makes it harder for other OS vendors to enter the market.

Personally, I've been running linux and bsd machines for the past 10 years. Everybody is running their own desktop that a majority of people don't know how to use without a bit of fiddling. There's nothing wrong with that, but moving towards ubiquitous computing, we need a) better interfaces and b) standardized interfaces or we'll just get confused by the multitude of UI's out there.

Until everyone can carry around their own UI chip that interfaces with the surrounding hardware, MS's monopoly and their desktop standardization have at least one benefit that we can't currently get from OSS.

Additionally, lots of OSS copies from MS on interfaces, software and protocols. I'm not saying MS hasn't ripped off their fair share of ideas, but the street does go both ways.

This may be the least negative thing I've ever said about MS.

Re:Why does it matter? (0, Flamebait)

DogDude (805747) | about 7 years ago | (#20026227)

It matters because nothing Microsoft does benefits anyone but them in the long run. You've got to have noticed this by now.

Yeah, what good has MS ever done, other than making personal computing accessible to the general public, right? Bastards.

Re:Why does it matter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20026293)

No benefit to others? I am a system administrator in a mid-sized company that uses Microsoft products exclusively. I make $80k/year in a relatively inexpensive housing market. So how exactly, am I not benefited by being able to purchase a home, which helps my family and I in the long run? You might argue that Microsoft doesn't, as a whole, try to benefit anyone else (i.e. non-shareholders), that is a different story. But it is hard to argue that many employees within Microsoft have the desire to help others outside the organization, just like about any other company. Regardless of that, others are benefited by using their products no matter how blind your zealotry might be.

Your comment is very ignorant, and not suprisingly is being modded Insightful by others.

Re:Why does it matter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20026901)

So are you saying that Unix boxes don't need administration, or that you're just too dumb to administer them?

Or do you think that if it were not for Microsoft products, your business would be doing everything on pencil and paper?

Re:Why does it matter? (1)

dedazo (737510) | about 7 years ago | (#20026327)

That's funny, I could swear that I've made a lot of money over the past twelve years using their software. I also know a *lot* of other people who have as well. And any number of companies who have enabled their business processes and models with Microsoft software, and thus enabled them to prosper as well*. So unless you mean "Microsoft has also made a lot of money from their clients" I must conclude that you have your reality distortion field turned up a bit too high.

* I don't know how to write that so that it doesn't sound like PR copy, but then I can't believe I have to spell out something like that to begin with.

greed is king! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20026701)

ya, and a lot of other people made and still make gobs of money with haliburton and KBR and in the past with enron, so what is your point again, that if you "make money" it makes it acceptable? Really, that is all that matters, just the cash, nothing else? What a fine set of values you are passing on to your kids then! anything fucking goes as long as you get yours, huh?

  Microsoft is a criminal asshole-ish company, proven in court, numerous reasons, all of them have been outlined all over, and *always* has been a predatory pack of lying strongarming jerks.

  Hope you enjoy your share of the criminal loot, because that is all it is, part of their ill gotten spoils. Go vacation in your's and billy gate's perfect dream nation china, because they agree in so many areas! Maybe you can go watch them execute some political prisoners and cheer with the crowds there as the bullet hits them in the back of the head, then get a "deal" on spare parts to sell! Hey, business is business, anything goes! Profits rule! You're making a *good* living, so fuck everything else, right? Right! Money rules! Anything for Money! It doesn't matter how many times MS has gotten busted for this or that because PROFITS RULE! Nothing else is as important, it's the bottom line of bottom lines, no single other thing in the known universe is as important as MONEY! Caveat Emptor and Read the EULA! Get your expensive SNAKEOIL here, you can MAKE MONEY with it!

Go ahead and keep "making your money". Keep supporting crooks liars strong-arm men bribers and extortionists. You and the other "greed is good" crowd. Ya'all have fun worshiping at the feet of your superior wallstreet money gods and chinese and neocon political masters! Hey, keep licking their boots hard enough, they might give you a raise! yaa! More Money!

Re:greed is king! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20026813)

viva la revolution komandante!

Re:Why does it matter? (4, Interesting)

SerpentMage (13390) | about 7 years ago | (#20026845)

Give the man a cigar!

I have gone through the Microsoft era, Unix era, Open Source era, Java era, and so on. YES I am a gray beard like the original grand parent poster. And if there is one thing that Microsoft has learned and keeps on propagating is that you can make money with Microsoft. This is not something to treat lightly.

I will give you another example; AutoCad. They are essentially the last standing CAD software. Yes there are others, but none as popular as AutoCad. Why? Well one reason is that you could copy it. BUT another bigger reason was that from day 1 AutoCad could be extended so that you could add value to AutoCad. AutoCad created an environment where people could prosper and thus secured their place in history.

Open Source did get one thing right in that they solved problems that people were having. Open Source did not focus on features. What Open Source got wrong is making money for people. The environment around Open Source is a cheapskate environment. Redhat offered Fedora because people stopped buying Redhat Linux. People did not buy software, and to this day still don't buy software. You have more people using for free than adding to the ecosystem, and that hurts!

Yes there are big companies using and supporting Linux. BUT add together the economies around Microsoft and I would not hesitate to use trillions of dollars. First you have Microsoft, then you have people selling software for Windows, then you have consultancies supporting Windows, then you have custom coders for Microsoft, then you have conferences, then you have trainers, etc, etc. It is an incredibly HUGE ecosystem that is profitable for everybody involved.

If you look at the latest incomes of the Open Source vendors it is down right disappointing after a decade of potential. For crying out loud Ubuntu is the result of a guy who made his money with something else and is supporting Ubuntu because he wants to have fun!

If Linux and Open Source REALLY want to beat Microsoft, then Open Source folks should STOP BEING DAMM CHEAPSKATES! I am sure everybody is capable of forking over 50 USD per year. If we use a conservative number of 1 million users world wide that would mean 50 million dollars income and that would mean a heck of a lot programmers could be hired to solve those darn user interface problems!

Do I buy and support software? Absolutely, as a matter of principle because I earn my money from software.

Mod down (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20026403)

It matters because nothing Microsoft does benefits anyone but them in the long run. You've got to have noticed this by now.

As the half-dozen or so posters above me demonstrate, that assertion is ridiculous.

If computing had been left to the *nix crowd, we'd still be telnetting into mainframes running JCL.

If computing had been left to Apple, the machine you really want would still cost $5,000.00, and its mouse would still have one button.

MSFT has indeed plumbed new depths of suckiness in many aspects of both business and technology, but by not giving credit where it's due, you undermine your whole argument.

Re:Why does it matter? (1)

seriesrover (867969) | about 7 years ago | (#20026603)

so if nothing Microsoft does benefits anyone why do people stick with buying Office and other Windows apps if the alternative is free ?

Re:Why does it matter? (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | about 7 years ago | (#20026729)

Suppose that this is not *about* security - it could be about the very deepest concept of computing. If some pivotal series of events occurs, and the world flips to Linux/BSD/other, then the very deepest root of computing will never again be fully captured by a proprietary company.

On the other side, if China decides to lock into Windows, with MS feeding them free versions FOREVER, MS could use that as a rim shot to continue to drag inter-OS compatibility down. ($3? That's not a software price, that's a shipping fee.)

Re:Why does it matter? (1)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | about 7 years ago | (#20026763)

``Is somebody going to make big money if Linux takes off?''

Ssssh! Don't tell it any further, but I have Ubuntu stock options!

Are we being ripped off? (3, Interesting)

tsa (15680) | about 7 years ago | (#20025923)

From TFA: Microsoft has made it easy for Chinese users to purchase legal copies by offering a $3 Windows/Office bundle to Chinese students.

I wouldn't be surprised if they still make a profit even at that low price.

Re:Are we being ripped off? (1)

Threni (635302) | about 7 years ago | (#20026109)

> I wouldn't be surprised if they still make a profit even at that low price.

They'd make a profit if they paid people to use it. They've already paid for the development, and they use third world telephone support which is pretty cheap (perhaps Microsoft can do a deal with the government and train chinese prisoners or something) and they've got nothing to lose. Getting no money from China is like getting no money from aliens on the moon - it just makes no difference whatsoever.

Re:Are we being ripped off? (1)

jshriverWVU (810740) | about 7 years ago | (#20026181)

Agree $3 is better than $0. They already have their cash cow now. If they can squeeze any more money it's just gravy. Plus China has the largest population. If you can get $3 out of 1billion people that's still $3billion for nothing more than pressing more CD's. Plus it's not the OS that they are selling but the opportunity for op sales, we'll pitch in X-package for just $2 more.

Re:Are we being ripped off? (1)

FooBarWidget (556006) | about 7 years ago | (#20026217)

Even $3 is expensive for Chinese. $3 is 20.68 yuan. One can probably get a pirated copy for 5 yuan.

Re:Are we being ripped off? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20026221)

I wouldn't be surprised if they still make a profit even at that low price.

And watch M$ profit plummet when they really charge more for it.

true (1)

imkow (1021759) | about 7 years ago | (#20026337)

That's true. Microsoft is still making money in that price.
People here in China usually buy a disc(with windows or whatever on it) for less than 5 Yuan(7.5 Yuan equals 1 US dollar).
A 3-dollar piece is considered quite expensive for students. For some who came from rural areas, 3 dollars means food supply for 3 (or more)days .
Not to mention that sharing and downloading are quite common methods to obtain software among students.

Re:Are we being ripped off? (1)

hitmanWilly1337 (1034664) | about 7 years ago | (#20027027)

I wouldn't be surprised if they still make a profit even at that low price.

Considering the alternative is the students go out and pirate it anyway, I guess $3 > $0.

What battle? (1)

miffo.swe (547642) | about 7 years ago | (#20025957)

I fail to see what battle has played out in China. For all i know Microsoft has always had the biggest marketshare in China too. Linux can still gain on Windows, especially when Microsoft soon enough starts taxing for licenses. Its one thing to run things for free, another when a country of Chinas size have to pay through their noose. Also if i wore China i would be very afraid of running an OS from the US, soon to be a bitter tradewar enemy. This isnt over just yet.

Re:What battle? (3, Insightful)

Phrogman (80473) | about 7 years ago | (#20026061)

If Linux wins out in the end it will be in part for this reason. You can examine it for backdoors, concealed reporting etc, which you cannot do with a proprietary closed source OS. I have no doubt that if it was asked by the NSA to include that sort of thing in its product offerings to China, MS would be willing to comply. What company would be willing to rely on the goodwill of a foreign, potentially hostile or at least rival government's goodwill, when it can develop its own operating system and include these features itself and under its own control?

Re:What battle? (3, Informative)

westlake (615356) | about 7 years ago | (#20026535)

You can examine it for backdoors, concealed reporting etc, which you cannot do with a proprietary closed source OS

The Chinese government has had access to the Windows source code since 2003.

Now when China uses Windows in President Hu's office, or for that matter in its missile systems, it can install its own cryptography. How Microsoft conquered China. [cnn.com]

What about RedFlag Linux? (1)

I'm Don Giovanni (598558) | about 7 years ago | (#20026021)

Whatever happened to (the GPL-violating) RedFlag Linux? Did it ever really exist, or was it just urban legend?

Re:What about RedFlag Linux? (3, Funny)

sakdoctor (1087155) | about 7 years ago | (#20026467)

It exists, and it is more than GPL violating too.
When I saw it running a few years back (Chinese version) it was an extreamly shoddy red hat fork with KDE as the desktop and blatantly ripped-off windows 2000 icons. It was trying hard to pass off as windows 2000, but also there was no root password, user ran as root by default, and it seemed that some services...actually most of them, were running by default.

The whole thing was just so communist. As opposed to Linux.

WHO LOST CHINA???!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20026063)

Damn pinko GNU-lovers! It's all your fault!

Trusted Computing (4, Insightful)

Geof (153857) | about 7 years ago | (#20026085)

The Chinese government wishes to control the use of the Internet and of computers. The Linux community is hardly likely to help China take control of computers away from the users. But with Trusted Computing, Microsoft may be able to offer exactly that capability.

For a government concerned about control, Microsoft's obvious motivations (control and profit) may be both more familiar, more predictable - and because Microsoft is centralized, mor tractable. This in comparison to the diverse coalition of interests making up the free and open source community.

Re:Trusted Computing (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 7 years ago | (#20026511)

The Chinese government wishes to control the use of the Internet and of computers. The Linux community is hardly likely to help China take control of computers away from the users. But with Trusted Computing, Microsoft may be able to offer exactly that capability. For a government concerned about control, Microsoft's obvious motivations (control and profit) may be both more familiar...

And they're both run by evil dictators ;-)
     

Re:Trusted Computing (1)

keithjr (1091829) | about 7 years ago | (#20027015)

The Chinese government wishes to control the use of the Internet and of computers. The Linux community is hardly likely to help China take control of computers away from the users.

Keep in mind, the Chinese government also wants to control its own economy. Being dependent on an outside source of software and putting their infrastructure in the hands of a western company are both unappealing. This was the original impetus for Red Flag Linux itself. It's honestly surprising to me that things have taken this course.

When you create your own distro, you can put whatever you want in it. Microsoft won out in the short run because of their insane price-slashing ($10 per seat for Windows and Office?!) and behind-the-curtain source code collaboration. Will it hold out in the long run?

What's New? (1)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | about 7 years ago | (#20026145)

``"With the ... largest economy standardized on Windows desktops, desktop Linux does seem to have an uphill battle ahead of it."''

Has it ever been any different?

Eventually, people will choose what they choose for their own reasons. Network effects can be one of these reasons, and Microsoft still has that one covered for now. However, Linux has its own benefits compared to Windows. Some of these will always be there.

Who would have thought, in the mid 1990s, that Linux would get this big? Perhaps it will get there in China, as well.

Microsoft has to dump forever. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20026167)

Another poster calculated that, if people paid a reasonable amount for Windows, China would pay America $100 billion every few years. There's no way China will let that amount of money leave the country for a good that they could have for free. In other words, Microsoft has to continue to tolerate piracy in China and it has to be willing to sell legitimate copies for only a few dollars per seat.

What Microsoft is doing is called 'dumping'. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dumping_(pricing_poli cy) [wikipedia.org]

In economics, "dumping" can refer to any kind of predatory pricing. However, the word is now generally used only in the context of international trade law, where dumping is defined as the act of a manufacturer in one country exporting a product to another country at a price which is either below the price it charges in its home market or is below its costs of production.(the emphasis is mine)

Microsoft used to tolerate the piracy of DOS until it became the standard then it started to tighten the screws. That won't work in China because the outflow of money would be intolerable. Right now China needs the American market. Once its own market gets up to steam they won't. The US of A won't have any leverage and Microsoft's revenue from China will continue to be minimal.

could it be (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20026193)

Could it be that China which has its own great firewall and such that since people can modify and use open source how they like [break any spy/firewall software the user doesnt like for example] wouldn't closed source be favored by at least the chinese government because of the obscurity? or that despite Linux distros becomming increasingly easy to use/install, there is still a preference for Windows because it makes up ~90% of desktop PC OS in the western world/US. very little choice but then again that may be part of why Windows does so well, there is a default install that at least can be said to work for most people with most people not customizing anything afterwords [setup and forget except for updates which seem to be not applied very well]

Not So Fast (4, Insightful)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | about 7 years ago | (#20026211)

``The fact that... Linux failed to gain a major foothold in China is yet another blow to desktop Linux. After nearly eight years of being on the verge of a breakthrough, Linux seems more destined than ever to be a force in the server room but little more than a narrow niche and an anomaly on the desktop.''

Oh, come on. Just as those who have been proclaiming, the past few years, that whatever year it happened to be would be the year of Linux on the desktop were to early to proclaim victory, this is a bit too early to proclaim defeat.

I seem to recall something about one of the world's largest PC vendors starting to ship systems with Linux pre-installed. Does that sound like "a narrow niche and an anomaly on the desktop"? To me, it sounds more like one step on the road to being a recognized and respected operating system.

Re:Not So Fast (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20026427)

I seem to recall something about one of the world's largest PC vendors starting to ship systems with Linux pre-installed. Does that sound like "a narrow niche and an anomaly on the desktop"?

No, but this does: http://marketshare.hitslink.com/report.aspx?qprid= 5 [hitslink.com]

Re:Not So Fast (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20026903)

Ooh. Very cute. Now you need to learn that market share and installed base are two completely different things.

  Like .... How much market share did my $0 downloads of Ubuntu iso images count for, anyway? Oh yeah, ZERO. As in no market share whatsoever. Boy, it's a good thing I'm just about the only person who didn't pay for linux, 'cause otherwise market share would be a completely useless metric for figuring out how popular linux is.

Re:Not So Fast (1)

westlake (615356) | about 7 years ago | (#20026599)

I seem to recall something about one of the world's largest PC vendors starting to ship systems with Linux pre-installed.

To its business customers for some years now.

Just don't expect to see a Geek shouting "You are getting Ubuntu, Dude!" on cable TV and in their four-color adds

Whistling past the graveyard (2, Funny)

baomike (143457) | about 7 years ago | (#20026249)

You can almost hear the author whisper to himself; "I hope this article turns out to be right.

Uhm... (4, Insightful)

BlueParrot (965239) | about 7 years ago | (#20026275)

So, in a country governed by a surpressive regime which wishes to controll and monitor it citizen's as much as possible, a proprieatry closed system controlled by a centralised body is standard software rather than a free open system with an ideological emphasis on the freedoms of the users. Doesn't sound to surprising does it ? Now the real WTF is that the democratic world is using it as well...

Re:Uhm... (1)

Nasarius (593729) | about 7 years ago | (#20026355)

I'd say the real WTF is that we're talking about China, with its oppressive government, human rights violations, not to mention everyone finally realizing that the quality of Chinese manufacturing extends to its food exports as well...and somehow we give a shit about what OS they're using?

Re:Uhm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20026433)

Now the real WTF is that the democratic world is using it as well...


We're only free in comparison the China.

Re:Uhm... (1)

westlake (615356) | about 7 years ago | (#20026667)

rather than a free open system with an ideological emphasis on the freedoms of the users.

To the outsider, Linux can look like a system whose ideology is shaped by a technocratic elite not by the market, not by the end user.

Re:Uhm... (1)

amokk (465630) | about 7 years ago | (#20026727)

Most people don't consider their choice of operating system to be a political statement. So no, it isn't a surprise IN THE SLIGHTEST that people in democratic countries choose, by and large, to use Windows. Clean the rocks out of your head with whatever means you have available. Don't ascribe a country's governing ideology to choice of software.

victory with china???? (2, Insightful)

3seas (184403) | about 7 years ago | (#20026287)

Unless the Chinese government outlaws linux and alternative OS, its only a matter of time for world wide open source software to improve beyond what microsoft can produce. Note, I said "Open Source Software" which is a wider base than the "Linux Kernel".

But for this to be promoted as Victory of MS vs. Linux. Certainly it is a hype, as GNU/linux continues to replace Microsoft products in governments around the world. Before GNU/Linux what was the option?

Sooooo, in the bigger picture, MS has been down graded from a sure thing, only option, to a need to announce and amplify the announcement of victory over the competition in specific cases.

You will not find MS announcing competitors victory over them and maybe not even teh same level of media coverage.

The fact that it took the open source software development model to create competition for microsoft, where all other MS competitors business models failed, says a lot as to what to expect of the future of open source software.
 

They'll get them next time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20026451)

The only thing that will happen is that next time around, when China is so commited that there's no way back, M$ will simply hike up the price to recover whatever losses they make this time around.

Good Old Favoritism (2, Insightful)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | about 7 years ago | (#20026489)

``These moves, coupled with building strong relationships within the Chinese government and opening a major research center in Beijing, completely changed Microsofts fortunes in China.'' (emphasis mine)

So it was good old favoritism. Buy a can of politicians, get one nation free!

This is why those with power should be watched and their use of said power closely scrutinized. Of course, there's no such thing going on in China.

Desktop Ready NOW (2, Interesting)

Werrismys (764601) | about 7 years ago | (#20026551)

Linux has been 'Desktop Ready' for at least 10 years now. It's the applications, not the desktop. Functionally, KDE and Gnome have been on par with Winblows since KDE2 days.

99% of Windows users don't know how to use Windows, at all. Really. They just know the couple of APPLICATIONS they use, and how to launch them.

Example: I had just this week to teach a windows user how to remove entries from boot loader menu. He had to reinstall windows and the reinstall process partially borked, like it usually does.

It was like 'start a command prompt' (+long explanation), change file attributes on boot.ini in C: root (+long explanation), launch text editor (+explanation), toggle back file permissions - oops I mean attributes... and boot and pray.

How this was any easier than modifying GRUB config escapes me.

'Readiness' and 'Intuitiviness' do not equal familiarity.

Re:Desktop Ready NOW (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | about 7 years ago | (#20026831)

Of course you're right. It wasn't objectively easier. But it's not even "familiarity".

Members of this forum are used to being called over to "Fix X." This involves User wringing hands in defeat, calling for help, glancing on in a partial attempt to learn about 20% of the fix, and then going back to work with the incident forgotten as long as it doesn't happen again.

There's a Deep-FUD effect going on with switching. If you have Windows, and get stuck, User shrugs and calls ComputerGuy over. But like playing a game in the away field, Linux is held to a higher standard, where User MUST NOT get stuck AT ALL, or suddenly lose the fragile will to switch. Then User will go back to Windows, which by now is Vista and Office 07, which wasn't the XP/Office 2003... and get stuck.

Re:Desktop Ready NOW (1)

o517375 (314601) | about 7 years ago | (#20027061)

Yes. It's the applications. The ones that only run on Windows -- like most of them. There are thousands of applications that will run only on Windows and these applications are citical to businesses. These apps are written and sold by large commercial vendors. Here are a few examples of areas where there's no real Linux counterpart but the Windows software is pervasive: Time and billing, document management, MS Access, and the list goes on into the thousands. Businesses use computers not because they need computers, but because they need the apps that make the business more efficient and 95% of all of those apps are Windows-only. If all businesses needed was Office, they'd switch to Linux. If someone were to develop a GPL Windows API emulator to run on Linux, I believe Linux would overtake Windows within 5 years. But such a thing is pipe dream unless governments were to wake up and enforce anti-monopolist laws and force MS to publish ALL of the APIs for free use.

Suprise Suprise (1)

lourosas (1134227) | about 7 years ago | (#20026573)

Linux "...on the verge of a desktop breakthrough?..." Surprise, surprise! Same thing different day! While I do believe in and use Linux, I don't think that it can alone topple the Microsoft giant (not anytime soon). I don't know how many times I see reports about how "...Linux is this close to breaking into the mainstream desktop environment!..." and yet never quite doing it. This whole thing is as elusive as Hydrogen fusion (not even the "cold" kind). To me, Microsoft is just too big and powerful. Like we haven't heard all of this before and will for at least the next 5-years!!

who gives a fuck? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20026609)

linux sucks an ass anyway.

May be FUD?? (1)

DaMattster (977781) | about 7 years ago | (#20026691)

I question the reliability of this article because obviously Dell would not be seeking to expand its production of Linux-based (Ubuntu) PCs if they did not believe there is a solid market. Linux and the BSDs have been (and are) ready for the desktop. Unfortunately, Microsoft's desktop market share is so vast that it will be more of a "chipping away" than a large scale migration from Windows to Linux on the desktop. Meanwhile I applaud efforts like Dell's and I hope for continued penetration of open source into the market place. Instead of ruing that Linux and the BSDs are not running on the desktop, let's celebrate their pervasiveness at the server end. Despite the F.U.D. pump MS is running against open source, we continue to see more open source adoption for servers. Shortly, UNIX will take advantage of the wonderful work of Samba 4 and replace Windows as the Active Directory Domain Controller, File, and Print server.

It's the usability (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20026711)

Linux can be great but for normal people (I'm one of them even if I'm a developer), Linux is a pain to use.
Installing new programs is a pain, and I'm not talking about device/hardware/drivers incompatibilities...

I want my computer to 'Just Work'. In addition I want to be able to use the best programs available, I want the original, not a copy: I want Photoshop, not Gimp (for example). Today I can get it for Windows and Mac OS X but not Linux. The same reasoning is true for so many programs that at the end of the day you don't care that Linux is free.

On the other hand, on the server side, being free is much more important. I don't even think about using another OS for that.

The Problems w/ Desktop Linux (-1, Flamebait)

KidSock (150684) | about 7 years ago | (#20026779)

Desktop Linux, or any *nix desktop for that matter, is at a serious disadvantage to Windows. Anyone who has worked in a big all-MS shop knows that people are doing a lot of stuff like:

    Cutting and pasting fragments of data from one office app to another
    Accessing files on shared drives restricted to certain groups
    Killing errant applications with the Task Manager via ctrl-alt-del

These things all have something in common that the *nix desktop does not have and will likely never have. They all are features that transcend different components of the desktop, OS middle-layer, kernel and network services.

Cutting and pasting a table from Excel into Word requires that both applications agree on what the format of that data will be. Dispite the fact that early MS software was buggy, OLE delegated the responsibility of encoding and decoding clip board data and that was the right way to solve the problem. But *nix applications are developed entiresly independantly of one another and of course X Windows says nothing about what is in the clip board (actually what's really confusing is that there's actually two clip boards in X - the text one when you highlight something and the regular one that not many applications use). Anyway, the bottom line is that if you want to cut something from gnumeric and past it into OOo writer, it's not going to work. To solve this problem X needs a "com"unication layer that will allow one application to invoke routines in another so as to properly translate data in the clip board. Trying to get X, gnumeric and OOo developers to coordinate on such a project is rediculously hopeless.

Accessing files on shared drives may sound easy - "just use Samba or NFS" you say? Ha. Linux security works at the OS level. If you're root on one system and you access a filesystem on another system over NFS you can modify files owned by root without having authenticated. That's a HUGE security flaw and it's been that way forever. NFSv4 is trying to remedy some of these problems with GSSAPI authentication, UID mapping and so on but NFSv4 isn't anywhere near the "just works" stage and won't be for a long long time since you need a filesystem with more sophisticated extended attribute controls. That brings me to the related problem of groups which are still old-skool course quantized one group per file (yes I know it was elegant but it's just not going to work anymore). In a large IntrAnet environment you must have ACLs that support inheritance and even if you do have that you have to have decent tools to manage them. Admins have enough trouble understanding ACLs there's no way the average MircroSofty is going to using xattr on the commandline. So you see this problem transcends the security infrastructure from the KDCs on the network, to how users are represented in the kernel and in filesystems. Now imagine trying to get some Kernel developers who believe everyone can be represented by a small number unique to the local system to think about how ACL entries on another system and how to quickly perform access checks on ACLs in the kernel. Good luck with that.

One of the best features of Windows is the Task Manager. When you press Ctrl-Alt-Del on Windows a special routine runs in the kernel. The Windowing system is completely stopped in it's tracks by this routine. Special light weight windowing code in the kernel pops up and the user can select processes for a number of actions the most important of which is to simply kill things. The bottom line is that whey you kill something it's *really* killed. Dead. No "zombies". No hanging. It's just gone. Again you can see why this feature is like the others. It's code that trancends the Windowing system and kernel. Most serious Linux installs don't even run a desktop let alone X windows (and that's the way it should be). So 99% of Linux Kernel devs don't give a rat's tail about some desktop process control feature. As far as there concerned ctrl-alt-del still means "reboot" and they'll be damned if they're going to change that because of MS.

There are many more examples of problems like this. For these reasons, it is my belief that Linux or any other *nix will never usurp Windows on the desktop. It *might* be ok to surf the web and read email. But in a large corporate IntrAnet envinronment Windows rules and always will.

[Note: I use Linux 99% of the time. I don't even have a Windows machine anywhere near me and the ones I do have are running in VMWare for testing purposes only. I strongly advocate Linux and *nix for server applications. If you don't need fancy integrated libraries of Windows, then you should not be using it because it's a liability. If you have some Java or web stuff, it pays to have a few Linux boxes running in the back office.]

Re:The Problems w/ Desktop Linux (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20026923)

"Linux security works at the OS level. If you're root on one system and you access a filesystem on another system over NFS you can modify files owned by root without having authenticated. That's a HUGE security flaw and it's been that way forever."

I beg to differ - If your running as root and accessing files as root on another system routinely, YOU ARE THE SECURITY FLAW.

So what? (1)

vandan (151516) | about 7 years ago | (#20026825)

A couple of simple facts blows this story completely out of the water:

- The Chinese government doesn't dictate to 2 billion Chinese what OS and software they use. The government itself is the size of a large corporation, so this is basically the same as a large corporation 'switching' to Windows & Office. But as noted, many of them were already using Windows & Office and not paying for it. So it's not even a 'switch' ... it's just that they've started paying.

- The population of China is not particularly relevant, as most Chinese work for less than $1 per day, and can't exactly afford a computer. If they could, I can't imagine them running out to buy Windows and Office. They'll either pirate Windows and Office, or use Linux.

- Corruption in China's state capitalist [wikipedia.org] government is well documented, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if there were some kick-backs to key government ministers over this decision. Obviously the open-source community can't compete with this, and shouldn't take it too hard that Microsoft 'won' this deal ( which again, is basically an agreement to start paying for what they already use ).

- Red Flag linux is not being systematically wiped off the face of the planet.

The author of this story needs a 'Sanity Check' of his own. The battle for the desktop is going on with home users, not governments, and particularly not the Chinese government.

Well, that's a slap in the face! (2, Insightful)

dannycim (442761) | about 7 years ago | (#20026869)

I don't know but, if I were a Microsoft product user, I'd be mighty peeved that some guy on the other side of the world is paying $3 while I'm paying $150 for the same exact piece of software.

Where's the fairness in that? Why the preferrential treatment? Are we rewarding criminals now?

Pffft!

It's a DoD move... (2, Funny)

l2b (40934) | about 7 years ago | (#20026933)

With the Chinese military devoting huge amounts of time to rebooting WinDoze clients, there will be no time to train and wage war.

I don't care if windows beats GNU/linux (2, Insightful)

filter_zero0 (934468) | about 7 years ago | (#20027001)

All this talk of GNU/Linux competing over a slice of the user share is pointless.
The only thing that matters is that I can use an OS without restriction.
The only thing that matters is that ANYONE can use an OS without restriction.
This is the only thing that free software does better than any other proprietary system out there.
Even if GNU/Linux is dropped like a hot potato that's ok because free software
will still get made by poeple who do it for the love of it.
Using a computer is a human right not a privlege.
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