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Microsoft's Biggest Threat - Google or Open Source?

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the by-your-powers-combined dept.


Glyn Moody writes "Google always plays down suggestions that there's any looming clash of the titans between itself and Microsoft. Meanwhile, the search giant is pushing open source in every way it can. They're contributing directly by contributing code to projects and employing top hackers like Andrew Morton, Jeremy Allison and Guido van Rossum, and indirectly through the $60 million fees it pays Mozilla, its Summer of Code scheme and various open source summits held at its offices. Google+OSS: could this be the killer combination that finally breaks Microsoft?"

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Google is OSS (3, Insightful)

Cytlid (95255) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874046)

Google is Google because of things like Linux and OSS.

Linux/OSS are the tools which allow Google to exist.

  I'm just waiting for the next big Google.

Re:Google is OSS (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21874078)

Microsoft is the new IBM.

Huge company, which will never go away, but where innovation has died a long time ago.
After a few years, Google will follow them.
The Natural way of big companies.

Microsoft's biggest threat is Microsoft. (5, Insightful)

ElizabethGreene (1185405) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874534)

In my humble and unsubstantiated opinion, Microsoft is Microsoft's biggest threat. They have too many products and too many people, and it has made them uncompetitive. If they refocus on their core business, they can come back. Google and other OSS competitors are superfluous.

Microsoft's Products include:
Accounting software (5 distinct huge business packages plus Microsoft Money and a dozen bolt-on applications); Hardware (Mice, Keyboards, Joysticks, cameras, headsets, and game gear); Operating Systems (Servers, workstations, mobile devices, and embedded devices); online services (MSN, Live services, Search, Groups... this is a huge list); database services (Sql Server), Groupware (Exchange), Office Suites (Office, Works), 3 distinct sets of Mapping software, drawing software, desktop publishing software, Reference software, a graphing calculator application, Hardware and software media players, online media services with varying levels of compatibility, tv set top boxes, a dozen different development languages which may or may not be integrated into visual studio.. The list goes on and on,

OSS is one of several competitors offering an alternative for people to switch away from MS products. If oss ceased to exist, some other competitor would arise. That is how a free market works.


p.s. Google, pay attention, you are spreading out too. Diversification is good, but stay good at what makes you great.

Re:Google is OSS (4, Insightful)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874174)

Google, aside from its use of linux (which it could do without supporting FOSS in any other way incidentally, if it wanted to), has no choice but to pally up with FOSS if they want to keep profits up.

FOSS would pose just as big a danger to them as it does to microsoft if they did otherwise.

A tad cynical perhaps, but you can bet if they thought there was more money in closed source than open, they'd go that way.

One more thing, where is the source for gmail? Or google maps (not the API), or many other google projects. If they're so into the foss, why are so many of their 'free' offerings all but proprietary in nature?

Re:Google is OSS (4, Insightful)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874812)

``One more thing, where is the source for gmail? Or google maps (not the API), or many other google projects. If they're so into the foss, why are so many of their 'free' offerings all but proprietary in nature?''

All but proprietary? How is Google implementing an appliaction they don't provide source for, but do publish an API for, different from, say, Microsoft implementing something they don't provide source for, but do publish an API for? Wait! I'll tell you how it's different. With Microsoft, you run the software and you store your data. With Google, they run the software and they store your data.

The next big play will be using OSS (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874384)

The reason is not just much lower costs. It is what drives MS (and others) to look at them, which gives them LOADS more advertisement. In general, nearly all the web start-ups that are based on Windows die. In fact, if you want companies like MS to consider buying (and jacking your prices WAY up), then you have to be OSS based. Otherwise, they know that they can control you anytime they want, but least you help sell more MS systems.

could this be the killer combination that ... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21874050)

... finally breaks Microsoft?

sure, now that Linux had taken over the desktop.

I dont understand the importance of the answer (1)

systems (764012) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874068)

why should MS care who is the bigger threat! Both are ..

Re:Both are .. (1)

Technician (215283) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874102)

The real threat is spelled competition. It is more than just both.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Competition [wikipedia.org]

Toss in a failed Vista Launch and stable alternatives including Apple, IBM OS/2, etc. They all eat at the pie that once was Microsoft's domain.

Re:Both are .. (1)

Grampaw Willie (631616) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874490)

OS/X is -- and I think will remain -- a niche system. a very good one and one we love to see stay with us but I don't see OS/X "taking over the market"

OS/2 of course sank years ago off the coast of Armonk, and Old Blue went out to pasture.

now the thing that resulted in Old Blue heading out to pasture was RESPONSIVENESS

before the PC Revolt if you wanted to do anything on computer you had top petition data processing to do it for you. and users of every feather where chomping and clamoring at the door to the Computer Room

and then the PC appeared

and the user could do what he wanted without waiting

it was RESPONSIVENESS to put Old Blue to pasture and not just in the "do it for yourself" aspect but also in the Server Farm: the use of many small computers in a network configuration. No Monster mainframe had any prayer of matching a nest of Servers, each working on its own special assignments.

But Old Blue did have pretty good security and maybe this was because we didn't let anyone into the computer room. Whatever the reason, security has gone to pot and it is the security issue that will be the principle issue evaluated in the next changeover.

what we have now is NO GOOD

and EVERYONE know this

this means that there is going to be a change.

and that change is going to center on who is authorized to make programming changes?

Only the OEM Software vendor and then only to his own programming.

Digital signatures that can be checked with a certificate authority will be required.

the company that can do this CONVINCINGLY will be the next company to be the market leader

Re:Both are .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21874600)

and that change is going to center on who is authorized to make programming changes?

Only the OEM Software vendor and then only to his own programming.
Crap. It's "whomever the system owner authorises to do so".

Your answer "now with lock-in 2.0" is not a selling point.

What's needed are better controls to ensure that changes are only made in accordance with the system owner's policies. Most particularly that means that the "OEM system vendor" is prevented from making changes until those changes have been authorised inhouse.

Since when are these even direct competitors? (4, Insightful)

kapowaz (667664) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874074)

Google are an advertising company. Anything it invests in is done with the ultimate objective of selling more advertising. Microsoft is a software company who have, admittedly, recently taken an interest in Search tools, but not with the objective of selling advertising so much as adding value to its own software and services. One of the reasons Google doesn't talk up any direct competition with Microsoft is because they're not direct competitors. Until they're both directly selling software to the same target market this will remain the case.

Re:Since when are these even direct competitors? (1)

smilindog2000 (907665) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874340)

I totally agree. FOSS isn't really any threat to new innovative software. In my experience, we coders prefer to get rich from our work when we can. It's mostly the software which can't be sold for a profit that makes it's way into FOSS land. Microsoft has some value left in Microsoft Office, from what I hear, and still has some edge over Open Office. However, there' no value left in plain old operating systems. It's old mature technology. How do I know? Linux is catching up. When FOSS catches you, it just means you haven't done anything new, innovative, or cool for a while, or that your market segment has matured.

That said, Microsoft doesn't count on OS innovation anymore. They count on their OS monopoly. I think just about everyone is happy with this, from graphics-card companies, to Dell, and Intel. So long as Microsoft provides a gold standard OS at a very low OEM charge, it's worth paying, simply to have a standard. Google wants to sell adds to XP and Vista users, not replace the core OS. There's no natural competition there.

I suspect that FOSS will hurt Microsoft mainly because of Micrsoft's lack of vision. Apple (even though Steve is a huge A-hole) has the smarts to leverage FOSS. FOSS is propping up OS-X, and practically defines Linux. Microsoft has to realize at some point that all those open-source apps have value. The day they decide to fully leverage FOSS for their own gain (like Apple does) will be the day FOSS is no longer a threat to them.

Re:Since when are these even direct competitors? (5, Insightful)

babbling (952366) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874386)

GMail versus Hotmail.
Live Search versus Google Search.
Google Earth versus Virtual Earth.
Windows Mobile versus Google Android.
Google Docs and Google Pack (contains StarOffice) versus Microsoft Office.
Google pumping money into Free Software (Summer of Code, employment of key developers) versus pretty much any proprietary software (Windows, Office, IE) that Microsoft tries to sell.

The main way in which they're not competing is where their primary profit lies. Google doesn't make much money off software distribution yet, and Microsoft's primary source of revenue isn't advertising yet. There are certain areas (eg. document applications, mobile phone operating systems) where they plan to make money in different ways. Google wants to display ads alongside your documents, whereas Microsoft wants you to buy their office suite. Google is developing Android to get as many phones as they can internet-enabled so that people use the internet more and are exposed to more of their ads, whereas Microsoft wants mobile phone manufacturers to pay them a license fee for each mobile phone running Windows Mobile.

I think we're all familiar with Microsoft's business strategy. It's fairly simple: they sell software. It works well. (or at least it has until now)

Google's strategy makes it look like they're diversifying because of all the products they're launching, but I think they're actually just trying to put their ad network in as many different places as possible. They've done it for search, documents, emails, and videos. They're looking at putting internet onto phones across a wider audience, and they're surely hoping that some new types of services will emerge that are compatible with their advertising model.

Re:Since when are these even direct competitors? (4, Insightful)

spisska (796395) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874446)

Microsoft is a software company who have, admittedly, recently taken an interest in Search tools [...]

MS is an OS and applications company that has recently taken an interest in search tools, and advertising, and game consoles, and live services, and mapping, and portable music hardware, and low-end laptops, and enterprise servers, and smartphones, and content delivery, and standards, and anything else involving binary code that they can get their hands into.

The problem with MS is that they've lost focus on the business that built and sustains them -- Windows and Office. As it stands, Office is still the must-have application, which drives every business in which MS is successful. Replace Office, and you no longer need Windows, Exchange, MS Server, MS SQL, etc. None of their other activities are successful -- they're either gaping sinkholes of cash or so marginally profitable that they're unsustainable for anyone not sitting on $50 billion in cash.

What Google gets right is that their entire business is focused on the core of search, advertising, and the organization of information. Everything they do points straight back to and reinforces the core business.

Google's business is possible thanks to OSS tools, and Google deserves respect for going well beyond what is required under OSS licenses and actively contributing code and developer time to projects that are only marginally related, or completely unrelated to their core business. This doesn't cause them to lose focus, but it does keep their developers sharp and happy, and able to approach problems in completely new ways.

Take the office suite, for example. MS' big innovation for the new Office: a redesigned interface that many users, at least initially, find confusing and frustrating. It's interesting but not really necessary, and it's inexcusable that there's no mechanism to display menus in a way that users are already used to. With the Google office tools (which admittedly are nowhere near ready to replace MS Office) you get something that really is groundbreaking: the ability for multiple people to edit the same document at the same time.

There's also the difference in how these companies view business and threats. In MS' case, they see a threat in every business sector they don't control outright, and in many they do but where there are still upstarts who can't be bought, bullied, or sued. For companies like Google and others who rely on and develop OSS, competition means better software and improved opportunities for all.

MS isn't going away any time soon and there will always be a place for proprietary software. But increasingly proprietary solutions will be limited to niche professional markets (AutoCAD, ProTools, Premier etc), common applications will move from desktop to server and become platform-agnostic (office suites, email/calendaring, collaboration and versioning), and OSS apps will become increasingly robust and capable for armchair enthusiasts and pros alike (Ardour, GIMP, Cinelerra, My/PostgreSQL, etc).

MS can look for threats wherever it wants and they will find a lot. But the real threat doesn't come from any particular company, sector, or application. It's environmental -- the platform will simply become less and less relevant as time moves on. The real threat is that MS won't see this and won't react in time. It will be the beginning of the end as soon as there is a platform-neutral, drop-in replacement for Office + Outlook + Exchange + Sharepoint. We're not there yet, but the day is fast approaching.

Re:Since when are these even direct competitors? (0)

rizzo420 (136707) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874810)

What do you mean none of their other activities are successful? The XBox 360 has become the best gaming platform for hardcore gamers, beating out the over-hyped (and -priced) Playstation 3. I'd say MS's game console division is quite successful.

Aside from that, their Live Local maps are much better than Google's maps with their bird's eye view and the more recent images (Google's are several years old in most places). There are still a lot of Hotmail users and the new Hotmail interface is quite nice if you ask me.

As for MS Office, the new interface is far more intuitive and takes a regular user only a week or 2 to get used to it. It was an important change as they add more features, they made everything easier to find, unless you're just using it for simple word processing (little more than a text editor could do). If you use most of the features, the new interface is awesome and really easy to use. Google Docs doesn't even come close to being able to do what MS Office can do. Anyone who can suggest that isn't a power user of MS Office. MS also had announced this year that they were going to introduce document sharing. And if you really think online software is the way of the future, wait until you have to edit a presentation in flight to a client. Good luck with that.

Missing option.. (5, Insightful)

Ckwop (707653) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874080)

Microsoft's biggest enemy, at the moment is its self.

After Vista they proved they've gotten far to large a head count to innovate. Unless they slim down their development team, they're going to go the way IBM did in the early 90s.


exactly right (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874210)

Good answer. This is pretty much the post I was about to make. Somewhere in the mix between w2k and XP the whole mess stalled. Right now all the is carrying microsoft is it's own inertia.

Let's hope that when they do implode (if that hasn't happened already and we just haven't noticed) they don't take the open source world with them. Maybe "we" need to start distancing ourselves?

I Vote My Post Redundant (0, Redundant)

somegeekynick (1011759) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874260)

Good answer. This is pretty much the post I was about to make. My thoughts, exactly. (I just had to say that.)

Re:Missing option.. (3, Insightful)

QuietLagoon (813062) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874322)

Microsoft's biggest enemy, at the moment is its self.

It goes beyond the fact that Microsoft has lost its ability to innovate, though that is a significant portion.

Microsoft still has the zero sum mindset, i.e., either it wins it all, or it walks away. Microsoft will do whatever needs to be done in order to preserve what it has, including watching the market move past them. Microsoft will always be the dominant player on the desktop, Microsoft's monopoly will assure that. However, what Microsoft's monoploy cannot prevent is another entity making the desktop significantly less important. Once the desktop loses its importance, Microsoft's very foundation is weakened.

Unless they slim down their development team, they're going to go the way IBM did in the early 90s.

The computing paradigm shifted away from IBM's mainframes in the early 90s. Will the paradigm shift away from Microsoft's desktops?

Re:Missing option.. (1)

canuck57 (662392) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874614)

It goes beyond the fact that Microsoft has lost its ability to innovate, though that is a significant portion.

Microsoft is a marketing company, they do NOT innovate much if at all. The last innovation was NETBUI and CIFS, only CIFS is used any more and has it's basis in fact to ftp/NFS.

  • TCP, UDP etc - nope
  • RPC, ntp, nntp, ftp etc - nope
  • SMTP, POP3, IMAP - nope
  • Windows GUI - nope
  • HTTP/HTTPS, web browser - nope
  • Word processing - nope
  • Spread sheets - nope
  • File sharing - nope
  • Mouse - nope
  • DNS, Kerberos, LDAP, SSL, certificates - nope
  • ASM,C/C++/Java - nope (.NET isn't an innovation, it is proprietary)

Historically, Microsoft borrows others ideas, bastardizes it, packages it, calls it their own and ships it out. It may be hard for Microsoft fan boys to understand, but if you took non-Microsoft innovations out of MS Windows you would not have much left. Microsoft in fact relies on innovation by hobbyists, outside innovators not employed by Microsoft for their product(s).

I for one question that Microsoft could ever innovate more than FUD.

The computing paradigm shifted away from IBM's mainframes in the early 90s. Will the paradigm shift away from Microsoft's desktops?

Inevitable. People are looking for computers more and more like appliances. While the desktop will not per say "die", it will take an increasing second place to appliances and alternatives. No monopoly lasts forever, it eventually rots and decays leaving the next round of real innovation to occur.

Re:Missing option.. (1)

Hangtime (19526) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874750)

The key is not to innovate, the key is to commercialize. If you can do both you are truly a game changer but given an option I would rather be able to execute then think up an idea.

Take for instance spreadsheets. VisiCalc was the first then Lotus 1-2-3 came on the scene and from there MSFT came up with Excel. Excel in its early versions was not nearly as good but with time MSFT blew past Lotus both with marketing (Office bundle) and features. Now it is the standard bearer.

The more appliances I have the more they want to be tethered to my home PC. I will assume that the MSFT desktop is safe for at least the next 10 years.

Re:Missing option.. (1)

ribond (149811) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874994)

People are looking for computers more and more like appliances.

Microsoft (it turns out) is just a software company. It has good ideas and bad ones, and (for good or ill) Windows is more and more a platform stabilized/planned by committee. This sounds terrible to people who like widgets and fiddley-bits (i count myself in their number) but it's better for the public, I think.

How many cars have you climbed into lately without wailing about the lack of innovation in steering wheels and pedals? Would it be way cool if the next Ford came out with a tank-style lever system rather than a steering wheel?!? No... it would suck and people would kill themselves.

So to some extent it is a good thing (you don't want to change something that is starting to pass the "mom" test too readily).... and you can find innovation at Microsoft without looking too hard.

You just need to look further than Windows.

I'd suggest that the list above doesn't give credit where it's due. That stupid paperclip (clippy!) that was hated by everyone? It was a new form of interface for relating to users in terms that they were prepared to understand. That it was heavy handed, condescending and clumsy is an implementation issue -- the execution sucked, but the idea was new. Today the excitement and the "try this see if it sticks" innovation is online. Look at http://popfly.ms/ [popfly.ms] for something current, cool and interesting.

Re:Missing option.. (1)

smilindog2000 (907665) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874702)

I totally agree. I also feel that a company has the responsibility to serve it's market as best it can, and to live and die with that market. IBM is the best mainframe provider ever. No one else comes close. The mainframe market went south, and so did IBM. I see no problem with that, just a great company doing what it's suppose to do. More examples: Sun is the best workstation company ever. DEC was the best minicomputer company ever. Intel is the best microprocessor maker ever, but they're going to find little demand for 10 gigahertz 64 processor CPUs that suck down 10 kilowatts (ok, I want one bad, but I mean in general). If Microsoft serves the desktop software market until the market fades, it will have been a great company.

Investors seem completely ignorant of this. They always want their portfolio companies to reinvent themselves when the market shifts. It's just not good to serve a new market through an old mature company serving an old mature market. New companies that don't come with baggage do it better. Do you think Microsoft can focus on the super-cheap cell phone OS market once it starts eating into Vista profits? I doubt it. What are they going to tell their board: "Our Destop market is down $10B, but we're really happy because our cell phone software market increased 400% to $100M". Investors need to realize that companies have natural life spans dictated by the markets they serve, and to value companies based that way. It kills me to hear people call the leaders of great companies like IBM, DEC, and Sun stupid.

Re:Missing option.. (3, Insightful)

Hangtime (19526) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874776)

Plenty of very good companies still have a zero-sum mindset and it works. Take for instance GE. GE wants to 1 or 2 in any industry in which it competes. If it can't it will divest the business and move-on. The reason? Regardless of what industry you inhabit, if you are NOT 1 or 2 you will be constantly battling for survival.

BTW, every device I have wants to be hooked up to my PC including my Tivo, my phone, my camera, etc. If anything the proliferation of devices is making the desktop more important - not less. We are starting to see a network effect. It easy to have the PC as the hub because its a standard platform in which everything can interact.

Re:Missing option.. (1)

ccs.gott (1144593) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874448)

Not to be a contradictory ninny, but wouldn't cutting down on the head count create more delays? When was Vista supposed to launch? When did it?

Re:Missing option.. (1)

Quarters (18322) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874520)

Yours is a very naive statement. Please do not ever put yourself, or let yourself be put, into a position where you oversee software development.

Re:Missing option.. (1)

mpe (36238) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874974)

Microsoft's biggest enemy, at the moment is its self.
After Vista they proved they've gotten far to large a head count to innovate.

They are also their own worst enemy in the sense of XP competing with Vista.

Break Microsoft? (0, Troll)

jeiler (1106393) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874084)

Why would anyone want to?

No, seriously. Don't get me wrong--I'm a Linux fan. I use Ubuntu on my home server, Debian on one box, Windows on another. But I don't understand why anyone would want to break Microsoft--after all, they make a good product for the market they intend to reach.

And that product is? (1)

thegnu (557446) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874144)

after all, they make a good product for the market they intend to reach.

Windows 2000?

Because you're definitely not talking about Windows Me or Vista, or Works. Right? I think maybe "breaking" Microsoft may be a simplistic way of saying it, but please, yes, let's.

Re:And that product is? (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874330)

NT in general and a few other products. It was just good enough to get low end hardware into roles previously occupied by IBM, Sun, DEC and a long list of other expensive vendors. MS have never in my knowlege released a product that was first with anything or best at anything but most of their stuff has been cheap enough and good enough to actually get used. Even rebadging Logitech optical mice made such a huge difference that people think they invented them instead of bringing a niche product to the mainstream. Unfortunately we have fanboys that think they are the best and knockers that think they are worthless. Some monumentally stupid choices by a small number of people that produced the malware epidemic we have today does not mean that everything is worthless - it's mostly just IE, Active-X and Outlook that did it.

Re:And that product is? (1)

jeiler (1106393) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874332)

Windows 2000?

Eh, good point on WinMe and Works. But XP is a solid platform for business and the average home user. Office for business--it's a must, and despite their best efforts OpenOffice still isn't in the same league. Server 2000--we still use it at work, and even though Active Directories is a kludge, it's one of the most commonly used kludges in the industry.

And they all work on a reliable enough basis for business to use, not because they're "innovative" or "spectacular," but because they're ubiquitous enough to be largely "invisible" to the end user. Most end users don't know how to decide which distro would work for them; most end users would be helpless if X choked on their soundcard. But the folks who run the businesses don't care, because they're hiring salespeople, and architects, and engineers, and ... well, fill in that blank however you will, they're hiring people who's primary focus will be doing the actual job, not figuring out how to get their computer to cooperate.

And Vista is not an operating system. Vista is a digital hemmorhoid. :D

Re:And that product is? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21874338)

I'd guess "the market they intend to reach" is coporate customers who are locked into their document formats.

The "good product" for this market is an endless stream of application and OS upgrades that keeps them locked into these document formats while continually modifying them to force upgrades and a continuing revenue stream.

Re:And that product is? (1)

jeiler (1106393) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874524)

The "good product" for this market is an endless stream of application and OS upgrades that keeps them locked into these document formats while continually modifying them to force upgrades and a continuing revenue stream.

Welcome to the world of business, AC. The first rule, whether you're writing software in Redmond or selling drugs on the streetcorner, is "Figure out a way to get your customers to keep coming back."

Re:Break Microsoft? (1)

o517375 (314601) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874294)

Microsoft is a rabidly competitive company. Their objective is to own computing from MP3 players to "big iron". They intend to kill all competition by both legal and illegal/unethical means. OSS is a competitor. So people involved in OSS need to understand that OSS is in Microsoft's cross-hairs in a big way.

The people who have the most vested in OSS, the developers, the companies, etc, need to understand this and react is a cohesive way in terms of both software development and marketing. Otherwise, OSS at worst may not survive, at best will continue (as it has for years) to be a second player esp. on the desktop and the small to medium business server market.

Re:Break Microsoft? (1)

jeiler (1106393) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874488)

Microsoft is a rabidly competitive company.
All competitors are rabid. If you don't believe me, go watch the latest holy war between Gnome and KDE.

Their objective is to own computing from MP3 players to "big iron".
See above.

They intend to kill all competition by both legal and illegal/unethical means.

OSS is a competitor.

No, it's not. OSS is software that is written and assembled according to open-source principles and practices. But you cannot call less than one percent of desktop market share "competition." And why (for example) does Linux have less than 1% market share?

Because Microsoft is ready for prime-time. And a lot of OSS isn't.

There are OSS applications out there that are ready for prime-time. Apache, MySQL, and Mozilla Firefox are three examples I can think of that I use every day. OpenOffice is trying really hard, and they may make it someday. GNU/Linux is working on being ready. But until the apps and systems are ready to fight the big boys in the business world, it doesn't matter if the OSS community learns to "understand this and react is a cohesive way."

Until we, as a community, can make first rate software that beats Microsoft on quality, usability, and most importantly user friendliness, then we damn well deserve to be "second player."

Re:Break Microsoft? (1)

grrrgrrr (945173) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874344)

For Microsoft change/innovation is clearly not in it's best interest. How can change be good when you are already on top change is unpredictable and it can only get worse for you. When you observe Microsoft you see that they agree with me on this ;-).So killing Microsoft and reintroducing some innovation in the desktop-computer industry is the same thing.

Re:Break Microsoft? (2, Insightful)

Saffaya (702234) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874472)

"Why would anyone want to?"

The Judge who ruled Microsoft guilty of monopoly abuse and other illegal practices, that's who.

His recommendations were to break up Microsoft into two separate divisions, one for Windows and one for Office.

The subject (1)

eebra82 (907996) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874086)

Microsoft's Biggest Threat - Google or Open Source?
Why would it be only one of them? As stated in the summary, Google pushes heavily for open source software development. The subject should say Microsoft's Biggest Threat - Google/Open Source?

I wouldn't say that Google is competing with Micro (1)

Bin Naden (910327) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874090)

Google is in no way competing with Microsoft. In fact, Google now depends on Microsoft for it's survival as a large majority of their targets are Microsoft users. However, investing in Linux and open source is a good way of mitigating risk in case of the failure of the Microsoft platform or of conflict with Microsoft.

Re:I wouldn't say that Google is competing with Mi (1)

SirLurksAlot (1169039) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874244)

Google now depends on Microsoft for it's survival as a large majority of their targets are Microsoft users.

Only by default because the majority of PC users in the world run Windows. Most of Google's earning power is web-based, meaning it's not tied down to a particular OS or platform. Google could probably care less if MS disappeared off the face of the earth, their apps would still run just as well on a 'nix-based system as on a Windows-based system.

Re:I wouldn't say that Google is competing with Mi (1)

unoengborg (209251) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874266)

Google is in no way dependent of Microsoft, If Microsoft was gone tomorrow people would still find a way to use the web and Google services. If they are dependent of anything it would be good network services. Actually, if Microsoft was gone, it would leave google more room to expand in areas like e-mail handling and office application services.

Re:I wouldn't say that Google is competing with Mi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21874662)

There should be a "-1:Groupthink"
Maybe, but a "+1,233,467:Groupthink" would make the point better.

Google is an ad agency, MS a software company (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21874098)

They don't really compete as much as coexists. Flying chairs notwithstanding.

Just try searching for something on Google - 99% of the top results are trying to sell you something. Anything.

Re:Google is an ad agency, MS a software company (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21874208)

Just try searching for something on Google - 99% of the top results are trying to sell you something.
That's strange. When I search for something [google.com] most of the results are about the George Harrison [wikipedia.org] song [wikipedia.org].

What did you say? (5, Insightful)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874116)

...Meanwhile, the search giant is pushing open source in every way it can....

That statement refers to Google. While I recognize Google's contribution to Open Source by the mentioned means, I would not give it that much credit.

Why is it that Picasa still does not run natively on Linux?

Why is it that one cannot specify ODF as among the file formats available for search, http://www.google.ca/advanced_search?hl=en [google.ca] despite the fact that ODF has been in existence for several years and some estimates put the number of ODF documents on the web in greater numbers as compared to Microsoft's OOXML?

Why is it that new products appear for the closed Windows platform before thet appear for the open Linux platform? They should appear simultaneously. [Emphasis mine].

Re:What did you say? (3, Insightful)

sapphire wyvern (1153271) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874198)

"Why is it that new products appear for the closed Windows platform before thet appear for the open Linux platform? They should appear simultaneously. [Emphasis mine]."

Surely that's obvious.

It comes down to one thing: Google's products are intended to be profitable, not primarily to serve an ideology. Sure, Google does have an ideology, but they are also a business.

And when it comes down to actually making a crust, what's more important... supporting an ideologically-rewarding OS, or actually getting your products out to a significant share of the marketplace?

Re:What did you say? (1)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874262)

It comes down to one thing: Google's products are intended to be profitable, not primarily to serve an ideology.

So you want us to believe that releasing products at the same time would make Google less profitable? You make me laugh. What about being the first in a particular market?

Re:What did you say? (1)

YU Nicks NE Way (129084) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874438)

So you want us to believe that releasing products at the same time would make Google less profitable?
I can't speak for the GP, but the answer to your question is "yes".

It's expensive to build a product for any OS. It's particularly expensive to build a native product for Linux, due to the different metaphors which different GUI's expose. (To pick a simple one: does activation track mouse, as in classic X, or does activation follow selection, as in modern Linux GUIs?) The company would need to dedicate software engineers to building that version. Engineers able to make it at Google are a scarce resource, so reallocating them to build tools for Linux would take resources away from search, ads, or other profitable ventures..

Re:What did you say? (1)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874538)

It's particularly expensive to build a native product for Linux, due to the different metaphors which different GUI's expose.

There is surely more variables to consider when building for Linux. But this can be remedied. Have you heard of platform independent software? I know you have.

What about delving into open source and letting the installer figure out what environment the software is being installed on. This is not that expensive as the code is open, and available.

Re:What did you say? (1)

YU Nicks NE Way (129084) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874906)

Of course the work could have been done -- for what it's worth, the "openness" of the underlying platform has nothing to do with that fact. The question was whether doing it would have impacted profitability, and the answer to that question is "yes".

Re:What did you say? (1)

canuck57 (662392) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874710)

Why is it that Picasa still does not run natively on Linux? Picasa [google.com] does run on Linux. I am not sure what you mean by natively, unless you mean it needs wine. But why have 2 separate source streams if you don't need them? One could say this about Java apps too, they need the JVM to run. So the point?

Why is it that new products appear for the closed Windows platform before thet appear for the open Linux platform? They should appear simultaneously.

Like what? I am at a loss to say I have seen anything on MS-Windows before I have seen it elsewhere.

Re:What did you say? (1)

bheekling (976077) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874946)

Like what? I am at a loss to say I have seen anLike what? I am at a loss to say I have seen anything on MS-Windows before I have seen it elsewhere.ything on MS-Windows before I have seen it elsewhere.

Oh there are a few if you care to look for them...
id Software's games

Probably more; a lot of them games admittedly, since making them portable is less work (compared to the overall development process).

Kill office to kill MS (5, Insightful)

schklerg (1130369) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874122)

People run windows primarily because of the applications on it. The most significant of these is MS Office. The competitors lack true compatibility with all MS generated files, which makes it tough to go with another office suite, no matter how good it is. I'm an open office fan, but there's some formatting that just doesn't work. Break MS Office dominance with another cross-platform app, be it from Google or anyone else, and you have put a HUGE dent in MS. Not only will the office cash cow lose some weight, but the perceived need for Windows will drop as well.

Re:Kill office to kill MS (5, Insightful)

hal9000(jr) (316943) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874274)

The competitors lack true compatibility with all MS generated files,

I am glad you said this AND that you got modded up. Office is the app to kill. Make one that is better, works seamlessly with Office docs and you've got a chance. I use Office because I don't have the time or the desire to dick around with formatting issues and alot of companies are on the same playing field.

But let me also add, making an Office killer is not as simple as making a word processor, spread sheet, and presentation app. Office is a *development environment* and many, many companies use the programatic capabilities of Office to build apps that cal pull on different parts of the office suite. Those programmatic features are used by companies, not necessarily consumers and I will posit that company sales drive Office profits more than consumer sales. so I think to reall make a dent, any competing office suite has to either run Office apps/macros/scripts or interpret/convert existing office apps/macros/scripts as well.

Re:Kill office to kill MS (1)

gklott (748047) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874372)

Agree. Plus the competition must be stand-alone based. There's no way we're putting corporate financial and proprietary information out on a provider like Google. We're not considering an in-house, net-attached office product environment either. Our people are too mobile. 73/gus

Re:Kill office to kill MS (2, Insightful)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874408)

I use OpenOffice but the file formatting issues don't bother me, I'm lucky enough to not have to import complex files.

The speed and occasional stability problems do bother me though. I'm also lucky enough that I don't have to use it very often, it's a few times a week and not a few times a day.

Re:Kill office to kill MS (1)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874724)

I am not so sure Microsoft Office is the killer app so much as Microsoft Exchange is. I used to think of Exchange as Microsoft's horribly email server, but I've since discovered that it's not only that, but also a tool companies use to plan appointments and meetings. _This_ is the feature that companies love and why they won't ditch Exchange. They pay through the nose for it and it's unreliable as an email server, but the calendaring functionality apparently makes up for that.

Re:Kill office to kill MS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21874934)

The most significant MS applications are the development tools. They are the enabler for all the other MS specific applications, the real way they extend their monopoly.

Microsoft's greatest enemy is? (3, Insightful)

Fri13 (963421) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874138)

Greatest enemy for Microsoft, is Microsoft self.

If they dont stop using monopoly for advance and supporting open standards, they get big enemies like EU.

Microsoft would stay biggest software company if they would work together with industry, open standards and support competitors (Opera, Firefox, Openoffice.org etc) by ripping browser and mediaplayer off from OS (why OS should have red eye remover and music library?) so users can use what they want. Microsoft could install IE and WMP and other tools if they want to non-OEM windows version, but should allow OEM manufactures and end-users to remove them and install something else if wanted. Of course this would mean that Microsoft should start innovating and building better products and not just one big package what some people calls "OS", even it is more than just OS.

GNU/Linux and different distributions from it what includes different desktops and applications, isn't biggest enemy, yet! But it is big wheel what can turn MS weapons against MS itself.

Not according to Sergey (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21874166)

Sergey has already categorically stated his belief that OSS will die off in the next decade [dwarfurl.com][itnews.com] so this is a non-story based on fantasy [dwarfurl.com][google.com]

ibm, ms and google (5, Interesting)

theheadlessrabbit (1022587) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874196)

I'm waiting for the day when Microsoft begins to wither and die under its own weight, and at the last minute, pulls an IBM, investing heavily in OSS to keep itself going more cost effectively.

Then MS will suddenly become a much loved company around here, 'cause 'round these parts, supporting OSS = /. love

Then, in a need to fill the void left by Microsoft, Google will suddenly become the big bad guy. All of us on Slashdot will be praising Microsoft and hoping they can take down the big evil google.

or we could agree that both of these companies fulfil a certain niche that the other company cannot, and we need them both. one company provides employment for countless nerds due to its buggy software, while the other company helps those nerds find things, (like porn)

They are not in direct competition with each other.

Nothing will break anyone (1)

halprin (965354) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874212)

Google will not break Microsoft, Microsoft will not break Google. Same goes with Microsoft trying to break Linux/OSS and vice versa. Same goes with Microsoft trying to break Apple and vice versa. It will not happen. Each is too big of a company/entity that can just be destroyed by another.

Will MS no longer be needed? (3, Insightful)

bmartin (1181965) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874254)

The groundwork is already in place: Top OEMs are beginning to install alternate OSs on their machines. If Google has their way, most computing will eventually be done using thin clients; at that point, the internet and computing will become ubiquitous, and MS will no longer be a factor.

The main reason people use Windows is because other operating systems don't meet their needs. It's mainly a software thing, such as is the case for PC gaming (which is still ahead of consoles, but not by as much as in the past). Wine is a helpful product in that it eases the transition for many people, but it's not a complete replacement for Windows yet.

Since things like a suitable alternative for Photoshop (e.g., super GIMP) and a fully-featured Wine aren't going to appear over night, it'll be a long time before MS becomes irrelevant... unless computing moves online. Most business software is either written for Linux already (e.g., development IDEs) or can be COMPLETELY replaced by a combination of FOSS (e.g. Outlook -> Evolution). I replaced my Windows workstation with a Linux workstation at my last job when I became fed up with the task scheduling and constant SSHing in Windows (I had to work on Unix systems anyways).

People are leaving Windows. It's a very slow but consistent process. Every piece of commercial software developed for Linux is a blow to MS. Every computer running Mac OS X is a blow to MS. A lot of little things will bring down MS; it's inevitable. Google, though not a direct competitor, is a huge point of leverage.

Don't think Google's going to come out with Google OS. That's not in their plans. Their idea is to make the OS an irrelevant piece of software when it comes to doing your everyday computing tasks. MS is going to have to come up with a new strategy if they want to cease the antitrust legislation against them.

Re:Will MS no longer be needed? (1)

SirLurksAlot (1169039) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874726)

The main reason people use Windows is because other operating systems don't meet their needs. It's mainly a software thing, such as is the case for PC gaming (which is still ahead of consoles, but not by as much as in the past).

I have to disagree. I don't think it's so much that the OS doesn't meet their needs, it's more that there are compatibility issues between different applications. There is a FOSS analog for just about every Windows application I can think of (You've already pointed out a couple of them; GIMP, Evolution, etc). Many of these applications have more functionality than their Windows counterparts, and I'm sure there are a lot of folks that would happily convert over to them if it weren't for the fact that the formats aren't fully compatible with the Windows apps. I'm thinking primarily along the lines of Open Office. It's a great productivity suite, but the fact of the matter is that because MS doesn't want to play ball and open up their file formats, or fully support the ODF format, people are simply not able to use whatever suite they want to without problems. This is a major issue if you're talking about the corporate world. Everyone needs to be able to read, edit, and share everyone else's documents without a lot of hassle.

I think the other thing that keeps people from switching away from Windows is the fear of change. Lets face it, most folks are comfortable with their nice, familiar Windows environment. They don't want to take the time to learn another OS, and they don't see a need to.

I agree with you that Google has no need to develop their own OS. It would be entirely counterproductive for them, and it would place them in direct conflict with MS. Their current web-based strategy is working well, and they have no need to enter the OS market.

Here is what Microsoft needs to do... (2, Interesting)

MarkWatson (189759) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874316)

Microsoft needs to stop selling new versions of Windows and Office, and transition to a yearly subscription model.

This would generate revenue while letting them hop off of the new version cycles that are intended to force upgrades without adding much in new features that out weigh the penalties of more and more problems.

I used to like Windows more than I do now. I shipped a commercial product on Windows 1.03 and for some business needs I still keep a Windows 2000 image on my MacBook.

Anyway I like to feel that I get good value for my IT investments (I am a one person consulting shop) and right now, I feel that I get best value from a nicely loaded MacBook and several leased managed Linux servers for my own stuff and Linux or Solaris servers for customer projects.

As a Linux user since about 1992 (I downloaded Slackware on a 2400baud modem - ouch!!) I continue to be a little disappointed with the 'Linux on the laptop' experience but I might eventually replace my MacBook with a Dell Linux laptop: it would be nice to just deal with just Linux. I have all but stopped using Common Lisp and Java for consulting, sticking with just Ruby - after many years of investing *lots* of time staying up to speed on many technologies, it is a refreshing change to concentrate more on problem solving than a wide mix of technologies.

Except for rare use on my Windows 2000 image, I would not even consider using any form of Windows for development work.

Re:Here is what Microsoft needs to do... (1)

discovercomics (246851) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874552)

Good God no.....

I for one would not support a subscription model....I don't need a new version of Office just becuase the Ui changes...

Re:Here is what Microsoft needs to do... (2, Insightful)

malkavian (9512) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874626)

The problem with the subscription model is persuading everyone that they need to keep subscribing. People with PCs that don't connect to the net. How do you enforce subscription? Time it out and say "Hey, you're out of time, please call microsoft with your credit card details to enable you to use your PC again"?.
Even those net connected are going to get a little antsy with the messages that they have to keep paying to keep using something they consider they've already bought as part of their PC purchase in the first place.
Given that in Europe, people are already getting itchy feet, and starting to migrate to alternate operating systems, or at least making greater use of them, MS is already under pressure not to upset too many people much more than it already has if they want them to keep buying.

Oh, and as an aside, you probably downloaded Slackware in late '93, not '92, as Slackware did their first release in '93.. I seem to remember Linus releasing the kernel in '93.. As that's when we started tinkering round with it at the Uni I was studying at then..

Just my opinion though.. Subscription may indeed be MS' panacea.. Though personally, I'd find it way too much of a risk (governments are currently shying away from reliance on MS as it puts too much power in the hands of a commercial entity.. What are they going to do when they're told "Pay us a tithe yearly, or ELSE!"?).

yOUR biggest threat , military-industrial complex (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21874318)

diguised as yOUR uncle sam, & yOUR friendly neighborhood *.megagasloth?

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071229/ap_on_sc/ye_climate_records;_ylt=A0WTcVgednZHP2gB9wms0NUE [yahoo.com]

is it time to get real yet? A LOT of energy is being squandered in attempts to keep US in the dark. in the end (give or take a few 1000 years), the creators will prevail (world without end, etc...), as it has always been. the process of gaining yOUR release from the current hostage situation may not be what you might think it is. butt of course, most of US don't know, or care what a precarious/fatal situation we're in.

for example; the insidious attempts by the felonious corepirate nazi execrable to block the suns' light, interfering with a requirement (sunlight) for us to stay healthy/alive. it's likely not good for yOUR health/memories 'else they'd be bragging about it?

we're intending for the whoreabully deceptive (they'll do ANYTHING for a bit more monIE/power) felons to give up/fail even further, in attempting to control the 'weather', as well as a # of other things/events.

http://video.google.com/videosearch?hl=en&q=video+cloud+spraying [google.com]

dictator style micro management has never worked (for very long). it's an illness. tie that with life0cidal aggression & softwar gangster style bullying, & what do we have? a greed/fear/ego based recipe for disaster.

meanwhile, you can help to stop the bleeding (loss of life & limb);
http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/12/28/vermont.banning.bush.ap/index.html [cnn.com]

the bleeding must be stopped before any healing can begin. jailing a couple of corepirate nazi hired goons would send a clear message to the rest of the world from US. any truthful look at the 'scorecard' would reveal that we are a society in decline/deep doo-doo, despite all of the scriptdead pr ?firm? generated drum beating & flag waving propaganda that we are constantly bombarded with. is it time to get real yet? please consider carefully ALL of yOUR other 'options'.

the creators will prevail. as it has always been.

corepirate nazi execrable costs outweigh benefits
(Score:-)mynuts won, the king is a fink)
by ourselves on everyday 24/7

as there are no benefits, just more&more death/debt & disruption. fortunately there's an 'army' of light bringers, coming yOUR way.

the little ones/innocents must/will be protected. after the big flash, ALL of yOUR imaginary 'borders' may blur a bit? for each of the creators' innocents harmed in any way, there is a debt that must/will be repaid by you/us, as the perpetrators/minions of unprecedented evile, will not be available. 'vote' with (what's left in) yOUR wallet, & by your behaviors. help bring an end to unprecedented evile's manifestation through yOUR owned felonious corepirate nazi glowbull warmongering execrable. some of US should consider ourselves somewhat fortunate to be among those scheduled to survive after the big flash/implementation of the creators' wwwildly popular planet/population rescue initiative/mandate. it's right in the manual, 'world without end', etc....

as we all ?know?, change is inevitable, & denying/ignoring gravity, logic, morality, etc..., is only possible, on a temporary basis. concern about the course of events that will occur should the life0cidal execrable fail to be intervened upon is in order. 'do not be dismayed' (also from the manual). however, it's ok/recommended, to not attempt to live under/accept, fauxking nazi felon greed/fear/ego based pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking hypenosys.

consult with/trust in yOUR creators. providing more than enough of everything for everyone (without any distracting/spiritdead personal gain motives), whilst badtolling unprecedented evile, using an unlimited supply of newclear power, since/until forever. see you there?

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

meanwhile, the life0cidal philistines continue on their path of death, debt, & disruption for most of US;

gov. bush denies health care for the little ones

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/10/03/bush.veto/index.html [cnn.com]

whilst demanding/extorting billions to paint more targets on the bigger kids

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/12/12/bush.war.funding/index.html [cnn.com]

& pretending that it isn't happening here

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article3086937.ece [timesonline.co.uk]

all is not lost/forgotten/forgiven

(yOUR elected) president al gore (deciding not to wait for the much anticipated 'lonesome al answers yOUR questions' interview here on /.) continues to attempt to shed some light on yOUR foibles;

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article3046116.ece [timesonline.co.uk]

Reality (1, Flamebait)

pyster (670298) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874336)

The reality is that google apps suck. They are not in the least a threat. The linux market is growing... and the product is impressive... but it is not ready for grandma yet. and game developers still arent showing linux much love. ppl who hate vista arent moving to linux... they are going back to XP. Linux threat? Seriously, what linux threat. The server market will always be a mixed bag of many OSes. The desktop? Having to edit a conf file to get your desktop to display its max res is just stupid... Having to recompile wine to run windows apps/games is a waste of time. Your OS doesnt make you elite. Instead of wasting cycles learning dumb linux shit take up programming if you want to be elite. otherwise you are just another dumb ass user; and as a linux user you are just a self crippled user who has to work real hard to accomplish the simplest of tasks or use the software the rest of the world is using. XP for teh win.

Still a secretive monopoly. (3, Insightful)

McDutchie (151611) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874350)

Meanwhile, the search giant is pushing open source in every way it can.

While remaining even more secretive and becoming even more of a monopoly [google-watch.org] than Microsoft on things that actually matter, like their search and advertising business, to say nothing of their total disregard for privacy.

Can you say 'divide and conquer'? Thought you could.

Microsoft is its own worst competition (3, Insightful)

A nonymous Coward (7548) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874366)

The problem with all the fences Microsoft built to protect itself is that fences not only fence out the competition, they also fence yourself into a corner. Just as the music industry's practices are what doom them, Microsoft has so much invested in reinventing the wheel to lock customers in that they dare not do anything truly innovative that would break the lockin. If they came out with any disruptive ideas, their customers would have to break their Microsoft lockin by definition, and if the customers had to face that choice, they might just as well use the chance to break away from Microsoft altogether.

History dooms Microsft.

Re:Microsoft is its own worst competition (1)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874926)

``Microsoft has so much invested in reinventing the wheel to lock customers in that they dare not do anything truly innovative that would break the lockin.''

I don't think that's true. If you look at Microsoft Research, they are doing a lot of interesting projects, including some actually innovative things. The new generation of software (Windows Vista, Office 2007, etc.) is quite different from the old software from an end user point of view. User interfaces have been changed, and backward compatibility isn't as great as it could have been. Various older Microsoft technologies have been deprecated. MS DOS. Visual Basic (without the .NET).

There is progress.

Neither (3, Interesting)

Nebu (566313) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874396)

To be a threat to Microsoft, you'd have to be a potential barrier to a large amount of future profits. Google is basically two things: (1) A search engine and (2) a wildcard, pouring money into almost everything. Microsoft is not strongly invested into the search area, so (1) is not a threat to it. In fact, Microsoft is more of a threat to Google in that respect, not because Microsoft is doing better than Google, but because Google is the "established champion", and Microsoft (among others, like Yahoo) are the encroachers who are trying to steal that title. As for (2), there's always a chance that Google will discover/invent the next big paradigm shift that changes everything, but then again, so can any other startup, or even maybe big companies like Apple or IBM, or hell even Microsoft themselves (the "Microsoft Surface" looks pretty sweet, for example, though I'm not sure it'll be big enough to be a paradigm shift). It's getting hit by a lightning bolt: a possibility, but not something you worry about from day to day.

OSS is a bigger threat, mainly because of free office suites, and to a lesser degree Apache. Most of Microsoft's money comes from OSes, then from Office, and then services associated around server technology like .NET, IIS, etc. Honestly, I don't think Microsoft is very worried about Linux on the desktop. I find Microsoft hard to read in terms of OS on the server side, so it's possible they may actually be *WORRIED* (e.g. managers thinking "Hey, if we don't do something, Linux'll win"), but I'm not sure. I *DO* know that Microsoft is getting anxious about their Office software, which is their second biggest cashcow. It's not any-one particular alternative that they are afraid of (e.g. OpenOffice), but that there seems to be a growing awareness of alternatives that they're worried about. I suspect they're aware that this particular type of software is about to become commoditized and are looking at appropriate strategies (e.g. moving to software-as-a-service, via that Office Live thing).

For the server side technology, Microsoft doesn't directly make money off of these (they give away .NET, IIS, etc. for free), but rather from surrounding services (e.g. certification, training, etc.) and products (e.g. Visual Studio). Note that this is the same business model that OSS software later adapted (give the software away for free, make money on the services), which is one of the reasons why I find comments about Microsoft being anti-OSS to be a form of over-simplified ignorance. Microsoft is a corporation, not a fundamentalistic ideal. If they can make more money through OSS than closed-source-software, they'll switch in a heartbeat. In the particular case of Apache vs IIS, it's like the Google scenario: Apache isn't a "threat", because Microsoft isn't strongly invested into that market -- Apache is -- and Microsoft is attempting to grow into that market, rather than to hold onto it (and they seem to be quite successful, much more so than they have been against Google: IIS adoption is growing very rapidly).

So what *ARE* Microsoft's biggest threats? Well, one of them is a little bit obvious when you look at their history, and what has caused them to lose the greatest amounts of money: Government and law. Microsoft is in a difficult position there, because their desktop business centers around pushing new and improved versions of their old product. Consumers, before they buy the next version of Windows, want to know what are the new and improved features, and if there aren't enough new and improved features, they won't spend the money to upgrade. However, if Microsoft adds too many new and improved features (e.g. by bundling a media player with their OS), they may get in trouble with certain governments (namely the British and US ones).

Software design jokes aside, Microsoft isn't dumb. They're already predicting, in the long term (10-20 years) that all of software will eventually become commoditized, and they have plans in place to move entirely in the software-as-a-service direction. The groundwork for that is already there with Office Live. They're still trying to figure out how to move Windows there (or many they already figured it out, but just haven't let on yet). The next 2, maybe even 6 releases of Windows will still be "plain, old software", but Microsoft knows that it shouldn't put too many eggs in one basket, and are looking for other primary sources of revenues, should the OS market collapse completely for them. And they've already found one, with the XBox.

This brings us to the second big threat to Microsoft: Sony. I think it's pretty clear that the XBox360 was a resounding success in 2007, even outselling the PS3 in Japan (an event described as being akin to snowing in hell) one month. Sony can still hit back, though. First of all, it's possible that the next gen (PS4 vs. XBox720?), Sony will devastate the competition. That's one problem with the console business, that past successes seem to mean very little (look at the past success of the PS2, which was the best selling console of all time, even now, and how that hasn't really helped Sony with the PS3). But even before next gen (which is still maybe 5 years down the road from now), there's a (you could argue small, but you couldn't argue zero) chance Sony might still win the this current-gen war. A lot of eyes are on Metal Gear Solid 4, for example, a PS3 exclusive. In the end, it's the games that dictate the console sales. The XBox360 best performing month was the same month Halo 3 was released. It's quite possible that when MGS4 comes up, it'll be enough to push the PS3 back up into the "threatening" zone, if not surpassing the XBox360 altogether.

At this point, some people may bring up the Wii. I just don't think the Xbox360 and the Wii have much overlap in terms of target audience. The Wii targets casual gamers and non-gamers, whereas the Xbox360 targets (non-casual) gamers, and hardcore gamers. Where there is overlap, the more affluent will probably get both (and the very affluent, perhaps a PS3 as well), but for if you're a gamer, and you could only pick one, you'll probably take the Xbox360.

That said, Nintendo showed that that there is a lot of profit to be made from this casual gamer and non-gamer market, and it's certainly possible that Microsoft might choose to tap into that market. But if they do, then like Google and Apache, Nintendo won't be a threat: Once again, they would be the current established champion that Microsoft would be trying to take down.

The challenger (Microsoft) would be dabbling a bit of money here and there, testing the waters, and if it turns out to be a total flop, it really won't end up hurting them much at all, hence the non-threat status of established kings like Nintendo, Google and Apache. Now, if Microsoft would doing very poorly, losing a lot of money, and frantically trying to find a new market to establish itself in, that would be a completely different issue, and in that case, then yes, established kings are threats. But when Microsoft is doing very well financially, and they are merely diversifying their investment to decrease risk, then these kings are so huge compared to the a new entry into the field, that they are more like terrain to navigate around, than opponents in and off themselves.

pick a side (2)

wwmedia (950346) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874416)

one one hand a convicted monopolist who crushes competition thru market domination

on another hand a company whos main aim is to hoard data and serve ads with it, a company thanks to whom the web is littered with splogs

take a pick

evil or not evil, eitherway their main objective is profit (no matter what marketing fud they spread) and for google open source is a way to reach their objectives while cutting the costs, if they were so open why dont they share their algorithms or release their tools on linux?

The Difference (1)

david_thornley (598059) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874418)

Microsoft sells software. Their continued existence is based on people continuing to buy their software. Google isn't, but that doesn't stop them from competing.

Google can provide web-based apps that will run on any OS, and these are likely to become more important than desktop apps in much the same way that personal computers became more important than central data centers. I see arguments against using web-based apps, but they are pretty much the arguments against allowing enterprise data onto personal computers, and I don't think they'll be much more effective in this case.

One thing that will push web-based apps is a larger variety in desktop systems. If everybody runs Microsoft Windows with Microsoft Office, there's less of a need for web-based apps. If significant numbers of people run OpenOffice, or the Macintosh version of Microsoft Office, and there's incompatibilities, web-based apps (which will run much the same on any reasonable computer) become more attractive. (There are reasons to think that having a third party hold data on a central server is more secure, not less, than distributing it onto laptops. Google would have a very strong incentive to keep people's data secure, whereas too many businesses and government agencies seem to have no incentive to keep other people's data secure.)

As far as lock-in goes, Microsoft lock-in comes from trying to prevent anybody else from using their data formats and making it hard for people to duplicate the exact functionality of their apps. With web-based apps, lock-in comes from not even having to distribute the app, and by holding data on a central server. This means that it hurts Microsoft's chances to dominate if people use varied software, but it doesn't hurt Google's chances at all.

This means that, if Google wants to become the next Evil Empire, Google should push the development and use of free/open source software. Google should push for greater connectivity, hopefully bringing true broadband to relatively backward markets like the US. Google should provide as much functionality as they can on web-based apps, and push them as hard as possible.

It's the DRIVERS stupid... (1)

Clear Monkey (945568) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874426)

MS is still the clear winner when it comes to drivers. If I install even the latest Linux I still have issues with hunting down drivers, especially for wireless cards. Vendors only want to have to write and maintain one set of drivers so they write drivers for windows. If there was an open standard for drivers that worked across all platforms then Microsoft would not have an advantage over OSS.

Re:It's the DRIVERS stupid... (1)

The Cisco Kid (31490) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874560)

This is an invalid argument. The only reason you need special 'drivers' for hardware is becuase the hardware makers (probably often in collusion with MS, or at the very least to their delight) instead of just releasing specs for hardware so anyone can use it, either make secret proprietary code, or releasing the specs only to MS, and in advance, so only MS knows how it works.

That has to change, and thankfully has been albeit slowly. The key is to avoid hardware made by manufactuerers that support MS' monopoly position, wether they do so intentionally or ignorantly.

And with the exception of bleeding edge wireless stuff and other oddball shit, you dont have to 'find drivers' for linux - its all just part of the kernel. With your average Dell or Compaq machine, there are special 'vendor supplied' drivers for the video card, the NIC, the sound, etc. Common mundane stuff that 'just works' with linux (yes it, it does for the preinstalled Windows, becuase the OEM preinstalled all the drivers too - try with fresh stock install and you'll be limping to another machine to go to the OEM's website to download their stuff becuase you wont be able to get on the Internet becuase your NIC wont work)

Re:It's the DRIVERS stupid... (1)

spisska (796395) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874830)

MS is still the clear winner when it comes to drivers. If I install even the latest Linux I still have issues with hunting down drivers, especially for wireless cards.

I'm getting very tired of seeing this same myth trotted out again and again. The fact is that drivers in Linux are not hard to find or install because you don't have to find or install them. They're already there. And this goes for standard and and quite a wide range of exotic hardware.

Need some examples? I've used all the following hardware with Fedora and/or Ubuntu (in most cases both), and some with Debian.

Hauppage PVR-x50/500: recognized by Linux at installation, ivtv driver automatically installed and activated. On Windows requires driver installation and reboot.

Nvidia fx5x00/fx6x00: recognized by Linux at installation, nv driver automatically installed and activated. For binary nvidia driver, need to install (one click on Ubuntu, yum install nvidia-graphics on Fedora) and restart X. On Windows, need to install driver, reboot, update driver, reboot.

Turtle Beach Riviera soundcard: recognized at installation, cmipci driver loaded and activated. On Windows, need to install driver, reboot.

Nikon D-50 digital camera: plug into Linux and go. On Windows, need to install driver, reboot.

HDHomerun HDTV over IP tuner: Plug into your network, point Linux at the IP address and go. On Windows, need to install driver, reboot. (Notice a theme?)

Lexicon Omega audio/MIDI interface: Plug into Linux (Ubuntu Studio) and go. On Windows, need to install driver, reboot.

HP psc2400 all-in-one printer (this one is my favorite for pure absurdity): Plug into Linux, add to CUPS using Install Printer dialog. On windows need to install or download either basic driver (150 MB!) or full package with crapware (350MB), reboot, update driver (if from CD), reboot.

Network printing is even more fun: on Linux, check a box to enable network printing and Install Printer (doesn't need to be attached) on remote machine. On Windows: Try to add remote printer on MS machine, watch it fail and demand a driver. Try to install driver, watch it fail because the printer is not attached. Move the printer to the remote system so you can install the printer and driver locally. Manually edit the printer config to point to the remote location, move the printer back to the remote system, and hope that Windows doesn't decide the printer is no longer attached and remove the driver.

Network printer hosted on Linux: From Linux, Install network printer at remote location using CUPS. From Windows, once drivers are installed configure remote printer IP address.

Network printer hosted on Windows: From Linux, Install network printer at remote location using Samba (printer sharing enabled). From Windows: Go through a whole series of confusing dialogs about file/printer sharing on host and client, watch it fail, tweak more settings, adjust firewall, watch it fail, tweak more settings, watch your remote system remove driver, move your printer again so you can reinstall the driver, reboot a few times, and eventually it might work.

The only part of your argument that makes any sense is with wireless cards, and that is only if you haven't done your homework and bought a Broadcom or other unsupported card. On my laptop (Ubuntu Feisty) the Atheros-based SMC PCMCIA card worked out of the box. No driver installation because the atheros driver was already there.

So tell me again, how does Windows have an advantage with hardware installation and drivers?

killer combination that finally breaks Microsoft? (1)

lloydchristmas759 (1105487) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874444)

Google+OSS: could this be the killer combination that finally breaks Microsoft?"
Of course ! Because 2008 is the year of Linux on the Desktop !

Google's strategy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21874452)

Google has won people's hearts. While Microsoft treats us all as if we were criminals, google gives us whatever we want for free and contributing source back to open souce projects. Google also found the correct way of advertising making big cash at the same time. Of course there'll be tinfoil hat paranoids that will whim about privacy but whatever. If you want is like comparing Castro to Stalin but we'd still be better off with the former.

Microsoft and Google aren't competitors, but... (1)

nurhussein (864532) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874470)

As pointed out by previous posters, Google is an advertising company and thus isn't really in competition with Microsoft for business. However, they do have software products and OSS projects funded by their advertising revenue which in turn competes with Microsoft. Therefore Microsoft isn't a threat to Google, but Google is a threat to Microsoft.

Google alone won't "kill" Microsoft, but perhaps a combination of Google + Linux/OSS + other Unixes + alternative user platforms such as Apple will be enough to make Microsoft impotent. That, is the victory I'd like to see. Microsoft being irrelevant, and as easily ignored as if it didn't exist.

Calm It (1)

ilovegeorgebush (923173) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874480)

Look, Microsoft are never going to go away. They're far too big for that. They'll get smaller, sure, but they'll always be here. The sooner people realise this, the sooner we can all get on with writing decent software.

Demarcation between importance of desktop/server (1)

rindeee (530084) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874522)

This is somewhat of a sidetrack comment, but I think it is worth bringing up. Historically there has been lots of talk about Linux displacing MS on the desktop and the importance thereof. While this makes for good conversation, it is somewhat pointless right now. The real battle is in the back-office. The 'hearts and minds' of sys admins have already been won. MS is being displaced in the server market at an alarming (to MS anyway) rate and Linux based iron is moving in. There are very few companies that will roll out mission critical platforms or HPC environments on a Windows base. The competition for Linux in these areas have proven to be Sun, SGI and others. It is the utility computing arena in which MS had a very strong presence that they are rapidly losing to Linux. Is the desktop important? Sure, but like it or not, Linux is not yet a competitor there and (in my opinion) it won't be for some time as it would first require Linux to displace Windows in the home (read 'tard) user market. Give it time and it could happen, but so could Apple displace MS (and probably has a better chance of doing so). Very quickly MS is becoming the odd man out as every other platform has moved to *nix. The tools, utilities, services and such that become an inherent part of everyday business in the back-office are written for *nix and must be ported or completely re-written for a Win32 platform. If one peers into the 64bit arena, MS has met with disaster. Time and again people have been bitten by trying to run 32bit Windows apps on 64bit platforms only to find that he promised compatibility simply does not deliver. The bottom line is that the majority of major advances that are taking place in behind the 'green door' are happening due to the talent of everyday people and the accessibility that OSS gives them to put their ideas into action. When I can throw Linux on a PS3 to play around with crypto tools and have performance that rivals what would have cost me twenty grand 2 or 3 years ago and I have Linux to thank I'll not spend much time digging for an excuse to spend a few thousand bucks on Windows Super-dee-duper Server Edition and the requisite licenses (understand that PS3 example is just that, an example...insert your pet project in its place). Even in the arena in which I work (DoD) Linux and OSS is quickly becoming the standard. I have not seen a new MS based server go in in well over a year and a half, and I see none on the horizon. Since DoD is typically a late adopter, I believe that this speaks volumes. Anyway, I know this is sort of 'rambley' so I'll stop with this; screw the desktop...it will follow the whims of the masses. Yeah, theres money to be made there, but change will take time. Watch the server room to read the tide.

The True Measure (2)

Hangtime (19526) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874674)

MSFT makes in a quarter what it takes GOOG to make in a year. That is all.

MSFT: $4.2 Billion last quarter
GOOG: $1.1 Billion last quarter

Re:The True Measure (1)

LynnwoodRooster (966895) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874834)

Exactly... People don't really "get" just how much cash MS has. Tens of billions in liquid assets, making over a billion dollars A MONTH, owning tens of billions of other assets. And not a penny of debt.

That said, Google is the threat because they actually make money, meaning they can effectively penetrate other markets. To grow, you need to either exist in a growing market, or take a larger and larger chunk of your existing stable market, or expand into new markets. All of which take capital to accomplish.

Contrary to many OSS-fans' beliefs, just making a better mousetrap doesn't guarantee success. You have to actually market, distribute, and place the software and that's the one area that OSS/free software will always fall short. Economics - no money to do so...

Re:The True Measure (3, Informative)

civilizedINTENSITY (45686) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874962)

2006 Annual Net Income (IBM & GOOG don't show 2007 yet):
MSFT: $12,599,000,000
IBM: $9,492,000,000
GOOG: $3,077,446,000

What is amazing is Google's growth:

2006 - $3,077,446,000
2006 - $1,465,397,000
2006 - $399,119,000

How about both? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874700)

Also, google isn't the only large company betting on OSS, giants like IBM are heavily invested in OSS as well.

The Biggest Threat: Educated Customers (3, Interesting)

IronClad (114176) | more than 6 years ago | (#21874768)

The most lucrative of Microsoft's business models seem to have been based on the exploitation of customer and regulatory naivete in a new market. If this is true, and as long as Microsoft doesn't really change, their biggest threat is to have there market grow up, mature, and educate themselves about what has been going on.

Both FOSS and Google help that education process, to different extents, and in different ways. So both are threats. Which is the biggest immediate threat? Whichever one manages to get its message into the dense brains of middle managers first. It's a hard call to make from here.

FOSS's advanced messages (freedom, collaboration, transparency, technical education, etc.) will take a long time to be understood. The FOSS "Free & Cheap Stuff" message is already catching on, but it's not enough of an education in its own right to undo Microsoft's abuses. FOSS supporters who work to thoroughly school their organizations and contacts in the issues do make a big impact.

But I think Google is in a somewhat better position to be the immediate threat. Why? It has a greater power to punch simple "soundbyte" messages, one at a time, into the psyche of of the huddled masses yearning to breath free. I don't know if they're going to do that or not, but they could, and that's the threat.

It's close to the topic of politics -- I don't like soundbytes but recognize their power over the naive. Political discourse would be different if the electorate were uniformly wise and educated on the issues. Not the way it should be, but more the way I think things are, and just my opinion.

yawn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21874984)

once again the debate is all anti-microsoft. an old tired subject around here.
but to be honest. you guys who endlessly caw the words open source at every opportunity... it's true that google may be riding the shoulders of open source but have you ever noticed that they got 50 times further in half the time off the entire linux crowd? the open source model that is popularly pushed here fails when compared to a good concerted commercial organization.
wake up! the open source model based on volunteerism fails.
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