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SubjectRe: Linux vs Microsoft
Tim Towers <tim@lorien.demon.co.uk>:
> Dear Richard,
>
> Hmm, commercially, I would expect all the
> "open source" medievel knights to get mown
> down by the Microsoft Tank. Once you've shipped
> an OS with the PC that people buy they'll
> generally stick with it, and in an office
> environment the OS and App mix from Microsoft
> makes a lot of sense on the desktop.
>
> There's only a one in a million chance that
> either the US DoJ lawsuit, or Microsoft's
> own inertia will cause it to fail.
>
> As Terry Pratchett noticed, though, one in
> a million chances happen quite regularly.
>
> Tim Towers
> Merrill Lynch, Architecture & Strategy

With due respect, Mr. Towers...if Microsoft could crush us, it would
already have done so. It is now several months too late for them to
succeed.

Their window began to close when the first of the enterprise database
announcements hit the streets. With Oracle's announcement of a
bundled, supported, Oracle-over-Linux combination on CD-ROM offering
the 24/7 reliability unattainable with NT, it has effectively slammed shut.

Microsoft would have to ship a truly production-quality NT 5.0 within
the next month to prevent Oracle's power play from working. And that
ain't gonna happen, because the 5.0 development is turning into a disaster
so hideous that Microsoft's own marketing people are telling large
customers not to expect it to ship anytime soon or be production-ready
when it does.

The bottom line is that NT server in the enterprise is doomed; the
only question remaining is what the speed of the collapse will be.
And that fact kicks the stuffing out of half of Microsoft's business
strategy, which is as dependent on keeping large customers locked in and
on a perpetual upgrade treadmill as it is on hardware tying agreements.
(That other half, of course, is under threat by the DOJ.)

Microsoft knows all this, and I think they expect a revenue crunch
coming; that's why they recently stopped their regular (and, until
now, continuous) stock buybacks. They're hunkering down for a siege,
hoping the analysis won't notice -- because if their stock price takes
any serious hits, the option machine they use to pay off developers
will collapse.

As you say, Microsoft's OS and app mix makes sense on the desktop.
You could have strengthened your point by adding that the desktop is
Microsoft's cash cow, so that in a strictly financial sense the loss
of their server business would hardly hurt them.

The problem with this analysis is that Microsoft increasingly finds
itself in a strategically defensive rather than offensive position.
The combination of an open-source operating system and just *one*
working Windows emulator could wreck their desktop position
irretrievably within months if Microsoft ever loses its image of
invincibility -- and Microsoft knows that, too.

Therefore, Microsoft's desktop-monopoly cash cow can only be sustained
by continual `prestige' design wins in other markets. And in *all* those
markets, Microsoft is in trouble. MSN was a failure. WinCE has failed
to lock in the set-top-box and appliance market. And, as I've pointed
out above, they're about to lose the enterprise servers.

All this would make it hard for Microsoft to "crush" us even if the
DOJ lawsuit didn't make any visible FUD barrage a suicidal tactic.

Not only can't they crush us, but it will take a reversal of present
trends for them to avoid a collapse into irrelevance within eighteen
months.
--
<a href="http://www.tuxedo.org/~esr">Eric S. Raymond</a>

The following is a Python RSA implementation. According to the US Government
posting these four lines makes me an international arms trafficker! Join me
in civil disobedience; add these lines of code to your .sig block to help get
this stupid and unconstitutional law changed.
============================================================================
from sys import*;from string import*;a=argv;[s,p,q]=filter(lambda x:x[:1]!=
'-',a);d='-d'in a;e,n=atol(p,16),atol(q,16);l=(len(q)+1)/2;o,inb=l-d,l-1+d
while s:s=stdin.read(inb);s and map(stdout.write,map(lambda i,b=pow(reduce(
lambda x,y:(x<<8L)+y,map(ord,s)),e,n):chr(b>>8*i&255),range(o-1,-1,-1)))
The politician attempts to remedy the evil by increasing the very thing
that caused the evil in the first place: legal plunder.
-- Frederick Bastiat

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