Home > Rumors > GNU/Linux vs Microsoft on R&D: Answering the MicrosoftGNU/Linux vs Microsoft on R&D: Answering the Microsoft Eugenia Loli 2006-01-13 Rumors 34 CommentsLinux News raises questions about Microsoft’s alleged $6 billion per year investment in R&D. Is it money well spent, or are they just throwing it away?About The Author Eugenia LoliEx-programmer, ex-editor in chief at OSNews.com, now a visual artist/filmmaker.Follow me on Twitter @EugeniaLoli 34 Comments 2006-01-13 6:08 pm rakamakaMicrosoft has earned their money(legal, illegal, monopoly, whatever you say) and they can do whatever they want with their R&D. Their products maynot be the best but at least are working.Same breath, I will say Is time hours(man hrs/ staff hrs) spent by thousands of Linux developers around the world, are those worth for anything?? Nothing! because after 10 years and countless developers working on linux R&D…..we cannotinstall OS correctly…install simplest or everday software on linux without pulling hair…linux is still trying to copy win2K GUI in 2006 through KDE/GNOME..many other things…..So MS is wasting billions of dollars and Linux developers are wasting billions of precious manhours…Both are in same boat….. 2006-01-13 6:21 pm leechSomething tells me you haven’t used a Linux distribution in quite some time. It’s much easier to install the system, they come with more than Microsoft’s offerings, and they look much better.That transparent window border in Vista is a crime against nature.My GNOME looks much better than Win2k. Besides the fact that XP is nasty looking, it also can look like Win2k, which looks better than the default WinXP. Just because you were raised on Fisher Price toys, doesn’t mean that is what your computer is.Leech 2006-01-13 6:33 pm archiesteelSomething tells me you haven’t used a Linux distribution in quite some time. Look at his comment rating…I think it’s just deliberate trolling. I mean, how can we take someone who says that “we cannot install OS correctly” or “we cannot install simplest or everday software on linux without pulling hair”, when everyone knows that this is simply not true.My advice: ignore him and his posts. 2006-01-13 9:28 pm Aussie_Bear…Same breath, I will say Is time hours(man hrs/ staff hrs) spent by thousands of Linux developers around the world, are those worth for anything?? Nothing! because after 10 years and countless developers working on linux R&D…..we cannotinstall OS correctly…install simplest or everday software on linux without pulling hair…linux is still trying to copy win2K GUI in 2006 through KDE/GNOME..many other things…..So MS is wasting billions of dollars and Linux developers are wasting billions of precious manhours…Both are in same boat…..I have to say, of all the comments I’ve read this week, yours really ranks in the same area as Winnie the Pooh’s (Linux is Poo).(1) Like Winnie, you’ve demonstrated that you haven’t seen recent work aimed for the desktop.(2) Ever tried the following?PCLinuxOSFox Desktop LinuxSymphony OSSTX LinuxOf the four I’ve stated, Symphony OS is the least like Windows. In fact, there’s nothing Win2k GUI about it.Its based on your beloved Debian (Knoppix, really. But Knoppix is still based on Debian)…And uses a completely different interface that uses the 4 corners of your screen. A single click on one corner shows all the menu options for the user. Its nice, clean and different. If you wish, deb packages are available if you want to try this new GUI out.Fox Desktop Linux uses KDE, but is a modified solution to look more like OS X’s GUI. Its based on Fedora Core 4. The “Control Center” is modified just that its easy to adjust/configure, update, and add/remove apps to your system. Nice big icons for the not so technically inclined.STX Linux is the one that really wants to look like Windows. It looks more like Win9x, but that’s the Equinox Desktop Environment (EDE) is. What’s unusual about this distro is the how light it is on system resources. Its less than 45MB once booted into the desktop. On a modern day system, it flies. This is based on Slackware 10.2Its suitable for people who still own really old Pentium 1 era systems. The odd-est thing I find about it, is that Firefox flies with this distro, but runs slow on other distros using KDE or GNOME or on Windows. Its slightly faster than Xfce…The only issue is that EDE isn’t mature enough yet. But it shows promise as a lightweight solution for “windows defectors” looking for speed and responsiveness again.PCLinuxOS is based on Mandriva, and it seems to be the most polished of the four I’m talking about. It has a custom “Control Center” for the not so technically inclined folks out there, and retains the traditional KDE interface. Essentially, this is Mandriva that underwent some serious lypo suction and some tweaking.(3) Have you even tried recent versions of Xandros “Open Community Edition”? What about OpenSUSE?Both these are aimed for the “coming from Windows” user. And you do not need to “pull your hair out” to install them. Depending on the stuff you install, they can allow you to setup a system in less than 45min.I’ve tried OpenSUSE on desktops and notebooks. I have yet to lose any hair. The best thing about OpenSUSE, is the nice documentation you can download. It guides you through the basics as well as teaching you how to use AppArmor (basically, an easier alternative to SELinux).Xandros OCE is even easier. It’s a Debian based solution that has a nice installer with a easy to use add/remove app solution. You can easily add third-party repositories, if you don’t wish to be restricted by Xandros Networks’s limited app choices. Its well suited if you want to replace Windows client PCs, but still want to hold on to Windows-based infrastructure.There are a number of other distros that are similar, but I’ve only mentioned the ones I’ve tried for a week. I use them as if I was a typical desktop user.(4) What you don’t get, above all, is that part of the Linux community began to take notice of the desktop folks in the last few years.The desktop area of the computing industry is very new to them. And as a result, they’re still working the kinks out, looking into ways to make things easier, and trying not to completely kill the “Linux ugly bits” to the ordinary user.At this time, we’re in what I call the “Win9x phase”. Its rough, but the basic idea is there. They just need time to refine and mature their distros.When it reaches “Win2k/XP phase”, then we’ll see a different story. (It’ll be obvious when we hit this mark, because MS will start bringing in more PR smearing against Linux via website like eWeek.)…I’d say let them do what they want and spend heaps of money on PR.If you make a legit point that is backed up by today’s status of how Linux is doing on the desktop, then I may take you seriously. But what you’ve demonstrated, is that you haven’t got a clue where Linux is at on the desktop. Nor does that blog you’ve posted.And yes, I do teach the average folks Linux, if they chose to take this path. (We first assess if their requirements don’t need Windows. Surprisingly, most don’t). I teach them the basics and how to do “those complex things”.I have a good idea of what the “newbie” is looking for, and I’ve taken the time to try various “easy to use” distros that I’ve mentioned, and noted down what can be improved. I usually email the developers about it. (And nearly all the responses are serious about making things better for the newbie).I just don’t teach them how to fish, I give them the pole, I tell them how to fix it themselves, and how customise things to meet their needs. From then on, its up to them if they wish to adopt distros like Debian/Slackware/Gentoo/etc.Overall, I am doing my part for open-source. I just hope one day, I get the time to learn a programming language that allows me to make a more direct impact on progress.I think its still too early to judge Linux on the desktop, and its important to give those devs time to progress. It may not happen tomorrow. But sometime in the future, a point will be reached. You’ll know when the MS sponsored articles/studies/etc start coming by the truckload!As for MS spending $6 Billion on R&D. Its their money, they can do as they wish to it…But they better get something out of it.Otherwise, its no different from dropping smart bombs on a target, only to find that they’ve missed the mark because the guidance package has failed.ie : You just blew a whole wad of taxpayer’s money for no reason, other than to create big holes in the ground! 2006-01-13 6:51 pm rakamakaI am proud user of Debian (PURE) on everyday basis. So I am not a linux hater as many says…Of course as millions of Joes I would not like to spend time everyday tweaking/installing/configuring my system..Read this article, also posted on OSNEWShttp://linux.oneandoneis2.org/LNW.htmI know many Gameboys on this site think if they fly boing on PSP or Xbox they become great pilots…If you are the best cook, it doesn’t mean you can run restaurent businessIf you are the best gardner, it doesn’t mean you can run farm businessIf you are the best developer, it doesn’t mean you can run whole OS business… 2006-01-13 10:09 pm archiesteelI am proud user of Debian (PURE) on everyday basis. So I am not a linux hater as many says…I’m sorry, but I don’t believe you.Of course as millions of Joes I would not like to spend time everyday tweaking/installing/configuring my system.Then don’t.I know many Gameboys on this site think if they fly boing on PSP or Xbox they become great pilots…Whaaa…?If you are the best cook, it doesn’t mean you can run restaurent businessIf you are the best gardner, it doesn’t mean you can run farm businessIf you are the best developer, it doesn’t mean you can run whole OS business…I’m sorry, but I have no idea what you’re trying to say. 2006-01-13 10:11 pm ma_d“If you are the best cook, it doesn’t mean you can run restaurent business ”That’s a sad truth of a broken consumer market. If consumers were smart they’d go to the best restaurant (which would have to be based around a good chef). Obviously some business and people talent is needed; but it’s obvious that there is no one person who can run a successful restaurant. Maybe a lunch counter, maybe.“If you are the best gardner, it doesn’t mean you can run farm business”If gardening and farming had similar tactics your analogy would matter. Gardeners make pretty flowers grow alongside bushes without weeds, usually in pretty natural ways. Farmers pour tons of seeds and tons of other crap at a field and hope that it nets out a profit (lil more complicated than that, but it’s a much more industrialized field verse an artistic field).“If you are the best developer, it doesn’t mean you can run whole OS business…”No one has claimed this since 1979 when Micro-Soft wrote BASIC with, what, 3 people? Obviously no one man can write an OS today.But legions of individuals can.The argument of whether Linux is better than Windows has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that people shouldn’t see linux as a windows replacement. Better does not mean “same but better.”If you’re interested in software research, and you’re using Windows, you should take a long look at Free systems. There’s a lot better developer support. The fact that most linux systems ship with gcc should tell you something. And here’s what gcc entails:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNU_Compiler_Collection#LanguagesBut don’t forget that Python, Mono, Ruby, CLISP, and others are usually one command away.What does Microsoft give away? A .net, c, and c++ compiler? 2006-01-13 10:22 pm sappyvcvYes, C/C++ and .Net compilers are free.You can also get any of those other languages on Windows.I’m not sure I understand your point about that. 2006-01-13 11:02 pm ma_dMy point is that they often ship on your computer . And I know Microsoft doesn’t support all of those languages…The point is that it’s not only available but actively encouraged that you get involved; often even when you don’t know how to program. 2006-01-13 7:12 pm Jamie…and your chicks for free!Haha – 6 billion for copying their rivals?MS could not innovate themselves outta paper bag!If they wanna innovate they could just buy Apple for much less! 2006-01-13 7:13 pm snowflakeI hope Microsoft gets something out of their 6 billion in R&D expenditure especially given that the entire basic research budget of the National Science Foundation is ‘only’ 5 billion and generates a lot of research results. 2006-01-14 2:43 am happycamperThey are, 90% of the systems in the world run a version of windows, unlike linux. why? becaue MS products are simply better. 2006-01-14 3:51 am UnbelieverYeah, and 90% of people in the world use crappy Ford and Toyota cars. Why? Because they’re better than BMW. <.< 2006-01-14 5:52 am happycamperMicrosoft windows runs more multibillion dollar companies then any other OS, from desktop to servers. why?,simple, they are overall a better product. more companies trust it then linux. If linux was actually better then windows, then linux would be the one on 90% of the systems not windows. 2006-01-14 6:52 am UnbelieverHealth doesn’t spread; disease does. 2006-01-14 7:21 am ma_dYou know this argument you’re making today, it’ll backfire on you quite often.Let me give you some examples that may pop up within your own life:“Man, if he weren’t better than you she’d be seeing you and not him.”Or.“If you were better they’d hire you, obviously he’s just better than you.”And.“More people saw ‘B Movie’ than ‘Great Classic’, obviously it was a better film.”“More people read the Quran than the Bible, it must be right.”“Yes, lemmings do just follow the others off the side of a cliff; maybe you should too.”“There are more Democrats, surely Republicans are wrong. And we know third parties must all be kooks.”People with your reasoning astound me. Tell me, if someone of some status told you to slap your own mother; would you do it? Or would you think, maybe he’s wrong, and maybe, just maybe, I’m capable of thinking for myself? 2006-01-14 8:17 am raver31or should we just call people like him Ralph ?btw – his cats breath smells like cat food 2006-01-14 8:33 am happycamperIt’s a hands down argument that windows is actually better then linux. USCERT reported linux has more flaws then windows. it has been said on numerous times that Windows is installed on 90% of the systems in the world, that alone, proves which os is better, and NASA does not trust linux on their servers. so how can linux be better? really!Edited 2006-01-14 08:34 2006-01-14 10:49 am lighansIsn’t this an old story discussing which OS is better?I still think that Windows is good because of a “clever” way of selling. Other Oses never have been that good in that kind of “science”. Maybe that 6 billion is also invested in non-tech-things like:How can we hold our customers?What kind of OS does an average consumer prefer?What is an average consumer?It costs a hell of a lot money to get these answers. And they differ every single year. 2006-01-14 4:58 pm ma_dCalling sales a form of science is a sick insult to scientists everywhere.Please, don’t ever say that again.“How can we hold our customers?”How does vendor lock-in work?“What kind of OS does an average consumer prefer?”Forget the users we have who already do useful things with their computers; how can we get Joe idiot to give us money?You’re actually saying that Windows is a good platform because Microsoft is spending money finding out what people want? I remind you that plenty of people voice their opinions on software, even to Microsoft, without being pushed or paid. They’d compose e-mails, etc. But those are the 10% that Microsoft holds onto by keeping the platform.Microsoft has a genius strategy. They’re quite honest about it: “the programs that run on Microsoft Windows.” Microsoft centers around keeping developers working on Windows only programs. They actually do listen to developers. They send their developers out to talk to other developers.Generally speaking, Joe Dirt will follow the developers.This is smart business. This is not science. 2006-01-14 4:52 pm ma_dSee, you’re doing it again. You’re failing to think for yourself and instead trusting everyone else.Btw, the NSA is deep into Linux. And when I say Linux there, I mean Linux. They developed SELinux for example.I think that if any Government organization knows something about technology it’s the NSA; and not NASA (who hires out much of their technology).See, I told you name dropping is idiotic. Ya know what might be more effective. Offering some reasoning as to why all those people might be choosing Windows over Linux. See, there you’d be getting at the root of your claim and you might even gain a shred of credibility for your argument! 2006-01-14 6:18 am raver31I take it you got you very first PC this xmas ?idiot 2006-01-13 7:13 pm JustThinkItor why would you ever want to upgrade?Given this, how come everyone does’t use other software? Because MS crippleware is still better than the rest for most people.Why? (1) it arrives working on most computers, (2) it appeals to the broadest range of users from total nubes to corporate IT departments serving 100,000+ desktops, (3) they cater to software & hardware developers, rather than ignoring them (i.e. Novell) or insulting them (i.e. Apple), (4) they are the most profitable product for consultants/developers/VARs to recommend.So MS spends more than most of the rest combined …to create mediocre software on purpose. Not as easy as it sounds — if you slip up and make something too powerful then users won’t upgrade. Yet if you don’t improve it enough, people go elsewhere.An odd situation indeed. 2006-01-14 8:22 am raver31although I agree with the very valid points you raise, the pro-microsoft fanboys who are as dim as a bagful of dim things will come on here and mod the crap out of your post…and mine too haha 2006-01-13 7:27 pm moleskineIt’s hard to see what kind of points this article is trying to make.It says that the totality of free or open software R&D is probably much higher than we think, that Microsoft probably spends less than the headline figure of $6 billion on R&D per year, that it wasn’t a good idea for Microsoft to embed IE so deeply into the Windows OS, and that free or open source R&D is somehow a greater social good than closed source R&D.To which one may say, so what? Microsoft clearly spends huge sums on R&D, clearly an awful lot more than free and open source stuff. But hey, it’s their money. They are free to spend it exactly as they wish, or even put $6 billion dollars’ worth of technicians out of a job by remitting the money to stockholders instead.As for the social good argument, BS to that. R&D is notoriously hard to quantify. Often no one knows what if anything will come of it. But to try to curtail it – on the tired old grounds, here, that an evil empire is behind it – is tantamount to killing off the spirit of scientific enquiry. It’s also somewhat insulting to the integrity of the many techs and scientists who work directly or otherwise on the Microsoft tab. Talk about imposing a monopoly. At this rate we’ll soon be reading arguments recommending the burning of books about closed source. 2006-01-13 8:23 pm Linuxfanboyquote: It’s hard to see what kind of points this article is trying to make.You’re implying that everyone would find it difficult to see the points the author is trying to make.Contrary to what you state, I didn’t find it difficult.His points are well made. If Mcrosoft spends 6 billion on R&D, they got nothing to show for it. 2006-01-13 8:28 pm flanqueAgreed. Through reading the article I began to wonder if there was any substance to qualify the points, but then realised that I wasn’t even sure what the point of the article was.Seems to be more of the Linux propoganda machine which they so love to hate themselves. 2006-01-13 8:30 pm flanqueI really don’t see your point. You surely cannot be suggesting that Linux is “superior” because it “looks better”. 2006-01-13 9:00 pm smashItthey spend 6 billion in researching and developing-Operating systems (embedded, dektop, mediacentre, server & co)-Server software (iis, mssql)-prodactivity software (office, visio & co)-developement-tools (visual studio)-games (incl directX)-consoles (xbox, xbox360)-HIDs (keyboards, mice, trackballs)-a lot of other stuffI’d say it’s money well spent, but the average troll will disagree with me.Edited 2006-01-13 21:01 2006-01-13 9:15 pm Windows SucksI don’t think money spent on the XBOX, Keyboards and Mice etc is gonna make their Server and Desktop software any better and for sure no more secure!You would think that with all the money they have that MS would make the best products on earth but:The XBOX is not any better then the PlaystationTheir Keyboards and Mice are no better then logitechIIS sucks compared to ApacheWindows is no better (if as good) then the Mac OSTheir games are no better then EAOffice is not a ton better then Open OfficeMSSQL is no better then MySQL. LOL!I mean where is the big difference. And now with all the hype and money (And delays) in Vista, I don’t see it being a ton better then their own OS Windows XP! (Which is what they believe and why they are back porting apps to XP) 2006-01-13 9:26 pm MattKSeriously, how do you quantify the dollar value of open source contributions where noone gets paid. Use the average computer programmer hourly going rate? Just because there is no cash on the books, doesn’t mean that real value is not added into R&D in the FOSS world. Conversely, just because real live dollars are thrown around does not mean that real value is added.-MattK 2006-01-13 10:31 pm yawntooMicrosoft does quite a bit of research that does not find its way directly into its products. I specifically remember seeing a great presentation on vertex caching and graphics rendering at the International Symposium on Computational Geometry in 1998 or 1999 (I can’t remember which year).If you are actually interested in the research that MS does, go check out thier research site. It has some demo downloads and links to several research papers.http://research.microsoft.com/research/default.aspxJust as a point of information, many of the MS researchers are affiliated with the University of Washington Seattle, which is one of the top 10 Computer Science schools in the United States.Edited 2006-01-13 22:42 2006-01-14 3:42 am UnbelieverSpending money on R&D is futile if you don’t come up with something new and good. IBM spends a whole lot more than that on R&D but they certainly do come up with a lot of things – and that’s why they’re the number 1 company in the world in terms of patents (I don’t like patents, but they’re here).Microsoft can spend $60 billion anually on R&D, but when their bread&butter operating system evokes many a memories on people’s minds (some related to OS X, others related to… OS X) than, I say, money spent bad. You invest to get results. Good results. If you don’t get good results, you either stop betting on that horse, or you just admit that you’re a bad gambler, so to speak. 2006-01-14 4:54 am TechGeekYou know, you pro microsoft people should feel really overcharged. Lets see. I would estimate that if MS spent 6 Billion this year, they must have spent at least $75 billion in their entire history on R&D. And what do you get for $75 billion? You get an OS that is more or less equivalent to a free OS that is 1/2 age of dos and windows. I personally think linux is superior, but even if you set them equal, thats an awful lot of money for the end result. Just goes to show you that size doesnt make up for quality or determination.