Home > Microsoft > Microsoft Stands Firm in the ‘great Linux debate’ Microsoft Stands Firm in the ‘great Linux debate’ Eugenia Loli 2004-04-23 Microsoft 31 Comments The software giant ventured into hostile territory on Wednesday to argue its case during a live debate over the future of the Linux desktop. About The Author Eugenia Loli Ex-programmer, ex-editor in chief at OSNews.com, now a visual artist/filmmaker. Follow me on Twitter @EugeniaLoli 31 Comments 2004-04-23 7:18 pm That Trip guy is pretty funny. I’m with microsoft on most of these issues. I’m a windows and Mac user and I don’t think an OS should be free. It shouldn’t be $120-$200 like MS or apple charges for it, but companies should be paid for the work that they do. 2004-04-23 7:20 pm I want to see (or read) more of this. I think collaboration in the software market could really improve the quality of software overall. Even though this wasn’t much of collaboration, it is a step in the right direction. I hope people read this article for what it is, and that they read what it says, not what they want it to say. I must say that I found the Microsoft representative to be very honest; he admitted the foul play with OEM deals, he admitted that they made mistakes with that. The Samba/HP guy was nitpicking, in my experience. ______________________________________ –Dutch translator for SkyOS, v5.0– 2004-04-23 7:42 pm I can see how free software hurts R&D. We need companies to invest in R&D. If we don’t pay PHDs to do research they won’t. If a startup can’t pay the bills they will fold. They need money so that they can work on new ideas full-time. Unfortunately without the driving force of money, 90% of current research wouldn’t be taking place. 2004-04-23 7:45 pm ” That Trip guy is pretty funny. I’m with microsoft on most of these issues. I’m a windows and Mac user and I don’t think an OS should be free.” You can buy all kinds of OS including linux for a cost. nobody said it should be free as in beer 2004-04-23 7:46 pm Linux is free because they CHOOSE to give their code away. The Open Source movement is not about making money at all. It ia about creating a community of developers that help each other out. 2004-04-23 7:50 pm I agree that HP/Samba rep sounded the least down-to-earth (and most zealous/fanatical). It was nice to see people being so frank about the current situtation, and not trying to hide behind any pseudo-pr/market speak. 2004-04-23 8:02 pm Microsoft — Bradley Tipp, national systems engineer HP/Samba — Jeremy Allison (co-creator of Samba). Red Hat — Paul Salazar, director of European marketing Sun Microsystems — Robin Wilton, EMEA programme manager — Java Desktop System. Novell — Matt Asay, director, Linux Business Office, Novell 2004-04-23 8:02 pm I really liked that Tipp guy. He raised good points, he didn’t try to dodge questions, and was down to earth. So was Salazar. Great article! ^_^ 2004-04-23 8:03 pm Yeah, I also agree with the Microsoft guy on most issues, but his answer was not entirely “honest”. A honest answer is not one of probability, “It MAY have happened”, when it is crystal clear that “It -HAS- happened”. He has lots of guts to show up there, but not enought to take out that silly “MAY HAVE”. Otherwise, Tipp argued well his case, and the Samba guy failed miserably when he tried to play the “proprietary software is crap” card. Robin Wilton (Sun) chose to answer as expected (the agreement is still fresh), and did a good job at staying on the fence. Paul Salazar (Red Hat) played the “we are family” man, he sounded quite sincere, though who cares. All in all, an entertaining round in the art of not saying anything at all, everything is possible. The only point I found with some substance was the R&D one. Who is going to answer it first Eric Raymond or Stallinman? 2004-04-23 8:07 pm Uh, Mr. Anonymous, I think you’re greatly mistaken. The Open Source movement IS about making money, because the rapid adoption of open source technology has occured because of businesses MAKING MONEY off of open source software — either directly or indirectly. Giving code away has NOTHING to do with money. You could write some software, release it under the GPL, and charge a million dollars for it. You couldn’t stop someone else selling it for 10 bucks or even nothing, however. But that’s the way it works. You’ll get paid a million dollars if you offer enough of your own value. People can get Linux for free (as in beer) anywhere, but if everyone were actually doing that, then how do you think Red Hat, SuSE, Mandrake, etc. are making their money? Regards. Jared 2004-04-23 8:23 pm A company can make money off any product, it comes back to the simple marketing task. 1. Make it user Friendly 2. Give the people some variety in the Package 3. Have all kinds of availible software 4. Make it easy to migrate / upgrade 5. Don’t be dishonest. For the most part MS and linux follow these point, but Linux has alot to learn about how to sell a product. I give thumbs up to Linspire (Lindows), Xandros, and other linux distros that are buddling what people typically use. I know All distros are like this, but Distros like Red Hat, Mandrake, install 4 of everything. Also most people want the easy of use, that windows has, linux is getting there. But Microsoft didn’t complain about anything, they seen that there was a need for something and they strive to target that. Linux in much ways is getting agressive about selling and adopting the linux way of life. Peaple can live without Microsoft, people can live without Linux, BSD, *nix, after all since the computer was built, people have discovered ways to improve, tweak, and destroy the OS. IBM is taken the bull by the horn and are developing their own distro of Linux, call Blue Linux (http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,4149,1460599,00.asp). I think IBM will not leave MS for Linux, but are going to allow the users to choose (with a license fee for licensed software) but once IBM does this move, Guess what Dell will do it, Gateway will do it. etc iamcanadian– 2004-04-23 8:43 pm “You can buy all kinds of OS including Linux for a cost. nobody said it should be free as in beer” The question is will desktop users pay for Linux? I paid for multiple versions of BeOS, a couple versions of OSX, and Windows XP. For some reason I don’t want Linux even if it is free. I’ve tried Linux many times, quite a few distros, but it just didn’t appeal to me. They are making progress though. I may be misunderstanding what the Linux side of the discussion was saying, but it seemed to me like their plan for Linux is charge the corporate customers and give it away to consumers. “Samba/HP: Just as you wouldn’t trust a bridge built by a company that wouldn’t show you the blueprints, you shouldn’t trust software from a company that won’t show you the source.” Bad analogy. I trust a bridge because it looks sturdy and because there are inspectors that make sure bridges are safe to use. Who needs to see the source other than developers? Consumers just need to know that the software/os works and is easy to use. Really, what would my grandma do if she saw the windows or Linux source code? “That’s a lot of letters and symbols and stuff.” If anything, he should have said you wouldn’t trust a bridge that wasn’t approved for public safety and you shouldn’t trust software that doesn’t follow any guidelines or approvals. I think that would have been a valid argument. The only problem I see with the current closed system is that there isn’t say, and independent board of professional software reviewers checking an approving the code that’s going to be on millions of pc’s around the world. If you don’t see the approval sticker on the software box, then don’t trust it. 2004-04-23 9:19 pm “5. Don’t be dishonest.” I agree with you, however I think most highly successfult companies are dishonest. If you read a contract after listening to a salesman’s explanation of it you will see my point….. Especially with warranties. 2004-04-23 9:25 pm You buy a distro not linux ^_^ This is becuase Linux is a kernel, not a full blown operating system and/or enviroment. Try some of the other unix derivatives and work-a-likes, Linux is generally the less friendly of the lot and requiring more work to custamize throught the general lack of standards. Slowly changing thought. The big problem is the lack of understanding of what it means to be a unix clone and/or a derivative. Like all others, Linux, is not set in stone, it is what ever you want it to be and make it. The big problem with closed source, is it is to easy to break something. This is why building from source is much nicer. 2004-04-23 9:34 pm I love this comment from MS about trying to buy a laptop that’s not pre-installed with Windows: “… we don’t sell laptops so what these companies choose to do with their products is up to them.” Yeah, right. Any major OEM that offererd Linux instead of Windows would be driven out of business by MS yanking away their ability to sell Windows at all. 2004-04-23 10:00 pm Same here, I have paid for BeOS and other OSes but don’t want Linux even free, and they are making some progress indeed (first distro I installed was Slackware 4.0, and yes, things have changed a bit) . I differ on the approval sticker thing. I detest approval stickers and approval committees, they are useless and extremely insidious when imposed (not infrequently). There is one approval I trust: the experience of a personal authority, the simple ancient form of approval, -Authoritas- (which is always personal, never collective). Trademark comes second, that is alone a sign of approval, there, a jolly good sticker, no need to stamp many more of ’em. As to the question “will desktop users pay for Linux?”, that is a non-question to me. I have lost all hope in a Unix camp solution to my computing problems, they consistently follow the “New Jersey school” software approach of a fast spreading incomplete solution, I thought that was only theory but it’s damn true. My question is “will there be some desktop innovation soon?”, it certainly won’t come from Linux, but I don’t think it’ll come from Microsoft either, perhaps it may come from Apple if they ever get price-competitive. If you look at it with some perspective, the ball is not in the software field, it is in the hardware side. It is the hardware, that is keeping computing in one of its dullest times, that’s why a proprietary software company like Apple that also sells computers may be able to provide a complete solution; computers with screens that don’t pixelize and interfaces that integrally serve their multimedia purpose (Office, Gaming, Cinema, Internet Phone/Video conference, Advanced Net Browsing) in a way we can forget about the obtrusive underlying technology. “The big problem with this and that”. The big problem with Linux and Open Source as a whole is that they are marginal, but they sound as if they were about to conquer the computing market (those who dare into the evil forces of market, yes, I know it’s not all). That wannabe king is bare. 2004-04-23 11:21 pm I love this comment from MS about trying to buy a laptop that’s not pre-installed with Windows: “… we don’t sell laptops so what these companies choose to do with their products is up to them.” Yeah, right. Any major OEM that offererd Linux instead of Windows would be driven out of business by MS yanking away their ability to sell Windows at all. As Tipps said, they MAY have done it in the past, as proven by the Be. Inc. vs MS AntiTrust Case, but they don’t do that now. It is too late and the horse has bolted, but they don’t do that now. What MS Should be doing, IMO, is creating a way for Unix Software to run in Windows, similar to what MacOSX have done with Native X11. How many Unix Geeks, with Macs, run GNU/Linux anymore? 2004-04-23 11:51 pm Bradley Tipp from MS wrote: Secondly and a lot more interesting is commercial reality and there are two things that come up here. When the gentleman asks for a desktop running Linux — what flavour of Linux do you want? And one of the problems the manufacturers face at the moment is what flavour are they going to provide for you? And if it’s ten different flavours, then that’s ten different pieces of engineering certification they have to go through and that is ten lots of cost. If the market is out there to support that cost then they will absolutely do it. If the market is not out there then they won’t. So what you actually see is commercial reality and unless people overturn that in some way then things aren’t going to change. The way I see it is that Linux needs competition between the distro’s. Your probably responding by saying “what the hell is this guy on about, there already is competition and that’s the beauty of linux and the GPL, etc”. What I am really saying is higher up in the distro stack. I believe that all the major distro’s with commercial interests should base their distro on one base distro. For example you have one base distro plus GNOME/KDE, but a differentiating factor could be the tools that the distro maker provides the user or administrator. Yes I know about UnitedLinux, I am a long time OSNEWS reader. I just think this would benefit everyone in the end. I believe this is what Redhat is trying to achieve with Fedora, but I can’t imagine SUSE using Fedora as a base or Mandrake using it. It would be good though. Think of the money these distro makers could save. 2004-04-24 12:40 am I’m not sure I agree with the comments about R&D. Maybe because I don’t really understand what exactly comes from Microsoft’s R&D that is so innovative. The most innovative software of the last few years is, in my opinion, bittorrent. An application that was written by a single twenty something without millions of dollars of R&D. What it’s about is people with ideas and people to test the software and provide feedback. Both are provided with the open source model. 2004-04-24 12:54 am I’m not sure I agree with the comments about R&D. Maybe because I don’t really understand what exactly comes from Microsoft’s R&D that is so innovative. The most innovative software of the last few years is, in my opinion, bittorrent. If you find bittorrent to be the most innovative thing to have come out in the last few years, I can see why you’d have trouble understanding what exactly comes from Microsoft’s R&D… 2004-04-24 1:59 am Try some of the other unix derivatives and work-a-likes, Linux is generally the less friendly of the lot and requiring more work to custamize throught the general lack of standards. Which specific Unix derivatives/clones are you referring to? I can give an example of one that is horribly arcane and much more difficult to use: SCO OpenServer. I’ve been exposed to it in my work and I much prefer Linux from a Unix standpoint. You’d have to say though that other than die-hard Unix people, nobody really worries about whether Linux is a true Unix clone or not. There are much more important issues. Back on topic though, I liked the article and was pleasantly surprised to find the Microsoft guy was pretty sensible. 2004-04-24 2:25 am Microsoft’s R&D goes into stuff like x media center, those failed smart displays, there is some interesting stuff that microsoft is doing in kitchen automation with embedded windows, smart workspaces etc. It’s getting a bit away from the desktop os, but these are the types of “digital lifestyle” things that MS and apple are looking into and maturing while linux is still trying to catch up in the server and desktop markets. http://research.microsoft.com/research/projects/ Things like autoalbum probably went into what we see now in winxp’s and to be more fleshed out in longhorn’s picture handling. 2004-04-24 3:08 am Open Source developers do it for the good of humanity and out of principle. They like having code that is free, as in freedom (not cost). 2004-04-24 9:07 am “Bad analogy. I trust a bridge because it looks sturdy and because there are inspectors that make sure bridges are safe to use. Who needs to see the source other than developers?” The inspectors. In practice, inspection is by the developers’ peers, but any government (for instance) could mount a process of full examination of a Linux distribution or other open software. Closed source is not open to independent inspection. 2004-04-24 10:50 am Don Cox: Closed source is not open to independent inspection. There’s no reason why a closed source company can’t “open the source code” for one or more products to certain groups of people, if it chooses to do so. 2004-04-24 12:38 pm This is probably the most important quote regarding Opensource out of the whole dicussion: “Red Hat: And we make money because people find our service and support superior and if they choose to go elsewhere, then we’ll work harder.” Competition; the market place at work, Red Hat supply a service, a competitor offers a better service then Red Hat respond offering even BETTER service. Its a win-win situation for both the customer and the vendor. 2004-04-24 2:48 pm “How many Unix Geeks, with Macs, run GNU/Linux anymore?” That’s an interesting question which is very hard to answer… except with statistics perhaps (lies, damn lies, statistics). I know only 1 Unix geek who has an iBook and who still runs GNU/Linux elsewhere. A typical Unix geek doesn’t have 1 computer i’d say. And i doubt the typical Unix geek only has Macs with MacOSX on them. I’d say they have a diversity of soft- and hardware; else i’d call the person with homogenous Mac (and OSX on them) equipment a “Mac(OSX) geek” i guess. Since Unix implies much more than solely MacOX. 2004-04-24 2:57 pm >Red Hat: And we make money because people find our service and support superior… It is double edged sword. If they had a software that is so good it does not need service and support, they would not be in business. Ask yourself, would you like to pay upfront for a product that is so good it does not need any service (no, it is not about Windows:), or you’d rather pay nothing for a product upfront but have to fork $$$$ for service and support? It is, in fact, why Red Hat lost desktop users: their product (Linux) is good enough for most of users who do not see need to pay for extra services and additional support. http://www.somethingLinux.org would not mind, but Red Hat is for profit company: for them $0 for product plus $0 for add-ons equals $0, while salaried developers, managers and C*Os expect more than $0 in they weekly paycheque. 2004-04-24 4:49 pm In my opinion, research and development is what drives OSS. That’s why there are 500 text editors, hundreds of browsers, loads of window managers and desktops. Everyone has great ideas about how it should work, and so they go off and have a bash at it. You end up with many failures, half completed projects and aborted attempts, but also new and innovative ideas that can later be incorporated into other projects. (And of course, quite often code can be reused.) For instance, the other day I tried an app called Protux. It’s one of the audio multitrackers for Linux. It attempts to solve one of the problems of mutitrackers, that there are so many options and editing tools that you can quite often end up with millions of open windows, and doing a hell of a lot of clicking+menu selections. Their solution is called ‘JMB’ and involves combining mouse *movements* with key presses to speed up the editing process. Most of us work ‘quake style’ when using a sequencer (one hand on mouse, the other on keyboard), and this is the first attempt I’ve seen to really investigate and refine this. It’s kinda hard to describe until you use it, and to be honest I’m finding it very weird, but I can see what they are trying to do, and what the advantages are. Though the chances of this becoming a hugely popular multitracker are kinda small, I can download and try it, give them feedback and other projects who are interested can do the same. Their research is public, and actually part of a working program you can try, rather than dry paper or secret project. Also, due to the academic background of many OSS projects, they are sometimes almost entirely written as research projects. (Sometimes to their detriment IMHO). 2004-04-25 11:42 am Oh, please explain how HPUX, OpenServer, Solaris, and AIX are “EASIER”. Having worked with ALL of them, and Linux as well I can honestly say that you are full of it. 2004-04-26 9:45 am Microsoft Guy: “while these guys think that the GPL is great, the thing that the GPL makes difficult is R&D. If I invest a lot of money in a new file system and then it is GPLed, then everyone else gets the benefit of that.” Yeah and that is GREAT! Also the GPL does not state you can not charge money for it.