Linux optimize

10 ways Microsoft could help Linux

Stop the presses: Jack Wallen supports an alliance between Microsoft and Linux. Find out why he believes both camps could work together for the benefit of all concerned.

Stop the presses: Jack Wallen supports an alliance between Microsoft and Linux. Find out why he believes both camps could work together for the benefit of all concerned.


I confess, I never thought I would write such a title. Microsoft helping Linux? No way. I was always of the mind that Microsoft and Linux would forever be mortal enemies and one, hopefully Linux, would rise above the other in absolute world domination. Well, that hasn't happened. In fact it seems as if the two operating systems are determined to coexist in the IT world.

With that in mind, I thought it would be a good idea to list the ways in which Microsoft could help Linux solidify itself as a viable enterprise and end user solution.

Note: This article is also available as a PDF download.

1: Standards

I have, of late, become a champion of standards. Without standards, it's becoming harder and harder for Linux to get beyond the plateau it currently resides on. Obviously, Microsoft is good at standards because it has been the de facto provider of standards for such a long time. Microsoft could help Linux by joining the Linux Standards Base so that some semblance of standards could be agreed upon.

But why would Microsoft's involvement help? Simple. If Microsoft helped create a Linux standard that worked alongside the current (and future) Windows' standard, the LSB (and Linux community) would gladly accept it. Think about it. No more having to reverse engineer Office document formats or media file formats. And maybe Microsoft could help Linux arrive at a standard that would be better suited for the average user. And with Microsoft backing a Linux standard, the Linux operating system would certainly gain more acceptance (once that standard was adopted).

2: Code sharing

Within the last year, it came to the attention of the Linux community that Microsoft does in fact use code from open source software. And why not? Apache code could only make the Windows Server code better. I'm sure there's also code within the millions upon millions of lines of Windows code that could help Linux. But ultimately, shared code would allow these two operating systems to work better together. And that would give them the edge. Instead of fighting against one another, they could work together.

For the longest time, Linux fans have had a problem adopting Windows. It just seems to go against their nature. But if Microsoft and Linux worked together on code, that animosity would dissipate. Microsoft could also capitalize on this collaboration in many ways. More on that later.

3: Microsoft Linux

Yes, I am advocating a Microsoft Linux. Why? If Microsoft put its weight behind a Linux distribution, there is no way the enterprise could deny its validity and value. The general public considers anything produced by Microsoft to be synonymous with computing. If Microsoft created its own Linux, then Linux would become a household name. Hardware companies would start creating drivers, and quite possibly, vendors would start pre-installing Linux in serious quantity.

How is this a win-win situation? Microsoft would be able to SELL its version of Linux. It probably couldn't get the same dollar value it gets out of Windows, but it would get some. And by selling the operating system, Microsoft would be selling support for said operating system. Win-win.

4: Applications

This is where Microsoft could seriously capitalize on Linux. If Microsoft really wanted to help both itself and Linux, it would port its applications to Linux. This would bolster Microsoft sales (all those Linux users would be prompted to purchase Microsoft software), and it would bolster Linux because more people would have final hurdles to adoption removed. If Office, Outlook, Publisher, Money, etc., were ported to Linux, then Linux adoption would soar! And all those copies of Microsoft software aren't given away for free. That's revenue for Microsoft.

This could also play out in another way: Microsoft porting open source applications to Windows. How does that benefit Linux? More people becoming familiar with open source applications means more people familiar with the tools of the Linux trade. Again, a win-win situation.

5: Marketing

This one should go without saying. One of the biggest problems the Linux operating system has faced is visibility. Ask IT professionals what they know about Linux and you will most likely get a litany of information. Ask average users, and you're lucky if they even know it exists. Why? Marketing. Everyone knows about Windows because it has the marketing juggernaut Microsoft behind it. If Microsoft decided to become bedfellows with Linux, it could bolster the Linux IQ of the average user simply by making people aware of its existence.

Here's another idea. If Microsoft was serious about supporting the penguin, it could ship free (or trial) versions of its own Linux distribution with every version of Windows. I realize that most people would look at this and say, "Why would Microsoft want to market its competition?" They wouldn't. But if Microsoft positioned itself in such a way that the marketing of Linux would bolster its own sales (see number 4 above), the benefit becomes obvious.

6: Development

There are countless open source Linux applications out there. Many are outstanding solutions that may never gain much traction because they lack funding or resources. Imagine if Apache couldn't come to fruition because of this. Imagine if MySQL or PHP never saw the light of day. What if there was a way to submit your application for Microsoft to review, so that it might be adopted by the "Microsoft Open Source Initiative"? If your application was selected, it would gain funding from Microsoft and possibly be ported to Windows or shipped on the Microsoft Linux distribution.

7: Universality

How many times has a Linux user attempted to log on to a site only to find that site didn't support a Linux-based version of Firefox? I have had it happen far too often, and most of the time, I didn't have a Windows-based machine to use. If Microsoft began supporting Linux, this sort of issue would be a thing of the past. This would also apply to document formats. A move toward universality would open the door for a true open document format. This is a win-win all around. Not only would Linux and Microsoft benefit, but so would end users because they wouldn't have to worry about converting documents or having the same application as vendors, clients, and colleagues.

8: Hardware support

This is HUGE for the Linux community. With the backing of Microsoft, it would be far easier for hardware vendors to support the Linux operating system. No more worries about having to jump through hoops to get a piece of hardware to work with Linux. And from the vendors' perspective, it would make writing Linux drivers a no-brainer. With such a dominant force as Microsoft behind Linux, hardware vendors wouldn't be as skeptical about supporting the operating system. The credibility of Linux would ease their minds enough that they would produce more and better drivers -- especially if Microsoft created its own Linux distribution.

9: Enterprise-level support

One of the biggest reasons why more enterprises do not adopt Linux is support. As of now, only two companies offer this level of support for their distributions: Red Hat and SuSE. But not everyone wants to use one of those distributions. What about a much more user-friendly Linux, like Ubuntu? This is where Microsoft comes in. Microsoft could easily offer enterprise-level Linux support. And by offering its own distribution (and making it a very user-friendly version), having enterprise-level support would be a natural fit. This would benefit all involved. Microsoft would get paid, enterprise-level customers would get the support they require, and Linux would gain enterprise-level users.

10: FUD-free

This is what hurts Linux the most. Over the last decade, Microsoft has continually pumped out FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) to tarnish the name of Linux. This FUD has prevented more users (from home users to enterprise users) from adopting Linux than any other reason. If Microsoft came out to support Linux, FUD would finally stop. The cease and desist of all FUD (and FUD-based marketing) would do more for Linux than most people realize. No more Halloween Papers. No more Microsoft-funded reports indicating how much more secure Windows is than Linux. No more bellowing Balmer drumming up his army in an attempt to besmirch the name of Linux and all things open source.

Meant to be together?

You may never have thought you would read these words from my fingertips, but I do see a positive outcome if Microsoft would finally open its arms in celebration of Linux. Of course, I am not attempting to start or spread any rumors. I am just posing the possibilities. And these are certainly tantalizing possibilities. What do you think? Is there a positive outcome to a Linux/Microsoft mating? Let us know.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

46 comments
motie38
motie38

When I first started reading your article, I had to check the date, because I thought "Nobody could write this in 2009. Maybe this article is a couple years old." Seeing you wrote it in March, I'm now just thinking you have your head buried in the sand. 1: Standards Have you not been paying attention as Microsoft has been trying to strong-arm it's way into getting OOXML accepted as an ISO standard, or as several Governments have managed to force Microsoft into supporting the already accepted ISO standard ODF in it's latest versions of Office? Have you not understood that it's the Unix community which has mostly promoted standards, and that Microsoft's policy has traditionally been "embrace and extend", meaning embrace others' standards, then add our own proprietary extensions to those standards to force vendor lockin? Hmmm. 2: Code sharing. Are you kidding? I see you mention Apache, which has it's own license, but if anyone can ever prove Microsoft has ever used GPL'd code, they should be prosecuted with the severest possible penalties allowed by law. Further, you couln't have guessed in March that Microsoft would ever submit any code under a GPL v2 license, and there is still no way they would ever open source any Windows code in a way that it would be compatible with the GPL license Linux distributions are governed by. Gates and Ballmer have clearly stated their opposition to the GPL, and their recent submission of the linux virtualization drivers was a concession because they knew they were in violation of the GPL the way they were previously handling those drivers. Not to mention the whole reason for Vista's existence, DRM, is incompatible with the GPL. 3: Microsoft Linux Novell would really love that! Let's see Microsoft stop selling support tickets for their strategic Linux partner and go into competition with them!. I'd sure be rooting for Novell in that lawsuit! Or perhaps you want to kill off Novell! 4: Applications Now let's attack CodeWeavers why don't we! You know, that company that has built it's business on making Office and other Windows apps like Quicken work in Linux via WINE? I guess you want them to wither and die too, notwithstanding the fact that Microsoft would prefer to keep their Office customers on the Windows platform. 5: Ok, now I'm just thinking you need a remedial course in logic. Let's assume for the moment you never heard of Microsoft's "Get the Facts" marketing campaign of a couple years ago where they did everything they could to convince people why Windows is so much better than Linux, or their very public accusation that Linux violates 228, 234, or 235 Microsoft patents depending on who's speaking at the time. How could you even think that Microsoft's marketing of Linux could bolster their own sales, when every copy of Office they sold for Linux would mean a copy of Windows(their cash cow) they didn't sell? The only way it would work for them is if they did indeed sell Microsoft Linux, and for the same price as Windows, and Microsoft Office would only work on Microsoft Windows! Which of course would mean they added some proprietary code to Microsoft Linux that violates the GPL. 6: Development Now I'm just beginnig to think you've gone insane. Most developers don't even want that kind of oversight on their Windows products, much less their Linux ones. You can't believe Microsoft money would come without Microsoft strings attached. And Apache, MySQL and PHP did see the light of day, and have done quite well without Microsoft's help. 7: Universality Your problem with web sites that don't support anything but IE on Windows is a direct result of Microsoft's "embrace and extend" standards policy. I have to think Mac users must suffer from that problem as well. The solution is to ask web site owners to adhere to "universal" web standards, not force Linux to comply with Microsoft's proprietary ones. 8: Hardware support This is the only thing so far I think you may have a point on, except that I believe it's taking care of itself. As the likes of Intel and Dell increase their Linux support, others will follow. For example, Atheros' announcement offering open source drivers for Linux and BSD for their wireless chipsets, and that's old news from 2003. And, NVidea and ATI both offer linux drivers for their video chipsets, though not open source. HP is making linux drivers for their printers available. Just visit hplipopensource.com. 9: Enterprise-level support. So you're not satisfied to let Red Hat and Novell do what they do and you've never heard of Canonical, or the fact that they support Ubuntu? Nor have you heard of the fact that Dell and HP both offer enterprise level Linux support? Now I just want to know how much Microsoft paid you to write this article, because ... 10 FUD-free this article strikes more fear uncertainty and doubt in me than all the FUD you mention.

yu_johnston
yu_johnston

It looks to me that they are 10 reasons why Microsoft shouldn't work with Linux.

dbucyk
dbucyk

Yes, while Microsoft has a huge market in interoperability with all websites and programs, there's one major drawback. The overpriced operating systems that they sell. Linux is not that hard to use if you put your mind to it (I know I am studying OpenSuSE to become a CompTIA Linux+ certified technician for mid next year. As with open source Linux, more and more people will eventually get on board because it is acting more and more like Windows. As you all have heard, many people are frustrated with the problems with Windows and the constant need to upgrade their systems. No operating system out their is not without flaws, but the one thing you have to admit is that open source software is free. That is what Microsoft fears the most and they are trying to make their operating system and add-ons so Linux can not work with it easily. Yes, while I agree Linux would get more recognition and adopted as well as strengthening Microsoft's position, what about the operating systems that are out there. What about SuSE Linux, Ubuntu, etc. Would we be forced to have to pay for these operating systems? Would Microsoft shut them out like they have in the past with other software vendors? Actually, people who produce Linux distributions should carefully think about this merge. As more and more systems are having to be upgraded and with each operating system having more and more problems with compatibility or security flaws with Microsoft, Linux has made some progress into low-cost PCs on the market. Keep them separate I say. Who knows, maybe Linux vendors will eventually be able to provide stiff competition against Microsoft and maybe even Apple (but then again it's OS is based off UNIX).

Spiritusindomit
Spiritusindomit

You don't feel linux can accomplish anything on its own, and microsoft should hand over its intellectual property.

markros
markros

Great possibilities. The core question is not answered. Why would Microsoft want to? How does this advance their corporate interests? What is the return to Microsoft and its shareholders? This has to be framed as a rational business decision, not a "Cool what-if" set of possibilities.

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

Microsoft is. So why would a company want to help a rival product. As no person 'owns' Linux it is hard to bring anything to the table for such items. Who exactly can fully represent Linux and have the power to really see through any decisions.

akulkis
akulkis

Microsoft gains absolutely NO benefit from making it easier to move off of their monopoly platform. Every single one of your points is one which MS perceives as weakening their stranglehold on the market. What in the world makes you think they are interested in losing total dominance in the PC arena?

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

It's slow, jerky with the occasional detour and roadblock, but they can't stop it. Linux isn't their bug bear becausue it's more secure, free, configurable, geeky etc, it's because they can't buy it and kill it, and the technical cost of catching up even just to that perception, is huge. The monopoly has been very good to them, argue as you like about the techicalities, business wise Bill done good. The writing is still on the wall though.

dvd.moore
dvd.moore

"Ten Ways Microsoft Could Help Linux": surely you're joking. I see that the original of this thread was posted on March 26 just a few days before April Fool's Day (at least here in the US). Was it meant as an April Fool's joke? Seriously, hasn't MS's tactic been consitently to establish proprietary, patented formats and protocols designed to supplant perfectly functional standards? This is diametrically opposed to what we see Linux doing. What other reason would the orca from Redmond have for sidling up to the penguin except to eat him? David Moore

schlandower
schlandower

From what I have seen, microsoft has produced nothing reliable, stable, or complete. Already ms has stolen bits and pieces from the open source community and called it 'their-own', ms relies on hundreds of thousands of none ms employed or remunerated developers to fix the blatent problems and blunders in their oses. I site one example from a now ex employee (fired for disclosing the facts) of ms, I quote "Microsoft intentionally builds in security holes to their operating systems so they can have free and unrestricted access to data, information and settings." Nice one is it not? I believe, having actually used some of ms's holes myself that they will not do anything for Linux from a security point of view.

motie38
motie38

You have gone off the deep end. Please submit to the men in white coats who are coming to take you away. Seriously, did you think it was April 1 when you wrote this? 1. Microsoft's policy toward standards has always been "Embrace and Extend", meaning embrace others' standards, then add Microsoft proprietary extensions to those standards to create vendor lock-in. 2. Please don't corrupt clean modular linux with MS monolithic spaghetti code. 3. Already got it - it's called Novell SUSE. 4. Money's dead, Office already works with Crossover(WINE) 5. Marketing, are you serious? Like the Gates-Seinfeld ads, right? I would rather see Red Hat and Canonical team up with the Linux Foundation. 6. You understanding funding has strings, don't you? 7. See 1 above. 8. Um, wasn't hardware support one of the big problems with Vista? 9. Canonical offers paid support for Ubuntu, thus the LTS(Long Term Support) editions. Not to mention IBM! Come on! 10. Let me guess. You're a John Lennon fan.

yobtaf
yobtaf

MS would only ruin Linux. Linux doesn't need MS.

sparky52
sparky52

Yes... all I can see is all the anti-trust and patient and copyright law suits...MS would want to control the GPU which in turn would kill all linux...look at all the bull they just pulled awhile back...

lodestone
lodestone

Jack, Someone let your April Fools Day article out too soon. --Allen

kjmartin
kjmartin

Maybe I missed something, but what would Microsoft gain from this arrangement?

rao.sanath
rao.sanath

Really nice article. Myself being a linux fan, would really want this to happen. Though i heardly doubt that microsoft would ever consider doing this. This might affect microsoft seriously on the long run.

firstaborean
firstaborean

What's missing in this discussion is motivation on the MS side. Whatever would motivate Microsoft to make a Linux distro? It would cut into their profits, not enhance them. Sure, I'd like to see Linux stability, memory efficiency, and low hardware requirements married to Windows' ease of use, but I don't see it coming. Microsoft isn't suicidal, after all.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

to support and applications. OS is a given, get your money on added value, if you can... It's a massive change and huge risk, but they are still getting killed in terms of OS functionality, because three quarters of their application's functionality is actually in their version of the kernel. Monolithic design gives you that short term option, but the long term ones are horrific. Change one thing you change everything, more and more effort for less and less reward. Software design basic, coupling and cohesion.

TNT
TNT

Something no one (yet) has mentioned is that Obama has said he'd like the federal government to switch to open source. This would have a huge impact on Microsoft. If Microsoft developed their own Linux distro it could keep the government as a client.

jmhalloy_z
jmhalloy_z

From the time Novell had some agrements with M$ about its SuSE 10.3 distro, I beleaved this should be an improvement for Linux in particular. I started with an infomagic distro in 1995 before becoming a long time user of SuSE Linux starting at version 6 of it and was happy to see a big improvement with each new release that followed until installation of the 10.3 I'm currently working on at home. I found this version has a lot of instabilities using any CPU intensive work like graphics or java developpment with eclipse. I never had those kind of problems before. I'm about sure I'll never buy a more recent version of it and shall install Ubuntu as desktop and Debian as a server.

sonicsteve
sonicsteve

Fundamentally I'm not opposed to this. I don't know if Microsoft could live with the GPL (Gnu Public License). I think they would want to find a way to create a stripped down base Linux, kind of similar to Vista Basic. Essentially having no enterprise value at all. The Enterprise applications that would sit on top would cost $60/work station per year (VLK). Even with that I don't know if Microsoft can get it business away from funding through license sales. The idea of Microsoft actually offering anything Open Source (I know they started and initiative) that succeeds seems 180 Degrees opposed to their corporate model. Having said that it would be interesting.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Market a Linux distro to the home user, where backwards compatibility isn't the issue it is in the workplace. Dedicate Windows to business.

softwareFlunky
softwareFlunky

Think of all the entertainment value we've gotten over the years: there's the adrenaline pumping, as we blast away at Microsoft, and there's the intellectual satisfaction of having outwitted a foe. Ultimately, with individuals, businesses, courts and even governments firing salvo after salvo at Microsoft's every front, there is only one possible ending to this game and eventually it will be over. Let's enjoy it while we can.

computer_freak_8
computer_freak_8

My two biggest concerns with this matter are security and monopolization. If Linux had Microsoft code in it, chances are it would be lots less secure. If Microsoft did come up with its own Linux distribution, and it was marketing well, then the next thing that would come is greed. They aren't satisfied with the majority market share now, and I'm sure they would only get more greedy if they thought they could get more.

cmatthews
cmatthews

No sir, Linux is Linux (the Kernel). Remember "the great divide" between user-space and kernel-space. MS likely would build, (or maybe is now building) their own shell and desktop to which the new MS-office will securely fit. Open-office has tapped a lot of sales from MS and, I suspect they may want this back sometime before IBM/SUN has a distro... and, a real support system to go with it.

Slayer_
Slayer_

Pretty much the strongest reason MS software is less secure is because they do not bother to patch their vulnerabilities. However if the code was shared, it would be open to the public to fix, therefore removing these vulnerabilities.

motie38
motie38

It is the monolithic design, the registry, RPC, and the bolted on security onto a system originally designed as single-user, full control and network unaware rather than being an integral part of the design as with Unix and Linux systems, which were designed as multi-user network aware systems from the ground up. Microsoft does try to patch their vulnerabilities, but are stuck with a legacy design that doesn't scale well. It's truly amazing they've done as well as they have.

akulkis
akulkis

But yes, any modern computer MUST have multi-user designed in from the ground up if it's going to be secure in a networked environment. Even if you don't use the multi-user capability, all of the security demands of a proper multi-user system brings with it the necessary protections to keep a single-user workstation protected from attacks. I'm typing on a linux-running laptop right now. I'm the ONLY user on it. And it's secure, NOT because Linux is supposedly a rare platform (more than half of the World Wide Web runs on Linux)... but because even if you do convince a Linux user to download and run an install script in his account, it's still too difficult to hijack the machine to the super-user level. if you don't have multi-user, then you don't have normal-user versus privileged user...which means any program run by any old idiot can wreck havoc on the whole system...as every Windows (and even DOS) user is well aware of, from all of the malware which has done things like reformatting the C drive, because that command has NEVER required privileged-user status to run.

Slayer_
Slayer_

A personal machine doesn't really need a lot of multi user functionality, everyone having their own desktops is usually good enough. Multi user was actually better in Windows before NTFS, in Win95, I had an account for my parents, and one for me, an installed app would work for me or for them, no real effort needed, no worry about security permissions blocking them. What settings I made on my end would be applied to them as far as applications were concerned. Sharing files was simple, backing up files was even simpler as everything was in the "profiles" folder in the windows directory, which did not have sensitive files like "Documents and settings" has in windows.

magnusapocalypse
magnusapocalypse

I think it's a great possibility to get a distro from vista or xp windows. Linux and windows will become better if they work together.

The Scummy One
The Scummy One

this sounds like it would help MS rivals better than it would help MS. And MS having 2 platforms to sell, 1 of them costs less than the other, where is the incentive. Especially if they port their mainstream apps over to their lower cost OS. Sorry jack, I dont see this happening soon.

jpleace
jpleace

Selling Linux violates the tenet of Open Source. It would be typical Microsoft but it's wrong for Linux of any flavor.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Some of us view the computer strictly as a tool, not a philosophical battleground. As long as it works, we don't care about the development or licensing model behind it. Do you care (or even know) who designed the appliances in your kitchen or the car in your garage? These firms outsource design and manufacturing to a third-party whose name doesn't appear on the product. That's the way the rest of us feel about this "temple vs. bazaar" debate.

akulkis
akulkis

Considering how often Windows self-destructs, I can't even consider it to be something which fits the definition of "works" That's PRECISELY why I moved from Windows to Lignux, even though there's not as much software, and at that time, vendor support for hardware was totally god-awful. I just CAN NOT deal with losing data (AGAIN) due to file system corruption after yet another of the eleventy-bajillion system crashes. An operating system that "WORKS", by definition, doesn't crash just because an application fucks up. An operating system that WORKS... protects the rest of the system from the application that crashed.

jmhalloy_z
jmhalloy_z

Nobody should sell Linux which is the operating system, and is free. But, an operating system without any application able to run on it is not viable. It s very difficult for about any end-user to construct a distribution by himself by downloading for free any module, library, driver, etc..., all of them working fine together without any incompatibilities. A distro vendor has performed all of that for you.

The Scummy One
The Scummy One

is the kernal. The OS may be charged for (everything atop the kernal). It is this everything else that makes up distro's.

akulkis
akulkis

GPL doesn't prohibit selling ANY part of linux, including the kernel. All the GPL says is that if you give the object code to someone, you are legally required to also provide the sourrce code of any programs released to you under the GPL. You can charge as little or as much as you want for all of it...but you have to make the source code available.

bilijoe
bilijoe

Standards? I agree, Linux could benefit from some formal, industry derived standards, but work with Microsoft? On standards? Let's hope you weren't thinking of Ethical standards here. In any case, Microsoft's philosophy is nearly the antithesis of everything Linux stands for. How about just a nice independent 'Open Source Standards Committee' (OSSC), or a 'Linux Standards Group' (LSG). Let's leave Microsoft out of this altogether. If you look at the incredibly bloated and leaky software they produce, it doesn't seem their standards are very high to begin with. No, this would not be Microsoft helping Linux, it would be Microsoft dragging Linux down to its level. Code Sharing??? Clearly, you are not a programmer--at least not a bonafide professional programmer. Have you ever seen any of Microsoft's code? Do you know of the state of affairs at MS, regarding source code documentation. Do you really want to adopt ANY of that bloated, unsecure, crash prone, memory leakage prone, cobbled bits and pieces code into Linux. Again--antithesis. If Linux is nothing, it is crisp, clean, tight, efficient, well-written, well-documented source code. Again, the only result of such a marriage made in Hell would be to drag Linux down towards MS's level. Before you know it, their programmers (in defending the crap they write) would begin to convince Linux programmers that a few hundred lines of bloat code in a thousand line function was perfectly good programming practice, if it saved you from having to do a few hours of research, or allowed you to make your 'T' time. Again, bad idea. Microsoft Linux? Paaleeeze. Put Microsoft's weight behind Linux? What? Is weight generic now? Let's see if we can't get George 'dubayou' (now that he's out of a job) to throw his weight behind Linux too. With all his charisma, he could be out there, using his charming Texas Country Schoolboy grammar, touting the advantages of Linux in sentences that are self contradictory, confusing, and worded in such a way that no one can quite tell exactly what he said. Let's put his weight behind Linux too. BUSH-Linux. Putng Microsoft's weight behind Linux would be like putting a worn out bulldozer, with bad hydraulics, bad brakes, and worn out controls, behind a Ferrari. In the mud (where a bulldozer belongs), the bulldozer would simply push the Ferrari around, this way and that--sideways, who knows, but the sure thing is, nobody would get anywhere (except where the bulldozer pushed them). But, out on the highway, where the Ferrari belongs, it's by-by bulldozer, and hello smooth, high-speed cruising. Smooth sweeping turns, hard tight perfectly controlled hairpins, ripping past all the bulldozers and giving a friendly wave to all the other Ferraris. I've got an idea! Let's put Linux's weight behind Linux! Ubuntu has a nice friendly community feeling that's downright contageous that could be leveraged to win friends and followers. People follow Microsoft, but only out of necessity or ignorance. If you want to pair up with one of the Big Players, a MUCH better choice would be Apple. Heck, OS X+ is darned near Linux already. And, unlike the rickety, out of control bulldozer, Apple has excellent control over it's significant weight in the industry. And, with the Mac and Linux taking bigger and bigger bites out of MS's market share every day, Apple might see an alliance with Linux as a very good strategic business move. MS shot itself in the foot, BAD, with VISTA. Linux and Apple should get together and take maximum advantage of that costly error. Port Microsoft Applications to Linux? FAT CHANCE! Which Microsoft Exec. do you expect to bring into your camp to discuss this one. And, you don't think for a minute, do you, that anyone working for Microsoft has the faintest idea of the Art of programming for Linux? Besides, I'm sure, given the similarities of the OSs, it would be MUCH easier, near trivial, perhaps, to port McIntosh Apps to Linux (and visa-versa). Marketing? Boy! Now there's an area in which I really don't want to be associated with Microsoft. Their marketing has generated bad will and lawsuits, and not much else. It's easy to have good looking marketing stats, when you're the only game in town. Now Apple, again, has shown some real leading edge thinking,, regarding marketing. Besides, there's no better advertising than word of mouth, and, guess what? It IS getting around. It seems like every day I run into more and more people who already know about Linux and ALWAYS proclaim its superiority, or people who have heard of Linux and are ready to try it--so mucch so that I have started carring around with me a few Ubuntu "Live Session" (Demo?)/Install disks to hand out. And these conversations usually occur in a Home Electronics Department, an Office Supply Super Store, the University Book Store, or a Computer Store--all places where the audience suddenly gathers, all ears, eager to hear all about Linux, or to throw in their own unsolicited testimonials. I'd venture to say, this phenomanon is spreading like wildfire. No amount of advertising money will buy this kind of interest, high expectations, and good will, and no amount of advertising money can undo the PR damage done by releasing software before it's ready (the 'Public as Beta Tester' school of thought), by forcing people to do things in a way not of their own choosing (VISTA), by promising something and then failing to deliver it for YEARS (NT), or by having a spokesperson as charming and charismatic as Bill Gates (could you tell my tongue was in my cheek there?). Development. We don' need no stinking Microsoft to develop! Linux (the OS world as a whole) is driven, more directly even than the regular retail community, by what people (the users) need (first), and what they want (second). To suggest that Apache, or MySQL might have died on the vine is ludicrous! Apache lives because enough people needed that particular solution badly enough to ensure it's survival. In addition, the people who kept its development alive were the people who were going to use it, and knew exactly what they needed, not some corporate Requirements and Specifications department. No, this one is a real fallacy. If there is a need within the Linux community for some given program or other solution, some one of Linux's thousands of dedicated users, who are also well disciplined programmers (you have to be, when your development team is spread out across the entire globe, and, collectively, speak probably somewhere around 25 or 30 [native] languages) will either write what is needed, or find a way to get it done. Now we might not get as many games as some people would like, but then again, Linux is a more business-like OS than some others, so development energy tends to be spent on more practical things than games. But, hey, if you're a gamer and want to see more Linux games, feel free to become a game designer, find or become a Linux programmer, and go for it. That's how Linux works, and it's worked prety darned well, so far. Universality. I run [Ubuntu-]Linux exclusively, and I have NEVER tried to log onto a web page that didn't support FireFox for Linux. Hardware Support. Hmmm. Pase'. In the last two years, every piece of hardware I have purchased, from printers, to keyboards, mice, cameras, hard drives, flash drives etc., sound cards, video cards (ya do have to exercise a little intelligence here, but not much--just read the list), video capture devices, absolutely every piece of hardware, all I've had to do was connect it and start using it. I've found an amazing array of hardware that will just 'work', right out of the box, with nothing more than OS support. Some items I've had to go to the web site and download the Linux version of the software (boy, that's a real show-stopper), and I'm starting to see it right on the distribution disk, along with the Windows version, the [special] VISTA version (hack), and the Mac version. A friend recently switched from VISTA to Linux, because he was having such trouble getting all his hardware working correctly together, and often had to take a new item back and exchange it for a different brand (one VISTA liked), and he saw me just buying stuff, left and right, hooking it up, and, without so much as a single Tech Support call, using the new hardware, with all it's features. I've also started seeing, on more and more product packaging, under system requirements, "Windows ME, 2000, XP, Vista; Mac OS 10.x or later; Linux, kernel 2.x.y or later". Hardware issues of any significance, under Linux, is already becoming a thing of the past. Soon, it'll be gone forever. Are ISPs "Enterprise-level" entities? Cause an awful lot of them run Apachie servers under Linux, ya know. And you want support? I don't know how the others get along, but Ubuntu, with its community bearing and a healthy number of knowledgeable users has, in the form or its Community Forums, far and away THE BEST technical support I have ever had the pleasure to use. It's totally 24/7/365, it's free-forever. I have sometimes had problems solved in just a few minutes (the longest I've had to wait is a couple of days--those were the tougher ones), and I have, out of hundreds of Tech Support type postings, had only two issues go unresolved--probably my fault for over analizing/over describing the problm in the first place. FUD: And now that the truth is getting out, who do you think is getting hurt the most? Benefiting the most? Sorry, but the entire idea seems to me as if it would be about as healthy an alliance as that between the United States and Russia, during the Second World War. Oh, but Linux and Microsoft have no dominant common enemy. So, I guess it just sounds like a bad idea to me, all the way round. I do kind of like the idea of forging some kind of allegiance between the Linux User Community and Apple, however. There, I can see some potential 'win-win' situations. And, if Windows-7 (or whatever) is anywhere near as "good" as VISTA, partnering with Microsoft on ANYTHING would be like tying yourself to a sinking ship. No, I know Microsoft isn't going to go away. But it's not because of their Operating Systems (remember, Windows is not the only product Microsoft makes, and some of the others are quite good). But, 5 years from now, I don't see Microsoft dominating the PC OS World either Now, here's a serious idea. Let's find a true Linux fan, who is also a top notch commercial graphic artist, and get him to design and donate professional (but simple) looking packaging that users could download and copy. Then get each distro to create the equivalent of Ubuntu's Live Session/Install disk (they may all already have them, for all I know) which, like Ubuntu's, could be downloaded, VERIFIED (so we know we're not spreading buggy install disks around--bad mojo) and copied to any number of disks. Then each Linux user could print up this slick, professional package (maybe as inserts for a CD Jewel case, maybe as a 5 x 7 envelope... whatever), whip off a copy of a Demo/Install disk, and have this highly professional looking copy of the Linux OS. Then, anytime anybody showed the slightest interest in Linux, you could hand them one of these. It'd look like a "real" product. Don't know 'bout the others, but Ubuntu is a cake walk to install (or preview). The packaging would have all the relevant information about where to get help (Mfgrs web sites, Linux forums, etc.), and some good old advertising copy to help these folks make the right decision and switch to Linux. I don't know about you, but I know a couple of guys that'd jump right on printing up the packaging and making the disks--and run right out and start cold-selling everybody coming out of a computer store, or hanging out near the computer stuff in a Home Electronics Department, etc. I'd do it (sans the fancy packaging, I'm already doing it. So, it's time for the bottom line here. If you really want to see Linux get a boost into the real world, forget any kind of anything with Microsoft and, instead, either pursue something with Apple, or (best idea) harness some of the wealth of energy that's out there in the Linux community, and let the users themselves become a sales force like the world has never seen before. It would cost next to nothing (and the cost would be spread across a wide base), it'd be easy to do, a lot of Linux users would see it as fun, I think. I know I always enjoy badmouthing Windows and touting Linux. And, if the person remains interested, you get to give them a copy of a full blown, full featured Operating System that's better than the Windows they were about to spend between $150 and $350 for--FOR FREE! (That's my favorite part! Handing a disk to someone and reassuring them that it is NOT a crippled "sales version", but the real McCoy, and it's FREE! Now and forever. They will never be asked to renew their subscription, for so many dollars a year, etc, FREE, FREE, FREE! I LOVE it. And, I've made more than just a few converts.) So, that's my 2 cents worth. Microsoft, BAAAD! Apple, mmm OK. Linux, THE BEST! And we don't need no stinking help to rise above the rest. Just like Cream rises, so too will Linux. It's already begining to happen.

RodneyHause
RodneyHause

You've really made some good points in your post! I've been somewhat of a Microsoft tag-a-long only because of the few games I play are Microsoft OS dependant products. I have experimented in the past with different flavors of Linux OS's but I've always gone back to Microsoft as my mainstay for hardware and software compatibility. I've always like Intel over any of the other CPU's for much of the same reasons, even though most of the other cpu's are somewhat less pricier, cheaper isn't always better and you usually get what you pay for! But all said and done, yes, if there were a way to run my games under Linux OS, I would probably find myself converting fully to Linux. I am like most other users and have had my share of bad experiences with Microsoft's so called technical support and long waits on hold for little or no help. On the other had I've had pretty much a more enjoyable experience getting help with issues from the Linux forums and other Linux users online, and I have been the type of person that gets a certain amount of satisfaction out of doing a bit of research and problem solving on my own or with a small bit of help from others online. I do have an interest in the Linux OS and hope to see it grow and become the super OS that I think it has hopes of becoming! Keep up the great work!

Tech b00n
Tech b00n

The only reason I still sit attached to my Windows XP are my games; seriously if hardware and software manufacturers could make games work on Linux OS I wouldn't even bother with Windows except of course to support my users.

zefficace
zefficace

To me, any association with MS makes no sense at all. And I do feel the Mac and Linux communities are closer to cooperation. Anyway, I can't agree upon the idea that MS could help anything, they can't really help themselves (vista). Second, considering the apparent MS culture, a cooperation with Linux in general is a bad sci-fi story, period.

Saurondor
Saurondor

Sorry to be so blunt, but its the truth. Open source doesn't prohibit you from charging for the distribution of the software. It is clear that if you do distribute it you must do it with the source code. The "zero cost" of open source is a product of the distribute with source code and the very competitive market it produces. But it is not a requisite per GPL.

brendan
brendan

If MS is selling a confirmed commitment to support, it's actually in line with Red Hat. And if they bundle on ports of some Office programs, they'd also warrant a charge for the application. Hmm, actually it could make an interesting scaling take - MS puts together a series of distro's, starting with a version with just the Linux features plus a bunch of MS's free .Net programs, then scales it upward as they preinstall more and more of the pricier MS programs.

sidekick
sidekick

Jack, I love this new found open-mindedness, and I would love to see all of this happen, but I think Microsoft would be too afraid of losing it's precious market share. If I could easily run Linux in this Windows world, I would switch the whole company over just so I wouldn't have to deal with the licensing. And let's face it. If Microsoft made it's own version of Linux, it would probably be a bloated piece of crap. Now Apple might be able to get away with some of this since they already have a user friendly Unix based OS. And I believe one can get paid Ubuntu support from Canonical. Great article though. Again, I would love to see all of these things happen.

brendan
brendan

The source of the Bloat problem at MS has always been their need to support backward compatability. One advantage of making a Linux Distro is that they won't have any obligation to make old MS programs work on it, just the new programs they put out. Have the Minwin team keep an eye on the Linux team and I doubt there'll be any bloat concern.

Spiritusindomit
Spiritusindomit

It also has to deal with security and mitigation techniques. They haven't really adopted the sandbox model, outside of the sandbox framework, and they also support a lot of (perfectly awesome) technologies like direct x. As a developer who works on all 3 major OSes, I can tell you, when it comes to graphics, I want to do as much as possible in Direct X. I will say they are a bit too service heavy, but ubuntu and suse by default are worse about it imho.