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The Economist: Bill's big roll-out

Sep 23, 1999, 16:50 (39 Talkback[s])

"Is Microsoft a computing dinosaur struggling to adjust to the Internet or an unstoppable juggernaut? More of the second-but the road is getting rougher..."

"Matthew Nordan, an analyst with Forrester Research, says that, even though few Unix shops expect to defect now, the combination of Microsoft's volume pricing model and the "withering" of the Unix skills base will ensure the success of Windows 2000. "It's an immutable reality," he argues. Despite the renewed efforts of Hewlett-Packard and IBM in the Unix market, only Sun appears to have the momentum and support to see off the threat. The wild card is Linux, the fast-growing (and free) Unix-based operating system. According to IDC, a research firm, Linux is taking about 17% of the server market and growing at the expense of both NT and other Unix systems. It may lack the features of Windows 2000, but because its source code is open it can be easily fixed or modified. And free is free..."

"And even though Mr Ballmer appears to be embracing the notion of applications hosting on the web, this is a model that spells danger for Microsoft. Such software may well be offered free by rivals, such as Sun with its new personal productivity suite, with the money being made up on services-an area where Microsoft is weak. The threat to Office may be distant, but it is real."

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