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LinuxPlanet: The StartX Files: How Linux Could Lose to Microsoft

May 09, 2001, 04:01 (118 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Brian Proffitt)

With Mr. Mundie's speech last week, many in the Linux community took the opportunity to let out a collective, barbaric "Yawp!" and commence gleeful bashing. While it may have relieved a lot of stress, it didn't do anything to promote Linux and may well have been the best response Redmond could have hoped for. In this week's column, Brian Proffitt argues that while a horselaugh may well be worth a thousand syllogisms, the arrogance it connotes is PR gold for Microsoft.

"By coming out last week and declaring open season on open source, Microsoft has unleashed an onslaught of invective from the Linux community more scorching than the time my uncle caught me looking at his Playboys when I was eight (my ears are still burning from that one). But this may be the wrong approach for us to take.

A lot of people wrote me an asked me what I thought of the whole affair and frankly I am still shaking my literary head at the nonsense. And I am not alone. My colleagues in the so called "mainstream" press (read: Microsoft-friendly) are also wondering what the heck is going on. Why would Microsoft aim itself at the open source and free software concepts, rather than the Linux operating system itself, they ask rhetorically.

They know the answer, of course: Linux is unlike any challenger Microsoft has ever seen. No one really owns Linux, a fact that scares the bejeezus out of the execs in Redmond. There is no one thing to emulate, nothing really in the Linux technology they want to "embrace and extend." Nothing except the overriding philosophies themselves: the GPL and the Open Source concepts.

And so that's where we found ourselves last Thursday, laughing like hyenas at Microsoft's shared source concept. In talkback after talkback, we (myself included) poked fun at the mighty software giant trying to clothe itself in the very best free and open source software has to offer-all the while stressing that while code would be shared, everyone had to remember that the code always belongs to Microsoft.

After I sobered up from the hijinks, I realized that Linux itself could be in for an interesting fight with Microsoft, despite Microsoft's apparent blundering into this arena. I say apparent because I don't think Microsoft is making mistakes here."

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