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PC Magazine: Linux: An Underdog Emerges

Mar 25, 1999, 10:04 (1 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Michael J. Miller)

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"Pundits in the industry--including yours truly--have long been saying that the greatest threat to Microsoft isn't another large company but rather someone no one has heard of. The idea sounded good, but when we all started saying it, it was just a theory. Now that theory is being put to the test. The concept has some history behind it. From the sixties until the mid-eighties, IBM was the clear master of the computing universe. While IBM saw larger companies such as Digital Equipment Corp. and AT&T as its major competitors, its role was actually usurped by the then-little-known Microsoft. In the transition from big systems to personal computers, a new leader emerged."

"At first this was just a curiosity. But other "open-source" software such as the Web server Apache and the scripting language PERL soon appeared as well. Such software eventually became an integral part of the Internet, running a huge percentage of the Web--all without attracting too much notice. (We first covered Linux in 1997 and Apache in 1996; later in this issue, we take a closer look at the open-source movement.)"

"This poses a major threat to Microsoft, which has so far jealously guarded its source code as the source of its great profit margins. In fact, it has been pretty well blindsided by open-source's acceptance. Of course, Microsoft has faced its distractions lately, in the form of a prolonged antitrust case, just as IBM had been in when Microsoft first came to prominence."

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