[ The opinions expressed by authors on Linux Today are their
own. They speak only for themselves and not for Linux Today.
I've read time and again that what Linux needs to kick butt on
the desktop is Microsoft Office. I disagree! Those of us
who choose not to use Microsoft software (usually because of our
Microsoft experience) are quickly branded as zealots who fail to
see the business side. Those on the other side could be depicted
unfavorably as well. All of this misses some vital points... and
bothers me because I'm an avid capitalist who champions open
Let's look at this. First, many say that the desktop would
quickly be ceded to Linux if MS office were ported. Perhaps.
It certainly would validate Linux for many, but it could be a nest
of snakes. Linux isn't Microsoft. (thankfully) Would a
Microsoft split mandate MS Linux Office? Perhaps, but again
this is also a rush to judgment.Any move by
Microsoft away from their roots violates the three principles that
cement Microsoft dominance. Is Microsoft evil? Well, let's
look at the principles and you decide if there is evil afoot.
Principle one. It's got to be FUD,
or more particularly the fear aspect. As long as computers
don't work right there is a fear factor that running non-Microsoft
software could make it worse. Irrational you say? Let's wake
up! Microsoft dominates Windows ware, yet Ami-Pro beat Word to
the punch and was a hands down press favorite for several years...
to achieve 4% of the market share by Word 6.0. Why? Microsoft
refused to play ball. It was all about file formats, even though
Ami-Pro could read and write Word 2.0.
Principle two. It's still FUD. This
time it's uncertainty. What if I want to do a Ph.D. level
statistical analysis of my office budget and put in in the margins
and foot notes of my office memos? Microsoft is king of the
monolithic application... and producing it is killing them!
Inherent to their design philosophy is an absurd feature and
complexity bloat. As long as this is the defined
standard there is no sane answer... regardless of
whether they can be beat here.
Principle three. Eliminate the
competition, usually by cutting off their air supply. Since this is
not classically possible with Linux it is a very dangerous
playground for Microsoft to cede the other two principles and
validate the competition.
Is Microsoft evil? An argument could be made that a move to
Linux would negate many if not all these issues and Make Microsoft
play nice. That would be rather naïve. The primary
advantage Microsoft enjoys in it's monolithic world is that people
do most of their work in a very few applications. Whether it
is simpler or better than a group of small focused applications is
irrelevant. What is relevant is that people have grown very
familiar with those products. People will go through hell to
maintain the comfort of familiarity. People don't like to
change... but they can't avoid it, can they? Microsoft
turns that world upside down every couple years anyway doesn't
The problem with Microsoft and software is that people have
no idea what a new paradigm should be like.Microsoft
is design by marketing imperative like legacy issues,
features and stability trade offs and more. The reason People like
Linux is more than it being good and stable. The very
opportunity for Linux to grow is in the striking difference of a
principled technological design. Now with new office
applications coming from KDE and GNOME there is a new generation of
free desktop applications on the way with a new way of doing
things. It's called parts. People pick and choose the
components in their computers. Why not in software? What if I
like XYZ's layout widget better than ABC's? Since change is
inevitable either from Microsoft's revenue requirements or the
Linux alternative it would seem to be a good thing to encourage a
really new paradigm with new and exciting ways of getting things
done in a spirit of open cooperation and productivity that will
make the last decade seem like the dark ages.
The biggest impediment to such open interaction is
Microsoft. Do we want MS Word 2000 to be the file format
standard until they can get an upgrade out? How about data
capable SGML or XML based standard file formats arrived at by a
standards organization? Look at how the internet has grown
with standards. MS Office may be what the masses are comfortable
with today, but why? Just like the operating system, standard
shrink wrapped office software will become difficult to sell in the
face of excellent open source projects. In the the coming years the
user will become proactive in their software, choices will flourish
and software features and integration will exceed today's wish
lists. Inevitably there is likely nothing Microsoft can do about
the impending changes, but by being their usual arrogant heavy
handed self they are perhaps the best marketing arm for Linux.
I think it's important that we remember that today's software
battle is not just Linux vs Microsoft or open vs closed, but
freedom, vision and collaboration vs restriction, absurd design
and cooperation by edict. Finally let's focus on what we
can control, open source projects that provide better
alternatives... not an invasion from Redmond.
Some of the products that appear on this site are from companies from which QuinStreet receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site including, for example, the order in which they appear. QuinStreet does not include all companies or all types of products available in the marketplace.