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Rant Mode Equals One -- Linux Today: "Microsoft can't compete"

Sep 12, 2000, 07:04 (26 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Paul Ferris)

By Paul Ferris

Windows is not a serious threat to Linux and is unlikely to ever be a true competitor, according to Linux advocate Paul Ferris.

In a wide-ranging interview with Linux Today, Mr Ferris said that the proprietary nature of the software and the fact that Microsoft is so anti-competitive has prevented a lot of companies from making long-term investments necessary for the operating system to become a serious rival to Linux.

"The myths of Windows just don't add up," he said. "It's not free, although people think it is because hardware vendors bundle PCs with it pre-installed under anti-competitive contracts. It costs the average PC tax-payer and corporate user hundreds of dollars that they can save with Linux. Add to this fact the cost of constant upgrades, incessant system crashes, poor network management tools and shoddy software quality -- you have a product that doesn't hold a candle to truly open solutions, such as LINUX."

"Even one of Microsoft's own lawyers recently presented as part of their defense in a federal court the fact that Linux is a serious threat to Windows. They also stated that the market has become so competitive that they face some serious challenges. I would wager that it's much worse than they are letting on, and that if the truth were more widely known, their stock price would be falling at a much higher rate of speed than it is now."

Mr Ferris also disputed the validity of Microsoft's business strategy, saying that the company's view of the world relied upon people constantly buying new expensive and cumbersome computers that were becoming increasingly more pointless as hand-held and embedded Linux solutions took over the majority of the computing landscape.

"The reality is that the Personal Computer as we know has become too glued-down -- network-centric ideas, such as wire-less hand held devices, phones, and even kitchen appliances have slimmed-down footprints. These new devices don't rely upon bloated legacy software and applications, such as Microsoft Office. They just need to access standards-compliant network applications -- email and Web browsing, for example."

"The world has opened up to the endless possibilities of the Internet, and Microsoft hasn't realized that they are no longer needed as an operating systems provider. Heck, you can get literally dozens of free operating systems, and even some office suites right off of the Internet, free of charge and freely shareable -- why anyone would pay hundreds of dollars for technology like that is beyond me."

"GNU/Linux is based upon proven technology that has been developed over the course of better than 30 years by some of the finest computing minds on the planet. Since its creation in 1991 it has always been a free operating system," he went on to say. That's free, as in zero procurement costs, and free as in free speech, Mr Ferris said, "And the communities that surround the products such as Linux have always focused on helping people do great things with their lives. That hasn't changed and never will change."

"Thanks to these new computing paradigms and a growing awareness by the populations of the internet connected masses -- the world is now changing in a positive direction. People, not large greedy corporations, are gaining more control of the technology that empowers their lives."

Mr Ferris went on to explain that Linux had the highest share of systems that provided web pages to people surfing the Internet, and that Apache, the free Open Source web server, had a over 3 to 1 margin over its closest competitor -- Microsoft IIS. "IIS is dead. Its market share has been dropping and I've even seen it drop 1 or 2 points in a month. Why some people continue to use legacy Windows systems to do important, mission critical things like file and web serving is beyond me, especially considering the fact that Open Source alternatives are more stable and not bound by expensive contracts."

Mr Ferris also went on to point out that the communities surrounding Linux and other open source projects have no revenue streams or corporate shareholders to be accountable to, so the end results are products that have no planned obsolescence, better adherence to protocols and that customers can count on to be there in the long run.

"Microsoft's chairman Bill Gates has stated in public that Microsoft's main competitor is its own installed base of customers -- I don't know about you, but the idea of buying from someone who considers me an 'enemy' -- it just goes against my grain."

Mr Ferris said he remained confident that the marketplace would be competitive for years to come. He also said that Linux would surprise even the most clueless of market analysts and journalists by gaining a sizeable desktop share in the next couple of years.

Mr Ferris is in Louisville, Ohio, and serves as the Director of Technology for the Linux and Open Source channel at internet.com. His mailbox is always open; he can be reached via email at paulmferris@yahoo.com.

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