"...Because Linux is not necessarily a boxed product,
newcomers have a hard time understanding exactly what they are
faced with. You can sense the impact of this new reality in the
language Microsoft now uses to describe its products. Windows XP is
called "the latest Operating System," "based on the NT kernel."
Even the New York Times, a publication which should know better,
parrotted the phrase. Before Linux, new releases were simply
"versions," and there was no mention of NT's kernel. It's a clever
ploy to condition consumers to see Linux as less than the latest,
and the NT kernel as an object of desire.
Although Microsoft appears to be hard at work convincing
customers that the future belongs to boxed products (theirs), much
of Bill Gates' activities over the past few years shows that he
realizes that the future will look very different, and almost
certainly does not belong to Operating Systems. G2 Computer
Intelligence, Inc. provides an interesting summary of over 170
Microsoft acquisitions and investments approaching $20 billion by
2000, showing that Redmond is reaching in all directions to ensure
it doesn't miss the next boat.
Then there's .NET. Remember the auto ad which said something
like "lead, follow, or get out of the way?" Seeing a brave new
world in which all kinds of devices and operating environments
communicate routinely, Microsoft had little choice but to attempt
to establish a leading environment which would place it at the
center of the next stage in computing. But while Microsoft is
providing "boxed" .NET products such as Visual Studio for its
development community, it cannot escape the fact that the most
important parts of .NET are open standards, not proprietary
products. Worse, several projects are underway to implement Open
Source versions of .NET, which will make it possible to remove
Microsoft from the equation entirely."