[ The opinions expressed by authors on Linux Today are their
own. They speak only for themselves and not for Linux Today.
By Paul Ferris, Staff
the PR side, we have begun an ‘aggressive leak campaign’ for MS-DOS
5.0. The goal is to build anticipation for MS-DOS 5.0, and diffuse
potential excitement/momentum from the DR DOS 5.0
Let’s review the current vaporware and stallware lineup:
“Wait! Windows DNA is going to change the way you build Internet
“Wait! Don’t bet your office applications on Star Office from
Sun, Microsoft is going to do it
one better with their Office suite.”
“Wait! Don’t invest in other directory services! Active
Directory is going to be better.”
Let me write the future press quotes:
Wait [some Microsoft-based Internet technology] is going to be
better than the tools available today. Just give us a year. We
I’d like to drive a stake into the vaporware vampire, here and
now. But first, let’s turn fantasy mode on.
Fantasy Mode Equals One
Windows 2000 and this DNA stuff turns out to be everything that
Microsoft says it’s going to be. Let’s go even further, and suppose
that somehow Microsoft Office is going to work well on everything,
including palmtops, Cell Phones and non-Windows platforms. Let’s
suppose that Active Directory turns out to be a great thing, even
better than what Novell and
Netscape are offering today.
Let’s even give them a year to do it in.
Now, back to reality. We’re talking a year – Internet time. A
year of change brought about by the Internet is like the amount of
change that has taken place in the past 5 years getting squoze down
into 12 short months.
And Microsoft would have you wait it out for their PC-centric
Let’s use directory services as an example. Those who wait on
the technology, which does appear to be very good, are in my
opinion really shorting themselves. Why? Because they could have
all the benefits from a couple of decent suppliers right now. If
they really have a yearning for the proposed Microsoft version of
the technology, they could at least plan a migration to it should
it pan out to be as good as what the others are offering.
At most they will have paid a few thousand dollars for some
extra software and gained the benefit of directory services for at
least a year. You can’t tell me that Microsoft won’t have some
crummy migration tool when their product arrives later. If it’s not
better, which is a pretty good bet, then things will be even
The idea that I’m trying to amplify here, is that Vaporware was
something that a lot of people were willing to take a risk on when
it was just desktop innovation at stake. Why? Because desktop
innovation is mostly driven by Individual innovation as
compared to Network innovation which depends upon
harnessing the power of interconnections and group
When you were dealing with Personal (there’s that individual
mind-set, built right into the word) Computing, you could afford to
wait for a while as new technology settled into place from
Microsoft. Never mind that the Mac had a lot of the things that
Microsoft was working on – it wasn’t as big a problem as today,
when the innovations actually effect the way your company deals
with other companies.
Today, the Internet has spawned a technological race. The
Internet is far more change intensive, far more diverse, and far
more important as far as innovation is concerned. It’s also far
more key to business revenue.
Think of all of the changes to GNU/Linux just in the past year
alone. Think of how much has happened since September of 1998. It
at times seems a decade ago. Linux
Today, a web site I cannot imagine living without, was born
just a short year ago – yet the news that has rolled across the
wire seems to harken back to the dark ages.
Linux develops on Internet time. Linux and the Internet are
actually quite hard to separate. The thing we all call Linux, which
a lot of people get as static snapshots on CD-ROMs is actually
never quite in a state of “stasis” itself.
It’s almost alive. And the Internet depends upon Linux even as
Linux depends upon the Internet. It’s very much a situation of real
Are you willing to bet your company infrastructure upon
technology that is going to arrive in a year when a competitor,
sensing what’s up, can use the tools offered by the Free
Software/Open Source community today? Linux has so much to offer
and it has all of the features that Microsoft is promising but two:
It’s here right now and it’s not going to lock you into Windows
2000 as a base.
If you really get down to it, it’s a guarantee that it will work
with existing protocols and future ones as long as they are open
standards. Since the source code is open the standards or even
defacto standards can be implemented on other systems, even if they
are foreign. Even if they are Microsoft, such as PERL works with NT
But even if you disagree with me there, you have to see the
important point: Linux, FreeBSD, Free Software, Open Source and
even proprietary solutions such as Novell and Solaris are tools
that are available and work today.
These tools are network centric, not Personal Computer centric.
Possibly Microsoft’s very name goes to the core of the problem –
the “Micro” is referring to PC computing itself. That paradigm is
not going to die, but the focus of change being upon desktop
innovation is. The focus is now upon Internet innovation.
If you must have vaporware then think about this: Give Linux a
year of Internet based development, and we’ll see the problem
amplified for tomorrow. Linux as an Internet tool when Windows 2000
actually ships will be even further ahead of where Microsoft is
aiming today, because they are aiming to be where Linux is right
now. It’s not just where do you want to go?, but
when do you want to be there.
Getting back to the three technologies mentioned at the
Sun has the office product today that people want. It’s free,
sure. It’s likely going to cut into Microsoft’s revenue, without a
doubt. But ultimately it’s real strength lies in the fact that it’s
here, period. Microsoft would not promise such a product because
they don’t want such interoperability: it hurts their monopoly
status to produce such a thing, therefore they got left in the
Novell and Netscape have directory services today that work with
just about darn near everything. Will they cost more or less? Who
knows? Will these products cut into Microsoft’s revenue stream? Who
cares? The point is that if you want network directory services you
can get the benefits now, not later.
What of Microsoft Digital interNet Architecture? Linux and a
host of Free Software tools offer that functionality today. The
Free is less important than the time. Linux today offers you those
tools a full year of Internet time ahead of when Microsoft
might offer them.
The tool set has less perceived support, less marketing push,
less of a lot of other things as well, such as bugs for example.
But it’s here – now.
Microsoft would have you wait a year to implement a solution
that will likely lock you into their camp. A year of Internet time.
Don’t inhale, it’s just not worth it. If it’s all it’s cracked up
to be, you can evaluate it when it arrives.
No, the real Microsoft DNA problem is worse. It’s like Jurassic
park, actually, only without Michael Crichton’s imagination to
resuscitate things. Microsoft has been promising Cairo since 1994,
more in an answer to Steve Job’s object oriented Next than anything
else from what I can remember. It’s been 5 years now, or nearly a
century of Internet time. The delays are not old, they are
The Mammals have arrived and they’re hungry to boot.
Vaporware may not be dead, but the wind is now blowing back into
the Redmond camp, instead of away from it. Microsoft has really
just said “You will have to wait a year before we can give you what
you need to be competitive in this Internet centric world of
And that my friends is why Vaporware is truly dangerous to
Do you have a good Microsoft DNA definition? I’m sure I’ve just
scratched the surface here. Respond below.