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VNU Net: Microsoft breakup could harm Linux vendors

Jun 28, 2000, 18:12 (12 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by John Geralds)

By John Geralds, VNU Net

Splitting Microsoft in two could be bad news for companies developing applications for the Linux platform, according to researcher IDC.

Earlier this month, a US judge ordered that Microsoft be split into an applications developer and an operating systems supplier. Dan Kusnetzky, vice president of IDC's software research team, believes that the applications business could smother the Linux applications market with Linux versions of its popular Word and Excel packages.

"The applications business could address the up-and-coming Linux client markets and could place energy into porting Microsoft server products over to other operating environments, including Linux and Unix. We're not convinced Microsoft would take that approach, but it could," said Kusnetzky.

He added that Microsoft would prove tough competition for Corel and Applix, as well as other companies that make similar Linux-based applications. Microsoft could also produce its own version of Linux to compete against Red Hat, Caldera and others.

"What would stop it from coming up with Microsoft Linux?" asked Kusnetzky. "It would have command of every major channel and partner."

Another part of the judge's order is that Microsoft should not penalise partners who choose to endorse competitive technologies. "This order, coming when it does with the growing interest in Linux, is certain to give this open source phenomenon a major boost," said Kusnetzky.

He also said the order would free heavy hitters such as Dell and Compaq to go after Linux system sales without fear of a backlash from Microsoft, adding that this could hurt companies that make Linux system hardware.

Microsoft has failed to comment on the IDC report.

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