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VNU Net: Linux is big rival, says Microsoft

Sep 12, 2000, 19:03 (28 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Jo Ticehurst)

By Jo Ticehurst, VNU Net

Linux has joined heavyweights IBM and Sun Microsystems on Microsoft's list of major rivals.

According to Microsoft president and chief executive Steve Ballmer, Sun, IBM, Oracle, America Online and "the phenomenon of Linux" are currently the biggest threats to the software giant. "But I'm not sure which [Linux] companies to name," he added.

Speaking via a satellite link-up to IDC's European IT Forum, Ballmer struggled to be heard over a crossed line and despite Microsoft's previous investments in satellite technology, delegates were unable to view Ballmer on screen. Instead they had to be content with listening to his voice while viewing two huge black and while photographs of the Microsoft executive.

Ballmer said Microsoft is also wary of a few startups such as RealNetworks and Palm, but added that they were only a threat in a niche area of the giant's business. "None of these [startups] are very broad competitors," he said.

Ballmer described the industry as being in the third phase of the internet. "Phase one was all about having a presence, to be on the net. It was not about how much business you did or how much profit you made. Phase two was all about getting eyeballs and transaction collection. Phase three is all about effective business operations and a focus on doing business better." However, "some companies haven't done this yet," he said.

He said Microsoft's recently launched .net initiative is aimed at helping companies achieve this third phase.

"We needed a platform to reflect the reality of the internet. .net has to do with having a more flexible operations model and needing to integrate your business with others. To implement this vision we need to focus on internet standards like XML," he said.

"We believe in rich-client computing and also believe in a world where software evolves to be a service. You won't need to think about installing software anymore, it will be done over the internet," he added.

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