"Q: Microsoft has beaten companies touting free software
before. But as one of your former executives pointed out, Linux is
a completely different kind of free. There is no single company
promoting it. There are people voluntarily coding for it. Do these
aspects change how you compete against them.
"A: We have competed with things that had no price attached with
them before. There is a clear set of guideposts for adding value to
customers to differentiate you from the guy who has no price or a
lower price. It is a different model in the sense that there is no
commercial company behind it, but I think that winds up being an
advantage for us, rather than a disadvantage.
"In what respect?
"Innovation is not something that is easy to do in the kind of
distributed environment that the open-source/Linux world works in.
I would argue that our customers have seen a lot more innovation
from us than they have seen from that community.
"Linux itself is a clone of an operating system that is 20-plus
years old. That's what it is. That is what you can get today, a
clone of a 20-year-old system. I'm not saying that it doesn't have
some place for some customers, but that is not an innovative