"Steve Ballmer was the only person to raise the issue of
Linux when he wrapped up Microsoft's annual financial analysts
meeting in Seattle, although he put Sun and Oracle ahead in terms
of being stronger competitors. They of course are 'civilised'
competitors - but the Linux crowd, in the world of Prez Steve, are
"Ballmer wanted "to emphasise the competitive threat, and in
some senses the competitive opportunity, that Linux represents.
Linux is a tough competitor. There's no company called Linux,
there's barely a Linux road map. Yet Linux sort of springs
organically from the earth. And it had, you know, the
characteristics of communism that people love so very, very much
about it. That is, it's free. [Outlook Express is free, and also
sometimes lets strangers share your hard disk - is this anarchism?
- Ed] And I'm not trying to make fun of it, because it's a real
competitive issue. Today, I would say, we still don't see a lot of
Linux competition in most quarters on the desktop, and we see a lot
of Linux competition in some server markets. And we could either
say, hey, Linux is going to roll over the world, but I don't see
that happening. That's not what's going on right now."
"Ballmer though Microsoft should "go back into some of the ISP
markets and ASP markets where Linux has been historically strong
and start to compete more successfully. Not on price, not on the
free nature of our stuff, but as we get better development tools,
as we make it easier for people to debug their software, as we have
sort of a development approach that facilitates the applications
that ISPs have been writing, I think we have a real opportunity to,
if you will, push back into some of the markets that have been real
Linux strongholds. But Linux has too, with its free price point,
and the fact that it runs on the same hardware we do, so we have no
hardware advantage versus Linux, which we do tend to have with some
of our other competitors, it certainly is something very, very much
on our radar screen."
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