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LinuxUser & Developer: Microsoftens

Mar 01, 2003, 10:00 (20 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Eben Moglen)

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"There's plenty of uneasiness in Redmond, Washington, these days. Microsoft has begun to internalize the recognition that the next, and quite probably final, period of its existence will be dominated by competition with free software. That competition presents challenges the monopoly has never faced before, and already it has become necessary, at what Microsoft hopes is still an early stage in the confrontation, to take steps that no other competitor has ever had the power to force.

"Competing with free software is problematic for Microsoft for many reasons. There's no company to acquire, in the first place, in order to incorporate or suppress attractive competing products--a strategy that the monopoly has pursued so often and so successfully in the past. Because free software is continually modified and improved by all its users, there's no 'evolutionary dead end' argument with which to scare customers: someone choosing to use free software is never going to be left with an unserviceable product whose maker has gone out of business, leaving the code 'orphaned' in the face of constantly shifting technology. Microsoft's implicit message to its customers has been 'We're always going to exist; our competitors, whose products you are considering, won't last forever.' But technically sophisticated corporate and governmental users now realize that the free software codebase will last indefinitely, capable of renewal and replacement for as long as its users need it. No matter how long Microsoft lasts, free software will last longer..."

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