Thursday, 21 October 2004

Microsoft advised to learn to love Linux - ZDNet UK News

A good way for a mgt guru to get headlines, but does it really have any merit? I'd agree that the basic premise is sound: Linux does appear on devices, and drag apps off onto the Internet or the open-source market. Is it a threat to Microsoft? Sure, quite a refreshing one for the market, and even for Microsoft, I expect. Killing them? Hardly. Not even close, I'd argue. The key variables for predicting tech future are the standards: how mature they are, and who owns them. MS Office is still the de facto office standard, and MS are contemplating moving it onto the Internet as a rented service. So they can and do change their business models.

Open standards merely provide MS with a choice: to adhere to them completely, or to 'extend' the standards, ensuring that they can read such standards, but that compatibility is merely a non-default choice for the customer. Simple example: MS Office for Mac 2004 cannot read MS Powerpoint 2003 for Windows XP files. The message there is "unless you use our OS, you get token compatibility".

The only love I can see MS extending to Linux is a token: thanks for providing some competition and hopefully keeping the monopolies commissions off our back.

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