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Re: Ballmer Suddenly Pretends Linux Not a Threat

  • Subject: Re: Ballmer Suddenly Pretends Linux Not a Threat
  • From: Mark Kent <mark.kent@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 19 Oct 2006 11:58:47 +0100
  • Newsgroups: comp.os.linux.advocacy
  • References: <1161197374.052859.172780@m7g2000cwm.googlegroups.com> <LvvZg.27663$H7.9147@edtnps82> <1161219098.997639.76290@m73g2000cwd.googlegroups.com>
  • User-agent: slrn/ (Linux)
  • Xref: news.mcc.ac.uk comp.os.linux.advocacy:1172190
begin  oe_protect.scr 
Rex Ballard <rex.ballard@xxxxxxxxx> espoused:
> Oliver Wong wrote:
>> "Roy Schestowitz" <newsgroups@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote in message
>> news:1161197374.052859.172780@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
>> > Steve Ballmer at EPS
>> >
>> > ,----[ Quote ]
>> > | One question from the floor was answered in an interesting
>> > | way. It concerned the threat of Linux, and the surprising
>> > | (but in retrospect obvious) answer was that Linux wasn't
>> > | the threat, it was new business models that were the threat.
>> > `----
> This is actually a very accurate statement.  

I must dispute.  The statement is quite wrong, Linux /is/ the threat,
but /so is/ the threat of open-source business models generally.  If
he'd said "Linux isn't the only threat", then that would be correct.

> Linux doesn't even try to
> stop people from using or purchasing Linux.  Linux has always been
> willing to "play nice" with Windows, and has even provided the ability
> to run Licensed versions of Windows as an application running under the
> Linux kernel.
> Linux is normally installed by End Users, who seem quite willing to pay
> for a machine which includes Windows (they won't boycott machines
> because they run Windows), and Microsoft has no problem selling huge
> volumes of OEM licenses to the top 5 OEMs who ship 99% of their
> computers with Windows, even when Windows isn't needed by corporate
> customers.
> On the other hand, the Linux business model has created a huge amount
> of product that competes toe-to-toe with Microsoft.  Users are using
> FireFox instead of IE, they are using OpenOffice instead of MS-Office.
> They are using cygwin, putty, and other Linux based applications that
> run on Windows - and cut into Microsoft's key markets.
> Both IBM and Oracle use Linux to "sweeten" their DB2 and Oracle
> offerings.  Apache has eclipsed IIS.  And even a bigger problem, many
> developers have opted to use Linux and Java APIs instead of Microsoft
> "Windows Only" APIs.  This is eroding that "applications barrier to
> entry" and, could be much like a small leak in a huge dam.  If there is
> enough water pressure behind the leak, and there is enough weakness
> around that initial leak, the dam can quickly burst and flash-flood.
> Steve Ballmer is a bit like the kid with his finger plugging the hole
> in the dike.  If he doesn't keep it plugged, he risks a massive burst,
> but if he doesn't relieve the pressure, by making some concessions to
> the OSS movement, he could risk losing the entire market in a matter of
> months, even weeks.
> And this is a particularly sensitive time for Microsoft.  They
> strong-armed many corporations into signing 3 year contracts for
> Windows XP 3 years ago, and these contracts will begin to expire this
> month.  When these contracts expire, Microsoft has demonstrated that
> the Licenses can expire too.  Playing this "ace" could pressure a
> company into immediately resigning a new contract, or making a
> retaliatory switch to Linux, or into the cheapest possible contract,
> which they will cancel after making their switch to Linux.
>> > http://bankervision.typepad.com/bankervision/2006/10/steve_ballmer_a.html
>> >
>> > Interesting. In the a recent press conference he listed it as
>> > one of the top threats, alongside Google. It's a form of FUD
>> > when someone disregards a known threat.
> The biggest problem with Google isn't the service, it's the fact that
> Google, a company who has been extremely profitable, has been this
> profitable partly BECAUSE of Linux.  Many of the companies who pay huge
> royalties to Microsoft for their technology, are looking at companies
> like Google, and thinking it might be time to look at an OSS based
> infrastructure, and even if they opt for DB2 or Oracle, they might
> decide to eliminate Microsoft completely.
>>  The blogger you quoted from seems to think it's a bit more complicated than that:
>> <quote>
>> Steve [Ballmer] said "we can't do open source, but we compete on functionality".
> Ballmer could do open source, and has pretended to try, but they are
> unwilling to commit to a strategy that doesn't require users to "lock
> themselves in" to Microsoft's technology.
>> In other words, you might pay, but you get more.
> And yet, those who have hands-on experience with FireFox often
> experience just the opposite.  Those who have hands-on experience with
> OpenOffice may not feel they get enough more to justify huge additional
> expenses for upgrades, maintenance contracts, and other revenue
> commitments to Microsoft - at previous levels.
> We have already seen a trend that indicates that many companies who are
> renewing support contracts at far lower levels.  Downgrading from
> "platinum" service to "bronze", or it's functional equivalent.  It's a
> bit like the guy who has a choice between the Hampden Inn at $50/night,
> or the Marriot at $300 per night.  When he has to be at the client's at
> 7 AM and won't be done until 10 PM, the popular features of the Marriot
> just don't merit the extra $250 per nite - especially if it's for 4
> nights.  An extra $1000 for what?  A free drink, fresher eggs, and a
> desert at the VIP lounge?  If it's the company's money, you might still
> do it, but if they keep rejecting portions of your expense reports
> because you didn't take the negotiated rate, you might seriously think
> about switching to the cheaper hotel.
> Decision makers who decide to spend $millions of other people's money
> then leave the consequences on someone else's doorstep tend to get very
> unpopular over time.  Many of the IT managers who signed those original
> Microsoft Support contracts 3 years ago, won't be there to sign the
> contracts this year.  Many of their replacements were charged with
> formulating an "exit strategy" that would allow them to make a clean
> and sudden transition from Windows to "not windows" as quickly as
> possible.  Nearly 80% of the laptop and desktop machines purchased by
> corporate IT departments could be converted from Windows to Linux
> within an hour.  Some CEOs, like Sam Palmisano have even declared that
> 2007 is the year they switch to Linux.
>> That's an  interesting position.
>> Actually, the market data that Microsoft shows on this
>> subject suggest that both Linux and Windows are gaining share, at the
>> expense of Novell and Unix and the other players.
> Keep in mind that a single UNIX server has gone from a 4 processor
> Sun/400 class machine to a 64 processor server connected to 200
> terabyte storage arrays and subdivided into 20-30 partitions that can
> draw from the "pool" based on the load requirements of the system.
> Conversely, Windows servers are still 4 usually processor or 2
> processor rack mount or blade servers, often using internal twin SCSI
> drives for applications and SAN attached shared RAID arrays that may
> TOTAL less than 5 terabytes.
> And Linux is often clusters, in a choreographed dance that spreads
> massive workloads across a cage of 100 or so blades.  And of course we
> have the "Linux mainframes" which are Linux "virtual machines" running
> in a single Z series server, which can run thousands of these little
> machines, depending on the loads.
>> Steve made another interesting point: Linux doesn't really have a monetised
>> business model, so it is likely to be always around.
> True.  And companies who build their architectures on Linux have more
> money available for R&D on "product differentiation", "customization
> services" and other ways of getting massive RETURN on that minimal
> investment.
> With Microsoft, you can spend a huge portion of your IT budget on
> Royalties, CALs, and Support contracts alone.  Then you spend more on
> security, antiviruses, antispyware, and then even more on monolithic
> "Shrink-Wrapped" applications, and more on learning those applications,
> and even more trying to make them work with all the other "Shrink
> Wrapped" applications.  Then you need the "Hands on" and "on site"
> teams who can physically interact with the administrative graphical
> user interface.  The expenses can rack up to some huge numbers.
> But to Microsoft, this is a GOOD thing, that more of your IT budget
> goes to Microsoft.
>> Even if it loses in functionality to Microsoft,
> A bogus assumption.  He arrogantly assumes that all OSS applications
> are inherantly inferior to the solutions on Microsoft.  He also implies
> that all applications (including commercial applications such as
> WebSphere, Oracle, BEA, SAP, Java,...) will not function as well as
> applications made exclusively for and by Microsoft.
> It's subversive, and very carefully worded. He doesn't actually make
> the claim that it DOES loses functionality to Microsoft, but predicates
> the conclusion on the false assumption, which the listener or reader is
> willing to accept - as fact?
>> there's no business to go out of business.
> Quite the contrary.  The business that gains or loses is the business
> that USES Linux.  This includes the companies who blend Linux with
> commercial products to reduce the overall cost of their solution.  It
> includes the companies who combine Linux, OSS, and commercial software
> with consulting, to provide a "custom fit" solution at an "off the
> rack" price.
> And there are companies like Google, who make Linux a strategic element
> of their business.  Using linux gives them the ability to expand
> capacity to meet demand and not sacrifice performance and availability.
>  How many times have you gone to google and got a "server down, come
> back later" message?  Compare this to the number of times you have to
> reboot your PC or restart an application.
>> He expected that in 10 years time, he'd still be talking about Linux vs.
>> Windows share, but hoped that he'd be able to report Windows taking share
>> from Linux.
>> </quote>
> It's possible.  If the "dam bursts", and Linux suddenly has 75% of the
> market (based on quarterly and annual unit volumes), Microsoft could
> very well be looking for how it will get back some of that market
> share.  This would be especially true if the OEMs an corporate
> customers decide that they don't like the Baskin Robbins Vista EULA.
>>     As an aside, thanks for the link to this blog. It's not always
>> technology (nevermind Linux) related, but quite fascinating to me. Good
>> blogs are rare these days.
> It's great to see them in this group, where they can be discussed
> openly.
>>     - Oliver

| Mark Kent   --   mark at ellandroad dot demon dot co dot uk  |
Department chairmen never die, they just lose their faculties.

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