Home Messages Index
[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next]
Author IndexDate IndexThread Index

Microsoft CTO on Competing with GNU/Linux (Comes vs. Microsoft â exhibit PX06482)

  • Subject: Microsoft CTO on Competing with GNU/Linux (Comes vs. Microsoft â exhibit PX06482)
  • From: Roy Schestowitz <newsgroups@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 17 Sep 2009 10:08:26 +0100
  • Followup-to: comp.os.linux.advocacy
  • Newsgroups: comp.os.linux.advocacy
  • User-agent: KNode/4.3.1
Hash: SHA1

    From: Jim Fredricksen
    Sent: Friday, October 09, 1998 3:11 PM
    To: Pascal Martin
    Subject: FW: Much ado about Linux

    thx for reminding, jim

    Jim Fredricksen
    Account Manager-OEM Sales
    Tel: (425} 936-7268
    Fax: (425) 936-7329 (bldg 18)

    ââOriginal Messageââ
    From: Raju Gulabanf
    Sent: Thursday, October 08, 1998 7,49 AM
    To; Chameleon Core Team
    Cc: Jawad Khaki; Mike Nash; John Frederiksen; Jennifer Cioffi; Mike Oldham; 
Jim Fredricksen
    Subject: FW Much ado about Linux

    Please handle with care.

    ââOriginal Messageââ
    From: Vinod Valloppilill (Exchange)
    Sent: Wednesday, October 07, 1998 10 05 PM
    To: Open Source Software/Linux (Private) (Exchange DL)
    Subject: FW: Much ado about Linux

    fyiâ interesting reading. direct relevance to server appliance people

    ââOriginal Messageââ
    From: Eric Rudder
    Sent; Wednesday, October 07, 1998 9:42 PM
    To: Vinod Valloppilill (Exchange), Oshoma Momoh; Oliver Sharp
    Subject: FW: Much ado about Linux

    just in case you guys havenât already gotten the fwdâs.


    ââOriginal Messageââ
    From: Nathan Myhrvold
    Sent: Wednesday, October 07, 1998 9:23 PM
    To: Bill Gates; Steve Ballmer (steveb), âpaulmaâ, Eric Rudder; David Stutz; 
Jim Allchin (jimail), Rick Rashid (rashid)
    Subject: Much ado about Linux

    There has been a lot of interest in Linux as a competitor to Microsoft 
operating systems recently and I thought I would add some comments of my own to 
the issue.

    A while back I wrote a memo on free software generally in which I took a 
fairly dim view of it. I wonât repeat all of it here, but the punch line is that 
the only thing more expensive than commercial software with a license fee is 
âfreeâ software. Having the software be âfreeâ means that you cut out only one 
portion of the total cost â and as we all know from TCO studies, the license fee 
for software is only a tiny fraction. Free software needs to be maintained, 
tested and administered. That is where the real cost is. Eliminating the 
software developer only shifts the investment around. In particular, it is an 
inefficient shift because you take maintenance, testing and enhancement away 
from the developer (who can build expertise, economies of scale) and distribute 
it to a chaotic mix of smaller players, or even to end users. So from a basic 
economic viewpoint, âfreeâ software is a fundamentally bad idea.

    Only an idiot thinks that mass market software is expensive compared to any 
metric â cost of hardware, cost of end user time, opportunity costâ My God, even 
the cost of ELECTRICITY to run a PC for a few months to a year is higher than


    Plaintiffâs Exhibit
    Comes V. Microsoft

    MS-CC-MDL 000000113415

    than the cost of the operating system! For a few hundred bucks we deliver 
what â a hundred million lines of code for Windows NT? Try developing that 
yourself for that price. Other commercial OS vendors do likewise. Itâs an 
infinitesimal cost from any perspective.

    Diving into more detail, the âcathedral in the bazaarâ theory is that the 
distributed approach to software development is better. The problem with this is 
that many of the key aspects of software development do not distribute well. 
Testing is the simplest example â if you have a volunteer army of folks writing 
their own extensions, who is going to test it all together?. Testing, as we know 
from bitter experience, does not scale well. You need uniformity and control, 
which you donât get in a distributed, potluck environment where everybody hack 
their own features.

    That covers broad theoretical aspects, but that isnât enough. Even if Linux 
is on a path that ultimately bumps against economic realities, it might take 
years, or even a decade for that to occur. In the meantime it could be an 
important competitor, wreaking havoc with established OS providers. There are 
several ways to look at Linux as a competitor.

    As a desktop phenomenon, I donât think that Linux is very important. The 
application set is too limited, and they are too far behind. The place where 
Unix is very important (i.e. dangerous) is on the server.

    This happens at an interesting time, because server based computing is 
exploding. The Internet creates a vast need for new servers at every level. The 
way I like to look at this is the ratio of CPU cycles (or RAM, disk whatever) on 
your local machine to the CPU cycles done on your behalf on servers â i.e. R = 
(Server CPU cycles) / (Client CPU cycles)

    In the early days of the PC business, R = 0 because there was no servers to 
speak of. These days R = 1% to 5%. This is because every PC is connected to 
servers for email, HTTP or some such, each of which typically has 100 or so 
users. The servers are more capable machines, but overall it still adds up to a 
few percent (try doing the math on your own usage pattern).

    R is going to increase steadily, approaching 1. That is a VAST change in the 

    The âthin clientâ, ânetwork computerâ or âcentralized computingâ fans think 
that R will go to 1 by stealing functionality away from the client (i.e. doing 
word processing or other core PC applications on the server). This is wrong on 
several bases â instead it is new apps and expanded use of old apps (every 
citizen with an email address) that is, and will continue, to drive the 
penetration of new servers.

    There are four significant aspects of Linux as a server OS:

    1. Linux as the OS for server appliances â boxes which provide a very 
limited set of Internet connectivity, email etc for a set of users in a small 

    2 Linux as the new Netware â i.e. a simple network OS that provides a fairly 
limited set of services: file, print, SMTP, HTTP and so forth. In this mode 
application availability is not a big deal because you have a fairly limited set 

    3. Linux as a host for Oracle or another SQL dalabase.

    4. Linux as a host for large scale custom server apps â i.e. Hotmail, 
Amazon.com etc.

    Case 1 is the clearest, so I will treat this first. Simple, boring server 
apps are growing like crazy because everybody needs email, newsgroups and web 
pages. Small business users want something simple. I recently advised somebody 
setting up an office for a couple people. A turn key, appliance like server for 
basic connectivity needs would have made their lives a lot more simple.

    We clearly need to compete like crazy in this space. Technically speaking 
this is where a stripped down embedded version of NT would be very useful â and 
as far as I know this is what we are doing.

    Linux is not a particularly capable competitor in the sense that it has lots 
of special technology. Ideally a server appliance OS would have a lot of 
sophisticated self healing, remote admin and other features. To my knowledge, 
Linux is not at that level â it is being used because it is simple and fairly 
small. NT potentially has MUCH more to offer in this area. It also has some 
drawbacks (size, complexity, unneeded features). If we can strip out the 
unnecessary stuff, AND focus a lot of attention on the specific new technology 
for this area we could be very successful.

    That said we really do have to worry about this area. But we need to temper 
the worry with some common sense. The whole point of a server appliance is to 
open up the market to users who could not afford to use a standard NT server â 
either for cost, or set up hassle etc. This expands the server market. It may 
also cannibalize some degree of current


    MS-CC-MDL 000000113416

    NT sales. However, it is not going to eliminate our server strategy 

    This is an old story. A new niche develops which is quite different from the 
industry mainstream. It catches on and grows like wild fire. Because it is a new 
area, the technology used to address it in the early stages is very simple, lean 
stuff. So, somebody at Microsoft panics and says OH MY GOD, THIS IS THE FUTURE, 
WE ARE SCREWED! They send impassioned email saying how everything we are doing 
is wrong because it is not like the dead simple stuff that is being used in the 
new niche.

    There is some Linux mail like this in the last couple weeks. Prior to that 
there was some mail about how Amazon.com is the next killer app. This is healthy 
and there is a lot of value in this, The mistake that is made is to view the new 
area as a replacement threat, when in fact it is an incremental opportunity. A 
lot of bad decisions can be made when people confuse the two. It is great to be 
alert to changes in the market, but we need to recognize that most things are 
secretive, not direct replacements.

    Another mistake is to think that the dead simple technology used to address 
the new niche is what we should be doing. This is tdcky because the people in 
the new niche always talk a good game. It is easy to mistake their current state 
of technology with what is desirable, especially if they are ahead of us in that 
market. Although simplicity is sometimes a virtue, it is much better to focus on 
what the new niche NEEDS rather than how it is currently being addressed.

    Returning to the case at hand, to beat Linux in the server appliance market, 
we need to add MORE technology, not less! Yes, we need to strip down NT to 
reduce resources needed to run it and other reasons, but at the same time we are 
stripping out irrelevant things, we had better be adding architectural support 
for features that will make a difference in that market. There is no point in 
competing with Linux on the basis of being a simple OS â that is fighting on 
their territory and their terms. If we tried to turn NT into Linux, they would 
be gaining in sophistication.

    We need to address the incremental opportunity of server appliances, by 
getting somebody focused VERY hard on this area â both with embedded NT but also 
with thinking through what technology that market segment will need. My guess is 
that in the long run server appliances are like Web TV- a product for people who 
either would not have bought a PC, or who will graduate up to it eventually (in 
this case, for the server rather than client).

    Case 2 is, to my mind, a broader threat than the server appliance. Novell IS 
the server appliance company â it started with proprietary 286 based servers for 
PCs, almost exactly like the server appliances. Later they switched to software 
only â but not a general OS â just software for simple network services â which 
at that time was mainly file and print

    Fast forward to the present day â the Internet has given a new lease on life 
to simple server services. Instead of just file and print, the current 
generation of simple services are driven by the Internet â HTTP, NNTP, SMTP and 
various others. There is an opportunity for simple, high performance server 
software that runs on PC hardware and is a bit more flexible than what you can 
do with a server appliance. The market of strict server appliances will be 
smaller because most users will be unable to live with all the restrictions, but 
still want to use cheap PC hardware to accomplish their tasks.

    If Novell had not self destructed, they should own this space, not Linux. 
Alternatively, it should be Novell and Linux duking it out for this market. 
Novellâs almost complete abdication to Windows NT means that the simple server 
battle will be waged largely between NT and Linux.

    Again, we need to gird for the threat. This is a challenge because our 
strategy against Novell was that we would have the flexible general purpose 
system, competing with their simple services. Just as we emerge victorious, 
simple servers come into vogue again â what a bummer!

    The rise of the browser was a similar situation. PCs had rich documents with 
embedded graphics and images for years. All of a sudden the Internet browser was 
born and was a terribly retro, backward step technologically â it was about text 
with no choice of fonts, no structured graphics, only a couple image formats. 
All of the complex stuff that the PC industry had done seemed irrelevant, and 
the low tech stuff Netscape was using was paradoxically cool. Ultimately, the 
technology treadmill of improvements was what mattered. Netscape and Microsoft 
added feature after feature, and in the long run the better software development 
company won.

    In the long run our flexible approach to servers with Win NT will win once 
again over Linux as it did over Novell. Linux will be unable to keep up with the 
pace of development. Once again, I want to reiterate that the way to compete 
here is NOT to try to adopt a Linux like stance â instead we need to add 
technology to improve our product for this market.

    Case 3 is an interesting one. Large SQL databases have taken on so many low 
level functions that they are almost operating systems unto themselves. As a 
result, products like Oracle are able to support dozens of operating systems.


    MS-CC-MDL 000000113417

    They can easily support Linux, and are likely to do so

    Our strategy in this case is again to promote product features â such as 
cluster support, remote admin, ZAW and so forth to one up Linux. We have to 
assume that it will be a viable platform for Oracle and others, because they do 
so much of the work internally.

    Case 4 is the topic of another round of hand wringing. Many web sites are 
basing their custom software on UNIX, and could easily do the same for Linux. 
Most current operating systems do not have much support for the kinds of 
problems these folks must tackle â nor for that matter to current email systems 
(designed for smaller scaleâ) or current databases (designed for fewer users, 
different usage patternsâ). In the current early generation of systems like 
Amazon or Hotmail their creators have to do almost everything from scratch. In 
such a context, the OS does not matter very much â at least for now.

    At the moment, Solaris and other commercial versions of UNIX are probably 
more of a competitive threat than Linux when it comes to large web sites like 
Hotmail or Amazon. In part this is due to better features, and in part because 
of Sun hardware. However, we should expect to see Linux used quite a bit in 
these contexts. However, looking forward my opinion once again is that 
technological innovation will provide us a way to make real improvements for 
this class of developer.

    So, in summary I do not mean to dismiss Linux. It is a serious competitor 
which we have to counter with focused development and marketing activities. 
Unlike our usual competitors it has a unique economic model, without a 
centralized business behind it. In the long run this is a liability, but it can 
generate a lot of enthusiasm in the short run.

    To counter the Linux threat, we need to focus development efforts on 
technological enhancements in the key areas that will matter to customers in the 
various segments â particularly case l& 2, but all of them should get some 
attention. If we do what we do best â creating and integrating new technology, 
weâll pull through OK.



    MS-CC-MDL 000000113418
Version: GnuPG v1.4.9 (GNU/Linux)


[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next]
Author IndexDate IndexThread Index