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MS cites 960 per cent Linux growth rate in defence

At that velocity, Linux will pass Windows RSN. Wonder if Schmalensee's figured that?

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Linux rears its head again as Microsoft's Exhibit A in the argument as to why there's plenty competition in the OS business, really. Richard Schmalensee's testimony cites it on numerous occasions, points to an annual growth rate of 960 per cent since 1991, and says Linux in 1998 had 7.5 million users. But hold hard there, folks. 960 per cent annual growth rate has a pretty spectacular impact on that 7.5 per cent. With our faulty maths (you Linux guys out there are good at this stuff, mail us) we'd figure that should take Linux past the 50 million mark within three years. As he says, "The growth of Linux exemplifies the exceedingly low barriers to entry in the software business. Linux is a version of UNIX that was written by Linus Torvalds while he was a college student in Finland. He posted an initial version of the source code on an Internet site in 1991 and invited people to develop the program further. Many programmers accepted his invitation. As Forbes Magazine noted, 'Within a year Torvalds' software had taken on a life of its own.'" One does wonder where on earth Microsoft's case would have been if Linus had immersed himself in the more usual undergraduate activities of sex and drugs instead: "Linux provides a striking example of how the chicken-and-egg problem for operating systems is solved in practice and how the existence of this problem does not bar competitive entry into operating systems. Linux developed a base of dedicated, technically sophisticated users around the world. These users provided demand for applications. The development of additional applications is making Linux a viable alternative for a wider range of users." That is, he's pitching Linux as a viable threat to MS. MS doesn't necessarily truly believe this, of course, but it's important to talk it up right now. Here comes the advertising: "Corel's WordPerfect 7 is available for Linux, and Corel just released WordPerfect 8 for Linux and is developing a suite of business applications for Linux. In addition, IBM, Oracle, Netscape, and Informix have announced that they are going to make some of their software applications available for the Linux operating system." And there's more (of course): "[Linux] is widely touted as a serious threat to Windows NT in server applications. InfoWorld reported recently that Linux is becoming increasingly popular at small- to mid-sized companies. Computing Canada reported that 'Linux as a serious, commercial alternative to [Windows] NT could happen quickly. Lotus already has UNIX ports of its Notes client and server software.' Computer Reseller News reported that 'Many observers see Linux as a viable alternative to the Windows operating system.'" ® Complete Register trial coverage

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