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Maritz on… Linux

"Number of Linux developers vastly exceeds the number of NT developers"

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The cross examination of Microsoft group VP Paul Maritz showed Microsoft showing some real concern about Linux. Maritz probably didn't intend to announce under the DoJ spotlight that the number of applications that can run on Caldera's Linux was "probably several thousand". He was most reticent to produce a figure for Windows lest it proved to be embarrassingly large. Maritz portrayed Linux as a significant competitor to Windows in his direct testimony, and claimed that "Linux is an operating system that consists of several million lines of code comparable in size, capability and complexity to Microsoft's Windows 98 and Windows NT operating systems". He did not properly distinguish the components of what he was calling Linux, nor introduce the term 'distribution'. Microsoft likes Linux in some ways, since it gives just a little street cred to the claim that Microsoft is potentially threatened. Maritz -- or the committee apparently writing his direct testimony -- thought that Linux was "'cool' (a significant factor among 'early adopters')". Robert Young, Red Hat's CEO, had stated an objective of decimating the value of the operating systems market, Maritz complained. Young didn't think Red Hat would realistically be a viable competitor to Microsoft for 20 years, but Maritz would not agree. Maritz did shoot down Microsoft's previous witness, economist Richard Schmalensee, for suggesting that Linux was mostly used to run servers. An interesting observation by Steve Lambright of Informix was that the Linux market is poised like the Web was two to three years ago. But the remark in the testimony that is likely to reverberate is that "today the number of developers working on improving Linux vastly exceeds the number of Microsoft developers working on Windows NT". Warden fed Maritz a Wall Street Journal article on Linux in which it was announced that HP and Silicon Graphics would be offering Linux with Intel processors on servers, with HP noting that it may offer Linux on the desktop if it were Windows friendly and simplified. Maritz thought that "Linux is a product that Microsoft and other system publishers ignore at their peril". We shall see. ®

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