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Torvalds sees Windows decline, rise of Linux appliance

And software prices will crash, within three years

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While Steve Ballmer was causing stock prices to crash in the USA (String him up!), Linus Torvalds seems to have been coincidentally making related predictions in Helsinki. Software prices, he said, will start to fall drastically, with the crunch coming in around three years. Torvalds was talking to the determined Reuters reporter who induced him to say nothing much about Transmeta earlier in the day (See story), and although he doesn't seem to have said a great deal in the interview either, he tossed in a couple of intriguing hints as to how he sees the future. The 'software price crash in three years' prediction, for example, is based on a decline in the need for constant upgrades. It would have been useful if he could have elaborated on this, but this was most likely a dig at Microsoft, Intel and the PC companies. Wintel especially has a need to keep the upgrades rolling fast in order to keep the revenue rolling, and they're constantly searching (Intel blatantly so) for new applications that can soak up the excess horsepower they need to sell to their customers. It's no coincidence that although Torvalds also thinks that Linux could break Windows' dominance on the desktop, he suggests that it would be best to review the situation again in three years time. That implies that he sees the growth of Linux on the desktop as taking place in parallel to a decline in the effectiveness of the Wintel upgrade/sales model. Which is a reasonable point of view, but he's more concerned with getting Linux onto smaller "purpose-built devices" such as phones and PDAs, and envisages multiple devices going into the home. So he's obviously keen on developing Linux in the embedded space, and making it more appropriate for a broad range of cheap, single- or limited-purpose appliances. The action, he suggests, will shift away from the desktop anyway, and the implication is that Windows will be the loser. ®

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