Feeds

MS break-up ‘serious threat’ to Linux firms

The perils of fair competition...

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Breaking up Microsoft will prove to be very bad news for the some of the software company's most ardent opponents - most of whom, ironically, have been actively lobbying for the giant's break-up. That, at least, is what market research company IDC reckons.

And it has a point. IDC's logic is based on the freedom of manoeuvre a spun-off Microsoft applications division would gain from being rid of the pressures placed upon it by the operating system business. Safe from the need to promote Windows, the apps company could explore competing OS markets, and in IDC's view, that means offering a Linux version of Office.

The precedent here is Microsoft's support for the Mac version of Office, which has always proved a money-spinner, and was only in danger of being cancelled - it emerged during the Microsoft anti-trust trial - when Apple got (understandably) stroppy over QuickTime.

Office for Linux would compete directly with Corel's WordPerfect Office, Applix's ApplixWare and Sun's StarOffice. Both Sun and Corel have been keen to promote their products as the killer applications that will make Linux a must in the mainstream, primarily to help them compete with Microsoft.

And IDC is right: Corel and Applix would be hit hard by the arrival of Office for Linux, a far better known - and, well, just better - product than those two. It also comes with a far better established sales channel and marketing budget behind it. But then the motor for such a market is competition, and right now there's little of that in the Linux apps market.

Sun, however, is another matter. After all, StarOffice is free, and is more about getting computer users to migrate from Windows than anything else. In either respect Office for Linux is good news: Sun will always have users because it's product doesn't cost anything, so Office is no real threat to it, and free from Windows, a Microsoft apps company doesn't really care about which OS people use, as long as they use its productivity apps.

IDC's logic - at least as it's reported by CNet, appears to ignore the issue of open source software, which many observers - most notably, perhaps, Red Hat founder Bob Young - believe would be a major hindrance to Microsoft's moves on the Linux market. Presumably, IDC ignores it because it's not that much of an issue. Linux may be founded on open source principles, but the mainstream software market isn't. Provided it's free of third-party open source code, there's no reason why Office for Linux has to be an open source product. Corel's suite isn't, and neither is Applix's, as far as we're aware.

Even if Microsoft did release the source code, there are plenty of folk out there who would cough up for fancy packaging, manuals, CDs and tech support, so again, open source really isn't much of a issue.

What should concern the Linux world, says IDC, is the possibility of a Microsoft version of Linux. "What would stop them from coming up with Microsoft Linux?" said IDC senior analyst Dan Kusnetzky. "They'd have command of every major channel and partner. That would make it very difficult for Red Hat to get any attention in the channels."

Again, he has a point. You might think the spun-off Microsoft OS company would prefer to promote Windows, and it certainly would. But there's an argument for saying that since it can't get Windows on every single server out there - much as it would want to - it's enough to get Microsoft on every single server, and if that means attacking the x per cent of the market that refuses to go with Windows with Linux, so be it. Particularly if Windows customers are given a discount on Windows for offering Microsoft Linux.

Ironically, as an OS-only operation, that part of Microsoft would be more strongly inclined to expand its product portfolio in such a fashion than it is now. Would might even see Windows 2000 for Power Mac...

Of course, providing the Baby Bills with the opportunity to target the Linux market doesn't mean they will, but it they would certainly have think very hard before rejecting it. That will come as harsh news for developing Linux businesses, but then competition is what the free market is all about. And a broken-up Microsoft is about ensuring that that competition is fair. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
iOS 8 release: WebGL now runs everywhere. Hurrah for 3D graphics!
HTML 5's pretty neat ... when your browser supports it
Mathematica hits the Web
Wolfram embraces the cloud, promies private cloud cut of its number-cruncher
Mozilla shutters Labs, tells nobody it's been dead for five months
Staffer's blog reveals all as projects languish on GitHub
'People have forgotten just how late the first iPhone arrived ...'
Plus: 'Google's IDEALISM is an injudicious justification for inappropriate biz practices'
SUSE Linux owner Attachmate gobbled by Micro Focus for $2.3bn
Merger will lead to mainframe and COBOL powerhouse
iOS 8 Healthkit gets a bug SO Apple KILLS it. That's real healthcare!
Not fit for purpose on day of launch, says Cupertino
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.