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Ubuntu man says Microsoft's about to 'swallow a hand-grenade'

Shuttleworth pegs Yahoo! as a path to Flail

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Shuttleworth sees Yahoo!'s open source army invading Microsoft.

We're not sure if the free software zealots will have much luck espousing the virtues of Zimbra over Exchange, but they may convince Microsoft to fire up something beyond a dog and pony show around open source code.

"Not all of what we heard with their interoperability announcement was predicated on a game they are playing with the EU commission," Shuttleworth said.

"And, if they did buy Yahoo!, the good thing about it would be 20,000 free software advocates reporting to Steve. I figure there are already about 5,000 within Microsoft. These are guys that could articulate a vision for Microsoft that doesn't depend on the old business model.

"Increasingly there are signs those guys are getting heard. There will be good voices there saying, 'We can do things differently.'"

It's a touching vision, although Shuttleworth remains skeptical that Microsoft's shareholders will be moved by the idea.

Speaking of open source bullies, let's have a look at Oracle. I hear that Oracle thinks Red Hat is more or less a joke that will be snuffed out of existence soon enough. And all it will take to do the snuffing is this CentOS mimic play.

"It is really interesting what they have done," Shuttleworth said.

Someone needed to do it. And what's interesting is that it's not just someone. It is a pretty serious company that has effectively done a CentOS. For everybody's sake, it will be very interesting to see how the business model works out.

They seem very confident about it. They told me that they've signed up their first non-database customer, which I think is great.

Inherent in their decision to remain fully compatible with Red Hat, which is a commitment they make to their customers, are a couple of key factors. On one hand, that buys them very rapid access to an existing pool of servers. But on the other hand, it kind of limits their flexibility and their ability to invest in the product itself.

I suppose you could say they are not investing in the product - they are investing in the support organization. And in that sense it is a really cunning plan. The issue is that customers want to know what the road map looks like. They want to know when you'll add features or why you chose a specific thing like Xen or KVM. Effectively, Oracle has outsourced all of those decisions to Red Hat.

Oracle will find themselves in a position where, if this business is successful or strategically important to them, they will need to fork or buy Red Hat. They will do one of those things within three to five years.

So, there you have it. Red Hat has maybe five years to go, according to the Ubuntu man.

Enough software chat though, Mark. Let's talk about that infamous topic of cloud computing and then, er, about how rich you are.

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