Archive of UserLand's first discussion group, started October 5, 1998.

Microsoft Linux

Author:John Brewer
Posted:7/4/1999; 12:10:07 PM
Topic:scriptingNews outline for 7/2/99
Msg #:8175 (In response to 8144)
Prev/Next:8174 / 8176

What if Microsoft sold a branded version of Linux for $99? After all, Linux is free software, so anyone's free to sell it, even Microsoft. And Microsoft seems to be able to make money on all those $99 Win 9x upgrades. (Or do they?)

For the sake of this argument, I'm assuming that Bill Gates hasn't been visited by 3 ghosts who show him the true meaning of Christmas. Rather, I claim that producing a Microsoft Linux would be both profitable and help Microsoft maintain its hegemony. Naturally, Microsoft would keep as much of MS Linux proprietary as possible, consistent with the GPL, just a Red Hat ships some non-free software along with their Linux distribution (on a separate CD, last time I checked).

Net effects: * Microsoft throws enough engineers and legacy code at Linux to finally fix its GUI. * Microsoft subverts Joy's law ("Wherever you work, most of the smart people in the world work for somebody else"). The other smart people are also working on the Linux and friends, in effect increasing Microsoft's R&D budget by an order of magnitude. * Microsoft advertises with a media blitz so big that everyone forgets about other Linux distributors. * People who subscribe to "nobody ever got fired for buying Microsoft" buy Microsoft's blessed version of Linux. * People who are unsure about "this Linux thing", see Microsoft's friendly trademark on a Linux box and buy in. * Red Hat is reduced from the 800 pound gorilla of the Linux world to a Chimp. * Microsoft continues to make record profits, and maximizes its ongoing hold on the computer industry in light of the free software/open source movement.

If this sounds implausible, remember that there was a time when people didn't think IBM could produce a personal computer.

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