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Microsoft and Linux Will Never Be "Best Buddies"

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(khess)
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I just read an article called: Life after Windows: What happens to tech if Microsoft dies?" The article made me think of what it really would be like without Microsoft. I didn't like it. We need Microsoft over there competing with us. No matter what happens to the economy, to the PC hardware format or to the demographic of the common computer user; Microsoft and Linux will never be "best buddies." And I know that "Linux" includes the major commercial Linux players: Novell, Red Hat and Canonical. I know that Novell and Red Hat have both crossed enemy lines with agreements but to think that the two camps will ever kiss, makeup and live happily ever after is pure fantasy. Frankly, I like it that way.

Competition creates a good business atmosphere for the consumer and for the competitors. Though Microsoft has been blessed with the "monopoly" label, it really is not a monopoly. As long as Apple and the Linux commercial companies exist, it is not a monopoly. To go further, as long as any alternative to Windows and its products exist, it is not a monopoly.
We feel like it's a monopoly because Microsoft does dominate the desktop and office suite software markets. Their products, ads and faces seem to be everywhere but a ubiquitous presence doesn't make it a monopoly. It makes it a tough competitor.

I want Microsoft to remain on the other side of the fence. I want them to stay a competitor. I want them to be tough. I want them to, in fact, stay number one.

Radical view, huh?

Here's why I say that. If Microsoft remains number one in the market, the Linux community remains supercharged and motivated to be better. It also makes Microsoft look over their shoulders to see how close we are behind them. Competition like this breeds innovation. We want to be number one so we create the best operating system and applications. They want to remain number one so they do the same. It's a good mechanism for progress.

If you've ever played the game, "King of the Hill" as a child, you know that when you're on top, everyone tries to take you down. The person on top uses all his energy to stay on top. A lot of wasted resources go into staying on top. You always have to watch all sides and remain vigilant.
No one tries to take down the person in the number two spot. Nope. They're all after number one. When number one changes, they're all after the new one. Number two is a good place to be. Competitive, innovative and non-destructive.

I believe in keeping the pressure on the number one competitor but that spot is precarious at best. Microsoft and the Linux companies should remain in their current healthy competitive relationship because too many handshakes could spell the end of innovation for both sides.

Sorry, Microsoft, I like being your closest competitor not your drinking buddy. I like nipping at your heels. I enjoy taunting you and prodding you to react with better products. I like it when the Linux community reacts to your products and create competitive ones. It's good for us and it's good for you.

Let's agree to stand on opposite sides of the street and throw rocks at each other. By dodging them, we both become better and the consumer is the real winner. We'll continue to give you a good fight but don't be surprised when we don't smile at you from across the ring or wink when you do something right. We won't. We prefer you at arm's length.

What do you think? Do you think that competition is good for the market?

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Rufus Polson
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Nope.
Competition may be somewhat good--or at least, it can be good from time to time. But Microsoft is hardly what's needed for that purpose. Free software generates competition as a byproduct. Gnome competes with KDE as well as XFCE et cetera. OpenOffice competes with KOffice, Abiword, Gnumeric etc.; ask ten different Linux users what music program is the best, you'll get at least five different answers, distributions compete, and even Linux the kernel is replaceable--you could run Gnu/Linux, Gnu/OpenSolaris, Gnu/Hurd . . .
Sometimes an application will dominate, but if it stagnates badly it tends to get forked; take Xfree86. So the only time there isn't noticeable competition within Free software itself is when it's doing a very good job.
Microsoft, on the other hand, don't compete in the normal sense, by and large. They distort competition. Because of their number 1 position and their approach, what competes most effectively with them tends to depend less on quality than on successful imitation and reverse-engineering. So for instance, if I'm thinking of using KWrite, or LyX for that matter, the question isn't the question isn't "Will it do a good job helping me write things?" the question is, "Will it provide the same experience as and import/export the file formats of Microsoft Word?"
That actually makes it hard for genuine competition, competition in the sense of gaining mindshare by coming up with useful innovations, to flourish.
In any case, Free software tends not to require competition as much in order to do a good job. People contribute because they like being creative more than to compete, and quality comes from co-operation as much or more than from competition. The reason competition is required between private enterprises is that unlike humans, firms have only one source of motivation: money. Without competition they cease to innovate because there's no point wasting money on it if the market is captive anyway. Public hierarchies often tend not to innovate just because hierarchical bureaucracies find innovation threatening as a rule; their structures gradually choke it out--but even there, public bureaucracies tend to be more innovative than private firms with little competition. Universities do far more basic research than drug companies. But the structures with which Free software is created avoid both those traps--they leave people free to create. So the "competition" paradigm taken from theories about private enterprise applies to a much lesser degree to Free software.
So. Free software doesn't need competition that much, and when it does, it generates its own. No proprietary monopolists required, proprietary monopolists actually distort and divert the natural creativity of Free software.

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khess
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Good comments, thank you. You offer up some interesting points.

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sludge
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I don't want Linux nipping at Microsofts heels, I want to see Linux kicking dust in Microsoft's face. I want MS to have to stop the BS because no one is buying and quit putting PR spin on everything. Time for Ballmer and the marketing dept. to be sacked because no one is buying their brashness and crap. Then I will be happy and maybe Microsoft can start making decent products again, reasonably priced, and be a honest player in the marketplace. I don't think that will happen without an good #### kicking from Linux, Google, and Apple.

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toddwshaffer
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God you nerds make me laugh. Linux will not overtake Microsoft in our generation. Apple and Chrome have a chance, and a small one, at overtaking desktops, but even that's a slim chance. There’s also the not-so-small matter of market capitalization. Microsoft’s “worth” based on its price is $US234.9 billion whereas Red Hat stands at $5.3 billion. I run half a floor in NYC of RHEL5 servers and I'm sorry guys, this is just a laughable entry. King of the hill is a bad analogy, this is King of Kilimanjaro and *nix players haven't even scratched the first 100 yards of the ascent. Keep dreaming in your dark caves and feeding your egos however you need to.

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katmai539
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In the name of Computer Science, i do like to see MS and *n*x to be buddies. In fact, i think ALE's (Arrogant Linux Elitists) should cut the crap and make Windows more and more compatible with it, and for Microsoft vice versa (Which they're already doing). Microsoft means proven compatibility and user comfortance, linux means proven stability and speed. Two worlds who don't share anything but if they did they'd be fscking powerful. Now, that is, only if linux stays free and open source. It won't happen until 8 x 8 x 8 = 4. Windows and linux will never merge, for licensing reasons. If they would, Windows would either go free (haha in your dreams baby) or linux becomes commercial (OH NOES!). It's perfect as it is, which is quite cynical because it is for all the bad reasons.

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