Help me understand how Microsoft might respond to Linux!
I have been asking myself the following question:
If Linux begins to capture significant desktop market share what options are open to Microsoft?
In this article I have listed my initial ideas, and it would be great to get some feedback on the technical feasibility (some of them maybe plain crazy) and political acceptability of the options within Microsoft. It might also be interesting to get feedback on how the Open Source and business communities might respond.
Here is my headline list, with each option described in more detail later:
- “bet the company” on strategies to retain the consumer market
- Make Windows a better host for Linux applications
- Make Windows a better server for Linux Desktops
- Make Linux a better host for Windows Applications
- Make .NET the most attractive Linux Development Platform
- Make Windows a better client to Linux Servers
- Make Windows appeal to Open Source developers
- Win the TCO and Security debate
- Reduce the cost of Windows and Office
Retain the consumer market
- I have already blogged on this here
Make Windows a better host for Linux applications
- Purchase an existing X Server product to integrate into Windows Services For Unix, continue to give SFU away for free
- Extend SFU to create a LSB 2 compliant sub system for Windows. I don’t know enough about LSB 2 to know how practical it would be to achieve this, but my guess is that since LSB 2 leans heavily on POSIX and SFU is a POSIX sub system it should be possible.
- Release SFU as Open Source, possibly merging it with Cygwin and Cygwin-X and sponsor/support the Open Source community in achieving option 2
Make Windows a better server for Linux desktops
- Make Windows 2003 + SFU a viable NFS file server, release a Linux client for its Volume Shadow Copy functionality (previous versions client)
- Develop its own RDP client for Linux or sponsor and support the development of rDesktop.
- Work with Sun on other interoperability areas including authentication and authorization, directory enabled policy based management of Linux. Including management of their own LSB 2 subsystem.
- If Avalon is ported to Linux make sure that a next generation Windows Terminal Services client that uses Avalon works on Linux as well
Make Linux a better host for Windows applications
- Sponsor and support the implementation of the .NET Framework on Linux. The Mono team are doing a pretty good job on their own, but official support from MS would be worth a lot.
- Support their own .NET applications on Mono
Make .NET the most attractive Linux development platform
- Invest in making .NET on Linux as functional as it is on Windows and vice versa
- Provide other WinFX services like Indigo and Avalon on Linux as well
- Release .NET development tools that support both platforms
- Extend developer support services, (MSDN), to .NET development on Linux
- Support Linux on Virtual PC and Virtual Server
Make Windows a better client to Linux servers
- Include NFS client capabilities in Windows, (part of SFU)
- Include an X Server in windows for access to GUI applications running on Linux servers
- Work with Sun on other interoperability areas including authentication and authorization
- Port Indigo to Linux
Make Windows appeal to Open Source developers
- Make the user experience as attractive as possible
- Create tools that can target .NET development on both platforms
- Support Linux on Virtual PC
- Provide a great command line shell
- Prove that developer productivity is higher on the Windows platform
- Use Microsoft’s marketing expertise to make Windows cool again, learn from Apple J
Win the TCO and Security debate
- Prove that Microsoft’s integrated solution stack has a lower TCO and is just as secure as Linux (not easy)
- Demonstrate that the integrated nature provides a better user experience and allows them to extract more value from their investment
Reduce the cost of Windows and Office
- These are Microsoft cash cows, and it would certainly hurt Microsoft badly if it needed to reduce their profit margin on these products. However the potential is there if retention demands it