Microsoft/Linux Connection

LBG writes “Last week, when research firm Meta Group of Stamford, Conn., predicted that Microsoft (MSFT) would begin to support Linux by late 2004 with some of its key server products — Exchange, IIS, SQL server, and the like — reactions ranged from outrage to befuddlement. A source inside Microsoft called the report “wacky.” Analysts of all stripes debated the veracity of the findings. Even Dale Kutnick, Meta’s chief research officer, admitted that Microsoft “is pissed.” Business 2.0’s Eric Hellweg offers up his analysis of the situation, declaring that it is “inevitable” that Microsoft will be forced to support Linux in the not-too-distant future.” I saw the original story last week and thought it strange that people reacted so angrily. I’m not sure that Microsoft will do it, but it doesn’t seem as crazy as some people are making it out to be. Already Microsoft makes application software for Apple machines, so it’s not as if there isn’t some precedent for them to write software for other platforms.

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Comments on “Microsoft/Linux Connection”

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Agent Orange (user link) says:

MS Linux predicitions

Verbatim from an e-mail I sent to folks on 12/11:

This is the fourth media outlet where I have read this analysis. I don’t believe they will move to Linux per se, but they will more than likely port to Free BSD or Open BSD, simply because of licensing and performance issues. It does make sense considering that their research arm has been using all of the GNU utilities lately – with no announcements about what exactly they are using them for…

Best analysis was available on The Register ( where they predict fairly much the same thing.

My prediction: they will invest money (just to send it down a rat hole), get close to delivery of a finished product, and then pull back, citing differences over the direction of the project. They will more than likely also take away any technology they acquired, and then start trying to re-write the kernel, etc. under the Microsoft flag.

Reasons why I predict this: I can think of two examples of major “upstart” campaigns within Microsoft that are well-known:

1) the Joint Venture with IBM to develop the next generation 32-bit OS, which Microsoft worked closely and in joint development with IBM for several years. Microsoft pulled back, citing differences, taking the code they had jointly developed with IBM back home. IBM finished the first 32-bit PC OS as OS/2 before Windows 95 came out on the market. They also lost to the MS marketing machine.

2) Windows NT – Windows NT was developed by some of the same people who worked on UNIX in its infant stages. In fact, the original versions of Windows NT (that were actually rock-solid and stable) all used a single microkernel to run the OS. This was enough to earn Microsoft the precious C2 Certification for the windows NT 3.51 Workstations. Of course, that was only valid as long as there was not a network card installed on the machine, but you didn’t need to know that. When they rolled out Windows NT 4.0, they completely re-wrote the underlying microkernel to their standards (sloppy again) and introduced the dreaded BSOD’s again.

Microsoft did the same thing to Corel recently, when they temporarily got involved with them – then pulled back in a “smash and grab” move, taking technology from them.

You cannot change the spots on a leopard. I predict a similar result if they attempt to “do this port”. Anyone care to wager?

Adam Barr says:

Re: MS Linux predicitions

The joint development of OS/2 with IBM was not an “upstart” campaign within Microsoft. It was supposed to be the future of the company. And Microsoft did not take the code home with them, they gave it back to IBM. Meanwhile, Windows NT, originally NT OS/2, was supposed to be OS/2 3.0. It was developed by many of the people who worked on VMS, not Unix. However Unix was certainly in mind when it was being developed. The microkernel was never completely re-written, XP has the same kernel that was in the first version of NT, just modified extensively over the years.
I think that people underestimate the true work involved in porting something like Exchange to Linux or any Unix variant. The actual coding is just the start. Then you have to test it, and market it, and support it. I think Microsoft would get quite nervous having to support Exchange on Linux: “What version of Linux are you running? Oh it’s one you built yourself? Isn’t that fascinating.”
Now some of those people who underestimate the amount of work involved work for Microsoft. So I am sure there are people at Microsoft who are pushing for this and maybe even doing trial work. But I would be surprised if it ever actually happened.
– adam

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