Linux Foundation: Sympathy for Microsoft

Nov 03, 2008

A whole week of success stories for Linux and Open Source, while Microsoft is battling the press, thus the summary from Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation. Even the New York Times sees a good positioning for Linux on desktops.

Zemlin begins his current blog entry with the words "It is hard for the executive director of the Linux Foundation to feel bad for Microsoft, but they are having a bad week..." He goes on to itemize press reports from the past week that included Microsoft or Linux. His first example is a front page story in the Wall Street Journal about Microsoft's behavior toward its Linux rival in southern Africa. Further entries relate to how the media resonates with the "Windows 7" announcement and Microsoft's answer to Cloud
Computing with its Azure product. Zemlin's impression of the "Windows 7" announcement is that it's "widely regarded as an attempt to right the wrong that is Vista." He responds to the irritated reaction of the press to Microsoft's cloud computing platform with "No licensing, pricing and due date information. This for something that Amazon has offered with a Linux-based solution for over a year on the EC2 Cloud."

The news about Linux leaves Zemlin rather with a better feeling. Especially news about current developments on netbooks is worthy of headlines. After Asus, Acer, Dell, Lenovo and others, HP is yet another hardware supplier with a Linux netbook coming to the market. With its Mini 1000s, HP is releasing its Mobile Internet Experience (MIE) variant for Linux. Zemlin points to last Monday's article in the New York Times in which the newspaper identifies a future market for quick-boot, "instant-on" PCs with Linux.

In an Age of Impatience, claims the Times, the quicker it takes it takes a PC to boot up, the greater the competitive edge. The author of the article even points to a Microsoft company blog that asserts that "a very good system is one that boots in under 15 seconds" and that such a system is promised for the next Windows version. The Times article agrees that Linux is ahead by a nose in this respect: "Until Microsoft comes up with a way to greatly shorten the time it takes to load Windows, PC makers are speeding up boot times using programs that bypass Windows. The systems vary technically, but they all rely on a version of an operating system called Linux... In some cases, Windows never boots, while in others, Windows starts in the background." Vendors like Asus and Lenovo are already outfitting their PCs with Linux-based Splashtop, and Canonical has its own Ubuntu variant as Netbook Remix and integrates the launcher.

For Jim Zemlin, these are clear signals for Linux's success. He poses rhetorical questions: "Linux on more laptops than Windows? Dell, HP, Asus, Lenovo and others shipping Linux desktops at unheard of prices? Microsoft stuck in a rut needing to follow rather than lead?" In Zemlin's view the tracks are well set for a "pretty good" Linux year for 2009.

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