Why Microsoft's future OS could be open source

Why Microsoft's future OS could be open source

Summary: Microsoft's customer base will tolerate almost any level of coercion either because they're co-opted into the program for commercial reasons, or have no workable alternatives within the remaining lifetime of the current NT (iVMS) code base.

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TOPICS: Microsoft
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Microsoft has long had a love-hate relationship with software piracy. On the one hand it sees this practice as its number one business problem in areas where it has succeeded in establishing market dominance, and on the other Microsoft has, since the QDOS deal with IBM, consistently made it easy for people to copy and use software in areas where it has not achieved market dominance.

Fundamentally making IE a free upgrade just when Netscape was claiming the browser market is no different, strategically, than failing to put anti-copy protection on MS-DOS in 1983 or encouraging easy copying of its "enterprise" virtualization software today. Similarly making it easy for users to "illegally" copy and install Office 4.0 for Windows 3.1X while straight facedly working with both WordPerfect Corporation and Lotus Development to help these companies prevent illegal copying, was a simple tactical extension of a long term strategy based on using piracy as a way of gaining market share.

Logically, in fact, you could see Microsoft's long term practice of advancing its desktop operating systems by offering MacOS features an average of about five years after Apple demonstrates their value as just that same strategy dressed up in a different outfit.

Look at Microsoft's current PR problem with respect to their Windows Genuine Advantage program and the anti-piracy features it claims will be in Vista in terms of the company's history, and you have to conclude that their willingness to impose these on their North American and Western European markets signals their believe that neither MacOS X nor Linux threaten their desktop dominance in those markets.

I think, unhappily, that they're right: Mactel is a disaster for Apple and Linux has lost most of its market momentum - in other words, I think Microsoft's customer base will tolerate almost any level of coercion either because they're co-opted into the program for commercial reasons, or have no workable alternatives within the remaining lifetime of the current NT (iVMS) code base.

In the long term, however, that code base is tied to x86, and now amounts to little more than history on the hoof as Microsoft transitions to the PowerPC architecture - and a new network oriented operating system. When that new OS arrives I think we can expect to see Microsoft trying for another ride on that same one trick pony: i.e. making it easy for users to "share" the first non games applications for their "System 360" (!) architecture.

A big part of the reason for this is that Microsoft's x86 future is tied to Windows - and Windows is as out of place on handhelds as an elephant in a Mercedes smart car - meaning that Microsoft's market share in handhelds is both trivial and weakly held because obtained at the point of its check book.

So how can Microsoft compete with Java in a billion phones this year?

Open sourcing their putative network OS will make it easy to publically deal with a BSD legacy, allow them to adopt the Red Hat business model for applications and support, eliminate the need for customer galling anti-piracy programs like WGA, encourage adoption of what would be an appropriate micro-kernel for handheld use, and speed the x86 to PPC transition.

All of which seems like such a strategic no brainer, that I'll predict right now that Microsoft does this -starting with an open source beta on the new OS just as soon as they can get a decision made, the legal planking in place, and the code out.

Topic: Microsoft

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  • Message has been deleted.

    opensourcepro
  • You would expect

    that M$ would learn from its Riska mistakes. Why pay 6000 programmers, when you can get thousands more to work for free? There are enough geekazoid NBMers out there that would relish the idea of contributing to Windoze (for nothing in return) - if only to brag to their friends. Windoze is the best OS in the world - 'cause >>I<< made it!!!!

    It just makes too much sense to make OSes open source. Instead of getting b1tched at about OS problems, people fix them FOR you and post the fixes! There really should not be much money in the OS market - M$ gets their money from commingling i.e. blurring the lines between OS and application. Someday M$ will wake up and understand that "It's the apps, stupid!" and realize that spending money on an OS is like throwing it away.

    Windoze is a great visual GUI attached to a mediocre OS, while Linux is a great OS with a crappy GUI. If the two weren't such polarly-opposed bitter enemies, it would make a great deal of sense to combine the two for the ultimate OS. M$ could cut their staff by a lot, and concentrate on making money selling applications.
    Roger Ramjet
    • dont talk about what you dont know

      "Windoze is a great visual GUI attached to a mediocre OS, while Linux is a great OS with a crappy GUI."

      Maybe you should do some programming (system programming, device driver programming) to know more about Windows. Its way way better than any *nix OS.
      zzz1234567890
      • Re: dont talk about what you dont know

        and if you knew anything about anything you wouldn't make such off the wall uninformed comments.

        Like you really know anything about programming. Every programmer I know finds Unix variants much better and easier to work with.
        slim-01
        • That's what you get when you only know unix programmers<NT>

          nt
          Joeman57
      • So I assume

        that you have programmed on both? And further assume that you have done this more than a couple times on *NIX? So what was more difficult - typing ./configure; make; make install OR not being entertained with pretty pictures while you compile?
        Roger Ramjet
      • One word...

        HA!
        Spikey_Mike
    • A great GUI and a great OS

      better known as MacOS X, right?

      And Apple did open source Darwin (the underlying BSD variant) for exactly the reasons you give - at least until the ring zero problem associated with Intel forced them to close the kernel source again -like that fooled anyone, but hey, this has been one mistake piled on another.
      murph_z
      • Exactly my thought. NT

        nt
        dave.leigh@...
      • I don't consider BSD a great UNIX

        Why did Sun (and every other major UNIX vendor) dump it in favor of SysV? At the time it was because SysV had threads (for multiprocessing) and BSD didn't.

        I don't like the favoritism approach to selecting programmers either. This elitist approach contributed to the forking of BSD into the 3 variants (Open, Free and Net).

        How do you select a "great" UNIX? You can call grep from a Bourne Shell on any of them, so what's great?
        Roger Ramjet
      • you never followed up on the...?

        you never followed up on the information about the closing the
        kernel source for the intel version? because its not closed....
        doh123
    • What mistakes are those? NT

      NT
      Joeman57
    • In what way?

      On 10/11/06 Roger Ramjet spoke and said:
      > Windoze is a great visual GUI attached to a
      > mediocre OS, while Linux is a great OS with a
      > crappy GUI.

      and I said in Groklaw <[b]BAN UNIFIED DESKTOPS[/b]>

      Respectfully:

      I won't go into why I like the Mac Desktop better than I do Windows. I prefer Gnome to both because X-Windows is simpler and it is more reliable. I would love to know how you came to classify the Windows Desktop as great. Are you sure your familiarity is not introducing a bias?

      After sixteen years of using all three desktops in various permutations, I'm satisfied I know reasonably well what I can do to each. Lately, I am having to shake things up &ndash; as of this weekend I'm using xfce on my laptop again. One thing I hate least about Linux and X-Windows is that I am less tied to what the desktop says I can and can't do on my system than I am by either of the other desktops because it is simpler. If I'm working around the system then of course the task is more complicated, but it's still doable.

      I really do think your comparison is more bias than anything else.
      jplatt39
    • Best of Windows + Linux = Mac OS X

      > Windoze is a great visual GUI attached to a mediocre OS,
      > while Linux is a great OS with a crappy GUI.
      > If the two weren't such polarly-opposed bitter enemies,
      > it would make a great deal of sense to combine the two
      > for the ultimate OS

      Since Mac OS X is based on BSD Unix + Next + Mac OS 9, isn't what
      you are suggesting already here?
      KonradK
      • What have you been taking and can I have some, please?

        With due respect to BSD and Next, Mac OSes 9 and 10 have left a LOT to be desired if you are using it for graphics or office work as I tend to. Most of my friends have NOT used Photoshop on the Mac, where it first became popular, since the iMacs started being replaced. It runs much better on Windoze.

        I've been reading this whole thing and thinking, "Gosh, wouldn't it be great if there was nothing to bash Jobs about any more?" then thinking "Won't happen soon or in the right way."

        The Mac OS has many wonderful forebears but it remains firmly between Linux, a good OS for people who want to take responsibility for computers with the concommitment demands you understand something of what you are doing, and Windoze which wants to take over your life and make sure you spend vast fortunes both on it and on the hardware to run it.

        The Mac OS has been a missed opportunity since Jobs came back&ndash;same as the hardware.
        jplatt39
        • Seems like you're already on something...

          I've used Macs since the '80s and OS X is miles above OS 9 (8, etc) and, IMO, various Windows, especially re graphics and multimedia.

          It's robust, powerful and great to use. I have close to a dozen "heavy duty" apps running at once and it doesn't flinch at all... in fact, it's totally transparent and I often don't realize so many apps are open and in use (ie, Photoshop, Illustrator (sometimes InDesign), Dreamweaver, Fireworks, Acrobat (sometimes Distiller), Word, Powerpoint, BBEdit, Safari, Firefox, Thunderbird (sometimes iTunes when I have the office to myself)). My office Dell (Optiplex GX620 running XP, used to test web sites cross-platform) is a kludge in comparison!

          I use Photoshop (whole CS1 Suite) on a Dual G4 (10.3; 1GB RAM) at work and the same version CS1 on an Intel 20" iMac (10.4; 2GB RAM) at home and both work just fine.

          Even though CS1 is not Universal (and optimized for Intel), with the speed boost (and 2GB RAM) on the Mactel, it runs perhaps equal to or slightly faster than the slower G4, which is more than adequate for 50MB (and above) files. It should really fly when "built" for Mactel. (as apparently does Windows on a Mactel strangely enough)

          OS X seems to get better, more versatile and "faster" with age... don't know if the same can be said of Windows :-)

          ...
          MacCanuck
  • Never say never...

    But I still think it will be a cold day in...before MS open-sources Windows.
    Erik Engbrecht
    • not as simple

      they are not going to just open source windows.

      the next version of the OS (not windows) will have an open source community branch (think Fedora and RedHat WS). they will buy into the open source model and reap the benefits.
      jjgitties
      • Nobody but Mort will contribute!

        .
        Spikey_Mike
        • You can't write an OS with VB!

          .
          Spikey_Mike