Windows dominance to last 'two to four years'

Windows dominance to last 'two to four years'

Summary: Microsoft IT Forum: Money is the main factor delaying the inevitable rise of other operating systems, according to some MS staff

Microsoft's dominance in operating systems will continue -- though only for the next few years.

According to Mark Russinovich, co-author of Microsoft Press' Windows Internals and Inside Windows 2000, Microsoft will preserve its software dominance over alternatives such as Linux for the next two to four years, chiefly because the open-source community doesn’t have the same cash and resources to tap up as the world's largest software company.

Windows "still has a much more focused organisation looking at high performance", Russinovich said at this week's Microsoft IT Forum event in Copenhagen.

"Linux improvements are advancing quickly," he said, but added: "Linux efforts are kind of all over the place -- each vendor, like IBM, has its own Linux labs," which don't have the same scope or time to devote to boosting performance benchmarks over time.

He also added that budget constraints are an issue, citing the example of the Open Source Development Labs' $10m budget. In contrast, Microsoft has poured $6bn into research and development this year across all its operations.

That figure may well narrow over time but for open source to raise its game further for enterprise use Russinovich believes the issue of backward compatibility will have to be tackled. "Linus has no problem breaking backward compatibility in device drivers," he said, adding that created a "big problem" for companies today.

System administrators don't want to be recompiling code when a new kernel comes out, Russinovich said.

Jean-Philippe Courtois, CEO of Microsoft EMEA, repeated the company's stance on competition, saying it is good for Microsoft.

"We're serious about Linux," he told

"There's pressure from competition, absolutely [but] competition really provokes our best innovation," he added, claiming the dynamic of discussions on Linux versus Windows has changed. "It's much less emotional... it's becoming more rational," he said.

Topics: Apps, Software Development

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  • Why should backwards compatibility be a problem for Linux? How many users will have their own custom kernel modules that will need keeping in sync with the main kernel tree? The userspace API (libc) doesn't break between kernel versions, and that's what counts.
  • Given ZDNet's rather well-established and recognised role as Microsoft's de facto Ministry of Propoganda, when they themselves start printing stories like this, it's a good indication that MS are in very serious trouble.

    Ballmer's recent patent threats, and his increasingly visible stance of desperation and fear have been rather interesting to watch. What will be even more interesting will be finding out whether or not Microsoft will still exist as a corporation by 2010. I am beginning to have a feeling that there are even odds either way on that score. Whatever happens where that is concerned though, one thing is certain...Whoever hasn't already started looking at alternatives to Windows now has a more pressing need to do so than before. For Microsoft, the water level is now visibly rising.
  • I think windows days are numbered since the pay for a regular windows admin is decreasing. This means they have to do more because windows just keeps getting easier. The only bad part is that you cannot tailor it to work however you want it to work. As a result people will find higher paying jobs which leads them to learn linux and since the world is about natural selection everyone know LINUX will win one day.