It looks like there might be interesting times ahead. Microsoft's Balmer is likely not getting as much sleep as usual. As long as the Linux adherents kept ignoring each other and not working together, the desktop space was safe and sleep for Stevie was easy to get. But those damn Android nightmares keep popping up, starting a year or two ago.
Now the Nokia people are rumbling about Android running on ARM netbooks. Being paranoid, seemingly a job requirement at Microsoft, its a short hop to the desktop, a space Microsoft acts like they own. Wonder if Steve's analyst is working overtime now?
Cloud computing is a potential “un-operating system”. If an application can be hosted somewhere on the Internet and deliver data to clients via web browser page, who needs Microsoft? The proliferation of netbooks and pda-phones running little bitty OS images with a light-weight web browser as the primary UI is the antithesis of a fat sloppy operating system running on a 400 watt consuming desktop.
What if we let Microsoft continue to operate as they like? BUT if the system has a Microsoft OS on it, require ALL sellers of computer systems, no matter what the size, to include installation media for at least 3 working, bootable, operating system images for the computer on DVDs? The choices could be up to the customer and the vendor.
Obviously one of the OS choices would be MS Windows-Whatever. Another might be Free-DOS. Hence the reason for 3 OS images. It will force one of the choices to be Linux, Android or maybe something we don't know about yet. If the customer didn't want Microsoft at all (a very small minority), he or she would get 3 DVDs of something else. The Linux images would simply be "Live-boot" CDs or DVDs.
That should eliminate the price disparities between Windows equipped and Linux equipped computers.
It will put Microsoft on a more-even footing with its competitors.
It would eliminate the need for an EU version of all their OS images.
It would allow Microsoft to claim sales in the millions just like they do now.
They could also claim the 90% desktop sales because this idea really won't impact their sales much. Users that currently use Windows are unlikely to want to change so MS market share is fairly safe.
It would be a PR coup of incredible value to Microsoft. They could (and would) claim they support open source without having to do practically anything.
Microsoft could do it today by starting the program with their big OEMs like DELL and HP.
The linchpin to the whole idea is that an image keycode that Microsoft sets up with the OEMs has to truly be unique to a specific computer and can only be activated by a connection from the OEM through the Internet to the Redmond mothership. This would allow for an encrypted image to be stored on the hard drive along with the other images for the alternate OS selections. Manufacturing would only have to make one image per computer model thereby erasing the price disparity.
The first boot up would run an installation routine similar to the GRUB installer that could install the MS image or delete the MS image from the drive and recover the space for use by another chosen OS. It could also be setup to allow dual-boot systems. If the user bought a Microsoft license, he would type in the CDROM code on the MS sticker on the box. That gets compared to the key code info the OEM emailed to Microsoft.
If the customer is computer illiterate then the vendor can do the installation and collect a little fee for that, improving their bottom line.
Think back a few weeks, Microsoft executives were babbling about releasing the entire Windows 7 image on all systems. The customer connects to microsoft.com and pays his upgrade fee and unlocks the software already on his drive. How different is that from the suggestion put forth here?