SYDNEY (ZDNet Australia)--Microsoft may have 450 million software licenses on the desktop--about 90 percent of the world's desktop systems--but the software giant is a victim of its own success, according to IBM executive director, Linux International, Jon "Maddog" Hall.
Microsoft has to keep growing rapidly and has to keep putting out new releases in order to maintain profits, Hall said, "But part of its problem is its success...when you reach 90 percent of the desktop market, its really hard to get that last 10 percent".
Microsoft has had to try to spread into new marketplaces, such as Internet and media services, to maintain profits, according to Hall.
"Now the last time I looked Microsoft had about 35,000 people, and with a little tongue in cheek I'd say that 34,950 of them are marketing and sales people, which leaves 50 engineers."
Let's be generous, let's say [Microsoft] have 1000 engineers working on Microsoft Windows," Hall said. "That boggles the mind but let's say they do. If each customer had about 100 systems, engineers would have about 4000 customers to cater for and if each customer submits just one problem report every year, engineers get 4000 problem reports apiece. On average we work 200 days a year, so that's a huge number of bug fixes per engineer to fix," in that time, Hall said.
Microsoft's Windows XP originally featured an estimated 65,000 bugs, according to Hall. "No piece of software is bug free, however 65,000 bugs is a lot and you can see that Microsoft is not in the marketplace for fixing bugs."
Open source software, on the other hand, gives you the ability to have those bug fixes because "even if the developer of that software is too busy to give it to you, even if the seller of that software can't provide it to you, you can find somebody else who has the technical expertise to go in and fix that bug and allow you to go forward," Hall said.
Hall says that the problem is that the market has needs that weren't necessary 20 years ago and needs bug fixes straight away, "not next week, not next month".
"Now, if Microsoft can not do that for 450 million customers, imagine what would happen if they had the whole world and over six billion customers?"
Linux is a "multi" operating system, Hall says. Multi-user, mulit-CPU, multi-architechture, multi-tasking--so you can run one, ten, 100, 500 tasks at a time. "Imagine what it would be like doing 500 or 5000 tasks on Windows 98, you could not hit control, alt, delete fast enough to keep it up."