But even Redmond sees Linux gains and discussions becoming "more rational" than "emotional"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 silicon.com.
"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.