Never say never, even about Microsoft

I have no idea how the future will play out. But neither does anyone else.

Crystal ball hazy. Please try again.

I always reach for my Magic 8-Ball when some study overreaches with its conclusion, as two Harvard Business School faculty did recently by claiming that "Microsoft will always beat open source."

The two men, called boffins in a British story that didn't notice they're in the Business School, call the Linux-Windows match-up a "duopoly" and posit some theoretical conditions that would allow Linux to win a dominant share of the market.

They conclude it won't.

Their most provocative point, which I have no argument with, is this:

Harnessing demand-side learning more efficiently is not sufficient for Linux to win the competitive battle against Windows.

On this point they're right, and they should stop right there, because everything else they write is pure conjecture. Like the idea that Linux and open source have no other advantages. Like the idea that Microsoft can protect itself by simply dropping its prices. Like the idea that open source isn't filled with clever entrepreneurs, as opposed to earnest hackers. Like the idea that Microsoft can't make mistakes in the post-Gates era.

Personally I have no idea how the future will play out. But neither does anyone else. Boffins not excepted. Who could have ever imagined that a Harvard drop-out would one day supplant IBM as the dominant force in the computing universe?

The future does not succumb to your models. Only today and yesterday do.