Microsoft's Fake Patent Attack: Should You Care?: Page 3

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Adverse Impact

The problem we are increasingly faced with is getting all of this stuff to work together. Whether you like the Novell/Microsoft deal or not, at least it had one clear benefit: the promise that at least one Linux distribution would work seamlessly with Windows.

Let’s be real here, Linux isn’t going away and neither is Microsoft, and increasingly both find themselves in mixed shops. Highlighting adversity is one thing but allowing artificial adversity to distract you from the goal that most buyers of technology have always wanted – seamless interoperability – is counterproductive for all parties. Kind of helps provide another perspective to the whole Microsoft/Novell thing huh?

How Could Microsoft Kill Linux, How Could Linux Kill Microsoft?

Now, having said all of this, what if Microsoft wanted to kill Linux, or FOSS wanted to kill Microsoft, how could they do it successfully?

Well. taking everyone that uses or develops the product to court is not only not practical, even if you could do it, it simply wouldn’t work. And flaming emails and comments are so high school. Look at the RIAA and piracy, that is a cake walk compared to what Microsoft would have to do and, at least to me, the RIAA’s (and the related MPAA’s) efforts so far have effectively increased piracy and made both organization’s members less profitable.

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Netscape died not because Microsoft used their monopoly power (they tried, it backfired) but because Netscape screwed up Netscape screwed up on a massive scale and Microsoft executed reasonably well. PlayStation 3 wasn’t killed by Microsoft, it was jointly killed by Sony screwing up and both Nintendo and Microsoft executing. Microsoft beat Novell as a result of Novell’s announcing, and then failing to build, a Windows NT clone (SuperNOS) and then failing to actually ship it.

Microsoft didn’t beat IBM by being bigger, stronger or more underhanded, Microsoft built what the market wanted and IBM didn’t. And Google isn’t winning because they are the nastiest guys out there, at least not yet (but that may be changing), they are winning because they figured out who the customer was and focused like a laser on them (watch them, they really don’t care what Microsoft does that much), and then executed. iPod vs. Creative Labs and S3 was a similar lesson, and Zune showcased what happens when your forget who the customer actually is.

Sun and Netscape are both examples of what happens when Microsoft competitors focus on Microsoft and not their customers. The massive number of Linux distributions and the GPL3.0 draft is what happens when you don’t even seem to remember who the customer is (and seem to think it is you).

For either side to win decisively against the other, they have to identify and focus on their customers and not each other. The GPL3 is just as stupid as Get the Facts was and neither is what the customer wants. We all need to remember that the cost of software is a trivial part of the entire solution and that free crap is still crap no matter who sells it or how trendy the name.

Happy Microsoft customers don’t replace Microsoft products with open source offerings and if Linux is scarier than Microsoft only idiots will move from the frying pan into the fire. Of course this is an incredibly selfish position, because if both sides focused on building great products most of us would win regardless of the outcome of this fight, and I could stop talking about this BS and focus back on having fun with technology. In the end, however, the only way to win decisively is to build the best solution from the customer’s perspective.

It is my view, whichever side gets this first wins and the other side goes home looking like fools.

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