Linux and Microsoft
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Linux and Microsoft operating systems have been developed and marketed in two very different ways. Microsoft has become synonymous with monopoly and substandard software, while Linux is based on free, open source and the concept of open standards, full disclosure and sharing. Microsoft attempts to discourage consumers from using the Linux solution by suggesting that the operating system is less than perfect, yet it remains blind to its own operating systems problems existent within Windows 95/98 and Windows NT.
Its a well-known fact that Microsoft dominate the software market despite these facts. Are they operating within legal and ethical boundaries? And is it possible that they could fall from grace because of this?
`When you say “I wrote a program that crashed Windows”, people just stare at you blankly and say “Hey, I got those with the system, *for free*”.
Linux and Microsoft operating systems have been marketed very differently. The objectives of the two factions are very different indeed. One seems to be oriented towards market domination, market cornering and making the most amount of money it can, and the other towards creating a free, open source operating system. This may sound too simplistic with the two extremities, and may be a bit more complicated. This report will investigate into the differences in the way that the Linux and Microsoft operating systems have been developed and marketed, and how Microsoft rose to fame, and the possibilities of its fall from grace.
The significant difference between the Linux and Microsoft operating systems is the two basic classifications each of them falls into: open and proprietary. Open systems refer to any standardized technology that excludes proprietary, vendor-controlled software, hardware and communications products. Proprietary systems, such as DOS, Macintosh, VMS and MVS, traditionally have had nothing in common, and vendors and systems integrators have had extreme difficulty porting applications among them.
UNIX is an open system, and has recently seen quite well established market gains, and there are several reasons for this. Above all, it is solid, dependable, standard and scalable. Workstations are becoming popular and competitive with the ascendance of NT. Popularity is also due to the fact that its open source – Companies in the US that are already using open source operating systems plan to use it on almost 23% of their desktop machines by January 2002. Open source software will run more than 34% of their companys servers by 2002. (USA Today 06/01/00)
While companies like IBM, Oracle, and Netscape have begun to integrate their business model with open source, many traditional software companies continue to focus on purely proprietary solutions. In the web server space, Microsofts complete denial of the open source phenomenon is almost amusing. The Apache web server has more than 50% of the web serving market according the Netcraft survey (
When you look at advertisements for Microsofts Internet Information Server (IIS) you see that they own over half the market in web serving – over half the commercial server market. When compared against competitors like Netscape and Lotus, they have a substantial edge in the market share, but that “edge” looks puny in the overall server market where Microsofts 30% is dwarfed by Apaches 57%.
Although “open” and UNIX are often thought to be synonymous, UNIX is not the only “open” operating system anymore. Linux, written by a Fin named Linus Torvalds who led its subsequent development via the Internet, is based on UNIX but differs from other UNIX operating systems in cost and source code. It is not owned by any individual or company, requires no license fees, and can be copied many times – also with no fee attached. This is much unlike Microsoft who are very secretive about their source code and are much more business-like, with primary objectives aimed towards maximum profit and expansion.
Linux was the first project to make a conscious and successful effort to use the entire world as its talent pool. I dont think its a coincidence that the gestation period of Linux coincided with the birth of the World Wide Web, and that Linux left its infancy during the same period in 1993-1994 that saw the takeoff of the ISP industry and the explosion of mainstream interest in the Internet. Linus was the first person who learned how to play by the new rules that pervasive Internet access made possible. (Eric S. Raymond, 1999)
Rise to Fame
Even though Linux always comes with source code – allowing changes to be made to the operating system, and being much more robust, scalable and powerful than Microsoft Windows, Microsofts operating systems still dominate the home user market because of more recognition and compatibility. They firstly had to create a leg-up in the market by making more noise in the business industry. Bill Gates and his upstart company Microsoft first purchased MS-DOS in 1981 – a renamed version of QDOS. It debuted on IBMs personal computer on the 8th of December 1981. This was the first super successful product of Microsoft. In 1984 Microsoft made its software available for Macintosh platform and in 1985 Microsoft debuted its Windows software system. The original cost price in US was $99.
Microsoft went public by issuing two-and-a-half million shares in 1986. In the same year Microsoft moved to its new 4-building corporate campus surrounding “Lake Bill” in Redmond, Washington. Microsoft was also in the business of selling mice, and in 1989 they sold their 1 millionth mouse.
It is a well-known fact that Microsoft is the 5th largest company (financially) in America, and Bill Gates is the wealthiest man on Earth, who has a current net worth of $58.7 billion. There have been complaints that Microsoft has achieved this status by creating a monopoly and using unfair business tactics. Microsoft has undergone investigations by the federal government as well as lawsuits by other software companies, but there is still no concrete conclusion as to whether or not Microsoft possesses an illegal monopoly. However, it is important to realize that even if Microsoft does not technically fit the definition of a monopoly, it still possesses tremendous power. Along with this power comes the ability