The World Beyond Microsoft

[ Saturday, 28 March 2009, wiktorw ]


Some time ago I read an article on how some Microsoft developers call for some of their leaders to be replaced. Not that I actually care too much, but I started looking at the possible courses of action to happen if Microsoft vanished. What would a Microsoft-free world look like ?

The World Won’t End

First of all, its obvious that the world wouldn’t collapse in this case. Yes, there are plenty of software, either home and business dedicated, that relies 100% on Windows. Microsoft has a large market around its operating system, a market commonly driven by “sell plenty and earn even more” attitude. Such a single-crop area.

But life always would find some way. Something would have to happen – so let’s look at the possibilities, shall we?

Would diversity work ?

Not so long ago, a home computer was usually 8 bit machine, followed by 16 bit over time. I mean such traditional “consoles” like Atari, ZX Spectrum, Commodore/Amiga, and so on. Software developers, releasing a new game for instance, would prepare different versions for different hardware platforms. So it was possible back then! Well, actually, it still is – just look at game consoles like PlayStation, GameCube, DreamCast and so on – it is often possible for a game to be released for different platforms. Of course, not always and not all titles, but it happens.

The traditional model of software development (dated before Microsoft time) assumed the hardware to be a starting point, where this hardware creators were putting the operating system into and were selling applications. Look at IBM and Sun for example – still selling mainframe and server platforms. A tight ship, allowing everybody to earn decent money on each component. The only common things were OS standards (like POSIX) or communication protocols. Single crop area ? Yes, and also repeated over and over again.

In reality, PC class computers are currently the majority of hardware out there. One could say that this is Microsoft hardware, for which the named company creates its software (Windows, Office, more predominant amongst others). Microsoft Hardware ? Say, which hardware box doesn’t bear the ‘Designed for Microsoft Windows’ logo ? Only the less-known producers’ ones. As you can see, everything depends on the right attitude to customers (generating demand) and hardware developers (trade deals, certificate schemes). One must develop its market niche, create his own ‘typical approach’. This is the only way to guarantee biggest income to yourself.

What about Linux (or ) ?

It is useful to observe, which hardware platform was Linux destined to over the years. This kernel worked at first on i386 processors, and owes a great deal of work of many people all over the world (both hobbyists and man-hour jobs of various companies) that you can now find it all over the place. This however doesn’t change the fact, that the Linux kernel, and GNU software and other FLOSS components (named “Linux” for convenience) is best supported on a 32-bit x86 platform. Means – the majority of available software works there. So Linux is actually stepping into the established, single-crop territory, owned by Microsoft for more than a decade.

But that’s not everything, because, Linux is not the end of the list of contenders. There are systems, Unix, POSIX compatible, and other, self-contained too, that run on x86 hardware. These are not that popular though – less a few exceptions, like Solaris, various flavors and derivatives of BSD or Mac OS (well the last one at least officially doesn’t run on a ‘normal’ PC yet).

Let’s play fantasy

However it is too early to consider possibility of the company, that has multi-billions dollars of assets and accounts, to go bust, one could however stress their imagination and see what happens if there is no Microsoft any more.

First possibility : Mass change-over

The most obvious scenario is to change-over the operating system. Because, what’s the sense of keeping the computers running on damaged system (all kinds of Windows), that additionally wouldn’t have any prospects for development any more?

The most vulnerable here, would be the home users, and company desktops right behind them, being disappointed by Microsoft another one (and also the last) time. All those less ‘computer literate’, like gamers, multimedia apps users (kids mainly), secretaries and so-called aunties and grannies would have to choose one of three possibilities. Either to change the operating system to one similarly ‘user friendly’ (like Mac OS) and remain uneducated, or get some computer literacy and choose one of the Linux flavors (though there are really user-friendly distributions, one could even say ‘brain-dead’ ones), or give up those computers at all and get rid of the air-blowing box.

Second possibility : Support

Although it must be admitted that given the count of installed copies of Windows, the above wouldn’t actually apply, because the situation wouldn’t deteriorate that fast. Enter one company offering support, let it cash in $10 per incident even, you’ll see an avalanche of shifted responsibility and user demand. This potentially leading to a multi-million dollar business. Again, just to provide support to users still using Windows. You could be sure to see more companies cashing in on such support. For a time, this could even be a profitable business!

But only until another major player on the OS market would emerge – because nature hates empty space. By the demand-creates-supply rule. I’d bet on Apple in this case. You can see their recent moves like changeover to Intel hardware or supporting (e.g. financially) the Wine project. All in all, such a possibility – to replace Windows with MacOS globally – would really be interesting to see it happen.

Third possibility – Microsoft 2.0

But then you could be sure, that the deteriorating company would be taken over by someone else. One could then expect cheerfully the change of name to e.g. Microsoft 2.0 (being a tribute to Web 2.0 is my intention), changing the quality of their products and, moreover, change of mentality. Such a Microsoft that hears to their customers, fixes errors fast, competes with others on equal ground and holds on to open, settled standards. “Live and let live” – can you see Microsoft 2.0 that way ? But this seems too good to be true, anyway.

Fantasies away

It is hard to say, what would really happen, if Microsoft vanished. It would pose a giant problem, induce a crisis, recession maybe, maybe even deep cleansing – almost alike greek catharsis. Maybe a return to the roots, or total collapse of civilization. Or maybe the life would anyway go on ? The software creators would have to revisit their approach to work they do. There is life beyond Visual Studio, MSDN and DirectX, you know.

So far, Microsoft can give themselves a ‘good job’ gesture for (slight irony mode on): the Tahoma typeface, influencing the USB devices market and popularizing computers thanks to virtual ease of use. The highest accusation however, is the approach to software and hardware similar to a yogurt, mass produced and bought in boxes in supermarkets. Wrong taste ? Bin it and buy another one. Licensing and product placement is what matters, and how much money you make from it. Microsoft shareholders could actually care for computers as much as for yogurt factory. Doesn’t matter how, what matters is how much you make from it.

One however should not forget, that speculating on Microsoft is the topic of today, and forgetting that other corporations, e.g. IBM, the Big Blue, was “the power that be” a few decades ago. History repeats itself, also in IT. The only way forward out of this, is topping up computer users’ awareness and conscience. Like an “computer driving license” for example.. But this could actually fail too – it is a question of scale and widespread of all sorts of computers.

As always, there are people who would agree, and also those who won’t. But one thing for sure, Microsoft-free world would have to be different. Hopefully, better.

And by this positive thought, the end of this article has arrived.

This article has been originally written by Wiktor Wandachowicz

translated-by : el_es

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12 Comments

fold this thread JohnMc  Saturday, 28 March 2009 o godz. 5:10 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

Wow. No Microsoft. Well there are a couple of factors.

Microsoft product would not disappear overnight. Look there are companies running AS400 stuff, old Sun Sparc 10 systems, etc that just don’t make sense to turn off till they die. Microsoft product would be the same way. And if the company disappeared when much of their stuff was on a VM then the hold of that software could be decades.

Apple becoming dominant? Maybe. But Apple does not make a great case in the data center. Linux which has a good foot hold now would be the the better candidate to take over that ecosystem. Apple would expand at the desktop. As would variants of Linux.

But you know what? You should have titled your piece ‘The World Beyond Sun’. Considering that IBM/Oracle/HP are currently bidding to take Sun over. The same questions could be applied.

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fold this thread derChef  Sunday, 29 March 2009 o godz. 5:46 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

Articles such as this illustrate the part of the problem with Linux and the Linux Community; you refer to people who use Windows PCs or Macs as “uneducated” and needing “computer literacy”.

The vast majority of users out there use the computer as a tool. They just want it to work and do not care about how it works, nor do they want to join your social cause.

Do you rail against every other “evil” corporation in the world, or only Microsoft?

You can sit around making snarky comments all day long, whilst desktop Linux maintains its amazing 0.93% market share.

Before I am responded to with the usual accusations of working for “M$”, or am told I haven’t tried Linux, etc, etc:

I use Linux every day. I dual-boot XP and Ubuntu on my desktop and Vista / OpenSuse 11.1 on my laptop. I am by no means a Linux expert, but I have been using it for 2 years and know my way around the command line and am preparing for the Linux+ exam.

With that out of the way; it is very obnoxious that the Linux community takes a petulant, negative approach to informing people about Linux. Maybe if Linux were improved and you were to tell people about it rather than constantly whining about Microsoft, you would have more of an impact.

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fold this thread GwydionDdu  Sunday, 29 March 2009 o godz. 1:35 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

C’mon cut the guy some slack. He’s stating that if Microsoft wasn’t there what would change in the computing landscape. I’ve been in the computer industry for a heck of a long time, when IBM and Apple were the big guys and Microsoft was just a small company that made products for both companies.

Microsoft is not “evil”, it’s a dominant force in the computing world, and thus it doesn’t care about you or me, just that the money keeps rolling in. Microsoft has never liked competition, it prefers to buy its competitors if their competitors product is stronger than Microsoft’s, a la Autoroute. I know quite a few companies who are still using Windows 95 & 98SE, why? Because it works, and they aren’t interested in the latest product. Once the hardware fails for these guys, where do they go then? It will be a very expensive route indeed for them to go to Vista/Windows 7 and Office 2007. People like this are the right candidates for Linux.

Yes, like Microsoft Windows, the Linux community does have its zealots and fanboys, but every product in the world has those (even Governments and religions have their zealots and fanboys) and that is human nature. The Linux community is just that, a community with no money and therefore they cannot afford to advertise Linux the way all the other big companies do, e.g. Microsoft, Apple, etc. I too am sick of the fanboys and zealots, but without them, people like me and you wouldn’t be using Linux as it would still be seen as a geek only system and as a matter of fact we wouldn’t have Microsoft or Apple with out their zealotish fanboys, you should check out both Steve Jobs and Bill Gates histories to see how they got their companies where they are today.

Companies like Canonical, Red Hat and Novell should start putting their money into advertising campaigns, but they don’t. Dell, HP and others sell Linux PCs but they hide it, why? They are afraid of Microsoft. OEM deals carry a lot of money and Microsoft will do its utmost to stay afloat, even if that means a few backroom deals with OEM vendors to stay exclusively MS orientated. Unfortunately that is the way commerce works, Microsoft has the money and the power to do it, while Linux has not.

So instead of hammering this guy because he’s promoting Linux and calling Window’s users uneducated, go easy on him. Yes at the end of the day, people use their computers just like a tool and don’t care what they use as long as it works, is easy to use and doesn’t cost them a lot of money in the process. Yes Windows users are uneducated, there is choice out there, but they don’t know. Look at the car industry, the home entertainment industry, the music industry, the film industry, they all have choice, except the computer industry.

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fold this thread darryl  Monday, 30 March 2009 o godz. 10:44 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  --3

What would linux copy off then ?? if MS was gone, they milked UNIX dry, Oh wait Linux is just MS but 5 to 10 years behind, (it takes time to steal “innovation”).

So if MS does not exist, Linux would not be far behind.

But hey that might just be the ONLY way Linux will ever break the big 1% barrier, but i doubt it.

Which is closer to non existing, FOSS/Linux at 1% or less market share or MS around 90%.

What if Linux ceased to exist, what would happen to the world, ??

Well NOTHING, sure a few web sites might go down but MS would fill the void instantly,

Linux could and cannot fill the void of a popular and usuale, and yes stable and effective OS.

Linux is still basing their hopes on a 40 year old clone of UNIX !! Linux is clearly the handle of the cutting edge knife, (the blunt end).

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fold this thread Richard Chaffin  Monday, 30 March 2009 o godz. 6:26 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

Mr. Microsoft (darryl), I see you are passing FUD on yet another site. We get rid of your LIES from one site and you, just like a VIRUS, pop up on another.

You can’t escape us we will hunt you down and expose your lies.

Linux didn’t come into the fold because Microsoft, Linus want a UNIX platform, but couldn’t afford it, so he started his own platform that works like unix. So I guess you would be right if you said linux was copying unix, but it is MicroSoft who is copying unix more and more. Just incase you are wondering what MicroSoft is copying, I will give you just a couple examples. Windows Vista and 7, soft and hard links, doing away with C:, D:. There just a couple.

 
fold this thread Miles  Monday, 20 April 2009 o godz. 12:19 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

I will have to agree…if MS didn’t exist – Linux would never have been thought of. I remember the day I bought my first PC — I paid $2500.00US for a box full of boxes that had all the parts in it – and was told if I wanted it assembled – that’s be another $300.00.

I got all out of sorts – and went to buy a MacIntosh at the local Apple Store — just to find out that if I wanted one of those with a printer – I needed $6500.00US. I headed on out to the Commodore Store which was selling 3 models of their PC and Emmulator Cards to run Mac and PC — just to find that I’d have to pay $6500,00US and close to $500.00 for the Emulator Card that ran PC software – because there were no decent programs for wordprocessing or spreadsheets or databases. Oh – that cost didn’t inlcude a printer…the one that they were selling with the Commodore would set me back another $650.00.

Next I went to a HP building and went in and found that I could buy their cheap UNIX machine for about $25,000.00US.

My point is: Love M$ for giving the world “Cheap PC’s with Affordable Software’s.”

I’ve been doing computers since that I have built since 1980 and I don’t see Linux or BSD (UNIX) doing anything that M$ hasn’t already done or at least tried to do with it’s C++ UNIX built kernel since I have seen computers.

Over the years – I have spent more time working on Linux flavors as development toy just to help sort out it’s problems because until lately – it truly hasn’t been ready for the working society abroad.

If there were no M$ – there would be no Linux…and I’m pretty sure of that because Linux developers weren’t smart enough to come up with anything to match IBM-OS2, M$-Windows, Commodore, Atari. As a matter of fact – until the brilliant mind of a Bill Gates like person named Linus Torvalds – came up with his Linux, the majority of today’s Linux developers were either struggling with Solaris, IBM or some DOS box at home working with C++ from a commandline because even though they despised Windows – they’d still use it because they weren’t savvy enough to create their own kernel/s.

BSD was up and coming – but, no one seemed to catch on to its developer’s closed environments and protectionisms!! Without M$ Windows which lead to huge interests in the computer world by the average layman – the public at large would still be working on Green Screens connected to some IBM/Solaris main frames…so Linux users and developers should count their lucky stars that IBM didn’t succeed in dominating even the PC industry. My first copy of OS2 cost me near $600.00US – I didn’t even have a box yet to put it on. My last version of OS2 that I paid for in 1996 was $400.00US and I had to pay extra for the updates that actually adapted it to my box and cards

I don’t think the arrogant Linux society is appreciative enough for what they have in totality and are not dealing with full decks of cards when it comes to M$ and the computer world “BEFORE” Linux.

 
 
fold this thread bumpy  Monday, 30 March 2009 o godz. 11:50 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

MS has never been a leader. It’s still trying to get around to implementing features Unix had 35 years ago. It took MS ten years to get around to using hardware features Intel had in 1985. So that’s typical, MS is always 10 to 30 years behind everybody else.

So if MS went away, the computing industry would be something like 20 years ahead of where it is now, just because people generally would no longer be using Microsoft’s outmoded stuff.

How could that come about? It’s happening now, with the introduction of “netbooks”, the surprise introduction of devices Microsoft has for decades been trying to prevent. That market will be taken over by non-MS operating systems running on devices too inexpensive for Windows to be installed on. Note well, not too small or weak, but too *inexpensive*. People generally will gradually forget their big, expensive desktop and laptop machines because the cheap devices are better for them. There won’t be a gap, a vacuum; Microsoft will still be around, but people will just gradually forget about it.

Software developers will still need big screens and keyboards, but for the general, casual computer users, the desktop will be forgotten, and Microsoft with it.

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fold this thread Miles  Monday, 20 April 2009 o godz. 12:59 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

Microsoft was never intended to be a replacement system for IBM or Solaris or any other main frame systems. M$ Windows was intended to give the population layman type persons around the world – a shot at having their very own simple computers systems to write their letters on and do some lite spreadsheet work. M$ Servers were indeed an after thought. Obviously you weren’t around the southern California conferences where geeks and developers got together to talk about and sell their breakthroughs in IT technology.

Microsoft made it possible for Japan to make “CHEAP” computers so M$ could make affordable softwares — and that is exactly what happened. Nothing too much more and nothing too much less. Microsoft did nothing to hold back any developer much as Linus Torvalds – from creating their own kernels and developing their own softwares. If any thing – Microsoft promoted the computer science worlds of both UNIX and Microsoft and Microsoft is today responsible for helping up and coming developers become millionares in their own right.

Technology didn’t come from Microsoft or IBM but, from the people of the world and those who worked with synergy and helped develop new technologies at companies such as IBM, AT&T, Bell Labs and such – were eventually able to split off and develop their own ideologies. That is how intelligence and technologies advance…and not through some bunch of over-zealot Linux developers who in 10 years haven’t come up with a GUI as polished as Mac and Microsoft but, always have something disdainful to say of M$ and IBM. Well, when Linux comes up with a flavor that is as easily installed and beautiful in softwares as M$ – it might become a M$ contender. As of yet – every Linux flavor I have tried has major flaws that cause the average layman to not want to use the OS and it’s KDE/GNOME gui’s.

One of the biggest flaws of Linux is the developers themselves. They go around calling KDE and GNOME – Linux. If the developers themselves don’t know the difference between the GUI and the Kernel – then how do they expect the General Population to know the difference. I use Linux, too. When I am asked what flavor of Linux I use – I always say that I use the “ONLY” flavor I know of and that is “the latest kernel that Linus has approved”. Of course – I always end up either telling the person asking the question that “I either use no GUI with a commandline on my servers – or on my desktop I use KDE or now GNOME.

Frankly speaking – the Linux Kernel has been ready for the desktop and server environments in the public sectors – for a long time…ever since Slack 3.1 at least. As for KDE and GNOME -well, sorry – they haven’t been ready and still aren’t. The binders that connect the GUI to the kernel/MBR are still flawed and a lot of the time don’t write correctly to the hard drive. Well, Mandriva is the only one still with that blatant MBR problem…but, they won’t admit it even when shown right to their faces. Another point of negatism towards Linux developers…when a real problem does occur – they slam it back on the person who found it and a lot of the times tell that person to solve their own issues.

The next downfall of Linux is that developers such as those at Mandriva and Ubuntu – don’t agree on basically anything and therefore put out broken systems or ones that will eventually break. I didn’t see ANY difference between the issues that Vista has to those issues of openSuSE, Mandriva and Ubuntu in their distros combining the KDE3.5xx and KDE4.xx and half the stuff not working and then spending the next 6 months having to play fixup as the fixes come available. No difference whatsoever.

For whatever it’s worth – Linux is only an after thought of M$ Windows because M$ servers were having such hard times in the server rooms competing against the likes of Solaris and IBM-AS400 and such…and you know what – even then Microsoft wasn’t creating and OS to compete with IBM or Solaris main frames…but, in the same breath – IBM and Solaris can’t compete with the pricing that comes with a Dell server loaded with M$ Server…and the bottomline at the end of the day is the almight “$$$$$”. I have administered AS400′s for a long time. Dell and M$ together can’t come up with a system as hardy and reliable as an AS400 – even to this day. But, then the last price I saw for the last AS400 I loaded was close to $25,000.00US…and when the VM got started – that single AS400 became twenty AS400′s running Microsoft servers.

There again – expensive IBM running cheap M$ softwares. The layman can have the same thing on a smaller scale with about $5000.00 costs nowadays – with the reliability of course and the layman PC running the servers – won’t last 15 years like a AS400 either so expect to rebuy all your equipment at least every 3 years. You’re lucky to make it 5 years on Dell or Gateway or even homebuilt servers. But, the layman can afford these cheaper machines and softwares and that’s what M$–soft is all about.

 
 
fold this thread Niki Kovacs  Monday, 30 March 2009 o godz. 12:43 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

One thing that would happen for sure: all the zombie botnets running on infected MS Outlook Express and the likes and sending out gazillions of spam messages a day would suddenly vanish and thus fulfil Bill Gates prophecy about “completely handling the spam problem by 2006″, a bit late though.

Cheers from the sunny South of France,

NK (IT-consultant, 100% GNU/Linux since 2001)

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fold this thread Leo Solaris  Monday, 30 March 2009 o godz. 1:11 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

From a home user’s standpoint, it would feel like the end of the world. No more windows? How will my computer turn on? I suppose I will have to spend a lot more to buy a Mac.

From the server side of things… I doubt most would even notice, except perhaps colleges and schools who are paid to use Microsoft products for their online presence. (I asked the IT dept at my college about why they use MS products.) That loss of income would hurt them. Other than that, most servers already run Linux/Unix. The web will survive.

More companies like Apple will come about, I bet, that take Open Source Software, add to it, and barely acknowledge the fact.

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fold this thread Robert Pogson  Monday, 30 March 2009 o godz. 1:22 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

I doubt we will ever be free of M$ except in regions/niches. Anywhere we can use generic desktop applications, at least 80% of use, GNU/Linux should thrive. A lot of businesses have depended on M$-only apps but they are gradually changing over to web applications that can be client-independent. Emerging PC users, start-ups, schools, and young people are prime candidates to adopt GNU/Linux. It is happening but too slowly for me…

In a couple of months I will retire from teaching and do evangelism/consulting/system installation for GNU/Linux full time. I think the time is right for rapid growth in this sector as many schools depend on XP on older hardware and do not want to spend tons of money on new hardware and Vista/7. For them, M$ can disappear. I can do a school on a weekend if they backup their data…

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fold this thread Miles  Monday, 20 April 2009 o godz. 1:22 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

To take away M$crosoft means that Russia won the Cold War and that the United States never existed.
Microsoft Windows is an American “direct reply” to IBM’s over priced OS2 and Padded Cell Genius’ that wouldn’t allow any code but theirs to be seen – oh my god – should it be seen in public the aliens would surely be pissed.

Bill Gates had quevos and came to humanities rescue – thank heavens because the next PC away from IBM was the Apple and it was already overpriced and being hailed as the “ONLY” true PC on the market worth the price.

Peoples of today obviously weren’t around for the PC wars of the early 80′s. Going to the computer store on the weekends was akin to going to the SwapMeet. People were laying thousands of dollars on a whim just to join the ranks of the new and upcoming generation of “haves” verses the “have nots”.

Linux today hasn’t got squat over the excitement of the market it actually was sponded from. For the “Average Layperson” of today – loading Linux is just as dangerous as loading Windows – if not more so…and once loaded – you’ll learn to spend the rest of your life trying to figure out how come something didn’t work to get the job done as you thought it would….in your Average Layperson mind.

FACT: There is NOT ONE FLAVOR OF LINUX today that a Layperson or Geek person can install – that will be flawless. No – Not one flavor. Every distro of Linux that can be downloaded or bought today – will load flawlessly and do what the Layperson or Geek Person User intended it to do. Not one flavor anywhere. If it loads the sound drivers – for what? If it loads the video drivers — for what? To load the pinter drivers — for what? Not one Linux Distro of today will load all the correct sound, video and printer drivers for any person alive under the sun – to use without need for expert intervention. Not one!

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About the Author

Wiktor Wandachowicz

Computer engineer and a long-time Linux enthusiast. On a professional level, a lecturer at Łódź Technical University.

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