See Full Story
While it will be some time before Linux is really much of a threat to Microsoft's installed base or Microsoft to Linux's, the battle for the consumer and corporate desktop was actually joined some time ago. Both sides are working furiously to derail the other. With both the WinHEC and TechEd conferences this month covering Longhorn, the next version of Windows, it is time to revisit the emerging battle and address how each platform stacks up.
This article is full of contradictions. "Longhorn is Microsoft's most secure..." Where? What installation of Longhorn has been tested? Isn't that what the marketing department said about XP? And 2000? And NT?
"Longhorn will run on", "Longhorn requires", Where? What installation of Longhorn is being reviewed?
"[A]nd address how each platform stacks up", Where? Show me a running Longhorn platform to compare to. Please.
Until you do, it's pure marketing. I can go on all day long about how fabulous BobOS is going to be. I can compare it against anything and everything and NO ONE IS GOING TO CARE.
To paraphrase the article, "To beat Windows, one must do everything Windows does." The strongest enterprise Linux desktop installation is the Thin Client, for which Microsoft has NO ANALOG. So therefore Microsoft cannot beat Linux on the desktop?
"[Linux] tends to cost more than Windows, at least on the desktop, with regard to services." Even the marketing hype about Longhorn (this is about longhorn, right?) places the hardware requirements at many thousands of dollars for all new equipment for every single desktop. Compare that to using present hardware, and the much greater ability for a single support person to handle multiple Linux machines, and the POSSIBLE requirement that MAYBE some software MIGHT have to be PURCHASED is more than offset by the savings. I would say by orders of magnitude.
But then, I can say anything at all in comparison to Longhorn because it DOES NOT EXIST.
This article should have been comparing Longhorn to Duke Nukem Forever, at least that would have been comparing equal products.
Robertson has it exactly right. He only fails to explicitly make the connection about Longhorn marketing: Rob Enderle is part of that marketing effort it would seem. He doesn't need to see it or test it, he just needs to pass along what MS promises it will be. Microsoft has made and broken promises with every OS release. Longhorn won't be an exception: it will slip in delivery date and it will slip in feature set. They all do both.
Rob says, "However, to pass Microsoft on the desktop, you would need first to embrace what Microsoft offers in terms of interoperability, management, software application support and value."
The three big issues of Longhorn are 1) MS has said backwards compatibility with Windows applications isn't a design criterion; 2) it's supposed to be both a radical departure in software as well as in its hardware platform; 3) It's delivery is slipping and at this point may very well slip again.
So, we're going to have Longhorn, sometime in the distant future maybe. It's going to cost an arm and a leg to buy it, its hardware platform and all new applications to run under it. It's likely to take considerable expense to retrain workers to take advantage of the radical design innovations.
Meanwhile, linux is improving in ease of use and power at a faster rate than any other OS I've used in the 40 years I've been using computers. It's not standing still but it's evolving. It's capable of jumping to hot new hardware without radical rewrites of the software. Applications have also arrived and evolved faster than any other platform I'm familiar with.
I'd say that the world that Longhorn arrives in will be a different world than today and the decisions made about "advantages" are not the ones Rob's fantasized.
It seems companies have a problem parting with older versions, as the cost of their new desktop outweights the cost of the older desktop. I'm glad you brought that point up. The fact that MS is wishy-washy on when they want to do away with their support alone is a big issue facing several people's decisions these days. Is MS' cost of services any better than those offered by serveral people offering Linux and Linux support? That depends on your needs. With many companies the support for Windows doesn't just come from MS, it comes from 3rd-party software developers or VARS. How is this different than buying Linux services from Red Hat, Novell, HP, IBM, SUN or a combination? It's not different, except in the eyes of those that want to believe it's different. Longhorn will at least put MS on level ground with Linux. It will do this because it is a new platform and people will have to weigh migration, support services, and what applications will run or be orphaned. If MS doesn't provide the security that it is promising will that hurt MS? Time will tell.
Last I heard, Longhorn was delayed until 2006 because Microsoft had to take engineers off the project to work on Windows XP bugs.
Meanwhile, Redhat, Novell, and IBM are releasing products in 2004 that are aimed at the desktop users.
IBM's Lotus Workstation looks like it will allow current Windows desktop users to install the Lotus client on their Windows systems, and start using Windows and Linux applications on IBM's servers.
All the maintenance costs will be on IBM's side, and the users can continue to run their currently installed Windows applications locally, and to run new Windows and Linux applications remotely.
Since the remote applications will have the same client interface whether called from a Windows operating system, or a Linux operating system, the users will be able to switch painlessly from one to the other.
I think that many will switch to Linux before Longhorn is released, and, afterward, many will consider carefully what benefits over the Lotus Workstation might make it worth while to tolerate the pain of migrating to Longhorn, with the prospect of still another forced migration a few years later.
The Windows to Linux migration is as difficult as the UNIX to Windows migration but you are right that the new IBM offerings could cut that pain a lot and certainly will shield Notes accounts. Though Notes is due for a major migration as well and this could limit the effectiveness of the program, but it may also make that migration go more easily as well. The disconnected, notebook, part of this is not fully cooked though and with 30% of us on notebooks think that will be a problem for IBM to overcome.
You are right that may switch, but I expect the experience wonít go as well as expected. The switch goes hard, and the experience with the NT migrations that were also oversold suggests that the result may be a backlash for Linux about the time that Longhorn arrives. It will be interesting to watch this. Right now Microsoft is suffering a bit from the backlash the early move to NT caused. It generally is better to wait until a platform is fully cooked before making a strong move and Linux, on the desktop, isnít fully cooked yet. My sense is that Novell has the lead in this regard over Redhat but it should be an interesting two years.
Thanks for the post, nicely argued.
While it will be some time before Rob Enderle really gains any credibility with any thinking person
(Hey rob, tell us again how companies can hide evidence during discovery and spring it on an unsuspecting foe during the trial)
(Hey Rob, I bow to your knowledge of the legal system - You should know, considering your immense experience in the legal system).
This is still not a good start for Rob.
Every server that runs Linux is a lost sale for Windows. How much revenue is that that's been stolen from MS?
"Not much of a threat". Sure, Rob, Sure. Stick to the legal system, Rob you know so much more about that than about Linux.
Clueless as ever.
PS if any newbie comes across this Rob Enderle article & gives any credence to Rob Enderle, please do a Google search for past Enderle pronouncements, for example, on Macintosh.