How Linux Could Overthrow Microsoft

jzemlin's picture

In an interesting article from ZDNet, John Carroll catalogues what he thinks Linux needs to compete with the Microsoft ecosystem. He says,

Ecosystems are essentially standards that extend across software markets. They simplify development by lowering costs, shortening development timeframes and leveraging knowledge across markets.

For Linux to build a proper ecosystem, more thought needs to be applied to what technology will be present on every instance of Linux. That’s going to be hard, as one of the things that appeals to so many users of Linux is its technology agnosticism.

We couldn’t agree with him more (even though in principle we’d love not to — he is a Microsoft employee after all.) The Linux industry couldn’t agree with him more. That’s exactly what the Linux Standard Base and the Free Standards Group were founded to do! And while we’d never say it was easy, just a look at the momentum the LSB and FSG created in the last year and you can see that the Linux industry is doing a good job of developing the very global standard he says is imperative for Linux’s success. Our upcoming announcements should garner even more of Redmond’s attention.

In this interesting article from MIT’s Technology Review, Charles Ferguson details the way Linux could successfully challenge Microsoft. While he references standards in the article, of course I think he should have made the case more explicitly. Especially in this section:

[Open Source] severely limits the possibility of proprietary “lock-in”–where users become hostage to the software vendors whose products they buy–and therefore eliminates incentives for vendors to employ the many tricks they traditionally use on each other and on their customers.

Open source doesn’t necessarily limit vendor lock-in. Only the combination of open standards and open source prevents that from happening. The article is a great read though on many of the market dynamics at work today in the software industry.