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The StartX Files: How Linux Could Lose to Microsoft - page 2

Electrocuting the Elephant

  • May 8, 2001
  • By Brian Proffitt

Microsoft is no stranger to perception handling. They are doing a strong job of it right now to get Windows XP out the door. Last week, I pointed out where XP may have serious problems getting widely adopted because of potential hardware compatibility issues. An MCSE-holding colleague of mine pointed out another obstacle Microsoft has in getting XP adopted in the corporate market.

"Imagine," my friend says, "you are a corporate IT manager."

"I would rather imagine I was on the beach in Fiji," I reply.

"No, just work with me," he says. "You're a corporate IT manager…"

"In Fiji," I interrupt.

"Fine," he sighs in exasperation, "you're a corporate IT manager in Fiji and Microsoft is coming to you to sell XP in your shop. What exactly does it have that you are going to want?"

Remembering all those method-acting classes in college, I slipped into the role. "What am I running now?" I asked.

"Mostly Windows 98, some NT 4.0 servers," he supplied.

"No Win 2000?" I clarified.

"No," he emphasized, "because like most IT shops, you haven't seen anything there to switch you over."

"Well, wait a minute," I said, tiring of this thought experiment and wanting to shift back to the Fiji sun and sand, "if I didn't switch to 2000, why would I move over to XP?"

"Exactly! What's XP got? A new interface! You don't care about that, and even if you did, why would you want to train your staff on a new interface?"

"Okay..." I replied, wondering where my friend is going with this.

"So what else does it have?" he said, really warming up to the subject. "It's going to have superior graphics and video handling. What corporate manager's going to want that? More distractions in the workplace?"

"So who is going to buy XP?"

"Dude, don't you see?" my friend cajoled, clearly happy to have figured one out before I, "It's not Linux XP is going after! Snazzy interface, better audio/visual-they're going after the iMac! They're trying to kill off the Mac OS X!"

And by giving prospective users the impression that Windows XP will do all of the things a Mac platform can do and more, they will give Apple some serious trouble in the months to come. Of course, Microsoft will never come right out and admit this. But I was interested to see a Reuters report yesterday that said Microsoft has no ill will towards Apple any longer.

"'Our relationship with Apple has never been better,' Kevin Browne, general manager of [Macintosh Business Unit at Microsoft]," according to Reuters.

That's like getting a kiss on the cheek from Tony Soprano, but right now the perception is all is hunky-dory between Apple and Microsoft.

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