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.comment: Linux Lewis vs. Microsoft Tyson - page 2

The Smart Money

  • January 30, 2002
  • By Dennis E. Powell

Not long ago, another regulatory outfit, called the U.S. District Court for the D.C. District, said no to another big, thuggish entity accustomed to getting away with manifold offenses and governed only by its own desires. The decision was firm, but the result is anything but definitive -- certainly not enough to take Microsoft Corporation out of the arena.

Yet there is reason to think that Microsoft is wounded.

And there are lots of companies who are openly preparing to take advantage of that wound.

Still . . .

There are, as there always have been, more questions than there are answers. What makes the coming months especially interesting is that those answers ought to start arriving pretty quickly.

Questions? Well, yes.

How far are IBM and H-P willing to go in pursuit of victory of Linux over Windows?

H-P is throwing itself behind desktop Linux. Will IBM follow suit? Will other companies? And to what extent might this be a hedge play to gain leverage in negotiations with Microsoft?

And, when you get right down to it, what would constitute victory? There are those who would propose that the utter destruction of Microsoft Corporation is the only acceptable outcome, just as there are those who hope that somewhere around the fifth round of a Lewis-Tyson battle the fight would be stopped, Lewis declared the winner, and Tyson's head retrieved from the 15th row. Neither is going to happen.

But what could happen is the breaking of Microsoft's monopoly, the establishment of a Linux installed base sufficient that by keeping its formats, APIs, and protocols closed Microsoft would actually lose market share. This would benefit all users of computers, no matter the platform. It might even force Microsoft to increase the quality of its product.

Of course, Microsoft wants none of these things to happen, so even as it awaits the judge's ruling in U.S. v. Microsoft, it is conducting webcasts in hope of extending its existing monopolies and creating new ones.

There are the makings here of a contest so exciting that even those who don't care about the outcome will find it enjoyable to watch it unfold.

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