Will Linux be Microsoft's savior?

— 12:53 PM on December 10, 2000

The Open Source movement allows just about anyone to put out their own Linux distro. Due to its conflicts with the Justice Department and the loss of OS market share to Linux, Microsoft's stock has taken a beating recently but CNBC has a provocative article detailing a possible scenario where Linux may be the one to save Microsoft. The solution? Microsoft could out-Open Source the Open Source movement by doing its own Linux distro.

This is not as far-fetched as you may think. Back in October, Microsoft purchased $135 million worth of Corel stock, more details of which were revealed later. What does Corel do besides the WordPerfect suite? Yes, Corel has their own Linux distro. Moreover, Microsoft has dropped hints that it will port its Office applications and .NET services to Linux.

Consider that Microsoft may have lost its court battle with Sun but is forging ahead with C#. MS doesn't care about Java anymore. It is no coincidence that Visual J++ (Microsoft's version of Java) was dropped from the next Visual Studio. Pretty soon, Microsoft's Windows will be in an interesting position. In fact, it is beginning to happen already. At one end of the spectrum, you can now run Linux and Darwin (a BSD flavor of Unix) on a Macintosh. Both are Open Source. At the high end, you have Sun's Solaris, which will soon be Open Source. Linux sits somewhere in the middle, leaving Windows as the sole proprietary operating system. I haven't even mentioned BeOS.

Will Microsoft be able to maintain their edge as the leading desktop OS, or will the OS become a commodity? There is no doubt that a Micro$oft version of Linux is possible. And you thought that Rambus was the Great Satan.

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