Tuesday, February 28, 2006

 

Bringing down MSFT is hard

In class we mentioned that an interested analysis would be what to do to bring down Microsoft, or Google, or some other big company. Well, inadvertantly I attempted to protest Microsoft but pretty much failed...

I lost my hard drive a while back, so when it came time to rebuild I decided to rebuild with Linux instead of Windows. So what would things be like if there were no MS Windows? Not bad actually, the Linux platform is very well functioned and while not easy to get up and running, it wasn't terribly difficult. Once I was running things were quite user friendly. However, that is only what it seemed... in actuality, nothing was really completely functional. I learned the hard way that MS has extremely close ties with all the component companies, such that drivers are produced just for Windows. It took me days to get my wireless card working, and then it was adjusting the video, and then realized that my SD card reader would never work unless a new Open Source project was started.

This went for applications and websites too... it took me days to be able to use XM Radio online because they use MS Streaming video which is not released for Linux. However, once you hassle with the right software you can get that working too. But the right software means downloading this, in order to download that, so that you can get the library for this, and 10 downloads later, now you can try to install your original. So what I'm saying is that the functionality is pretty much there, but disperseness of Linux platforms means that nothing comes in a nice little package. You cannot produce one product that works on all Linux flavors, so each one has to download something different. And there's no guarantee that actually exists. If you're lucky OpenSource developers (via SouceForge) have made what you're looking for -- like a wireless driver, but they haven't made my SD driver.

And then I was quasi happy after almost a month of setup. Still I launch VMware (virtualization software) so that I could run MS Windows for whatever. Now that I think could be the way of the future, but laptop speeds prohibited me from much work. What I'm saying is that I had trouble running Windows on VMware on Linux. It worked great, just slow because I had limited resources on a laptop. So in the future I can see that working better, but for now it didn't.

And why did I need to run Windows at all... well it came down to Word. Here I am at school and 70% of everything I turn in uses Word at some point in time. Passing files back and forth with teammates requires Word, etc. OpenOffice, the opensource version, has great functionality, and can open Word stuff, but not perfectly. And when I need to write something that gets handed in, or worse yet, delivered to my internship, I can't just hope that when OpenOffice saves it as a Word doc that it will look okay. I have to know Word users will see it perfectly. So Word was my eventual killer.

Finally, I decided to go back to windows and I'd use VMware to run Linux instead. The process that took me almost of month of setup in Linux was done pretty much overnight with Windows!

So how would I kill MS? Well it is pretty darn tough now that I realize what it means to have companies developing just for you, and to have proprietary standards on some technology like streaming standards, and to have the killer app that almost everyone uses in Word. But I'd say it is doable. What you need to basically flood SourceForge.net with developers. You'd probably have to start paying them to develop stuff faster for your OS... but that won't win the battle, it will just let you OS work, and hopefully your Office product be 100% compatible. You need to come up with a reason for driver makers to develop for your OS instead of for MS.

Or better yet, you need to some adaptation of VMWare, such that you just make a driver and it doesn't matter what OS you made it for, it is just for the hardware and all OS' can now use it. That basically puts VMware in Microsoft's shoes. Which is why it is not surprising that MS has Virtual PC, doing basically the same thing. So my thoughts is that the virtualization race is the key race to kill MS.

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