|FROM ||Dave Williams
|SUBJECT ||Subject: [hangout] More idiocy
Yet another ridiculously incompetent article from this DiCarlo person at
Forbes. Who is bankrolling this nonsense? Are there investments in the
Forbes portfolio that profit from misinforming people about Linux?
Why You Won't Be Getting A Linux PC
Lisa DiCarlo, Forbes.com
06.17.03, 12:00 PM ET
NEW YORK - Judging from the holy war being waged by proponents of Linux
PCs, it's clear that Linux is becoming the OS/2 of its time.
OS/2, many will recall, is the now-defunct PC operating system
originally developed by IBM and Microsoft in the 1980s. By 1990,
Microsoft split the project to focus on Windows, and IBM continued to
develop OS/2 alone. For the next five years, IBM fought a losing battle
that consumed the company, and OS/2 proponents (a very vocal, technical
crowd) were never short on conspiracy theories about Microsoft's covert
efforts to wipe out the operating system.
Now, the same appears to be happening with Linux PCs. Despite
Microsoft's overwhelming market share--somewhere north of 90%--there's
an effort underfoot to make a dent in Windows with Linux PCs. And with
that effort comes a return of the conspiracy theories.
Lindows.com, which makes a Linux operating system for PCs, claims that
TigerDirect, a computer reseller and a division of Systemax, has been
"bribed" by Microsoft to stop selling computers based on the OS. On its
Web site, Lindows.com's chief executive, Michael Robertson, writes:
"Microsoft has stepped up orders to [its] staffers to increase the
financial incentives to impede LindowsOS sales at TigerDirect."
TigerDirect Chief Executive Gilbert Fiorentino says there is "zero
truth" to the story. "Michael has made a lot of inflammatory comments
about Microsoft. We are here to serve our customers, not to advance
TigerDirect continues to sell the Lindows PC as well as Windows systems.
"There is no conspiracy here," says Fiorentino. "This is a political
matter between Windows and Lindows."
Robertson counters that what he wrote "is 100% accurate. Microsoft makes
[billions] in profit from Windows and Office. [The company is] glad to
spend a few million to postpone meaningful competition from desktop
Since IBM dropped development of OS/2 in the mid-1990s, Microsoft has
only gotten more entrenched in desktop computing. Windows and Office
account for more than 60% of Microsoft sales, and the lion's share of
profits. The market share for PCs running Linux is so insignificant that
it is not tracked by International Data Corp.
That's not to say that there will never be alternatives, but the
alternatives must offer something more compelling than "we're not
"We're not dismissing Linux PCs out of hand, but the integration
[Microsoft] provides around the desktop is already there," says Bridget
O'Connor, senior vice president of technology at Lehman Brothers. "The
Office suite all works together. That's a whole set of engineering staff
I don't have to have on Lehman's payroll."
Because most PCs are not built from scratch to accommodate Linux, as
they are for Windows, almost everything requires extra work. Windows
certainly has its quirks, but there are millions of off-the-shelf,
readily available hardware and software add-ons for Windows
PCs--assuming they're not already built in. That's not true of Linux.
Take printer drivers, for example. Drivers are low-level software needed
to make an add-on device, such as a printer, PDA or digital camera, work
with a PC. Hewlett-Packard, the largest printer company, has drivers
available for many of its inkjet and LaserJet printers on its Web site,
which must be downloaded and installed. HP does not include Linux
drivers with the printer, but it does include Windows drivers.
There is also a lack of mainstream applications for Linux PCs, and
that's not going to change anytime soon. Sure, there are open-source
software suites like StarOffice and OpenOffice, but beyond that it's
It's clunky or impossible to run Linux versions of the most popular
applications: Intuit's Quicken, QuickBooks and TurboTax finance
software; Symantec's Norton AntiVirus; and Adobe Photoshop from Adobe
Systems. There exists a community-supported Linux version of RealPlayer
by Real Networks, but the company has nothing to do with the product;
according to its Web site, Real Networks "does not guarantee
functionality, maintenance, upgrades, fixes or sustainability for any
Not exactly a ringing endorsement but it's understandable, given the
cost pressure most software developers are under. They will write
software for systems that have the greatest potential to yield high
sales, and that's Windows.
Linux PCs seemed to get a boost recently when retail giant Wal-Mart
Stores began selling Linux systems from a company called Microtel. But
the balloon was deflated when, in a review of the Lindows-based machine,
Consumer Reports said the system was "OK for Web browsing, e-mail and
letter writing, but not much more," and that attaching PDAs, digital
cameras, etc., will be "difficult or impossible." The magazine therefore
"recommend[s] that you spend another $200 or so for a low-priced Windows
Lindows.com's Robertson says hundreds of digital cameras are supported.
Despite the desktop issues, Linux has made deep inroads in servers. In
the first quarter of this year, revenue market share for Linux servers
grew 35% over the year-earlier period, to $583 million.
To be sure, computer users have been tempted to smash their Windows PCs
to bits. After all, freeze-ups, shutdowns and fatal errors are still an
all-too-frequent part of the everyday computing experience. And because
Microsoft tends to take a kitchen-sink approach to software development,
most users pay for features they will never use or don't even know
exist. But, for most, it's better than the Linux alternative.
Mainstream computer users (those uncomfortable opening, programming or
reconfiguring a computer) would not be satisfied with Linux PCs. Large
and medium-sized corporate customers are probably not a good fit either.
"I leverage vendors where they are good," says Lehman's O'Connor. "It's
too hard to deal with all the issues of putting [Linux PCs] together
yourself. That is not our business."
That leaves technically savvy individuals and Microsoft haters to make a
market for Linux PCs.
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