Two Faces

Story: Did Bill Gates Invent Linux and Has He Erased the Evidence?Total Replies: 0
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Oct 24, 2005
11:55 AM EDT
You could have called this "The Two (or more) Faces of Microsoft". It's obvious they will say whatever is convenient for a given inquiry. Where it is good for Microsoft to have a competitor, there's Linux. Where it is not good for Microsoft to have a competitor, there's poor little Linux that can't compete (if they are even forced to mention Linux at all).

The fact that many business people don't understand the Linux/FOSS model (e.g. the software is free, and the support is either free or paid for, depending how you want it) allows Microsoft to make statements that business people will see as being "true". But, of course, it's all about playing up to common misconceptions, or the lack of knowledge about Linux that still exists among business decision makers.

One thing I have noticed is that if I pay a fixed price for anything, I tend to get lousy support for it. They've already got my money, so why should they bend over backwards to be sure I am happy with it? Considering the downward price pressure in a competitive market for any product (hardware or software), the manufacturer has to cut costs to meet the price targets. Since after market support is really a cost center in a business that doesn't charge for it, you can be sure that's where the cost is cut.

As long as Windows is buggy, people could easily blame all their problems on Windows' bugs, and hence expect Microsoft (or its agents, resellers, etc.) to be obligated to deal with it. This makes it hard for Windows users to transition to the pay-for-support model. In reality, most problems people have with any computer system are of their own making (even as buggy as Windows is, and not to dismiss various security issues lightly).

As I see it, the big advantage of Linux (which Microsoft doesn't want you to know about) is that it is a model in which you pay incrementally for support in a competitive market of support. Once we can get people past the hurdle of accepting the idea that the best support is what you pay for directly (and incrementally as it is needed) in a competitive support market, then they will be more willing to consider Linux and/or other FOSS (e.g. Open Office and other programs).

I really do believe that Microsoft directly manages the level of bugs in its products intentionally to keep customers coming back to keep them locked into the "buy once ... over and over and over" market model, and to be sure no one really discovers that support is better motivated (and hence will provide a better service) by being paid for directly in a competitive market. Microsoft knows they cannot lock in customers in such a market model.

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