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6/20/2005
03:05 PM
Rob Enderle
Rob Enderle
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Mr. Enderle Goes To Redmond

Rob Enderle has a four-step plan to give Microsoft an edge against Linux. None of the steps have much to do with technology -- that's exactly the point.

Step Three: Show A Sense Of Purpose
Today, we have very few accepted ways to compare Linux and Windows directly against one another. One of my main objectives would be to make such a comparison possible by setting a technology goal that is useful, easy to understand, and mutually attainable.

If I ran Microsoft, I would have to believe in the company's ability to work together and to win such a contest, even if Linux initially held the advantage. On a level playing field, I believe a company like Microsoft is better equipped than the Linux community to meet a set of specific, clearly defined objectives.In fact, I would to bet the company on its ability to win such a race. (If you don't believe you can win, there is very little chance you will win.)

When it is time to judge the results of such a contest, one thing is clear: It is in Microsoft's best interests to allow independent, credible, widely respected IT organizations to decide which product wins in a head-to-head comparison.

Customers benefit from this process in two ways. First, it forces both Microsoft and Linux developers to focus on a goal that will make life easier for users and ultimately improve both products. Second, if and when Microsoft succeeds, it won't risk muddying the waters with tainted research and test results.

There's also another, obvious benfit for Microsoft: If extremists in the Linux community attack credible, independent souces that publish results unfavorable to Linux, they won't damage anyone's public image except their own.

This leads to my fourth and final recommendation.

Step Four: Show Off The Linux Fringe
This step is my favorite, because I know from personal experience that it works. When most IT decision-makers see how the Linux community's lunatic fringe behaves, and especially if they see some of the abuse their own peers take simply for raising questions, they're likely to stay as far away from Linux as they can. Letters such as this one (which I received on June 1 -- edited here only for spelling, punctuation, and length) would help to convince people that Linux carries some unacceptable human baggage that could easily put an IT decision-maker's career and company at risk:

I'm not a reporter; I sometimes write reviews, and I did write one article for Groklaw before I got tired of the biased nature, the inability to tell the whole truth on Groklaw's part, and their misrepresentations. When I wrote a segment about SCO, [stating] that I agreed with SCO's assessment that IBM may have copied code, I got a staggering 325 e-mails, all hate mail, communicating threats . . . One even went as far as to say he would kidnap my child if I didn't write a retraction. I didn't, and luckily it was just a threat. These people are out of control, and the thing is, nobody seems to care.

When I wrote the Groklaw article, I was [to readers] a very knowledgeable and brilliant person. When I wrote a negative word against the Linux community, suddenly I was a Microsoft shill, I was a dumb-ass who didn't know C++ from Java, and I was a traitor to the cause and I deserved death. Be careful, when you make a valid and provable point to these people, they get pissed and they bring their friends to try to tear you apart. I pretty much don't participate in the Linux community or any GNU project because of their attitude.

This is just the latest in a series of email I've received, indicating how disruptive Linux folks can be. Many of these accounts detail abusive and sometimes sexually harassing email sent to reporters who displeased the Linux zealots in some way. Simply making this kind of abuse more visible than it is today would make a lot of CEOs wonder if they want to associate themselves with this sort of behavior.

Rob Enderle is an analyst specializing in emerging personal technologies. He heads the Enderle Group and has been an IT analyst since 1994. He spends his free time building computers and playing with personal technology prototypes. He can be reached at renderle@enderlegroup.com.

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