Sunday, September 20, 2009

RE : Please Reinstate the OS Wars

This post is in reply to an article wrtitten by Ken Hess on Daniweb.
In that post, he talked about how he would love to see another cold war between Linux and Windows. To put it bluntly, I simply disagree with the post. If anything at all, the so called war is part of the reason Linux, after close to twenty years of existence is still struggling to surpass the 5% market share.

Microsoft, like the millions of other businesses out there, needs to make a profit. Microsoft is a competitor to Linux, that I think is what most people, including the author of that post, seem to forget. Microsoft always acts with one motive- profit maximization. It seems to me that most Linux vendors, on the other hand, are simply confused about what they are up to. They just are not certain whether they are in for profit or for the heck of it.

What Linux operates in is called a market, and markets have rules by which you must play if you are to make any  meaningful headway. I simply disagree with the philosophy where people hate Microsoft because they think Microsoft is not helping Linux to grow. There is no way under this sun that Microsoft would ever help Linux to grow because Microsoft has rightly identified Linux as a competitor and as such takes Linux seriously. Linux vendors and users on the other hand, see Microsoft as a company that is the devil's incarnate. In as much as it has used some questionable market tactics in the  past, Microsoft has largely succeeded in maintaining its dominant market share because it knows it it is out to do business and make profit, thus every single move it ever makes is in pursuance of that goal including the recent launch of the so called Codeplex which I  think people should be wary of.

In the world of business, there is no room for sentiments as most Linux proponents are used to, you either are in for a reason (profit), or you are trampled upon by those with a reason.Unfortunaley, Linux falls in the latter group.Take a look at the Linux world, there does not seem to be a single bit of cohesion or coordination whatsoever, it is simply one big, chaotic world made up of mostly hobbyists who are in for the fun of it. I have no problem with people writing their own OS for the fun of it. But I have a problem when such people blame and needlessly hate Microsoft for being  a hindrance to their growth when they have themselves  no clear objective to which they aim with their handiwork.

I strongly think the days of the so called cold war alluded to by Ken in his post should never come back, because all it does is to needlessly distract people from focusing on the business at hand: the business of working to make Linux a viable, profitable OS liked by the market. Instead of the various Linux vendors coming together to seek a common ground and work together towards a common goal, they are rather comfortable with blaming everything wrong with Linux on Microsoft.

Before you say there can be no cohesion in the world of Linux, I urge you to first take a look at the European Union, though that bloc is not perfect, at least they have a united front with which they seek their common interests. I do not believe hating Microsoft has ever done any good to Linux, on the contrary, it has rather stifled growth. It it is time to define clearly what Linux is. Whether it is an OS that aims at being a formidable, profitable competitor to Windows, or just a hobbyists thing that is happy to subsist on donations from its users. That is a question to be answered by the entire Linux world before the so called OS war is reinstated as wished by Ken.

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By Seraaj Muneer with 3 comments


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