The Importance of Microsoft

The Linux world hates Microsoft. This is not where I argue that Microsoft is wonderful, but I would like to point out the self-interest that the Linux community has in accepting the world as it is - with Microsoft as the dominant player. In particular, I am concerned about the bile that is reserved for any Linux project that dares to implement Microsoft technology on Linux.

I include in this the Wine Project, Reactos and more recently Mono, even OpenOffice’s attempts to mimic MS Office have come in for criticism. Speaking as someone who has put the Linux desktop into a company, I can tell you that the biggest problem for me was in dealing with mission-critical applications that are Windows-only. The solution for us was virtualising a Windows 2003 server - Microsoft wins again.

I know, it’s our fault for choosing Windows software, well, here’s a newsflash, most software is written for Windows, and there aren’t always Linux alternatives. You show me Linux-compatible motor-trade software or Linux-compatible filling-station software. You can’t - they doesn’t exist. But - and here’s the crunch - I can show you .net applications in both those markets, and I can show you software that works, to a fashion, under Wine. If these technologies can be properly implemented on Linux, then you make it a whole lot easier for businesses to adopt Linux on the desktop.

And business is critical for Linux, because people are most familiar with the operating system that they use at work; if that happens to be Linux, then they are infinitely more likely to adopt Linux at home. Once Linux is in the home, then the whole family and, most importantly their children, are likely to adopt Linux. Thus the Linux snowball starts gaining momentum at last. Once there are a significant proportion of Linux users on the desktop, then developers will start to worry about cross-platform, making it even easier to adopt Linux.

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