Barney's Rubble

Linux (and the Mac) Aren't Even Trying

If they are trying to compete with Microsoft, we wouldn't know.

Say what you will about Larry Ellison and Scott McNealy, when they tried to topple the Microsoft desktop monopoly with thin clients, they put their hearts into it. Like you, I got pretty sick of the speeches, grandstanding and pithy quotes, but at least they were out there mixing it up.

It ultimately didn't work (Citrix owns the thin client space and they all run Windows!), but they gave it their best shot.

Today's XP rivals consist of a dozen or more flavors of Linux clients, and the Mac. The programmers building Linux take it seriously -- but none of the companies selling (or giving away) this stuff really seem to care about desktops and laptops.

Right now the Linux PC market is fragmented worse than a champagne glass at a Jewish wedding.

Meanwhile, we've never been called by Apple asking us to review its latest machines (and the company never thanked me for a recent gushing editorial or two), nor is it telling us why Apple is such a great alternative for the enterprise. In love with its iPod success, the company barely seems to care about the Mac -- unless it is to gain a couple of home market share points.

Linux is a newer entrant and its failure is more egregious. For more than a year I tried to put a major Linux exec on the cover. Every time I had something lined up with Novell, its leader would quit or get the boot. At least Novell gave us the time of day.

Red Hat is another story. For that same year I pestered the company seeking an interview with the CEO -- with no response. I've never seen such a PR black hole. Finally, after calling his office directly, Red Hat got back to me, and in no uncertain terms told me that Linux at this point is not an alternative to Windows clients, and it isn't competing with Microsoft in this space. Shocked? So was I! Linux is an alternative, if companies like Red Hat want it to be.

A unified Linux with easy installation, application support, and a decent array of drivers could be a worthy alternative -- could. And Red Hat -- more than anyone -- could make this happen.

This is all pretty funny. Redmond magazine serves the Windows community, yet we're interested in presenting alternatives to Microsoft. But the alternatives aren't interested in presenting themselves! That's why it's easy to say they aren't serious about competing with Microsoft.

In this market, if you play dead, you are dead. What do you think about the so-called alternatives to Microsoft? Tell me at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

About the Author

Doug Barney is editor in chief of Redmond magazine and the VP, editorial director of Redmond Media Group.

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