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Microsoft Is Hungrier Than a Sumo

At last week's Microsoft Partner Conference, the never demure Steve Ballmer made a characteristically bold challenge: He asked Redmond resellers to push Microsoft search, unified messaging and security products, and spit on those of Redmond rivals.

Although I've heard this song before, this time it really rubbed me the wrong way. In each case, rivals pioneered these paths: Avaya and Cisco in unified messaging; Yahoo, AltaVista and Google in search; and Symantec and McAfee in anti-virus. Ballmer wants partners to utterly discount these efforts and put their full weight behind the Microsoft-come-lately offerings.

That is just wrong, especially in security. Let's face it, Windows would be much more of a crash-fest were it not for anti-virus software from third parties. I guess saving Windows isn't enough to keep Microsoft from trying to destroy your company! Imagine a world without strong third parties? I don't want an IT market that looks like the oil or soft drink industries -- dull, secretive and expensive!

Lotus Notes: Not Dead Yet
In the name of keeping Redmond off balance, you might want to check out a few alternatives, like the new Notes client that runs on Linux. While the world wasn't exactly waiting with breathless anticipation, this is great news for the rare shops (rare in America, less so in Europe and elsewhere) adopting Linux desktops. I'm still troubled that desktop Linux isn't ready for prime time, but you should be prepared for when it is. A sprinkling of Linux sure won't hurt when it comes time to negotiate Vista licenses, eh?

Does Suse Rate a 10?
Novell, struggling for its very survival, is struggling like heck to commercialize Linux, a feat long ago mastered by Red Hat, which has some 80 percent of the pay-to-play Linux market. That is at least half of what Suse 10 is all about -- encouraging customers to register their software and pay Novell its annual dues.

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My take? This industry needs companies like Novell, always ready to battle, to survive. Microsoft only excels in the face of rigorous competition, and that same competition keeps prices in check. Want to pay less for Windows Server? Buy a few Linux servers and give your MS rep a tour next time he comes to visit.

Windows To Get Faster -- At Least When It Comes to Shipping
Also at last week's partner event, Ballmer promised we won't have to wait five years for the follow-up to Vista -- like we will for the follow-up to XP. Unfortunately, Ballmer didn't offer more product details or specifics on how he'll shrink the development window. But given the company's track record on ship dates, I'll believe this when Vista 2008 ships on time!

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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