On Fri, 21 Apr 2006 08:10:39 -0700, Rex Ballard wrote:
> Bill Gates made the real mistake about 20 years ago, when, in about
> 1987, he decided that "Unix is dead" and sold most of his interest in
> Xenix to SCO. By 1989, he had sold all of his interest in Xenix, along
> with the right to sell a competing Unix variant, to SCO.
By the mid-80's VMS and some variant of Unix were the two most common OS's
in the mini-computer market. They are of course two completely different
animals. VMS was designed for process controlling and Unix was designed as
a cut down version of the general purpose multi-user OS Multics.
I guess has always been that Bill Gates went for VMS rather than Unix
because there was no way that he could get total control of Unix. There
were just too many players in that market.
> Ironically, in 1992, only 3 years later, Microsoft's most effective
> competition - Linux, would be adopted by thousands of people who were
> dissatisfied with Windows 3.0 and Windows 3.1 and wanted a workstation
> that gave them all of the capabilities of a Unix workstation such as a
> $25,000 SPArCStation, SGI Workstation, or HP 9000 graphical Unix
> workstation, but at the price of a PC.
In 1993, Linux still seriously sucked. There were people using BSD, but
the legal situation wasn't yet clear. The legal Unix distributions were
very expensive and there was really no Unix at the low end of the
market. It was only because of this vacuum that Windows had a chance at
all. A year later in 1994, Linux had improved sufficiently to be able to
be put into service as a small server.
> By 1993 Linux had all of these capabilities, including the ability to
> function as a "terminal" to any of the above workstations, as well as a
> number of Unix Servers which could run graphical applications using the
> Linux workstation as a display.
Making GUI applications for Unix was complex and expensive. Making
commercial applications for Linux was on very shakey legal ground. That's
why it didn't happen.
> By 1994, Linux had become so popular that Novell decided to purchase the
> rights to Unix from AT&T, with the intent of producing a low-cost
> workstation with all of the capabilities of Linux, all of the
> compatibility of Unix, and more effective and reliable than Windows NT.
Novell clearly thought that they could put Unix onto evey desktop. Had
that happened, Windows would have been still born. Bill was very cleaver
in conning the Novell board to drop their Unix plans. In so doing, Novell
had pretty much killed themselves.
> By 1993, Microsoft had been promoting Windows NT as vaporware. In fact,
> the federal trade commisson was investigating Microsoft for false
> advertizing and fraud. Microsoft negotiated a deal and the commisioners
> voted 4 to 3 against prosecution.
Microsoft has long been a marketing machine. Still, McDonalds has not been
able to take over the food industry.
> Microsoft had several rivals, including OS/2, UnixWare, Solaris, and
> Linux, and by 1995, it was beginning to look like Windows NT was dead in
> the water. "Chicago" which was supposed to be "Windows NT Lite" was
> almost a year late and when it was finally released, could not be easily
> installed on existing Windows 3.x PCs. Meanwhile, Linux and Unixware
> could easily be installed on these "legacy" machines.
> When Windows 95 finally did come out in the last Saturday of August, the
> end of Microsoft's fiscal year, it ended up being a double-edged sword.
> On the one hand, it drove up huge sales of brand-new PCs, with millions
> corporations buying new PCs for their employees, equipped with Windows
> 95, on the other hand, this created millions of "boat anchor" PCs, which
> were often left on the sidewalks behind major office buildings, to be
> picked up for free by those wanting to contribute them to charity.
> Millions of these PCs were converted to Linux, partly because Windows
> 3.1 had very limited Internet capabilities (modems were limited to 9600
> baud, Win32 "plug-in" crashed horribly, Mosaic browser was limited...)
Most of the boad anchor PC's ran DOS and little else. There were very few
of these machines that ended up with Linux on them. More commonly they
continued running Windows 3.1 with the Win32s extension until they were
> To make matters worse, most corporations reformatted the hard drives,
> leaving only a minimal MS-DOS, and often stripping as much of that as
> possible. Since most of these "boat anchor" PCs were being passed to
> young kids with very limited budgets, Linux became much more popular.
> Walnut Creek had a "Linux Multipack" which contained Red Hat, Slackware,
> and usually one or two others, for about $25. Furthermore, it was legal
> to "pass it on". Estimates were that each CD set was being used to
> convert an averaged of 5-10 PCs per machine or download.
Many of the boat anchor PC were given to schools to get a tax deduction.
This created the generation of Microsoft Zombies (MSCE) that we have today.
> By the time Microsoft finally released Windows NT 4.0, which was pretty
> reliable (but didn't run popular games very well), there were millions
> of users who had Linux on their "old" machines. And again, hardware
> requirements of NT 4.0 and labor costs made it cheaper to simply replace
> the old machine with NT - leaving millions MORE PCs to be converted to
Unfortunately, these machines more often than not ended up with a pirated
copy of Windows 95/98.
> The irony is that the AMD/Linux alliance is beginning to do some serious
> damage to the "Wintel" market.
> Intel still doesn't have a 32/64 combination chip?
> Windows still doesn't have a 64 bit version that can run the same
> applications available for 32 bit Windows?
> Yes, there is Windows XP/64, but it runs only a few applications - no
> one wants to "bet the farm" if Vista ends up being radically different -
> or doesn't get released for another year or two.
> There are many vendors offering AMD-64/Windows machines with minimal
> additional software, clearly designed to be re-imaged with Linux as the
> primary, but licenced for Windows to be used as a secondary OS.
> Lot's of people are using Linux as the second OS on their primary
> computer as well. VMWare Player has made it possible to run Linux and
> Windows on the same machine. Many vendors are now offering their
> software preconfigured to run on Linux "Appliances" which run under
> VMWare Player. It's easier to implement it on Linux VM than to try and
> outguess Microsoft's API du jour.
In the corporate sector it is the Microsoft greed that has driven off the
most customers. Microsoft is still very good at the FUD game and that has
stopped a lot of PHB's from straying, but the simple fact of the matter is
that Windows is not the best fit for every problem. The fact is also that
the number of problems for which it is best fit is reducing every year.
It is my hope that PHB will stop making technical decisions, where the
only knowledge is that provided by Microsoft salesmen.