OS SmackDown!

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Event Summary

Recently, Microsoft published instructions on how to remove Linux OS and install Windows 2000/NT4 on the newly-freed-up disk drive. Not to be outdone, Linux-philes have countered by publishing instructions on how to remove a Windows OS and replace it with Linux. To close the circle, Paul Ferris, Editor at Linux Today, highlighted the silliness by publishing his own mostly-joking piece on how to uninstall both Windows and Linux. (His directions lead to a wiped out disk drive, of course.)

Market Impact

Alone, these documents will have minimal market impact, except to provide fodder for the pros/antis on both sides to complain about the other and their tactics. Operating system market growth will not be affected by these pieces. Regarding the individual OSes, there are three likely reactions from those who are actually following this mini soap opera: (1) "Who cares?"; (2) "Boy, I'm so angry at their tactics, I'm going to show them by picking the other OS", or (3) amused disinterest . We think Scenario #3 is far more likely than #1 or #2 - people just aren't getting as upset at Microsoft's tactics of this type as they did in the past.

However, from a corporate standpoint, this indicates that Microsoft is taking the Linux threat even more seriously. Although MS has not ignored Linux, this is viewed as yet another potshot from Redmond. Frankly, we think the so-called "Halloween memo" from 1998 and the "Linux Myths" website posting were greater indicators of Microsoft's worry. With Linux accounting for approximately 15% of server shipments in 1998 and expected to increase in 1999, its worry is understandable. However, Microsoft is presently in little danger of being stomped by Linux. But if MS starts feeling even more threatened, we would not be surprised to see "more of the same" vis--vis anti-Linux tracts.

If things get personal enough, we can envision a tag-team match between Microsoft (Bill "Crusher" Gates and Steve "Mr. Intensity" Ballmer) and Team Linux (Eric "FUD Killer" Raymond and Bob "Hat of Doom" Young). Yes, we know it is silly, but hardly more so than other back-and-forth sniping we see.

User Recommendations

As readers have probably guessed, we view this stuff as just so much pre-wrestling-match shouting. Unless users have been dying to find a way to change their operating system, this catfight should be ignored. Purchasing decisions should of course be made on product features, not who can trash whom more effectively.

Users who have a slightly warped sense of humor, as we do, should sit back and enjoy the fireworks. Or seek out more pieces like Paul Ferris's.

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