Subject: Re: HBS WK: Who will win Microsoft or Linux?
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <stephen@xemacs.org>
Date: Tue, 07 Jun 2005 12:12:27 +0900

>>>>> "Kelly" == Kelly Anderson <KAnderson@dentrix.com> writes:

    Kelly> I could go on for a while, but the bottom line is that
    Kelly> while these guys seem to understand the demand side of
    Kelly> these equations, they have a long way to go to understand
    Kelly> the supply side.

I don't think _anybody_ understands the supply side, least of all
the hackers who live in it.

From the way that interview went (I don't have a copy of the paper
yet), I would guess that it is important to look at the supply side in
ways that they haven't.  But it's not an unreasonable research
strategy to look at the demand side carefully while maintaining
outrageous simplifying assumptions on the supply side.

What surprised me was Ghemawat's statement that his intuition was that
Linux would win.  That's just not what I would expect given his
informal description of the model.  The reason is that (as several
people have pointed out in this thread in several contexts) Microsoft
can mimic Linux in several ways, specifically price as the interview
describes.  It can then harness the market share differential (ie
network externalities) to ensure both its long-run survival and
profitability in the face of demand-side learning.

    Kelly> The thing that makes or breaks a particular operating
    Kelly> system is how many applications run on it. The one key
    Kelly> thing that these geniuses haven't computed for is the
    Kelly> impact of systems like Mono that will allow Windows
    Kelly> software to run on Linux. That's another nail in the coffin
    Kelly> of MS.

Do you really think Mono will succeed where Wine, Bochs, etc haven't?
Windows software will always run better on Windows, just as Linux
software will always run better on Linux than on Cygwin.

    Kelly> but they can't throw billions down a closed source toilet
    Kelly> forever.

If Linux ever beats Windows, my money says that it will make Bill
Gates the richest man in the Linux industry. :-)

-- 
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