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Death of Microsoft, compressed-gif at 11


By Scott Bradner


Clayton Hallmark recently wrote a rambling rant (and a good one as anti-Microsoft rants go) with the eye grabbing title of "BIG NEWS ON MICROSOFT: Slavery to It Is Ending."  Not surprisingly the work popped up all over the place (Google gets more than 1500 hits so far).  I do not agree with all of it but there are some interesting observations in it.


It seems more than a bit callous to equate the general need to use Microsoft products with slavery considering the history and current extent of slavery of the human kind and I think it takes away from the messages in Hallmark's article. (  But, that said, Hallmark's basic message that Microsoft does not have a way to effectively compete for software for cheap (very cheap) personal computers against open source solutions.


Hallmark particularly focuses on the current very low cost computers already available from Walmart (  -- under $200 (w/o monitor) plus $40 for a copy of Linux -- and  similarly priced systems from India.  He also expects that there will be systems available for even less in the future -- maybe as low as $100 including software.  Hallmark points out that Microsoft currently charges manufacturers between $70 and $83 per system for Windows but that does not include editors etc.  Microsoft does have a $30 "starter kit" version of Windows for entry-level computers in developing countries but Hallmark considers this a trap (and provides links to analysis by folk like Gartner that warn against using the starter kit).  Hallmark points out that there is no room for a $75 operating system in the cost structure of a $200 computer.


Hallmark feels that the advent of these very cheap computers running Linux instead of Windows will become a real threat to Microsoft in the future.  That seems to be a bit of wishful thinking to me, I doubt that super-cheap computers will remove the market for more upscale systems and I doubt that enough enterprises will decide to switch to Linux on their desktops to worry Microsoft.  (I'll not bother mentioning Apple even though I think it is better than both Windows and Linux because I doubt it will ever be a big enough player to be statistically significant.)  But I do agree that there soon may be a lot more people in this world using non-Microsoft-running computers than Microsoft-running ones.


Hallmark seems to be part of the Microsoft-is-evil camp.  That is a camp I've stayed in from time to time when thinking about some of their business practices but I use Microsoft software on my non-Microsoft Apple computer.  I use the Office Suite and some other software. (I'm editing this column on MS Word while listening to KHYI on Windows Media Player.)


Microsoft is a very powerful player in the computer biz and I doubt they will fade away anytime soon, although they might find the going harder in some areas -- which I would not find troubling.


disclaimer:  Harvard is an old (and maybe powerful) player in the education biz and learns from changing times but has not expressed a view on Microsoft's future trials.