Ballmer takes on Linux

Ballmer takes on Linux

Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer, took on Linux in a big way during the company’s recent annual meeting with the financial analyst community, saying that “too much abuse has gone on for too long”.

Ballmer laid out a series of “facts” — including analyst reports and security advisories — designed to cast doubt on the notion that the open source operating system is cheaper and more secure than Windows and can be patched more quickly.

The Microsoft CEO also described as “hogwash” the theory that the world is moving to services and that commercial software will disappear.

“Will the software business be bigger five years from now than it is today? Or will the work of people for free be as good as the innovation and value that the commercial companies create?” Ballmer asked.

He responded by saying that he was “enthusiastic” about innovation, particularly with regard to Microsoft’s integrated product set and “next-generation” collaboration system, and that he expected Microsoft (MS) to be able “to charge positive prices for software five years from now.”

Ballmer also questioned IBM’s “support” of its WebSphere application server on Linux.

“Will IBM tell you the road map for Linux? Can they respond to your request for a new feature? No, they can’t do that. They don’t control Linux,” he said.

“Does IBM fix Linux problems the way IBM stands behind and fixes the MVS operating system? Of course not,” he said. “Does IBM indemnify the intellectual property in Linux the way it indemnifies the intellectual property in every IBM software product? ... The answer is certainly no.”

Linux’s momentum clearly isn’t lost on company executives.

Microsoft’s chief financial officer, John Connors, had earlier disclosed internal estimates showing that Linux server shipments had grown 23 per cent during the fiscal year that ended July 1, while shipments of its own Windows servers grew 7.7 per cent.

Windows still held a commanding 53.1 per cent to 16.7 per cent edge in market segment share, according to the MS figures.

“I’m not happy that we grew share and Linux grew their share a little bit more at the server level last year,” Ballmer said. But he said that Microsoft has logged important wins involving customers that had migrated from Unix and Linux, including Safeway, Lexis-Nexis and the Hard Rock Cafe.

Ballmer also pointed to contracts with government entities, such as the cities of Riga, Latvia; Frankfurt; and Turku, Finland.

He called Finland “the bastion, shall we say, of Linux,” where the operating system’s creator, Linus Torvalds, grew up.

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