Ballmer targets Linux in annual memo

IDG News Service |  Business

-- "Windows Server 2003 is receiving strong partner and customer support ...as well as a lot of interest in its total cost of ownership compared to Linux. A Microsoft-sponsored study by IDC last fall concluded that the cost advantages of Windows Server 2000 compared to Linux are 'significant,' including lower total cost of ownership in four of the five most common IT workload environments. I'm confident that the results will be even better when Linux is compared with Windows Server 2003."

-- "People have asked me: If competing with Linux is so important, can the company wait as long as it will take to get Longhorn done? My answer is twofold. First, the Windows Server 2003 generation of products offers stronger performance and value than Linux in most IT scenarios. Second, while we are not taking a relaxed approach to Longhorn, we will do the work and take the time required to get it right, because it truly is the next quantum leap in computing, which will put us years ahead of any other product on the market."

Yet, Ballmer seemed to be warming up to the idea of letting developers look inside the big Microsoft software development machine more deeply than in the past. While not going so far as to say that Microsoft intends to open its code in the same way the open source community does, he did suggest in the memo that the company needs to become more of a "community" player.

"We need to significantly step-up participation in community and on-line forums," he wrote. "We should look at communicating about new product design to customers earlier through on-line design discussion. For some products, it makes sense to publish regular builds of new products on-line, for community feedback."

Ballmer's memo reads like a statement of war against noncommercial open source software. And considering how Microsoft has demolished numerous competitors in the past, the Linux community should brace for a long, tough fight.

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