March 20, 2001, 10:41 AM —
If you've ever wondered how much truth there might be in Microsoft's FUD campaigns, like the one currently under way to convince us all that Linux is doomed, the answer is that there is always some truth in them. Ideally, from Microsoft's point of view, it will be the absolute minimum required to convince the unwary that they are speaking the whole truth. Because the rodents in Redmond can sound oh-so-sincere, it behooves us all to keep in mind that they are the same people who promised us that Windows 95 was an "all-new 32-bit operating system" that would run in 4 MB of memory.
Doug Miller, group product manager for competitive strategy of Windows .Net Server marketing, is a Microsoft rodent. A groundhog, to be specific. He recently stuck his head out of his hole and cast such a long shadow over Linux that we can be certain only that this FUD campaign will last a minimum of six more weeks. Just before the LinuxWorld Conference & Expo (LWCE) kicked off in New York last week, Miller was telling every news organization that would hear him out (specifically Wired and eWeek -- see Resources for links) that "Linux is doomed."
Adhering to the classic MS-FUD recipe, Miller started with a pinch of truth in saying that there will be failures and realignments within the Linux business community. Having established a hint of credibility with that gem of insight, he moved on to his larger message of Linux's inevitable demise. But there is another message conveyed by his statements: Microsoft is frightened. And LWCE showed that it has good reason to be. Microsoft knows that its days of empire and glory are at an end unless it can find some way to do to Linux what it did to OS/2. The problem is that Microsoft can't impose the Redmondian death penalty by yanking the license to preload Windows. Linux is immune.