Ready to sacrifice Windows for open source mania?



Simon Moores

Tech Talk

It's encouraging to see that intelligent debate is alive and well within the industry. Most recently, IR35...



Simon Moores

Tech Talk

It's encouraging to see that intelligent debate is alive and well within the industry. Most recently, IR35 and the trials of Microsoft found me trekking between different television programmes on both the BBC and Sky News.

Where the IR35 legislation was concerned, I commented that the politics of envy was divisive and had no place within an expanding information society. I doubt this argument will change the chancellor's mind and perhaps internment remains the only practical solution to the threatened exodus of IT contractors from the UK.

What surprised me most over the recent Microsoft verdict was the strength of opinion behind the company. Sky News carried out a viewer poll, which was pretty evenly split between those who thought that introducing the death penalty in anti-trust cases was a good idea and those who believed that the ends justified the means, as long as they could still play Doom.

Among the small blizzard of e-mails I received was a gem from the home of one of Microsoft's closest rivals; an elegant one liner, which quite simply said, "Hang the scum".

Not normally counted among Microsoft's warmest apologists, I felt I had to consider a world without Windows and Gates. Perhaps some unknown talent might have filled the gap but would Steve Jobs or even Scott McNealy have offered us anything better or indeed cheaper to start the 21st century with?

Take Sun Microsystems, the dotty element of Com. Great hardware, great software and ouch, what a great price! And Apple too. Both firms, in their own special way, illustrate why business loves Microsoft, for all its faults: it's arrogance and undisputed record as the industry's leading playground bully.

Microsoft may have artificially inflated the cost of personal computing but people voted with their feet and the industry, in general, colluded. The companies that complained the most were unsurprisingly the ones that were most at threat from Microsoft's more competitive pricing structure.

Thanks in part to the explosion in the PC market generated by the Internet, prices have been falling steadily for the past two years.

They have, I believe, some way still to go and with luck, the intervention of the courts may speed up the process. But until then, I'm not ready to sacrifice the comfort, convenience, cost and consistency of the Windows environment for some as yet still vague promise of open source nirvana.

Simon Moores is chairman of the Windows NT Forum and Java Forum

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