Posted on Tuesday 27th of February 2007 at 10:43 in Linux

Why Microsoft should never, ever acquire Linux

It seems that barely a month can go bye without me finding some Linux based content that I object to and it's happened again. An article on was trying to explain Why Microsoft Should Acquire Linux and I couldn't help but think "why not turn water to wine along the way".

The author "understands"
He begins by stating "Now, I understand that Linux is not as independent of an OS as Windows; it?s a movement towards the open environment for applications" - which is a true statement but one that essentially belies the rest of his argument. One of the key points that he highlights is that a lot of the Linux community feel Microsoft sabotages the open source software movement and MS purchasing Linux would remove this notion.

I can hold my hand up and say I had to read that particular paragraph a few times because I couldn't believe my eyes - Microsoft purchasing Linux was being made to sound like a good step for Linux itself... Don't get me wrong, Windows and Linux are moving in similar directions in some respects (the heavy focus on UI for one) but entirely opposite business models. Bringing one under the other would be a death sentence. Microsoft could no more control the direction of Linux than it could make Steve Jobs give Bill Gates a pole dance.

An act of war, of sorts
tux The author discusses that if Microsoft purchased Linux it could remove it as a competitor and while I appreciate this is how businesses are run (cough Google cough Youtube cough) but making Linux a division of Microsoft as a means of recouping their lost server market would be a strange decision.

It just wouldn't happen
Without debating how you'd purchase all the different distros that litter the Linux landscape (litter? constitute is maybe a better word) I can't help but feel that Microsoft would never do this. Why? Because Linux isn't a threat. Yes, I did just say that. Linux isn't a threat - yet. The majority of the Windows market is funded by the non-tech savvy; those who buy their machines from Dell with the OS pre-installed - these people don't know about Linux and by definition this makes it not a threat.

Microsoft do stand to lose a massive proportion of the techie users to Linux (or Apple) but what do they care? Techie users pirate software. Businesses will largely use Windows for the foreseeable future for client compatibility and they have to purchase copies/licenses for legal reasons.

Linux doesn't want Microsoft
It's such an obvious statement but I felt worth stating - the two 'businesses' are at opposite ends of the spectrum and attempting to move in opposite directions. Linux aspires to supplying users with a free, better alternative to commercial platforms whereas Microsoft look to remove numbers from my bank account.

I have proof of this too - Microsoft stealthily increased the price of Vista by making a basic package so lacking in features that no-one would actually buy it - meaning you couldn't object to their pricing if you opted for a version above and beyond the entry level one. It's crafty and in some respects I admire their level of business thinking - on the other hand - as a consumer this sort of behaviour upsets me.

Well, the grounds for justifying why Microsoft should acquire Linux were based around removing paranoia for the FOSS community and MS forcibly re-establishing their server dominance. I don't count those as valid reasons. There would be legal issues with doing this too and if Microsoft bought Ubuntu everyone would use PCLinuxOS, if they bought PCLOS everyone would use Mandriva... and so on and so forth - people use Linux to get away from Windows and bringing them back together would probably create a blinding light that stopped the earth spinning. I'm afraid the article in question explains an event that would never happen and doesn't give adequate reason for why it should.


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