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"Microsoft Linux" is Vaporware

"Microsoft Linux" is Vaporware

According to an article on NewsFactor, a version of Linux could very well be under development in Seattle, home of the main rival commercial offering, Microsoft.

This isn’t the first time this rumor has surfaced. Almost every six months somebody chimes in with "Microsoft Linux" becoming a reality again. In fact, if you believe some sources it’s already happened.

But does a Microsoft version of Linux seem like a tangible idea?

Well, ignoring the issues of the GPL and the legality of such a product, do we really think Microsoft would come out with a version of Linux? If history and Microsoft has taught us one thing, it’s that Microsoft don’t release out ‘versions’ of what is essentially somebody else’s product. Either they buy the company and merge the code into their own code base, purchase a distribution license from the company and use them as a partner for their products, or they develop their own interpretation of the same product.

Now Microsoft can't buy Linux, it isn’t a property that can be owned, and I doubt very much that the owner of the Linux trademark would be willing to sell it to Microsoft, no matter how many millions or billions he was offered.

Partnering sounds like a possibility, and in some respects it’s happened with open source products before, providing they help to fuel the Microsoft Windows fires. Look at ActiveState, a company originally funded by Microsoft to help develop a Windows version of Perl, and they’ve gone on to do Python too.

Somehow though, this doesn’t ring true either. The companies that are already producing Linux distros are unlikely to partner with Microsoft and the one company that could have put their fit into the mix is mired in a legal battle that looks set to run for years. And it hasn’t even started yet.

Even if Microsoft did produce a version of Linux, who would use it? Microsoft and Linux are not two names you associate with each other. It’s not going to appeal to the masses. Most can’t tell the difference between Office and Windows, let alone Windows and Microsoft. The people in the know will stick to one of the true open source products, not trusting Microsoft not to do something underhanded.

No, if you want my money, "Microsoft Linux" is nothing more than vaporware.

More Stories By Martin C. Brown

Martin C. Brown is a former IT director with experience in cross-platform integration. A keen developer, he has produced dynamic sites for blue-chip customers, including HP and Oracle, and is the technical director of Foodware.net. Now a freelance writer and consultant, MC, as he is better known, works closely with Microsoft as an SME; has a regular column on both ServerWatch.com and IBM's DeveloperWorks Grid Computing site; is a core member of the AnswerSquad.com team; and has written books such as XML Processing with Perl, Python and PHP, and the Microsoft IIS 6 Delta Guide.

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