Where does the future lie for these two? Well, we all know it’s on the battlefield. To me, Linux has a fluctuating future, why? The value proposition in the product is just not there, the predictability of the product is just in the lost and found for businesses. The fast pace of the platform changes, the migration path is just not there whether it’s Windows, Unix or another Linux distribution itself. If you take Linux vendors such as Redhat for example, they have basically made their own proprietary distribution that is not in adherence with the other distributions out on the open source playing field. This only leaves businesses in a locked position when it comes to choosing open-source technologies. Microsoft has leveraged this smoothly, well at least they are starting to, ask anyone out there and they know what lies ahead for Windows. For Windows, Microsoft has it laid it out well, Longhorn, Longhorn Server, Longhorn Server R2, and Blackcomb obviously a lot of users know this not to mention Microsoft partners. It’s a safe bet for businesses to stay with Windows.
Microsoft can easily lose the game if they stop displaying the strong sense of transparency that they are bringing across to many of their customers today. Microsoft has three things to do, keep current customers happy who have migrated to their latest software technologies and keep in touch constantly with customers on legacy platforms such as NT, and provide better value propositions for customers to migrate from the already good Windows 2000. NT is very tricky for Microsoft and the future of Windows depends on it too, this is a big market opportunity for many OS vendors to capture. From Linux to Apple, have been circling NT 4 migration like a pack of wolves, Microsoft needs to watch this, and make it as easy as 123 to migrate to either Windows XP or Longhorn. Microsoft has to stay really close with its partner community, providing strong incentives and predictability power to these people will be a way of supplying the army of Microsoft Partners with the weapons they need to win the battle against Linux.
I mentioned in an earlier post, Microsoft might not support NT 4 in its migration path to Longhorn, but this could backfire on the company. I would recommend as much as possible to keep this platform on the route to Longhorn. Many companies are still using it, and one day, they will decide to upgrade and it will depend on the easiest platform to upgrade to. Linux is getting better, if they get to the point where they make it as simple 123 to migrate from NT or 2000, it’s a big issue for the company. So Microsoft, make sure you keep legacy business versions of Windows close to the vest.