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Microsoft's Weapon Against Google: A Lot of GNU/Linux, Apparently

"The number of developers working on improving Linux vastly exceeds the number of Microsoft developers working on Windows NT."

--Paul Maritz, Microsoft



It is no secret that Microsoft uses a lot of GNU/Linux in house and we covered some examples of this in the past. Even just a week ago Microsoft acquired yet another company (Farecast) for over 100 million dollars and that company has merely everything based on Free software, including GNU/Linux. It brags about it in its Web site.

“Is Microsoft unable to find and purchase any successful companies that use its own stack?”It's interesting to find that a much larger acquisition -- the purchase of FAST to be specific -- involves UNIX and Linux yet again, not to mention Yahoo possibilities (it's the same story as far as underlying technologies are concerned). Many of these acquisitions are of services that compete directly with Google (or the likes of Google). Is Microsoft unable to find and purchase any successful companies that use its own stack? If so, what does that tell us about Microsoft's products? Does that inspire much confidence?

Watch the following couple of news articles and pay particular attention to snippets which talk about FAST becoming a "Microsoft subsidiary". This is interesting because it's precisely the same term which is sometimes used to talk about Novell (even Bruce Perens said this). Maybe it's an unnecessary exaggeration to pay attention to semantics, so judge for yourself and see what it all means.

Microsoft Completes FAST Purchase

"There's a significant part of the [FAST customer base] that have chosen to run their systems on Unix and Linux," said Jared Spataro, director, Microsoft Office SharePoint. "Many people thought we would err on the side of cutting those programs."


Microsoft plans search software for Linux and Unix

According to the press release issued by Microsoft today, Fast will now become a Microsoft subsidiary, presided over by John Markus Lervik, who will move from his current role as Fast's CEO to new the job of corporate VP of enterprise search at Microsoft. Working at a new "dedicated enterprise research and development center" in Fast's home base of Oslo, Norway, the new Microsoft arm will also develop "further innovation" across "Windows as well [as] Linux and Unix."

The new subsidiary will work on development of a "comprehensive portfolio of enterprise search offerings," to include a new product called Microsoft Search Server 2008 Express, Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, and Fast's existing ESP product, which already runs on Linux and Unix.


This is definitely one to watch because Microsoft hasn't good history when it comes to co-existing with rivals' technology, Hotmail being just one example. It often just tries to exploit the situation somehow. as we have witnessed many times inside Novell. Consider work against HTML and ODF, for starters.

For what it's worth, Apple is hardly any better because Steve Jobs objected to using Linux for the iPhone, despite his engineers' research into the possibility at earlier stages of development. For future reference:

The most interesting part on Wired magazine's revelation was during iPhone’s software development. On a very tight deadline to finish the iPhone right on time, Apple software engineers looked carefully at Linux, since it had already been rewritten for use on mobile phones. But, Linux on iPhone was denied by Steve Jobs for the reason that he do not want to utilize someone else’s software. Just imagine the endless possibilities had Steve agreed.


They often try to label Linux users "a seclusive cult", but as we find when transparency is forced by the courts, it's not just a case of hypocrisy. It's a lot more than that.

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