It was some day. And someday I’ll get a clue. I had a major confrontation at work today, though it was with someone who never did like me all that much. Everyone who’s heard the story says she was being unreasonable. But I just can’t help but notice one thing: Every major confrontation I’ve ever had in the workplace during my professional career has been with an older woman. By “older,” I mean 20+ years my senior.
I don’t like that pattern.
On a brighter note… I was quoted on CNET! It’s Linux’s 10th birthday, so CNET solicited some opinions. A lot of people said Linux can overtake Microsoft, an equal number said no way, but I don’t think anyone said what would have to take place for it to happen.
Essentially, I said someone with an anti-Microsoft chip on its shoulder would have to bundle Linux and StarOffice, already configured and ready to go (meaning it boots straight to a desktop when you turn it on–no setup questions or license agreements whatsoever), price it at $349, and make it available in places people normally shop.
That’s not the only scenario that I see working, but it’s the one that’d work best. History states people will sacrifice the status quo if the price is right–Commodore and Atari mopped up the floor of the home market with Apple and IBM for most of the 1980s, because they gave you twice the computer for half the money. It’d be impossible to do that today, but if someone with name recognition (say, Oracle or Sun) stamped its name on Taiwanese-made clones (made by, say, Acer or FIC) and got into the distribution channel, pricing it below an eMachine and using an ad campaign like, “We made performance computing affordable for big businesses. Now we’re making it affordable for you,” they’d stand a chance. They’d probably need to go outside the company to run the operation. Maybe Jack Tramiel, a veteran of both Commodore and Atari, could be coaxed out of retirement.
What about applications? An awful lot of home users live with Microsoft Works. StarOffice is better. Internet access? Take a cue from the iMac and stick an icon on the desktop that signs you up for Earthlink. Games? There are tons of open-source games available for Linux. Include any and every game that doesn’t crash XFree86. Cut a deal with Loki to include demo versions of all their games, and maybe the full version of an older title. Loki needs the exposure anyway. Digital imaging? Include The Gimp, along with drivers that talk with a certain type of digital camera. Include a coupon for a decent-sized discount off that camera.
It won’t dominate the market, but I can see it grabbing a decent-sized chunk. It’d do everything a small percentage of the population needs to do, and it would do it cheaply and reliably and quickly.
Will it happen? I doubt it. It’s a risk. For a company to be able to pull this off, this operation has to have little or nothing to do with the company’s core business. Shareholders don’t like ventures that have nothing to do with your core business. As much as Scott McNealy and Larry Ellison hate Microsoft, I don’t think they’re willing to risk hundreds of millions of dollars just to try to steal a couple million sales from Microsoft each year. The company that does it would have to have name recognition, but it’d be best if the general public didn’t know exactly what they sell. A company like IBM or HP couldn’t do it, because they can’t afford to offend Microsoft, and the general public expects an IBM or HP computer to run Windows apps.