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AT&T Kicks Linux's Tires, Gates on the Future, Sender ID, and a Red Hat Filing
Tuesday, October 05 2004 @ 11:04 AM EDT

Bloomberg reports that AT&T is considering a switch from Microsoft Windows to GNU/Linux. They say they are primarily concerned about security. A spokesman says they've had more viruses in the last six months than in the previous 10 years:

"A decision by AT&T to abandon Windows would be Microsoft's biggest loss to the 13-year-old Linux system. A surge in viruses and efforts to cut costs have driven customers to look for alternatives to Windows, which dominates the $10 billion market for PC operating systems. . . .

"The pressure from Linux comes as Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft's sales growth declines to its lowest rate ever. The company in July predicted growth of as little as 4.3 percent this year, down from an average 38 percent a year in the 1990s."

If Microsoft fixes the security issues, they may not have to switch, they say. Then there is that cost thingie. "Microsoft gets about 80 percent profit on each Windows PC sale," the article states. AT&T figures it could save 50-60% on the cost of desktop software by moving to Linux.

It could be this is just a bunch of talk. I expect a lot of companies negotiate better deals these days by dropping the L word into the conversation.

But here is the part that sticks in my mind. I ask myself this: does AT&T know a thing or two about Unix? Is it showing any fear about Linux's lineage if it is thinking of switching from Windows to Linux and telling reporters about it to boot?

Let's see: AT&T develops Unix. Then, it sells it and switches to Windows. Now it is thinking of ditching Windows for the operating system SCO claims is a ripoff of Unix. . . . It's the circle of life.

I've got it! SCO can sue its alleged predecessor-in-interest, thus suing "itself".


Update: As we thought, it's mostly talk, and today, Wednesday, AT&T is denying they are concerned about security and they are sure Microsoft will solve security concerns. Sure. Got it. No worries, and the worries will be successfully addressed. Illuminata analyst Gordon Haff Haff says in the article that companies that switch to Linux could realize substantial benefits: "Especially for 'transactional desktops,' that is, those being used for a small number of specific tasks as opposed to general-purpose PCs, the cost savings associated with Linux and associated software like OpenOffice can be substantial."

What, Me Worry?

Microsoft's Bill Gates says he's not worried about competition from Linux. In 10 years' time, he predicts, it will be Windows and Linux as the dominant players on the OS scene, he believes, if current trends continue.

Here's his take on why Unix is losing out, aside from the fact that Unix has many vendors and Windows has only one and one set of instructions:

"Gates also mentioned that Linux is taking over Unix, not Windows. The problem with Unix is that the OS companies involved (SGI, Sun, IBM, HP, SCO) never managed to get together and adhere to common standards and direction, he said. When a Unix brand would get a bit better than the other on a particular thing, the others would 'conspire' behind its back to bring it down. It's this fragmentation and lack of business relationships that has destroyed Unix to the rival Linux "

Spoken like a true diplomat. His plan for successfully competing with Linux, the public version of the plan, anyway, is this: to make Longhorn so easy to use, it becomes cheaper to run in business than Linux. Value, not price, is the theme. Linux requires support and capable IT administrators. His goal is to provide software that requires little in the way of support. Now, if he only meant it, that would be fabulous. Imagine that. A fair fight, based on value to the customers.

However, there is a bit more news on Sender ID that raises some questions as to his actual plan to compete with Linux. Here's some updated information on what Microsoft's comment to the FTC was like:

"The test of whether Sender ID or any other proposed solution is an open standard is not Whether it has been ratified through an open consensus- based process, but rather whether the proposal can be widely adopted - indeed many successfull industry standards are not ratified by a standard-setting organization. . . .

"Microsoft cannot, however, confirm whether it has patent rights in other [email authentication] technology nor, obviously, whether any other party has patent rights that might be needed to make use or sell implementations of other proposed authentication standards"

The letter was written by an attorney. I'm sure you could tell. Here it is, the same thought, in plain English:

"A Microsoft spokesman, Sean Sundwall, said . . . that smaller companies might hesitate without standards but larger ones won't change their plans. 'Once you get a critical mass of people adopting Sender ID, it becomes for the smaller sender critically important they adopt it as well,' he said."

I believe that means shoving it down our throats or isolating the GPL in a software ghetto. How convenient. The complete letter is here. All the comments are here. It seems Microsoft forgot to mention about the incompatibility with the GPL, so it's a good thing Larry Rosen wrote his letter to the FTC. You will have noted, if you clicked on the articles about Gates opining about the future, that he claims spam is "down from a factor of 10 from where it was a year ago", (huh?) but he admits he has to run AdAware on his home computers to get rid of spyware. And his company proposes to solve the world's email spoofing problems? Based on what track record?

Red Hat Filing

There is also a new document listed in the Red Hat case:

10/4/04 44 -- Letter to Judge Robinson from L. Polizoti re summary of status of case pending in the USDC for the District of Utah (ft)

L. Polizoti? Which side is that? Frank Sorenson did some digging, and here is what he found:

"This appears to be Leslie A. Polizoti, an attorney for Morris, Nichols, Arsht & Tunnell.

"They appear to represent SCO, since RedHat has served previous filings on that law firm - (see, for example "

See the last page to find the firm listed. In any case, we should have it by later today or tomorrow morning.

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