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Michael's Minute: Breaking the Monopoly of the Mind

I once heard that when elephants are very young, trainers tie them with a strong chain to a deeply planted post. No matter how much the elephant tries, it simply can't break loose. Eventually the baby elephant simply stops trying and accepts the fact that they have no other option but to be tied to the stake.

At that point, the trainer replaces the heavy chain with a light-weight rope tied to a small stake hammered loosely into the ground. Even when the elephant is full grown, weighing thousands of pounds, because of its training and conditioning, it thinks it can't break free. Even though it would only take the slightest tug by this now massive creature to pull up the stake or break the small rope, the elephant doesn't even try. The trainer has used a monopoly of the mind to convince this powerful animal that it's a slave.

A day doesn't go by that I don't have someone say to me, "I'd love to be able to leave Microsoft® Windows behind, but I'm locked in," and much like the elephant, the user is experiencing Microsoft's monopoly of the mind. Microsoft has done a magnificent job of convincing people that they must use MS Windows. It's a rare company that can create not only a monopoly in the marketplace, but a monopoly of the mind, where consumers are convinced they must remain a slave to using their products, even when viable, less expensive, less restrictive choices exist.

Fortunately, over the last ten years, Linux has been successful in breaking this mindset for servers. This was possible because those who installed and maintained servers were knowledgeable enough to be able to try the Linux alternative. I.T. professionals were able to get past some of the complicated technology to gain the massive pay-offs of Linux, such as increased security, power, and stability, all at a much lower cost.

Breaking through Microsoft's monopoly of the mind for desktop users won't be as easy. Desktop users aren't nearly as technical, and after years of using the same operating system, they have been trained to work and think a certain way. Like the trained, adult elephant, they too are slaves, thinking they can't break free, when the possibility for freedom is right in front of them. Many, however, have broken free. Tell us how you broke the monopoly of the mind and possibly win a $199 LindowsOS PC. Send your story to

How can help break the monopolistic grip? Read on to learn about's, three-prong plan-of-attack.

1. Spotlight great existing Linux programs and make them easy to find, install and run. uses the Click-N-Run Warehouse to spotlight hundreds of great Linux software programs. With screen shots, descriptions, categories, listings by popularity, etc. we've made identifying the best Linux software very easy. LindowsOS users can then install any of these products with one click of their mouse, removing the complexity of installation.

I often have the privilege of demonstrating LindowsOS to people who have never seen Linux before. I love doing this! I love it because their reaction is always the same, that of total shock at just how good Linux software is. They are amazed at how much LindowsOS and the Click-N-Run products look and behave in ways they are accustomed.

See for yourself how good the Click-N-Run programs are.

2. Get certain MS Windows-compatible "bridge" programs to run under Linux. continues its work daily to get LindowsOS to run key bridge products such as Microsoft Office 2000, Word, Excel and PowerPoint. In some areas, there just aren't viable alternatives yet as what is available with MS Windows. targets these products and works towards getting them to run well enough that people will be able to use them as they migrate to Linux. This is a very difficult undertaking, and progress can be slow and tedious, but by focusing on a handful of important, key "bridge" applications, this can be an effective way to help people overcome their fear of moving to Linux. Because of the complexities involved, we see this as a short-term solution, just until there are solid Linux programs for all product categories.

3. Get software manufacturers to port their popular MS Windows products to Linux. Linux will never run a program written for MS Windows as well as MS Windows will run it. But, if software manufacturers see enough people moving to Linux on their desktop, they will start to port their software over. Mac only has about a 5% market share on the desktop, yet that is enough that Adobe®, Macromedia®, Intuit®, etc. make sure their products run on Mac. is working with many of the major software manufacturers to encourage them to port their products to Linux. We have offered our full assistance to them in this regard. I can't go into too many details just yet, but having some of the top MS Windows-compatible programs running on LindowsOS, and even installable with one click via Click-N-Run, isn't as far off as you may think.

Any one of the above three items alone may not be enough to break Microsoft's monopoly of the mind, but the synergy of all three will bring more users to LindowsOS. And unlike the elephant, we have the cognitive capacity to flex our power and keep choice alive.

I believe 2003 will be the year that Linux starts to bring desktop users, the same value and advantages that it has so successfully brought to servers. We hope many of you will join us at the first annual Desktop Linux Summit, Feb. 20-21, 2003, in San Diego, where the theme "Yes, you can.." will focus on the power of the individual, despite any prior training.

As always, thanks for your support.

Michael Robertson

P.S. just announced the first $199 LindowsOS computer. It is an 800Mhz machine and tests in our labs show it to be a pretty fast performer. So if you're considering buying a back-to-school computer checkout

Send in your essay and tell us how you broke the monopoly of the mind. One lucky person will receive a $199 LindowsOS computer. Entries will be accepted until the end of September. Send your story to

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