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What's in store for 2003

1) Desktop Linux Summit is the watershed moment for Linux on the desktop (Microsoft guarantees it!)

I recently spent some time with a major hardware vendor who talked with excitement about the savings that Linux can bring as they build more affordable computing devices. This company is a big believer in Linux, but they sheepishly confessed that they weren't yet a sponsor of the Desktop Linux Summit (Feb 20-21st, 2003 in San Diego). They explained to me that Microsoft had called them up and told them not to lend their support to this event and discouraged them from attending. At first, I was aghast that Microsoft employees would be spending their time disinviting companies from attending the Summit. But then it got me thinking that it actually was a good indicator. If Linux wasn't ready for the desktop, then MS would be happy to have people spend 2 days in sunny San Diego because they would witness first hand the state of desktop Linux.

The opposite of course is true. Microsoft is fearful that attendees will find out that Linux is now no longer just about the server - that it's ready for the desktop. It hasn't been this way in the past, but the stars have aligned and all the pieces have come together (user interface, programs, hardware support, retailers, etc.) to reinvigorate competition in the operating system business. It reminds me of the first MP3 Summit we planned at MP3.com. Before that event, MP3 was a geek novelty. But we invited everyone - yes, even the media companies and the RIAA that were not fond of MP3 - to that first event. After that first conference it was clear we had given MP3 a huge boost in momentum and propelled it into the industry standard it is today.

The Desktop Linux Summit is open to all companies who wish to attend - yes, even Microsoft. (I personally think it would be smart for Microsoft to release their own desktop Linux product.) While I'm not sure Bill G. will accept our invitation to speak, I am confident that Microsoft will have attendees in the audience at the Desktop Linux Summit, quietly taking notes of where the industry is at. I hope you'll be there too. (Click here for a list of which companies have already signed up to exhibit their products and participate in the summit.)

2) No more typing commands on Linux. It's point and click easy.

Linux is very powerful - everyone knows that. But it's always required typing a bunch of nonsensical words with dashes and dangling consonants to make it work. Finally, Linux is at a place in its life cycle where you can use it on a daily basis without having to type out commands - it's all point and click now. This has been a critical missing piece to bringing Linux to a wider audience. We've been working hard on making the last obstacle - software installation - a point and click activity and I believe we've accomplished that with Click-N-Run. Click-N-Run is a one click download, installation and configuration architecture which makes it even easier to install software on Linux than on a Microsoft operating system. LindowsOS users simply browse from a large library of software, click one button and the software is ready to go! Read more about this here.

3) Analysts will stop saying "there's no software for Linux" and start saying "there's a growing library of software for Linux."

When I started MP3.com, countless analysts mentioned how there was no music in MP3 format available on the net. We changed that of course at MP3.com, which now has more than 1 million MP3 songs. The interesting thing is that MP3.com didn't make any of the music, they just brought it all together in one place and put a consumer friendly face on it.  A worldwide population of musicians made the music. This is exactly the situation for Linux software. Already today there's a vast amount of Linux software and it's growing at an exponential rate. But most of it's invisible because it is spread about the net, often with wacky names and is difficult to find and install. What we're doing at Lindows.com is bringing it all together. Let me give you an example.

Most people might think Linux won't work with the digital camera they bought for Christmas. Not true! Just Click-N-Run Digikam and you're ready to go! This great Linux software has plug-n-play support for hundreds of digital cameras. And once your photos are on your hard disk, you'll want to make some web albums. Using Click-N-Run, you can install Jalbum, a fantastic album program. If any of your photos need touching up, just Click-N-Run Photogenics.  Need some cool fonts to add to your photos?  No problem, use our recently announced Bitstream Deluxe Fonts. Each of these is a high quality software program available TODAY for LindowsOS users.

Just about any basic computing task (except for high-end video games) can easily be performed on Linux using software that's available today. Visit the lindows.com/warehouse to watch an ever-expanding library of great software - all just one click away.


4) Thanks to Linux, consumers will start saving billions on computer software.

According to BusinessWeek, the average S&P 500 company makes a 7% profit. Microsoft makes more than 5 times that number with over a 35% profit. There's nothing wrong with making profit, that's why you have a business and of course I hope that Lindows.com can make a profit too. However, excessive profits usually mean something is not right with our free market system which normally does a good job of preventing consumer gouging. I'm sure Microsoft is a well run company, but is it 5 times better run then the average top 500 US companies? That's not possible. Desktop Linux means that Microsoft will face meaningful competition and that means more affordable software options. This new found competition will bring Microsoft's profit margin down to a more earthly number and, in the process, save billions in software costs to businesses and homes.


5) Linux on your local shelves

We've had tremendous success selling computers pre-configured with LindowsOS online and through mail order catalogs. That success has been noticed by physical retailers and they'll start stocking Linux computers because the demand is there. I can't say which major retailer will be the first to sell Linux computers to their customers, but I've got a good guess.

Michael

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