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Michael Jordan Retires, Baseball Survives

The press loves a "sky is falling" story, and they found one this week with the recent developments in the Linux community, but the reality is exactly opposite. This week Red Hat confirmed that they were not targeting the desktop but rather focusing entirely on the server opportunity. Meanwhile Novell purchased SuSE for $210 million and re-emphasized their enterprise strategy. Press accounts cited these developments as negative indicators for Desktop Linux. Predicting the demise of Desktop Linux because of Red Hat and/or SuSE's withdrawal, would have been like predicting the demise of professional baseball after Michael Jordon retired from baseball to go back to playing for the NBA full time.

For those of you who aren't sports buffs, Michael Jordon is recognized by many as the best basketball player of all time, yet he left the NBA for a very short time to try his hand at professional baseball. Jordon was a phenomenal basketball player, winning several championships and breaking many records, but as a baseball player, he was...well...much less inspiring. Just like Jordan's real passion and skill was in basketball, so has Red Hat and SuSE's real contribution been to servers and the enterprise, not to the desktop.

What is transpiring is a natural maturation of the Linux business with companies moving from generalists to more focused corporate missions and at the same time creating a "divide and conquer" strategy. Red Hat is making enormous strides on the server and has decided that this is their best area of opportunity. (We use Red Hat servers at presently.) Novell is going to continue to champion SuSE's enterprise approach which is also showing momentum. (We use SuSE's OpenExchange product line.) will continue to focus solely on the desktop -- where our efforts have been exclusively since day one. Linux will be a greater threat with a few larger companies focused on complimentary areas rather than distributed across every software opportunity. Together these companies pose a formidable challenge for Microsoft since they now have laser-focused competitors. Each of these opportunities (server, enterprise and desktop) require different marketing, distribution and development strategies. The only way for companies to truly succeed is to focus on the area for which they are best suited.

I'd like to take this opportunity to share some data about what we're seeing in the desktop Linux business, because the growth and momentum is showing startling progress:

  • Registered LindowsOS users are increasing at an astonishing rate, having jumped by 30% in the last two months alone!

  • The largest company in the world, Walmart, sells LindowsOS computers starting at $199, helping make affordable choice available to millions of consumers.
  • has over 3,000 resellers in dozens of countries, including Fry's, Micro Center, Amazon, PC Mall, TigerDirect, and PC Club.
  • has over 300 OEM's and system builders worldwide who are selling computers pre-installed with LindowsOS. We will be in more than 100 major retailer outlets in the US by the Christmas buying season.
  • is participating in the Intel Channel Conference, which is a touring conference where a small, exclusive group of leading technology companies meet with system builders, system integrators, VARs, resellers and so on, to connect them with the cutting-edge technology that will impact the future of computing.
  • Also at the conference with is Seagate, our partner for LindowsHD. Seagate is the largest manufacturer of hard drives worldwide, and has recently started shipping hard drives, pre-loaded with LindowsOS, thus changing the way computers are built, by making them less expensive and easier to build.
  • has hundreds of consultants, in over 35 different countries throughout the world.
  • Thanks to open source, everyday thousands of new lines of code are being written for Desktop Linux applications. is adding new products almost daily to the Click-N-Run Warehouse, now totaling over 1,800 programs, as well as seeing existing products get better and better each month. Programs like GAIM, Mozilla, OpenOffice, and StarOffice continue to not only match, but often out-perform their MS Windows counterparts.
  • The Desktop Linux Summit attracted more than 500 attendees last year. This year that number is expected to triple.
  • now works with the majority of hardware companies (HP, Epson, nVidia, ATI, Intel, Via, Seagate, FIC, AOpen, etc.) to ensure that their printers, video cards, modems, mother boards, and so on, all have Linux drivers. Many of these companies are now even working with us to make sure LindowsOS is compatible with their new equipment before they release it.

As Victor Hugo said, "No army can withstand the strength of an idea whose time has come." Desktop Linux's time has come and nothing can stop it. The thousands of developers who contribute daily to Desktop Linux are showing no sign of retreat. All the same advantages which have taken Linux to 25% market share on the server (affordability, stability, security, open standards, etc.) exist on the desktop too, and will simply prove too compelling for many to resist. I can tell you first-hand that Desktop Linux is alive and well, and its future has never looked brighter. Hopefully many in the media will share this promising news as well.

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