Sunday, August 21, 2005

Windows HX

I was going to do this blog in podcast format for Gretchen's contest, but I couldn't find a microphone. So, I thought I'd just post it on my blog :-)

In this blog, I'd like to discuss a long term strategy for Windows that would help it to overtake Linux in the IT sector.

I believe that Linux's newfound popularity in the IT workplace stems from a couple of factors. In this brief, we're going to explore one that I think is easily solvable. I believe that great hackers begin cutting their teeth on linux. It is a free system that gives them quite a bit of flexibility and power. Most hackers don't have a lot of money to buy development tools and operating systems, so having a large amount of free software to choose from really gives them a head start. Obviously, hackers don't make IT purchasing decisions, so why should this affect Window's strategy? Because hackers grow, they join companies, they start making recommendations, and their ideas and background eventually affects the direction of IT. Furthermore, companies that want to attract great hackers have to use the tools that great hackers want to use.

Secondly, Universities can use and explore Linux's source code. This gives students a familiarity with Linux so that companies that are looking to hire IT workers can find more college graduates that are experienced in Linux programming than windows. This can affect an IT department's decision to go to Windows or Linux; obviously if they can find more cheap Linux talent than Windows then they will lean that direction.

Finally, being open source, many hackers feel like they might be able to contribute Linux and that gives them a sense of importance. Having a commit to Mozilla or perl or having a java program on source forge is a buzz to most programmers. Linux, is like the Mecca of open source projects, so naturally programmers will flock to it like moths to the flame.

I think Microsoft can address these deficiencies with a small investment; something I would call Windows HX (Windows for Hackers). Windows HX would be an open source version of Windows. It wouldn't need to have all the features of Windows XP; it would be targeted for the Hacker population. It would need to have great command line support (think Monad) and excellent developer tools would put it far above Linux. It would also need to come with free "web server" tools (whether or not you want to give away a scaled down version of Microsoft's or use Apache isn't that important). Windows HX should be run as an open source project. I would not base it on the current Window's source code, but instead I would get a small core of functionality working, then release it into the open source community with a Microsoft Employee as the "pumpking". This would allow Universities to have an alternative to Linux when studying operating systems, it would also give open source programmers something to strive for in the MS arena. Moreover, it would...Oh, my blog space is filling up ;-) If you'd like to hear the rest, you'll just have to give me a call.

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