In the world of large corporates, you need to list your competition with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Every year Microsoft dutifully does this, and it gives analysts a pretty good idea of what Microsoft will be targeting as a major threat to it's business for the future. In the past, Linux has featured on it's competition list only in the Server area, completely dismissing that Linux may be a threat to Microsoft Windows on the desktop. All that has changed all of a sudden by the looks of things, and MS have woken up to the fact that Linux' popularity on Netbooks alone is causing massive dents in Microsoft's near flawless reign at the top of the desktop market.
Here is an excerpt from the competition claim:
"Client faces strong competition from well-established companies with differing approaches to the PC market. Competing commercial software products, including variants of Unix, are supplied by competitors such as Apple, Canonical, and Red Hat. Apple takes an integrated approach to the PC experience and has made inroads in share, particularly in the U.S. and in the consumer segment. The Linux operating system, which is also derived from Unix and is available without payment under a General Public License, has gained some acceptance, especially in emerging markets, as competitive pressures lead OEMs to reduce costs and new, lower-price PC form-factors gain adoption. Partners such as Hewlett-Packard and Intel have been actively working with alternative Linux-based operating systems.
The Windows operating system also faces competition from alternative platforms and new devices that may reduce consumer demand for traditional PCs. Competitors such as Apple, Google, Mozilla, and Opera Software Company offer software that competes with the Internet Explorer Web browsing capabilities of Windows products. User and usage volumes on mobile devices are increasing around the world relative to the PC. OEMs have been working to make the Google Android mobile operating system more compatible with small form-factor PCs or netbooks."
The Form 10k, submitted to the US Securities and Exchange Commission recently also shows that Microsoft's shares aren't too hot compared to last year. Whilst those at MS will say that's all to do with the recession, bear in mind that the recession was at it's hottest point in 2008. What we are seeing now is lack of confidence in Microsoft on the stock exchange. This is in part due to a shift to the Linux platform for many different reasons, some financial, but at the ULNG we like to think it's mainly because the platform is secure, fun and easy to use in a way that Windows XP and Vista is not.
In the year that saw Microsoft not turn a profit for the first time in living memory, Seattle might be raining a little harder on One Microsoft Way in particular. Be afraid Microsoft, be very afraid!