Thursday, June 15, 2006

Is Gates' Retirement Linux's Chance?

I don't think Gates had that much to do with day-to-day operations any more. It's taken him too long to figure out that the company runs just fine without him. Now there ARE problems, but I think he knows better than anyone else that he does not possess any magic solution to a set of products gone out of control.

Another thing to consider: by stepping down now, his legacy is intact. If the company goes on to do more great things, he will still be remembered as the guy who got it started (to the extent that that over-simplistic assessment makes any sense). But if things continue to go badly for Microsoft, some of that could rub off on him too. By getting out now, he keeps his legacy, and continues to milk the company for profits (with luck from well times stock market transactions) and at 50, he still can enjoy all that life has to offer the richest man in America. I really think this is a no-brainer for him and I only wonder why he didn't do it sooner.

As to Linux, I think the upcoming Vista fiasco (I'm pretty sure we haven't seen the worst yet) is a big chance for Linux. I've never been one to buy off on concepts like "The Year of the Linux Desktop" though. I think success will come in small increments, and there may be steps backwards as well. I have my doubts about Apples future in the computing business for example. Linux could still pick up some of that market share. I've heard Apple server support is awful and I have to wonder why anyone with a room full of those things wouldn't want to just run Linux. The transition to Intel is still muddled and could get worse. Moving to Linux simplifies things in a world of changing hardware. "It just works" can be said of Linux across a broad spectrum of hardware when you confine yourself to the basics of both servers and commodity desktops. The more big companies lock down their desktop systems so that they are not play-toys for desktop users, the more these systems look like Linux. Just the basics. Who cares if some oddball camera works with it?

I'm no Gates fan, but I bear him no ill-will either. He's doing the right thing for himself, and I really think it will have no impact on the company other than a short term psychological one, but then, they seem to be doing a fair amount of navel gazing anyway these days. If the company is going to fall flat on it's face, it will do so no matter what Gates does. Anyone with sense will just stand clear.

No comments:

Post a Comment