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Dear Bill

Poor, poor Microsoft. It has gobs of cash, a small army of employees, and the greatest monopoly ever and it’s still boring as hell. Microsofties, bring the flames!
Poor, poor Microsoft. It has gobs of cash, a small army of employees, and the greatest monopoly ever and it’s still boring as hell. Longhorn. Snooze. MSN Search. Yawn. Windows 2003 Server. Like watching grass grow. Why if it wasn’t for Windows security breaches and frequent blue screens of death, there’d be no excitement at all.
But rather than sit here and gloat, and in the interest of promoting healthy competition, Mr. Gates and Mr. Ballmer, here’s my advice.
1.Join the standards club. Yes, creating your own standards and promoting them is fun for your developers, but you’re alienating the countless hordes of developers and users that don’t have a Microsoft 401 (K). Make Office interoperable, make Internet Explorer compliant with World Wide Web Consortium standards, and loose the innards of CIFS.
2.Pick a ship date for Longhorn and hit it. The other pesky Fortune 499 companies tend to dislike uncertainty. It costs them money and money tends to keeps them in the Fortune 499. Oh yeah, it’d be nice if Longhorn did something more than just run Word 2007. Scratch that. Word 2006. Well, you tell us.
3.Stop spreading FUD. As my grandmother used to say, “Talk less, do more, you putz! ” In the last month, not one but three Microsoft executives have rated Microsoft security better than Linux security. In fact, today, Microsoft once again played the “IP in IT” card, advertising the solvency of its intellectual property. And Mr. Gates, let me quote a recent quip of yours… ”The truth is: the fewer operating systems there are within a company, the better it is from a security point of view.”
Here’s another thing my grandmother liked to say: “One man calls you a donkey, ignore him. If two men call you a donkey, think about it. If three men call you a donkey, buy a saddle.” Enough said.
4.Require hardware vendors to neuter PCs. The real source of your security woes is those damned Ethernet adapters. And in any case, the personal computer is soon to be replaced with cell phones, set-top boxes, game machines, and other dedicated devices. The real opportunity is porting Windows to a new generation of truly personal computers made by little companies like Sony, Philips, and Samsung.
5.Play more Halo 2. Halo is arguably the best thing to come out of Microsoft (via Bungie, nonetheless) in a very long time. It has loyal, even rabid followers, and it’s a product forged out of passion and attention to detail. (It also looks good on your resume in case Longhorn doesn’t work out.)
If you do these five simple things, I can assure you success. One last thing: go and buy HP. The printer toner business is a nice fallback monopoly. Think of it as Park Place to your Boardwalk. Better yet, Carly Fiorina is available again and her prices are very reasonable.
In the mean time, and you’ll read in this month’s special section “Linux Solutions: Government,” Linux and open source becomes more and more influential. Standards are widely supported, the software is innovative, it runs on virtually every kind of hardware, people can use the Internet without fear, and the source code is open for all to audit, improve, and share.
Of course, Linux isn’t controlled by any company, so it’ll never be a monopoly. Windows will always be superior in that regard. Congratulations.

Martin Streicher is the Editor-in-Chief of Linux Magazine.

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