Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Microsoft Virtual PC for Windows...oh, and OS/2!

I recently purchased a new Intel PC to experiment with various open source operating systems, such as Linux (miscellaneous distributions), FreeBSD, and OpenSolaris. I had initially planned to use Symantec PartitionMagic to allow for multiple operating systems to be installed on the same drive using partitioning.

While my experience with PartitionMagic was positive, the process of installing multiple operating systems on the same computer was not so good. It seemed that every operating system wanted to be THE operating system - writing its boot manager over the top of the other installations. Yes, it is possible to make this work, but not without a lot of effort.

I've had plenty of experience installing operating systems, but almost always one operating system per computer. Lacking the time to learn the intricacies of boot management and lacking the funds to purchase seven computers for this task, I purchased Microsoft Virtual PC for Windows.

As a Mac user, I've had experience using Virtual PC for many years. This software allows multiple operating systems to be installed and run on a single computer using virtual machine technology. Each operating system is saved on the drive as a file and can be "booted", as needed. This would be my testing solution.

The software arrived today, and I was surprised to see (or rather, not see) that Linux was not listed anywhere on the box, in the manual, or even on the primary Virtual PC web site (without considerable searching). Yet, Microsoft was kind enough to point out that yes, Virtual PC can be used to run IBM's now discontinued OS/2 operating system. Thanks. And, a search from the Virtual PC support link on Microsoft.com for the term "linux", yielded the top results of "How to Remove Linux and Install Windows XP", "How to Remove Linux and Install Windows on Your Computer", and "How to Remove the Linux LILO Boot Manager".

I don't doubt that the majority of Virtual PC sales relate to testing and debugging of software on the various Windows releases (Windows 95, Windows NT, Windows 98, etc.). That said, I couldn't be the only person who has purchased Virtual PC to make the process of installing Linux more user friendly.

So why not mention Linux, especially when mentioning OS/2? Why does Microsoft, a public company valued at almost $300 billion US, care if Linux is mentioned at all? Does Microsoft not want to include "Linux is a copyright of Linus Torvalds" on the box? It wasn't because of this, as I found no copyright reference to OS/2 (I could only locate a Windows copyright statement on the box). As Microsoft seemed to ignore IBM's copyright, ignoring Linus would be a given.

This experience brings back memories of BEA and JBoss. In 2003 and 2004, I could never get anyone from BEA to acknowledge that JBoss was harming or had the potential to harm WebLogic sales. I was able to find a reference to JBoss within a BEA 8-K SEC filing, regarding potential business risks. This was the only acknowledgement of JBoss I could find within BEA at the time.

Microsoft doesn't need to play the role of ostrich and Linux is already acknowledged by Microsoft, as indicated in a recent SEC filing ("We face strong competition from Linux-based, Unix, and other server operating systems").

Microsoft should care about the potential impact of Linux, but not the extent of leaving it off software product marketing materials when this information may be relevant to their own customers.

Selective reality.

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