Financial Times: Microsoft row helps Linux

by Volker Weber

Has Microsoft shot itself in the foot? The storm of protest over its controversial new software licensing policies - which came into effect on August 1 - continues to simmer and could, in the longer term, provoke radical changes in the way companies acquire business software.

The immediate effect has been to persuade companies large and small to examine, perhaps for the first time, the fine print on their licensing contracts, not only with Microsoft but with all their software suppliers.

Many larger companies are discreetly investigating the possibility of replacing Microsoft's Windows operating system with software from another supplier. A survey by the consultancy OTR found that some 40 per cent of a sample of European companies were actively seeking alternatives.

The most interesting consequence, however, may be the boost and new credibility that the row has given to so-called "open source" or "free" software. Epitomised by the Linux operating system, developed by Linus Torvalds, open source software has played only a small part in commercial data processing to date. That may be about to change.´

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