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Microsoft Responds to Red Hat Announcement

In the wake of the announcement that Intel Corp. and Netscape Communications Corp. are taking minority equity positions in Red Hat Software Inc. (San Jose, Calif., www.redhat.com), one of the largest distributors of the Linux operating system, Microsoft Corp. says the transaction will have little to no affect on Windows NT.

Market Share

"A number of analysts have said that Linux will take market share away from NT. We don't see this as being true," says Ed Muth, enterprise group marketing manager, Microsoft. "People are attracted to the Windows operating system for features that aren't shared by Linux."

Muth says that there are some instances where the operating systems do share features, but that people who aren't already familiar with Unix, will be hard set to try out Linux, a Unix-type interface.

Where do the chips fall?

Another concern from analysts has been Intel's strong past relationship to Microsoft. Does this recent investment in a Linux-distributing company mean a departure from Intel's strong Windows backing?

Muth says Intel's decision was simply vintage Intel: "Intel is a very business-oriented, practical company. One would imagine they (Intel) looked at this as a way to increase the market share for their products. We respect and understand Intel's business model." Muth continues, "Nothing in this small equity investment indicates any change in the relationship between Intel and Microsoft."

The server platform

Some analysts have already prophesized that Linux will become the future platform for Web server management and NT will be left to manage data servers, but Muth argues that Windows NT already owns 54 percent of the Web server marketplace.

"There is no difference between Web and data processing and people will be looking into using the same servers (for Web and data) in the future anyway," says Muth.

Red Hat made the announcement at ISPCON Fall '98 on Tuesday. Venture capital firms Greylock and Benchmark Partners have also taken minority positions in the company. Linux is a free, fully functional Unix workstation for applications ranging from Internet servers to work group computing. The operating system was originally created in 1991 by then-college student Linus Torvalds. Today, the core product and enhancements, including all source code, are freely available on the Internet under a GPL license. Red Hat distributes their own version of the technology for $50. Windows NT 5.0 is currently in beta testing. -- Brian Ploskina, Assistant Editor

Related Links:

Linux, an NT Killer in the Making

NT 5.0 Beta 2: A Step Toward the Real Thing

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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