Sitting Pretty "How's Microsoft doing it? For one thing, business customers continue to buy its products, despite ongoing concerns about security vulnerabilities in the Windows environment and worries about getting sucked too deep into Microsoft's money-making vortex. "Microsoft is going to be a huge part of our computing platform going forward, and I don't see a viable alternative any time down the road," says Scott Hicar, CIO of storage-drive manufacturer Maxtor Corp. "If you see one, let me know."
Conventional wisdom is that Linux and other open-source products, with the backing of Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Novell, and others, are emerging as that alternative platform. "By a long shot, the single biggest long-term competitive challenge to Microsoft is open-source Linux," says Lehman Brothers financial analyst Neil Herman.
Yet, in its most recent quarter, sales of Windows-based servers grew 18%, which was faster than the overall server market, according to Microsoft. "So far, we're competing well" against Linux, said CFO Connors in a conference call to discuss the company's fiscal 2004 financial results. In a recent survey by InformationWeek Research, 80% of 300 respondents re- ported plans to buy Windows servers, compared with 37% who have plans for Linux servers.
Microsoft's emphasis on desktop-to-data-center integration, leveraged by its huge installed base, seems too attractive for many customers to resist. The company has long designed its products to work together, but the Office 2003 System and Windows Server System push the concept wider and deeper. Companies that want to use Microsoft's Sharepoint collaboration software, for example, need to run Windows not just on their desktop PCs but also on servers."