Wake up call

On Wednesday Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer sent a memo to company staff outlining the challenges it faces. From MSNBC:

With no immediate breakthroughs in technology coming, and with the Linux computer operating system and a batch of other open-source programs biting at its heels, Microsoft will have to do a better job of persuading customers it has something they need.

Some way off in the future lies a generation of technology that Microsoft promises will change the lives of every computer user. Codenamed Longhorn, it involves a complete revamp of the company�s two core product lines � the Windows operating system and Office productivity suite. It promises to bring greater ease, reliability and security. In short, it will be �the next quantum leap in computing, which will put us years ahead of any other product on the market,� wrote Ballmer.

What, in the meantime, will business look like? The picture painted on Wednesday by Ballmer is certainly a challenging one.

In that environment, companies have turned to Linux and other open-source software programs, seeing them as cheap but adequate alternatives. Around half of the 1 million corporate computers in the United States that run the Unix operating system are candidates for migration to Linux, according to Ballmer � a significant challenge to Microsoft, which has set its own sights on winning over those customers for its Windows operating system.

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