Linux vs. Windows Vista: Is There a Contest?

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We know we've said it before, but the answer to any question most often depends on whom you ask. Whether the bad press surrounding Windows Vista's anti-piracy program will hurt Microsoft's share of the OS market in favor of Linux is no exception.


On one side of the equation is the Linux enthusiast who says that Vista's anti-piracy (a.k.a. "spyware") controversy will be the best thing that ever happened to Linux.


According to what we've seen, Microsoft will essentially disable a system that the anti-piracy program determines is running unauthorized software if the user does not pay the requisite licensing fees. What if, as concerns the iTWire writer, the program doesn't differentiate between reinstalls (which do not constitute piracy) and installation of software on a machine for which the software was not licensed (which is piracy)?


The idea that a reinstall -- following a hard drive crash, for instance -- would be intentionally reported as piracy is goofy, we know. But we've also seen coverage of a survey -- admittedly an unscientific one -- finding that as many as 42 percent of the installations flagged as pirated are actually not.


Will the users inaccurately deemed software pirates pay double the fees just to continue using the software? No, the iTWire writer says. They'll have no choice but to look at alternatives, including Linux.


On the other side of the equation are those like ZDNet's Paul Murphy. In a recent blog post he posits that Microsoft is so convinced that Linux poses no threat to Vista's share of the market that it can, and probably will, get away with huge inconveniences like the anti-piracy program. Users are so indoctrinated to use Microsoft products that they will put up with a lot to continue doing so, he says.


So who's right? Only time will tell. And if the reports of even more Vista release delays are accurate, it may be a while.