Competition For Microsoft

This story on Lindows founder Michael Robertson is pretty good.

To hear Michael Robertson tell it, he's got Microsoft over a barrel. The man made a fortune when he sold his earlier company,, after taking on the major record labels. Now, with, he's gunning for the strongest, richest tech company of all. Says Robertson: "I think God put me on this world to challenge big companies."

But he has a problem: the name he chose for his company, which distributes a desktop version of the open-source Linux operating system. Clearly he intended to evoke the trademarked brand Windows. Microsoft is not pleased, and is fighting back. It wants to change its name, and sued almost two years ago, before the company even had a product, to try to force it to do so. Microsoft sought an injunction to prevent use of the name, but the judge refused. Now, in about three weeks, the case finally goes to a jury trial in Seattle. Bill Gates is scheduled to take the stand in the first week of December. is the kind of company that keeps Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates up at night. Says Robertson: "Microsoft has conceded that the server will have some Linux competition, but they've drawn a line in the sand at the desktop." Windows on the desktop is a huge part of what makes Microsoft the world's most profitable company. Robertson is right—Microsoft doesn't welcome competition here. But with IBM and many others now touting the notion that Linux belongs on many peoples' desktops, competition is coming. Meanwhile, has hardly any customers.

Personally I think he is crazy and must have a penchant for pain. I would never start a company to compete with Microsoft and their massive hoard of cash. But Robertson already made his money with, so maybe he is just in this one for the fun. And anyway, who knows what may happen long-term?

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