Interview with Linus Torvalds

Well, historically, the most important lesson from Microsoft - and one they themselves seem to have forgotten - is simply “Give your customers what they want”.

I think the reason Microsoft was so successful was that they filled a niche with some very basic technology (and in this case, early on, that basic technology was literally the BASIC language - that’s how they largely got started), and they sold it cheap and made it “good enough”. They didn’t play games with the customer.

Of course, that seems to have changed. A lot about the last few years of Microsoft seems to very much be playing games with customers: their licensing and what, seven different “versions” of Vista, and all the DRM crap they are trying to push on their customers are not actually what anybody wants.

So Microsoft has always been good about marketing and selling, and their strong hold on the market has also caused them to become a standardized platform. That’s generally all good for customers. They’ve left some of that behind (now they are trying to splinter their market on purpose with Vista and pushing DirectX 10 only on the new platform, for example), but I think their historical successes are worth looking at.


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