August 12, 2006

What Microsoft has that Linux doesn't

Author: Robin 'Roblimo' Miller

Microsoft has seven "Microsoft Across America" trucks cruising the country, visiting Microsoft Partners at their request to show off the latest Windows wonders. At last count, there were exactly zero (0) "Linux Across America" trucks.Red Hat did a bus tour back in 2002, but it was just one bus (and one tour), and its schedule was determined primarily by invitations from LUGs, universities, and K-12 schools. Microsoft's seven trucks are on the road all the time, and they apparently try to time their stops to coincide with local tech or business group meetings. The Microsoft truck stop I caught was part of a meeting held by local (to me, in Bradenton, Florida) technology business group 82 Degrees Tech, and was sponsored by a local Microsoft Partner called TechHouse.

My video look at the Microsoft truck is less than two minutes long. While the overall presentation ran a little over 20 minutes, I didn't feel it was informative enough to be worth 20 minutes of your (or my) time, so I pulled out a couple of representative moments to give you a "feel" for how Microsoft soft-sells its products.

Note that this was not a great pitch, and that the presentation I saw did not include any live software or hardware demonstrations. It was just a spiel. You can see the huge plasma screen behind the presenter in the video. There were lots of routers and laptops and racked computers in that truck -- all with "Intel Inside," we were told -- and plenty of blinking LEDs.

You'd think -- or at least I'd think -- that a "Wonders of Microsoft" presentation would show off some exciting computer tricks or at least be backed by some changing graphics on the big screen. But no. I just saw a guy in a polo shirt pointing to this router, and that laptop, and to an Xbox in a corner, telling us how they can all be networked together in our homes and businesses.

With a little imagination you could put on a much jazzier Linux presentation than Microsoft's truck-based one with a single computer and a plasma screen. And that truckless Linux presentation wouldn't have the Microsoft truck's annoying air conditioning noise, let alone the air conditioner condensation drip that wet down people coming in and out of the door.

Click to play video

Overall, I was unimpressed by the Microsoft Across America truck I saw. But the fact is, there are seven of those trucks out there, and there are no equivalent GNU/Linux displays coming to my town (or yours) in the near future. And until there are, we must accept the fact that Microsoft will continue to be more popular than Linux -- at least among people who are swayed by marketing presence more than by technical prowess.

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