Tech Industry

Gates: Competition is changing

While the antitrust trial of Microsoft intensifies in Washington, the software giant's chief speaks about his company's future strategy and the changing nature of competition in the field.

While the antitrust trial of Microsoft intensifies in Washington, the software giant's chief spoke about his company's future strategy and the changing nature of competition in the field.

"The interesting thing is that our estimation of who are our most serious competitors has been changing the last years," Bill Gates told German computer magazine c't. "Today's competitors are Palm, Symbian, JavaOS, Linux, and Solaris."

IBM, Apple Computer, and Larry Ellison's concept of the network computer are no longer relevant, according to Microsoft's Gates, the magazine reported.

Gates does, however, believe that the rapidly rising Linux could be an serious threat to Windows NT. The rival operating system is gaining ground, but more importantly it can be obtained for free, or for a fairly low cost. In recent weeks, an increasing number of computer makers have warmed up to the operating system.

Gates considers Sun Microsystems' Solaris operating system another chink in the Windows NT armor, c't reported.

Despite a push from Redmond, Washington, with its Windows CE for handheld computers, Palm Computing's PalmPilot continues to dominate the market for handheld devices with a nearly 80-percent share in 1998.

But unlike the biblical Goliath, Microsoft is taking this David quite seriously. Earlier this month, Microsoft announced the latest version of the Windows CE operating system, including color displays for the platform for the first time, and more importantly, increasing support for the software. Analysts have cautioned that Palm's market share is likely to slide as Microsoft releases a flurry of palm devices based on its CE operating software.

But other companies, including Casio, Philips, Everex, Compaq Computer, and Hewlett-Packard, have also entered the field.

Another assault on Microsoft, also on the handheld level, is Symbian, a joint venture between cell phone makers Nokia and Ericsson, and Psion, a British handheld device maker.

Symbian, in conjunction with Sun Microsystem's Java, may allow cell phones to link to consumer electronics devices and home computers. This would allow users to add computer functions like word processing and Internet surfing to the voice features on their wireless phones.

The c't interview also touches upon Microsoft's business philosophy, Windows 2000, as well as the antitrust trial in Washington.