Memory lane: Microsoft blames Red Hat for not making Linux popular enough

The past is prologue as Redmond claimed that Red Hat wasn't making Linux popular enough, only to have Red Hat take the bait.

Matt Asay Contributing Writer
Matt Asay is a veteran technology columnist who has written for CNET, ReadWrite, and other tech media. Asay has also held a variety of executive roles with leading mobile and big data software companies.
Matt Asay
2 min read

In doing some blog research this morning (it happens), I came across this gem of an article from Wired back in 2002. The article traces Microsoft's antitrust feud with state regulators, and features cross-examination of Red Hat's Michael Tiemann by Microsoft attorney Stephanie Wheeler.

Microsoft's complaint? Red Hat wasn't a good enough competitor and hadn't done enough to make Linux popular:

Cross-examining Red Hat Chief Technology Officer Michael Tiemann, Microsoft attorney Stephanie Wheeler said Red Hat had spent little money on research and development, and dedicated few of its employees to winning over software developers to write programs for Linux...

Tiemann conceded Red Hat doesn't devote people to winning software developers over to Linux. He said the company's strategy was to take advantage of Linux enthusiasts outside the company to do that.

It's too bad Red Hat took the bait. Since then, Microsoft has been desperately trying to put the genie back in the bottle. Microsoft spent years trying to convince enterprises to "Get the Facts" on Linux, only to discover that many were doing just that, and it wasn't helping Microsoft.

This is the same Microsoft that aggressively went after Red Hat in 2006 through a patent agreement with Novell, and subsequently dumped over $350 million into Novell in 2007 to fuel its attempt to kill Red Hat.

Red Hat has, of course, expanded its R&D commitment to Linux since 2005. It's the same Linux that continues to grow through community evangelism, rather than paid lackeys.

Microsoft, of course, was trying to find defenses to its antitrust foes back in 2001, and thought that Linux could have been a credible competitor with serious investment. Guess what? It was right. I bet the Microsoft crew wishes that it had been wrong.