CPM, VB & Linux
While Mr. Brolls analysis of the past seems logical and rings true, his attempt to extrapolate much of it to this case and the future fails for one reason: Bill Gates and Microsoft's competitive behavior. Judging from past Microsoft responses to competitive threats which, by their definition include supporting Microsoft technologies on a non-Mocrosoft platform, they will simply change their APIs for the Office suite and the Visual Basic language enough to break it each and every time while pressuring the distribution channel. They will threaten volume producers of Windows systems with excommunication if they support Linux versions of Microsft tools. Watch what happens to Wine if it ever starts to get popular. Since every volume producer of desktops is a largely-Windows-based platform producer and relies on the Windows-based product revenue stream for the majority of its desktop sales, this will guarrantee compliance with Microsoft's intent just as it did in the browser wars. This kind of pressure wielded by Microsoft also persuaded Intel to stop innovation in graphics--see the details in the DOJ trial transcripts for the complete sotry and the patterm will emerge. Linux will never out-Microsoft Microsoft. In sum: to embrace proprietary technologies except as a temporary bridge to freedom for one-platform applications, is a capitulation that ultimately will lead to vanquishment.
The answer then is to embrace open technologies that work, are secure, and are not controlled solely by one vendor. And to provides migration paths. Sun is slowly (albeit grudgingly) letting go of Java but Microsoft will never let go of VB. And they will destroy anyone who suports it outside of Microsoft if the support proves popular. Migration is the only strategy viable in the long term.
Finally, the recent break-in at Microsoft may be a watershed event for it underscores just how weak and poorly designed the Microsoft architecture is. A simple kiddie script gave someone three months access to Microsft's crown jewels. Their broken model of low level trusted code exchange is irreparably broken and is a disaster for enterprise computing. Now it has hit them in their own home. How many IT organizations are going to re-think they degree of Windows commitment after fully realizing the longer term implications of this. Change will not come over night, but I sense a shift in the tectonic plates of enterprise computing platforms coming from this. The perpetrators now have source to examine to find more vulnerabilities in Windows making it less secure than ever. The Java architecture is looking smarter and smarter all the time. The Linux community might go so far as to translate VB and migrate it, but should never ever consider supporting Active-X and the other hacks Microsoft has foisted upon the market as innovation.
In conclusion, support and adoption are two different things. The Linux community should only provide the former and be wary of the slippery slope that stance places them on towards the latter.