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Friday, June 17, 2011

What if Microsoft made a Linux Distribution?

My how much operating systems have progressed. Around the start of June, the first release candidate of version 3.0 of the Linux kernel was released. We all know that Windows has been around since the 80s. With Linux as one of Microsoft's great adversaries, I thought it would be fun to try to visualize what would happen if Microsoft did a complete 180° turn on Linux and made its own distribution of Linux.

For one, Microsoft would probably have the whole explorer shell as its desktop environment. Since it is Linux, the customization options here would be a little looser, but Microsoft would probably make it difficult for users to install another desktop environment or window manager, although the use of the console would not be limited in this way. Microsoft would probably modify the kernel to include (and also build, as kernel modules) some drivers that would normally not be included in a Linux distribution by default.

For the package manager, Microsoft would have it's own proprietary package manger + package type. This would, no doubt, tied into some online store that you would use to get programs. However, Microsoft would probably have some sort of way of installing packages locally. If you wanted to use packages for existing systems like rpm or deb, you would probably be out of luck because Microsoft would most likely tweak the system so that only packages in its proprietary format can be installed (but someone would eventually make something like the utility called Alien, which lets you convert packages from one format to another, like from deb to rpm).

For programs that would come with it, Microsoft Office would probably either not be bundled by default or have some sort of basic version of Microsoft Office bundled. If you wanted the full version, you would probably buy it through the online store and have to download it. Other programs, like paint or notepad, would probably be included, but would either be made totally by Microsoft or have Microsoft branding on it.

For those of you who like to use WINE to run your Windows programs under Linux, Microsoft would probably come out with something that serves the same purpose that would blow WINE (and also Cedega Crossover Office, the "paid, with support" version of WINE) out of the water.

Since the Zune player and Windows Phone 7 devices are so popular right now, Microsoft would include (or free download from online store) a Zune client that could interface with the Zune player and Windows Phone 7 to modify your mobile media library with few problems. Xbox Live would probably make a debut on the Linux platform as well.

Internet Explorer would get a native port to Linux, with all (or most) of the features that you would find on the Windows version. Windows Live would also get full Linux support as well. Samba support would be native, with Microsoft coming up with it's own version/implementation of SMB/CIFS (and NETBIOS too?).

There's probably a whole lot more that can be said about this. However, this is all that I could come up with for now. If you can think of some more things that weren't mentioned that would happen if Microsoft made it's own distribution, I would love to hear about it. If you have any other comments about this, make your thoughts known via the comment box, or on Twitter (username is @rctechgeek).

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