The field of computer science is currently the most commercialized area of sciences in the world. Microsoft Corporation, being the largest commercial software manufacturer in the world with revenues climbing up to 40 billion dollars each year, continues to dominate the marketplace for personal computers with its one and only best selling operating system product, Windows, showing no signs of failure.
While it is very interesting to see that no other commercially branded operating system product is nearing the heights that Windows has achieved over the last two decades, most surprisingly, open source options are emerging more silently as the strongest viable opponent of Windows. Microsoft's chief executive officer, Steve Ballmer's call on open source "a cancer" in year 2001 clearly exhibits the amount of frustration it has brought in to the company management of Windows. At the same time, the numerous articles published all over the world in favor both parties, clearly exhibit the amount of interest, shown by the community at large on this issue.
Will it be possible for the world wide consumers to consider open source operating system products as viable alternatives for Windows? Can Windows survive over the challenges, emerging with the rise of open source software?
Diving in to the most relevant and reliable sources available on this issue, this review looks in to the actual view points on "Open Source Software and the future of Windows based Operating Systems".
Microsoft Windows, currently being the most dominant series of desktop operating systems in the world, has achieved its success not only because of its early entrance to the personal computing market, but also because of its rapidly expanded usefulness over the decades. This has also been further supported by the absence of a strong viable alternative to the product.
Since its origin, Microsoft Windows has being able to maintain strong alliances with the giants in the PC vendor market. And also with the huge attraction of third party software & hardware vendors in to the application developers' community of itself, Windows has succeeded in extending its control throughout the whole world of corporate computing. This is in someway considered by various analysts as a huge threat to the future of computing.
So mainly as a reaction to the Windows monopoly, an open source alternative called, "Linux" is emerging with a lot of Windows' competitors, announcing support for its wide distribution throughout the world. Being an open source operating system, while Linux has a number of key benefits over Windows, it also carries a number of threats and weaknesses which could easily prevent itself from being a strong viable alternative to Windows.
The rest of the document is organized in such a way that it gradually builds up a strong argument over the topic which will also be ultimately ended up with a clear vision for a better tomorrow of corporate computing. This will ensure not only a more sustained economy, but also the continuous technological improvement with in the field.
So the list of Contents is as follows.
 Looking back to the success of Windows
 Open Source Software and the Linux Operating System
 Why Linux as a reaction to Windows?
 Linux Vs Windows, A comparative analysis of strengths and weaknesses
 Linux should learn lessons from history
 For Linux to succeed and Windows to survive from the perspective of consumers
 Future of Windows over the re-emerging success of open source software
 The Conclusion
. Looking back to the success of Windows:
1.1 Making the grounds for Windows, the history of MS-DOS:
The success story of Microsoft Windows goes way back to the early 1980s where IBM Corporation had started developments of its first personal computer, IBM PC in the year of 1980. Being the leading distributor for microcomputer languages at that time, Microsoft Corporation was fortunate to receive a contract from IBM to produce languages for the new PC which had also opened up the chance for itself to enter in to the operating system business for the fist time. Although it was Digital Research's highly successful CP/M, the first choice of IBM to have as the operating system for its new microcomputer, both parties were unable to have an agreement on terms.
1.1.1 Fortune was always there with Microsoft
Being so quick on identifying the opportunities, Microsoft successfully responded to the situation. Although the company did not have an operating system of its own, it was able to find a suitable one from the outside called Q-DOS which was also based on CP/M. So, while keeping the deals with IBM a secret, Microsoft gradually took hold of all the rights to Q-DOS from Seattle Computer Products for a fixed price of US$75,000. In the meantime, company also entered in to the next contract with IBM to provide the main operating system for the new microcomputer and soon became in charge of the entire software development process of the project.
1.1.2 Deal that changed the world
Under the terms of the agreement with IBM, Microsoft cleverly retained the rights to the operating system which would provide itself with the ability to market its own version of Q-DOS as MS-DOS to other companies and consumers while IBM could not. In the meantime, company was also to receive a royalty payment from IBM for every computer sold to a consumer with its operating system. Microsoft was under a tight deadline and Q-DOS was modified quickly with minor changes for the purposes of IBM.
Finally on 12th August in 1981, IBM's very first line of personal computers came in to the market and Microsoft's MS-DOS, renamed as PC-DOS with few other minor changes, was offered as the main operating system. Revolutionary in its design, the IBM PC was based on an open architecture. Except the BIOS chips from IBM, almost every other hardware component and piece of software was from an outside company which made itself so inexpensive that one could afford to buy. And also it was the first time in history that a microcomputer with the power of mainframes in 1960s, came in to the wide use of small businesses and individual consumers all over the world. With these extreme plus points in hand, IBM PCs received a big boost in sales from its very beginning and continued to dominate the microcomputer market for the next few years to come. In the meantime, PC-DOS came to be the most dominant and widely installed operating system in IBM PCs. By the end of 1984, it was fortunate to receive almost 35 percent of the market share of microcomputers. Although there were options like CP/M and other, they never became very popular due to their higher prices.
1.1.3 Domination of the Clones and MS-DOS as the Standard
With the introduction of IBM PC in 1981, its open architecture development model based on IBM's BIOS specification, openly encouraged more and more third-party developers to build components for it. The intention of IBM with this approach, was to further enhance the usefulness of its microcomputer with the availability of more and more competing hardware components in the market compatible with it. In the meantime, IBM prevented other manufacturers from creating their own copies of IBM PC by having an exclusive control over the BIOS chips of the computer. But with in a short time, its competitors were able to reinvent their own non-infringing functional copies of IBM PCs using the BIOS specification published by the company. In 1983, Compaq introduced its first IBM PC clone to the market and many other companies soon followed that trend, leading to the creation of a clone industry which would eventually set up the broad standard for computer hardware based on open computer architecture that still exists today in the personal computer market.
The arrival of IBM PCs in 1981 and later, the clones in 1983, marked the extinction of many other pre-dominant personal computer architectures from the industry. Under this immense pressure, only the Apple computers with its own identity in the marketplace and few other business systems with some unique high-end capabilities were able to survive. Since many of the clones offered the same performance of IBM PCs for lower prices, they became widely used by the home users and at the same time, IBM PCs also enjoyed a large share of the business computer market.
Meanwhile, the Microsoft Corporation which cleverly retained the rights to its DOS operating system in the contract with IBM, proceeded to make a real fortune with this situation. Most of the users who purchased IBM PC clones, preferred to use MS-DOS as their operating system. Lower price and the sufficient amount of application software, available in the market to run upon itself with more to come, were among the key reasons to this decision. By that time, the company had been extremely successful in building up application programming platforms for MS-DOS with its new 16-bit languages and developers were encouraged to write more and more end-user applications for the system with its continued dominance in the operating system market.
Eventually with these success stories in hand, Microsoft's MS-DOS became the industry's leading operating system which set the standards.
1.2 Stormy Beginnings of Windows:
1.2.1 GUIs becoming popular
During the early 1980s, the graphical user interface or the GUI became increasingly popular among the computer users. While providing an attractive work environment to interact with, a successful GUI also avoided much of the burden, experienced by traditional users in their text and the keyboard method of computer control. IBM PCs with PC-DOS and later, the clones with MS-DOS, used this traditional method of computer control in their systems.
The technology of GUIs had greatly evolved at Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) of Xerox in the 1970s, leading to the creation of Alto Workstation, the first computer ever with a GUI. Later in 1981, based on the Alto GUI, PARC introduced the first commercial GUI computer, Xerox Star Workstation which was not a commercial success, but greatly influenced the future developments at Microsoft.
1.2.2 Adapting to the Important Trends
Soon after the release of Xerox Star Computer, Microsoft realized that the future of end-user applications would greatly depend on a successful GUI and started developing an interface manager to run on top of MS-DOS that would effectively hide much of the complexity involved in its traditional command line interface and provide much more generic set of operating system services for the users in the form of a graphical model which would be easy to use and easy to learn, even by computer novices. Developments started in September 1981, nearly one month after the introduction of IBM PCs in to the market. Along with the huge success of IBM PCs and later, the clones, hardware manufacturers and software publishers who were concerned about Microsoft's continued dominance in the operating system market, also announced their support for this project called Microsoft Windows.
1.2.3 Windows 1.0 and the Competition
Finally released on 20th November in 1985, almost two years after the initial announcement of the product, Windows failed to attract most of the customers as expected. System was considered buggy, crude and slow. Due to the non-availability of useful major applications to run upon itself, Windows initially lacked much of the usefulness, expected by the customers.
Although this initial failure of Windows brought plenty of opportunities to its potential competitors like VisiOn, GEM and TopView to take hold of the market, they also never became a success, saving Microsoft's position in the marketplace. While IBM's much expected second release of TopView with GUI features, never came in to the market, both VisiOn and GEM lacked third party software support, essential to attract customers.
1.2.4 Windows GUI Design and the Disputes with Apple
Starting from specially the Xerox's old Alto GUI, reflected in its Star computer, then the GUIs of VisiOn, GEM, DESQView and finally of Apple's Lisa and Mac, gave ideas for the initial GUI design of Windows. In its first release of Windows 1.0, the GUI featured menu bars, drop-downs, tiled windows and the mouse support for which Apple came up with a threatened lawsuit against the company, claiming that Windows had copied some of the key GUI design concepts of Mac.
This was the time where Apple gave a hard try to have an exclusive control over the entire graphical display technology of software with its acquisition of rights to the original alto GUI and its own initial design concepts, protected by copyrights. With its natural unwillingness to comply with these unfair restrictions, Microsoft decided to make a tricky offer for which Apple agreed to grant a royalty-free license for Windows 1.0 to use Apple features in its GUI. But when the final draft of the agreement was drawn up, although it seemed to be for Apple as just as it agreed from above, it actually included the use of Apple GUI features not only for Windows 1.0, but also for all future Microsoft software programs for which Apple carelessly made its final consent.
Although the company was later sued by Apple for its continuous use of Apple features in the Windows GUI, Microsoft was able to get rid of all the accusations with the help of this agreement and thanks to the great improvements of copyright law. In Apple Vs Microsoft case, most of the controversial displays that Apple argued to be as violations of its copyrights were actually ideas, that cannot be protected by copyrights.
Fortunately for Windows, this 1985 licensing agreement offered much of the freedom to work towards its own GUI model, probably the best among the rest, while extracting ideas from the original design concepts that gradually evolved, starting from Xerox's old alto GUI to the Macintoshes or Mac computers of Apple.
1.3 Windows begins to take hold
1.3.1 "Amount of Software available and the Ease of writing more", Back to the Principles
After the initial failure of Windows, Microsoft worked hard to make essential improvements to the system and encouraged developers to get used to the programming rules of Windows to ensure that they not only work under the future versions of DOS, but also of Windows. The company also demonstrated its next version of the system to 600 developers in order to obtain their future support for more and more Windows compatible software.
In December 1987, Microsoft released Windows 2.0 in to the market and it proved to be a much improved version of Windows than the first one. In addition to the new features like multitasking and improved support for expanded-memory hardware, it also offered enhancements to the GUI to include overlapping windows with icon based representation of programs and files.
Along with this release, Microsoft unveiled its first major application for Windows, the "Microsoft Excel" spread sheet program for Windows 2.0 and also noted about the great commitment of outside companies like Aldus, Corel, Microtek and others on developing major applications compatible with the platform which finally made a reason for the customers to have a try with Windows. By the year end of 1987, Windows went in to the hands of more than one million users all around the world.
As Windows began to take hold, more and more software companies were convinced to develop applications for the system. With the introduction of Microsoft SDK for Windows in March 1988, it became extremely easy and comfortable for the developers to build applications for Windows as it included all the essential tools, code samples and documentation, required.
1.3.2 OS/2 or Windows?, A decision for the Future
In the mid of 1980s, IBM started developing its new personal computer, IBM PS/2 as an attempt to regain the control of the PC market which was by that time, vastly dominated by the competing clones. Based on IBM's own proprietary architecture, it was intended to offer many innovational and advanced features to the customer with this new computer. In the meantime, the company also began collaborating with Microsoft in 1986, on a next generation operating system, called OS/2 which was primarily targeted on this new PS/2 line of computers.
During the time of collaboration, although OS/2 developments evolved in to a fully graphical operating system, PS/2 computers which were released in to the market in 1987, never gained any significant success as expected. Due to the higher cost of its closed architecture, many customers continued to rely on the existing clones that extended the original IBM PC architecture. Meanwhile, many of the innovational and advanced features, included in IBM PS/2 computers went on to become the standards of these external low cost alternatives, further strengthening the domination of open hardware systems in the broader PC market.
After considering these facts, finally in 1990, Microsoft stopped further collaboration with IBM and walked out from the agreement with all of its OS/2 3.0 development work to pay full attention on Windows which would be much more future oriented than OS/2, with its open hardware system approach.
1.3.3 Windows 3.0, A dramatic success
By the time when Windows 3.0 came in to the market in May 1990, there were plenty of applications to run upon it. Thanks to the richer API or the application development platform, provided by Windows SDK, more and more Windows compatible software from third party developers, came in to the market. "Microsoft Office", the very first complete office productivity suite which was introduced by Microsoft, won the hearts of millions of users and further increased the usefulness of Windows. As Windows followed open hardware system approach, third party support for relatively inexpensive, superior hardware with maximum compatibility was at its best, like never before. By the year end, more than three million copies of Windows 3.0 were sold and Windows finally came of age.
1.4 Dominant Years of Windows, Version Summary of Last 20Years
Much Improved program manager and icon system, support for sixteen colors, new file manager, real multitasking, improved speed and reliability, etc.
Windows 3.1 and NT
TrueType scalable font support, better multimedia capabilities, object linking and embedding (OLE), application reboot capability, etc.
Much more user friendly interface, integrated TCP/IP stack, dial-up networking, long filename support, No need to install MS-DOS beforehand, etc.
Support for new input devices like USB, built in Internet browser (Internet Explorer 4), last version of Windows based on MS-DOS kernel, etc.
Active directory for Networking, automatic software updates over the Internet, improved Device Manager, etc.
Enhanced multimedia and Internet features, System restore facility, First version of Windows Movie Maker
A combined technology of both Windows NT/2000 and Windows 95/98/Me lines, better multi-media support and increased performance
Enhanced security through "User Account Control" mode, enhancements to the GUI
faster booting, Device Stage, Windows Power shell, less interfering User Account Control, multi-touch and improved window management
 Open Source Software and the Linux Operating System:
"In a world where Microsoft increasingly threatens to dominate computing and the Internet, the strongest potential rival to its dominance is no longer its traditional commercial rivals but, surprisingly, a seemingly motley collection of free software tools and operating systems collectively dubbed "open source" software. Unlike most commercial software, the core code of such software can be easily studied by other programmers and improved upon the only proviso being that such improvements must also be revealed publicly and distributed freely in a process that encourages continual innovation.
From an operating system called Linux, named for a student from Finland who wrote its core code, to a web server named Apache, put together as literally "a patchy" set of updates to older software by a band of volunteer programmers, these open source programs are emerging not just as inexpensive but as more robust and dynamic alternatives to commercial software.
While this phenomenon surprises some analysts, it should not surprise those with some sense of history. Open source software, largely funded by the federal government, was the wellspring of the creation of the whole computer industry and to this day still lies at the heart of how the Internet came into being. Through a combination of key funding agencies, administrative oversight of software standards and government purchasing rules, the federal government had helped stimulate open source software and open standards for decades. While such software never disappeared, its prominence was undermined by the privatization of the Internet and the commercialization of areas of software once dominated by open source options. Largely, this was due to the fact that in the early 1990s, the federal government pulled back from its commitment to open standards and support for open source software. This left the way open for increases in proprietary, incompatible software and for a company like Microsoft to seek to dominate the computing world with its own proprietary standard.
If open source software is reemerging as an important force, it is largely as a reaction against Microsoft itself. Competitors who themselves have seen their own proprietary alternatives sink under the Microsoft steamroller have suddenly seen alliances with open source software as a chance to halt the Windows monopoly. By itself, this alliance is unlikely to make open source software a real alternative to Microsoft and, more problematically, the opportunism of the alliance creates a whole set of tensions that need to be resolved for open source software to succeed." - According to Nathan Newman on "The Origins and Future of Open Source Software," A NetAction White Paper 
Linux operating system: According to Wikipedia
"Linux refers to the family of Unix-like computer operating systems that use the Linux kernel. Their development is one of the most prominent examples of free collaboration; typically all the underlying source code can be used, freely modified, and redistributed, both commercially and non-commercially, by anyone under licenses such as the GNU General Public License.
Linux can be installed on a wide variety of computer hardware, ranging from mobile phones, tablet computers and video game consoles, domain frames and supercomputers. Linux is pre-dominantly known for its use in servers; as of 2009 it has a server market share ranging between 20-40%. Most desktop computers run either Microsoft Windows or Mac OS X, with Linux having only 1-2% of the desktop market. However, desktop use of Linux has become increasingly popular in recent years, partly owing to the popular Ubuntu, Fedora, Mint, and openSUSE distributions and the emergence of notebooks and smart phones running an embedded Linux.
Typically Linux is packaged in a format known as a Linux distribution for desktop and server use. Linux distributions include the Linux kernel and all of the supporting software required to run a complete system, such as utilities and libraries, the X Window System, the GNOME and KDE desktop environments, and the Apache HTTP Server. Commonly used applications with desktop Linux systems include the Mozilla Firefox web-browser, the OpenOffice.org office application suite and the GIMP image editor.
The name "Linux" comes from the Linux kernel, originally written in 1991 by Linus Torvalds. The main supporting Userland in the form of system tools and libraries from the GNU Project (announced in 1983 by Richard Stallman) is the basis for the Free Software Foundation's preferred name GNU/Linux"
 Why Linux as a reaction to Windows?
Because of the loopholes in Windows, the Linux emerged. Windows experiences problems in security, reliability and maintainability. This is because its monolithic nature. And due to the closed source in Windows, only few expertise are able to access to the code and hence demand-side learning is extremely less. This is one of the main disadvantages in Windows. But in Linux this is not so, because it is a open source software, the contribution of expertise knowledge to the entire source code of Linux is unlimited and hence rapid improvement life is enjoyed by the system. This is why Linux emerged as a reaction to Windows.
4] Linux Vs Windows, A comparative analysis of strengths and weaknesses:
According to Computer Hope, "Linux Vs Windows" article, a comparative analysis of strengths and weaknesses of Linux and Windows is listed below. 
Strength of Linux:
The majority of Linux variants are available for free or at a much lower price than Microsoft Windows.
The majority of Linux variants and versions are notoriously reliable and can often run for months and years without needing to be rebooted.
Many of the available software programs, utilities, and games available on Linux are freeware and/or open source. Even such complex programs such as Gimp, OpenOffice, Star Office, and wine are available for free or at a low cost.
Linux is and has always been a very secure operating system. Although it still can be attacked when compared to Windows, it much more secure.
Many of the Linux variants and many Linux programs are open source and enable users to customize or modify the code however they wish to.
Although it may be more difficult to find users familiar with all Linux variants, there are vast amounts of available online documentation and help, available books, and support available for Linux.
Weaknesses of Linux:
Although the majority Linux variants have improved dramatically in ease of use, Windows is still much easier to use for new computer users.
Linux has a large variety of available software programs, utilities, and games. However, Windows has a much larger selection of available software.
Linux companies and hardware manufacturers have made great advancements in hardware support for Linux and today Linux will support most hardware devices. However, many companies still do not offer drivers or support for their hardware in Linux.
Strength of Windows:
Microsoft has made several advancements and changes that have made it a much easier to use operating system, and although arguably it may not be the easiest operating system, it is still Easier than Linux.
Because of the large amount of Microsoft Windows users, there is a much larger selection of available software programs, utilities, and games for Windows.
Because of the amount of Microsoft Windows users and the broader driver support, Windows has a much larger support for hardware devices and a good majority of hardware manufacturers will support their products in Microsoft Windows.
Microsoft Windows includes its own help section, has vast amount of available online documentation and help, as well as books on each of the versions of Windows.
Weaknesses of Windows:
Microsoft Windows can run between $50.00 - $150.00 US dollars per each license copy.
Although Microsoft Windows has made great improvements in reliability over the last few versions of Windows, it still cannot match the reliability of Linux.
Although Windows does have software programs, utilities, and games for free, the majority of the programs will cost anywhere between $20.00 - $200.00+ US dollars per copy.
Although Microsoft has made great improvements over the years with security on their operating system, their operating system continues to be the most vulnerable to viruses and other attacks.
Microsoft Windows is not open source and the majority of Windows programs are not open source.
 Linux should learn lessons from history:
The common weakness of Linux is that there is no central administrative authority like Unix in past. Therefore anyone can access to the system code and can develop their own programs where compatibility issues may arise unlike windows. In the past what happen to Unix was it was rejected by users due to non availability of a Unique Standard. Similarly the same may happen to Linux.
 For Linux to succeed and Windows to survive from the perspective of consumers:
For Linux to succeed, following steps to be followed:
demote Linux's code forking
obtain more PC vendor support
obtain the support of hardware manufacturers
Avoid complexities in the GUI, bring unique GUI standard for all distributions
For Windows to survive, following steps to be followed:
(According to Harvard Business School professors Pankaj Ghemawat and Ramon Casadesus-Masanell in Microsoft vs. Open Source: Who Will Win?)
Increase its own demand-side learning.
Listen to the demands of the user community to better exploit the benefits of demand-side learning. Microsoft must facilitate communication between the user base and the company to have prompt feedback on the performance of its products.
Make an effort to incorporate improvements in the code (fix bugs and introduce new features) as soon as possible.
Reward those who propose improvements for the code. At the very least, Microsoft could publicly acknowledge those who proposed new features or discovered bugs.
Feed its direct and indirect network effects.
Support as much as possible the independent software vendor community so that the quantity and quality of complements is substantially above that of Linux.
Encourage competition between the different ISVs. The lower the prices of applications, the more appealing the Microsoft system will be.
Price discriminate. Give Windows and applications away to schools and universities so that users build their file libraries on Microsoft, not Linux.
Minimize the number of strategic buyers.
Let governments access the source code and give guarantees that sensitive data is treated confidentially.
Price discriminate. Give binary away to organizations and individuals who are not willing to spend money on Windows but who would be willing to use Linux because it is free.
Reduce costs to be able to sustain long periods of time with low prices.
Decrease Linux's demand-side learning.
Because the way to do this involves some questionable (from a legal point of view) actions, we will refrain from suggesting specifics.
Lessen Linux's direct and indirect network effects.
Make it as hard as possible for Windows applications to work on Linux.
Same for MS Office documents.
"Promote" Linux's code forking.
Infuse fear, uncertainty, and doubt into the Linux user community. For this to work, the statements must be perceived as credible. Credibility requires some past FUD announcements to be realized.
 Future of Windows over the re-emerging success of open source software:
Windows is a commercial software while open source software including Linux are freely available for every one. But Windows is the widely used software because of it's early entry to the software industry. For many years of time there was no strong viable alternative to Windows. But nowadays with the re-emerge of open source software, there is a threat to Windows. For Windows to survive in the market in future over the re-emerging success of open source software they have to introduce new upgraded versions in Windows with minimum weaknesses mentioned above at a lower price.
 The Conclusion:
In the 1st chapter I briefed about the emerging of Windows in to the present dominant state. In the 2nd chapter I briefed about emerging of open source software and Linux. In the 3rd chapter I briefed about Why Linux as a reaction to Windows? In the 4th chapter I briefed about a comparative analysis of strengths and weaknesses of Linux Vs Windows. In the 5th chapter I briefed about why Linux should learn lessons from history. In the 6th chapter I briefed on facts, focusing Linux to succeed and Windows to survive from the perspective of consumers. In the 7th chapter I briefed about the future of Windows over the re-emerging success of open source software.
Finally I suggest to have more open source software with advanced features incorporating all the strengths and without weaknesses, mentioned above to compete with Windows environment to achieve following major advantages:
1. To minimize the monopolistic situations in Software industry.
2. Maximize computer literacy level in the whole world by providing free accessibility.
3. Profit maximization by the business community through free accessibility of good open source software.
4. For better market competition.
5. To motivate innovators in the software Industry.
6. To have more advance, continuous upgradable systems in future than today.
7. For the future development in software industry by providing better efficiency in IT field.
References and further reading:
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Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols,
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