Did Microsoft goof by saving Apple?

In today's open source roundup: Saving Apple may have been Microsoft's biggest mistake. Plus: The best desktop environments for Linux, and the horror game Darkwood comes to Linux

Back in the 90s it seemed that Apple was truly doomed. The company was near bankruptcy and all seemed lost, and then a strange thing happened: Microsoft invested $150 million dollars and helped save the company. Now the tables have turned and it's Microsoft who is on the ropes. The Motley Fool thinks that Microsoft may have made a big mistake when it saved Apple.

According to Motley Fool:

Via satellite, Gates addressed the Apple crowd with the pleasantries and respect befitting a non-competitor. He was magnanimous and stressed it was a true partnership … and a clear departure from prior hostilities between the two companies.

And there was a reason for that. The investment was a ruse designed to elicit goodwill from both a zealous U.S. government and the open-source crowd. In Gates' mind, the best outcome was that Apple would overcome its small downturn and become slightly competitive; worst case, Apple would still fail and Microsoft gets a $150 million investment in PR for helping a competitor.

More at Motley Fool
Should Microsoft have saved Apple?

Looking back at it, it's easy to think that Microsoft made a huge mistake when it bought Apple's stock back in the 90s. But nobody could have known how things would turn out so many years later. If Steve Jobs hadn't come back as CEO then it's quite probable that Apple would have died.

But what I find odd about the article is the part where the writer notes that Microsoft made the investment to "please...the open source crowd." That phrase is quite out of place since Apple has never been a favorite of the open source community for obvious reasons. If anything Apple has been considered almost the complete opposite of the open source philosophy.

So I doubt that open source was part of Microsoft's decision to invest in Apple. It seems much more likely to me that the entire affair was simply designed to give Microsoft some cover with the U.S. Department of Justice. Back in those days Microsoft was in hot water with the U.S. government, and the company was desperately trying to get out from under the government's thumb.

Even if Microsoft hadn't saved Apple, Google and other companies would probably have still stolen a march on Microsoft in mobile and the cloud. Microsoft's current weakened state always comes back to the fact that they could never let go of their "Windows-first" strategy, even after the rest of the world had moved on to other things.

The best Linux desktop environments

ZDNet has a roundup of what it thinks are the best Linux desktop environments.

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