A lot of open source advocates like to rage against the machine at Microsoft, but when a former Microsoft Research employee says that Windows 7 won't stop Linux from market domination, that's an opinion to note. Keith Curtis, author of the book After the Software Wars, says just that. But he goes further. He thinks Microsoft and its customers would be better off if the company ditched Windows and instead built its own version of the Linux operating system.

These topics came up Tuesday during my interview with Curtis for Network World's Panorama Podcast series. It was an interesting conversation with someone who has crossed over worlds, from Microsoft employee to free software advocate. But it raised as many questions in my mind as it answered. For instance (at 13:10 in the interview), I asked Curtis how he thinks Microsoft can meet its obligations to employees, shareholders and customers while also morphing itself from a proprietary software maker to an open source company. His answer was surprising: Microsoft Linux. He noted that Ubunto was started with about $10 million -- an amount that Microsoft could lose unnoticed in the cushions of a couch.

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