Microsoft CEO Bill Gates, on tour to promote his new book, "Business @ the Speed of Thought," said Wednesday that the popular open source operating system Linux is no threat to Windows. Gates says that Windows offers far more functionality and features than Linux ever will.

"There has certainly been a lot of free software out there for the last 20 years," Gates said, alluding to the biggest "feature" of Linux, its price. "The main thing that has held that back is that because it's free software there's no central point of control. So what you see with Linux, and other things, is you get proliferations of different versions and everybody can go into the source code, and everybody does."

While Gates was in town to talk up his book, his most compelling comments came during questions about Linux. Gates specifically did not comment on the ongoing antitrust trial against his company, though he did mention settlement possibilities earlier Wednesday on the Today show. As for Linux, Gates says, it just can't compete. "We put things into our system like systems management that's not that much fun for university developers," Gates said. "Linux doesn't have that stuff. It doesn't have the graphics interface. It doesn't have the rich set of device drivers. So certainly we think of it as a competitor in the student and hobbyist market. But I really don't think in the commercial market, we'll see it \[compete with Windows\] in any significant way." Meanwhile, the Gates book, which is widely regarded as a snoozer, soaked up most of his other comments.

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Note: I don't personally agree with these comments, of course. Anyone who believes that Linux is not a threat to Windows just doesn't get it. Linux is the most obvious--and most dangerous--threat that Windows has ever faced.

--Paul