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March 11, 2002 8:51 AM UTC
It wasn't about a buy-out at all: AOL merely wants to drop Bill Gates flat.
Red Hat and AOL employees spoke with NewsForge over the weekend, revealing that AOL is switching to Linux for the same reason most major corporations make the change: to save money. Thousands of AOL servers are already 100% Linux, and more are switching over every day. The AOL number-crunchers figure they can replace an $80,000 box running proprietary UNIX with two $5,000 Linux boxes and get a 50% increase in performance in addition to the cost savings. 'Don't tell our competitors,' one of the AOL contacts told NewsForge. 'Let them keep buying expensive crap.'
Microsoft's server products have never been seriously considered by AOL, according to the insiders. 'The licenses cost too much, their hardware requirements are excessive, they take too much labor to maintain, and we have enough security problems of our own without adding Microsoft's,' says an AOL bean-counter who has access to the company's server cost numbers.
The only thing that might delay - not stop, just delay - AOL's change from Explorer to a Mozilla-based browser is allowing time for some of AOL's largest and most important 'partner sites' to do away with any Explorer-specific features they have been using in place of W3C standards.
A browser shift by AOL is going to leave an awful lot of companies that assume their Web sites only need to work with Explorer scrambling to rewrite their code so that they don't lose AOL's 30 million-plus subscribers, or about 30% of all U.S. Internet users.