This summer has contained several interesting glimpses into the mind of Microsoft. Internal marketing slides leaked from Microsoft confirmed they believe what I've been saying for years: that the desktop linux market is larger than Apple's. While Microsoft's numbers are often about as trustworthy as a liberal democrat named Obama, the fact that they think that Linux has a larger user percentage on the desktop than Apple OSX is something they don't want any independent software vendors thinking about. Producing content for Apple OSX can be profitable for many companies, and if a company can figure out how to crack the desktop Linux market... that's Microsoft's nightmare scenario.
In fact, it's such a nightmare, that the training written by Microsoft for Best Buy contains more mud than the Australian Outback could if it suddenly had the entire pacific ocean dropped on top. One of Microsoft's hammer points is the lack of familiar applications that run atop Linux. Really? FireFox, Google Chrome, and Opera all run atop Linux. OpenOffice runs atop Linux. Pidgin runs atop Linux. A lot of Windows only software, like Photoshop, runs atop Linux using WINE type technologies. Popular MMO's like City of Heroes and World of Warcraft... run atop Linux through WINE or Cedega. Popular MMO WarHammer Online is coming to Linux... atop Cedega. Adobe Flash received a 64bit client... for Linux... which 64bit Windows still doesn't have.
As hard-core game developers like Raven, IDSoftware, and Epic found out, ignoring the Linux market can actually financially hurt. Unreal Tournament 3 was a legitimate flop out of the gate, and sales didn't take off until the game was playable under Linux, albeit it through system emulation. The reboot / return of Wolfenstein also flopped in retail sales, and from various emails that I've gotten through mepisguides at gmail dot com, I'm not the only person that canceled a pre-order or didn't pick up the game because of it's lack of a Linux client.
What's worse is that many consumers are starting to question how much Microsoft Windows products are actually worth. Microsoft's half-price pre-sale set off a red-light above many a consumers heads. Since Microsoft is the vendor that sets the value of it's Operating System, why suddenly double the price after a specific point in time? Also, why price the Operating System at such a high price-point compared to the only other mass-visible boxed retail OS, Apple Snow Leapord, when the amount of application content for Windows 7 is far less... developed?
The Best Buy training documents do illuminate just how far Microsoft is gone though. So many of the training points are so easily refutable, it's no surprise that average consumers can make the Geek Squad turn tomato red and beat a retreat behind a manager. What's worrying though is whether or not Microsoft actually believes the unadulterated marketing pap that drips from it's training for Best Buy employees. If Microsoft actually does believe what they say, it's possible that company might need to be ordered to take a sanity test.