I agree with you about the potential competition Microsoft is facing at the desktop level (Linux is already kicking its rear at the server level, and don't listen to that nonsense about it taking Unix market share. Hogwash. I am out there selling Linux everyday and we are replacing plenty of Windows server thank you very much.). However, I have to disagree about IBM needing to be the Linux banner carrier.
First off, IBM already has done plenty for Linux. They were the first to support it on their servers and now Dell and HP also will load Linux and support it. Secondly, there already is a standard bearer for Linux, Red Hat. Love them or hate them, they dominate the scene and are profitable and growing.
What people have a hard time understanding is how Open Source actually works. I did myself until I took the plunge two years ago. People start writing an application for completely selfish reasons (contrary to what is preached, most Open Source developers write the software because they are dissatisfied with commercial alternatives) and soon other people start to use it and work on it and before long, it has completely taken on a life of its own. More developers begin to join. Again, the reason they do this is not because they are some "liberal hippies who want the world to be a better place geeks" (no insult to any out there), but because they feel they can either develop something better out there or add features to an existing Open Source software that will do for them what they want.
Open Source works. It is the first truly revolutionary (try not to gag on the word Mr. Dvorak :) ) thing to happen to the capitalist system in 100 years. It uses selfishness and ego (I can do this better than this idiot and get what I want in the process) combined with a socialist attitude (let's share what I have done) to get the job done in the most inexpensive and efficient manner. That is why our capitalist system is gobbling Open Source up. It works, and its cheap. Darl McBride is correct. If Open Source continues to grow at the rate that it is growing, companies like him are in trouble.
Why? Because now they really have to deliver VALUE. The best analogy I can think of is the engine in your car. If you go to a dealership and the salesman wanted to sell you just the engine, you would walk off the lot. Software is the engine, people are going to have to start putting doors and seats on it (okay, bad analogy but the best I could thing of). Darl McBride is incorrect when he says it threatens the Capitalist system. Plenty of people are making money (Red Hat and IBM). What he means is that it threatens HIS system.
I rabbit trailed here because once you begin to understand Open Source, you begin to understand that if the Linux desktop is meant to be, it will come. No matter what you do or don't do. It is not up to IBM. It's not up to Microsoft. It's up to the growing legions of Open Source developers who, if and when they decide they have had it with overpriced software, will begin to methodically replace all the functionality of the Microsoft OS until it becomes an irresistible alternative. What a minute, that already is happening, isn't it :).