Asay quotes Torvalds as saying bluntly, "Linux is bloated." Torvalds then added, says Asay, that the bloat makes Linux "huge and scary now." Asay says Torvalds noted that "We are definitely not the streamlined, hyper-efficient kernel I envisioned when I started writing Linux."
So where does the bloat come from? Asay accurately points out that as Linux takes on more tasks over time, it needs to grow. So size is a result of success.
What most Linux fans don't realize is that this kind of success is one of the reasons for Windows bloat as well. If Windows was not an all-purpose operating system that had to serve home users, massive enterprises, and everything in between, it could be smaller as well. Sure, Windows could be smaller, and over time it will be. But as long as it has to be a do-it-all operating system for the vast majority of computers worlwide, it will remain a hefty thing.