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Microsoft Linux Business

Report From "Get The Facts" 475

Posted by Hemos
from the continue-the-update dept.
Richard W.M. Jones writes "Huw Lynes wrote an interesting report from Microsoft's "Get The Facts" show in London (earlier Slashdot story). Along with the report he provides some analysis of their apparent strategy, which includes equating "Shared Source" with "Open Source" and making out that Linux isn't free."
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Report From "Get The Facts"

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 21, 2004 @08:59AM (#9483203)
    Even worse, does Airbus...manufacture every single of a million parts in a plane themselves?

    Um, no they don't. Airbus is a consortuim of Aero companies in Europe who build 'planes. That's why the analogy by the Microsoft guy is so bad.

    Top tip: Reading is fun. You should try it sometime.
  • Re:wow (Score:5, Informative)

    by cuzality (696718) on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:00AM (#9483206) Journal
    Microsoft Starts its "Get The Facts" Campaign
    So I sat with about 150 other "technical decision makers" in a very plush hotel in Holborn while representatives from Microsoft tried their best to convince me that I should not be considering moving to Linux. To run the discussion Microsoft had employed a fake-tan horror who had clearly escaped from daytime TV. He was by turns chummy and condescending. However being a reasonable man I will not hold Microsoft responsible for his failings.

    First up was Phillip Dawson who leads Linux research for analysts Meta Group. He quoted heavily from a Meta analysis which shows that Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for linux and windows is comparable. This study has been widely reported in IT press but I can't for the life of me find a link to the original. He made some interesting points about where the datacentre is going to be in a few years. His basic thrust was that everyone is moving from proprietary Unix with its expensive platforms to Windows or Linux on x86 platforms and that it this hardware move, rather than linux versus windows, that will drive all the cost savings. Dawson believes that in a few years the only place we will see proprietary Unix is in very large enterprise databases.

    After a promising start, Dawson then got into the territory of why Windows makes more sense for enterprises than Linux. He introduced what was to become a running theme for seminar, Linux is not free. It turns out that the TCO statements made earlier were based on the licensing costs of SuSE professional and Red Hat Enterprise versus Windows. They had refused to consider that people might run a business on something that they could download free from the Internet. Later in the Q and A session Dawson got quite aggravated when people pointed out to him that many Linux-based businesses run quite happily on free linux (this was shouted by the scruffy-looking Debian hackers in the back). I can only assume that businesses that are brave enough to save thousands of pounds per unit by moving away from expensive hardware platforms are meant not to care that they can save another couple of hundred pounds on Microsoft licence fees. Later in the presentation he said "Don't compare to the free downloads. They are not free". Precisely what he meant by this escapes me.

    One area the Meta study didn't look at was Linux on the desktop. Phil claimed that linux was not ready for the desktop because it lacked administrative tools. He was carrying on in a similar vein when he said "Management tools on Linux are nearly as good as a DOS prompt".

    Nick Barley, business and Marketing Director for Microsoft UK took to the stage to baffle us with market-speak. There was lots of talk about strategy and leveraging which I didn't follow. He talked a bit about Microsoft's shared-source program and tried his hardest to make it sound like open-source, mainly by refusing to say Open-source and talking about shared-source instead. Continuing in Phillip Dawson's footsteps he repeated the mantra "Linux is not free" several times. Although he was at his best when talking about business models amongst Linux distributors claiming that "Linux is moving to the same model that Microsoft has been using".

    My absolute favourite part of the talk was when Barley started to extol the virtues of Windows because everything in it was made by one manufacturer. A fair point which would have been well taken had he not gone on to draw an idiotic analogy. He asked us to imagine an aeroplane where different components were made by different companies. Apparently he's never heard of Airbus.

    Next up was Nick McGrath head of platform strategy for Microsoft UK. The main bulk of his talk was taken up by a demonstration of a document sharing system based on Microsoft Sharepoint. Very boring for those of us running heterogeneous systems that Sharepoint will not run on. McGrath was much more technically clued up than Barley, and seemed to be aware that the audience was not entirely on his side. He made me
  • by Antique Geekmeister (740220) on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:00AM (#9483211)
    Monday morning, and we've already gotten our FDA recommended doses of vitamins F, U, and D for the whole week? OK. Let's find out where this road show is going next and show up with some boxes of LiveCD Linux distributions. I recommend the Gentoo 2004.1 CD's, which perform quite well across a broad variety of hardware. Then ask tough questions about why every Windows machine in the world shares drive C: at all times as \\IP-address\C$ by default and always, always, always re-enables it at reboot even if you explicitly turn it off, making the machine wildly vulnerable to file thefts and password based attacks to take complete control of it?
  • by CodeMaster (28069) on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:05AM (#9483244)
    Has anyone else noticed that in the metagroup TCO analysis, they compare a windows server running on a two processor intel machine, and a linux server running on (one or two - can't remember) MAINFRAME processors.

    I mean - cm'on, perhaps they should have pitted a walmart PC with windows installed vs Linux running on a Cray server... The TCO takes into account the entire purchase of hardware, and in the Mainframe case - you probably looking at 16 processor machine to begin with, which kind'a spikes the price up...

    But - the graph looks very convincing - and isn't it what it's all about?

    Just a little food for thought...
  • by I confirm I'm not a (720413) on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:06AM (#9483251) Journal

    why every Windows machine in the world shares drive C: at all times as \\IP-address\C$ by default and always, always, always re-enables it at reboot even if you explicitly turn it off

    Pet hate o'mine. MS have this tool, MS Baseline Security Advisor, which is actually quite good for hardening Windows - one of the recommendations it makes (every time I run it...) is to disable the default C: share. If only...

  • A bit misleading (Score:5, Informative)

    by brunes69 (86786) <slashdot@kHORSEe ... minus herbivore> on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:14AM (#9483296) Homepage

    Essentially Coke was the biggest cola company on the block, until they acknowledged Pepsi as a competitor.

    You say this as if they aren't still the biggest on the block. Coke is still (as it has always been) well ahead of Pepsi in both global market share and global market value. Their stock price is higher, and they still ship many more units / yaar then Pepsi. Sure Pepsi may have more flashy ads in the US, but that doesn't mean squat to their international presence. Just do a Google on the cola wars.

    This said, if Linux ever got to the point that it was as much of a competitor to MS as Pepsi is to Coke, I'd be damn happy.

  • by I confirm I'm not a (720413) on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:16AM (#9483315) Journal

    Most aircraft engines are made by GE.

    Not wishing to be pedantic, but Rolls Royce [rolls-royce.com] is a UK PLC (NB. this Rolls Royce makes aircraft engines, not shiny luxery cars)

    One point I've not seen made re: Airbus is that it's a consortium of various national aerospace companies - truly the worst analogy Microsoft could have dredged up. The closest match to AIrbus in the IT world would be - well, Linux, maybe, but that makes Airbus sound far more cool than they really are ;)

  • Re:Enterprise Level (Score:3, Informative)

    by chabotc (22496) <chabotc AT gmail DOT com> on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:17AM (#9483325) Homepage
    How comments like this get modded up as being "interesting" is one of those unsolvable mysteries of life for me.

    You don't mention if you mean using linux in the desktop or server space, neither what kind of applications or services your refering to when you say "in my experiance". Basicly you give no foundation at all for this comment to be taken seriously at all; Nevermind give the impression that you have any notion of what "Enterprise level" is.

    And just saying that Linux isn't 'free' is stating the obvious.. Even breating air takes time and thus costs money .. Not to mention the TCO of breathing air if there's a risk of breathing poluted or contaminated air.

    The question is not 'is linux's TCO free', it's 'how does linux's TCO compare to a similair microsoft based solution'.

    if only i had mod point's today you would've gotton a -1 flamebait or overrated from me..
  • by marcushnk (90744) <senectus.gmail@com> on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:18AM (#9483332) Journal
    Not only that but there are plenty of Windows OS bits that were not made by MS
    The new firewall in XP is made by Ca from memory and Veritas made the crappy backup software in NT/2000....
  • Re:Yeah... Ok (Score:5, Informative)

    by Croaker (10633) on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:20AM (#9483354)
    On Point 3 - Yes, there are migration costs... There is ALWAYS a migration cost when upgrading

    And they always conveniently forget to mention the cost of upgrading your Microsoft products. My current employer lost a boatload of money when they tried to move from NT to Win2k on the server, because a last-minute backwards incompatibility threw a spanner into the works. The project had to be called off, effectiely wasting several months of effort by about half the engineering group. You do the math on how much that cost the company, nevermind the actual license cost.

    They also don't mention that in many cases, a great deal of the cost is inspired by Microsoft's lock-in. Your data in their products isn't open... you have to pry it out. If your data was in open formats (i.e. actual, for-real XML) then you'd be able to migrate a lot easier. So, it's a cost really imposed by Microsoft, rather than a cost imposed by any alternative solution. The erverse probably isn't true... once in an open format, there's usually not an 'exit cost' associated with moving to another solution.

  • by DaGoodBoy (8080) on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:23AM (#9483392) Homepage
    I jumped in to the "Desktop Linux Consortium" back in the Feb 2003 to offer some thoughts about direction for the forming DLC and the linux desktop in general. If you have any interest in what I said back then:

    http://www.desktoplinuxconsortium.org/pipermail/dl c-discuss/2003-February/000002.html [desktoplin...ortium.org]

    I think that the crucial missing application and management pieces are staring us all right in the face. It is not enough to have an easy install. It's not enough to have a slick desktop and functional apps. Those are important, certainly, but if we are really doing well at them, why hasn't the momentum shifted?

    I've worked IT for fifteen years and the number of systems I've imaged with their OS and software loads dwarfs by 100 to 1 the number of times I've used any OS installer, even if you count the last five years of Install Parties at the Melbourne Florida LUG! The things most developers and non-corporate users think are important don't apply to corporate IT like people outside of IT would think.

    The typical larger IT department has to deal with things like corporate software policies, locking user account profiles, automated application and operating system patches/updates and remote helpdesk. How can I enforce the corporate software policy against instant messengers when every distro except debian bundles all the stock KDE applications (including instant messenger apps) in a few giant RPMs? KDE 3.2 will be doing more profile locking features, but what about applications that don't use the KDE libs? What about Gnome?

    I know people point to things like Red Carpet and the Red Hat Network for updates (still not 100% in my opinion), but I think corporations will need to be able to build or rebuild apps with different attributes or patches for distribution to corporate clients. SUSE is using 'autobuild' internally and Red Hat wants you to buy a Red Hat Network Proxy, but again, no-one other than Debian provides access to the build architecture to be able to modify certain stock bundled apps like removing parts from larger RPM's like KDE.

    Remote helpdesk and other IT-friendly features are available in most distributions at this point, but they aren't really bundled and configured for that role in the context of the distribution. This needs work and attention. VNC is great, but a distro focusing on corporate desktops needs to have that puppy configured for easy remote desktop support by default.

    I've spoken at LinuxWorld and other conferences, but every time I try to submit a topic that addresses some of these kinds of issues, I hear crickets and we get 10 more 'How to install Samba' sessions. We need a focus on what all the "Ticket System Cowboys" know about desktop deployments before some of the spectacular Linux desktop announcements turn into craptastic failures.

    Just my $0.02.
    DaGoodBoy
  • by gbjbaanb (229885) on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:25AM (#9483411)
    create a startup batch script, put 'net share c$ /d' in it.

    If you're running and NT-based system (I don't know about the dos-based ones) then you can edit the registry to turn off the auto-creation of the admin shares:

    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Serv ic es\LanmanServer\Parameters

    Set keys AutoShareServer and AutoShareWks to 0

    There - not much different from editing a linux config file :)
  • by bcmm (768152) on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:35AM (#9483503)
    C:\WINDOWS\system32>strings ftp.exe | grep -A 1 Copyright
    @(#) Copyright (c) 1983 The Regents of the University of California.
    All rights reserved.
  • Re:Not free? (Score:4, Informative)

    by gi-tux (309771) on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:38AM (#9483534) Homepage
    You forgot that to access that Big server with enterprise software, you will need CALs for the windows machines. Also you will need a CAL to access your exchance server and one for each of your file servers.

    And while you are at it, don't for get the warehouse to store all those CALs in so that they don't get lost.
    br.
  • by mike260 (224212) on Monday June 21, 2004 @10:58AM (#9484366)
    who doesn't know of the socket handle leak that MS can't fix because otherwise they'd break 1000's of apps

    My sympathy levels for Microsoft engineers skyrocketted after reading this [asp.net] and this [asp.net], detailing the horrors they have to deal with in the name of compatability.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 21, 2004 @10:58AM (#9484368)
    In computing, ^H is often used jokingly to indicate a spelling mistake or deletion. This is because some operating systems print ^H when pressing the backspace key if the keyboard is not configured properly.
  • by yeremein (678037) on Monday June 21, 2004 @11:23AM (#9484600)
    You forgot the fact that Linux boxes usually don't run off of self-contained fusion reactors, so you have to pay for the electricity too. And if you have a hardware failure, Linux won't bail you out of that either.

    Of course no one expects that administering a server will be free as in beer, regardless of the OS. But Linux is still Free as in speech, meaning the source is there, so you can examine and/or modify it to your heart's content. You don't have to worry about Licensing 7.0, or pay $thousands more for additional client access licenses when your network grows, or be stuck with unusable orphaned software if the vendor decides they're not making enough money off of it.

  • by Random_Goblin (781985) on Monday June 21, 2004 @11:33AM (#9484696)
    Don't you know the secretary is supposed to be the administrator of a Windows server? If you are hiring additional staff to maintain Windows servers, you are doing something wrong.
    I know parent is modded funny, but it's nearly true in a lot of small business situations. SBS server is very easy to set up, and will do most things you want without really understanding what its doing.

    Can the same really be said for linux?

    The sad truth is that most companies don't run on best, they run on cheapest. Oh and they will much rather spend the money on licences than staff, they actually get to own the licences (subject to terms and conditions. milage may vary), staff may wander.

    The reason TCO of microsoft is lower than linux is that monkeys are cheaper, (and more plentiful) than penguins.

    Microsoft... an infinite number of monkeys can't be wrong (now with free copy of complete works of shakespear)
  • by Lisper (461847) on Monday June 21, 2004 @11:36AM (#9484746)
    It's an even worse analogy, because aircraft manufacturers CAN share components with each other

    Actually, it's even worse than that. Aircraft manufacturers not only CAN share components, but they INVARIABLY DO share components. There is not an aircraft in the world whose airframe and engines are made by the same company. The same goes for avionics. For aircraft with propellers, the propellers are invariably made by speciality companies that make only propellers.

    No one would ever dream of trying to start an airplane company that made all of the components for an entire aircraft.

  • Re:Spin Doctors (Score:4, Informative)

    by stock (129999) <stock@stokkie.net> on Monday June 21, 2004 @11:48AM (#9484919) Homepage
    "For example, running any Delphi-written application on XP (with SP1, this problem does not occur pre-SP1) with a P4 processor with HyperThreading enabled causes the app to crash on startup.. (placing it in Win98/ME "compatibility" mode makes the mysterious crash go away, but it took a lot of snopping to find that workaround)"

    this Article "How Microsoft Lost the API War" [joelonsoftware.com] by Joel Spolsky, really goes into detail on how and why this happened. Definitely a MUST READ.

    Robert

  • by flacco (324089) on Monday June 21, 2004 @12:49PM (#9485657)
    Of course Linux isn't free, and nobody who's not a total moron knows that.

    i'm not being pedantic when i say: linux IS free. you can download it for, um, free.

    what you mean is that "the overall cost of running linux is not free", or "contracted support for linux is not free", or "convenient automated OS and application updates for certain distributions are not free".

    i think it's important, especially when dealing with linux-curious windows people, to ensure that this is understood:

    anyone can download a copy of linux, install it on as many machines as they like, and get automatic software updates, COMPLETELY FOR FREE.
    use that as the starting point of the discussion and it will draw a sharp line in the sand between windows and linux from the get-go, without all this nebulous TCO smoke and mirrors that MS engages in. then it becomes an up-hill battle for MS to prove their worth, instead of granting them that linux and windows start arguing from an equal position wrt TCO.
  • by mpe (36238) on Monday June 21, 2004 @01:14PM (#9485922)
    Actually, it's even worse than that. Aircraft manufacturers not only CAN share components, but they INVARIABLY DO share components. There is not an aircraft in the world whose airframe and engines are made by the same company.

    Different parts of the airframe may well originate from different companies.

    The same goes for avionics. For aircraft with propellers, the propellers are invariably made by speciality companies that make only propellers.

    Similarly rotor blades and wings tend to come from specialist companies. (Who might well only sell a matched set of blades, wings, entire tailplane, etc).

    No one would ever dream of trying to start an airplane company that made all of the components for an entire aircraft.

    Even someone making a "scratch built" aircraft as a hobby might well not make everything themselves.
  • Re:Well, it isn't (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 21, 2004 @01:24PM (#9486052)
    Actually a couple of years ago I worked for for one of the 10 largest banks in the US. There most of the really mission critical stuff is on IBM mainframes running VM/MVS. All of the rest of the mission critical systems are run on big UNIX boxes, primarily Sun and some RS/6000. At the time I left there they were moving some of the smaller UNIX systems to Linux. The division I worked for had small Sun servers in over 900 branch offices, plus several dozen large Sun servers in the machine room. Windows was pretty much relegated to a few dozen servers for non-mission critical tasks like Exchange and a few small departmental database servers, and of course desktop boxes. The team that administered the hundreds of UNIX boxes was 6 people. The team that administered the Windows servers (not desktops, they had a whole separate group with dozens of employees and contractors) was over 20. And as for the wages, they had the same job titles for system administrators regardless of whether they were on UNIX or Windows, meaning the same salary bands. Differences between pay grades for big companies are typically less than for smaller shops with less formalized HR departments. Sure, probably most of the UNIX guys were SysAdmin III or IV and most of the Windows guys were SysAdmin I or II, but the bottom of the SysAdmin I salary band was not 1/3 that of the top of the SysAdmin IV. If you looked at the average salary of the UNIX and Windows groups, you'd probably not see a huge difference, and given that there were a lot more Windows admins, they were costing a lot more money, especially when you considered the fact they were administering fewer machines that were being used for less critical tasks.
  • Re:Spin Doctors (Score:3, Informative)

    by Frizzle Fry (149026) on Monday June 21, 2004 @03:14PM (#9487289) Homepage
    I know Delphi does funky stuff at startup, but if the APIs stayed consistent then you'd think it wouldn't be a problem

    That's true only if you are using the APIs correctly, in the documented ways, and there's no reason to assume Delphi is doing that. It's very possible that they are doing something buggy that they are not supposed to do (this is especially likely since this is during startup and dll entrypoints and such have real restrictions on what they are allowed to do; "funky stuff" is almost always bad). This buggy code happened not to crash on win98, but does crash on xp. In other words, the APIs staying consistent doesn't always help, because they only need to stay consistent in their documented behavior. If you are relying on undocumented behavior, then even though the API itself is consistent, your program might break.
  • The typical larger IT department has to deal with things like corporate software policies, locking user account profiles, automated application and operating system patches/updates and remote helpdesk. How can I enforce the corporate software policy against instant messengers when every distro except debian bundles all the stock KDE applications (including instant messenger apps) in a few giant RPMs? KDE 3.2 will be doing more profile locking features, but what about applications that don't use the KDE libs? What about Gnome?
    1. Dont give your users root on their desktop machines, and they can't install packages. Additionally you can make gcc non-executable to non-root users.
    2. Use a central authentication source, such as LDAP.
    3. Use a better distro
    4. Use ssh for remote administration, or if you need a GUI, a remote X client.

    A specific suggestion: Gentoo [gentoo.org]. If you really think you might need to rebuild your apps to add your own patches and such, Gentoo arguably has the best build system, and you can configure your clients to only install binary packages from a central server. Then your client machines don't have to actually build anything.

    The downside on Gentoo is that it does not have an automated installer, which can be a real pain if you have a lot of machines to install. The solution is fairly simple: Build one client, and then use Mondo [mondorescue.org] to build a self-installing CD (it's a one-liner). Burn the resulting ISO(s) (depending on how much you install), put them in a new machine, boot, let it self-install, reboot, and you're done. You don't have to use Gentoo for this, of course.

    Supporting desktop clients is not going to be a no-brainer with any OS, but it is doable with Linux and existing tools.

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