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Latest Ballmergram Bashes Linux TCO 680

Posted by michael
from the starting-to-sweat dept.
Phoe6 writes "Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer has used the software giant's latest executive email to stoke up Microsoft's fight against the rise of Linux. The 2,600 word missive was titled 'Customer focus: comparing Windows with Linux and UNIX'. In it, Ballmer repeated the key themes of Microsoft's controversial Get The Facts campaign. Zdnet has its report here." Linuxworld also has a story.
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Latest Ballmergram Bashes Linux TCO

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  • read the words (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mrpuffypants (444598) * <mrpuffypants@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Thursday October 28, 2004 @10:19AM (#10653100)
    Yankee's study concluded that, in large enterprises, a significant Linux deployment or total switch from Windows to Linux would be three to four times more expensive - and take three times as long to deploy - as an upgrade from one version of Windows to a newer release. And nine out of 10 enterprise customers said that such a change wouldn't provide any tangible business gains.

    Whoda thunk that it'd be more expensive to entirely change your infrastructure from Windows to Linux than it would be to simply upgrade to a new version of Windows????? Wow! We should install Windows everywhere!

    Who here also thinks it'd be just as expensive to convert from Linux to Windows?
    • by Enigma_Man (756516) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @10:23AM (#10653141) Homepage
      I don't. It'd be much more expensive IMO to convert from Linux to Windows. First off, you gotta buy it. Second off, you'd have to hire all new IT staff, because the previous guys would've committed hari-kari in the bathroom. Second, you'd have to figure out how to get all of your applications running again in an environment that is as stable as a drunkard on a fence.

      -Jesse
      • Fourth... (Score:5, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 28, 2004 @10:37AM (#10653324)
        you gotta learn how to count
      • by pjt33 (739471) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @10:37AM (#10653327)
        Judging by the way you count, I think you're speaking from experience...
      • I wish people would stop cracking on MS stability in the server realm. It's a myth. My experience with a shop full of Windows 2000 Server (mostly) and Windows Server 2003 is that stability is not a problem.

        Please feel free to continue cracking on virus vulnerabilities, patching issues, lack of flexibility and even cost. But my experience is that people who crack on the stability of Win2K servers and above either don't use them or horribly misuse them. Real Win2k admins simply don't have an issue with s
        • by f()rK()_Bomb (612162) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @01:03PM (#10655227)
          I would second this as i worked in a pure 2000 domain but if you actually think about uptime exactly how often do win2k servers reboot? We were generally rebooting the things every couple of weeks due to patches. Leave one up for more than 60 days and things start to get wierd. For instance our DCHP server decided to stop giving out addresses. Reboot and it was fine. I would definately consider this as unstable.
        • by MrResistor (120588) <peterahoff@nosPaM.gmail.com> on Thursday October 28, 2004 @01:38PM (#10655624) Homepage
          I think the general response would be that they seem stable because you don't have any *nix servers running next to them for comparison. Virus vulnerabilities and patching issues are still instability, just going by a different name. Planned downtime is still downtime.

          • by Total_Wimp (564548) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @01:53PM (#10655779)
            I think the general response would be that they seem stable because you don't have any *nix servers running next to them for comparison. Virus vulnerabilities and patching issues are still instability, just going by a different name. Planned downtime is still downtime.

            This is actually a good response. But I would caution that when a network admin says "unstable" a user thinks "flaky" rather than "there are periods of planned downtime." So do other network admins. If Windows servers have more planned downtime (likely) then that can be clarified and quantified just fine without putting it under the blanket of "unstable" where it will be assumed something else is meant.

            Our Windows servers have about the same uptime as the Netware servers sitting right next to them (no, not Suse based), but actually have less unplanned downtime. I'm not trying to crack on Netware, or anyone else, but if the servers are up unless we take them down on purpose then that's certainly not something I'd call "unstable", especially if the users is going to hear "flaky".

            TW
    • by Sensible Clod (771142) <[ten.retrahc] [ta] [7-cd]> on Thursday October 28, 2004 @10:23AM (#10653153) Homepage
      Who here also thinks it'd be just as expensive to convert from Linux to Windows?

      (Entire planet moves a fraction of an inch further away from the sun as millions of /.ers' hands shoot up, then returns as they come back down.)
    • Re:read the words (Score:4, Interesting)

      by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @10:26AM (#10653181) Homepage Journal
      I read that as something completely unintentional I'm sure:

      upgrade from one version of Windows to a newer release and nine out of 10 enterprise customers said that such a change wouldn't provide any tangible business gains.

      Balmey wouldn't have meant it that way, would he?
    • Owooooooo!!!! (Score:3, Interesting)

      I think some of the MSies, such as Ballmer, can officially be declared rabid. or at least werewolves in Redmond. (Warren, we need ya!)

      What??? The initial change from any OS to any other OS would cost money? Don't they cover this sort of thing in economics 101?
    • I don't think I understand your point. Its expensive to switch from linux to windows or visa versa. So the report says that if you are already a microsoft customer, don't bother spending the extra money it takes to switch. Do you think they are saying that makes Windows a better operating system than Linux? Or are they extending the point too far to imply that starting from scratch, Windows should always be installed? I don't get it.
      • by shotfeel (235240) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:16AM (#10653805)
        Nice how they use a single metric, cost of switching, Don't say much about cost post-switch that I see (though I skimmed pretty fast and didn't read any of the studies they link).

        Under the security part, maybe they should have mentioned something about the extra cost the first time the next big Windows virus/trojan/worm hits the scene. Or the cost of simply keeping up with security and bug fixes.

        Its not what they say, its what they don't say.

      • by gilesjuk (604902) <giles,jones&zen,co,uk> on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:52AM (#10654343)
        Thing is the UK government have already identified that the upgrade cycle for hardware and software with Linux is less frequent at 6-8 years compared with 3-4 with Windows.

        Soon when environment laws are toughened further (in the EU they're becoming so) it will cost a lot of money to dispose of computer hardware and so the TCO of Windows will have to include the cost of hardware upgrades and disposal of old hardware.

        If you're doing this twice as often as Linux then you're paying twice as much simply based on the hardware, never mind the upgrade process (installation of new hardware and software) and training (due to software interface changes).

        All this and I've not even mentioned licenses.
    • Re:read the words (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Jugalator (259273) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @10:28AM (#10653218) Journal
      Who here also thinks it'd be just as expensive to convert from Linux to Windows?

      Yeah, but that's beyond most companies concern since they don't upgrade that way, and therefore probably not seen as worth bringing up. Compare to analyzing a marriage between Elaine and LeChuck isn't even discussed, since that shouldn't be able to happen. :-)

      ...

      Oh drat! You already posted and can't mod!

    • Re:read the words (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SenatorOrrinHatch (741838) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @10:34AM (#10653294)
      Am I the only one who sees a strong parallel between a billionaire CEO like Ballmer telling his employess he "wanted truly independent, factual information" and say the President telling his intelligence analysts that he wants to know about, say WMDs in Iraq or ties to terrorists? I'm only 26, but I'm pretty certain that if a "senior Microsoft team led by General Manager Martin Taylor" had come back to Ballmer and said, "Sorry boss, but we just can't beat free when it comes to TCO between two functionally identical products" then our man Mr. Taylor would be out of a very very well paying job, and the assignment would be given to the next peon in line and the procedure iterated until the boss has the "facts" that he wants to hear. Then again, I believe this is the kind of thing they teach in MBA programs, so I suppose any executive worth their $200,000/annum would get the message the first time.
    • by sgant (178166)
      ...but when I went to read the article at Linuxworld , the formating of the web page was all over the map.

      Now, I'm using Firefox...which I would think Linuxworld...being to promote Linux and such...would be formated in a way that Firefox/Mozilla wouldn't have a tough time reading. Yet, when I open the page in Internet Explorer, everything is fine.

      Why is this? What's really going on over at Linuxworld? Is everything over there put together on Linux/Apache and other open source apps?

      Just find it interestin
    • Re:read the words (Score:4, Insightful)

      by The Spoonman (634311) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @02:33PM (#10656195) Homepage
      You put it in, but you glossed over the absolute most important sentence in that paragraph:

      And nine out of 10 enterprise customers said that such a change wouldn't provide any tangible business gains.

      That's the most important point by far. Sure, a company could spend millions of extra dollars and tons of extra time converting to Linux, but for what gain? We've been hearing for years how Linux provides exactly the same or similar capabilities as Windows-based counterparts. So, where's the gain? If it's 3-4 times more expensive to do the conversion, then that also means we can upgrade to the newest version of Windows 3 or 4 times and STILL not spend as much as it would cost to covert to Linux. Even with a liberal 2-3 product upgrade cycle for Windows, that means it would still take 6-12 years for an ROI. Most businesses don't plan that far in advance for ROI.

      You've already conceded the point that it would be more expensive to convert an infrastructure from Windows to Linux, so then explain the gain? An ROI in 12 years? Yeah, take that to your CFO and see how quickly he jumps on it.
  • by scupper (687418) * on Thursday October 28, 2004 @10:19AM (#10653102) Homepage
    Excerpt from last paragraph of Ballmer memo:

    If the evidence at our www.microsoft.com/getthefacts Web site doesn't sufficiently convey the benefits and value of the Microsoft platform, we want to hear from you so we can work even harder to get that information to you.

    I can't wait to read the the response to his invitation.
    • by R.Caley (126968) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:14AM (#10653771)
      I can't wait to read the the response to his invitation.

      Since no one sane replies to a MAKE MONEY FAST email, which is what his message is, the only entertainment to be gained from the replies will be of the rather sick kind people get from watching cripples fall dosn stairs.

      Mind you, I'm pretty sick myself when it comes to humour...

  • by hsmith (818216) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @10:20AM (#10653110)
    Security
    About three years ago, we made software security a top priority


    please... but i think they are starting to see Linux as a viable threat, thus the verbal out crys lately trying to defend themselves
    • by julesh (229690) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @10:25AM (#10653175)
      Security
      About three years ago, we made software security a top priority


      s/three years ago/ten years too late/
    • by Weaselmancer (533834) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @10:48AM (#10653458)

      Yeah, that takes the cake. But it's worded pretty cleverly, dontcha agree? "About three years ago, we made software security a top priority." Notice they don't say they've actually done anything about it, they just say they've made it "a priority". Hell, anyone can do that.

      Beautiful piece of marketing doublespeak.

  • Groklaw (Score:4, Informative)

    by julesh (229690) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @10:21AM (#10653113)
    Also worth reading the groklaw article on this, which is available here [groklaw.net].
    • Re:So does the FDIC (Score:4, Interesting)

      by ajs (35943) <ajs&ajs,com> on Thursday October 28, 2004 @10:58AM (#10653576) Homepage Journal
      That's a GREAT article, and I think someone should submit a story to Slashdot with just that story.

      Real-world risk management is absolutely key with any OS or software suite, and that essay from the FDIC is spot-on. I might disagree with a few points, but overall it's quite accurate.

      I also enjoy their summary which starts:
      "The use of FOSS by financial institutions does not pose risks that are fundamentally different from those presented by the use of proprietary or self-developed software.However, FOSS adoption and usage necessitates some distinctive risk management practices with which institutions must be familiar."
      Yep, that's exaclty what Ballmer is trying to convince you isn't so... so who do we trust on risk assessment, federal bank insurers or Microsoft? Heh.
      • ""The use of FOSS by financial institutions does not pose risks that are fundamentally different from those presented by the use of proprietary or self-developed software.However, FOSS adoption and usage necessitates some distinctive risk management practices with which institutions must be familiar." Yep, that's exaclty what Ballmer is trying to convince you isn't so... so who do we trust on risk assessment, federal bank insurers or Microsoft? Heh."

        Ballmer's strategy has some much more ominous undertone
  • It seems like they think that if they say Windows is more secure enough times it will become a reality. They should put more focus on developing secure software, than simply paying lip service to secure software.

    --
    Brandon Petersen
    Get Firefox! [spreadfirefox.com]
    • It seems like they think that if they say Windows is more secure enough times it will become a reality

      This really works... for a recent example look no further than WMD... everyone suspected that it was bogus, but found the media campaign somehow compelling. Sad to say, marketting is very powerful

      They should put more focus on developing secure software, than simply paying lip service to secure software.

      It would be very naive to believe that a company (whose loyality is to shareholders), will sit st
    • It seems like they think that if they say Windows is more secure enough times it will become a reality.

      They're smarter than that. They do believe that if they say it often enough, people will start to think it's true. And for marketing, that's what counts - not reality, but what people think. Customers, especially.
    • by hackstraw (262471) * on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:57AM (#10654401)
      It seems like they think that if they say Windows is more secure enough times it will become a reality.

      That only works if you say the same thing over and over again.

      They should put more focus on developing secure software, than simply paying lip service to secure software.

      Well, its in the article, and I immediately stopped reading after the quote:

      He claimed that Windows was a better choice than Linux in terms of security

      Please bear with me, I have had all of the microsoft related stuff filtered off of my homepage for years, but that nolonger seems to work, so here I am being a troll (see I said it now you have to mod me up).

      Windows simply is not designed for security and where I work when we have "major problems" its from the microsoft side of the house, not the UNIX side.

      Windows will run anything with the proper couple of letters appended to the end of the filename. UNIX has to have the executable bit set to it, regardless of the name, and no mailer that I know of will dump an executable file so that some luser can just click on it and wreck the LAN and up to a good part of the internet as a whole.

      Windows comes with bunches of stuff turned on by default, and an unpatched system directly exposed to the internet is likely to be compromised in I believe 20 minutes now.

      Windows uses the nebulously defined "current working directory" as the first search path for executables and libraries. Everyone else in the world knows the problem with this.

      Windows must be used from a GUI that is tied to the OS (including a browser) which has caused a couple of problems in the past.

      Windows still does not get multiuser/administrator stuff right.

      Windows service packs/patches frequently break stuff, and take a considerable amount of time to test within an organization before being deployed.

      I mean, windows is OK for my dad to use AOL to do whatever he does online. It doesn't crash too often on him, and its ok to run at home or on someone's desk where nothing really important is done with the machine or the data on it. I wouldn't suggest Linux for this kind of work at all. Using Macs would simply put too many IT people out of business. But when it comes to important stuff, people tend to look for more robust solutions. I don't see any microsoft based machines on the top 500 list. I don't know of any instance where important database kind of stuff is run off of windows. I'm sure there are some, because Oracle and whatnot "works" on windows, but I don't think its any accident that windows is the minority when it comes to server room kind of stuff, nor do I think its any kind of accident that windows is vastly the majority when it comes to desktop stuff.

      Why can't MS figure out what they are good at and do that, instead of talking a bunch of shit and doing things half way? They are already the largest software company in the world, why don't they use these resources to be the best?
  • Windows TCO (Score:5, Interesting)

    by alatesystems (51331) <chris.talkingtoad@com> on Thursday October 28, 2004 @10:23AM (#10653151) Homepage Journal
    I am so sick of "get the facts" and "Windows TCO is lower". I am a big fan of windows on the desktop, but it sucks as a server. I contend that anyone who says "Windows is easier to admin than Linux" has never had a Windows problem.

    Since Tuesday, my DFS has been totally screwed up and not replicating. With Linux, you'd just look at a samba config file or something, but NOOO, not with AD and MS domains. I totally removed all of my replica sets and spent HOURS on google trying everything under the sun.

    We ended up having to call Microsoft and paying $245 for the privilege. Well, in case you're wondering, yes they fixed DFS, but now my SysVol is marked as tombstoned. So yeah, my profiles are replicating, but now my SysVol is about to delete itself. Microsoft is trying to figure out WTF it is trying to delete SysVol and every time you set the flag to 0 it goes right back to one, regardless of whether or not you stop or start the File Replication Service(FRS). We had to totally blow everything away in LDAP with ADSI edit and in the registry under HKLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Drivers\NtFRS and DFS.

    Anyway, I hate windows on a server, but you just don't have the same abilities on a Linux domain as you do on a windows domain with windows desktops. We used to have a samba domain, and we're transitioning to AD. I hope Ballmer gets to read this, preferably before my SysVol deactivates and deletes itself.

    This message and SysVol will self-destruct in five seconds.
    • Re:Windows TCO (Score:5, Interesting)

      by RAMMS+EIN (578166) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @10:43AM (#10653402) Homepage Journal
      ``I am a big fan of windows on the desktop''

      I used to think it was Ok to run Windows on desktops. That was last year. This year, all the problems I've seen people have with their computers were problems they wouldn't have had, had they been running Debian.

      Viruses, unexplicable slowness of the system, instability, unability to replace MSIE with a proper browser, missing or disfunctional drivers for video cards and printers, weird icons or images on the desktop that wouldn't go away, register corruption, the list goes on.

      I really can't understand how people can work with such a system. OTOH, they can't understand how I can work with ratpoison, screen, mutt and vi, either.
    • Re:Windows TCO (Score:3, Interesting)

      by base_chakra (230686) *
      All of the major Linux vendors and distributors (including Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Novell [SUSE and Ximian] and Red Hat) have begun charging hefty premiums for must-have items such as technical service and support, product warranties and licensing indemnification.

      Ballmer mentions licensing indemnification because (as he mentions elsewhere) Microsoft recently removed the liabiliy cap on their products. I'll leave it to you to decide how relevant this feature is for other platforms.

      He also makes it sound as
  • Nothing new here (Score:5, Insightful)

    by menkhaura (103150) <espinafre@gmail.com> on Thursday October 28, 2004 @10:24AM (#10653162) Homepage
    What would we expect of Ballmer? "Okay, okay, I give in, Linux is actually better, cheaper, more stable, faster" and so on? Of course not. He is lying, true, but that is his job (used car salesmen, bow before Ballmer, for he is your god).
  • The lower TC (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mpost4 (115369) * on Thursday October 28, 2004 @10:24AM (#10653163) Homepage Journal
    will be the one that the most people that have to interact with it know it. If on the server, and all the admins know unix that would be linux or unix. If on the server and all the admins know only windows then it would be windows. On the desktop windows will win most (read 95%) of the time. Unless you have a very very techly set of employees then it just might be linux.
  • 2600 words? (Score:5, Funny)

    by klocwerk (48514) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @10:24AM (#10653165) Homepage
    how ironic.
    ^_^

  • by nijk (781345) * on Thursday October 28, 2004 @10:26AM (#10653184)
    And as Yankee Group noted in its Linux, UNIX and Windows TCO Comparison study, "Linux-specific worms and viruses are every bit as pernicious as their UNIX and Windows counterparts - and in many cases they are much more stealthy."
    Well they have to be...the simple viruses that invade windows machines wouldn't stand a chance against linux.

    Also, they totally ignore to state the fact that the frequency of Linux viruses on Linux is pretty much null.
  • by Catiline (186878) <akrumbach@gmail.com> on Thursday October 28, 2004 @10:27AM (#10653199) Homepage Journal
    Developers, devel... erk, Security, Security, Security!
  • by ZorbaTHut (126196) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @10:28AM (#10653224) Homepage
    Yankee's study concluded that, in large enterprises, a significant Linux deployment or total switch from Windows to Linux would be three to four times more expensive - and take three times as long to deploy - as an upgrade from one version of Windows to a newer release.

    It's more expensive short-term to switch operating systems than to not switch? Shocker.

    And nine out of 10 enterprise customers said that such a change wouldn't provide any tangible business gains.

    And one of them said it would.

    Did any of them say Windows was actually better? I doubt it - if any of them had, they would have mentioned it.

    Training for IT employees was significantly higher for Linux than for Windows - on average, 15% more expensive. The reasons: training materials were less readily available, and customers spent more on training to compensate for the lack of internal knowledge about Linux.

    There are more Windows admins out there. This surprises who?

    So you've got #1, which basically says "If you're already running Windows, stick with it!" You've got #2, which says "If you're already running Windows, stick with it!" And you've got #3, which says "Right now, there's more people running Windows!"

    Am I the only one who hears an undertone of "Please, please, for the love of God, keep using Windows"?

    Microsoft's marketing, right now, is focused entirely on "Don't switch to Linux". Perhaps this is because many companies still use Windows. Or perhaps it's because they can't come up with plausible reasons to switch *from* Linux. But don't worry - we'll be seeing their first attempts in a year or two, I'll wager.
  • by yeremein (678037) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @10:28AM (#10653227)

    And it's pretty clear that the facts show that Windows provides a lower total cost of ownership than Linux; the number of security vulnerabilities is lower on Windows, and Windows responsiveness on security is better than Linux

    I wonder if their TCO figures include rebooting all your servers weekly to install new patches...

    Oh, and let me guess... the Linux vulnerability count includes all issues found in an entire distribution, while the Windows count includes only the base OS. I'll bet we'd get a much more accurate picture if they included IIS, SQL Server, Outlook, etc.

  • MS is sweating (Score:5, Informative)

    by nels_tomlinson (106413) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @10:29AM (#10653229) Homepage
    Monkeyboy is sweating. Unfortunately, that's nothing new. [ntk.net]

    Seriously, this is just the marketroids doing their thing. When the accountants start warning [eweek.com] about threats from Linux, we know there's a real threat. Linux is getting mention in the latest annual filing [shareholder.com], too.

  • by d102804 (826077) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @10:29AM (#10653238)
    In an indirect way, Steve Balmer shows that open source works in the West. He, like the rest of us, knows that the issue is cost. So, he immediately attempts to criticize the total cost of ownership (TCO) of Linux.

    The single biggest reason for the proliferation of open source software like Linux and Apache is that they are free to own. Most Westerners are relatively honest and do not pirate commercial software; the piracy rate is only about 15%. The sheer high cost of commercial software thus creates a market for free software like Linux and Apache.

    Now, consider China (which includes Taiwan province and Hong Kong). The Chinese steal what they do not want to buy; the piracy rate is about 95%. In China, there is no market for open source software like Linux, for all software is free. Windows XP is "free".

    TCO is not even an issue in China because Microsoft will not support pirated software. Chinese pirates get support for, say, Windows XP from other pirates; the behavior is similar to Westerners getting support from other open source supporters for Linux.

  • by HangingChad (677530) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @10:44AM (#10653415) Homepage
    Getting Linux TCO news from Ballmer is about as reliable as getting news about Iraq from Dick Cheney.
  • by ZWarrior (194861) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @10:46AM (#10653438) Homepage
    I depend heavily on M$ products for my paycheck, and have certifications in M$ products. but I am also a realist... there are times that Linux just does the job better.

    I feel that they both get the job done in different ways, and sometimes one is better than the other. We (the team who manage the servers at my place of employment) have been slowly introducing more and more Linux boxes, just because we can do more with the functions we are introducing them for. [Well, that and the fact that the security team is very Windows centric and can't crack these, much to their frustration and chagrin. ;)]

    However, Ballmers contentions that Windows is just better are beginning to sound more like the ravings of a man demanding that the wind stop blowing.

    As for the facts on the website? My college stats teacher proved that you could make the numbers say anything if you try hard enough.
  • Gandhi was right (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gothmolly (148874) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @10:49AM (#10653467)
    "First they ignore you,
    Then they laugh at you,
    Then they fight you,
    Then you win."

    I'd say we're well into Stage 3.
  • Real world example (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sl70 (9796) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @10:51AM (#10653499) Homepage
    Check out hosting from http://www.1and1.com/ [1and1.com]. Linux hosting is $4.99 a month; MS Win hosting with the same features is $6.99 a month. I wrote to 1and1 and asked them why Windows-based hosting was more expensive. I was told that in terms of licensing and maintainence costs, Linux is definitely cheaper.

    How do you respond to that, Ballmer?
  • by say (191220) <sigve@@@wolfraidah...no> on Thursday October 28, 2004 @10:55AM (#10653545) Homepage
    1. Make shitty product
    2. Claim it's better
    3. When noone agrees any longer: claim it's cheaper because changing is expensive
    4. Profit!
  • FUD Response (Score:4, Insightful)

    by acherrington (465776) <acherrington@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:00AM (#10653602)
    I read this when it came out, and read it once again now. It is complete FUD.

    of note:

    They only speak of conversion costs, never upkeep. Conversion is always expensive. Have them look at conversion plus 5 years.

    Look at the cost of downtime. They do not mention what the cost is to the core business.
    Cost of hardware.

    The hardware needs for windows platforms is much more robust compared to platforms for Linux. That's another trick they do... they say, you need P4s and we need P4s... not really. My new server (i.e. jenny's old laptop) is running off of 128 mb of ram and 600 MHz. It is considered overpowered for command line only freebsd.

    Their notes:

    Few companies know what they're really spending. Only five of the 14 kept detailed metrics - and each of those five found Linux more expensive (5% to 20%) than their current Microsoft environments. => Which 5 companies? Cost is one thing, but what are the potential returns? I wont be running any ecommerce website on IIS. Those credit cards will be jacked so quick.

    Preparation and planning activities took 5% to 25% longer for Linux than Windows. What are we planning? => As a counter example... lets talk about active directory migration.

    Training for IT employees was significantly higher for Linux than for Windows - on average, 15% more expensive. The reasons: training materials were less readily available, and customers spent more on training to compensate for the lack of internal knowledge about Linux. => Unknown to me, but I bet this is true due to simple supply and demand. However, if Linux had the marketplace and Microsoft was smaller it would probably reverse

    All 14 companies said it was difficult finding qualified Linux personnel in the marketplace to support their Linux projects. When they did find third-party help, they had less leverage negotiating hourly rates than with Windows consulting resources. => What is qualified? I every MCSE is not qualified.
  • by R.Caley (126968) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:04AM (#10653643)
    Pope takes a shit in the woods.
  • by multiplexo (27356) * on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:09AM (#10653713) Journal
    Firstly the numbers that Ballmer quotes are probably bullshit, TCO numbers are computed using a specialized form of mathematics where the operations exist in a mathematical field called "The Bullshit Plane" So you have the field of integers, the field of complex numbers and then the field of bullshit numbers where TCO numbers, presidential polling, WiFi access point range and Best Buy extended service contracts are computed.

    But that aside the reason why I as an IT guy am not impressed by Windows is that it is difficult to administer remotely (when Microsoft shows me a version of Windows that I can admin over a 9600 BPS serial link with a CLI I'll be interested) and the fact that I don't want to be Microsoft's bitch. If I don't like IBM's Linux solution I can buy from HP or SGI. If I don't like Microsoft Windows I'm stuck with it.

    Microsoft's history of price increases is also an issue. When Windows NT 3.51 came out I could purchase it for $95 dollars a license at Academic discount, NT 4.0 cost 135 dollars, Windows 2000 and XP are $165. Microsoft will counter that Windows XP is more functional than NT was and that that justifies the extra price, but my hardware is more functional than it was 8 years ago when NT 3.51 came out and it's cheaper, why hasn't Microsoft's operating system followed the same evolution? (that's a rhetorical question, but in case you're confused it's because they have a monopoly) In addition I take all of Microsoft's claims of increased functionality driving software price with a grain of salt as a lot of what those new releases deliver is bug fixes over the prior version.

    Even if Microsoft can deliver solutions for the same price as Linux a lot of companies are going to look at Microsoft's recent history and say "Do we really want to be their bitches?" and when the answer is "no", go with that Linux solution.

  • by Alain Williams (2972) <addw@phcomp.co.uk> on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:19AM (#10653839) Homepage
    • The survey, by META Group, found that in one large telecommunications company, consolidation on Windows allowed a greater than 50 percent reduction in the number of required servers.

    Presumably they replaced old servers with new ones, so, say, 4 old i386s with 2 new Athlons ? Hardly surprising it is ?

    Any one got any old pics of Ballmer, I'd like to see how much his nose has grown by this last year.

  • by petrus4 (213815) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:20AM (#10653849) Homepage Journal
    In terms of talking about the operating system itself, Microsoft's statements come across as the same FUD we'd expect. However there is one thing I noticed in this letter which caused me to think a bit...

    "All of the major Linux vendors...have begun charging hefty premiums for must-have items such as technical service and support, product warranties and licensing indemnification."

    What this means I think is that Microsoft can't compete with the *operating system itself* on technical merit, and they know this. However, what it sounds like they're realising that they *can* do is exploit corporate ambivalence about Linux based on the major distributor companies' pricing structures.

    I understand that in order to make money with Linux, it's always been about the services. What I've also heard talked about several times recently though is how greedy people think Red Hat in particular are becoming. If this is true, RH and the other companies IMHO need to be careful.

    Microsoft as I said know they cannot compete with Linux based purely on technical merit. But if Red Hat and the other companies introduce overinflated pricing structures with regards to the services, this will largely erradicate the "free as in beer" element of Linux, at least as far as the corporate mind is concerned. If it gets to the point where Microsoft can compete based on *initial price*, (and no, I'm not talking about ongoing license fees here...I'm talking about the price of the *initial* contract/box/whatever) then they could even afford to cease caring about people knowing that Linux is a technically stronger solution than Windows. All they need to do is sell someone on the idea that an *entry* price is cheaper than the initial price one of the Linux companies is charging. Based on what I've heard about Microsoft's contracts, I'm guessing they could very easily do this.

    1) Offer a corporation an initial deal comparable to the Linux vendors in terms of unit volume/amount of support, but at a marginally lower price, and of course with Windows rather than Linux.

    2) Fill said corp's heads with usual BS about "independent" (wink, wink) surveys/studies and so on to grease the deal.

    3) Include a fixed term no-vendor-transfer clause in the contract...basically specifying that they can't migrate for a certain time period. 5 years, 10 if they can get away with it.

    4) Once the time period for the Linux "clone contract" runs out, then we're in purely Microsoft time, and can then commence MS fun and profit. Jack up the price for additional support, service packs, bug fixes or whatever, and justify this on the basis that these weren't mentioned in the original contract, or that these are "optional extras." (Even if they are actually mandatory to keep the corp's machines functioning) Use extra context-specific BS as necessary.

    Any client company unfortunate enough to fall into this trap would basically be screwed for the duration of the contract.
  • TCO (Score:4, Informative)

    by TheFlu (213162) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:27AM (#10653957) Homepage
    I appreciate the fact that it's going to cost a company some money to switch from Windows to Linux, mainly to hire competent administrators (and if you're thinking of doing so, hiring competent administrators is an absolute must).

    However, I also appreciate the fact that said company is never going to have to pay for a software and/or operating system upgrade ever again. This is called smart spending. You shell out money in the short term to save significant amounts of money in the long term.

    Speaking from experience here, my company has switched every machine in our office to Linux, both servers and clients, and we've saved a bundle in the long run by doing so.
  • by LWATCDR (28044) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:37AM (#10654089) Homepage Journal
    Look at what he says.
    "# Training for IT employees was significantly higher for Linux than for Windows - on average, 15% more expensive. The reasons: training materials were less readily available, and customers spent more on training to compensate for the lack of internal knowledge about Linux."
    So everyone and their dog "thinks" they know Windows well enough to run a windows server... Except that it all the security issues that seem to be caused by poorly administrated Windows boxs seems to say otherwise. Linux experts are pretty rare.

    "# All 14 companies said it was difficult finding qualified Linux personnel in the marketplace to support their Linux projects. When they did find third-party help, they had less leverage negotiating hourly rates than with Windows"

    So if you know Linux you are more in demand than if you know Windows, and you will make more money doing it.
  • by rlgoer (784913) * on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:43AM (#10654185) Homepage
    The very fact that Ballmer wants to take on Linux gives people the impression that Linux is a worthy opponent.

    It's the same with with US presidential debates, where the incumbent usually tries to negotiate his or her way out of as many debates as possible. Why? Because the mere fact that a challenger shares a stage with a sitting president tends to help the challenger.

    The lesson those of us who use Linux in our daily work, and who see the value in things like open source and open standards, is just to hang loose.

    Ballmer is offering free publicity.
  • by geg81 (816215) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @12:09PM (#10654566)
    Ballmer writes:
    At the same time, our worldwide sales organization is going even deeper with customers to understand their needs and create a feedback loop with our product development teams that enables us to deliver integrated solutions that support real-world customer scenarios, and comprehensively address issues such as manageability, ease of use and reliability.
    Anybody who has been part of a software development effort knows that that kind of feedback takes time--lots of time, in fact. Is Microsoft paying their customers for this time? I don't believe they are. Similarly, is Microsoft paying for all the beta testing and bug reporting they are getting out of their customers? I don't believe they are.

    So, the question is: why should anybody give Microsoft many hours of free consulting just so that Microsoft can turn around and use that to further monopolize the market? Why should anybody donate time and effort to Microsoft just to have the company turn around and charge them for everybody's voluntary contributions to their software?

    Microsoft's dirty little secret is that most of the value of their software isn't created by them, it's created by their customers. They are just capturing that value and making a bundle on it. And they are charging their customers for the same effort over and over again, just because they can.

    Even if Linux were no better than Windows, with Linux, people can be sure that they are not getting charged for their own and other people's free contributions to the effort.
  • Free Windows? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by geomon (78680) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @12:18PM (#10654712) Homepage Journal
    "All of the major Linux vendors and distributors (including Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Novell [SUSE and Ximian] and Red Hat) have begun charging hefty premiums for must-have items such as technical service and support, product warranties and licensing indemnification."

    So Microsoft provides these extras for free?

    I've read the warranty from Microsoft's products. They don't warrant shit. Nor do I expect to see a pro bono Microsoft lawyer pop out of thin air if someone makes a copyright claim regarding their products.

    And customer support?

    Give me a break.

    Yankee's study concluded that, in large enterprises, a significant Linux deployment or total switch from Windows to Linux would be three to four times more expensive - and take three times as long to deploy - as an upgrade from one version of Windows to a newer release.

    You could have fooled our IT department. Because of the shifting sands beneath the code in various Microsoft Office versions, we (a national laboratory) have had to recode all of our Word macros and all of our Access apps everytime there is a "new" release of Office.

    And nine out of 10 enterprise customers said that such a change wouldn't provide any tangible business gains.

    Not because of superior technology, but because of integration hooks and low-ball initial pricing. When you swallow the Microsoft hook, you take the line and sinker with it. Regurgitating all of that 'infrastructure' will inevitably take more money to change. That would be true shifting from a pure *NIX environment to a Windows-centric environment.

    ...more expensive (5% to 20%) than...

    ...took 5% to 25% longer...

    ...three to four times more expensive...

    Shifting from specifics to global ranges indicates they have no idea what the cost structures are. They are cherry picking their report figures and glossing over their own problems.

    Hardly surprising for a marketing letter.

    But keep in mind everyone: Windows is Free!.

  • by geomon (78680) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @12:32PM (#10654869) Homepage Journal
    While [the open source development process] has some validity, it is not necessarily the best way to develop secure software. We believe in the effectiveness of a structured software engineering process that includes a deep focus on quality, technology advances, and vigorous testing to make software more secure.

    But not for the last twenty one years, apparently:

    About three years ago, we made software security a top priority,..

    So they think that the open source approach to development has some validity, but that their approach - THAT THEY ADMIT THEY HAVEN'T BEEN USING FOR 20+ YEARS - is better.

    Hmmmm....

    They found that Microsoft addressed all of the 128 publicly disclosed security flaws in Windows over the 12-month period studied, and that its security updates predated major outbreaks by an average of 305 days.

    There are only 360 days in the study period. That means their average is nearly the timeframe covered by the study.

    I get suspicious when I see this kind of conclusion. Have they only been in business a year?

    After careful analysis, farmaCity concluded that Windows would reduce network administration by 30 percent compared with Linux, and would also simplify identity and desktop management..

    And this is proof of security... how?

    What was the analytical methodology? Why is network administration such a large burden? I don't even see the update activities on my Linux machine, but I have been warned by our IT group not to deploy XP SP2 due to breakage problems.

    Hmmmm....

  • by dilute (74234) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @12:32PM (#10654881)
    The "indemnification" point is serious FUD based on way overblown fears of end user patent liability.

    In fact, the most likely "patent" scenario is the one we have today: i.e., patent "hold-ups" in which 2-bit "inventors" demand "royalties" from software users, based on patents they probably never should never have been granted. These patent owners want to bleed a lot of companies for relatively small bucks each. They do not in fact want to actually shut anyone down; they just want to collect a small "tax" from a big population. These are nuisances to big companies (the usual targets of such claims), and certainly potential expense items, but NOT the sort of thing that should make a strategic difference in one's technology direction.

    All that being said, offering uncapped indemnification to customers against potential software patent claims is a valid selling point. Of course, Microsoft software is no less vulnerable to these claims than anyone else's, and the email was a little unclear whether the "uncapped" amount was for the costs of legal defense (attorneys' fees) or that plus the actual liability to the patent owner.

    Microsoft's offer of indemnification is credible if for no other reason than Microsoft's huge financial liquidity. In the open source world, there are also a few companies, such as IBM, that have good financial credit and can credibly make a comparable offer. But there are quite a few providers who are not in a position to do this.

    Perhaps the answer for the others would be to offer reasonably priced group insurance from a financially sound insurer . . . IF the market considers that a response like that is even necessary.

  • by Phil Karn (14620) <karn@ka9WELTYq.net minus author> on Thursday October 28, 2004 @12:36PM (#10654929) Homepage
    Ballmer's missive landed in my mailbox last night (somehow it escaped my spam filter), and I wrote this response [ka9q.net]. I know no one there will read it, but it was still fun to write.
    • Love this line in your worm missive :-

      Like Disney, Microsoft is happy to borrow from the public domain without giving anything back.

      Looks like another benefit of the GPL. MS won't get its hands on it.

  • by CyNRG (176230) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @12:40PM (#10654970)
    Being a former technical software salesman myself, I've experienced and used the TCO defense as the last resort before I lost a sale. That is what Ballmer is doing here. Features and benefits aren't enough to sway the buyer into purchasing Microsoft software, so you have to resort to a different value proposition.

    Features and benefits are valued more than anything else by the customer. It is the reason to even consider a purchase. This being the issue, it simply means that Ballmer realized that Linux has better and more value to the customer than Microsoft Winblows. Hence, the last justification is the TCO stand. And like political races, truth is meaningless, it's only what the voter will believe.

    Analogy mode on:

    If you need to move a refrigerator, then you need a good size pickup truck. A used car salesman will try to sell you a hatchback Honda and give you advice on how to turn the 'frig on it's side and shove it into the hatchback. The Honda may get great mileage and be cheaper, but it doesn't do the job. What good is it?

    Analogy mode off:

    In this case the TCO figures are an out and out lie.

    The "independent" sources of TCO and general IT practices analysis live by the motto: "Never piss off the 800lb gorilla in your house" (Microsoft).

    Linux and all Open Source groups have no fear of the 800lb gorilla.

  • by borschski (665381) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @12:54PM (#10655111)

    Don't read what Ballmer wrote since (IMHO) the focus is NOT on lower TCO...instead read in to what Ballmer meant. This is a public salvo thrown out that clearly signals their intention: they're coming after Linux and open source hard.

    Read in to what Ballmer meant when he said, "Given the growing concern among customers about intellectual property indemnification, what's the best way to minimize risk?" Read this [infoworld.com] and then think about it.
  • by Noksagt (69097) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @01:07PM (#10655274) Homepage
    I can't believe how businesses have been hoodwinked into believing that "TOTAL Cost" has a horizon of 1-3 years (whatever the frequency of windows updates is these days). If they intend to be around for decades more, than they should have some vision of those decades to come. Of course switching is expensive! But upgrades to Windows are generally more expensive than upgrades to even commercially-supported versions of Linux.

    This gap could potentially change if MS suddenly moved to a subscription model--presumably they'd see that by keeping subscription costs low "enough" people would stay locked in. But it is also easier to justify the insignificant monthly or anual costs of a subscription than large expenditutres every few years for upgrades.

    The Community needs a study of annually amortized UPGRADE costs for different platforms. Then businesses could make a more informed decision--Is the switch worth it if it pays for itself in 3 years?
  • by procrusteous (661491) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @03:26PM (#10656636)
    Just once, I'd like to see one of these "uncommissioned" TCO reports separate OS users into software producers and software consumers. If you produce software you have a vested interest in sticking with MS - they change their OS every few years and that means their customers, and yours, will be back again and again. Let's face it, software is not a consumable - it doesn't wear out or get used up. There has to be something other than new faces driving sales or you're dead as a producer.

    Software consumers don't like to keep buying new versions of software, and if they're home users they don't necessarily care about MS support, or lack thereof, for an obsolete OS. They're going to keep playing those games on Windows 98 as long as they work. Commercial users pretty much need to use supported software - if they can't go to someone when they have a problem it's useless to them. That's the primary allure of MS over open software. Though with Big Blue and others getting into the service end of open software there is a whole lot less reason for saying open software is not supported, particularly if you've got a service contract with a large outfit.

    My company writes a lot of custom software for internal use, only. Expensive software. We need a supported OS. A lot of stuff we have that worked in NT doesn't work in XP, so it's been a major headache making the switch (we're still not half way there). As one of the better MS customers we are actually one of the reasons MS provided support for NT long after it was supposed to expire.

    I don't know when the guys running this outfit are going to see, if they ever do, that sticking with MS means we are going to have to go through this over and over and over again. That's because every MS OS is obsolete and without MS support, right out of the box. It just hasn't happened for the newer ones, yet. That's something that's not given a lot of weight in these TCO analyses, and nobody tells you up front.
  • by msimm (580077) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @03:31PM (#10656700) Homepage
    But I'm curious how Linux distro's compete with Active Directory and the slew of enterprise configuration utilities available on Windows 2003 Server?

    I'm a full time Linux user, but as a workstation doesn't require these types of tools I've never actually come across them before.

    To be honest, in my Windows server classes I've been pretty impressed with some of their enterprise solutions. Considering, for the forseeable future, we'll be developing networking around mainly Windows clients whats Linux got to compete or outdo Windows on the controller end?

    I'd guess Suse is going to have the best chance, if Novell really tosses everything they had going in Netware into making Suse Enterprise a competative product. I'd be curious to hear what Linux admins are doing in the real world.

    Does Linux have a serious enterprise grade alternative?
  • by DunbarTheInept (764) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @03:35PM (#10656729) Homepage

    But as the Yankee Group commented in an independent, non-sponsored global study of 1,000 IT administrators and executives, Linux, UNIX and Windows TCO Comparison, things aren't always as they seem: "All of the major Linux vendors and distributors (including Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Novell [SUSE and Ximian] and Red Hat) have begun charging hefty premiums for must-have items such as technical service and support, product warranties and licensing indemnification."

    Obviously they are talking about SCO's false claims there. Fucking opportunistic bastards! Regardless of whether or not the conspiracy theory is true, that MS prompted SCO's frivolous lawsuit to discredit Linux, the fact of the matter is that they are trying to make use of it in their PR. Whether it was planned from the start or not, either way that is now part of their strategy now, the deceptive bastards.

    Call this a troll if you will, but I don't apologise for being honest.
  • by Devi0s (759123) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @05:25PM (#10657857) Journal

    Ballmer - And as Yankee Group noted in its Linux, UNIX and Windows TCO Comparison study, "Linux-specific worms and viruses are every bit as pernicious as their UNIX and Windows counterparts - and in many cases they are much more stealthy."

    Spin, Spin, Spin! Just more proof that you can take anything out of context... or just outright lie.

    Almost all of the annoying spyware/adware software out there will only infect a Microsoft platform. You've immediately just reduced your maintenance headaches in typical organizations by over 50%.

    Let's look at some information actually based on analysis of CERT data...

    Windows v Linux security: the real facts
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/security/security_rep ort_windows_vs_linux/ [theregister.co.uk]

    If you prefer, http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/10/22/security_r eport_windows_vs_linux.pdf [theregister.co.uk]

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