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Microsoft Linux Business

Report From "Get The Facts" 475

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 CaptainZapp ( 182233 ) * on Monday June 21, 2004 @08:53AM (#9483167) Homepage
    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.

    Even worse, does Airbus (or Boeing for that matter) manufacture every single of a million parts in a plane themselves?

    Hell no! Certainly not. There's an abundance of suppliers supplying parts for a plane, from the altimeter to the leather chairs in first class.

    You don't even have to go so far as to look at the airplane industry. Car manufacturers make only a miniscule percentage of the components themsleves. The rest is manufactured and delivered by suppliers.

    Otherwise the cost for a car would be comparatively so outrageously high like the cost for some uh! software...

  • by LaserLyte ( 725803 ) * on Monday June 21, 2004 @08:54AM (#9483175)
    Haha... so Microsoft's strategy of pushing the idea that Linux has an equal or greater TCO than Windows basically ignores the fact that Linux is free and that any businesses wanting to use it will naturally go for the most expensive possible distribution (i.e RedHat uber deluxe professional platinum addition for business).

    Perhaps if they faced the "facts", their study might be worth something.

    And as for the comparison of Linux to a DOS prompt... Microsoft seems to think that adding a huge bloated GUI to a server OS is going to improve things. Well, I say that any half-decent system administrator should be able to do his job completely from a command-line interface and should not need a GUI.
  • by kennycoder ( 788223 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @08:55AM (#9483179) Homepage
    It seem MS is pretty scared with all this linux popularity to start making campaigns that make you think windows is *TEH* best and has less vunerabilities. I dunno, i'm using linux for years and after each instalation i didn't get any msg saying that my system is going to reboot automatically after 60 seconds..
  • Re:Free Software (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 21, 2004 @08:57AM (#9483185)
    Why yes, just last night in fact. Had to run AdAware and AVG to get rid of the little bastard, and then I convinced my wife to try and stop using Internet Explorer (Again).
  • by eltoyoboyo ( 750015 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @08:57AM (#9483188) Journal
    MS has $40,000,000,000 USD in cash still before all the lawsuit dust has settled. Certainly they are not going to spend it all buying schools new computers. The noise is only going to grow louder about TCO from them. The open source distro community has to pull together and face them head-on. Eroding into the AIX, HP-UX, and Solaris market share is going to help MS because these companies all have big marketing dollars too.
  • Yeah... Ok (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SamiousHaze ( 212418 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @08:57AM (#9483190)
    The overall tone of this event makes it fairly clear as to Microsoft's anti-Linux strategy.

    1.Claim that linux isn't free.
    2.Pretend that Shared source is the same as Open Source
    3.Make a big deal about the migration costs of moving to Linux
    4.Use the forrester report to claim that Linux is insecure
    5.Belittle the quality of the toolset available on Linux

    Point 1 and 2 I won't dignify with a reply.
    On Point 3 - Yes, there are migration costs... but that is a dumb argument. There is ALWAYS a migration cost when upgrading (horse and buggy to car - airtravel - spacetravel etc)

    4. Yes, linux can be insecure ---- so can windows and anything else (except OpenBSD!! :P)

    5. On this point, I dont' care who says what - Microsoft has better (and I mean this in all respects) tools available for Rapid development.
  • by Gothmolly ( 148874 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @08:59AM (#9483200)
    First they ignore you,
    Then they laugh at you,
    Then they fight you,
    Then you win.

    I'd say that we were at Stage 3 now, we were at Stage 2 last year and the year before.

    Things are looking up!
  • Re:Spin Doctors (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SamiousHaze ( 212418 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:01AM (#9483218)
    The bottom line is that Microsoft is taking a page from Coke, and they are going to lose out bigtime in doing so, because their math is voodoo math, and they charge exorbitant license fees, so their cost of usage will always be much much higher than Open Source, no matter which spindoctor tries to make it look and taste differently than it is.

    HA! Try telling my BOSS that. --- seriously though, Microsoft is very expensive upfront, but what they do have going for them, and this will keep them around, is there market share and how many "experts" they are able to pump out.
  • by pubjames ( 468013 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:02AM (#9483223)
    He asked us to imagine an aeroplane where different components were made by different companies.

    That is a truely idiotic thing to say. There is hardly any manufactured product you can buy today that isn't made from components from supplied by other companies. Even the simplest products - like a pair of shoes for instance - will often be made up with leather from one company, rubber from another, laces from a third, metal components from a fourth, thread from another. And that's just a pair of shoes. I bet Boeing has thousands of suppliers.
  • Edinburgh event (Score:5, Insightful)

    by linuxci ( 3530 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:06AM (#9483253)
    I was at the Edinburgh event last week which was the 2nd event in their roadshow.

    Here's some advice for people who'll be at their next two events (Manchester this week I think, and Wales the week after (Newport, IIRC)):

    - Plan in your coffee break questions to ask them (be careful about providing them with the question on paper as they reworded mine - try and ask it in person at the end).

    - Ask more about IBM involvement in Linux, they tried to claim that IBM were trying to lock people in to Linux, try and provide counter examples as to how it'd be easier to escape an IBM stranglehold than an MS one.

    - They cite interoperability as one of Microsoft's main aims, people mentioned the office file formats and recent patents, but they hedged around the question, someone needs to seriously challenge them on this at the event.

    - Talk to the other delegates in clear concise language why you think Linux should be considered as a serious option. Don't sound like a zealot and accept there's many times when Windows would be more suitable than Linux.

    - Point out to people that open source doesn't always mean Linux, in fact doesn't always mean changing an OS at all. There's some quality open source software for Windows - promote Firefox and OpenOffice as examples
  • by millahtime ( 710421 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:08AM (#9483266) Homepage Journal
    any businesses wanting to use it will naturally go for the most expensive possible distribution (i.e RedHat uber deluxe professional platinum addition for business).

    Many companies like the one I work for require you to be able to get a service contract for any software. So, to use Linux they have to be able to get a service contract. That's why they go for those expensive ones. They have the service.

    Well, I say that any half-decent system administrator should be able to do his job completely from a command-line interface and should not need a GUI.

    You're figureing on half decent sys admins. Many of the ones I know can't do anyting outside the GUI. And they don't even have half of an understanding of what is really going on. Some have never even herd of /. Sadly many who are called sys admins don't really know a whole lot.
  • Well, it isn't (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sinergy ( 88242 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:08AM (#9483267) Homepage
    Not in an enterprise network environment. MCSE admins are a dime a dozen, you can practically pay them minimum wages and have them run servers. Linux admins demand a very high price - at least 2-3 times that of the average NT admin. Why? Running a Linux server requires more than point/clicking your way around. A linux admin is required to have at least basic programming skills.
  • by oddmake ( 715380 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:10AM (#9483270) Journal
    When I get a windows upgrade at work there is no training. It's just figure it out. There are no training courses on windows at all here.

    SOMEONE must pay for your training .If you "figure it out" at you work time,your employer effectively pay for your training cost,as they have to pay your salary for your work(i.e. learning Windows skill)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:10AM (#9483273)
    Linux is Free and Open Source. Freedom with restrictions is a fact of life. You have Free speech but you can't yell fire in the theater. You are Free to Vote for who you want to but you can't vote over and over. You can do whatever you want with the Linux kernel. But if you redistribute it you have to make your changes public thus keeping the code Free,Open and accessible. Your analogy of Free as in beer is wrong. Internet Explorer is Free as in beer. Linux isn't.
  • by sbennett ( 448295 ) <spb@@@gentoo...org> on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:11AM (#9483276)
    If that's what you care about, use BSD.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:11AM (#9483282)
    It's an even worse analogy, because aircraft manufacturers CAN share components with each other because parts are all built to published and accurate specifications, so if the specs say it will work, IT WILL WORK!

    Now compare Microsoft software: It is deliberately designed NOT to work with other software products, so it's a miracle that it actually does work in combination with anything else.

    Heck, Microsoft product "A" has even been known to be incompatible with Microsoft product "B"! This even extends down to Microsoft "service packs"!!!
  • "Linux isnt free?" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bludstone ( 103539 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:13AM (#9483294)
    Really, Well, I just installed mandrake 10 this weekend to replace w2k on an old pc. My first linux. And it was, free.

    I downloaded it, burned it, and installed. I had minimal help and everything went very smoothly.

    Er, right.

    "linux ISNT free?" "really? heres 10 free copies of mandrake right now." "youll have to pay to support it." "ah, then dont you mean linux SUPPORT isnt free? Is windows support free?" *insert adhominem attack they are trained to do here*

    I imagine the best thing you can do at these is hand out free linux install cds, and allow people to make the choice for themselves.

    Again, mandrake 10 was SUPRISINGLY easy to get working.
  • Re:Yeah... Ok (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:14AM (#9483297)
    Visual Basic.

    Oh you might laugh, but you can't deny that a hell of lot of enterpise RAD is done with VB. Yeah, I agree that Delphi/Kylix would be a better choice, but they didn't choose Delphi now did they?
  • by codepunk ( 167897 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:15AM (#9483308)
    You are in the minority because you offer not a shread of proof for your statement. The reality is that I can admin 3x as many linux boxes as you can your windows machine. Not that I would have to because linux unlike windows is way more efficient in the data center. I do not have a single linux machine at work that does not run to nearly full capacity. I can do this because I can run more than just a email server, or database server on a single machine. How often do you see exchange running on the same machine as a sql server?

    In my opinion you are nothing more than a astroturf for MS.
  • Once you factor in the costs of viruses and worms (for a timely example, see the article from earlier today on being unable to pull down updates fast enough to avoid having your XP install infected before it can be updated), MS-Windows is danged expensive.

    The only time I use a compiler on this machine is to build software for other people, and it's stuff like a tweaked KDM for an Internet cafe. Let's see you tweak MS Windows Login like that at any price, sucker.

    Now... let's have some more facts from Microshills, shall we? Big heaps of steaming facts, coming right up! Mooooove over!
  • by tolan-b ( 230077 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:21AM (#9483361)
    except it's not. anywhere near :)
  • Well, anyway... in at least 30% of businesses I visit, a secretary or near equivalent is Level 1 Tech Support. Some of the "dumb blonde" mobile accident catalysts I've seen know an awesome amount about resuscitating MS-Windows.
  • Re:Spin Doctors (Score:5, Insightful)

    by chabotc ( 22496 ) <chabotc AT gmail DOT com> on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:24AM (#9483400) Homepage
    Honestly that is, and always has been one of the strong points of Microsoft. It's not without reason that the famous Balmer 'developers -developers - developers - developers - developers - developers - developers' chant happened.

    Their toolkits are well documented and very easy to get started in. Also a lot of their development (& -tools) is focused not on making the right choice, but giving the most fancy features and ease of use to developers and users alike. Because of this there are many many Windows developers who with limited skill can already contribute to the windows software pool, and thus making more software available for Windows, and making getting Windows developers cheaper then getting Linux developers.

    However there are also those who feel this is also the weakness of Microsoft. By making API's and tools that are not technicly the best solution it'll burst in due time (who doesn't know of the socket handle leak that MS can't fix because otherwise they'd break 1000's of apps). Also by making it easy to develop for and maintain Microsoft software, the engineers and administrators often have no clue of underlying issues thus leading to lots of bugs and exploitable situations..

    There's something to be said for forcing people to understand a situation before allowing them to contribute :-)
  • Re:Yeah... Ok (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ScouseMouse ( 690083 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:29AM (#9483447) Homepage
    ooh oooh here we go again. Perhaps you forgot to consider Delphi/Kylix/C++ builder, Its IDE is far better than anything MS has come up with so far IHMO. Admittedly the best versions are not free, but *NO* versions of Visual studio is free. In my experiance, people who havent tried Delphi/Kylix/C++ builder are usually the ones berating it. MS has killed Visual J++, so the borland and sun tools win there by default, Which leaves Visual basic. Now I have to admit that there are no VB language tools are on Linux, But i actually consider that a good thing.
  • by ninewands ( 105734 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:29AM (#9483448)
    Im sure I am in the minority when saying this, but it has just been my experience that even though I have to continuously do Microsoft refreshes, their software works better ouf of box.

    Their software, out of the box, runs Sobig, Bagel and Blaster as well as it does IE or Office.

    A large part of the cost of administering desktops in a business environment is repairing the damage done by users who have been given excessive system privileges because their applications require them to have them. Linux/Unix apps, as a general rule, don't do that. As a result, it is possible to lock a n*x box down to the point that a user can still do his/her job but he/she cannot wreak havoc on the machine or the network. When the user can only install "goodies in his or her $HOME where they also store their precious data, and pr0n^W other irreplaceable information, they are MUCH more careful about what they click "OK" on. This reduces TCO dramatically.

    Just my USD0.02
  • by Twylite ( 234238 ) <twylite.crypt@co@za> on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:30AM (#9483460) Homepage

    I have to agree with you. Linux advocates don't understand TCO. The cost of initial hardware and software is a minor component of TCO. Major components are the retention of suitably trained staff, cost of enterprise systems or development, and optimising productivity of the system as a whole.

    Microsoft administrators are often cheaper and come with less brainpower than their *nix counterparts. This makes it cheaper to retain MS trained staff. It is also (generally, thus far) cheaper to outsource Microsoft-based network management.

    Enterprise development is also, thus far, cheaper on Microsoft platforms. These platforms have all the tools to develop large systems quickly and effectively. Few organisations are writing their enterprise systems in C anymore! In this respect Java is providing a lifeline to Linux. An equally important consideration is the available of enterprise platforms off the shelf, most of which support *nix (but not Linux) or Windows platforms.

    Optimising productivity is again often misunderstood. OS performance is an insignificant factor. Application performs is more significant, but still minor. Since (arguably) the best enterprise "tool" on Linux is Java, and Java is still relatively slow on the desktop, Linux loses on this aspect. Network performance quite important, and Linux is only slightly ahead of Windows (on a WINS network) if you don't have services for automatic network discovery and integration installed.

    The real biggies in productivity are avoiding downtime, having the right applications for the job (i.e. productivity applications), and having the right skills to use the application. While workstation failures are irritating (and, frankly, Linux has at most a 10% lead in stability in that environment), network outages (not an OS consideration) and server failures are where the problems lie.

    Take a look at the unplanned downtimes of a well-maintained Windows server on good hardware is the correct environment (clean room, UPS, cooling, etc). Three nines is not difficult to achieve. There is only one provider of hardware that guarantees five nines uptime using a non-proprietory OS ... take a guess: its a Windows OS.

    Finally, in terms of productivity applications and available skills and/or training, Linux can't touch Windows. They are literally hundreds or applications for every purpose out there that are smooth and polished and do what a business wants. More importantly, you'll easily find staff that are experienced with that package, and that's a huge cost saving.

    So yes, Linux is free and cheap and all that, and has tons of applications, and can do amazing stuff. But it doesn't do it out of the box, few people know the desktop environment or the applications, and it takes a less common skillset to configure, administer, maintain and develop in a Linux environment. All of which push up the long term TCO, and allow you to make a very valid cost comparison with Windows.

  • Re:Yeah... Ok (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Eudial ( 590661 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:31AM (#9483475)
    5. On this point, I dont' care who says what - Microsoft has better (and I mean this in all respects) tools available for Rapid development.

    Do we want rapid development? The shorter development stage the greater the chance of overlooked bugs. RAD-tools makes programming, which used to be quite a craftmanship - which required a great deal of intelligence and wisdom, to pointless point and clicking.

    // Low level C / Assembly programmer (and somewhat biased by that :-)
  • by linuxci ( 3530 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:34AM (#9483495)
    Let's just say then Linux is free if you want it to be. A lot of people like boxed sets, they may need support contracts and indeed may need certain proprietary software (e.g. Oracle) to run on Linux.

    The doesn't stop Linux being free and legal to those that are comfortable downloading Linux and supporting it themselves possibly using Google and newsgroups for help.

    With Windows you have to pay for a licence just to install the software, you could download it for free but that's illegal, you can't even pay to download it as far as I can see. Then if you need support you have to pay extra for that.

    Name the number of personal users and small businesses who have made use of MS support? There'll be some, but not many.

    For personal users people usually rely on their friends for support and so they're bogged down fixing the viruses and spyware problems on a regular basis if they're not that savvy.
  • by goldspider ( 445116 ) <ardrake79@NoSPam.gmail.com> on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:34AM (#9483496) Homepage
    From reading Slashdot for several years, it would seem to me that Miscrosoft has been "scared" of Linux for some quite time. Every time one of these studies comes out, someone makes the "Microsoft is getting scared" and gets modded up to +5.

    But despite their apparent terror, they've still managed to maintain their market dominance. I don't really think Microsoft is as scared as some Slashdotters would make themselves believe they are. Show me where Linux has taken a significant bite out of Microsoft; then you might have a case.

  • by unoengborg ( 209251 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:34AM (#9483497) Homepage
    15% higher. Not a chance

    If I took a Unix course back in 1989 (before Linux even had emerged) most of what I learnded then would still be somewhat useful in Linux of today. How much would 15 years old windows knowledge help me in manageing windows XP of today. Not much I think. Most likely I would have to have more frequent retraining if I run windows.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:39AM (#9483544)
    This exact same post has been made for the past 5 years. Mostly by ESR.
  • Re:Well, it isn't (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:46AM (#9483628)
    "...their asking price is pretty low..."

    Well, they were undercut by their own little tin God, Bill Gates.

    He once made a comment, "Windows NT is going to be so easy to use, all point and click, that it will be possible to hire sysadmins off the street!".

    PHB's all behaved accordingly.

    Then came the incessant viruses, trojans and service packs. Those "off-the-street guys are still trying to catch up, at EVERYBODY'S expense!!!
  • by kakos ( 610660 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:51AM (#9483684)
    Hate to break it to you /.ers, but Linux isn't free in a corporate setting. I don't know if the TCO is mroe or less or equal than Windows, but it definitely isn't free.

    Sure, you can get Linux for free off any website. However, a company is probabl going to want support for the OS. That costs money. In addition, a company is going to need people to administer the servers. Again, this costs money, both in saleries and training costs.

    The only time is Linux is free is when you use it on a home machine and it is your hobby.
  • by no longer myself ( 741142 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:52AM (#9483692)
    Back when Microsoft first attempted to use that report they bankrolled as proof that the TCO is in favor of Windows, I thought that someone was probably going to either get demoted or lose their job. They were taking the "low road", and it was just not credible. MS going on a roadshow to convince people not to switch to Linux is just plain sad. I expected better Messers Balmer and Gates.

    I'm one of the lucky ones who successfully made the transition away from Windows to Linux. What was my TCO? I'd say I've spent around $300. That includes the cost of books (most of which were of less help than I hoped), and a copy of Lycoris and its Productivity Pak. (It's a nice distro, but it feels constraining.) Ultimately I became a Mandrake user, and it is installed on all three of my PC's.

    Had I stuck with using MS Windows, I would still have spent about $300, and two of my PC's would not be "Kosher" according to MS's EULA. Of course if I were to get "picky" I could toss on the cost of all the additional software (Norton's, Office, etc...) and watch the TCO plow through the roof, but then, I don't want to stoop that low.

    I just wish MS, and even some Linux zealots out there would get it through their heads: There are places to use MS Windows, places to use Linux, and even places where either will do nicely. (OK, I'll even include Mac's as having a place as well...)

    But to make broad claims that draw illogical conclusions based on a pile of inequitable features-- Well, it's just not very professional, and I'm once again disappointed in Microsoft.

  • by jlmcgraw ( 140716 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:53AM (#9483701)
    Microsoft is at least partially right on this one. While any given distribution of Linux may be free, any process based on Linux will have costs associated with it.
    However, given that you've got to spend money (and/or time) one way or the other, do the benefits of a Linux based (open) process outweigh those of a Microsoft based (closed) one? Everyone has their own answer to this. For me, it's worth the up-front investment of my time to put my data into a format that is not exclusively controlled by an outside interest. YMMV.
  • The problems with big and sometimes buggy RPMs are common among the main distributions (Red Hat, Suse). Over and over, I have spotted problems with RPMs - the software underneath it is 100% functional, but some wrong dependency makes installing it a pain. I submit a bug report, it is corrected, only to see the same problem reappear in the next version, on a different package.

    There is a relatively obscure distribution in Brazil that, in my opinion, has solved them in a very clever way- Conectiva. They build small RPMs, one for each application, departing from the standard of KDE and Gnome. They also build "meta-RPMs" with 0 bytes, that have dependencies for other RPMs that contains files. This way, for example, you type "rpm -i task-kernel" and install all the RPMs necessary for kernel building.

    Conectiva has also adapted apt-get to work with RPMs, making the update and upgrade of the operating system a very simple task.Type apt-get install or click on the graphical front end and way you go.

    I don't think that Conectiva is a solution, as they have many problems of their own -their installed base is not big and it takes time to bug reports arrive, compared to Red Hat and Debian. But I would like to see their approach (small RPMS, meta-RPMS, apt-get) copied by other rpm-based distributions.

  • Re:Spin Doctors (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WormholeFiend ( 674934 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:55AM (#9483731)
    Because of this there are many many Windows developers who with limited skill can already contribute to the windows software pool

    You might as well have said "there are many many Windows hax0rs who with limited skill can already contribute to the windows worm pool"
  • Re:Spin Doctors (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gadget junkie ( 618542 ) <gbponz@libero.it> on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:56AM (#9483742) Journal
    from the article:

    "The final part of the show was a Q and A session with the two Nicks, Philip Dawson and Colin Bradford chaired by the aforemention daytime TV horror-show. Eddie Bleasdale of Netproject asked the most insightful question. He talked about a customer of his who had lost data because it was in old Microsoft file formats that couldn't be read by current Microsoft products. This was slickly dealt with by McGrath who suggested that he should get the Microsoft people to talk to him after the show. Barley added that all the current Microsoft Office file formats including their XML schema are published openly. I'm not entirely convinced of that but I don't know enough about XML to make any definitive statements." ...their weak point, though, is that they must FRANTICALLY change file formats and HDD formats just to stay in the same place. I have an excel add in that's build by another company, that defaults on excel 5 format. now, if I generate a spreadsheet via the macro, write "hi" in a cell and save, I get a message saying that saving to a previous version might lose some content. Nice,Uh?

    Personally, I think that they will consider making a "monolithic" program akin to a Longhorn + office, and state that it wouldn't work otherwise.
  • by aegilops ( 307943 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @10:26AM (#9484052) Homepage

    Just to expand upon some of your examples a little:

    Software package distribution to end-users (a la SMS or Group Policy)

    Desktop lockdown policies, e.g. very restricted access for, say, a call centre, "normal" access for the general users, maybe a more elevated level of access for the odd rogue punk

    Desktop roaming and profiles, i.e. a user should be able to log on to any desktop and receive all of his/her applications and data

    Expanding the above point - if a PC fails, it should be trivial to either re-image or swap out the hardware and have the user back up and running almost immediately. I.e. no local data / no local installs

    Strong method of validating integrity of the desktop, particularly in regulated industries (banking, pharmaceuticals etc) - i.e. how can you "prove" that the machine has not been tampered with, and so is operating correctly. Sounds daft? Try working in a regulated industry...

    Hardware inventory / monitoring toolkits (in an ideal world, you'd have a single machine image for the whole company to make support of your desktop image easier, but life frequently isn't that simple)

    Software inventory / monitoring toolkits (not all software will be freely licensed, you may be distributing some proprietary software that runs on your free systems

    Remote control software to enable support staff to assist users remotely

    Your examples of automatically distributing patches (and forcing, and preventing logon from un-patched machines) for both OS and applications is exactly right, along with having the control to test and select what patches are distributed to end users. No doubt many of my examples above are already addressed, and this is after all what you'd be paying a Linux expert to help you with (read: commercial support organisation and consultancy - IBM would likely be a good fit, along with many others). Remember, a corporation could well take the view that if it's worth doing, it's worth doing right - i.e. choose Linux for the right reasons, but don't automatically assume that they will want to do it for zero cost - both in the initial purchase price as well as the ongoing maintenance.


  • Re:Spin Doctors (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kryptkpr ( 180196 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @10:31AM (#9484103) Homepage
    Their toolkits are well documented and very easy to get started in

    Which toolkits are you referring to? VB? VC++?

    The toolkit itself may be well documented (in the "this is how you place a button widget" or "this is how you write a click event handler" sort of way), but the actual Windows APIs for doing anything are fucking terrible.

    Different portions of it (interfaces to different .DLLs) were clearly written by teams that had never talked to one another. And don't even get me started on compatibility.. write code for one microsoft OS, and pray to god it runs on the others.

    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)

    I'm getting REALLY fed up with windows programming. I don't use Microsoft's toolkits because VB is too simple and VC++ is too complex, but I'm still forced to use their shitty APIs. In fact, I'm so sick of it, that I'm currently learning python, and plan to move most of my development to an OS-neutral platform.. let someone else fight with the Win32 API for days on end.
  • by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @10:49AM (#9484284) Homepage
    You're confusing servers and desktops.

    Microsoft's "dominance" in the server market is NOTHING like what it is in the desktop market. Linux marketshare in the server market gives them more than adequate reason to fear the future of their desktop marketshare.

    For the area of discussion of this particular roadshow: Microsoft simply is not "dominant".
  • Re:Spin Doctors (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dasmegabyte ( 267018 ) <das@OHNOWHATSTHISdasmegabyte.org> on Monday June 21, 2004 @11:08AM (#9484465) Homepage Journal
    Right. He also could have said that "Open source software is so difficult to interoperate with that worm and trojan developers don't both."

    But that would have been kind of a dumb argument, seeing as how it isn't the simplicity of an API that leads to worms, but rather the size of the install base. If Fort Knox didn't have as much gold in it, it wouldn't need as many guards. Writing self modifying, self replicating code under 10k isn't exactly child's play.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 21, 2004 @11:25AM (#9484612)
    "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."

    Linux has been more widely ported than an other OS in history. It is certainly more portable than Windows. When the next, cheaper hardware platform comes around, I expect that by the time it is a commodity, Linux will already be running on it. Furthermore, the cost-effectiveness of particular hardware depends on what you are running on it. Windows doesn't scale up on high-end server hardware. Linux does. With Linux, you have a choice.

    Furthermore, the switch from proprietary Unix to Linux is a porting effort that is not particularly difficult. It is certainly easier than making the transition from Unix to Windows. And once you port to Windows, Microsoft has made it very easy to suffer vendor lock-in.

    Linux is not free.

    This has been a standard Microsoft argument for several years. If they failed to articulate that downloading Debian is not free because of the time and effort involved, then it is their fault for not making that argument clear in their presentation. It is worth noting that there are several costs associated with Windows that have no counterpart with a free Debian download. No licensing costs. The Debian project has never sent the BSA to do an expensive audit of any of its customers. If you reconfigure your hardware with Debian, there are no hassles with reactivating the license. No effort is required to keep employees from taking a copy home. Linux doesn't have a history of viruses and worms. If Microsoft changes the licensing terms of Windows or MS Office, you're stuck. Debian can't change the terms of the GPL. You are always free to use the old terms with the old version and the recent X Windows saga is proof that open source software resists licensing changes very effectively.

    "Management tools on Linux are nearly as good as a DOS prompt"

    First, every major distro, including the free ones come with some GUI management tools. Second, there is always Webmin [webmin.com]. Third, the Linux shells are scriptable in ways that the DOS prompt was never able to match. Finally, remote administration of a Linux box can be done very easily. You don't need a GUI. Headless Linux boxes have been around from the start. GUI administration is not cost-effective when you are trying to administer as many boxes as possible.

    "Linux is moving to the same model that Microsoft has been using"

    The GPL won't permit Linux distros to own the code. No matter how many people Microsoft shares their code with, to them sharing means that you can look at it. You can't touch it, play with it, change it, or share it with others. Additionally, Linux and open source have resisted restrictive license changes a couple of times recently. As I said earlier, X Windows is an excellent example of this. If Microsoft wants to make this claim, they have to explain what they mean because several obvious interpretations are clearly not true.

    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.

    Microsoft will stick to this claim as long as it is absolutely convenient. They are quick to blame others when there are buggy third-party device drivers. And as soon as there is an anti-trust suit, they are even quicker to claim they are open to competition.

    He made mention of the Forrester report that claimed more vulnerabilities in Linux than Windows.

    Name one exploit that had a widespread effect on Linux boxes. Now, name three that hit Windows in the past month. You can't install and patch a Windows XP system without either a firewall or cleaning up the malware that infects it between the time you connect to the net
  • by djwavelength ( 398555 ) * on Monday June 21, 2004 @11:43AM (#9484858)
    It's an even worse analogy, because aircraft manufacturers CAN share components with each other because parts are all built to published and accurate specifications, so if the specs say it will work, IT WILL WORK!

    Yes, and if you write your software using VC++ and the MFC libraries, your code will work too. The specs for getting something to work with windows are mostly included in the Windows.H header.

    And Windows programs can share components with each other, as long as the specs and APIs are published. Now, the specs for all aircraft isnt standard: for example, the specs on a Stealth Bomber arent out there for people to build things on. The same works for software - you dont allow your competition to know what your algorithms do, or how they work, because then you have no advantage over them.
  • by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @12:04PM (#9485103) Journal
    • Claim that linux isn't free.

      Hmm right. so linux ain't free. Well apart from the fact that it is, what about it? Linux ain't free vs Windows ain't free. At worst this makes it equal to windows.

    • Pretend that Shared source is the same as Open Source

      Right, just get the company lawyer to study the differences. If they can't find any you need a lawyer who can read.

    • Make a big deal about the migration costs of moving to Linux

      A really dangerous one. You see there is only migration cost from windows -> linux same as there is for companies going from unix -> windows. From unix -> linux, NO MIGRATION WORTH SPEAKING OFF. Certainly no massive retraining. You might be suprised but starting to use linux might mean you can use all those 40+ employees that learned computers on unix systems. MS is saying that people are moving from unix to windows and linux so it is saying that in those cases linux is the better option because of the lesser migration costs?

    • Use the forrester report to claim that Linux is insecure

      Oh please. The only comment possible is hysterical laughter. Must have been the comic relieve bit.

    • Belittle the quality of the toolset available on Linux

      The only point that can make sense if your ms. After all MS believes in its own way of doing things and since Linux way != windows way of course they are going to think linux does it wrong. Some people prefer the unix way, some prefer the windows way. These two are never going to meet in the middle except to have a fight.

    So a bunch of idiotic claims and 1 that is about taste. Not exactly going to convince me. In fact all this kinda roadshow might do is give linux free advertising. Consider this. How many people will have seen the name linux first in a MS ad? People who never knew there was another OS?

  • by Pedersen ( 46721 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @12:10PM (#9485165) Homepage

    They actually have taken a page from Unix' book and added a lot of command-line tools that can do just about anything you'd need to. You can tie it all together with VBScript run with Windows Scripting Host.

    Except, of course, that you are still stuck with a system which is outside of your control. If I tell my Linux/UNIX machine to reboot, and come back in 5 minutes, it will be done (usually), or mighty damned closed to it. I don't even have to watch it. Once I hit enter on the shutdown command (or init), it will all happen as if by magic.

    Not so with Windows. On my workstation here at work, I hit reboot, and watch until it gets to the BIOS power-up screen. Then I can walk away. Same is true for every other windows machine. It will decide that the command prompt I've got running is displaying the decryption sequence for al-Qaeda's latest mastermind plan, and therefore it simply cannot reboot right now, no matter that I told it to. Not until I take the initiative and close it can it do the reboot. And that's just one example.

    It will reboot when it decides it is time to reboot, and I can't stop it, but when I want it to reboot, well, that's the one time it won't do it. And let's not even get into tasks that won't die when I click End Task Now.

    You can tell me all you want about how scriptable Windows is, but here's one that should help demonstrate how scriptable it isn't: How do I script the addition of a new vpn connection under Windows 2000, and make the same script work in Windows XP? Good luck with the answer, I'm still working on it after about two weeks. Of course, under any variety of UNIX, I'd have finished it in all of an hour or so (with a lunch break and a coffee break in the middle, and a bathroom trip too)./P.

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

    by ajs318 ( 655362 ) <sd_resp2@earthsh[ ]co.uk ['od.' in gap]> on Monday June 21, 2004 @12:22PM (#9485301)
    it isn't the simplicity of an API that leads to worms, but rather the size of the install base.
    Yeah, right. Apache webserver installations outnumber IIS by two-and-a-bit to one (the actual number varies with time), and how many exploits are there for Apache vs. how many for IIS?

    Just because A happens and B also happens, doesn't mean A is the cause of B. If you're still not convinced, I've some elephant repellent you might be intrested to buy .....
    He also could have said that "Open source software is so difficult to interoperate with that worm and trojan developers don't both."
    You actually were much closer than you think with that remark. Open source software is difficult to interoperate with and not get noticed. Nobody ever thought to conceal anything from anybody, so everything is nice and transparent, and there are few places to hide.
  • by Tony-A ( 29931 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @12:26PM (#9485349)
    My sympathy levels for Microsoft engineers skyrocketted after ...

    It is not a level playing field.
    With Open Source, you let them as committed the horrors figure out how to handle the horrors.
    With Open Source, they are less likely to have committed the horrors in the first place, and even if they did, they are much more likely to have taken precautions so as to make a timely remedy much easier.
    With Open Source, it is much easier to solve problems where the problems reside rather than having to concoct screweys to work around the problems because you are denied access to where the problems really are.
    With Open Source it is much harder to shift the blame for problems off onto someone else.

  • Re:Well, it isn't (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 21, 2004 @12:49PM (#9485663)
    I don't know where you are finding MCSE admins for a dime a dozen. Anyone who will run servers for near minimum wage is highly likely to be a complete moron, or at best, completely inexperienced. It is far too likely that kind of person will really screw up your systems, and that isn't a risk worth taking. Around here MSCEs who aren't complete morons tend to only get a small amount less (maybe 10 to 15% less) than similarly qualified Linux/UNIX admins. And from the salary surveys done by the big job sites, I don't think the market is much different in any other part of the US. And the problem is that you will typically need more MCSEs (often 2 to 3 times as many) to administer the same number of boxes/users because it takes longer to point and click through everything that can often be scripted on Linux/UNIX, done remotely, etc. It also seems to be a lot more work to keep Windows boxes patched up to date to keep them from falling victim to the latest worms/viruses and despite significant improvements in reliability from Microsoft over the past few years, they still aren't as reliable as Linux/UNIX. So unless you are talking a very small shop that only needs one or two admins, the staffing costs for Linux/UNIX are usually less.
  • Re:Spin Doctors (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dasmegabyte ( 267018 ) <das@OHNOWHATSTHISdasmegabyte.org> on Monday June 21, 2004 @01:27PM (#9486073) Homepage Journal
    Apache webserver installations outnumber IIS by two-and-a-bit to one (the actual number varies with time), and how many exploits are there for Apache vs. how many for IIS?

    Well, that's kind of an unfair example as well. Comparing IIS to Apache is not apples to apples; it's more like comparing apples to a fruit stand. IIS is WAY more than a webserver that connects to processing modules; it is an ambitious product that also does what PHP, Sendmail, Courier IMAP, Pure FTP, BIND and inetd do, to name a few. Hence the name "Internet Information Service(s)." Very few of the exploits for IIS are due to vulnerabilities in the WWW service, which is the fair analog to Apache. Most of them instead exploit OTHER functionality of IIS, such as scripting, ISAPI integration, and the lax default security model which runs the whole pack of services as LocalSystem (something like local root) and basically allows full access to everything. Any IIS book will tell you not to leave it like that...to create a restricted user and have him execute the various services.

    Anyhow, IIS used to outnumber Apache installs, until all these exploits started popping up and people started wondering why the HELL they were operating a fruit stand when all they really needed was a nice juicy peach.

    And as for this nugget of joy: Open source software is difficult to interoperate with and not get noticed. Nobody ever thought to conceal anything from anybody, so everything is nice and transparent, and there are few places to hide.

    Do you seriously think that somebody looks at every single line of code in every OSS package? The high profile projects have eyes on them, it's true, but the average project is never analyzed except by other developers. Furthermore, a virus author isn't going to stick some trojan into your favorite product...he's going to EXPLOIT a hole already IN your favorite product, and that's no different from the way Windows works.
  • by Alexis de Torquemada ( 785848 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @01:36PM (#9486175)

    Funny how MS advocates always debunk myths that no one even claimed to be true in the first. Sure, actually using Linux costs money, as does using Windows. Did any serious Linux advocate ever claim the opposite? I can't remember, but I can remember a lot of claims from Microsoft supporters that all the "Linux guys" would constantly point out that Linux was absolutely free in every regard.

    Another interesting thing to note is that many business people (including but by far not limited to Microsoft) understand "free software" only as free-as-in-beer, unable to imagine what free-as-in-speech may actually mean in the context of software. This leads to funny statements like "The GPL is not a viable business model.".

    PS: You're a liar! J. Edgar Hoover did not marry Jeanne d'Arc!

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

    by Alsee ( 515537 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @04:35PM (#9488332) Homepage
    One important point - whether it's inserting code into a project or exploiting a vunlerability - the number of eyes looking at that code goes up with the distribution/usuage of that project. An alomst automagic balancing.There is little incentive or impact to an attack on a project with an install base of 10. Any "high profile" target is going to get "high profile" review.