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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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  • Spin Doctors (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mfh ( 56 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @08:52AM (#9483165) Homepage Journal
    From the article: He quoted heavily from a Meta analysis which shows that Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for linux and windows is comparable.

    Microsoft must be suffering if they are going at Open Source head on. I remember taking an advertising class once, and we studied the Coke/Pepsi Cola War. Essentially Coke was the biggest cola company on the block, until they acknowledged Pepsi as a competitor. By doing so, Coke gave Pepsi the kind of credit they needed to gain significant market share, and obtain lucrative endorsement celebrities, who may not have supported Pepsi if Coke had held the "one true cola" stance and simply ignored Pepsi.

    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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 21, 2004 @08:56AM (#9483182)
    View source on the page. They've part commented out. Wonder why they did that.
  • Like DG (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:00AM (#9483216)
    How they can call this "Get the facts" is beyond me. It reminds me a lot of IBM vs. Data General. When DG first got going IBM started calling allot of its key customer's saying "you don't want to deal with this nasty upstart company data general." Said customers promptly phoned data general (a company that, at that point, they'd probably not even heard of, and got their sales people in. I would have thought MS would know better though. They've pulled basically the same stunt with .NET by getting the J2EE community to talk about how terrible it is thus assuring all enterprise decision makers look at .NET seriously...
  • by Alkarismi ( 48631 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:05AM (#9483248) Homepage
    In the glossy brochure they give out at the event they have a file of 'case studies'. Several are from organisations (such as Newham Borough Council) who were about to transition to Open Source but were then bought off^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H convinced that, in fact, sticking with Windows would cost them less(!).

    The truth is they are terrified. They've got wind of what's on its way over here in the UK.

    Relax, don't panic. Wait and see what us Brits have got coming for MS over the next few months :)
  • by ninewands ( 105734 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:07AM (#9483257)
    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.

    Moreover, it exposes the degree to which Microsoft is engaging in "Not Invented Here" self-delusion for them to try and compare a DOS prompt ( and its standard utilities) to a real shell (bash, tcsh or zsh) and the standard set of utilities (the GNU file utils, find utils and text utils) that ship with most linux distributions.

    Personally, I'd reverse the comparison and say the DOS prompt is "almost as good as a Unix shell."
  • To summarize... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jadenyk ( 764614 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:08AM (#9483268)
    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

    I don't understand a few things about this. Why do people believe this type of thing when Microsoft brings absolutely *NO* proof of any of these claims? Can any of this be considered slander? They're trying to throw mud on Linux's image with no real proof.

    And why did this guy sit through this entire "seminar" in the first place?

  • by Fujisawa Sensei ( 207127 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:16AM (#9483312) Journal

    From what I've seen companies spend about $0 on Windows training, so a 15% increase is still $0.

  • by ohad_l ( 683421 ) <> on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:18AM (#9483331) Homepage
    Microsoft certainly does not make all of the components in a running Windows system. First of all, I'm pretty sure that most people running Windows are not running any Microsoft hardware except for perhaps a mouse, keyboard, and/or gaming peripheral. So your setup is not 100%-microsoft - it's not even close if you take hardware into account. It gets a lot closer when you look at macs, but nowadays even they use (modified) versions of commodity hardware, such as nVidia and ATI graphics cards. Also, last time I checked, commodity hardware was a good thing, seeing as it drives competition over price and quality. Now, as for your software department - just take a look at drivers. If you're using an nVidia or ATI card, you are probably using their drivers. Microsoft, as far as I know, did NOT write those, and yet they are an integral part of the system (so integral, as a matter of fact, that nVidia drivers have been known to bring X on Linux to a screeching halt). Also, if I am not mistaken, Windows uses BSD's TCP/IP stack. True, today the code is maintained by Microsoft coders, but I can't imagine them having needed to completely overhaul it - they are using a modified version of a product (piece of code) that was manufactured (written) by someone else. And last but not least, a major factor keeping people on Windows is software that is written for it, which they can't do without or find a replacement for which runs on their target OS. Guess what? Most of that software isn't written by Microsoft either. Many people swear by Adobe Photoshop, and don't switch to Linux because they find The Gimp inadequate. Others want to play their favorite computer games, which simply do not work [well] on Linux. And even if, say, their favorite computer game is Microsoft Flight Simulator or Microsoft's Age of Empires - yep, that's right. Microsoft didn't make those. They just bought them. A large, complex product is best manufactured by multiple specialty manufacturers which adhere to well-known standards. F/OSS supporters know this. Microsoft knows this as well.
  • Re:A bit misleading (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mfh ( 56 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:19AM (#9483337) Homepage Journal
    I think I was pointing out that Pepsi's market share prior to the Cola wars was much less than it is today. Coke made a mistake and they tried to correct it, but when you ask anyone who the major soft drink companies are, they'll always say Coke and Pepsi. Before the cola wars, Pepsi wasn't mentioned that much.

    The more Microsoft acknowledges Open Source and tries to fight it, the bigger Open Source will become, because of the law of diffusion.
  • Re:Enterprise Level (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:19AM (#9483343)
    Yeah but our windows server fell over after a power failure last week, this morning for no apparent reason the network stopped functioning. No settings were changed, Windows just decided we didn't want a network. So now I'm sat here with a box that has ran for 1 year (automatically rebooting once every couple of weeks), no settings changed, no reasons given, why are the system log files not all in one place? TOTAL FAILURE.

    This has never happened once on our *nix machines yet it has happened on every single Windows box that has ever been palmed of on me.
  • Funny moment (Score:4, Interesting)

    by linuxci ( 3530 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:22AM (#9483378)
    I can't confirm this for certain (as it didn't happen to me).

    One of my colleagues who also went to the Edinburgh event was talking to one of the speakers there (one of the Nick's from Microsoft I believe) and I Microsoft guy admitted his niece had thousands of viruses on her machine last time he checked it!

    I wish I could confirm it, but I don't see he has any reason to lie
  • by Anonymous Writer ( 746272 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:30AM (#9483456)
    If you got a bunch of linux users to play "devil's advocate" and come up with reasons to explain advantages of using Windows over using Linux, they would have done a better job than these infomercial drop-outs mentioned in the article. Seriously, for company that has such deep pockets, they seem to manage to blow all their money on the worst there is, from programming quality to advertising and PR. Either they're being stingy and are holding back on spending for quality, or they don't care that they're throwing money away hiring people who just take the cash and do a half-assed job.
  • by dossen ( 306388 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:32AM (#9483478)
    Personally, I'd reverse the comparison and say the DOS prompt is "almost as good as a Unix shell."

    Then you would, IMHO, be lying. The DOS prompt has never been even close to a match to a proper Unix shell. Even running bash with the full gnu toolchain in a Windows XP cmd.exe prompt (thankyou cygwin) is still much worse than using the real thing (even their mouse selection stuff is retarded. OK they cannot have X's nice selection style cut'n'paste, but at least make the default selection tool line oriented, rather than block (I cannot remember even once needing the kind of selection you get in cmd.exe, if your text is not neatly on one line)).

  • Re:Funny moment (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Alkarismi ( 48631 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:32AM (#9483481) Homepage
    I was at the Secure Britain Masterclass at Olympia a couple of months ago and Stuart Okin (MS UK security primo) admitted pretty much the same thing (about his wife's machine!). All part of their new 'accessible' and 'concerned' approach!

    He went on with the 'industry problem' lie^Hne to reassure us we were all buddies together and all in the same boat, then asked for anyone who trusted their computer to put their hand up (expecting nobody after the 'friendly' subliminals he just slipped us). Both me (FreeBSD user) and my collegue (linux user and security researcher) put our hands up. Mr Okin, bless him, acknowledged our hands but neglected to ask which version of 'windows' we ran :)
  • by rk_nh ( 725637 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:37AM (#9483519)
    ICAT classified 67% of Microsoft's vulnerabilities as high severity, placing Microsoft dead last among the platform maintainers by this metric.
  • by miltimj ( 605927 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:37AM (#9483526)
    That's because those two headlines they comment out say the following:

    A 2002 Microsoft-sponsored study of total costs of ownership over five years for working corporate infrastructure in North America shows that lower staffing expenses are a large part of an 11-22% cost advantage for Windows.

    Microsoft-sponsored benchmarks prove that multiple Windows Web servers perform better than a Linux mainframe acting as a Web server consolidator. An independent review by Meta verified the integrity of the results.

    (emphasis mine)

    Apparently the PR slamming they're taking for those studies made them (at least temporarily) remove them from the site...
  • by gillbates ( 106458 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:55AM (#9483728) Homepage Journal

    I'm kind of heartened by it, as a matter of fact.

    What this shows, more than anything, is that Microsoft clearly doesn't understand the enterprise market. What they fail to recognize is this:

    • Microsoft believes that as long as they supply patches, they've done their job. They consistently use the "unpatched machine" defense to explain the wave of machines hit by the latest worm or virus, seemingly unaware that an enterprise datacenter cannot be taken offline to apply patches. Even could downtime be found, a patch would first have to be tested, and only then applied to a production machine. A patch that breaks vital software won't ever get applied to a production machine.
    • Microsoft's response has typically been "reboot and reinstall" when a system becomes corrupted or crashes. This is completely unacceptable for an enterprise datacenter - a company cannot afford even a single hour of downtime during peak hours. Microsoft seemingly cannot grasp this key concept.
    • Corporations need a vendor who can gaurantee the reliability and uptime of their software. Microsoft does neither, but their competition does.
    • When figuring TCO, Microsoft conveniently forgets the cost of installing patches, and cleaning up after viruses and worms. This factor alone increases the TCO of Windows by at least an order of magnitude.

    Microsoft just doesn't get it. Corporations could care less about streaming video and DirectX. And they aren't fooled by marketing hype - Microsoft can say all they want about "trustworthy computing", but sysadmins know better.

  • Re:Well, it isn't (Score:3, Interesting)

    by linuxci ( 3530 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:55AM (#9483729)
    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!"

    They're also currently using the 'Linux sysadmins are more expensive than Windows sysadmins' argument to promote Windows - however that's only going to have one effect - the more clueful of the Windows sysadmins will learn Linux skills in order to get paid more.

    This eventually will mean there's no shortage in Linux sysadmins which will be a plus point for Linux but on the downside people will be earning less.

    Therefore I think it's important that all Linux sysadmins who are knowledgeable to take this opportunity to improve their skills and be recognised as knowledgeable.

    Therefore if you're in the UK I promote the UKUUG conference [] in my sig ;)

    This wasn't going to be an ad, then I realised it fitted so perfectly into my reply!
  • by David Byers ( 50631 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @10:04AM (#9483831)
    Of course Linux isn't free, and nobody who's not a total moron knows that. The question is whether the cost is higher or lower than the cost of Windows.

    The pro-Windows camp likes to bring up the fact that you need educated system administrators to run a Unix shop, implying that you don't need skilled people to run a Windows shop, all the while neglecting to mention what happens if you place your Windows servers in the hands of an untrained system administrator.

    The also like to rag on the command line, neglecting to mention that it enables Unix people to automate complex tasks and neglecting to mention that Windows admins are *also* tied to the command line, albeit a crappier one since You Should Be Using the GUI.

    One thing I rarely hear the pro Windows crowd talk about is how many machines the average system administrator can manage. In my experience the number is far higher for Unix systems than it is for Windows.
  • by johannesg ( 664142 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @10:09AM (#9483881)
    Actually this is a great idea. Just go to these events with a stack of various Linux distro's and hand them out for free. If you do it as the people are coming in you will then be able to observe Microsoft representatives in various interesting colors ;-) It also blows away part of their argument right then and there, thereby seriously undermining the rest.
  • by Martin Spamer ( 244245 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @10:11AM (#9483895) Homepage Journal
    Its looks like Microsoft may be falling foul of UK law with some of their claims.

    The CAP Code (Ed 11) : GENERAL RULES


    3.1 Before distributing or submitting a marketing communication for publication, marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove all claims, whether direct or implied, that are capable of objective substantiation.

    Relevant evidence should be sent without delay if requested by the ASA or CAP. The adequacy of evidence will be judged on whether it supports both the detailed claims and the overall impression created by the marketing communication. The full name and geographical business address of marketers should be provided without delay if requested by the ASA or CAP.

    3.2 If there is a significant division of informed opinion about any claims made in a marketing communication they should not be portrayed as generally agreed.

    3.3 Claims for the content of non-fiction books, tapes, videos and the like that have not been independently substantiated should not exaggerate the value, accuracy, scientific validity or practical usefulness of the product.

    3.4 Obvious untruths or exaggerations that are unlikely to mislead and incidental minor errors and unorthodox spellings are all allowed provided they do not affect the accuracy or perception of the marketing communication in any material way.
  • by tijsvd ( 548670 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @10:31AM (#9484101) Homepage
    Well... don't run cygwin in the XP terminal. Just install sshd for Cygwin and login with your favorite terminal emulator.
  • Re:Free Software (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bornholtz ( 94540 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @10:43AM (#9484211)
    I just pointed IE at a non-existing proxy server ( Firefox can then be set up to either use my real proxy (Squid on Linux so I can track what sites my kids visit) or letFirefox use no proxy if you don't have one.

    Then IE never comes back and Firefox is nice and snappy.
  • Here's one (Score:3, Interesting)

    by linuxci ( 3530 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @10:45AM (#9484237)
    Slightly off topic, but someone could bring it up with the MS guys at the next event (Manchester) m

    Wimbledon switching to Linux
  • by David Byers ( 50631 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @10:55AM (#9484337)
    It's true that Windows has come a long way in a short time (longer than unix has in the same time frame), although it still seems to be a long way from unix in terms of automatability, but what about third-party Windows applications? The operating system itself causes only part of your TCO.

    Installation and management of unix applications can typically be done from the command line, and many applications that normally use a GUI can at least perform some tasks from the command line. This allows not only operating-system-related tasks to be automated, but also allows application-level tasks to be automated.

    I know that *some* applications on Windows behave like this too, but is it the norm (I really don't know)?
  • by miguel ( 7116 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @11:05AM (#9484434) Homepage
    I have seen a few slide decks from Microsoft
    employees claiming some security failures with
    Linux vs Windows.

    For the couple of samples I saw, it seems like they
    have been very selective about what information
    they show. The latest version of Windows Server 2003
    vs Fedora Core.

    They also plot the number of vulnerabilities
    independently of the risk, the impact, or the fact
    that some of the security updates are lumped together. Then there is a section on viruses,
    they list from some Virus web site about 30
    Linux viruses. Never seen a single one of them
    in a machine of mine or a server of mine in the
    last 12 years.

    I would like to know if there are good articulate
    responses to those claims. I have been out of the
    security loop for a long time, and my constrast
    against the Microsoft claims was limited to a few
    bits of my own experience.

    Marc Cox from Red Hat is quoted by the report,
    has he written anything on the subject?

  • by Alkarismi ( 48631 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @11:33AM (#9484701) Homepage
    They've been very selective about *all* the information they're showing. The whole pack they gave out at the event was slanted this way.

    I know of a few projects to produce 'articulate
    responses' to MS's claims, not for discussion on a public site yet though ;)

    Of course privately...
  • by Cyram ( 262342 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @11:38AM (#9484783)
    No kidding. I can't tell you how many people were totally confused the first time they saw the Windows XP start menu for instance.

    But here I think by training costs they mean it is less expensive to train a Windows 2000 user on Windows XP than it would be to train the same user on a linux distro. At least initially. Microsoft, as usual, is probably trying to spin numbers in their favor. And what company wouldn't? It's all about PR.

    When talking about training a linux user how to use new linux versions or different distros versus different windows versions, I agree with your argument. Microsoft, however, is probably not talking about that.
  • by Chaaun ( 756652 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @11:39AM (#9484806) []

    Can anyone figure out how they got these figures?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 21, 2004 @11:40AM (#9484809)
    is that from the day DOS was released to today is the total amount of time the computer industry has been set back because of MS. Before Bill it was considered absurd to sell a computer to an end user without an OS, that is where the "Selling a computer without an OS is like selling a car without an engine comes from". But being the gullible, trusting and greedy nerd we are, we had to let the MBA's take over and now look at the mess we are in.
  • Re:Spin Doctors (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Rei ( 128717 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @12:01PM (#9485078) Homepage
    Agreed. The first time I had to use scrollbars in MFC, I felt compelled to add in a comment attesting to the fact that the scrollbar interface appeared to have been developed by a flock of drunken geese ;) Of course, it didn't help that our customer at the time wanted to be able to *input points on a graph via scrollbars*.

    We had a resident expert there who was paid god-knows-how-much and was referred to as the "resident guru" because he was the only person who knew all of the obscure things related to the API. Pretty much every programmer that I worked with had to turn to him at least once a week to find the obscure way to do a particular thing, or why a certain API element wasn't working as advertized.

    P.S. - to the parent.... you had to mention the Developers song, didn't you? Aargh, now it's going to be stuck in my head until I play it....
  • Re:Enterprise Level (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Hiro Antagonist ( 310179 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @01:59PM (#9486378) Journal
    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.

    Because, of course, no corporation which can consider millions of dollars on licensing fees 'cheap' would be willing to spend a paltry few extra hundred thousand a year to get administrators with more brainpower and a genunie dedication to the technology which they use, versus having gotten into computers 'for the money' as most MS-only types do.

    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.

    Erm, last time I checked, there were more programming languages available for Linux than for Windows, although to be fair, Visual Basic and Visual C++ provide very easy-to-use IDEs, unless,of course, your interest is in writing business-critical applications; Visual Anything is much more suited to finding the right shade of beige for your buttons. Serious business tasks shouldn't even require a GUI; they should just get the job done, and be easy to fix if they break.

    These are not the hallmarks of a Microsoft solution.

    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.

    You are obviously talking out of your arse here, and have switched from the server to the desktop, where we all agree Windows is generally the better choice, especially for calendaring. However, software-related workstation failures are a problem, especially if they kill your ability to work for the day, or if they expose confidendial data to the outside world through security holes. When a single virus can kill your entire network *and* take out your nicely integrated Calendar/Email solution, it's time to find another vendor.

    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.

    No, these applications aren't smooth and polished; they're generalized. That's how shrinkwrap software works; you spend less on the software than you would for a custom-written application, but you must accept that said application will not be perfectly tailored to your needs. For some things, like word processing, this is fine, but for critical pieces of your business, this is not.

    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.

    Yes, but only if you ignore Windows' shortcomings in these areas as well, including things like security, yearly hardware and software upgrade costs, etc. You also have to make the assumption that all of your employees have had their brains replaced with pieces of Silly-Putty, as anyone with more than ten functioning neurons,
  • by dossen ( 306388 ) on Thursday June 24, 2004 @05:50AM (#9516240)
    I think that would be rather impractical since some of the programs I run from the cygwin terminal are graphical Win32 apps, including the program I get paid to work on.

    But if you know of any cmd.exe replacements, that don't require me to either log in through ssh or run the terminal under X (I run a root-less X server, but I would rather not have it involved in my terminals, since it seems slightly less stable than the native terminals (mostly when remote machines crash or hang and such)), I would be glad to hear about it.

What this country needs is a good five cent ANYTHING!