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Microsoft Software The Almighty Buck

Microsoft Asks Open Source Not to Focus On Price 461

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the please-don't-hurt-us dept.
Microsoft's supposed open-source guru Sam Ramji has asked open-source vendors to focus on "value" instead of "cost" with respect to competition with Microsoft products. This is especially funny given the Redmond giant's recent "Apple Tax" message. "While I'm sure Ramji meant well, I'm equally certain that Microsoft would like nothing more than to not be reminded of how expensive its products can be compared with open-source solutions. After all, Microsoft was the company that turned the software industry on its head by introducing lower-cost solutions years ago to undermine the Unix businesses of IBM and Hewlett-Packard, and the database businesses of Oracle and IBM."
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Microsoft Asks Open Source Not to Focus On Price

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  • by revjtanton (1179893) on Monday April 20, 2009 @02:44PM (#27649951) Homepage Journal
    So he's asking people to get a recent Ubuntu build instead of Vista?
    • by Presto Vivace (882157) <marshall@prestovivace.biz> on Monday April 20, 2009 @02:46PM (#27649991) Homepage Journal
      and indicative of Microsoft's sense of entitlement.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by El Lobo (994537)
        Nah, seriously, /. must learn to separate one of MS employers opinion from the company's opinion.

        Now, I could say that the Linux community wants more don.net integration just because Icaza, one of the most active contributors to the Linuzz community advocates this on his blog.

        Of course if you want just another inflamatory article on /., just go on...

        • by Savage-Rabbit (308260) on Monday April 20, 2009 @04:38PM (#27652023)

          ah, seriously, /. must learn to separate one of MS employers opinion from the company's opinion.
          Now, I could say that the Linux community wants more don.net integration just because Icaza, one of the most active contributors to the Linuzz community advocates this on his blog.

          Of course if you want just another inflamatory article on /., just go on...

          Stop ruining our Microsoft bashing with sensible comments.

        • by Jherek Carnelian (831679) on Monday April 20, 2009 @06:08PM (#27653397)

          Nah, seriously, /. must learn to separate one of MS employers opinion from the company's opinion.

          Now, I could say that the Linux community wants more don.net integration just because Icaza, one of the most active contributors to the Linuzz community advocates this on his blog.

          Are you angling for BadAnalogyGuy's job?

          What you could say is that Novell wants more dot.net integration just because Icaza, one of their employees and a VP of the company, advocates that on his blog.

        • by denmarkw00t (892627) on Monday April 20, 2009 @10:28PM (#27655541) Homepage Journal

          You would be right, and you kind of are, except that this guy is the Director of Microsoft's OSS Lab, which means its not just one employee's opinion, because in a position like that you speak for, I dunno, the branch of the company you represent. If it was just some regular-ol'-coder for M$ ablogging away, then it wouldn't carry enough weight for a story on /. (not that you need THAT much weight here...), but it didn't, it came from the Director of MS OSS Labs, and that kind of talk means that even if it is his opinion, its one that he has now made the opinion of said labs.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by LifesABeach (234436)

          Lets talk about raising a family. I have told my children, "do not do business with a company that thinks going to court is a form of casual entertainment."

      • by not already in use (972294) on Monday April 20, 2009 @04:35PM (#27651981)
        I always found the OSS crowd's sense of entitlement even more impressive.

        "Open source your software, then spend development time porting it to our platform so we can use it for free!"

        My favorite example is Chrome.

        "Companies should open source their code so the community can port it!"

        Google open sources Chrome.

        "Google doesn't care about Linux! They won't port their OPEN SOURCED code for us!"

        Google ports Chrome to Linux.

        "I'll stick with firefox until they release adblock for Chrome, thus circumventing their primary revenue stream!

        Step 4: Profit?

        Oh you guys are too funny...

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by linhares (1241614)
          Dear sir, I find your ideas intriguing and would like to subscribe to your newsletter
        • by Jherek Carnelian (831679) on Monday April 20, 2009 @06:18PM (#27653505)

          I always found the OSS crowd's sense of entitlement even more impressive

          "Open source your software, then spend development time porting it to our platform so we can use it for free!"

          My favorite example is Chrome.

          You would have a much better point if your favorite example wasn't ~90% OSS to start with, such as WebKit.

    • Funny but true.... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by xzvf (924443) on Monday April 20, 2009 @02:57PM (#27650175)
      Open source software is often the better option both on cost and quality. As a consultant, I've found that when you stand up open source and proprietary solutions side by side for a customer, the open source solution wins most of the time. Now ISV's prefer the kickbacks, training and marketing support they get from proprietary vendors, so the customer has to ask for the open solution to be compared, but when they do the results are significant.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        Why?

        I can see how using OpenOffice is beneficial for me, since I rarely do any work on my home PC and a $free word processor is better than $200 for MS Office, but how would OpenOffice be a better solution for a business customer if it doesn't come with any support for the employees?

        • by Tubal-Cain (1289912) on Monday April 20, 2009 @03:29PM (#27650721) Journal
          • It's (more) cross-platform.
          • It uses ODF by default instead of as an addon, which works in most other Office Suites (KOffice)
          • Not dependant on a single organization for new features and bug fixes (go-oo fork)

          If you want support, you can get StarOffice for $80.

          • by rtfa-troll (1340807) on Monday April 20, 2009 @03:51PM (#27651185)

            It's also important to add:

            • there is competition in providing commercial support

            Open office is included in RedHat, Oracle, Ubuntu and several other commercially supported systems. With MS Office, if you are unhappy with your support provider then you are stuck. With open office, you can shop around until you find the support you want. Right now getting full support might well cost a little more, but if that were true long term then more competition would enter the market and keep prices low. No such thing exists with MS Office where nobody but MS can actually fix problems.

        • by vlm (69642) on Monday April 20, 2009 @03:30PM (#27650749)

          how would OpenOffice be a better solution for a business customer if it doesn't come with any support for the employees?

          Closed source software support is basically either
          1) Read the help file or try it and see, so the user doesn't have to be able to read or think
          2) Third world script reader
          3) Real support is huge $$$$$$$

          So, overall, you get a better support experience using google and open source than script reader in india and MS office.

          Also, there is more to support than answering "how do I print?" ... Such as the enormous cost of security / virus / worms plus the enormous cost of licensing documentation plus BSA audits that are only relevant for closed source products.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by javelinco (652113)
            I call complete B.S. Closed support means the following:

            1. Google your support. It's every frickin' where.
            2. Go to the support forum for the closed source software. They usually have ones that don't have any real tech support helping. These are often as good as any open sourced ones I've seen.
            3. Go to the support forum that you have access to as a licensed customer. This has developers and tech support on it. Often much better than #2.
            4. Call, email, or live chat.

            Get over the crap people, and
        • by doodlebumm (915920) on Monday April 20, 2009 @03:45PM (#27651087)
          Support for your employees?? Might as well buy bras for your female employees and cups for your male employees as spend money on Microsoft support. They'll get much better support that way. You even get better information about FOS when you google than you do about MSOffice.
        • by Burkin (1534829) on Monday April 20, 2009 @05:11PM (#27652541)

          but how would OpenOffice be a better solution for a business customer if it doesn't come with any support for the employees?

          Your employees need support to use a word processor and spreadsheet? I think your money would be better spent hiring component people over support contracts.

      • by orclevegam (940336) on Monday April 20, 2009 @03:12PM (#27650417) Journal
        You can always find a better quality solution if you're willing to pay enough, but as value is roughly modeled as utility/cost, with utility including quality, and cost including both monetary value as well as time and incidental costs (like training) your value will tend to plummet as your costs go up even if your quality goes up as well. Ironically Open Source tends to have better value specifically because of its cost even if the quality is often somewhat less than commercial offerings (not talking code quality here, but rather design and interface quality).
        • by cthulu_mt (1124113) on Monday April 20, 2009 @03:21PM (#27650621)

          but as value is roughly modeled as utility/cost

          If the Open Source solution costs $0.00 doesn't that lead to an undefined value in your equation?

          Managment is stupid but even they won't fall for non-real numbers.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Getting an ubuntu VM doesn't require approval like a windows VM does, because of the cost

      If it's something I can do that way, the saving of half a day (not having to get approval) of my time is worth it to me, completely ignoring the difference in cost.

      That's value.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      No, he is asking people to do what they have not done in the history of capitalism: ignore what something costs.

      Value in this context is just synonym for cost-benefit analysis, which is a concept people are already quite familiar with even if they do not always apply it. The reason Microsoft wants OSS vendors to change their vocabulary is that they are aware that they have lost the cost-benefit fight under the old vocabulary and they want OSS marketeers to help them re-open the same debate under new ter
    • by NeverVotedBush (1041088) on Monday April 20, 2009 @03:16PM (#27650521)
      I can say this weekend I helped my neighbor install SuSe 11.1 after their Windows partition quit working and they didn't have a backup of their legitimate Windows XP disc since it was only available on the hard drive.

      After we got it all set up, got the multimedia stuff from Pacman, added malware and tracking sites to the hosts file, installed No-Script, configured his firewall, and loaded his music so Amarok could play, and gave them a tour of all the stuff Linux could do right "out of the box" and without costing a single cent, all of the educational programs and games, etc, they were floored.

      They had a chance to explore yesterday and said they liked it so much better than Windows it wasn't funny. They regret not having switched before.

      The simple fact is that Linux really does work beautifully for most people's purposes and with all the applications available for it and included in the distros, I don't see how people aren't flocking to Linux in droves. Maybe the word just needs to get out. I know my neighbors are planning to tell all their family members about it.
      • by MightyMartian (840721) on Monday April 20, 2009 @03:37PM (#27650911) Journal

        The reality is that every operating system I've ever used can be a pain, and damned near every software package I've used has problems. I'm having consistent problems with one user using Office 2003, where I have to go in every few weeks and toast his Office registry keys. Nobody else has the problem. I've wanted to just kill his roaming profile, but he has panic attacks about that, so, dutifully every few weeks, I go into regedit and burn out that chunk of the registry. Another user seems to have problems with our login scripts, the printer mappings work fine, but the drive mappings never work. Again, I expect it's likely something in her profile, but considering how massive even the HKEY_CURRENT_USER hive is, I'll probably just wipe out her profile.

        And there's the difference. A lot of the time, the "solution" in Windows is start from scratch, whether it's a profile or the whole damned operating system. Only those guys who hire themselves out as "anti-virus/spyware cleaners" or whatever actually bugger around for three hours with various shitty packages weeding out the evil. For guys like me, we have slipstreamed installs and hard drive images, and just go "Fuck it" and reinstall Windows, because it just isn't worth the time and frustration to actually properly diagnose things.

        • by element-o.p. (939033) on Monday April 20, 2009 @04:26PM (#27651843) Homepage
          I'm a Linux network admin professionally, but my wife uses Windows so she can run the Windows-only programs that she uses at her businesses. Less than six months ago, she bought a new laptop with Vista on it, and it's already hosed so thoroughly that it takes over half an hour to launch an application. I've done everything I know how to do to fix it (I'm a *nix admin, remember?), and I'm fed up with working on Vista now. I've asked her to dump all of her important data to a thumb drive, because at this point the only thing I can think to do is wipe Vista and reinstall.

          She keeps griping at me because my Linux boxes always seem to be working, but her Windows PCs never do. It doesn't help that my answer is, "That's why I run Linux." :)
      • by muuh-gnu (894733) on Monday April 20, 2009 @03:39PM (#27650949)

        >They had a chance to explore yesterday and said they liked it so much better than Windows
        >it wasn't funny.

        I'll bet you forgot to tell them that a few months down the road he will have no way to install an up-to-date application unless he updates the whole system. And that he will have to update (aka reinstall) the whole system every few months, since thats the usual duration his applications officially are up to date.

        Free Software is usually nice and all, and I'm using it exclusively on my desktops, but inability to install newer or older software on "stable" distributions kills it for Windows converts. You really can not talk someone into linux with a calm conscience without warning him that his system is considered "obsolete" by application makers the moment its published and a new development cycle has begun, and that there will be no way to install any older versions he might be got used to.

    • Re:Focus on quality? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by shanen (462549) on Monday April 20, 2009 @10:35PM (#27655579) Homepage Journal

      Sure what it sounded like to me. Ubuntu seems to do all of that at the specified price.

      However, what pisses me off most about Microsoft is the in-your-face WGA assumption that everyone is a thief. No, just because we are forced to use your trashy software, that does NOT mean we want to steal it. This week they installed a new and more intrusive in-your-face version of WGA. Pile it higher and deeper? Sorry, Microsoft, no kudos to you.

      Actually, there are lots of reasons to hate Microsoft. I think my deepest reason for hating Microsoft is that Microsoft is anti-freedom, and I like my freedom. The meaning of freedom is that you get to make meaningful choices, but Microsoft interprets that to mean "We don't have to show you any source code, so you don't really know anything about what we are offering, but the only choices we feel like offering are minor variations of the same garbage. Now send us more money. NOW. And we Microsoftians still assume you're a bunch of thieves. So what are you twits going to do about it?"

      P.S. What I did is switch to Ubuntu and Redhat as much as possible. Unfortunately, my work still requires me to use Windows much of the time.

  • They will listen! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by maharb (1534501)
    Why does Microsoft think they can tell other people how to market their products? This just doesn't make any sense to me.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by DragonWriter (970822)

      Why does Microsoft think they can tell other people how to market their products?

      Not just "other people", generally, but specifically telling competitors how they should market products against Microsoft's.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by zipoff (62601)
      Except they are telling vendors with whom they are collaborating... "That's why Microsoft is advising open-source partners with whom the company is collaborating not to focus their customer pitches on costs, but instead to lead their sales pitches with "value," he said."
    • Well, they can. But other people can also tell them to eat grass, which they probably will. :-)
      • eating grass (Score:3, Insightful)

        by bugi (8479)

        Sorry, but the commons MS could have joined is already well aware that letting MS anywhere near our grassy field would leave it a muddy field. There would be no grass left to eat and MS knows this, thus you see why MS cannot be convinced to act in other than their own narrow immediate interest. Sadly, MS's herd must be allowed to die off so that the rest may survive.

  • and for open source, the price point is zero.

    this gives open source a boost in value instantly.

    • by notarockstar1979 (1521239) on Monday April 20, 2009 @02:50PM (#27650057) Journal

      and for open source, the price point is zero.

      Not always. Especially if you factor in support contracts or the average salary of someone who actually knows how to administer the software in an effective manner. Open Source does not equal free beer. Just ask Stallman. However, if you write a good open source program I may buy you a free beer.

      • by Ephemeriis (315124) on Monday April 20, 2009 @03:08PM (#27650353)

        and for open source, the price point is zero.

        Not always. Especially if you factor in support contracts or the average salary of someone who actually knows how to administer the software in an effective manner.

        But that's also true of closed-source solutions. It isn't like a Windows server miraculously runs itself. You still need someone who knows how run the thing.

        Obviously there's tons of wiggle room here... It may very well be that the average salary of a Windows admin is lower than that of a *nix admin... But *nix gives you better automation tools, security, and stability - so that one admin might be able to do more real work on a *nix box than a Windows box.

        You can't just look at the sticker price when determining which piece of software is going to cost more or get you more bang for your buck... But you can't ignore the sticker price either.

    • by mcrbids (148650) on Monday April 20, 2009 @03:00PM (#27650227) Journal

      OSS software is a total boon to developers. I'm a developer, and we use OSS everywhere possible. Since we can easily support our software when something goes awry, we jump quickly and confidently.

      But not every company has their own staff of developers. Companies that don't produce software have little incentive to hire developers if they don't contribute significantly to the bottom line. And for companies in this boat, OSS does, indeed, have costs that far outstrip the purchase price.

      Windows Server licenses for needed servers might cost a grand or three. If this is sufficient to avoid the cost of hiring a developer (at around $100k/year) or an admin, (at ~ $60k/year) it's money very well spent!

      Sure, I use OSS because it lets me sleep very soundly at night, with perhaps 1 significant unplanned incident per year in our hosting cluster of 14 servers. But part of that is that we already have paid the price of having developers on hand to maintain and understand our OSS-based servers.

      And don't think that just because it's Microsoft, you can assume it's safe to laugh. I remember when MS Word was laughable. I remember when Windows was laughable. I remember when Excel was a toy compared to the "meat and potatoes" competition.

      As a corporate culture, Microsoft learns how to dominate markets. They're losing right now, and maybe they won't turn things around in time. But they have massive assetts, they still have a monopoly in the desktop computing marketplace, and with Vista, they've shown a willingness to take risks if they are necessary to improve their software.

      I know this is unpopular to state here on Slashdot, but many (most?) of the problems with Vista have been centered around making the changes necessary to more properly secure Windows. Software that was badly built that did bad things broke on Vista, and that's a necessary step to take in order to preserve their long term market share.

      Don't laugh. Keep your head down, keep improving the OSS software, and be wary of Microsoft - they still have everything it would take to continue to dominate.

      • by D Ninja (825055) on Monday April 20, 2009 @03:18PM (#27650557)

        I remember when Windows was laughable.

        Well, yeah. I can remember back to yesterday, too. No big feat there...

      • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday April 20, 2009 @03:22PM (#27650625) Journal

        Companies that don't produce software have little incentive to hire developers if they don't contribute significantly to the bottom line.

        They can, however, get a contract with a company that does employ developers. This company can then dive in and fix any bugs that they encounter. They can do the same with proprietary software, but only from the original seller, and unless they are a very big company they are unlikely to get bugs fixed in, say, Office or Windows.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by dave562 (969951)
          You're spreading FUD about not being able to get bug fixes out of Microsoft. If you actually pay the God awful support price (It was $395 per call last I checked), and they find a bug in the system while diagnosing your problem, they will write a patch. Every once in a while you can come across a knowledgebase article on Microsoft's site with a link to a hotfix. There will be a big disclaimer that says something to the effect of, "This hotfix is not regression tested. Only apply this hotfix if you are e
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Typically the only "value" microsoft offers is compatibility with other ms products someone is already locked in to...

  • Wouldn't that be like the Replicators asking the Borg to use the bathroom?

    In this case, once the foot is in the proverbial price door, anything can and will happen.
  • by bodland (522967) on Monday April 20, 2009 @02:47PM (#27650003) Homepage
    ...are more important. As is leveraging a new paradigm
  • by lordofthechia (598872) on Monday April 20, 2009 @02:49PM (#27650033)

    This is Lauren. She told us she wanted a stable OS with an Office Suite and some photo editing software for $0. We told her, you find it, you keep it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by PhxBlue (562201)

      This is Lauren. She told us she wanted a stable OS with an Office Suite and some photo editing software for $0. We told her, you find it, you keep it.

      Wait, is this an ad for open source software or for The Pirate Bay?

  • by Manip (656104)

    You can tell most Open Source advocates have never had to make costing decisions in large businesses.

    Businesses are a lot more interested in the total value of something than its price tag.

    Linux might be "free" but if you include the support contract, [re-]training, only then do you start to get close to its real cost in a business.

    To get ever closer you have to look at how efficient it is for people to get their work done on that platform when compared to the competition.

    I personally find getting almost an

    • by jedidiah (1196) on Monday April 20, 2009 @02:56PM (#27650145) Homepage

      You can tell that most Microsoft apologists haven't had any sort of role in supporting or managing IT in business.

      Been there. Done that. Have the faded t-shirts to prove it.

      Although this isn't just about the fabled "business case".

      This is also about the bargain conscious consumer that might
      see various bits of commercial software and get a sudden case
      of sticker shock or try something that claims to be free but
      is really just an open door to malware and spam.

      This is about taking Microsoft's own marketing approach and turning it on them.

    • I personally find getting almost anything done on Linux much more time consuming than either OS X or Windows...

      If we're talking about desktop work, I'll grant you that. But once we start talking about network administration tasks, there's really no comparison. Linux is far easier to manage than any windows box i've ever used.

    • by PriceIke (751512) on Monday April 20, 2009 @03:00PM (#27650215)

      > Businesses are a lot more interested in the total value of something than its price tag.

      I'll go you one better: businesses, or more accurately, managers in charge of making major spending decisions, don't often understand the difference between value and cost.

      If a typical empty-suit gotta-wrap-this-by-2-so-I-can-get-to-the-golf-course middle manager looks at open source software (priced at $0) and then Microsoft software (priced in the thousands or tens of thousands, for company-wide use), he's probably going to make the decision in favor of Microsoft because if it doesn't cost anything, it must not be worth anything.

      Small business owners have always dealt with this mindset. If they want contracts from big companies they usually have to inflate their prices (even beyond what they would consider a fair profit margin) in order to even be considered as a potential vendor. This is especially true when trying to do work for governments or Universities.

      • Usually, that is....

        The thing is, it isn't about cost at all. The issue is that you are trying to position one package against another, and this is the wrong approach. The manager will compare it and see if, out of the box, the extra features are worth that extra cost, whether it fits into what they currently have, etc.

        Instead, you need to take the time to understand what the management NEEDS and see if you can offer a more complete set using FOSS plus some optional customization or extension. Maybe you

    • by bb5ch39t (786551)

      Which is a good, justifiable reason for you to stay with Windows. I am the opposite. I am much more productive using Linux. Which is a good reason for me to stay with Linux. "Each to his own." I don't personally care what people use. I do care if other people try to take away my right to choose. Which MS often does via their "proprietary lock in" on a number of things.

    • by MightyMartian (840721) on Monday April 20, 2009 @03:03PM (#27650273) Journal

      That may be true on the workstation, though rather than pay even $150 a pop for 23 licenses for Office Home/Educational or whatever its called, I threw in OpenOffice. My manager was a little nervous about this, and even tentatively put money in the budget for the licenses, but allowed me to "experiment". There have been a few problems, to be sure, but nothing so earth-shattering that, after a month, when we discussed it, it was agreed that OpenOffice was the obvious solution for these workstations. For what they're used for, if there wasn't XP licenses to be had, I'd probably just have installed Ubuntu.

      But on the server end of things, it's quite different. I see no reason to pay thousands of dollars for the operating system and CALs for a fileserver, when Samba does the job quite well. In these harsher economic times, the value of a GUI drops pretty substantially when you're talking about licensing costs. What's more, because of Microsoft's insane licensing system, it's not just costs, but making sure you've got the right kind of license. Oops, that was an OEM license, so sorry, you can't put that copy of Server 2003 on a new server, you naught boy. Buy a new one! BWAHAHAHA.

      We just went through a software-licensing-review-that-wasn't-labeled-as-a-review with Microsoft (likely because, once I was on board, I stopped paying their crappy, useless and expensive Software Assurance), and it was the first time my organization had gone line by line through our licenses.

      Microsoft is absurdly expensive and restrictive, and believe me, so far as I'm concerned, OpenOffice is thin edge of the wedge. Next up is Exchange. Everything is going web-based anyways, and the only real "Exchange-y" feature we use is shared calendars. I can either use one of the open source groupware packages, or as some have suggested, just look at Google's calendaring.

      I'm telling my rep flat out once the review is through that with the next round of purchases, the only thing likely Microsoft on the computers will be the operating system.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Ephemeriis (315124)

      Linux might be "free" but if you include the support contract

      Are you telling me that none of your Windows software has a support contract of any kind?

      We support a number of clients... Just what they call 'critical' varies from one place to the next... Some of them are very concerned about their accounting software, some of them are more worried about their inventory software, some of them have electronic medical records... But all of them have support contracts of some kind on the software that they consider critical. And most of them are running on Windows.

      [re-]training

      Train

    • by J Story (30227) on Monday April 20, 2009 @03:38PM (#27650927) Homepage

      You can tell most Open Source advocates have never had to make costing decisions in large businesses.

      Businesses are a lot more interested in the total value of something than its price tag.

      Linux might be "free" but if you include the support contract, [re-]training, only then do you start to get close to its real cost in a business.

      To get ever closer you have to look at how efficient it is for people to get their work done on that platform when compared to the competition.

      I personally find getting almost anything done on Linux much more time consuming than either OS X or Windows...

      1. We have anecdotal remarks, at the very least, that have found retraining costs can be surprisingly low. In any event, those costs are non-recurring, as opposed to keeping up with Microsoft's upgrade treadmill.

      2. On support costs between Linux and Windows, I think there is sufficient evidence available to show that the cost difference is either a wash or favourable towards Linux. Microsoft-sponsored studies claiming otherwise have been largely discredited.

      3. Efficiency. True. No tool drives in a nail as efficiently as a hammer. In some cases, proprietary applications either outclass or have no Open Source competitor. However, the less specialized the task, the more likely that a Free/Open Source solution is "good enough", or even the better choice. Cases in point: OpenOffice.org, Firefox, Apache, Asterisk, the Linux kernel, various GNU utilities. And one more thing, just because you *can* have lots of eye candy doesn't mean that you should.

      4. Another consideration that affects how products work and attitudes of business is that many proprietary products are built assuming that the user is a thief and should not use the product. As a result, you pay Microsoft for software that can decide to downgrade your multimedia playback, for example.

      Further on this point, the culture of user as probable thief spawns the BSA. As long as you use software by BSA members you risk a costly license "audit", whether your licenses are 100% compliant or not. Productivity loss during these audits has a real bottom-line cost to a business.

  • So? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday April 20, 2009 @02:51PM (#27650067) Journal
    Makes sense to me. Cost is irrelevant, as long as it's affordable. Much as some people like to claim open source has a zero cost, this is rarely true (overall, it is likely to have a lower total cost, you may end up paying more than your fair share if you are funding some of the development work and your competitors aren't). Value is a much more important in all cases. It doesn't matter if a product is free if it doesn't do the job. Of course, if it's free and does do the job well then it's likely to be better value than something that isn't free...
  • There is more than one meaning for the word "free".
    And the definition you aren't looking at *is* one of the most important value measurements of open source.
  • Turnaround (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sifur (1423871)
    I also remember the day when Microsoft was the upstart rebel. Now they kinda suck like those before them.
  • BIG VALUE small cost

  • Dialog (Score:5, Funny)

    by marco.antonio.costa (937534) on Monday April 20, 2009 @02:59PM (#27650209)

    Microsoft: Please compete with us on our terms??!?! Pretty please?!

    Open-source: No.

  • by sverrehu (22545) on Monday April 20, 2009 @03:00PM (#27650217) Homepage
    Since the article mentions Microsoft's attempts to undermine competing businesses, here's an interesting link to the Eupean Committee for Interoperable Systems' (ECIS) article "Microsoft: A History of Anticompetitive Behavior and Consumer Harm" (PDF): http://www.ecis.eu/documents/Finalversion_Consumerchoicepaper.pdf [www.ecis.eu] Published on 2009-03-31. Required reading. :-)
  • by geekmux (1040042) on Monday April 20, 2009 @03:02PM (#27650255)

    Ah, before we start looking for the "value" in comparisons with Microsoft and Open-Source, perhaps we should look to have Microsoft justify its "value" behind the Office suite being $60 for the average student, and $360 for the average office worker...

  • So they are effectively asking the FLOSS movement to do what they (the FLOSS people) have been doing all along? By focusing on reasonable licensing and distributed development models and neglecting the price issue in most cases?
  • MythTV (even Tivo) boxes didn't record dead air when the broadcast flag was "accidentally" tripped a while back. The only DVRs I'm aware of that did were Windows machines. Value.
  • by kimvette (919543) on Monday April 20, 2009 @03:13PM (#27650435) Homepage Journal

    Open source

    Pros:

    1. (Generally) free up front costs

    2. A multititude of versions readily available, all the way back to early alpha, and will likely always be available, accompanied by the source code

    3. (generally/often) cross-platform support

    4. A huge support base made up of both paid professional support and "community" support

    5. If you have a nagging "must fix" bug that affects you and only you, you have the option of fixing it or hiring someone to fix it for you

    6. 0% risk of violating "per-seat" licensing

    7. Development might be in someone's bedroom, or backed by a big company. YMMV, batteries not included. This could be a "con" if it's the former.

    Cons

    1. No warranty

    2. Programs are often buggy or incomplete

    3. Some projects are run by arrogant BOFH/RTFM types.

    4. May require administrator training, in the form of self-study or tutorial videos on youtube, or time spent on messageboards.

    Proprietary/Closed Source

    Pros:

    1. Shrink wrapped package and professionally-replicated DVD (oooh, SHINY!)

    2. Development backed by a professional company

    3. Program is usually relatively complete and bug free

    4. Training i$ generally available for a co$t - where your sysadmin will receive a year's worth of information in 3-5 days and will remember precisely none of it, so he'll be asking you for funding for books, time for self-study and will be spending time on messageboards and/or watching tutorials on youtube

    Cons

    1. High up-front costs

    2. High risk of copyright/license violations if you install more seats than "allowed" by your "license"

    3. Support is generally expensive

    4. Only the latest version is commercially available

    5. If you have a bug you and only you encounter, you're SOL. It ain't gonna be fixed. They have your money already, so why should they care?

    6. You are tied to the one and only one platform the software runs on

    7. Support is paid support only, and in many cases, if you need support on an older version, they will require you to upgrade prior to providing support. Some community support may be available.

    6. All warranties are expressly waived/disclaimed.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 20, 2009 @03:14PM (#27650475)

    That quote from Ramji was taken completely out of context. It takes a bit of digging, because the distortion is already present in TFA, but here is the blog post to which TFA "responds" [zdnet.com]. Note especially:

    Due to the downturn in the economy, many business users are putting the kibosh on migrations to or from open source. [...] That's why Microsoft is advising open-source partners with whom the company is collaborating not to focus their customer pitches on costs, but instead to lead their sales pitches with "value," he said.

    (Emphasis mine.)

    Now this may certainly be bad and self-serving advice from Microsoft, but it is still very different from what TFA makes it out to be. Microsoft isn't begging OS vendors to change their sales pitches to something it can compete with. It's telling vendors how it thinks they should pitch in a time of economic difficulty.

    We now return you to your regularly-scheduled Microsoft bashing.

  • by thethibs (882667) on Monday April 20, 2009 @03:18PM (#27650545) Homepage

    Pay attention to the source before going off the deep end:

    IT departments are not cutting their spending to zero, Ramji claimed. Instead, they are focusing on strategic projects and cutting completely those they deem to be non-critical. That's why Microsoft is advising open-source partners with whom the company is collaborating not to focus their customer pitches on costs, but instead to lead their sales pitches with "value," he said.

    The message is for Microsoft's open-source allies, not RedHat. Ramji is suggesting that they fish where the fish are. It's good advice.

  • Certainly (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mccalli (323026) on Monday April 20, 2009 @03:22PM (#27650627) Homepage
    I own a MacBook Pro - its hardware, OS and apps work more nicely for me. It has a higher cost than many roughly comparable PC laptops. I find greater value in it.

    I run a Linux server. It has the same hardware cost as if Windows were on but no issues with client access licenses, activation or any artificial limitation brought on by segmentation like Home, Pro, Ultimate etc.. It has comparable but slightly lower cost. I find greater value in it.

    Do they want to continue? The value argument is a very poor one from MS. Ubiquity is the best card they've got to play.

    Cheers,
    Ian
  • by OpenSourced (323149) on Monday April 20, 2009 @03:42PM (#27651017) Journal

    For me the biggest selling point of OSS is not its being free-as-in-beer, but being free-as-in-speech. The biggest selling point of OSS is _control_. You buy a proprietary program, it has a bug that bugs you and nobody else, and you are toast. In OSS you can pay somebody to correct the bug. At least you have the option. If you want to extend the program, you can do it. Difficult and costly, perhaps, but possible at least.

    When you buy proprietary, and work to integrate your business's data flow in the proprietary solution, you are in fact a hostage of the software company that has the source code. If Microsoft decided now to start charging 10.000 dollars per Windows license, many people would be forced to pay. It would surely spell doom for Microsoft in the long term, but 'long' is the operative word here. The fact is that if they could do it, and you would have no practical alternative to paying, if your business processes are deeply integrated in Windows.

    Remember, it's not for the money, it's for the freedom.

  • by Greyfox (87712) on Monday April 20, 2009 @03:52PM (#27651215) Homepage Journal
    We can't compete on that.

    Please don't focus on quality or security either.

    Please focus on... customer support! We heard Linux didn't have any of that. We tried logging on to #linux this one time but someone told us to RTFM and banned us from the channel.

  • by serutan (259622) <snoopdoug&geekazon,com> on Monday April 20, 2009 @04:05PM (#27651449) Homepage

    Microsoft really has no basis for griping about other people giving away software for free, when they've been doing it themselves as a competitive strategy for many years, from Internet Explorer to Visual Web Dev Express.

  • Microsoft is a marketing company more than a software company. This is a deft stroke of shaping opinion. Why?

    Because the tacit assumption is that Open Sourcers focus on price, not value. They want to provoke the predictable "Microsoft software is too expensive" response. It lets them cast Open Sourcers as not being able to bridge the gap between technology and product.

    Technology does something specific. A product solves a problem. All that this line of commentary does is to underscore Microsoft's message that Open Source isn't ready for business. Railing about expense without attacking the core problem of value only plays into Microsoft's hand.

    What's more tragic is that they may be right. There are precious few Open Source technologies that are developed and focused to the point of being a product.

  • by Locke2005 (849178) on Monday April 20, 2009 @05:04PM (#27652433)
    Nothing is completely free of cost. Even if a licensed executable is available for free, there is still your time to download and install it. Also, for a business things like support costs, costs of re-writing inhouse apps for a new OS, and costs of retraining every user for a new OS usually apply. These costs apply to switching to Linux, but also apply to upgrading from XP to Vista.

    If you are starting from scratch, Windows and Linux are fairly competitive. Linux includes support for more things out of the box. Windows has better help files. Good Windows admins are probably easier to find and pay for. Windows systems are designed based on the assumption that the user is stupid and needs to have everything done for them, and thus results in a "one size fits all" product. Open source is usually designed with the assumption that the user will want to tweak everything imaginable in to software, even though to process for doing so is poorly documented. Windows has better support for brand new devices; Linux has better support for older devices. Windows has much more antivirus software available because it NEEDS it!

    In conclusion, Open Source _should_ compete on value; for embedded devices and servers, I believe it has a better value proposition. For desktops, assuming all your users are already familiar with Windows, it isn't as competitive. If I was going to start a bunch of people who know nothing about computers out, I'd train them on Linux. But the Windows legacy is a fact of the industry, so the correct approach is to use the correct tool for the job and to strive for interoperability on all sides. Microsoft is at least giving lip service to interoperability lately; and that is something that actually does provide value to customers. Lock-in does not.

  • Here goes my Karma (Score:3, Insightful)

    by billcopc (196330) <vrillco@yahoo.com> on Monday April 20, 2009 @08:25PM (#27654641) Homepage

    It's times like this, we should take a step back and honestly evaluate FOSS solutions and how they compare with commercial offerings.

    I do a LOT of network admin, in a mixed Windows, Linux and BSD environment. I can't really say that one is better than the other, because they all have their strengths and weaknesses. Windows can be a pain with its disjointed admin apps (hate AD), but it's pretty easy for our developers to VNC in and twiddle checkboxes in IIS. Linux is my favorite, because I know it well, but many things are needlessly obscure (like openssl command lines).

    Windows costs money up front, but for non-CLI people the TCO could be lower due to the often self-explanatory interfaces. Linux is free, but I've invested quite a bit of time writing touchy-feely scripts to bridge the usability gap, and that time is money. Hell, half of my billable hours involve supporting clients' Linux servers. I haven't billed Windows support time in over 6 months.

    Regarding Microsoft's marketing attacks on FOSS, we should see it as a challenge. We have the advantage of zero up-front cost, now we need to focus on reducing maintenance costs. Don't leave it up to individual distros to write the touchy-feely front-ends, we don't need 15 different network config apps, just one but a good one. I shouldn't have to learn contorted, error-prone MD/LVM commands just to set up and monitor disks, how about a little wizard to do it for me ? Thinks like that have a far greater impact on TCO than any sticker value. Enterprise deployments have a lifetime measured in years, it doesn't take a huge difference in maintenance costs to catch up with the difference in sticker price.

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