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Ballmer: Don't Expect Simpler Licensing Soon 260

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the but-i-want-a-pony dept.
nk497 writes "Steve Ballmer has admitted Microsoft's licensing is too complicated and contains too much fine print, but has no plans to change it at the risk of angering shareholders — and even customers who benefit from the confusion. "I'm sure we have fine print we don't need. We're not saints," he said, adding that customers have a way of figuring out how to pay the least amount of cash possible to use Microsoft's software. "Customers always find an approach which pays us less money.""
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Ballmer: Don't Expect Simpler Licensing Soon

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  • Absolutly (Score:5, Informative)

    by afidel (530433) on Monday October 05, 2009 @11:18AM (#29644665)
    We take advantage of MSDN, it's MUCH cheaper to pay for MSDN subscriptions for our technical staff then it is to pay for ~2/3rd's of our environment (Dev+Test). It's also nice to use Windows Datacenter licenses to pay for an entire stack of VM's.
    • Re:Absolutly (Score:5, Insightful)

      by POTSandPANS (781918) on Monday October 05, 2009 @11:27AM (#29644819)

      So what you are saying is that licensing is not that complicated if you have a bunch of cash to throw around?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Yeah, if you can afford to throw around.. oh, what is it, $10-$12k per developer PER YEAR, then I guess MS licensing is not a problem? (That's the license cost for Visual Studio 2008 with Team Suite and all the trimmings.)

        I'm pretty convinced that MS developer licensing is designed to be confusing in order to extract a maximum amount of money. The VAR that I used to work with that did the MS licensing couldn't figure it out, either, until they got an MS specialist on board, and EVEN THEN the MS specialist

    • Re:Absolutly (Score:5, Insightful)

      by segedunum (883035) on Monday October 05, 2009 @11:43AM (#29645099)

      We take advantage of MSDN, it's MUCH cheaper to pay for MSDN subscriptions for our technical staff then it is to pay for ~2/3rd's of our environment (Dev+Test).

      Yes it is nice.......... Until you realise that, if you stupidly buy into it, as a development company you are stipulating Microsoft software and licensing as a prerequisite for any deployment or implementation of your work for a customer. You can't use your MSDN licenses there. You will also have to factor that into your quote, budget and costs. Why do you think Microsoft has MSDN? A lot of silly companies who are built around being Microsoft partners and using MSDN have found it tough because Microsoft always takes their cut regardless.

      • Re:Absolutly (Score:5, Insightful)

        by afidel (530433) on Monday October 05, 2009 @11:49AM (#29645207)
        Uh, the vast majority of businesses are just fine paying for MS licenses to run software. There are a few all Linux/Unix shops out there but they are by far in the minority. I know most of the software we buy absolutely dwarfs the cost of the hardware + MS licenses (most of the purchases we've made in the last couple years have been mid 6-figures to 7 figures + equal costs for implementation consultants, the cost of our MS licenses barely breaks into the 6 figure range across all systems). It's a cost of doing business just like any other.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          I find it scary that you quote 7 figure "cost of doing business" and you are OK with it. I know things are expensive and it does cost, but the nonchalant attitude is frightening. I posit that it is this type of attitude that has brought us to where we are today. 6 figures for MS licensing? Some companies would go out of business if they had to pay those types of licensing fees. That is ridiculous.
          • Re:Absolutly (Score:5, Insightful)

            by afidel (530433) on Monday October 05, 2009 @01:33PM (#29646927)
            We bring in $100+M/ quarter, if we can make the business even slightly more efficient a couple million dollar project easily sees a positive ROI. You just have to do your due diligence and not take on projects that are unlikely to have a positive impact on the business. If you are spending money without justification then of course it can be a problem for the business, but then you're not really doing your job, are you? IT is a tool, not a goal or an end unto itself.
        • Re:Absolutely (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 05, 2009 @02:00PM (#29647309)

          Comments similar to yours from our competitors bring nothing but cheer to my heart. Fortunately for our shop, Free software meets our needs practically from top to bottom. Not only does it meet our needs but it exceeds them in ways Microsoft can't. Not just in pricing but in functionality and flexibility. The interesting thing is, most or our competitors' infrastructures could be ran similarly but through a combination of sheer ignorance and the inability to ween themselves from the MS teet, they continue to needlessly spend millions on restrictive licenses while we invest the same money in things that actually add to the bottom line and help us grow. Consequently, in the recent economic downturn, we've thrived while some people I used to know in this business have just flat out gone under.

          Not saying that Free software is for everybody because it isn't. You must have actual competent IT staff to wring the every last bit of value of it. A crew of MCSE's aren't going to cut it. We, with the help of a certain hire several years ago, saw the light and changed from being a complete MS shop over to Free software with very little problems. And it either meets your needs or not. But I'd be willing to bet that just about any outfit has some slack and could stand to save a few bucks on licenses somewhere.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by IntlHarvester (11985) *

          Uh, the vast majority of businesses are just fine paying for MS licenses to run software. There are a few all Linux/Unix shops out there but they are by far in the minority.

          That's almost entirely beside the point though. IBM will sell you $15K/seat licences for WebSphere for Linux, or you could fire up notepad and develop Windows stuff for free.

      • by Tim C (15259)

        you are stipulating Microsoft software and licensing as a prerequisite for any deployment or implementation of your work for a customer.

        Well, where I work we tend to use whatever the customer wants us to use, at least in terms of the OS. We get asked for Windows, .NET, MS SQL Server, etc, just as we get asked for Linux, Java, Oracle, etc.

        Besides which, the cost of the MS software is utterly dwarfed by some of the COTS products we've used - on my last project the CMS alone cost a quarter of a million GBP bef

        • on my last project the CMS alone cost a quarter of a million GBP before we even started to customise it.

          Which CMS? (no, I'm not going to suggest anything open source; I have run some of the expensive commercial CMS's and am just curious what you meant)

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Runaway1956 (1322357) *

      The number one problem with Microsoft's licensing scheme is just that. The licensing scheme itself. "This product is licensed, not sold." I call "BULLSHIT!" I bought it, just like I would buy a damned BOOK! I have the physical floppies and CD's for several MS operating systems. They are mine, and not MS's. I will use them as I see fit, as often as I see fit, and in any manner that I see fit to use them. End of story. When MS understands that concept, then we might get along. When they understand t

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by kelzer (83087)
        Well, considering that you've just confessed to breaking a number of laws (DCMA, copyright, etc.) you may need to change your Slashdot username to Runaway2009.
  • by jo42 (227475) on Monday October 05, 2009 @11:19AM (#29644677) Homepage

    customers have a way of figuring out how to pay the least amount of cash possible to use Microsoft's software

    Yes. It's "Format C:" followed by installing some flavor of Linux and Open Office.

    • by Sockatume (732728) on Monday October 05, 2009 @11:24AM (#29644773)

      Why the "Format C:" bit? Is the previous step in your money-saving plan "buy a computer with Windows on it"?

      • by parodyca (890419) on Monday October 05, 2009 @11:31AM (#29644881) Homepage

        Hell Yeah, Have you ever tried to buy a computer without windows on it? It is always cheaper to by a windows machine and wipe the OS then it is to buy a NoOS machine.

        • by CannonballHead (842625) on Monday October 05, 2009 @11:32AM (#29644903)

          Have you ever tried to buy a computer without windows on it?

          Uh-huh. They're called "parts." :)

          • by eln (21727) on Monday October 05, 2009 @11:41AM (#29645067) Homepage
            I'm not so sure about that. It's getting harder and harder to buy parts and build your own for cheaper than you can get a pre-assembled box. These days, the only reason to build your own is if you want to pick and choose every component for quality, in which case cost is not your primary driver. If you're going for cheap, something pre-assembled from Dell or a similar company is usually cheaper, especially if you consider the value of your time. Even if you value your time at $0/hr, you can still often get a pre-built from Dell cheaper than a comparable build-your-own system.

            I've never bought a pre-built system in my life, but I'm seriously considering it now that I'm looking to replace my 4 year old desktop system. It's just not worth the hassle to build your own when it doesn't really save you any money anymore.
            • I guess it probably depends on what you're using it for ("gaming" systems are ridiculously overpriced). Lower-end systems are pretty cheap these days, yeah. I haven't recently checked at expandability either, though. I know it used to be that the lower-end systems were really bad if you wanted to say, add more RAM or a better video card.
            • by jedidiah (1196)

              Dells are not terribly flexible and you are pretty much buying yourself an oversized Mac mini.

              OTOH, the Dells are also dramatically cheaper and can be bought with more options.

            • by tsm_sf (545316)

              This is interesting because I have just finished pricing out a middle-range desktop at Newegg and have been comparing it to nearly identical prebuilt setups from the usual suspects.

              They're pretty much identical in price.

              I'll leave discovering why shipping an assembled system isn't as smart as shipping components as an exercise for the reader, but this also gives you fine-grain control over part quality. If that's not something you're concerned about, you should really just eat an extra fifty and go pick up

            • Re:Building PC's (Score:5, Informative)

              by MindPrison (864299) on Monday October 05, 2009 @12:14PM (#29645613) Journal

              Same here, until my last computer - that is.

              Prebuilt consumer computers are really crappy. Take my latest HP Pavillion Quad Core as an example, after 1 month, the keyboard stopped working, after 3 months the wireless module went to wifi-heaven where little wifi things go (All wifi's goes to heaven, the movie), and after the 5th month, the DVD stopped accepting pretty much any DVD & games even though there where no dust. I'm just waiting for the next thing to break for no reason. At work it's the same thing, the pre-built one breaks down, not the ones I built - they still stand!

              • Re:Building PC's (Score:5, Insightful)

                by mitgib (1156957) on Monday October 05, 2009 @12:32PM (#29645919) Homepage Journal
                Just like any other business or government body, the lowest bidder gets the contract. When the P4 came out, Dell stopped making good quality PC's and focused more on low bidder parts fulfillment.
              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by Runaway1956 (1322357) *

                Ditto here, from experience. My home brews just keep on going, and going, and going, while the pretty store bought machines that the wife likes fall apart. I don't buy the most expensive, highest quality parts either - just good, solid items with good reviews. The wife finally took a stab at her own home brew machine, without asking my advice. The result was only very slightly better than a store bought, because she didn't know which numbers to look at, and didn't take the customer reviews into account.

                • by nabsltd (1313397)

                  Step one: google for overclocking forums, visit them, and see what all the super nerds are using for mainboards. Choose popular mainboard that you can afford, then choose the fastest CPU you can afford for that architecture.

                  Absolutely correct. I also search the game/DVD copying forums to pick out the best optical drive.

                  I don't really care about copying that much, but the drives they like the best seem to be able to read everything without any issues, and do so at the highest possible speed. You also learn that the most expensive drive is rarely the best...there are a lot of $30 DVD writers that are close to the best you can buy.

                • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                  by Knara (9377)

                  Ditto here, from experience. My home brews just keep on going, and going, and going, while the pretty store bought machines that the wife likes fall apart.

                  They definitely can, but don't necessarily. I've had my share of dead components in homebrew machines over the years, that's for sure, and from reputable manufs. I've had ASUS and Intel boards just conk out. Not often, not all the time, but it happens, and it's no less annoying then, either.

                  • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                    by Runaway1956 (1322357) *

                    Mmmm - yes, you make a point. But, I'm not certain that we understand each other's points, fully. Yes, Asus is a reputable mainboard company. One of the best boards I've ever owned is an Asus. It's already 7 years old, I've upgraded the BIOS twice, added peripherals that weren't supported when it was new - it's a great board. BUT - the wife's semi-successful homebrew is based on an Asus K8N board. It isn't as high quality as my SK8V, it was built for the abandoned socket 754, and most importantly, you

            • I agree, especially if you hold out for a slickdeal. I just helped my brother get set up with a core2quad dell vostro (not the SFF one). We maxed the ram out and put a monster video card in, it destroys his old machine, he's happy.
              I couldn't have built it from scratch as cheap as he got it, and certainly not if you include the massive widescreen ultrasharp that came with it.

              Just avoid the extreme low-end and/or SFF machines. That's the only time you'll run into issues with prebuilt machines, ime.

              • I didn't even know you could still get Monster video cards. Much less that a 3dfx Voodoo II would be competitive in todays game market.

            • by Archangel Michael (180766) on Monday October 05, 2009 @12:25PM (#29645765) Journal

              DIY = CUSTOM build

              The reason to DIY is because you need a config that DELL doesn't offer. Oh, like building a MythTV box with SATA Raid and hot swap cage for the HDs. Or even the proverbial "Gaming Rig".

              However, if what you want is a computer for your house, then DELL (or HP or ...) is a completely viable choice.

              The problem isn't DIY being "cheaper" it is that you can get a customized rig built the way you want for the purposes you need.

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by MBGMorden (803437)

                The other part of DIY is that I, like I suspect many others, simply don't buy whole computers at a time anymore. I keep several systems up and running for various OS's and such, but pretty much never do I build a whole one from scratch.

                For my "main" system, it gets upgrades - always. A processor here, a motherboard there, few extra sticks of ram, throw in a hard drive, etc. It's a constantly evolving beast. I've found that if I chuck $150-250 per year into that system (which really isn't that much for

              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by PitaBred (632671)
                It's also about quality. I can get much better parts piecemeal than I can from a big box. They have the cheapest motherboards they can source, same with power supplies and video cards, everything.
              • by vux984 (928602)

                he problem isn't DIY being "cheaper" it is that you can get a customized rig built the way you want for the purposes you need.

                DIY also gives you the option to get quality parts, and build an inexpensive low spec system that will last. With dell if you go low end, you get junk. USB ports that don't output power to spec, and can't drive device loads they should be able to. Power supplies that are oddball shaped and don't last, generic dvdrws that are noisy and don't last. Low end hard drives with stripped dow

            • I always build my own desktop systems, and not to save money, but to have the best & fastest system possible for my budget. I always get comments on how unbelievably faster my desktop is than anything my friends can get from Dell. That's because I cherry pick the video card(s), the cooling, everything. Plus I tune the os (XP right now, system's primary func is gaming), turning off services (the nttp & web clients for example, gone!) and systems I don't need. If any one component, like the p/s, goes
            • by Z34107 (925136)

              It all depends. You cannot save money by building a lower-end machine yourself anymore; economies of scale did away with that. But, you can still save money building a mid-range computer. If you get newegg's mailings, they usually have some nice deals on some combination of motherboard/cpu/memory/tower that'll save you a lot of money.

              You say you value your time - do you enjoy building computers, or is it a chore? Given an $800 pre-built and $800 worth of equivalent parts, I'd take the parts in a heartbe

            • I'm not so sure about that. ... Even if you value your time at $0/hr, you can still often get a pre-built from Dell cheaper than a comparable build-your-own system.

              Well I'm not so sure about that. It's sometimes true if you're willing to accept the usually minimal default configuration and they have a particularly good sale going on, but once you start adding upgrades, the cost of building your own soon wins out. This occurs much sooner if you are a Linux user (or if you can transfer your Windows license) and you can reuse components (monitor, case, optical drive, keyboard & mouse, etc.). And that doesn't take into account the various things you can almost neve

            • by nabsltd (1313397)

              It's getting harder and harder to buy parts and build your own for cheaper than you can get a pre-assembled box. These days, the only reason to build your own is if you want to pick and choose every component for quality, in which case cost is not your primary driver. If you're going for cheap, something pre-assembled from Dell or a similar company is usually cheaper, especially if you consider the value of your time. Even if you value your time at $0/hr, you can still often get a pre-built from Dell cheaper than a comparable build-your-own system.

              It's absolutely true that if you want the $200 "Black Friday special", then you can't beat a pre-built system. Or, if you hit Dell when what you want is on sale, you get a great deal. But, if you want more than the default RAM/hard disk/processor/etc. at "regular" prices, parts are the only way to go.

              For example, when not on sale, a Dell Core i7 system that defaults to 3GB of RAM will cost you $150 extra to upgrade to 6GB, when you could just buy the 6GB outright for $110. Hard drives are the same...jump

        • Buy the parts and build your own. It will be cheaper, you get exactly what you want and no os.
        • ebuyer begs to differ:

          Acer Extensa E420 Desktop, AMD 1640B Athlon, 1GB RAM, 160GB HDD, DVDRW, Linux
          Extra Value Celeron Dual Core E3200 Business PC 4GB DDR2, 320GB SATA HDD, DVDRW, NO O/S
          Extra Value Pentium Dual Core E5400 Business PC 2.7GHz, 4GB DDR2, 750GB SATA HDD, DVDRW, NO O/S
          Mesh Desktop PC, Pentium E5400 2.7GHz, 4GB RAM, 500GB HDD, DVDRW, No Operating System

          Prices start at £149 inc tax for the low-end Acer.

        • by AnalPerfume (1356177) on Monday October 05, 2009 @11:50AM (#29645213)
          That would be the subsidized trialware model. If you have plenty of companies paying to have their 30 day trial shit installed on every box, it offsets the cost of Windows, giving the illusion that Windows is free when it's not. Retailers should be forced to provide a Windows refund form with every sale of a new PC, since they refuse to offer the customer the choice of actually buying it without Windows. They should also be forced to list it as a separate item in the pricing, as it's not a requirement to run the PC.....of course doing that would let the whole trialware racket out of the bag too.
        • by Nerdposeur (910128) on Monday October 05, 2009 @11:52AM (#29645275) Journal
          I bought a Dell with Ubuntu back in April. It was cheaper than the equivalent Windows machine AND came with a bigger monitor.
        • Yes, the last 3 I bought didn't have Windows on them, and no they weren't all Macs.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dissy (172727)

      customers have a way of figuring out how to pay the least amount of cash possible to use Microsoft's software

      Yes. It's "Format C:" followed by installing some flavor of Linux and Open Office.

      You are modded as informative, so does this mean Microsoft now owns "some Linux flavor" as well as owns Open Office?

      If not, how exactly is installing 'some linux distro' and open office a way to pay the least for Microsoft software??

    • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

      by dkleinsc (563838)

      Actually, the "Format C:" step is a waste of time, because the Linux installer will reformat the drive again for you using the file system of your choice (default is typically ext3 or ext4).

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by o0u812 (1240098)

      customers have a way of figuring out how to pay the least amount of cash possible to use Microsoft's software

      Yes. It's "Format C:" followed by installing some flavor of Linux and Open Office.

      Ah yes, you must be referring to Microsoft's linux distro [mslinux.org].

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 05, 2009 @11:19AM (#29644691)

    buy it and you're fucked.

  • WTF? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 05, 2009 @11:19AM (#29644697)

    "Customers always find an approach which pays us less money.""

    Other than piracy, switching to Mac or Linux I don't know what he means? Sounds like sour grapes. I guess he feels his paycheck should be bigger. It's a wallet not a phallic symbol.

    • Read the article. It doesn't sound like he's really being disparaging towards those customers (and he seems to be referring to companies, not individuals)
    • Re:WTF? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Sockatume (732728) on Monday October 05, 2009 @11:29AM (#29644851)

      He's talking about bulk-licencing customers. Corporations and educational institutions.

      • by lymond01 (314120)

        Yah, we save a ton with our Microsoft Campus Agreement. We pay about $4000/year for the ability to install about 300 copies of Windows and Office. Considering the cost of XP is about $150+, it's a pretty good deal, even over the long term.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Considering their fear of a non-MS generation of graduates, I suspect MS would pay YOU to use their stuff if your budget couldn't find that $4k.

          Most corporations are considered "captive" and get very little in the way of discounts unless they have an Enterprise Agreement. MS has a wide variety of programs that look like volume discounts, but are in fact not discounts at all. For example, my company would routinely buy OEM copies of MS Works and keep the media kits in a storage closet. That enabled us to

          • Re:FUD (Score:4, Interesting)

            by conureman (748753) on Monday October 05, 2009 @02:14PM (#29647503)

            When I went to school, I told them I didn't want to do Windows, but wanted to learn Unix admin. They said it was "much to complicated for a novice" and I "had to learn Windows first to understand the basics". Translation: they didn't have a Unix curriculum.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by 1s44c (552956)

          Yah, we save a ton with our Microsoft Campus Agreement. We pay about $4000/year for the ability to install about 300 copies of Windows and Office. Considering the cost of XP is about $150+, it's a pretty good deal, even over the long term.

          License costs saved: $41,000
          Damage done by producing students who only know cr*p software: immeasurable

    • by WilyCoder (736280)

      "It's a wallet not a phallic symbol."

      Tell that to my ex wife.

    • Yeah, that quote made no sense. Of course customers will try for the lowest priced option, but if any customers are paying more than the least amount MS offers, it's the customers that pay more that are getting screwed, by MS. Not the customers that avail themselves of MS's lowest offer.

      If they don't want to offer their lowest offer, then make something else the lowest offer. If they offer it, surely they think that it's a fair price!

  • So it's official. Everyone's a pirate, always on to lookout to pay less for more... So, in conclusion the real copyright problem (and licensing is a part of copyright) is the customer! Solution: Get rid of customers! Save Copyright! License as complicatedly as you like, never again worry about fine print or versions galore, be all you can be...
  • by mpapet (761907) on Monday October 05, 2009 @11:22AM (#29644749) Homepage

    I'll give you a hint, their customers are not the admins who actually have to comprehend and create policy/procedure to abide by License terms. They have two primary customers.
    1. The retail consumer who doesn't read EULA's and willfully violates them.
    2. The purchasing manager/executive class.

    Sysadmins aren't on that list.

    Moreover, Mr. Ballmer is giving the implicit nod to violate the terms of the license agreements. Guess who loses on that deal? The sysadmin!

    • by noundi (1044080)

      I'll give you a hint, their customers are not the admins who actually have to comprehend and create policy/procedure to abide by License terms. They have two primary customers.
      1. The retail consumer who doesn't read EULA's and willfully violates them.
      2. The purchasing manager/executive class.

      Sysadmins aren't on that list.

      Moreover, Mr. Ballmer is giving the implicit nod to violate the terms of the license agreements. Guess who loses on that deal? The sysadmin!

      You read my mind brother, and apparently the fine print of my job description. +5 truth.

  • by CannonballHead (842625) on Monday October 05, 2009 @11:28AM (#29644823)

    It looks like most of the article takes small quotes from Ballmer and presumably paraphrases the rest. There aren't a whole lot of quotes form Ballmer himself. And the slashdot summary is even worse. Firstly, he appears to be referring to companies with this quote, not end user customer type peoples (emphasis mine):

    But he claimed that the finer details of the licensing system give some companies the opportunity to save money. "Customers always find an approach which pays us less money," he claimed.

    Here are some of the *other* quotes from the article that the summary left out.

    "Every time you simplify something, you lose something that people used to save money," he added, suggesting that even minor changes to the system could hurt some of its customers.

    "The goal is to simplify without a price increase," Ballmer said, adding: "Our shareholders want simplicity without a price decrease."

    He added that customers donâ(TM)t want simplicity for the sake of it, claiming that the last time Microsoft tried that route, customer ratings of the firm "plummeted for two years."

    Ballmer seems to also be noting that shareholders and customers want two different things: shareholders want Microsoft to charge more and do it more simply, and customers want Microsoft to charge less and do it more simply. Everyone wants it simpler, but simpler+price-decrease and simpler+price-increase are two different things. But don't read what he really said. Just assume he means the worst and let's pretend that one of the largest (the largest?) software companies has a complete idiot in charge and that EVERYONE knows he is an idiot but they keep him there anyway. Or something like that?

    • by twmcneil (942300)

      He added that customers don't want simplicity for the sake of it, claiming that the last time Microsoft tried that route, customer ratings of the firm "plummeted" for two years."

      Is talking about Bob?

      No, serious question. Maybe he's referring to a licensing situation that I am unaware of.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by onefriedrice (1171917)
      Ballmer does appear to be an idiot. Under his watch, we've seen the Xbox with its expensive warranty, the lovely Zune, Office 2007, and Vista. I consider these failures that I'm not certain would have occurred if Gates was still in charge. Okay, I'm sure at least Vista made a boat-load of money and therefore can't be classified as a failure as far as the markets are concerned, but that's only because of their market position. Ballmer won't be able to get this free ride forever as other alternatives slow
  • "Customers always find an approach which pays us less money."

    No no no... *some* customers find ways to pay as little money as possible. Since Windows rarely, if ever, goes "on sale" though, most people who follow the rules just pay full price or pay the Microsoft Tax when they buy a new computer. Factor in school deals, corporate deals, etc. and you have a crap-ton of licenses being sold for the Microsoft-price (the one they agree to).
  • by blind biker (1066130) on Monday October 05, 2009 @11:34AM (#29644929) Journal

    No shit. When was the last time Microsoft did something the customers wanted, instead of forcing them to "take it or leave it". When was the last time any Office application didn't brake file compatibility with previous versions. When was the last time you felt like you actually own a Microsoft software product, and don't have to rent it AND justify yourself every time you need to install it on a new computer? Last time some Microsoft protocol didn't break compatibility with competing, or even older own protocols? I don't know, it feels like forever.

    Licensing issues are really just the tip of the iceberg of this Satan's spawn called Microsoft.

    • by CannonballHead (842625) on Monday October 05, 2009 @11:39AM (#29645033)

      When was the last time Microsoft did something the customers wanted, instead of forcing them to "take it or leave it".

      I've never been forced to. I upgrade/install on my own. Work/corporate environment is a different story, but at home I choose my OS.

      When was the last time any Office application didn't brake file compatibility with previous versions.

      Saving or reading? I just save in XP/2000/2007 format. Works fine, including with openoffice, which is what I use anyway.

      When was the last time you felt like you actually own a Microsoft software product, and don't have to rent it AND justify yourself every time you need to install it on a new computer?

      I've installed and re-installed XP many, many times. I have always felt like I owned it. I've installed Vista (and Windows 7, actually) multiple times with no problem. Yes, I "register" or activate it. No issues with it. Even the phone activation is quite simple. Some of my other software, like Sibelius [sibelius.com] gives me a much, much, much harder time with activation and whatnot. But it's good software and I like using it, so I deal with it.

      Last time some Microsoft protocol didn't break compatibility with competing, or even older own protocols?

      Like what?

      I don't know, it feels like forever.

      When was the last time you USED a Microsoft OS (or Office)?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Sockatume (732728)

      I hate to say it but your post is an example of fanboyish ranting distracting people from the true nature of the problem. A recent "last time" in most of those cases is actually trivial to find. Microsoft's badness isn't a consistent history of doing everything exactly wrong, it's that they do almost everything right up to the point where it affects their bottom line. Then they'll make decisions which protect their market dominance, decisions which have nasty consequences for everyone else. It's easy to thi

  • The Gates Comeback (Score:2, Interesting)

    by kiehlster (844523)
    I said this once before and am still convinced. All this self-inflicted damage is a secret plan to have Bill Gates make a comeback, just like Steve Jobs, and "save" Microsoft. If Bill isn't initially included in this plan of theirs, Ballmer is certainly ensuring that Gates loses enough of his stock gains to force him to come back and work again. Between the goofy ad campaigns and Ballmer's "Microsoft DOES suck" speeches, why wouldn't Microsoft begin to crumble. From the inside.
    • The does suck speeches happened in the past as well, it is a usual Microsoft tactic. Well we screwed up but the next *fill in whatever you want* will be better so please do not buy from our competition.
      That has been the standard speech every two years since 1982.

  • by argent (18001) <peter AT slashdo ... taronga DOT com> on Monday October 05, 2009 @11:37AM (#29644991) Homepage Journal

    He added that customers don't want simplicity for the sake of it, claiming that the last time Microsoft tried that route, customer ratings of the firm "plummeted" for two years."

    Unless Microsoft sees its product as being licenses rather than software (which is entirely possible, now I think of it) this is daft. People have to interact with the software on a daily basis. They only care about licenses when they get in their way... which is more likely to happen if they don't know what they're buying.

  • Balance (Score:3, Insightful)

    by eyepeepackets (33477) on Monday October 05, 2009 @11:38AM (#29645001)

    "Customers always find an approach which pays us less money."

    That's okay Steve, Microsoft always finds a way to make clunky, insecure software: There is balance in the Microsoft universe.

  • Retail Customers (Score:4, Informative)

    by Fear13ss (917494) on Monday October 05, 2009 @11:38AM (#29645013)
    As a past employee of a Retail store, I know for a fact that they always find a way to make customers pay much more then is necessary for everything they can, up to and including OS's. I don't know how many people were sold on "Media Center" functionality they never used and that's just scratching the surface. As for the Obligatory Open Source comment, our licensing is much more simple. http://www.ubuntu.com/community/ubuntustory/licensing [ubuntu.com]
    • by swb (14022)

      My wife was in the market for a new computer and at the local Microcenter they had decent refurb machines for $300. Strangely the box I bought (an HP) came with XP Media Center Edition even though the PC itself was some bog standard HP office minitower with no media hardware (other than a lightscribe DVD RW drive and a xd/CF reader).

      I don't know how the OS got chosen for this box; my guess was HP did the refurb and the box was actually a return or something from corporate client that had open licensing and

  • by sjames (1099) on Monday October 05, 2009 @12:02PM (#29645439) Homepage

    It's remarkable really. Even MS support can't tell you consistently what you actually need to be legal for a given situation. Call three times with the same scenario and get three different answers.

    Talk about business risks, you're just begging to have the BSA commandos sweep in and decide that whatever you guessed (or what MS told you to do) isn't correct and you are now a dirty thief who owes a pile of cash. No, thanks!

    If they're going to get all bent out of shape about license compliance, the onus is on them to make it possible to know with certainty what you must do (and spend) in order to be compliant. Given that their own support people aren't sure, I'd say they failed miserably.

    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      Could this be used as a defense? I mean, if you were taken to court, and called up their sales representatives, and got 3 different answers on 3 different occasions, couldn't you then state that since they as Microsoft can't even tell you how to properly license the product, that you shouldn't be able to figure it out either. I mean, if Microsoft says that you aren't licensing it properly, the should be able to tell you what the correct licenses are. If they can't tell you that, then what are they really
  • by jd2112 (1535857) on Monday October 05, 2009 @12:02PM (#29645447)
    Rule 1: You are out of compliance.
    Rule 2; If you have reviewed your licenses and purchased additional licenses to cover any license shortages (plus additional licenses just to be safe), See rule #1.
    Rule 3: If you think you understand Microsoft license agreemenents, you are either delirious or just not paying attention.
    Rule 4: If you are a lawyer for Microsoft in charge of writing license agreements, see rule #3.
    Rule 5: See rule #1.
    • by tsm_sf (545316) on Monday October 05, 2009 @12:32PM (#29645921) Journal

      Crowley had been extremely impressed with the warranties offered by the computer industry, and had in fact sent a bundle Below to the department that drew up the Immortal Soul agreements, with a yellow memo form attached just saying: "Learn, guys."

      - from Good Omens

    • This is great, why did my mod points have to expire?

      Back on topic, Microsoft admitted its licensing was ridiculous when it made an MCP certification just for licensing.

      Also, MS SQL licensing for virtual servers pisses me off to no end, in that each logical processor is considered 1 CPU. On a normal install, each physical socket with a processor is considered 1 CPU, so multi-core processors can be used to your advantage. On a virtual machine, each core is normally considered 1 logical CPU, so you are stuck b

  • >> "Customers always find an approach which pays us less money.""

    Maybe, if you simplified the licencing there wouldnt be as many loopholes, you dummy.

    Anyway whats wrong with people optimising their purchasing decisions for cost? sounds perfectly reasonable and normal to me.

    • Yes, but would "You are about to install Microsoft Windows on your desktop, your soul is ours" work well with the DoJ

  • Like the US tax code, those with the resources will always pay less. Large corporations actually hire people to do nothing other than manage software licenses. Sure its great that it gives some guy a job, but other than him, who really benefits.

  • but has no plans to change it at the risk of angering shareholders â" and even customers who benefit from the confusion

    Somehow, when I read that, it came out all different in my head... something more like:

    "but has no plans to change it as the risk of angering the company's customers -- oh yeah, and you little people who buy their software might benefit from it too"

    Remember when a company's customers were actually the people buying from them, and not their shareholders... or at least they pretended that was the case?

  • I never understand why people pay this idiot any attention, nor why shareholders continue to tolerate his "leadership." Yes, Microsoft continues to make a ton of money, and they pay a quarterly dividend and paid a big special dividend a few years ago. However, their share price has gone nowhere in 11 years. He should get "status quo" tattoo'd on his forehead, and perhaps "chair goes here" on his ass so he can remember where it goes after he's done throwing it.
  • by Ritz_Just_Ritz (883997) on Monday October 05, 2009 @12:28PM (#29645847)

    Part of the reason that several of my past companies/clients drifted away from Microsoft was due to the incredibly complex licensing. You can do XYZ for this price, but only if you have up to N seats. After N+1 seats, you pay using an entirely new cost schedule (could be higher...could be lower)....etc. It got to the point where our "Microsoft sales rep" literally had to periodically visit us and attempt to explain how we could do a project with their tools while not running afoul of some obscure CAL fee that nobody even knew about. Combine that with the never ending upgrade merry-go-round and it is easy to see why companies just throw up their hands and look for a way out.

  • by Locke2005 (849178) on Monday October 05, 2009 @12:33PM (#29645937)
    "We're not saints." -- Steve Ballmer
  • BING (Score:3, Funny)

    by Archangel Michael (180766) on Monday October 05, 2009 @12:36PM (#29645991) Journal

    Bing = Bing Is Not Google!!!

  • I disagree (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Locke2005 (849178) on Monday October 05, 2009 @12:39PM (#29646041)
    "Customers always find an approach which pays us less money." If that were true, wouldn't all of Microsoft's customers already be using Linux? (They still use Microsoft because they believe the costs of rewriting applications and retraining users exceed the cost of licensing the latest releases from Redmond.) I'm not even sure that customers even do a decent job of calculating Total Cost of Ownership, since they frequently neglect the potential cost of security holes, as well as the cost of not saving copies of all your licenses and then getting a visit from the BSA.
  • Symptom of Doom? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Tablizer (95088) on Monday October 05, 2009 @12:41PM (#29646073) Homepage Journal

    Stockholders tend to not care about 10 years down the road. They want their money now. If you are in MS shoes and you are being pressured to return to prior levels of financial growth despite being squeezed by Apple, Google, Linux etc., then the easy way out is to squeeze more licensing fees out of existing customers who's tool stack is based around MS products. They almost *have to* pay. The downside is that resentment is building which will start to bite back down the road. They ran out of logs and are now burning strips of cabin.

    • by nycguy (892403)
      Per my comment above, stockholders should start caring, because MSFT was higher back in 1998 than it is now. They only thing you're getting with MSFT is a 2.1% dividend yield with no long-term appreciation in share price whatsoever--except for the Nasdaq bubble and a couple of brief periods since then (at the end of the last bull market and the bottom of the crisis), the stock has sat between $20 and $30.
  • Angering whom? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PPH (736903) on Monday October 05, 2009 @01:47PM (#29647127)

    but has no plans to change it at the risk of angering shareholders

    Customers, Steve. Its all about the customers. Shareholders come and go, but customers need attention.

    Take a lesson from Detroit. Build crap and your market share evaporates. Turn things around, start building quality and it will still take a generation to get those customers back. Sure, Detroit didn't have proprietary format lock in working for them. But customers are getting educated about that. Even if MS switches to all open formats, the memory of the old days will keep customers scared away for years to come once they've left.

  • by WoollyMittens (1065278) on Monday October 05, 2009 @02:13PM (#29647495)
    The only customers of a publicly traded company are the shareholders. The consumers are a natural resource to exploit.

If a 6600 used paper tape instead of core memory, it would use up tape at about 30 miles/second. -- Grishman, Assembly Language Programming

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