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Microsoft Open Source News

Open Source More Expensive Says MS Report 465

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the yeah-that'll-fly dept.
doperative writes "Much conventional wisdom about programs written by volunteers is wrong. The authors took money for research from Microsoft, long the archenemy of the open-source movement — although they assure readers that the funds came with no strings attached. Free programs are not always cheaper. To be sure, the upfront cost of proprietary software is higher (although open-source programs are not always free). But companies that use such programs spend more on such things as learning to use them and making them work with other software"
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Open Source More Expensive Says MS Report

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  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @12:32PM (#34928584)

    I predict that this report will be met with much skepticism on /.

    I also predict that I will make the argument that open source really *isn't* always all it's cracked up to be--and be shouted down by many, many voices

    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by Svartalf (2997)

      I will also predict that it'll be shown that Closed Source isn't much better in that regard...

      Besides, anything that was bought and paid for by Microsoft has been shown to be stilted in their favor from start to finish. Special cases, that sort of thing. If you believe anything they've bankrolled as good information in your best interests you get what you deserve.

      • by MoonBuggy (611105)

        One could argue that MS funding really was provided with no strings, on the basis that MS are so confident in their superiority that they just want hard data to support that assumption. Not necessarily saying I agree, but it's a viable reason for why they would fund the study but actually want it to be valid and impartial.

        In any case, most of the discussion here will be based on the summary as given context by the headline, which is very misleading.

        What the research actually concluded was that the total cos

        • by number6x (626555) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @03:37PM (#34931142)
          Just ask the London Stock exchange what the true cost of implementing their trading system using MS tools [google.com] was. Be sure to include the cost of lost business as well as the loss of brand integrity, not just the licensing cost. I prefer real world examples to paid for studies.
        • by Ciggy (692030) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @05:47PM (#34933002)

          What the research actually concluded was that the total cost of ownership can vary...training and support.

          My one objection to most similar studies...is that switching from, say, MS Office 2003 to 2007...is considered to take little or no training...but switching to OpenOffice is projected to incur significant retraining expenses...

          A few years ago a large UK retailer upgraded their staff laptops to Windows XP. All the [laptop] staff went on "XP training". Changing to "what you know" doesn't necessarily mean no training costs; proves your point, and that was in use of WIndows itself - which I seem to always hear as touted as not needing any training when "upgrading".

      • The game continues and changes each day. Android is open source, and doing very well. Open source is still evolving. IPV6 may greatly increase people's interest in p2p type projects, which open standards and source are very good at. Internet censorship is also growing, and nobody really knows what's coming with that, it could be a call for more and more open standards to combat it. Funding sources are also evolving, apparently the Humble Bundle guys invented a new format. The pledge system [wikipedia.org] is becoming
        • by Z00L00K (682162) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @02:00PM (#34929804) Homepage

          And knowing open source also means that you know how to fix it when it breaks.

          If Microsoft software breaks all you can do is pray and hope that it will be resolved in a future bug fix. A call to M$ support renders you a long wait on the phone where you can't do anything and finally a question if you have tried to reinstall, and if you have done it and have any kind of custom software in the vicinity then they can't help you.

          So either you are putting in some hours to get in control or you give up control to Microsoft.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by 787style (816008)
            Assuming that you do have the staff and infrastructure in place to fix, test and compile the code, you and your organization are subsequently forked from the official release. A scenario which is can be just as bad than waiting for MS to fix.

            Once you code a solution to your defect, the proposed fix still has to be submitted, and may not be accepted by the developers. This could continue on for months, or even years of never implementing your fix. The onus is on your org, then, to repeatedly merge in ch
            • by IBitOBear (410965) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @08:38PM (#34934636) Homepage Journal

              Yes, having found a problem, and then found a solution you have to maintain or share that solution. The horrors!

              I non-open code you have the choice of paying potentially millions of dollars to get a fix from the vendor, and having paid that sum, you receive one fix once, with no promise that your fix will become part of the product line's subsequent release. So when that subsequent release is made and it _doesn't_ have your fix, you get to pay all that money _again_ even though they already know the problem and solution. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

              With open source you don't have to "fork" just to retain the patch and reapply it, usually with virtually no effort since, if someone is working on the code you patched, they likely used your fix, something like your fix, or didn't touch the lines you patched in any meaningful way.

              I have had a kernel patch to "smarten up" termios for years. I submitted it and it was rejected for reasons like "we are about to change that code anyway" and "someone might have written code that _uses_ the fact that you can end up blocking on a one-byte read, waiting for one byte to be received, despite the fact that there is more than one byte in the buffer".

              With every subsequent release of the kernel I just apply the patch and move on. I didn't "fork the kernel" etc. Nothing ever so daunting.

              It is an obvious truth that exploring an option and making use of an opportunity is _always_ more effort and "clear expense" then just throwing up ones hands and living with no choice in the matter.

              The costs of surrender are always hidden, prorated, long term. [Ask the French, their defense against Germany was sabatoged, as it always was, by Belgium's habit of buckling like a belt when threatened no matter how much the promised to do their part as a key point in the defense of europe. Nobody blames Belgium for being the useless twits they always are, but to this day France takes a load of shit for their surrender once their entire north flank went for strudel.]

              Agree with Microsoft? I suggest you read up on "Plays4Sure"... and every single "microsoft preferred partner" in history.

          • by DerPflanz (525793) <bart@NOspAm.friesoft.nl> on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @02:45PM (#34930344) Homepage

            And knowing open source also means that you know how to fix it when it breaks.

            First off, I am a professional software developer/entrepreneur and a big supporter of open source software and freedom. But the argument you bring here is the worst argument *for* open source. I work with Evolution in my professional life and it crashes on me quite often. (Not often enough to replace it, so I will continue using it.) Even that I am a programmer, I do not know how to fix it. Getting to know a moderately complex piece of software takes a lot of time and effort (and thus money), that I rather spend on working for my customers. They actually pay me for my work.

            Otoh, I also purchased Novell Groupwise, combined with SuSE Linux Enterprise Desktop (I thought it was a viable commercial Linux solution), and it is a lot worse than any do-it-yourself packages, so I guess closed source sucks too. Just in a different way.

            • Re:Turning the table (Score:5, Informative)

              by serviscope_minor (664417) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @05:04PM (#34932368) Journal

              Even that I am a programmer, I do not know how to fix it.

              I too spend much of my working life programming. It's really not that hard.

              1) Download the source.

              2) Compile with all debugging symbols and perhaps -fmudflaps

              3) Run the program (with valgrind or mudflaps)

              4) Go to the line number of the first error, and have a look.

              Most of the crash causing errors are simple things, like uninitialised pointers. Some require some digging. But I have successfully fixed bugs and added fearures to a few projects and it's often not as hard as you might expect.

              The modern tools available on any decent linux system are feally fantastic. Evil, nasty bugs like subtle memory corruption can be caught much, much more easily than before and therefore require much less in-depth knowledge to fix.

              But for some reason, a number of high profile distributions don't have a package with the mudflaps helper files, even though they enable it in gcc.

              • by DerPflanz (525793)

                I am sure I would be able to figure it out. And I have made some additions and tips on open source projects. But, in general, fixing bugs that you encounter, while you are at work is not an option. It takes way too much time to figure things out and fix things.

                The quote that the previous poster said, to wait for Microsoft to fix bugs, is just as true for open source projects. I am waiting for a bug to be fixed in Firefox, that is there since 2001 (!). I did try a shot on fixing it myself, but it would need

    • by epiphani (254981) <<ten.lad> <ta> <inahpipe>> on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @12:38PM (#34928650)

      The argument is valid for certain cases. That said, the large majority of work I do has the same operational cost regardless of where we get the software. We still have to learn how it works, and integrate it into the system we're deploying.

      A proprietary solution has merit if you don't have technical people and you depend on an external company. Take whatever solution they provide.

      But out in the technology world proper, these things cost more upfront and probably take just as much work to integrate.

      • by i.r.id10t (595143) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @12:54PM (#34928890)

        Even if monetary costs are equal, F/OSS stuff may be a better business decision for the community.

        Example - A college can pay $75k per year for an Angel or Blackboard license, and host it locally (or contract the hosting out to Angel/BB). Or, they can adopt a F/OSS solution like Sakai, and instead of paying $75k/yr to a corporation outside of the area they can pay $75k/yr for a programmer to maintain and enhance Sakai for their needs. Dollar costs are the same. However, by hiring the programmer, that improves the local economy and keeps that money local, as opposed to sending it out of area/out of state/etc.

        • by Locke2005 (849178)
          Why would you pay someone $75k/yr when you have easy access to grad students willing to do it in exchange for ramen noodles and free porn?
        • by I8TheWorm (645702) *

          One of the reasons my former CIO is my former CIO (I left, he's still trashing the place) was a conversation about ESBs.

          He said we wouldn't look at Mule because it was OSS and "you know you can't get any support for open source."

          Some people may never get it.

          • by mjwx (966435)

            He said we wouldn't look at Mule because it was OSS and "you know you can't get any support for open source."

            It's not about support, it's about blame.

            He isn't asking "who can I get OSS support from" he is really asking "who do I blame if OSS goes wrong".

            My psychic prediction is that you've instantaneously found the same problem I did, or as a discussion with an CFO in an old company went:
            CFO: But who do we sue of it goes wrong?
            ME: Who do we sue when Microsoft products go wrong?
            CFO: Microsoft.
            ME:

      • A proprietary solution has merit if you don't have technical people and you depend on an external company.

        If all other factors are the same, then an open source solution means that multiple companies can compete on an equal footing to provide you this service, without your being locked in, so is cheaper in the long run. In the real world, all other things are not equal, so any general claim about open or proprietary solutions is likely to be wrong in your specific case.

      • by Bert64 (520050)

        A proprietary solution does not necessarily have merit if you depend on an external company, it depends on the skills provided by that external company. The problem is that external company will have their own interests at heart, and that will mean providing you whatever setup brings them the most profit rather than the one that best suits your needs.

        However if you are a company that provides support to others in this way, it makes a LOT of sense for you to start moving towards open source... If all your do

      • by Locke2005 (849178) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @02:10PM (#34929936)
        They are correct in that retraining people to use new software IS generally an order of magnitude more expensive than the purchase/license price of the software. What they fail to take into consideration is that Microsoft drastically revamps their user interfaces every couple years so that the training costs involved with upgrading to the latest Microsoft release is comparable to the costs involved with retraining users to use an open source alternative. Continuing to use what you've always used is always going to be cheaper!
        Let's look at this from a different viewpoint: If you are already using open source and have already put in place all the systems, scripts, custom software, etc. to run your business, how much more expensive would it be to switch to a Microsoft solution with all the same functionality?
    • by Jawnn (445279) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @12:40PM (#34928696)

      I predict that this report will be met with much skepticism on /.

      I also predict that I will make the argument that open source really *isn't* always all it's cracked up to be--and be shouted down by many, many voices

      You'd have to, you know, actually make such an argument first. We don't always have time for shouting down non-existent arguments, only bad ones. The world awaits.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      I will predict that:
      1. Time spent learning how to use a different software system is a one-time cost
      2. Open source software can be good or bad, just like software developed any other way
      3. People who "don't get it" will be screaming about how great or terrible open source software is
      4. People who follow the free software philosophy (like me) will smugly laugh at it all
    • by _Sprocket_ (42527)

      So what you're saying is that instead of making that good argument that you imply you have, you're just going to jump right to being a self-stylized martyr for truth. I predict you won't be the last to do this (which is cheating - this behavior always shows up in any OSS TCO thread).

    • by tomknight (190939)
      And I predict the standard knee-jerk reactions of people who don't bother to RTFA. In all honesty though, the article's not much good anyway. The book certainly does tempt me, particularly having read a couple of endorsements ( http://mitpress.mit.edu/9780262014632 [mit.edu] ):

      "For anyone who thought the open source movement was a passing fancy, this is the book to read. Written by two experts in innovation and patent policy, it presents important evidence on the scope and complexity of how firms and public authorit

    • Well I would say you are mostly correct, however I will say that I agree with this premise of this report and therefore will reply to your comment :)

      I do not have much experience in the field, so people may argue the finer points, but for many large scale implementations of software at a corporate level, free is not always better. This is not an example of where I worked, but lets take a company like Siemens, who provides the Teamcenter software. Now pair that with Boeing... (to my knowledge) they use thi

    • I predict that this report will be met with much skepticism on /.

      Of course it will. And it should be. Microsoft has a long history of animosity towards open source software. That doesn't mean that they can't fund a genuinely objective study... But there's a good chance that things are going to be biased.

      I also predict that I will make the argument that open source really *isn't* always all it's cracked up to be

      Software is a tool. Nothing more or less. You need to use the right tool for the job. Sometimes the best tool is open source, sometimes it isn't.

      and be shouted down by many, many voices

      Probably. Slashdot has a long history of animosity towards closed source software, and Microsoft in specific.

    • Actually, I think that the article is probably accurate. The problem is /.'s summary. The report says:

      Yet the finding that open-source advocates will like least is that free programs are not always cheaper.

      Thus, the article acknowledges that the use of open source is cheaper in some circumstances -- but what proportion? The article doesn't elaborate. It could be 1%, it could be 99%.

    • Nah, you're entitled to your opinion. I'll agree that OSS isn't what most people herald it to be, its just software. Unless you plan on Forking it or adding onto it yourself, the open source part of it makes no difference in how it really operates. The OS community hasn't been any better or worse for customer support, in my experience.

      I have tried using Blender for 3D modelling, after using some Autodesk products.

      I like the price, but I can't actually do anything that I want to do with it, and its not a mat

  • by Pojut (1027544) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @12:34PM (#34928604) Homepage

    The authors took money for research from Microsoft, long the arch- enemy of the open-source movement-- although they assure readers that the funds came with no strings attached

    Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain! THERE IS ONLY ZUUL!

    • Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain! THERE IS ONLY ZUUL!

      Lucky for us there's only one Zune too ;-)

    • by Stargoat (658863) *

      In a similar report sponsored by Boris Badenov, it has been reported that Baden is Gooden now. Additionally, one of the more effective ways to save money is to kill moose and squirrel.

    • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @01:08PM (#34929060)

      TFA is even worse than that with their usage of weasel-words.

      Yet the finding that open-source advocates will like least is that free programs are not always cheaper.

      Pay particular attention to the "not always" in that statement. If only ONE "open-source" app is more expensive than a SINGLE closed source app then their statement is true.

      Useless, but true.

    • And we can all be absolutely certain that all future research contracts this group will get from Microsoft will also come with no strings attached and will be entirely unrelated to the results of the current contract. Yessir!

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Svartalf (2997)

      Indeed.

      I love the supposition that closed source stuff is all "easier to learn" which isn't the case any more than open source stuff is all the opposite.

      • by amiga3D (567632) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @12:46PM (#34928790)

        They assume that you've already invested in training employees to use MS products. On top of that MS saves a lot of money when interfacing with other systems and software as you pay them to do all that for you instead of you having to figure out how to do it on your own. All have to do is pay for all your licenses and support instead of having to install free software and hire people that have brains to set it up for you. Using their figures this save you tens of thousands of dollars.

        • Generally the company doesn't have to invest in training employees though, because most people are taught MS systems in school, and some even at University. I purposely didn't take "IT" classes in high school because they were just "how to use MS Office". Then I ended up being required to do basically the same course at University as part of my CS degree. It was pretty disappointing.

          • by Svartalf (2997)

            Oh, no...they have to CONSTANTLY train people on Windows stuff, contrary to popular belief to the otherwise. MS changes up their stuff regularly enough to keep people that might draw a bead on their stuff at bay and to give reasons for people to "upgrade" to the newest stuff (If you think the ribbon interface to things is "easier", didn't need training, was needed to improve their products, etc. I have some nice swampland to sell you...). It amazes me to no end that people keep believing that it's "easy"

  • by He who knows (1376995) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @12:35PM (#34928628)
    Maybe that is because software by certain companies deliberately ignore standards and try to maki it as hard as possible to work with other peoples software.
    • by mikael (484)

      They mean that everything in Windows uses the Microsoft Word .doc format, spreadsheets format, and the clipboard to get everything to exchange data. From that viewpoint, trying to not use those formats is just trying to make life difficult for yourself.

  • TCO Fud (Score:4, Insightful)

    by aBaldrich (1692238) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @12:36PM (#34928636)
    Come on, Bill gates more popular than the pope, Total Cost of ownership bullshit... I agree this is news for nerds but, is it stuff that matters? No.
  • One of the reasons to get something with source code is that you need to customize it, because there is no off-the-shelf solution that does what you want. So instead of writing your own completely from scratch, you start with something at least reasonably close to what you want.

    If you're using commercial software, it's because the commercial software did what you needed out of the box; if it didn't, you couldn't use it, because you can't make it do what you need it to do.

    This is not surprising.

    • by Nadaka (224565)

      Right.

      You only have three options when there isn't a ready made solution for your requirements.

      Conform your requirements to the available proprietary software, develop it from scratch, or build on the work of an existing near solution.

      One of these things is not like the others.

      One of these things is not the same.

      One of these things means you don't meet your original requirements and you have to deliver something that is less than what is asked wanted.

  • disingenuous? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by caffeinemessiah (918089) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @12:37PM (#34928642) Journal
    So using an MS or MS-compatible (thanks to years of aggressive marketing by MS) stack is less expensive in terms of training time than inserting a piece of open-source software into that stack and trying to make everything work? Interesting...next up, replacing my car's wheels with motorcycle wheels makes it take longer for me to get to places. Perhaps I should just get the entire motorcycle instead?
    • by Stregano (1285764)
      Get some of those huge chopper back wheels for your car. That would be awesome
  • Out of context (Score:5, Informative)

    by Verdatum (1257828) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @12:38PM (#34928664)
    Am I the only one who see's this summary as picking the most incendiary portion of this article, and elevating it by taking out of context? The latter part of the article discusses choosing carefully, and promoting open standards to allow for more compatibility in open source software. Plus, this is a partial book review...what's up with that?
    • Re:Out of context (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Pharmboy (216950) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @01:06PM (#34929034) Journal

      To be perfectly fair, almost no one is going to read the article for a topic like this, and the editors know it. They can just pick any study that MS had any financial input in, and that favors them (in any degree), publish a link, make sweeping claims, so they are simply feeding the fanboys and trolls. These types of articles are never insightful anyway, and most users here have better information about this topic than the authors of the articles. No one on the planet has ever switched platforms because of the contents of these types of articles.

  • Regardless of what he said. It is reasonable to assume that not all open source software are cheaper to run on the long run than their propriety equivalent. Ok, it might be cheaper on the long run to have linux versus windows, but(and just as an example, I am not saying it is) it might be cheaper to run office then open office. Just because I am evil, that doesn't invalidate my point , nor does it invalidate the data I have.
    • by mikael (484)

      When corporations make bulk purchases of hardware for new projects, they would have to factor in the following:

      Purchase of new equipment + software
      Installation of add-ons like E-mail and word-processing apps
      Integration into the existing system network
      Development and porting of existing in-house applications
      Administration staff + training courses
      Users + (re)training courses
      Workflow performance
      Power consumption

      You could be a start-up company with half-price hardware, but if you tried to make a profit from exp

    • by _Sprocket_ (42527)

      Regardless of what he said. It is reasonable to assume that not all open source software are cheaper to run on the long run than their propriety equivalent.

      Sure. But this is hardly revolutionary or worthy of yet another book. We know that everything has costs and the overall cost of something is not always represented in an up-front price tag - software is no different. Where this conversation tends to get misleading is that not every cost is always considered and individuals with an axe to grind tend to limit the conversation to "free" being about licensing costs. This is old ground that's been trodden many times before.

  • by Spectre (1685) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @12:38PM (#34928668)

    {sarcasm}Yeah, having a company around that maintains and tests their products for compatibility is always better than having to do it yourself.{/sarcasm}

    I do software development for a small company, we have a mix of tools in our environment.

    Recently, my development workstation was upgraded from an old Windows XP desktop to a late model Windows 7 desktop.

    Microsoft Visual Studio versions from a few years ago complain of compatibility issues and some need to be run in "XP compatibility" mode to function. "Would you like to check for compatibility updates online?" - Yes, I would. Fancy that, there aren't any.

    ActiveState Perl and Python development environments and my HTML editor-of-choice VIM all function with no oddness at all.

    THIS is why the first paragraph gets sarcasm tags.

  • by jpvlsmv (583001) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @12:40PM (#34928672) Homepage Journal

    It's a good thing Microsoft places so much value on keeping the user experience the same across its various upgrades. Certainly a user of Microsoft Office didn't have to change their mannerisms when they switched from Office 2003 to Office 2007's "ribbon".

    Certainly, all of my XP habits still apply to Windows 7's Aero. None of the functionality has moved around in the slightest.

    And it's also a good thing Microsoft places a lot of value on interoperability. Certainly they have never seen an incompatibility that prevents Active Directory from working with other LDAP solutions. Or certain Windows code that creates spurious error messages when run on a competitor's version of DOS.

    I give Microsoft all the credit it deserves for making reports like the possible.

    --Joe

    • by MightyYar (622222) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @01:16PM (#34929214)

      Certainly a user of Microsoft Office didn't have to change their mannerisms when they switched from Office 2003 to Office 2007's "ribbon".

      Heh, hit a nerve there. My company is switching from 2003 to 2010 and we all sort of sit around Googling all day to unwind the ribbon. It's not that the ribbon is so bad, but the built-in help is horrendous. How hard would it have been to have a help section geared towards showing you how the old way translates into the new way? Maybe something as simple as a mock-up of the old interface, where when you select something it shows you how to do it the new way?

      Or favorite Ribbon fuck-up so far: to copy-as-picture in Excel, you select the sub-menu on the PASTE button, then select "As Picture", and then "Copy". Yes, that's right... in their fancy new interface they make you Copy by clicking on Paste! I would PAY to talk to an engineer that had to sit through the conclusion of that meeting :)

  • by paiute (550198) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @12:41PM (#34928706)

    Chickens taste better, say panel of cows.

    • Chickens don't taste like anything. And so if tasting like "nothing and everything" is "better" then ... yeah you're right.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @12:41PM (#34928710)

    Funny. My wife's office recently upgraded from Office 2003 to a more recent release.

    How do I know?

    The first day it was on her computer, the conversation at home went something like this:

    Her: "What the FUCK! The fuckheads in IT gave some new bullshit version of Word on my fucking computer and it is completely fucking different. I spent like a fucking hour trying to find how to do "X". Where the fuck are my fucking toolbars? There is this new bullshit toolbar that is completely useless."
    Me: "It's called the 'ribbon'."
    Her: "Whatever the fuck it is called it is fucking stupid. And what the fuck is this 'docx' bullshit?" ... continue 15 minute profanity laced tirade...

    Companies spend more money on learning how to use open source? The three-year quota on profanity that my wife used up in a day says otherwise.

    • by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @12:47PM (#34928808)
      You're a lucky man to have a wife who focus her anger on the source rather than bringing it home to you ;-)

      The Office 2003 upgrade issue is something I'm dealing with with a few of my clients. Some employees have a newer version at home and are OK with the thought of upgrading but the owners are dead set against learning "the ribbon thing".
    • by dcw3 (649211)

      Thank you for the chuckle. I went through the exact same issue several months ago when IT "upgraded" me to Office 07. Suddenly, I couldn't find all the stuff that I needed, and I had deadlines to meet. Simple things like "Freeze Panes", moved for no apparent reason. Now that I've used it for a few months, I do like some of the newer features, but it seems that MS changed so many things for no reason other than to change them.

  • The closest the article comes to saying this is "that free programs are not always cheaper". Headlining it as "Open Source More Expensive Says MS" is pretty disingenuous.

  • by sootman (158191) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @12:41PM (#34928724) Homepage Journal

    One of my favorite quotes of all time summed it up nicely. I forgot it exactly and I can't find it now, but it was something along the lines of

    If they're going to put scare quotes around "free" they should do the same for commercial software because you don't really "own" it.

  • The real trick to software uptake is usability. If you can take a complex solution and make it a breeze to use you've got a win. The problem with a lot of the free software out there is the focus on "making it work" instead of "making it pretty"

    If you have an application that takes a bit of configuration to get it right, grandma would rather press some buttons and fill in some text areas. Hiding options in config files or cli switches is not the way to go. Unfortunately, theres plenty of software out there

    • by PPH (736903)

      The problem with a lot of the free software out there is the focus on "making it work" instead of "making it pretty"

      True. But that's a problem if you are trying to sell your app to the PHB instead of the users and/or support staff. CLI or file configuration is preferred by many administrators, who just write shell scripts or push out files to multiple installations. Grandma is a different market and one that Microsoft can have.

    • by SiChemist (575005)

      Usability differs for different tasks. For some tasks, I WANT a program that utilizes "cli switches" so that I can use a script to automate it. Likewise, storing configuration information in a "config file" allows me to easily back up that configuration as well as inspect it if something goes wrong. I make a backup copy of important config files before I edit them so I can get back to a working configuration by overwriting the config file with its backup if^H^H when I screw something up.

      You can't say any

  • by bl8n8r (649187) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @12:47PM (#34928802)
    The benefits of vendor lock-in and proprietary file formats cost me way less money every year.  The ROI of adopting the latest and greatest version of my proprietary software gets faster every year too. I really like the way my choices become more and more limited, and dictated by a governing body focused mainly on capital and politics. Not to mention that secure feeling of having a digital noose around my neck, dragging my head towards a grinding wheel with each revision of my server software.  The benefits of meeting new and exciting people is a big plus as well. Just last month, I upgraded my proprietary mail server software only to find out there was some sort of misconfiguration error on my part which was causing my users to be unable to log in.  I was on the phone with so many people from so many third world countries that I actually managed to learn a new language!  We didn't fix the mail server issue, but for now, we use a Swingline stapler balanced on the spacebar to automatically close the error message dialogs to keep them from taking all available memory over night. What a creative solution!  And it only took two weeks to figure it out!  The vendor of our proprietary system promised us they will have it fixed in the next release.  You can't get that kind of commitment with open source.
  • by jabjoe (1042100) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @12:47PM (#34928804)
    The increase in cost is in the switching. Well that's nothing new. That's pretty much a one-time cost. After that training for new versions is going to be much cheaper, and with closed software you would also have to pay that. Difference is that once you have switched, you software costs drop to nothing, and you can choose whoever you want to do support/training as there is no lock in. That switching cost is something MS and others rely on, but it's a false economy to keep avoiding it.
  • The researchers will next compare Windows based and Open Source based mobile phones. The title of the article will be, "These are not the Droids you're looking for."
  • This is merely one writer's take on the book, 'The Comingled Code'. I would recommend instead to read the book before we get all uppity. It's true they received funding from Microsoft, but I would like to know who else funded them. From the book's homepage, it seems quite a few people are happy with their work, including this guy from Google:

    “Unlike much of the writing on open source versus proprietary software, this book offers factual evidence, careful analysis, and evenhanded discussion, while avoiding unsupported opinions, hyperbole, and exaggeration. Everyone who is concerned with open source will want to read this book.”
    —Hal Varian, Chief Economist at Google

    The writer at the Economist seems to have a bone to pick with Open Source, regardless:

    "Yet the finding that open-source advocates will like least is that free programs are not always cheaper. To be sure, the upfront cost of proprietary software is higher (although open-source programs are not always free). But companies that use such programs spend more on such things as learning to use them and making them work with other software."

    Anyone experienced an implementation of new software, Open Source or not, where th

  • These reports have been coming out since RMS has had a beard.
  • by m0s3m8n (1335861) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @12:54PM (#34928894)
    I agree with one of the authors points. We just ran into a problem where OpenOffice would not properly read a docx file. The problem of course is the maker of the priority (guess who) software constantly changing file formats just enough to break everyone's conversion code. The old MS moto - "It's not done until Lotus won't run."
  • I say hogwash. Admining *nix systems is much easier than Windows boxes. I'm constantly having to do simple things like "do $foo on boxes 1-24,35-90,102-150" on both windows and *nix boxes, and unless sshd and bash are installed on the windows boxes, it quickly devolves into stupid DOS tricks to properly run things like wmic via psexec (which doesn't work natively).
  • Free Software != Open Source software. Open Source Really has nothing to do with free. The value of Open Source is that you are able to look under the hood. If it happens to be Free and Open and Good ala Apache and many others then it's just a bonus.

    Of course you still need IT staff to manage it, pay for a computer to install it upon, and all the other fun stuff. Just because it's Open Source doesn't mean Joe Sixpack can suddenly administer a server - duh.

    Having said that, experience has shown th
  • Why fuel the Microsoft pandering by "legitimizing" the said "report" with anti arguments?

    Microsoft does not matter and they haven't for a very long time and the sooner we stop affix relevance to them the better.

    and oh... think about it before you mod and/or reply.

    Seriously not a flame bait... hoping more of an anti flame bait.

  • I will take issue with the training costs. Right now training for popular proprietary software is funded in three ways. One is that software is pirated by people who want to use the software, they use it, learn it, and then are available for employers. We know that software piracy costs software firms at least 34 billion dollars a year, and those costs are not tolerated by the firms. They are passed on through higher prices to customers. Therefore, training through piracy results in higher prices to cu
  • But companies that use such programs spend more on such things as learning to use them

    That's sometimes the case; in the long run, training and learning costs are almost always lower than for equivalent Microsoft software however. Microsoft keeps changing its interfaces so that marketing and sales can squeeze out a new version, and that gets really expensive in the long run. Many companies have been refusing to upgrade Windows and Office because of that, only to be forced to do so eventually.

    and making the

  • Would we be hearing about this report if it hadn't come out with a conclusion favorable to its funders? Doubtful.

  • by SolarStorm (991940) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @01:12PM (#34929138)
    If I add the lost productivity using TFS vs any of the FOSS SDLC or even simple version control software. The only statement we have been hearing from our MS tickets is "It shouldnt do that" Or "That was by design"... So far I a loosing about 1 man day every 4. And now that we have an "expert" on site, I am full time trying to debug this for MS.
  • by lymond01 (314120) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @02:02PM (#34929826)

    I'm not sure why this keeps coming up. In some cases proprietary software is better. In other cases open source software might be better. You can site a hundred cases for each that involve the initial environment, costs, goals, etc. Each company should look at open source to see if it can meet their needs. Sometimes it's better to pay Microsoft than it is to hire a contract programmer to fire-and-forget customize your product. Perhaps you have some great in-house talent already and they can customize and maintain your projects.

    Anyway, to say one is cheaper than the other doesn't mean anything as a blanket statement.

  • by epine (68316) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @05:34PM (#34932800)

    On a real IT planet, you have a problem, you solve the problem, you deploy the solution, tweak it until it works forever, and then you move to the next cycle. File servers are yesterday's news. Should there be any cost there over and above electricity and depreciation? Yes, I know I'm exaggerating a bit, there also has to be a massive restructuring of middle management every time disk drive technology breaks through another BIOS barrier. On a real IT planet, BIOS barriers are not revisited in living memory.

    In economics, there is this problem about the reference basket for measuring the inflation rate. Sometimes you have to update the reference basket.

    I think Microsoft is partly pulling off the funny math by ignoring the fact that if you stick with open source, your reference basket updates more quickly as things you used to pay for become to cheap to meter.

    For the high churn technology that isn't yet too cheap to meter (and Microsoft dearly hopes this day never arrives) the cost of integration within an open source culture is non trivial, but it comes along with the agenda of eliminating the problem forever, not just persisting with the bleed and weep status quo, turning it over with one low low low small-bite-out-of-your-ass monthly payment until the end of time.

    With the basket of goods thing, an idiot can mount a persuasive case that the cost of living in 2010 exceeds the cost of living in real terms in 1970, by placing zero value on any of the goods that couldn't be bought back then for any price. This would be done by focusing on the cost of energy which has gone up (maybe back date this to 1968), rather than what you can now do with the same unit of energy (talk on the phone to Asia for a whole tank of gas, and not owe the phone company a kilo of coke).

  • by blueZhift (652272) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @05:49PM (#34933032) Homepage Journal
    It seems that the researchers really didn't find anything, only confirming what many here have probably already seen. In the real world, open source and proprietary solutions work side by side in many if not most large organizations. It simply isn't practical to 100% standardize on a Microsoft or open source solution. We IT folks have to get our money the old fashioned way! Only the smallest organizations would find going all one way or the other an attractive and workable option. I think that what Microsoft is worried about is that small businesses can more easily cut them out of the picture and have a strong incentive, very good free open source applications, to do so. And with the global economy not being so great, perhaps MS is feeling the pinch. In any case, anyone trying to sell software or services has to market them, so I'd expect another such report in a year or two.
  • I'll say it again (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Greyfox (87712) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @06:35PM (#34933532) Homepage Journal
    Just because you get paid to write code doesn't mean you crap daisies and unicorns. I've been in the industry for 21 years now, I've seen the code that professional programmers write. In general, open source is at least as good and quite often better than what the professionals are writing. That's not to say OSS doesn't have its problems, but they are problems that are fixable if you're so inclined. Retaining a programmer to fix them might be expensive, but is it more expensive than modifying your business processes and just living with something a closed source company is unwilling to change? I don't think Microsoft is qualified to make that judgment.

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