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United Kingdom Open Source Windows

Microsoft Cheaper To Use Than Open Source Software, UK CIO Says 589

colinneagle (2544914) writes "Jos Creese, CIO of the Hampshire County Council, told Britain's 'Computing' publication that part of the reason is that most staff are already familiar with Microsoft products and that Microsoft has been flexible and more helpful. 'Microsoft has been flexible and helpful in the way we apply their products to improve the operation of our frontline services, and this helps to de-risk ongoing cost,' he told the publication. 'The point is that the true cost is in the total cost of ownership and exploitation, not just the license cost.' Creese went on to say he didn't have a particular bias about open source over Microsoft, but proprietary solutions from Microsoft or any other commercial software vendor 'need to justify themselves and to work doubly hard to have flexible business models to help us further our aims.'"
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Microsoft Cheaper To Use Than Open Source Software, UK CIO Says

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  • Translation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Torp ( 199297 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @12:02AM (#46925569)

    "Microsoft gave us a 98% discount in exchange for this article."

  • True Costs (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @12:03AM (#46925575)

    'The point is that the true cost is in the total cost of ownership and exploitation, not just the license cost.'

    Yeah, exploitation IS a cost. That's why I don't use Windows.

  • Re:Translation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by asmkm22 ( 1902712 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @12:13AM (#46925615)

    Yeah, I've never known MS to be flexible and helpful in the way he describes, so I'm guessing he's getting special treatment.

  • Recruiting policy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hcs_$reboot ( 1536101 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @12:17AM (#46925633)

    most staff are already familiar with Microsoft products

    So the guy hires Microsoft compliant engineers and surprisingly they're most efficient on MS products. What isn't said is that probably that guy himself has always been a Windows user, and thus he prefers to hire windowsians. And there... I am not surprised. How would you feel hiring Linux people when yourself you don't have a clue about what it does and how it works. The thing is, Linux engineers would have no problem learning Windows stuff, while the opposite is more seldom. Hiring engineers interested in open source, Linux, openness in general would be more profitable for the company in the longer term, though.

  • by VortexCortex ( 1117377 ) <VortexCortex.project-retrograde@com> on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @12:27AM (#46925669)

    Not to mention with Open Source there's no such thing as Win XP's end of life, and subsequent shift to the "buy updates for the bugs we already sold you" model.

    The FLOSS model monetizes work on the software too. Only difference is that you only pay a FLOSS dev once for their work, instead of multiple times. Imagine if a mechanic adopted the proprietary software model.

    Each person who drove the car would have to pay up for all the fixes done. To monetize the work done once multiple times he'd just put a coin slot where the ignition switch used to be.

  • Re:Mathematics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by guacamole ( 24270 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @12:28AM (#46925679)

    The cost of a Windows and Office license is quite high.

    Just as many others, you haven't gotten yet the main point of the article. The cost of the software license is often a relatively small part of the cost of using software. Training the users is also part of these costs.

    And by the way, the effective cost of Windows and Office licenses to businesses, government, and universities is much lower than the listed MSRP. When I worked in IT, the license prices was the last thing that worried us. The guy who did installations and setup probably charged more than what the software actually cost to buy.

  • by msobkow ( 48369 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @12:32AM (#46925697) Homepage Journal

    No, instead you have the end of support for even LTS releases, and then you're hooped if the upgrade doesn't work.

    Open source is definitely not superior to Windows in that regard.

    I have yet to work for a company big enough to be rolling their own updates and patches, even though anyone could, in theory, do so.

  • by Eravnrekaree ( 467752 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @12:34AM (#46925703)

    I am a supporter of Linux and open source and truly want it to be a success. I admit, however, that sometimes the arrogance of Linux developers is holding Linux back from acceptance. Such as refusal to have a compatability layer for binary driver compatability between kernel versions and the refusal to allow users to use binary drivers. For instance, I have heard that many Linux developers wanted to drop support for floppy disks, "because few Linux developers have floppy drives", despite there being tons of floppies around that users may need to access. THat says it all about the mentality of some Linux developers, they dont care about users, are arrogant, live in a bubble, are elitist and sort of think of Linux as their private club and sort of want it to be hard to use, because it makes them feel special since they are able to endure the pain of using it.

  • Re:Translation (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fustakrakich ( 1673220 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @12:36AM (#46925715) Journal

    Exactly. Has anyone ever seen a big depositor waiting in line at the bank?

  • Re:Translation (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Casandro ( 751346 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @12:40AM (#46925721)

    Well, but a week long Exchange semi-outage still costs money, no matter what your support level is. (Happened at a large German manufacturer of household appliances) Microsoft software just doesn't seem to be enterprise ready.

  • by colinrichardday ( 768814 ) <colin.day.6@hotmail.com> on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @01:02AM (#46925803)

    Yeah, because Ubuntu is the only company that can support Raring Ringtail. Nobody else could possibly read the source.

  • Possibly. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by khasim ( 1285 ) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @01:08AM (#46925817)

    "Microsoft gave us a 98% discount in exchange for this article."

    Possibly. But there's enough weasel-room to reach his claims without that.

    1. Lock-in: If his systems are already running MS software (which they probably are) is the cost of data migration counted against MS or is it counted against any alternative?

    2. Hiring/Training: Is his office paying for training and certification OR is his office REQUIRING that anyone applying ALREADY have certification.

    3. Discounts: Once you have 1 & 2, is Microsoft offering discounts just big enough to come in under the cost of migration?

  • Re:Mod parent up (Score:3, Insightful)

    by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @01:22AM (#46925857) Journal

    Why do ATI drivers from 2 years ago not run on Linux? ABI and API compatibilities as Linux developers feel that is evil and encourages binary blobs! Funny no other platform has this problem with them.

    Man, I'd be happy if we could get a commitment to source-level backwards compatibility; let alone binary compatibility. Some of those library developers are vicious in culling old programs.

  • Re:True Costs (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @01:50AM (#46925943)

    "virtually ANY change is highly disruptive"... you mean like replacing heirarchical menus with a dog's breakfast ribbon?

  • by mark-t ( 151149 ) <markt@NoSPaM.nerdflat.com> on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @02:24AM (#46926059) Journal

    I don't ever recall not being able to open a MS Word document in Libre Office, no matter what the version of MS Word the document was saved in was

    Really... I don't ever recall being able to open ANY MS word document in LO or OO correctly, when the document contained absolutely any kind of special formatting and was more than just simple text. Sure, it will open just fine in the editor, but the formatting, especially for any embedded content such as images, will always be fucked up.

  • Re:Translation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ArmoredDragon ( 3450605 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @02:36AM (#46926083)

    Another thing to consider too though, is how long ago was he doing business with Microsoft? The reason I say that is because of this bit:

    proprietary solutions from Microsoft or any other commercial software vendor 'need to justify themselves and to work doubly hard to have flexible business models to help us further our aims.'

    In other words, it's because of Linux that Microsoft has to step up its game and do better than it did in the past. Had it not been for Linux, Microsoft would behave more similar to how you expect government services to behave (think rude employees, long lines, and general disregard for customer service at the DMV.)

  • ...and that costs? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @02:52AM (#46926137)

    It seriously amazes me how little thought many geeks give the "it's open so anyone can support it!" argument. Seriously? You think that anyone can just sit down, read the source of a complex project, and fix and maintain it? It is just that easy?

    Of course not. You need not just a programmer, but a good team and they can't be idiots. Maintaining something as large as an OS is a big job. So if the primary developers aren't doing it any more, you have to hire someone else to do it. So what's that cost? You can't ignore that, pretend like it isn't a real business cost just like software licenses.

    Also there's the overall cost of sticking with something really old. This bitching about XP upgrades is silly because, by and large, the systems that need the upgrade are extremely old (I'm an IT support guy by profession). So if you took the route of paying to maintain this extremely old software on extremely old hardware it could end up costing you a lot in the long run in terms of productivity, as well as support.

    Heck we've seen this in large scale systems like mainframes. IBM will generally support a mainframe as long as you like... for a price. You get companies running shit so old it is exceedingly expensive for the maintenance contract, and it is inflexible and has trouble dealing with their current business needs because it was designed 30 years ago. An upgrade would be a much better use of resources.

    We even have a situation like that at work. We have an old Netapp FAS that we are still paying support on. 250GB SATA drives, no upgrade path. The support contract is multiple thousands a year, and getting higher. Netapp is happy to take our money and keep ti running but it can't run the new OnTap, can't take larger disks, etc, etc. The right answer, the one we are doing soon (hopefully) is to replace it with a new unit, migrate the data, and stand it down. Ya it is a bit of work, but it will be cheaper AND better in the long run.

    Maintenance, upgrades, lifecycles, these are things you deal with for anything, software included. If you really think it is a feasible idea to just maintain a version of Linux forever, you are kidding yourself.

    Also if you are wondering what long term maintenance of Linux costs, check out RHEL sometime. See what a support contract for a heavily supported, stable, Linux runs you. Then consider that MS has the same lifecycle on their OSes.

  • Re:Translation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @03:25AM (#46926263)

    Exactly. Has anyone ever seen a big depositor waiting in line at the bank?

    No, but I have seen plenty of big investors being fleeced by the bank. Normally with a to good to be true special offer. That's more or less directly Microsoft's standard MO. Every product will have a base set of decent features and for those features every box will be checked. There will even be an "Open" XML format that you will seen to be able to export your data to. The trick is that, built into your software will be some extra freebie small feature you can't escape from. Once your users start using that feature, they are hooked and can't escape. In the price of every Microsoft Word license you have to include the potential that it forces you to invest in an entire set of SharePoint servers and an outsourced support company. There are entire countries like the UK and South Korea (which had an ActiveX control as a key part of it's banking infrastructure!) which have been tricked by this. Double doesn't even come close.

  • Re:True Costs (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bloodhawk ( 813939 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @03:30AM (#46926283)
    Outlook nowadays is far more than just a mail client, in a properly configured environment it integrates everything from your mail, calendaring, lync, voice and collaboration. currently their is no easy match for a correctly configured outlook desktop experience for many users.
  • by Jack Griffin ( 3459907 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @03:41AM (#46926325)
    Last MS Exchange deployment I did (years ago) ran about $4k for the server license and about $100 per user (from memory). And that server could run up to 1000 mailboxes. Expected life of an Exchange Server (software) can be well over 5 years, so you're talking peanuts per year. It isn't even worth arguing the license cost. The biggest benefit is Exchange Admins are a dime a dozen, and if they go away I can get a guy from any of the millions of IT support companies to walk in off the street and maintain it with no issue. Good luck having that same business continuity with your home-brew flavour-of-the-day Linux distro that some neck beard has setup his own unique config that needs an equally ugly neck beard to try and decipher if he happens to leave the business. Never mind arguing the user interface issues from some flaky email client that doesn't do the half the stuff Outlook does seamlessly, and doesn't plug-in to all the cool cloud stuff everyone has these days (Salesforce, dropbox etc). Say what you want about everything else MS, but Exchange and Outlook are a best of breed product (ignoring your single use case and taking into account how real businesses use email/collab apps)
  • Re:Translation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rioki ( 1328185 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @04:25AM (#46926465) Homepage

    Apps, apps apps.

    Basically the Windows / Unixlikes divide has little to do with actual technology. If you have lots of servers, the license costs add up and chances are you are running custom apps. If you develop your own apps, the target OS matters little. But if you intend to buy applications, windows is the go to OS. The license costs for the OS pale in comparison to the cost of developing the application for a different OS.

  • by rioki ( 1328185 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @04:31AM (#46926483) Homepage

    Yes, like commercial software is such a bastion of good quality software with no vulnerabilities at all.

  • Re:Mod parent up (Score:5, Insightful)

    by serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @04:38AM (#46926511) Journal

    Linux developers feel that is evil and encourages binary blobs!

    The linux developers feel that having a stable API would have to make them compromise features in the kernel because they'd be unable to change the internals when needed.

    Funny no other platform has this problem with them.

    Funny how Linux is the most high performance kernel out there. It's no coincidence that it runs everything from your dinky little home router through your phone, internet srevers and up to the top supercomputer in the world.

    I'd say they clearly made the right choice.

    As another handy feature since almost all drivers are in tree, this means that old hardware is usually supported on new kernels just fine. Unlike Windows: I've used perfectly functional sheet feed scanners abandoned by their owners because they don't have drivers for Windows 7 or 8.

    Some of those library developers are vicious in culling old programs.

    Are you talking about the Linux kernel or applications?

  • Re:Lock-in? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by higuita ( 129722 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @07:50AM (#46927143) Homepage

    Have you open a bug in libreoffice about the online-help problem? If they aren't informed about the problems, for sure no one will fix it.

  • Re:Translation (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BVis ( 267028 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @08:30AM (#46927385)

    How dare they compete so unfairly! It's like they think the quality of the product matters.

    The quality of the product only matters until they achieve lock-in. After that, they don't care if the program even runs.

  • Re:Lock-in? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Nemesisghost ( 1720424 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @09:08AM (#46927649)
    But that's just it. For an organization to have to report that something is broken means it's not worth the cost, even if that cost is free. In addition, bug reporting is fine when you are a technical person. But think about those who actually make the decisions, they usually aren't technical and will be unwilling to report that something is broken beyond the guy who convinced them to use a broken product. And that phone call/meeting will end up with the decision maker demanding that they spend the money so at least he can have something that works, if not the entire organization.
  • Re:Lock-in? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @09:11AM (#46927671)

    It turns out that the on-line help in Calc is so good that if you search for the name of a function it doesn't find it. Also, it actually is on-line, meaning if your Internet connection is slow or down, your basic "productivity" software is broken.

    What a coincidence! I've had the same experience with MS Office! Help is by default set to "online" and the search function is so poor that I usually don't bother and instead just Google it.

    In all fairness, MS Office is so popular that Google usually has the solution. Why write a decent help system when you have whole sites dedicated to sorting out how to use your software?

  • Re:Lock-in? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bkr1_2k ( 237627 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @09:26AM (#46927757)

    So people don't ever have to report bugs to Microsoft? I think you and I live in different worlds because we report them routinely, to all of our vendors, whether we paid for the software or it was free.

Doubt isn't the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith. - Paul Tillich, German theologian and historian