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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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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @12:20AM (#46925649)

    Centralized user login, and two-factor authentication, you're pretty much going to be stuck with either Red Hat Directory Server, or MS Active Directory server. RHDS is going to run you about $15,000. The same MS AD install will be significantly less. This is only one example. I would say that things like Sharepoint and Exchange are pretty outrageously priced. But if you keep it simple, MS can be fairly cost-effective.

    On the other hand - the logistics of managing Windows licenses is pretty insane, compared to open source system deployments.

  • Re:Recruiting policy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by _Shad0w_ ( 127912 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @12:25AM (#46925661)

    He's the CIO for a county council, when he says "staff" he means office staff and he's talking about Microsoft Office and Microsoft Windows for the desktop. His entire IT department probably fits in one fairly small room. I'm frankly impressed they haven't just outsourced the whole of their IT management; it's how councils here usually seem to work. Come to think of it's it's quite possible they have and he's actually the only person who works for the council directly.

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

    by khb ( 266593 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @01:03AM (#46925809)

    Perhaps the language from "across the pond" is hard for some US readers to parse. "Exploitation" meaning "use effectively" ... without knowing more about what this bloke's department(s) are tasked to do, it is hard to call him to task for his choice.

    I would not be surprised if Macintoshes were even a better match for his user base.

    I cannot seem to find it, but I recently ran across a bizarre claim that the average office worker's time is dominated by outlook (duh) but that Microsoft Word was number two at a paltry few minutes per day, and Powerpoint even less than that. Quite possibly true, and while that does tee up the question for why they need Microsoft products at all (since casual users needs can be met by a wide variety of FOSS projects) it would explain why retraining is *so* difficult. For people who live and breathe computing, learning a new platform isn't hard and is even "fun". For people who really only need to tinker with a few characters in documents that pass through their hands for a few minutes per day ... virtually ANY change is highly disruptive.

  • Re:Recruiting policy (Score:4, Interesting)

    by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @01:11AM (#46925827) Journal
    I don't know, there's a guy here on Slashdot who still supports software built on Motif, without any problem. That's the equivalent of being built on Mac Classic. And it will continue to work for the foreseeable future.
  • Re:Mod parent up (Score:5, Interesting)

    by armanox ( 826486 ) <> on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @01:15AM (#46925837) Homepage Journal

    I'm going to have to agree with your idea on this one - the GNU ideology is the problem. I don't care about all the politics that RMS does - I want stuff to work. I like a lot of things about Linux, but when it comes down to it, Solaris, BSD, and IRIX are all just as nice for what I'm after.

    Which has lead me to advocate against desktop/laptop Linux, and I've even moved away from it on some of my personal servers (work is all still RHEL and Windows, which I can at least count on RHEL 6 to work for quite a while.

  • by TheMiddleRoad ( 1153113 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @02:23AM (#46926055)

    1. Track changes is 10 times easier in Word.
    2. Auto correct works infinitely better in Word.
    3. Formatting doesn't translate well. Sure, if you've got plain text, you're fine. Add some formatting, though, and you'll have page breaks in all sorts of odd places.

    Then there's Excel, which is far, far easier to use than the Libre version. Sometimes it's the little things, like hitting enter and having the selected box move not just down a line but back to the left when you're entering multiple columns and rows of data. Sometimes it's the ease of sorting. Libre Office is pitiful in comparison. Oh, and Libre Office has terrible xls and xlsx compatibility. Basic files had ruined formatting.

    Libre Office is ready for prime time for people who don't actually get work done with Office. I'm sure your religious dragging of people away from Office has ended with more than a couple people silently cursing your name every second they do work. But hey, what's an extra thousand clicks a day, right? Every day, for years.

  • Apples and oranges (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @03:15AM (#46926233)

    He's comparing, (assuming he isn't being paid to say this, which he likely is,) tech support from Microsoft to asking random assholes on the internet for help configuring something. This ignores a very real and perfectly good alternative of using FREE (libre) OSS, and paying someone like RedHat for support. I think that's actually why that company exists, I think (without admittedly checking,) that it's probably cheaper on balance to buy a support package from a Linux Customer Service company and get the OS for free, than to have to PAY for the OS, and get the support for free. With the FLOSS model, if one day you don't need the support anymore, because you've learned how to use the software, you can stop paying. With the M$ model... you will pay for the same thing over, and over, and over, while the company you pay makes deliberately and intentionally un-secure products as an anti-piracy measure designed to force users to register their software to avoid getting malware. In other words, M$ sacrifices YOUR security for THEIR betterment. Why would anyone in his right mind use ANYTHING from M$?!?

    Even if I'm wrong on that point, being free from the tyranny of crappy software like what comes from Redmond is worth every... shilling... turd... lump... whatever those limey bastards call their goofy money.

  • Re:Translation (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Jack Griffin ( 3459907 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @03:23AM (#46926251)
    Different environments from most businesses which just need file, email, web and a few app servers. I'm sure you can find any special use case to suit your argument, but the fact remains, for most people, most of the time, walking into an MS shop requires the least amount of effort. Try not to let you religious beliefs stand in the way of reality.
  • Re:Recruiting policy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Xest ( 935314 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @04:45AM (#46926533)

    You really don't have the slightest clue about what a council does or how big it's operations are do you?

    I used to work for a council doing IT support. There are many things wrong with working for a council in terms of the fact it will sap your soul as you watch people get promoted based on whether they're over 60 and need to be given a higher paying job to pump up their final salary pension, or whether you generally just give a shit about doing a good job and get that beaten out of you because anyone who suggests improvements is shot down as a shit stirrer.

    But I'll give them credit, one thing they're not is small operations, and if I took absolutely nothing else away from working there I did at least take away the fact that it was one of the more interesting networks I ever got to work on for it's sheer scale. Few private sector businesses give you the experience of scale and number of distributed sites and the level of network management that goes with that as a local council can.

    We had around 10,000 desktop computers and laptops to support, we had a network that spanned many hundreds of distributed, and sometimes quite distant sites. You had fairly complex active directory setups because there was originally (later amalgamated) multiple IT teams - one for education, one for central services, one for social housing and so forth with a forest containing a top level domain run by central services and the other departments own domains branching off that. We had 100mbps pipes running from 170 schools to a central location that had it's own connection to the internet as well as a link to janet. You had links to youth centres, satellite offices for social services, for social housing and so on and so forth. Infrastructure for handling customer complaints, for managing property boundary data of every house in the district, for managing the births and deaths registers, for running elections and god knows what else.

    As an aside, well, actually, more on topic, Microsoft invests a lot of time and money into wooing councils because they are such massive customers. 10,000 Windows and Office licenses and a hundred or more Windows server licenses as well as tons of exchange and SQL server licenses amongst other things is nothing to scoff at. Especially when there are hundreds of such local authorities in the UK meaning the net worth to Microsoft of capturing as much of UK public sector as possible is in the many hundreds of millions range at very least. I overheard our head of IT joking with a Microsoft salesman once about how they both fiddle expenses buying themselves more expensive meals and hotel rooms and services than necessary. My boss was set on a trip to Reading where Microsoft entertained them at a bar, with good time girl stood around using the sexual desperation of your average old boys club council manager to buy them over. Yes this shit really does actually happen.

    A quick Google shows Hampshire County Council has around 40,000 employees. Some of these will be folks like bin men, but this larger than the council I worked for even, so I wouldn't be surprised if they have around 20,000 - 30,000 computers for those staff.

    Councils are offloading a lot of services to private sector now, either selling them off, or just outsourcing the services. But the majority of councils still do IT in house.

    I'm a developer nowadays working in private sector and am far happier for it, but if there's one thing local councils IT departments are generally not, it's small backroom operations.

  • Lock-in? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @06:55AM (#46926951)

    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.

    How exactly would that happen? I don't think I've ever seen a SP server actually deployed in any organisation I've worked in, from a tiny local business to one of the largest corps in the world. Most of them were Microsoft customers, though.

    I did, however, spend about 20 minutes yesterday trying to figure out how to do some simple data manipulation in LibreOffice Calc at an organisation that didn't use MS Office. 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.

    It's not a popular sentiment around here, but I suspect the CIO is right about going with Microsoft even without any undisclosed deal, at least in major sectors like office software. The organisation where I was working yesterday picked LibreOffice on cost grounds, but the money lost to silly inefficiencies like the terrible on-line help system I mentioned above would pay for a copy of MS Office within weeks, if not days or hours.

    You're right to express concern about proprietary data formats like the MS Office file formats, but the reality is that right now MS Office is widely used and you often have to be compatible with their formats anyway to communicate effectively. So either your alternative software can read MS formats, in which case the lock-in problem doesn't exist, or you can't, in which case your alternative comes with a serious limitation before you even start.

  • Re:Translation (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DaveV1.0 ( 203135 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @07:55AM (#46927169) Journal
    Congratulations. Rather than actually deal with the truth, you just accuse the man of unethical conduct. That makes you a lying piece of fanboy shit. And, it is the exact kind of shit you are spewing that shows the attitude alluded to by the article. I have used FLOSS for about 25 years now and while everyone talks about community and how much help is available, the truth is the most common answer to a question asked of the community is silence, followed closely by "RTFM, n00b!", "Stop your shit questions and use Google", and other such helpful responses.

    With MS, they can go to MS and MS will bend over backwards to help them. What do they get with FLOSS? Well, they can try to find someone who is competent, but who do they go to and how do they find out? I guess they could use Red Hat, but I have worked with Red Hat and know what you get for that support contract.

    And, I know this is going to get modded down by FLOSS fanboys and I don't care. You fuckers need to hear the truth. Just look at the non-confrontational responses that have been modded troll. The troll post is Torp's.

    But, hey, don't let the fact that Torp is making shit up because you fuckers like his opinion solely because it feeds into your delusions. Go fuck yourselves.
  • Re:Translation (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Medievalist ( 16032 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @09:52AM (#46928031)

    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.

    Our users are tricked into using software with features they like and actually make their jobs easier! What a dastardly move by Microsoft in actually making a product that the end user prefers! How dare they compete so unfairly! It's like they think the quality of the product matters.

    Sometimes is really is like that, although it happens just as often with non-Microsoft (or even, gasp! free) sorftware as with anything else. The reality is that quality of code and product aren't determined by brand names; IIS and WinXP are both Microsoft products despite their vast differences in quality and user experience.

    So, that being said, Microsoft's biggest wedge in corporate settings is Outlook, which incorporates such "features" as training the user to use a semicolon to separate addresses, in violation of all standards and common sense, and egregiously mangling RFC822 email addresses. Users (some of whom may well reply to this post) will insist that this is totally reasonable and desirable - because they are at least as brainwashed as your average emacs user.

    Humans want to root for a team and the quality of software products has almost nothing to do with it. It's like Democrats .vs. Republicans, tastes great .vs. less filling, etc.... not evidence-based.

The greatest productive force is human selfishness. -- Robert Heinlein