Whistling In The Wind

According to Forbes, Microsoft is singing a new tune on Linux.

“I just want the decision to be based on facts, not religion,” says Taylor [Microsoft’s top Linux strategist]. “People are saying, ‘It’s not Microsoft, so it must be great.’ Tell us what Linux does that we can’t do. Don’t tell us you’re deploying Linux just because you can.”

Microsoft need to figure out that people are deploying Linux ‘just because they can’, and that ‘It’s not Microsoft’ is becoming a major factor when choosing software.

A lot of people don’t like Microsoft the company, and never have – usually because of its illegal and anticompetitive business practices and monopolistic price inflation. They used to have no choice, but now they do, and are voting with their feet. Microsoft needs to figure this out quick, and fix it. Otherwise any technical advantage they may have isn’t going to be enough to prevent their customers walking away. As you sow, so shall you reap.

12 thoughts on “Whistling In The Wind

  1. Three words: Total Cost of Ownership. Granted, Linux/Unix/BSD/Whatever may take a bit more configuration, but someone who knows what they’re doing can get a lot more out of a Unix variant for a lot less money.

  2. It sounds right when I read it, but to be perfectly honest, I’m not so sure. Some people don’t like Microsoft, but I think they’re still a fringe group. The market is expanding right now mostly because of them (along with a few who are willing to take a risk on whatever they think is the true TCO, not what Microsoft’s funded or what Red Hat proclaims). I just don’t think “a lot” is as many as it really is.

    In any case Microsoft certainly can’t say it *is* a religious issue, because then they’ve essentially admitted defeat. How do you combat religious zealotry? Facts (if there indeed are any that aren’t inherently biased now) won’t work, propaganda is useless, and emotion is already against you.

    Microsoft’s best bet is to keep improving what they have, but even there they’re losing. A lot of people still use Windows 98, even though it’s five years old and is nowhere near as stable as Windows XP. Frankly, I think Microsoft has a problem, and I don’t think it’s possible for them to fix it before Linux becomes a competitively viable mainstream option in a few years.

  3. Free as in beer. Free as in freedom. Free as in no oppressive EULAs. Free as in no lawyers throwing DMCA notices at you. Free as in being able to go on to the Internet and download different distros if you don’t like the one you are using.

  4. Ma-a-an, what a flaimbait, Gerv…

    Normally, when the prom queen decides to date a local hoodlum “just ’cause she can [now]” and ’cause it’s not the geeky shy kid-o (headed stright for the BSc->MSc->PhD->$120k+ career) that her parents want her to go out with… Well, normally it all ends up in tears, torn up dress, a visit to a local clinic for an AIDS test and if she’s unlucky – an abortion.

    Taylor dude is right – DEPLOYING an OS “just ’cause you can” is not a solid business decision. Toying with one on a spare antique machine collecting dust in the corner can be justified that way perfectly fine, a deployment – can’t.

    When all is said and done, all shareholders (or the business owner) are interested in is to get the job done for the tiniest possible investment. NOT the best feature set, NOT the ideology (read : “zealotry”) and not the prettiest GUI, but JOB DONE GIVEN THE LOWEST TCO.

    Until the market is full of certified LCPs/LCSEs/LCSDs (where “L” stands for “Linux” instead of M$’s “M”) willing to work for less than their M$ equivalents, until there’s a distro that comes with manufacturer-supported drivers for EVERYTHING and that distro comes from a company with capitalization in the high billions of dollars (so it’s not going to go bust, get bought out by M$, or otherwise disappear), until version 3.0 of some kind of SMS equivalent that lets you manage hundreds-to-thousands of rigs directly from BOFH’s office… Well, you get the picture, right? Until that time, for the overwhelming majority of businesses Linux will remain what it is today – a nice lever to push M$ pricing down. And for the industry it’ll remain the underpowered cattleprod to keep M$ on its toes (as far as products improvement goes).

    There used to be a good saying a while ago : Linux is only free (as in beer) as long as your (or your sysadmins’) time is worth nothing. And as for free as in speech… Well, a 13 year old running away from home definitely becomes free. The problem is, you can’t really eat your freedom, put your head on it at night, or have freedom kiss your scratched knees after you fall…

  5. Tom Morris :

    > Free as in no oppressive EULAs.
    Last time I checked, lots-an-lots of distros and pieces of OSS came with EULAs no more helpful than M$’s ones.

    > Free as in no lawyers throwing DMCA
    > notices at you.
    Free as in “infringing some 283 patents (just the kernel, mind you), 27 of which are owned by M$”, free as in “get your a$$ sued by SCO or any other scumbag looking for a quick buck”, free as in “lawyers throwing DMCA notices at you because it matters NOT which OS and other software you’ve been running while circumventing the protection, as long as you broke the law that YOUR congressman so happily helped to pass the other day”…

    Gimme-a-break!

  6. > Last time I checked, lots-an-lots of distros and pieces of OSS came with EULAs no more helpful than M$’s ones.

    Well not all OSS licences are equal, but worse than M$ takes some doing. Please can you give examples of specific software packages and terms in the EULAs. Thanks.

  7. P.S. Oops, sorry. My writing “worse than M$” didn’t fully reflect what you had said. I should have asked, please could you find examples “no more helpful than” the M$ ones.

  8. “all shareholders (or the business owner) are interested in is to get the job done for the tiniest possible investment.”

    So what about environmental impact? Ethical trading? Looking after the well-being of your staff? Paternity leave?

    There are loads of factors businesses take into account which don’t help, or actively harm the bottom line. Not everyone believes that money is the sole criterion of success.

  9. Alan :

    > please could you find examples “no
    > more helpful than” the M$ ones
    You can start off with Red Hat Enterprise Linux (any edition) or SUSE Enterprise Server (any edition), but pretty much any distro that has the word “Enterprise” somewhere in its title or gets sold for more than a couple of hundred (or thoudsands) bucks will probably do. You’ll be amazed how much crap you have to agree to given that the bulk of the OS (including the kernel) is GPLed!

    Yeah, sure, you can still find plenty of GPL only distros. But you probably can only start DEPLOYING those in your corporate environment if you happen to run the company that actually specializes in SUPPORTING that specific distro… :p

  10. Gerv :

    (sigh)… If you weren’t running a blog titled “Hacking for Christ”, I would probably assume that you’re just mocking me! >-(

    > So what about environmental impact?
    Sorry to disappoint you, mate, but the overwhelming majority of business owners do NOT care about environmental impact. They care about the FINES that they’ll have to shell out for violating federal/state laws that deal with environment. True environmentalists don’t run businesses – they run non profit orgs…

    > Ethical trading?
    Pu-h-le-e-ase! Do YOU really believe what you’re saying? ANYTHING goes as long as it does not damage your corporate reputation too much, and even THAT limitation is not based on ethics, it’s based purely on fear of loosing contracts, SEC investigations and profits drop.

    > well-being of your staff?
    Mwa-ha-ha-ha!!! I think you’ll be hard-pressed to find management who cares about well-being of PEOPLE working for it (unless other interests – family ties, personal affections, etc – are involved). It cares about WORK FORCE being in good WORKING condition, because otherwise no work will get done! Employees are only given what it takes to keep the best brains/skilled pros in house and to attract other great brains/skilled pros.

    I’m not saying that there aren’t exceptions. But that’s the difference between “RULES” and “exceptions” – rules… well… rule! :p (pun intended)

    And the rule here is that INVESTOR invests money in order to make MORE money, otherwise it’s called “donation to charity” and such people aren’t called “investors”, they’re called “philanthropists”. And if management does a poor job of MAKING MONEY from an investment – it’s being fired. The less money you invest to get the JOB DONE – the higher return on investment. Thus lowest TCO to get the job done is the way the industry works.

  11. Gerv :

    (sorry, forgot this bit : )
    > Not everyone believes that money is
    > the sole criterion of success.
    Abso-bloody-lutely! But those who believe otherwise normally don’t run BUSINESSES, because by definition “business” involves making money.

    But mind you, even your local church will do some TCO research before investing in a server to keep tabs on donations (hmmm… why do they need the money to begin with, if it’s all about faith?!?). Unless… Why yes, of course, unless it’s got a parishioner who happens to be a Linux sysadmin, and who will work FOR FREE (as in beer) to keep that server in good shape, no matter what…

  12. by definition “business” involves making money.

    Funny… dictionary.com has a load of definitions of the word “business”, and none of them mention money explicitly. The closest you’ll get is “commercial enterprise”. And when you look up commercial, one (and only one) of its definitions says “having profit as a chief aim.”

    So saying that “all business owners care about is making money” is both wrong from a definitional perspective, and also wrong from a practical one. I can find many business owners who care about other things. For the first, look no further than Google, who’s rule #1 is “Don’t Be Evil”.