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Will CS Students Switch From Microsoft? 879

Posted by timothy
from the depends-on-the-faculty-too dept.
spotter writes: "There's an article in Newsweek International that talks about how Microsoft's tactics are turning off an entire generation of CS students from their products and increasing the fortunes of Linux." The article isn't deep or flawless, but hits on a major point: what students learn in school is key to what they go on to do.
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Will CS Students Switch From Microsoft?

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  • by nzkoz (139612) on Sunday March 03, 2002 @05:01PM (#3102286) Homepage
    I don't know how it is at most other places, but at the University I attend the labs run NetBSD and KDE2.
    I know a few people have copies of MS Visual Studio at home, but why bother, when gcc + emacs is in the labs and you can get it free at home?

    • Probably because most college students don't pay for most of the software they have anyhow.
    • by fader (107759) <`moc.poptoh' `ta' `redaf'> on Sunday March 03, 2002 @05:13PM (#3102349) Homepage
      I don't know how it is at most other places, but at the University I attend the labs run NetBSD and KDE2.

      That's impossible -- you must be lying. Didn't you read the article?
      Linux hackers from Germany and elsewhere are working on a Windows-like graphical interface for Linux PCs called KDE (for K Desktop Environment). They expect to release it this spring...
      How can you be using KDE2 when KDE won't be released until spring? Now we know you're trolling. After all, what reason would MS NBC have to lie?
      • KDE 3 will be out this spring! Although KDE 1 and 2 are out, they should probably be ignored just like Windows before version 3, Internet Explorer before version 4, and so on. Hasn't Microsoft taught us that the first versions of any software are completely useless? That people who try them are just dooming themselves to expensive retraining and conversions when the interfaces and file formats all get switched around? Clearly this "KDE" thing must just be starting to work out the bugs, if they're not even at version 3 yet.
      • by norton_I (64015) <hobbes@utrek.dhs.org> on Sunday March 03, 2002 @05:55PM (#3102539)
        I realize you probably understand what the article meant, but give me a break on the MS NBC conspiracy theory. Despite being a partnership between MS and NBC, they show a remarkable lack of favoratism towards MS.If anything, I would say it goes the other way: they go out of their way to disparage MS.

        What I am saying, I guess, is never insult with style when you can insult with substance. MSNBC isn't exactly hampered by grade A reporting. This article is a prime example of their particular brand of News-lite.

        Basically, it sounds like they called up a couple of people and asked their opinion on MS. Some of them didn't like it. There is not attempt to gather facts, or even a wide range of opinions, no attempt to delve into the reasons these people prefer Linux to Windows other than the simplistic "open source software lets us do more" and "Windows product activation is annoying", both of which are true, but hardly capture the reality of the situation. This is supposed to be exposing a trend, but provides only anecdotal evidence, nothign to indicate whether this is a real movement, or just the opinion of 3 or 4 guys.

        At least the corporate PR-news I am used to seeing billed as "tech news" frequently contain facts, however slanted the tone may be.
        • News organizations, magazines, etc. shamelessly suck up to their readers, even more than they do their advertisers or owners. If MS-bashing is selling, that's what they produce. The bottom line is the bottom line. The big boss doesn't care what the little guy says about him, as long as he brings home the bacon.

          A good analogy would be musicians and bands who have made careers out of being anti-corporate and anti-industry, while being backed by that same industry. Whatever sells...
        • Good comment. I can't imagine why this link was even posted to Slashdot. The fact that it is positive RE Linux doesn't make it relevant. The article shows absolutely no suggestion that the writer did anything resembling serious research. Why timothy bothered to posted this I don't have a clue.
    • Ya, well that's why Microsoft gives schools, like Columbia, like 300 free copies of Visual Studio to give out to students.

      Get them using it now!
      • by kikta (200092) <jason@kikta. n e t> on Sunday March 03, 2002 @05:37PM (#3102458)
        MS is hosting an event here at Miami University (Ohio) in conjucntion with the CS department to celebrate the rollout of Visual Studio .NET tomorrow. "All attendees will receive the full version of Visual Studio .NET Academic, a full version of Windows XP Professional, and other valuable items. Join us for an overview of the .NET Framework and a live demonstration of Visual Studio .NET." That's about $1700 (retail) of software that they're giving away. My suitemate and I are both Linux junkies, but we're both going for the software and out of curiosity. They giving out free food & even have a band scheduled to play. The notice is on MS's website here [msdnaa.net]. They're also giving away an Xbox, Microsoft Press Books, $500 American Express Gift Certificates, MP3 Players, "and more!" MS is definetly pulling out all of the stops to try and hook the next generation (big surprise). I'm interested to see how it will go...
        • That's about $1700 (retail) of software that they're giving away.

          At an actual cost of less than $20 per attendee, all of which will be written off as a promotional expense. Red Hat, SuSE, FreeBSD and the other Free Unix variants should take a cue from M$ and start calling ISO's "trial versions" or something and claim each download at the retail price as a business expense.

          Too bad I'm not in Ohio, sounds like a fun event to pass out Debian CDs at...
      • When I was in college, MS gave out 500 free, full copies of Visual Studio 6, in an attempt to get the CS students hooked on it.

        What happened?? The kids who really knew nothing about computers, and had never programmed before, they used it. But the kids who all knew programming, etc., before joining the CS program, which was about 65% or so, they all sold their copies on Ebay. (This was before MS started shutting down ebay auctions of their software) If they needed to use the software, they would just burn a copy of the lab's install discs. I mean, it was just C++ code, you don't need Visual Studio to compile that!

        So, in the end, MS's plan didn't totally work. Hell, half the kids in the CS program weren't running Windows anyway.
    • Yes (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Jucius Maximus (229128) <zyrbmf5j4x AT snkmail DOT com> on Sunday March 03, 2002 @07:53PM (#3103063) Homepage Journal
      I am a Computer Engineering student at a well respected canadian university, and 95% of all Comp.Sci is Linux based. Only a few of the first year courses (where you learn MS Office or Java) are done on windows.

      The interesting part is how preachy some of the profs get. The prof for my programming (C) class this semester went into a little speech on the first day about how Linux was far more technically advanced than windows and most anyone (except perhaps BSD fanatics ;-) would agree that linux is what should be used if you're doing something important.

      Furthermore, one of the engineering profs one day got into a talk about how he runs VMWare in his machine which allows him to run linux, because linux is 'good.' (This was in a mathematical, not computers course, btw.) If we (students) tried to do some sort of major design project at my school using windows as the platform to run it, we would be fried to a crisp by the profs for it. This prof often talked about how he avoids MS products like the plague because of unreliability and bugs.

      Yes, the conversion away from Microsoft has started, and the people to thank are the folks with the Ph.D's who get the idea that linux is better into students' heads, and choose linux as the platform for the course, thereby causing many students to install it on their own machines so they don't have to use the public labs to do their work. Yes, where I come from, linux has become both cool and elite among undergrads while microsoft OSs have become connected with cluelessness and a lack of technical competence.

      I am sure that Microsoft's SIT (slashdot infiltration team) will read this and immediately alert the top brass about this grassroots subversion away from MS software, and try to initiate a whole new marketing campaing aimed at college/university students and well as Profs. It's only a matter of time...

  • Note that a good amount of k-12 schools (used) to use macs. at least in my area. and you still doen't see many people with macs.
  • What I've seen (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ThousandStars (556222) on Sunday March 03, 2002 @05:01PM (#3102290) Homepage
    While the article brings up an interesting point, most of my friends who are still in college actually aren't interested in Microsoft for a different reason. As bright, motivated, hard working people, they see Microsoft as a place that has had its moment of glory in the sun; true growth will spring from other, more innovative companies with new ideas. While Microsoft guarentees plenty of money, I see CS people as wanting to be with the next big thing, not the last big thing. I'm not in CS, but if I were, I wouldn't want to be a Microserf either.
    • Wow, I wish I went to your school because at mine (UCLA), I could be sure that 95% of the people in my CS classes knew nothing but Microsoft.

      Microsoft knows marketing, that's for damn sure. They give out free copies of everything from NT, to PocketPC's to students, in order to make sure that graduating engineers know MS products very well.

  • by isdnip (49656) on Sunday March 03, 2002 @05:03PM (#3102293)
    Wow! Programmers are working on a new program called KDE which will be released this spring! That's what the article says. I can't wait to try it out.
    Maybe by next year they'll report on the 2000 USA elections.
  • by scoove (71173) on Sunday March 03, 2002 @05:03PM (#3102295)
    I just reloaded my home PC this weekend. Replaced a slowly dying Pentium II with a newer AMD box, which required reinstalling everything on the new box.

    Everything went fine until I got to Outlook 2002, which won't accept my serial number (since it's "registered to another computer" - no kidding. That box is headed towards the dumpster).

    Apparently my only choice (besides tossing the piece of junk software out with the old PC) is to call microsoft and try to get it re-registered through that process. I wouldn't be surprised if they tried to get me to buy a new copy since the old one was tied to that processor.

    Microsoft, you sure are making it easy to break up with you...

    *scoove*

    • I called up Microsoft, was incredibly rude to the person on the phone. Told him I upgraded my computer and it was none of his freaking business because I paid for the software.

      And he gave to me a new key to enter and it worked fine.

      That was at 3am in the morning. Not exactly what I call begging to have them help.
  • by k98sven (324383) on Sunday March 03, 2002 @05:03PM (#3102296) Journal
    An entire generation of CS students,
    (and lots of non-CS students) are learning Java.

    MS is going to need to do some serious marketing
    towards universites to get .NET out there,
    and personally, I doubt it'll ever reach the level of adoption that Java as achived.

    (Yeah, before you start flaming me, I KNOW Java and .NET are different animals..
    but they ARE competing technologies in some senses.)
    • by tomstdenis (446163) <tomstdenisNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Sunday March 03, 2002 @05:30PM (#3102429) Homepage
      An entire generation of CS students,
      (and lots of non-CS students) are learning Java.


      Any CS diploma/degree that focuses only on a programming language and not general CS theory [e.g. language theory, algorithms and optimizations, number theory, etc...] is not worth anything.

      Anyone can learn how to hack in a given language. A true CS student will understand the concepts of a language and will be able to pick up a new language in say 10 hours of practice at the most.

      A true CS student will also appreciate that there is more to computers than "the hottest language".

      CS is all about "how do I solve this problem with a computer" much like chemistry is about "how do I solve this problem with the basic elements"...

      So really trying to focus on .NET or Java is just a shame and shouldn't be called CS.

      Tom
    • Yeah, just like when I was in the CS program an entire generation of students learned Pascal.

      This equated to a *HUGE* Pascal market out in the real world...

      oh wait, that never materialized.

      Well we also learned Smalltalk!

      Oh wait, we don't use that either...

      Oh, and Scheme. Must not forget that my generation learned how to program LISP, and that equated...

      oh wait... never mind.

      Just because I learned Pascal in CS, didn't mean I wasn't able to pick up C, or VB, or Java, or whatever else is in actual use.
  • Not really (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gwernol (167574) on Sunday March 03, 2002 @05:03PM (#3102298)
    The article isn't deep or flawless, but hits on a major point: what students learn in school is key to what they go on to do.

    I'm not at all convinced this is true. A good counter-example is Apple, who for years owned the educational market both in high schools and universities in the US. It didn't lead (as Apple had hoped it would) to widespread use of Macs in the commercial world.

    A good Computer Science school teaches the principles of computing. These are abstract ideas that can be applied to any hardware or software platform. The OS you use at university should not impact the OSes you are able or interested to use later. I learnt on Unix and VMS systems, neither of which I use in my professional or hobbyist life now.
    • by CyberGarp (242942) <Shawn&Garbett,org> on Sunday March 03, 2002 @05:44PM (#3102486) Homepage
      Apple's a perfect example of this. Just because they got University's to buy a lot of boxes didn't make it ripe for students to learn on them.

      I was starting college in 1985 and these hot new Macintoshs had just hit the computer lab. They were a dream compared to hacking away on the mainframe with it's handout's of push the PF75 key, blah blah blah. So as a budding young programmer I thought the Mac was the future. I wanted to learn to program it. They had an interpreted C on them that I used, but you really couldn't do much fancy with it. I wanted to go deeper. Turned out you had to buy about $1500 bucks worth of books, compilers and official Mac developer license to really get into the nuts and bolts.

      I found a PC in the EE lab. It was wide open. Didn't really have windows, but a C compiler was cheap and the specifications for it were lying around all over the place. I could easily solder something together and have it communicate on the main bus. It didn't have all the expense and proprietary restrictions of the Mac. Had a built in assembly level debugger even. It was a hackers dream-- wide open and pokeable. It was not a great box, but it was cheap and available and easy to get internal information about.

      Guess what I learned and pursued on into my career. Guess what type of hardware I'm typing from now. An Intel box that gained popularity along with Microsoft.

      The tighter Bill squeezes his claws the more systems that will slip through his fingers. (to paraphrase the wisdom of Star Wars). He will fall the way of Apple.

      You're right about a good CS department. A really good one doesn't even teach languages, it should stick to concepts. Languages are just a means to an end.

      Shawn

      P.S. I quickly got sick of MS boxes and went to work in UNIX. At least UNIX/Linux doesn't crash all the time.
  • hell ya (Score:4, Interesting)

    by nihilist_1137 (536663) on Sunday March 03, 2002 @05:03PM (#3102300) Homepage
    1st-As much fun as it is paying a few hundred dollars (including student discount) for a 'stable 'operation system, let alone development tools, its better, and cheaper, to get them for free.

    2nd- As a student, it is better to open up some code under the GPL and see how you can implement things, rather than see the application run. Linux apps are a great place to see howto write things, and what good coding style looks like.

    3rd- The university that I goto only uses windows for the public labs, duh, and the first year CS labs. Second year uses a combination of NetBSD and solaris boxes.( Gnome and KDE are being looked at).
  • I totally agree... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by iridium (13064) on Sunday March 03, 2002 @05:04PM (#3102306)
    What I've never understood about Microsoft is why they don't have licenses that give people the opportunity to learn their product. In doing this they are shutting out a huge number of developers (not just students).

    Whether you're in school or not, learning about developing in a Microsoft environment requires parting with some cash. Personally I'd love to have copies of Microsoft development tools just so I can learn about the technology, but I'm not going to spend hundreds of dollars on a product just to try it out.

    I'll pay media cost, but nothing more. Until they offer that I continue to use other tools and environments for "recreational development". I'd like to learn more about their technology, but they apparently don't want that to happen.
    • by spt (557979)
      MSDN [microsoft.com] has compilers, the complete SDK and complete documentation.
      You won't get visual studio there, but you can do everything you want to with what is downloadable.
    • they don't have licenses that give people the opportunity to learn their product

      They also seem to misunderstand the laffer curve component of software economics - e.g. you'll never have 100% compliance, and if you push to enforce 100% compliance to maximize revenues, you'll actually end up with less revenues.

      There are a few approaches Microsoft can take:

      Accepting Noncomplaince: This involves realizing that some people will never become paying customers in their present status (e.g. a broke college student, a startup new business without funds, a home user who won't justify paying license fees for something so significant). Write these folks off and focus on making them paying customers when they have the ability to do so - e.g. when the small business gets larger.

      Promote Compliance by lowering barriers: Borland's done a great job with this by creating single-user versions of their products to allow people to get their feet wet. Free home use, free college student use, etc. gets the product out there and creates an upgrade path when people grow. This is something increasingly foreign to Microsoft these days.

      Promote Compliance by increasing policing: The strategy chosen by XP, this approach relies upon making your software increasingly time consuming and hassling for your users, takes it out of the hands of the entry level market folks (who are future customers), and causes so much market resistance that it only works to encourage people to adopt competitive platforms.

      I doubt Microsoft will get it until they experience failure at the levels witnessed by Novell - and by then, it'll be too late.

      *scoove*
      • by elflord (9269)
        They also seem to misunderstand the laffer curve component of software economics - e.g. you'll never have 100% compliance, and if you push to enforce 100% compliance to maximize revenues, you'll actually end up with less revenues.

        I think they understand it very well.

        Accepting Noncomplaince: This involves realizing that some people will never become paying customers in their present status

        But they do this (and slashdotters bitch about it). Piracy suits them under some circumstances, and in such cases, they turn a blind eye to it. Their enforcement is fairly selective, and they tend to only go after parties who can cough up a reasonable amount of money (eg businesses) or major infringers (warez sites, shops distributing illegal copies)

        Promote Compliance by lowering barriers: Borland's done a great job with this by creating single-user versions of their products to allow people to get their feet wet. Free home use, free college student use, etc.

        Microsofts curve is different to Borlands. IOW, that Borland are cheaper is a reflection of the fact that they are struggling. MS do have student pricing. I purchased VC++ with a bundled NT for $100-, and I was able to pick up VS pro for $100- at the campus store. (I think the boneheads at the shop didn't realise it was a very different product to VB, VC++, etc) On top of that, MS also have bundleware deals with OEMs like Dell.

    • by Chasuk (62477)
      The academic version of Visual Studio .Net Pro is $89, which is pretty bloody cheap, even for someone as skint as me.

      The well-documented SDK is available as a free download.

      Still, I do agree that MS should probably distribute "lite" versions of their language products, gratis, with their OS's, which would certainly increase their user base.
    • by jacobito (95519)

      My univerity (University of Texas at Austin) offers Microsoft software for dirt-cheap prices [utexas.edu]. For example, Windows XP can be had for $5, and Visual Studio 6 for $15 or $20. (As an aside, the University was once one of the largest purchasers of Apple computers; now the campus is dotted with labs brimming with Dell PCs, some donated by Microsoft.)

      Meanwhile, the CS department offers a "laboratory" course intended for students who want to learn by hacking the Linux kernel (sorry, but I couldn't find a link). Not bad!

    • by Carnage4Life (106069) on Sunday March 03, 2002 @05:54PM (#3102530) Homepage Journal
      Whether you're in school or not, learning about developing in a Microsoft environment requires parting with some cash. Personally I'd love to have copies of Microsoft development tools just so I can learn about the technology, but I'm not going to spend hundreds of dollars on a product just to try it out.

      Actually many Microsoft development tools are available for free download or can be shipped on CD for the little more than the price of shipping and handling. These include I also know that one can download the data access SDK to allow development of ODBC and ADO apps but don't have a link handy. Anyway my point is that Microsoft does allow developer's to learn about their platform without requiring them to part with some cash. However some of these SDKs do require Visual C++ which is priced academically starting at $44.95 [microsoft.com]

      Disclaimer: I am a Microsoft employee but this post is not being made in any official capacity nor does it reflect the wishes, intentions, strategies or opinions of my employer.
      • by snowlick (536497)
        That's all good. You still have to have a legal copy of Windows XX to test your product. Money is still changed hands, just at different points in time.

        No money is required to develop for the open community. Period. That difference is important.
      • by Lumpy (12016) on Sunday March 03, 2002 @09:02PM (#3103301) Homepage
        NOT....

        I have an autopc.. I wanted to learn a bit about it...

        buy VC++ 6.0 Professional $1300.00
        buy the Windows CE dev kit $600.00
        download the "free" autopc dev kit.

        and everyone stands around wondering why the autopc specification that microsoft touted as world changing died a horrible miserable death. because the large bulk of developers out there cant afford $1900.00 to mess with it.

        Microsoft tempts you with freebies, that require expensive add-on's or require the "professional" version of the dev studio and will not work with the regular or educational versions intentionally (it's programmed in! it doesn't need professional for the dev kit but the buttwipe programmers locked it to check every time.)

        Sorry, if MS wants people to embrace their ideas.. make it FREE or cheap for me to get into it.
  • Of all the flaws... (Score:3, Informative)

    by tomstdenis (446163) <tomstdenisNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Sunday March 03, 2002 @05:05PM (#3102312) Homepage
    Of all the things I pick on my school for they do approach this debate a bit more maturely.

    We start off learning Perl, C++, C, various data structures ideas, algorithms, etc..

    All using MSVC. But they also dedicate portions of the course to learning Linux, QNX and how to develop applications on those platforms.

    The goal is to appreciate both sides of the OS wars.

    Tom
  • Living proof (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ubergnome (242049) on Sunday March 03, 2002 @05:06PM (#3102313)
    I am a recently retired (read: graduated) CS student. While I was in school, I fiddled with Linux a bit, but got tired of trashing my install every week and having to start fresh.


    Since then, I have learned patience, and am getting increasingly fed-up with MS.


    This is why I think the baby-CS folks will go with open source: MS doesn't document well, and they don't follow guidelines.

    I thought VB was pretty OK, till I started developing with PHP and realized that a language (even though it is just a scripting language) can actually work exactly how the documenatation says it should. And besides that, the documentation is searchable, and organized gasp.


    I am about ready to dump Windows for good, just because I like PHP/mySQL way better than anything MS can throw together (read: ASP).


    To summarize, I think CS folks goto Linux 'cause it is written with functionality, not profitability, in mind.

  • I'm a freshman at a major Virginia university and have taken Computer Science I, aka the CS class for people who are computer science or computer engineers. in it, you're basically taught straight C++ programming.

    anyway, the professors, on the whole, strongly dislike Microsoft Visual C++ and let that be known...it's not as standard as other compilers on basic issues that get beginning C++ students and that can cause a lot of problems/frustration. we're encouraged instead to use the cxx or g++ compliers on the school's computer system, g++ if we have Linux, or another freeware compiler for those with Windows.

    among the students though, a lot of them use Visual C++...they either have it because they got it free (pirated or their work has it), cheap (student discounts) or just went out and bought it because they thought they'd need a complier, knew nothing about compilers, and recognized the name Microsoft. And a lot of them continue using it, even on projects where the professors *strongly* encourage other compilers and give instruction on how to use those compilers.

    so, I don't know. at least at my college, just because the students are being taught one compiler in class, does not mean that that's what they're using outside of class, unless forced to...
  • Wishful thinking (Score:5, Interesting)

    by davidj (20784) on Sunday March 03, 2002 @05:06PM (#3102315) Homepage
    Of course, having generations of CS students hating Microsoft will only help Linux. However, Microsoft will not topple automatically over time.

    At Oberlin, I helped install Linux & BSD on all of our lab machines, and with a friend founded the our (still active) Oberlin Linux User's Group. But living in NY, I have seen the worth of C++, Linux System Administration and Perl skills go down while my friends who can hack Java and VB are always in demand. The moral - as harsh as it seems - is that students who learn Linux in college will probably just have to learn Microsoft later.
  • Not very accurate (Score:3, Informative)

    by GSV NegotiableEthics (560121) <autecfmuk001@sneakemail.com> on Sunday March 03, 2002 @05:09PM (#3102328) Homepage
    From the article:
    Whereas American corporations moved from mainframes to networks of personal-computer servers back in the 1980s, Europe lagged by a decade.

    Oh really? <g>

    A nicely pat bit of journalistic contraction, there. It's simply untrue. Linux was after all developed by a Finn who grew bored with working on the UNIX clone written by a Dutch academic. As a European VAX/VMS developer, even I could only hold out against the tidal wave until 1994. By 1990 few IT systems in Europe were free from reliance on DOS-based lan systems and file servers.

  • I'm a comp engineering student in my Senior year. I do all of my programming on Linux. I only use MS products when I'm forced to for a class (the teacher wants .doc or something...) I ask all of my teachers if they will accept Linux binaries instead of Win32 (they usually won't). So I've become a master at porting Linux apps to windows.

    I despise programming for Windows, it makes me feel like Bill Gate's whore. It's not my os, it's his, and I fell like I'm only aiding MS in their quest for world domination when I write apps for them.

    however... Almost all CS and comp engineering students I know have never touched Linux and would do everything in Visual Basic if they could. There are a few of us out there though. :)
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Do you feel like Maytag's bitch when you wash your clothes in their machine? Do you feel like GE's bitch when you illuminate your dorm room? Do you feel like Sun's bitch when you use Java? Get a life, dork.
  • by the_2nd_coming (444906) on Sunday March 03, 2002 @05:09PM (#3102330) Homepage
    That MS has dumbed down their software to the point that you realy need very little learning to be able to be very effective with it. with Unix, you need to more time and resources. If you are able to learn how to admin using Unix, you can then pick up a book on win 2k and learn what you need from it to be able to admin a windows network. you make better use of your resources in the University if you spend it learning Unix than if you spent it learning somthing that a book and 3 months on the job caouls teach you.
    • That MS has dumbed down their software to the point that you realy need very little learning to be able to be very effective with it.

      That is largely untrue - but sadly a widely held view.

      I started working at place that subscribed to that notion. They had a "working" MS network that was just fine by them. The people who ran the network didnt know the basics, didnt know even the correct terms to describe what was going on, and had no idea about modern network concepts. The perception though was that everything was okay because its "only MS software - you dont need a degree to make it work".

      To a very specific degree they are correct - basic simple functions - a standalone file server, a workgroup network, etc do not take a lot of work to get going.

      And alot of it comes from what you talk about "ohh, any good Unix admin can just pick up Win2k and make it work" - well thats pretty true - the basics are the same (good policy is good policy).


      But the devils are in the details. When I really started digging around our network, I saw all kinds of unresolved problems that had been brushed off as "that's just the way things are". Or "yeah, M$ software sucks". The real causes of course were user error. Because, its only "M$" software people gloss over the intricties of it.

      I ageee that time at a Uni. is better spent on larger computing topics (not simply getting training on MS software) - but that is not an excuse to ignore nor abandon MS software. The fact is that its present, real, and you will run into it in the field - period.

      So the bottom line? When someone with serious Unix experience wants to start tinkering about on one of my networks I give them the benefit of the doubt. But more often than not I end up changing/repairing/improving their modifications at least once. And when I have to go tinkering about on someone else's Unix network I am sure to ask, get the information, research, present the plan to the admin, and then finally get into the implementation.

      Just a few thoughts. Sorry for the rant.
      • by brianvan (42539) on Sunday March 03, 2002 @11:10PM (#3103711)
        ... doesn't mean you shouldn't learn it.

        Regarding topics addressed in the parent post:

        1. Yes, Microsoft products are made such that easy tasks are simple, yet complicated setups are still complicated. They put a lot of money into making things generally easy for most people, and although I don't always agree with their choices, I find myself "up and running" quickly with any Windows OS. Mac systems I find to be similarly easy, but more restrictive at times. Unix-based systems... well, it takes a while longer and a lot more effort to get baseline functionality in place. And if you don't know what you're doing, the learning curve is huge and you go through a lot of frustration. Anything requiring reading more than two paragraphs of documentation to get working is harder than what I'm typically used to.

        That said, when you're trying to set up complex networks and complicated hardware setups, Windows can be as painful as Unix. But I don't blame them for making a "network wizard" - the target audience is too small, too smart, and needs too much flexibility for MS to really attack those kind of things like they did with simple dial-up networking or playing music files on a typical sound setup. Also, because they left most of the flexibility there, I have as many options as I can afford or comprehend. It's up to 3rd party vendors (software and hardware) to make their own products easy to use, flexible, powerful, cheap, etc. (Whatever market they're targeting)

        2. Back to the main topic of CS and MSFT - I agree with the concept of "it's present, real, and you will run into it in the field".

        I find it to be irritating when CS departments want to stick to Unix-only programming, just because there's a wide variety of systems out there that students may run into. I went through 4 years of college and, because I never got involved in any non-school projects (I had many problems with staying in-focus with school assignments and had to put extra time into that), I NEVER did a single CS assignment on anything but Solaris. This is just as bad as doing everything in Visual Studio... it's one company's product with one company's vision of how things should be. I may have learned many general concepts, but I won't know for a while just how much of what I learned was tied down to that particular OS or the specific products we used on our systems.

        Furthermore, a lot can be said of practical programming experience... and I believe that flexibilty and adaptability among computer systems is as desirable a concept to learn in CS as are program organization and programming paradigms. Yes, we don't want to teach a generation how just to use MS products because they're 90% of the market... but we don't want them to learn only Java, only Scheme, etc...

        As it turns out, there are universities out there that don't stick to only MS products for teaching, and that's good. However, many of these same universities are sticking only to teaching on one of the other systems available, and that's a very bad thing. You could say at least one thing about sticking to MS products: it may not be a good teaching philosophy in general, but if you're going to be stubborn and political, sticking with 80-90% of what's used out there is better than sticking with something that's only 5%.
    • That MS has dumbed down their software to the point that you realy need very little learning to be able to be very effective with it

      We are talking about Computer Science students. These are people who are learning programming, not system administration or use of business applications. So your point doesn't really apply. Programming on the Windows platform is different in the details to programming on other platforms but is not significantly easier.

      Using (for example) Visual Studio as your IDE is just as challenging as using development tools on Linux/Mac OS/whatever and you will learn just as much about programming principles.
  • by Evangelion (2145)

    University CompSci programs have been turning out Unix people since Unix existed.

    Just like has been happening for the last 20 years, some people will 'get' Unix, and find they can't work effectively without it. Some people won't.

    *yawn*.

  • by Da_Monk (88392) on Sunday March 03, 2002 @05:10PM (#3102335)
    here at CWRU, microsoft showers us with donations of hardware for the labs, and software and books for the students. as well as contests, events, and has been incredibly helpful for our branch of the ACM. as for documentation, free copies of MSDN and all the microsoft press books you could ever want go a long way. A large chunk of the Comp Sci's even intern out there. myself included. I started out loving unix, but the dot-com crash and the shady recruiting of some more linuxy corps made me shift more toward MSFT.
    you dont see redhat coming by and pitching woo.

    • microsoft showers us with donations of hardware for the labs, and software and books for the students. as well as contests, events, and has been incredibly helpful for our branch of the ACM. as for documentation, free copies of MSDN and all the microsoft press books you could ever want go a long way

      Rule of Acquistion #98: Every man has his price.

      =)
    • Yeah, Redhat doesn't have more money than God like certain companies that many of us like to think have sold their souls to satan.... myself excluded of course. I hate microsoft, but only because their software doesn't speak to me. Its not how I think, unix is how I think. If that lets me join a group of fanatics and throw pies at Bill in funny Java games online, hey hey! Cool!

      Okay, that was sarcastic, but anyways, my point is, Microsoft has enough cash to send peo0ple to campuses and throw party style presentations, and whoo all the money seeking college students. They do it here at BGSU as well. All my friends want to work for Microsoft, and why not? They pay good, they give out free stuff at every ACM meeting here, and they potray themselves as being as close to a party in the workplace as a company can get........ they even call their HQ a "campus." Makes me think of beer and horny girls..... well, maybe not you, all my friends at CWRU complain about the lack of women, heh.

      Red Hat, does not havethat kind of cash. They have more important things to worry about..... like posting a profit :-/

      Then, there is me, who doesn't like working with MS software so much that I politely declined an interview offer from Microsoft a few months ago, and started my own company that uses no MS software at all..... Just to minimize my exposure to it in the workplace.

      Every man may have his price, and mine is, I gotta be happy in my job. I cannot be happy using VC++ and Windows 2000.

      Okay, mod this down.... but it was one college students take on MS. Bussiness practices.... they do bother me..... the fact that their software is just really bad, that drives me nutty.
  • Definately!!! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by sQu@sH (71513)
    I am a senior CS major, and I can tell you for sure that MS's high prices, "rights management" techniques, unethical business practices, and buggy ass software has hurt them. My senior seminar class has been talking about this phenomina. In my class there is a large 'anti-microsoft' sentiment not only among students, but among professors.

    This is not only true for the seniors, but a majorirty of the students in my CS classes stay away from MS products as much as a matter of principle, but also because they are not nearly as secure as other alternatives. In an upper level adminstration course we are taught to never use IIS, or ASP on any part of a network that will touch the outside world in anyway. Most projects I'm hearing about are involving Linux, BeOS, Solaris, Java, and JSP.

    I don't know about the rest of the world, but if my college is any indication of how things are, MS products may be on the way out in many academic circles, and losing ground in the commercial world as current CS majors graduate, and start getting into decision making areas.
  • by drDugan (219551)
    here at Stanford, we have the GATES COMPUTER SCIENCE building. The rumor is he entered the discussion with "what isthe absolute minimum I have to give to get my name on the building" -- and proceeded to negotiate his donation down.

    none of the people in the gates building use MS stuff, as far as I can tell.
  • by Gavitron_zero (544106) on Sunday March 03, 2002 @05:12PM (#3102346)
    In the end, what CS students want to use really makes no difference. Businesses will continue to purchase and implement M$ products because they have been used for so long. (Don't flame for this) They are a proven technology. It will take at least as long for Linux to take over business as it did for M$ to do it. Probably longer now becuase M$ has a stranglehold on a much larger market than when they burst onto the scene.

    What ends up making the big difference will be if CS students who love their Linux (bless em) get into senior management positions in fortune 500 companies....

    Oh, and this "If I made a great product, and Microsoft offered me a lot of money, I would spit in their faces," says Brett Slatkin, a student at Columbia University in New York. His colleagues roll their eyes and accuse him of being stuck at the "hippy stage."

    Can anyone honestly say that if M$ offered them financial security for your work, you would really turn them down? Just think of all the good you could do with that money. That good is worth more than your silly M$ hate...

    • by Chris Johnson (580) on Sunday March 03, 2002 @06:32PM (#3102703) Homepage Journal
      "Can anyone honestly say that if M$ offered them financial security for your work, you would really turn them down? Just think of all the good you could do with that money. That good is worth more than your silly M$ hate..."

      I think you really should have taken 'Ethics' in college: yes, absolutely, I can say that if Microsoft (their name isn't really 'M$': M$ is a cartoon, Microsoft is real) offered me financial security for my work, I would turn them down. And yes, I have work [airwindows.com] worth taking over. I am developing dithering routines that push the state of the art, currently under the GPL. It is thinkable that Microsoft could want to take this over, buy the IP, and patent concepts like IIR noise shaping.

      And I don't believe that they have all the money people say they have, but they do certainly have a lot more money than _I_ have.

      But I also believe they are criminals by nature- they have threatened people (like Avie Tevanian) to try and suppress technologies that were better than what they had, they have acted like thugs and racketeers (the repeating theme of cutting off air supply- most recently with Washington lobbyists!) and they have intentionally lied to the highest courts in my country (the faked video deposition, not to mention half the arguments they make are at the least determined deception if not outright lying).

      I am not a boot-stomping patriot type, but I am outright insulted at this last: I consider it treasonous and cannot help but consider that they are intentionally trying to destroy important parts of MY COUNTRY, such as it is, for their own gain. If Middle Eastern nationals tried to sabotage the processes of justice in this country we would declare war on them.

      And you can't understand why I wouldn't take money from Microsoft? For my part, I cannot understand why you would. Are you that craven?

      If you possess neither soul, guts nor morals, that's fine, but would you mind trying to remember that most people are more principles?

      Now, let's have some of the nice randite posters moderate this down as flamebait- because, in fact, it is pretty scathing. I guess the "c'mon, you know you'd take their money if they were offering" was more insulting to me than I'd first realized.

  • by SimplyCosmic (15296) on Sunday March 03, 2002 @05:13PM (#3102350) Homepage
    When I was a CS student back at college, I found that within the major, there was a small subset for which computers and programming were more than just a way to make money, and that these individuals were more knowledgeable of what was actually going on in the forefront of technology, not to mention the politics, news and "in" things of the computer field.

    Whether or not they agreed with Microsoft, they at least were pretty up on the state of the industry.

    The majority of students there, however, were only there because they'd heard that programming was a quick way to get a good paying job, and really were only "9 to 5" students in the field. They didn't care who or what license anything was written in, couldn't care less about what loss of rights were being discussed on Slashdot, nor even with anything other than getting drunk, and that fat paycheck they figured on when they got out.

    Add to this the fact that, while expensive software on the outside world, Microsoft will give you their operating system, programming tools and office products for close to a song if you're a college student, and I'd say that the vast majority of the "average" CS student isn't any more clued in than the average home computer user.

  • "What students learn in school is key to what they go on to do."

    I hate to break a bad bubble, but this isn't really true. This is more true of engineers than it is Liberal Arts majors, but even so, it isn't a great rule of thumb. Most kids go to college and get "educated", not neccessary trained to participate in a trade.

    That's a big misconception. People view college as trade school, and it isn't. Most International Relations Majors don't go on to do things involving international relations; most history majors don't go on to do things involving history.

    Granted, a lot of Computer Science majors go on to do computer science stuff, but tons of them go on to the business world as well.
  • A good computer science program will teach the student how to program, how to do things, but not just with a specific language or operating system. A good computer science program will teach the student how to learn, how to learn from books, how to use algorythms, not just how to use a specific programming language.

    Where I went to college, it was primarilly taught in C++, but I went on to work with powerbuilder, and I was quite happy that what I was taught was not just one specific thing.

    I think computer science students will end up using the language that is used by their employer with very few exceptions. Sure if they learn C++ or Java in college they may try for that kind of job but if the school is good then they should be able to quickly pick up any language out there.

    My $.02 at least.
  • Sure students are going to be turned off by M$ actions. I'll bet a high percentage of them are turned off already just because M$ has already happened. Why work on the established order when you can be working on something new?

    Getting back to the schools, I see a different problem. Working on M$ stuff brings dollars to the school. OSS projects don't.

    So I say the students will become interested only to find that the school is not...
  • and here I am, working as a computer technician.
  • The article isn't deep or flawless, but hits on a major point: what students learn in school is key to what they go on to do.

    I think the coding platform that real CS students use is largely irrelevant to what they go on to use in their jobs. If you are actually in a university (not a community college) learning computer science, chances are that you're learning mostly about algorithms, data structures and information theory, rather than memorizing how to use a specific language or environment.

    True computer scientists have no trouble learning most new languages because the underlying fundamentals are the same. An algorithm is an algorithm is an algorithm, be it in C#, VB, Java or Perl.

  • My 2 Cents (Score:4, Interesting)

    by PHanT0 (148738) on Sunday March 03, 2002 @05:19PM (#3102378)
    I'm a CS student and I've got to say, this is something I've thought about before.

    Bascially, I can classify two types of people in CS. Those who care about CS and those who are in it for the money and personal gain (remember, 4 years ago this industry was the hottest thing going).

    In my expirence those who are in it for the money, don't genarlly care about what M$ does, who they screw around with, or who they piss-off. These people, typically, are essentially 'advanced users' who have no interest in the technology... they just think of it as a simple income, somthing to do, or just plain don't care. Most of these people turn up their nose at the sight of a little work and thus, hate Linux, UNIX or anything that doesn't have a nice GUI where they can click to their hearts content and make everything perfect and pretty. These people are generally indefferent.

    However, the other type of CS student I've noted is one that actually does care. The money and jobs are a bonus to actually liking the work. These people love to get thier hands dirty and do some real work and actually get pissed when they can't. As for the business practices of M$, most of them are really disgustied by what is happening. And resist using M$ products and services as much as they can.

    Personally, I only use M$ things when I have to... I know I don't like the company's morals or business practices.

    On another Note, I hold Corel about two steps above M$... just for what they did to Debian... don't even get me started on what AOL used to be like (they are improuving... slightly).
    • Re:My 2 Cents (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Gingko (195226)
      Weird. Around here, it's completely the other way around.

      The people here who genuinely are interested in Computer Science don't care about who made what they're using. I'm one of them. I use what I find most useful and enjoyable. I leave any political reservations about software at the door.

      On the other hand, the people who don't really get CS (and there are a few of them, they tend to be pretty annoyed when they're told to learn languages themselves rather than expect classes on each one) will whine and bitch about Microsoft. These people often go and become network admins or monkey coders (but not all net admins are these kind of people, so don't get upset :) because it's a job, and they can make money from it.

      Henry

  • by Dr. Awktagon (233360) on Sunday March 03, 2002 @05:23PM (#3102398) Homepage

    [Microsoft's software] has some advantages: it is generally more consistent in quality ..

    Yes, I suppose if there is one thing you can say about Microsoft's software, it's that the level of quality has been quite consistent.

  • ... they are switched, if any.

    Students will pretty much do what their teachers tell them. I don't know about your side of the atlantic, but over here that is mostly Java these days - though I heard that the EE department at my university collectivly switched to .NET already.

  • That's one of the reasons they've introduced their 'Student Consultant' program in Europe (and I believe in the States). Microsoft are aware that students often have very strong opinions about Linux and Microsoft, and have been trying to forge a relationship with students to improve matters.

    So two years ago a lecturer I knew at my university [york.ac.uk] in England put me forward for a student consultantship. Microsoft were taking between one and four students from the best Comp. Sci. universities in Britain. I got a reasonable sum of (tax-free) money, a laptop, an Aero PocketPC (the precursor to the Ipaq, which I have also received), a couple year's MSDN subscription, and trips to TechEd '00 and '01 in Amsterdam and Barcelona. In return I was to do some research vaguely involving Microsoft technologies over my summer break. It was a pretty sweet deal, and I'm typing this from my free laptop :)

    Microsoft have also pushed the 'Academic Alliance', which serves to give Comp. Sci. students at various universities free copies of practically every bit of Microsoft software (they exclude Office) in return for the University handing over a nominal fee. There have also been various deals regarding free games for completed Web Services, and such like.

    Of course, in an ideal world, students will leave university with a completely objective viewpoint, ready to pick the software that best fits their (and their company's) needs with respect to price, performance, stability, features etc. Most CS students I know don't really care about the software they use - this reflects the fact that CS degrees should have very little software-specific content. However, there are always a vocal few who are pro- or anti- this or that. They're kinda boring :)

    Henry

  • by joneshenry (9497) on Sunday March 03, 2002 @05:30PM (#3102428)
    Microsoft in 5 years has been completely overrun in the CS departments not by Linux but by Java. Java has a relatively simple syntax compared to C or C++, is comprehensive in its libraries, is object-oriented, and runs on almost every operating environment a student might have. It is the perfect programming language for quite a bit of the foundational computer science courses.

    Thanks to the incredible blunder of licensing the source code from Sun, Microsoft can never make a compatible version of Java 1.2 or higher. I predict that C# will never be able to overcome Java's head start as far as being the common programming language for CS. Java will dominate the CS curriculum for at least two decades--possibly forever.

    It is not Linux that will contain MS's expansion to the enterprise, it is Java. Java is the language of interconnection, and it is interconnection that is the major computer project of our time. Sun's firm grip on its copyrights and trademarks for Java are a far more effective barrier against Microsoft than any antitrust judgment could have been. It is Java that has united everyone from Oracle to IBM to Sun against Microsoft. The line has been held. With everyone against them I see Microsoft making little further headway despite .Net.

  • Duh? (Score:4, Informative)

    by GrEp (89884) <<crb002> <at> <gmail.com>> on Sunday March 03, 2002 @05:36PM (#3102451) Homepage Journal
    If you ask me GNU Applications and a few other programs are the killer apps for GNU/Linux as a CS student.

    1. GCC [gnu.org], Binutils [gnu.org], Emacs [gnu.org]/Vim (General Hacking)

    2. Mesa [mesa3d.org] (Graphics)

    3. Bison [gnu.org]/Flex (Compilers)

    4. Linux [linux.org] (Operating Systems)

    5. Various Packet Analyizers (Networking/Security)

    5. MySQL [mysql.com]/Postgres (Databases)

    The only non opensource application I use is Mathematica, but Wolfram [wolfram.com] provides student discouts and packages such as Combinatorica [combinatorica.com] are opensource.
  • by Chanc_Gorkon (94133) <gorkon@nOspAM.gmail.com> on Sunday March 03, 2002 @05:55PM (#3102536)
    OUr CS department is kind of weird. We have not yet given up teaching COBOL and mainframe assembler, but yet we have almost no UNIX. It's MENTIONED in the OS classes, but no where have I seen a faculty member either use or talk about Linux. They are all Vis Studio stuff when they talk about PC stuff. They have nothing on PERL, Tcl/Tk or anything else. My hope is that will soon change as we are part way thru a conversion to AIX and ORACLE for the RDBMS(yeah not Linux, but at least it isn't Microsoft and SQL server.) Our first live module will go online in July and April 29th is when I start my training on AIX System Administration. Being we still have the mainframe, I am going to try to talk them into doing something with Linux on it. My imagination is we could make it possible to host student web servers (with full root access possible...if yer server get's rooted, then we pull the account or control it with VM! :) ). I dunno. Seems to me we can do something with that box since we do own it (so long as IBM service agreement does not go up alot). Anyway, what scares me is that I don't really want to reccomend our program as of yet because I am not sure in what direction it is going.
  • by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Sunday March 03, 2002 @05:57PM (#3102550) Homepage
    I'm a Freshman in college right now, I and I can tell you that this article is exactly what I'm feeling.

    I've always loved computers, and know that programming and working with them is what I'd like to do. But as this has come closer to being true (because I'm in college now, as opposed to the 7th grade), I have become extreemly disenfranchised with MS. MS was a company that I had always wanted to work for, (or Nintendo) because they make computer products, they do all sorts of cool stuff, and they are based in Seattle, Washington (MAJOR plus for me, used to live there, loved it).

    But as I've gotten older, my oppinion has changed. I'm not sure if this is mostly my maturing, reading more news about the computer industry, or a multi-fold increase in the evilness of Microsoft. At this point in my life, I really don't want to work for Microsoft. As it stands (at least from my point of view) is that their products are getting bigger (bloated), buggier, slower, and more expensive. The biggest problem for me is the new features. They seem to keep adding this that are either useless or worse.

    Let's review a quick list of "features" as I see them in recent products:

    • Media Player - Got better and better, but as of Windows 98 or so, it's just gotten bloated and slow as MOLLASSAS (yes I know I can't spell.)
    • Product Activation - Protects me from people ripping off Microsoft, allowing prices to be lower. Is it just me or is a full copy of Windows STILL $200 bucks or so? It didn't drop.
    • Support for the Newest Hardware - This means that MS is too lazy to optomise code, so I have to have the newest hardware to have things run at a useable speed.

    Now don't get me wrong, MS has done some great things too. DirectX started out life very patheticaly, but has really become an excelent API. MS made it so my soundcard doesn't have to be a Sound Blaster, become we all know that in the dos days "compatible" meant "good luck getting your games to work". The only mice and keyboards I have are ALL made by Microsoft, becase they are the most comfortable, and I know there will not be any compatibility problems (although I'm sure that that is rare with keyboards and mice).

    The other big thing that has happened to me to change my oppion is Linux. I'm sorry but I just don't see how anyone who is in the CS field can look at Linux and not be inspired. Linus wanted to make his own operating system, and he wanted to it be good. He wanted it free, and now we have Linux. It's free, you can see how it works, and it runs great on hardware that's more than 6 months old. Yes, Linux has some serious problems from the desktop standpoint (we can argue this later), but it's getting there. This has made Linux VERY attractive to me, while MS just seems to sit there saying "I know what you need, it's my newest $100 upgrade that won't change a thing." Of course, what this really means is "don't like the bugs? Too bad! Pony up or suffer!"

    It is for these reasons and many more that I have begun to dislike MS. They hold the computer world in the palm of their hands, and so they are squeezing money out of us. Yes, Office is a great program and they should charge a premium for it, but $600 for a full version? $250 for an upgrade? $100 for a full copy of Word? That's ludicrous.

    In summation, I don't really want to work for MS anymore. I still like Nintendo, but I think it would also be fun to be at iD and some other companies. I can't think of anyone I've met at my school who don't use Linux, or at least have a grudge against MS. With Microsoft going the way it is, I really don't see how CS students could see them any other way. At this point I'd like to say thanks for listening to my rantings. They are my opinions and once again, I know that I can't spell. I'd copy and paste this into Word to be spell checked, but I don't feel like waiting a full minute for it to open on my 1 ghz laptop that has 512mb of RAM. Also, in reality I'm a CoE student, because I like the harware side too. I used to want to be CS, and I can't help but wonder if I've moved towards CoE in part because of how my feelings of MS have changed.

    • Dude,

      1. Learn how to spell. It'll get you farther in life. Besides, if you do migrate away from Microsoft, emacs doesn't have a built-in spell checker, AFAIK.

      2. I don't know how you ever felt enfranchised with Microsoft; maybe you held their stock and could vote by proxy? Or maybe Microsoft has now put shackles on your feet and made you their slave...

      3. I worked inside MS, so I feel obligated to say that I think the code reviews done inside my unit (ISBU = Internet Services Business Unit) were pretty darn good. It's hard to catch every bug, and people like features. If you don't like the feature creep, use Windows 95 or 3.1. Sure, you can't use brand-spanking new hardware, but often you can't with Linux anyways, plus the lack of bloat will make up your speed difference. Better yet, run Win95 on VMware atop Linux.

      4. Product activation is bad. Would you rather have a dongle?

      5. Frankly, to anyone in the Real World, $600 for Office is _nothing_ compared to the productivity you get out of it. Sure, I enjoy tweaking every last parameter in LaTeX, but give LaTeX to the average secretary, and you'll be spending over 100 hours of their time with training and support and looking stupid things up in the manual. (Don't believe me? Tell me where TeX keeps all its hidden math font metrics... I spent a day looking. Not that MS gives you the control; it just lets you know that it's in control and there's nothing you can do about it) That'll make up your $600, even at salary alone, let alone fringe, office space, etc.

      Life's too short to worry about cost for products like Windows and Office. The obnoxious thing about MS is how they implicitly encourage people to upgrade, then send non-backwards-compatible file formats around, so you pretty much _have_ to upgrade. Not to mention their wonderful security.

      BTW You should consider reinstalling Windows and Office if your Word loads are taking 1 minute. I just timed my P3-850 at .95seconds for a Word load. And if it matters to you, Windows is not my primary desktop environment; this is being written on a FreeBSD machine.
      • Product activation is bad. Would you rather have a dongle?

        Product activation in any form is simply evil. Microsoft is trying to be like FlexLM by Globertrotter.

        As a Unix admin, I must say that of all aspects of my job (including supporting the users), I hate flexlm above all things. I piss away more time getting the keys installed than the damned software.

        Why should I need to get a stinkin' key, when I've got the software purchase invoice in my hand?!?

        I wish MS would use a dongle. That would push many people over very quickly.

  • Moot Point (Score:4, Interesting)

    by NumberSyx (130129) on Sunday March 03, 2002 @06:06PM (#3102589) Journal
    None of this matters anyway. WHEN (notice I didn't say if) the SSSCA passes, all Operating Systems besides Windows XP and Apples OS X (MS will give them a license so as not to appear as a monopoly) will be illegal, because Microsoft owns the patent on the idea of a DRM Operating Systsem, the government mandated anti-copying technology will be a closed standard and reverse engineering it will be illegal under the DMCA.
  • My observations. (Score:4, Informative)

    by SagSaw (219314) <slashdot&mmoss,org> on Sunday March 03, 2002 @06:34PM (#3102714)
    I'm not a CS major, but a EE major who has a work-study job with the computer center. Here are some of my observations:

    1. Many students prefer the Sun boxes to the NT boxes, especially in the ME program. The CAD software they use is availible both on the NT machines and on the Sun machines. The main reason for the Sun preferece is that the software (and underlying OS) is much more stable. It was not uncommon in my ME-101 CAD class to lose hours of work when the software crashed and corrupted the file.

    2. There are two things that keep a windows partition on my machine: Games and the ability to open word/excel/matlab documents distributed by professors and project groups. (I won't touch AIM with a 10 foot pole, but the lack of a decent AIM client has been mentioned by some other students as a reason why they keep windows around.

    3. Some of the techinical staff seem to have become very frusterated with Microsoft's tatics, licensing, and upgrade cycle. When asked a while ago why we didn't have Office 2000 in the labs, one administrator clearly stated that they would not pay Microsoft repeatedly for the same product; without any new and useful features in the latest MS offerings, there is no reason to upgrade.
  • by smartin (942) on Sunday March 03, 2002 @07:06PM (#3102884)
    If i were a student and wanted to learn about operating systems, what does M$ have to offer me. Instead i'd get the Linux kernel and play. Who knows, a smart student that figures out a better way to do something, has an excellent shot at having it incorporated into the real thing.

    Same goes for device drivers, if you are a student playing with a piece of hardware, are you going to create a device driver for nt? Not likely, linux, sure there is no barrier to entry.
  • by seantrue (195770) on Sunday March 03, 2002 @07:11PM (#3102903)
    I'm not a computer scientist, never trained as one. I have been a programmer since college, which has been a while.

    In that time, I've worked on IBM 11/30, Digital PDP-8, and PDP-11, Lisp machines, Motorola 6502, 6800, 68000, Intel 8080, 8086, 286, 386, 486, and multiple flavors of Pentium. I've worked with more operating systems than that. And with nearly that many languages.

    So, why am I geezing?

    The only constant I've seen in all of this is change. A CS or engineering student who thinks that he is going to get a job based on the platform that he is using in school has a very short view. As a hiring manager, I have often cared about both language and OS, but I have always cared more about demonstrated intelligence, adaptability, and social skills.

    Windows and Linux will both fade in importance, even during my remaining career. Twenty years is forever in this business, and the rate of change is increasing. RPG gave way -- so will .NET -- but the ability to think, design, and plan will not.

    • Excess attachment to any technology is a sure road to a to a small cube far away from the windows!
  • by Geek In Training (12075) <cb398 AT hotmail DOT com> on Sunday March 03, 2002 @07:33PM (#3102987) Homepage
    Timothy said: The article isn't deep or flawless, but hits on a major point: what students learn in school is key to what they go on to do.

    Then why aren't 90% of tech workers aged 25-32 using Apple hardware and technology? Most folks I know used the ubiquitous Apple II and/or Mac equipment in grade schools and high schools from 1984-1992. (Myself included.)

    When I left HS (1994), I was Mac only. My family all had Macs. Most of my classmates, though, had PCs at home, and using the Mac was "difficult" (read: different) for them. They went off to college with Win3.1 machines.

    Nowaday, do you think they're using Macs, Win3.1, Win2k/XP, or Linux?

    If you said 95% percent off them are using Win2k/XP, you're probably right. It's the path of least resistence.

    It's probably MORE likely that a CS major would use Linux than an "average Joe" on campus would, but still: CS majors, take a look around. We The Geeky are the chosen few who dare mess with things like Linux and BSD (and to some degree, Macs, for the Love of Apple). The sad fact is, the majority of CS majors are of the mindset that "It's all about the benjamins, baby."

    I know a jock-cum-CS grad who just graduated and got a job at my employer for $50K a year. He's a nice guy, but he does not share the passion for the technology that the typical Slashdotter would have.
  • It will take a while (Score:5, Informative)

    by KidSock (150684) on Sunday March 03, 2002 @08:15PM (#3103134)
    If this is true, it will take many years for it to unfold because what CS students think doesn't matter. Sorry guys, you're opinions are moot because it's the middle managers that decide what middleware will be used to deliver product. Microsoft is not concerned too much with what the students think (although they are keen to hand out lot's of free copies of Visual Studio at CS departments once in a while to make sure you're familiar with their dev tools), they are concerned more with how the managers perceive their product. Managers are not concerned with the same things programmers are. They will pick the app that has cool buttons even if it doesn't work over the app with plain buttons that does work. If you don't believe me, then why doesn't your average departmental website use PHP? It's a perfect match if I ever saw one. If you want Linux to be the platform of choice you'll have to wait until you're a manager in 10 yrs.
  • by lkaos (187507) <anthony.codemonkey@ws> on Sunday March 03, 2002 @09:20PM (#3103369) Homepage Journal
    I guess my best response to this is to say how I lost faith in MS.

    I started programming at an extremely young age. I was around 7 when I first started with LOGO and was programming for long periods of time in BASICA when I was around 12.

    As I got older (and learned more math) I started getting very interested in more complex languages (namely C). This was before C++ was really out there. I was very lucky because I had a computer that ran Windows but Basic wouldn't let me take that next step to do real Windows programming.

    I wasn't able to write C in Windows because at the time, the only option would have been to buy the MS compiler for like $500 ($200 for students though). Now, I had a hard enough time explaining to my parents why I was spending so much time on a computer without trying to explain why I needed $200 dollars for a 'compiler'.

    So I started using Linux, and today, I have a deep hatred towards Microsoft. There is no reason why they have to charge $200 for a compiler for students. Had they been more open or offered reasonably priced products, I would be a Windows programmer today.

    It's funny that Balmer screams 'Developers, Developers' because what he should be saying is 'Corporate developers, Corporate developers'. I truly believe MS has lost the CS youth with their expensive products and their predatory practices. That is why I believe in 10 years, MS will not hold the position they hold today.

    I know I'm not about to forget why I left Windows and I'm sure most other folks out there aren't either.
  • Industry Standard (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LoudMusic (199347) on Sunday March 03, 2002 @09:34PM (#3103411)
    I'm sure this will be lost in the shuffle and consumed by the abundance of posts - but here goes ...

    There's a little thing called "Industry Standard". Whether it's the best way, the right way, the cheapest way, or the most effective way doesn't really mean dick when you hit the corporate level. They want the stuff that everybody else is using. Talking someone into using a new product that isn't very compatible with everyone else is rather difficult.

    Example:

    Quark Inc [quark.com] makes a layout program called QuarkXpress [quark.com]. It's the industry standard. It costs over $800. Adobe Systems Inc [adobe.com] makes a competetive (some say better ) layout program called InDesign [adobe.com]. It costs $700. The really big difference is that Adobe GIVES its software to design classes to be taught to the students, Quark requires the school to purchase their software.

    This has been happening (PageMaker before InDesign) for about six years. Quark is still the industry standard and I don't see it changing for another year. Fortunately Quark screwed the pooch and didn't make Xpress native for OS X, and everyone is dumping them. It'll take time to filter through the entire graphic arts arena.

    The same thing is going to happen with Microsoft. Their products are industry standard. They're going to have to make a MAJOR mistake before anyone else comes along to take the lead.

    ~LoudMusic
  • I already have (Score:3, Interesting)

    by wbav (223901) <Guardian.Bob+Slashdot@gmail.com> on Sunday March 03, 2002 @09:57PM (#3103500) Homepage Journal
    I got tired of M$ about a year ago, well truthfully before that, but we'll call it a year.

    The thing that kept me using it for as long as I did, was the support for my sound, the cs4281, which was finally handled last year in a kernel update. Quite frankly, I love the switch. All our lower division programming projects are done in java here at OSU, so linux works just as well as windows. If they tell me I have to have codewarrior, I use gvim, it's as simple as that.

    There was one more thing that kept me on windows for so long, the game engine, Half-Life. I used transgamming's winex to get it to work on RH 7.2, and it runs better than in winbloze.

    I look at it this way, when I get a job doing real programming, I'm going to be using Unix/Solaris. In fact, both my intern jobs, where I did things with computers, went to Linux/Solaris. The fact that I had as much experince, with not only windows, linux, but also Macintosh made my work that much better.

    My Macintosh experince has shown me that user design can make or break a product.

    My Windows experince has shown ease of use of databases through odbc, and the importance of flat files.

    My Unix/Linux/Solaris experince has shown me the power of using small programs to take on a big problem, thus making each part work together to complete a common goal.

    I think all three are needed by any cs student, but as long as schools continue to cater to M$ products, such as requiring you use code warrior, or visual c++, I think they will stiffle what most cs students really need.
  • Think about this? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by southern (22565) on Sunday March 03, 2002 @10:48PM (#3103638) Homepage
    You call Microsoft two years from now to re-activate your Outlook 2002. They tell you that they don't support that version and you need to pay for an upgrade to re-activate it. No company should have this power.

    Beside from Linux I use WindowsNT and Office 2000. I will never upgrade from there. I don't want to get caught in Microsoft's activation hell. It is only going to get worst.

  • by Froggy (92010) on Monday March 04, 2002 @12:59AM (#3104074) Homepage
    I'm an Australian CS tutor (I believe Americans call us "T/As"). I have a couple of points:

    1) When my students grizzle that we're teaching them C and MIPS R2000 assembler instead of Java and Pentium assembler, I point out to them that in my first year, 1986, I learned interpreted Pascal and VAX Macro. Where would I be if I'd refused to learn anything apart from what I did at Uni? Unemployable, that's where. Current vendors would like you to think that their products are the final phase of computer technology and will never be outdated. This is, of course, horseshit. If you graduate with a BCompSci and manage to make a professional programmer of yourself, you'll be retraining yourself every couple of years.

    2) A related point: people who get most of their computer knowledge from the back of PC Week or similar publications will get the impression that programmers need to know some API or another, and will jump to the conclusion that universities should teach an API (such as .NET). It seems to me that APIs come and go, and this year's .NET specialist will be next year's dole recipient if s/he isn't willing and able to retrain to the next fashionable package. As a University, my institution is offering training as a background to a lifetime of employment. We're trying to give you the tools with which you can re-educate yourself: flexibility, critical thinking, logic, and a sound understanding of the basics. You won't come out of one of *my* prac classes without knowing what a "core dump" is for!

    3) Recently, the IT Support department at my university tried to make MS Visual C++ the standard C compiler in our PC labs. The first-year lecturers overrode them: we're currently using Borland C++ for those first-years who choose not to use Linux/GCC (first-year pracs can be done under the OS of their choice, but we enforce linux for subsequent years). The key reason for Borland over Microsoft in this case is that students can fetch a compatible C compiler that they can use at home from borland.com, for free. Not cheap. Free. As in beer. Oh yeah, and when you go to tell me how cheap the academic versions of things are, please remember that the Australian dollar is worth bugger-all at the moment, so it's going to be twice as many of our dollars...

  • by sabshire (40466) <slashdot,3,sabshire&spamgourmet,com> on Monday March 04, 2002 @08:26AM (#3104798)
    My favorite line....

    Linux hackers from Germany and elsewhere are working on a Windows-like graphical interface for Linux PCs called KDE (for K Desktop Environment). They expect to release it this spring--free of charge

    And all this time I have been using vaporware I guess... :)

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