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Virginia Beach Pays Microsoft $129,000 398

An unnamed correspondent writes: "As a follow-up to a story a few weeks ago about Microsoft's surprise audit of the city of Virginia Beach municipal government's office PCs, the results are in. This story in the local newspaper tells us that they just sent a check to Microsoft for $129,000. Apparently they couldn't find the paperwork for 800+ licenses (out of 6000+), so rather than spend more time trying to track down the invoices/receipts they just sent a check to try and settle. No word back from Microsoft yet as to whether this is sufficient to close the matter." Of course, that much money (just the money they're paying to take care of uncertain licenses) could probably also buy CD burners and enough blanks to create no-license-hassles copies of Linux or Free / Open / NetBSD for every computer the city owns.
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Virginia Beach Pays Microsoft $129,000

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  • One of the biggest problems in general office use Linux-vs-MS TCO calculations is that the cost of running Linux this year is substantially higher than the cost of running Linux next year, and the year after, etc.

    Yes, there's additional training involved. Yes, this means training for office staff, not just the back room administrators.

    But when it's all said and done, you're not paying through the nose for updated MS products as often as they deem fit to bump a version number.

  • by Gleef ( 86 )
    Sorry for the double reply. Mantrid also asked:

    Does Linux have an equivalent to Citrix?

    Yes it does. It's more reliable and Free. It's called VNC. Most Linux users use the Windows server and Linux client kinda like a cross-platform PCAnywhere. If instead you use the Linux server and whatever client you feel like, it pretty much works like Citrix, except you are getting a Linux desktop rather than a Windows one, and your budget isn't hemmoraging due to Citrix's licensing fees. There are officially distributed clients for Linux, Solaris, Windows (95/98/ME/NT/2000 AND CE-SH3/CE-MIPS), Java, Macintosh (68k & PPC), and Alpha OSF1. It's Free software so if your client machine isn't listed it should be easy to port it.

  • Of course, depending on what you're looking for, the necessary apps might already be there. StarOffice is adequate as an office suite, if a bit bloated (but then, find me a slim office suite). Mozilla nightlies (pick a recent one) are good-to-great. Evolution is developing, but you can slap together a solution using Balsa or Pine and ical, or the KOffice package. I think StarOffice itself also supports e-mail (POP and IMAP), though the web browser stinks.

    Now, if you need functions that only MS Office has, you're kinda screwed. Still, all some shops need is a migration path for their applications in order to send Windows and its myriad licensing issues packing.
  • by Veteran ( 203989 ) on Friday December 01, 2000 @04:40AM (#589455)
    I think in the religious war over the quality of MS software there are a couple of points that everyone is missing.

    The first thing to note is that the 'raids' are taking place in Virginia. I don't think this is accidental: Virginia is the first state to pass UCITA.

    I suspect that what Microsoft is doing is attacking in the place where it has the best chance of winning, and then using the precedents (if anyone tries to counter in court) to bully governments and companies in the other states where UCITA is not the law.

    Microsoft must be getting desperate for revenue growth sources. Somebody at the corporate offices probably realized that most people are not fastidious about keeping 'proof of purchase' certificates, and realized that recharging legitimate owners was a potential revenue stream.

  • by Zagato-sama ( 79044 ) on Friday December 01, 2000 @05:27AM (#589456) Homepage
    This is absolute bullshit.

    1. You insinuate that they really had those 800 licenses. Riiight... yet another little guy being kicked around by "Big Brother" @_@

    2. Anyone who's spewing nonsense about having them switch to Linux obviously doesn't realize the cost of moving an organization from one operating system to another.

    3. Microsoft was in the right here, they enforced their licensing clause. Get over it.
  • With all due respect, but I still think a M$ network is easier to maintain than a *Nix one.

    And as a previous poster already mentioned, we have to care for our Minesweeper-addicted public workers, don't we?

    There is little shortage of Minesweeper clones in the Unix world.

    I'm not convinced a Unix network is harder to manage than a M$ one; the only area where I would agree that Unix is a bit lacking is in the quality and breadth of Office type software. KOffice is getting there but has a long way to catch up before it reaches the functionality of Office. [ Having said that though, how many people actually use anything like the full functionality of any Office package ?]. And whilst there is StarOffice, WordPerfect et el, none of them are quite up there with Office. and of course there is the external compatibility issues too.

  • With 6000 users messing around with things they shouldn't be messing around with? I hope you're kidding. Besides, typing in "ghost" is as easy on a *nix system as it is on a M$.

    Not to add to much to the fire...but! (you knew that was comming)

    1. If the users are able to mess around with things they shouldn't, that's the network administrators fault

    With both *nix and Win* systems, you can restrict the user's capabilities. Under *nix, the restrictions come in automatically and are much more powerful. If you administer either *nix or Win* systems and don't have customized default restrictions, you don't have many client machines to manage or are crazy.

    In a *nix system, if the person screws up thier desktop too much, you can write a script that resets the desktop at each login. On top of that, the /home directories can come from the network so they are easier to backup. The system and application files on the local machine should never be mucked with by a user, unless they are capable and are willing to take some responsibility when things go wrong.

  • Many if not most states have sunshine laws that means that any information they hold belongs to the public, with a few exceptions to protect the public's privacy (e.g. tax records) or sometimes to protect the government's position in negotiations currently being conducted.

    It should be possible for a citizen to figure out how much is paid for software and what the software is used for. A simple comparison of the two tells you whether the agency is in compliance. Governments are sitting ducks for this kind of thing.

  • by SamBeckett ( 96685 ) on Friday December 01, 2000 @03:26AM (#589465)

    Wouldn't use a free system unless it had a very good implementation of Solitaire and MineSweeper.

    Linux just doesn't cut it when it comes to those two apps.

  • If M$ will accept this money as being "sufficient" then I can imagine Virginia doing this. Digging up all the paperwork might very well cost them tons of time and money anyway. Without approving of M$ methods, how hard can it be to store your licenses in such a way that you can retrieve them if you actually need them?
  • A large monopolistic company in the pocket of a candidate dedicated to the proposition that hard copy records are just too innaccurate and we should rely soley on the electronic tally - suing a government that can't produce the hardcopy record of the the number of 'ballots' cast for said software product.
  • I don't know many people who have been trained in MS products, they've just been given a PC and a phone number and told to get on with it. One of the many reasons why the for Dummies series is so popular.
    MS are making a big mistake here, overtly abusing their customers. IBM made the same mistake when it was a monopoly and now it's just another player. The same thing will happen to MS unless they start treating the people that put them where they are with a little more respect.
  • > Multiply this by at least 1000 for the entire US, and you have easily enough money to write apps which do a better job of meeting the specific needs of municipal institutions while maintaining user compatibility with MS Office. Unfortunately, that will never happen because municipal institutions will avoid co-ordinating with each other if it kills them.

    That's what I keep telling a friend who works in IT at a 2-year college. They license a big administrative app that costs a heap and works like crap. They have the code, so they find it easier to fix it themselves than to beat a fix out of the vendor. But whenever a new version comes out -- about once a year -- it does not include all the local fixes and enhancements, so they have to give it a major reworking before they can put it into production.

    Other 2-year colleges all over the state use the same software, and have the same experiences with it. So my question is: why not ditch the vendor, let each school appoint one of their current maintainers as a full-time developer, and pool that talent between all the schools to create an OSS version? Not only would they lose the licensing fees, they would also reduce the amount of staff currently dedicated to keeping it running. And -- here's the shocker for S/W consumers -- they would end up with a project that actually did what they needed, rather than what some vendor Marketroid and clueless college purchasing agent thought they ought to have.

    To many people still fail to see where their own best interests lie, when it comes to IT systems.

  • I used to work for a group that administered about 5,000 *nix workstations, a mix of Irix, SunOS, Solaris, AIX, and more. There were 6 people in our group. One of them did printers. One of them did classified systems. One of them did backup. That left three people to administrate 5,000 *nix machines. It worked just fine. We didn't handle things like ``I don't remember my password'' but if there was a problem with a *system* it was our job to fix. It wasn't too bad at all. You just write lots of scripts.

    Very few of the people with *nix machines were big unix geeks. Basically, you put the applications they need on the root menu and show them how to use it. That's about all they need to know.

  • Yep,
    The have the right! Ever READ the license agreement you signed? Buy ONE thing from them (or down load one thing etc) and they can come in and look. It's rare, but they do
  • I would hardly be surprised if 10-15% of installations in an organization this size actually were 'apparently illegal'. This does not mean that the city had any tacit policy or tolerance of 'stolen software' (or did not purchase/track properly licensed software). It refers to the practical details of life in an office environment.

    1. Registry corrupt. User (or tech) installs from nearest convenient CD and number
    2. An app is installed for a single or time-limited use and never uninstalled.
    3. Due to a hardware failure (even a single component), a system is returned (in whole or in part) or "parted" our to repair other systems on the bench. The software may be kept (may not be refundable), but tracking what went where may be a nightmare after a few years. The "items" (e.g. complete system packages) invoice no longer reflect the systems actually in use.
    4. Tracking/accountability systems are complex, and often reveal unexpected weaknesses when data is accessed in unexpected ways, when data entry practices mutate over time, or when users do not fully understand the intent (and distinctions) of every single field

    Any one of these could result in numerous (long-lived) apparent violations

    I am not against commercial software (or MS), but we should recognize that the law lists countless situations where the courts have altered general legal principles, ruled clauses unenforceable, or otherwise made explicit (and even unexpected) allowances for the fact that a given law/clause was an undue hardship in "ordinary use"

    Such rules occur even when the "rights" of the individuals are clear, when society has a compelling interest, and where (il)legality is uncontested. Sometimes the courts just throw up their hands. Examples (varying by jurisdiction, of course) range from "no pets" rental clauses to adultery to certain situation in child custody to [fill in your favorite]. Often, the "unworkablility" of the provision seems very tenuous to the party on the other side of the case.

    The current mechanism for software licensing may turn out to be precisely such a case, thought the software industry has fought to keep it from being declared on until now. If audits like this become commonplace -who knows?- it may just turn out to be more of a burden than the courts want to take on. Or perhaps they'll take pity on the beleagered small-medium-large office. (Don't hold your breath)

    My point is: keeping track of use of intangibles is not easy or straightforward. Keeping track of parts is at least as hard [even in mision critical settings such as military and aviation; as many news items have attested]. Keeping track of *intangible* parts (like software) may be next to impossible in a large fluid organization. If it turns out that eseentially every office has some apparent violations, it would be hard to argue that perfect compliance is possible or reasonable.

    I don't like exceptions that 'bend the law', especially when they evenutally cause a law o be unenforceable. But the law has been around a long time, and has learned that sometimes, you simply have to let people do what they set about doing (run a business or a personal life) and cuts exemptions for them as a practical matter. Perhaps software licensing may be affected by this in the future.
  • Actually, you can't (legally) make copies of official OpenBSD CD-ROMs, AFAIK. Theo de Raadt copyrighted the CD's layout in a feeble attempt to bring in more CD revenue. Of course, you're welcome to make your own source and binary CD-ROM distributions... Theo's bitchy little mindset doesn't work too well with the liberal BSD license.

    For the disbelievers, here's an excerpt from the FAQ [openbsd.com]:

    3.1.2 - Does OpenBSD provide an ISO image available for download?

    You can't. The official OpenBSD CD-ROM layout is copyright Theo de Raadt, as an incentive for people to buy the CD set. Note that only the layout is copyrighted, OpenBSD itself is free. Nothing precludes someone else to just grab OpenBSD and make their own CD.
    And people wonder why Theo has a reputation for being a dumbass!

    All generalizations are false.

  • by gelfling ( 6534 ) on Friday December 01, 2000 @04:46AM (#589484) Homepage Journal
    for the sound that the UN black helicopters make when they're hovering over your house while aiming the mass delusional raygun at you. Didn't you get the secret memo on that?
  • I can't believe people still think that administering Windows networks can be easier than Unix. The following things require a server reboot:

    Changing the server's WINS server.
    Adding an IP address to a multihomed NIC.
    Changing DNS settings (although this can be ignored)
    Installing and activating LPR printing
    And so on, and so on. God forbid that you need to do something on a critical box, like a WINS server - the network will flake for a long (>1 minute) time. MS' implementation of broadcast-then-query-then-broadcast for name resolution sucks.

    THIS is why people hardcode everything on their desktop boxen, and if something breaks, re-ghost the whole damn thing.
    Install software in the wrong order? Reinstall the OS.
    Install a new media subsystem, to find that its buggy? Reinstall the OS.
    Install a web-browser? Reboot. If it breaks, reinstall the OS.
    Try to "upgrade" productivity software? Reboot. Then reinstall.

    Some of this is true in the Unix (Linux) world. But having the system services (paenguins) completely independent of the OS is a Good Thing (tm). Give me SSH and NIS over sneakernet, SMS and WINS/NT-Domains any day. At least you can look in a human-readable file to see config details, and a human-readable text file, verbose as you like, error log.

    Just because people use MS at home, and like the Paperclip, and play Minesweeper, doesn't make Windows a better office App. Suite.

  • by jesser ( 77961 ) on Friday December 01, 2000 @04:46AM (#589487) Homepage Journal
    Beach leaders asked Microsoft for a 30-day extension, through Nov. 27, to comply.

    Aren't there more effective ways to buy votes with $129,000 than forcing everyone in the city to use linux? Oh wait, never mind, wrong story.


  • Are you mad at City Hall? or any other government agency or political organization?

    You can make money off of their technological incompetance.

    You can turn them in to the BSA [bsa.org], and in some countries even collect bonuses [theregister.co.uk].

    just think, another tool to push *your* political agenda.

    Start today!

  • Of course, that much money (just the money they're paying to take care of uncertain licenses) could probably also buy CD burners and enough blanks to create no-license-hassles copies of Linux or Free / Open / NetBSD for every computer the city owns.

    Of course, that much money wouldn't come near paying the annual salaries for the army of tech support people they would need to add to the staff try to keep Linux/Unix running on the city's desktops.

    These OS's are NOT free...the software itself just doesn't cost anything. You can slam MS products all you want, and they aren't perfect, but they do the job with lower total cost of ownership.
  • This whole concept of licensing has gone wrong. I would think it should be Microsoft's job to keep track of that information, not the customer. For warranty and other customer benefits, I can see how it would be a better idea to let the customer keep control of the information, but if Microsoft really cared about stopping piracy, they would have the license information already and find a way to make it harder to pirate (for their more expensive apps and OS's.) A product I work with gives you the software, but to use it, you have to buy licenses, which are assigned to a certain domain name and MAC address. Sure, it is a hassle of your NIC dies, but it helps them have a stronger control over their products.

    In this case, it is almost a scam by M$ to get money for nothing. It's pretty simple to have a lawyer send a generic threat to an organization, then expect that organization to get scared because they made running a city a higher priority than doing Micro$oft's work. I say screw M$, and I only use their software at work because I have to...although I'm about 90% able to use Solaris instead, which I like a lot better for doing work (well, and running xsnow right now.)

  • In a *nix system, if the person screws up thier desktop too much, you can write a script that resets the desktop at each login. On top of that, the /home directories can come from the network so they are easier to backup.

    If you did an iota of research, or put as much effort into learning the scripting abilities of Windows as you doubtless spend fiddling with your config files and reading man pages, you'd have found that all these are possible on Windows too.

    The system and application files on the local machine should never be mucked with by a user, unless they are capable and are willing to take some responsibility when things go wrong.

    This is a basic management issue, and last I looked, Unix doesn't make qualified sysadmins out of users any more than Windows does.
  • The other way usually runs:
    • User: Hello?
    • MS: Microsoft calling. According to a disgruntled employee, you have an invalid license for your copies of Windows.
    • User: But I paid for it! (Mentally thinking: "Damn, I gave those silly holograms to my kids.")
    • MS: Not our problem. Disgruntled employees never lie. Cough up the licenses, or just pay us again, and we'll leave you alone until we come back next year.

  • This kind of security and usability is fine for geeks and admins, but just isn't the kind of thing that my Grandma could use.
    Using chmod 644 is not necessary to set file permissions; for individual files I just do like any Windows user: right click on the file and access Properties. I'm running KDE, but you can do the same with Gnome or any other X Windows system.

    I set up Unix accounts for visiting 8-10 year olds on my home network, so I'm sure your Granny would have no problem.

    Even my girlfriend who:
    a) has almost no computer experience
    b) isn't intellectually the brightest tool in the box,
    now understands what the root user on my system is for and can perform some limited admin tasks on my network.

    Unix does require a little patience to explain novel concepts to Windows users like security, but after people have overcome the intimidation factor they understand the advantages.
  • Windows itself, however, is of debatable quality. I know if Windows had worked as well as I thought it should have, I would never have bothered to learn how to use Linux

    1. What can Linux do that Windows cannot?
    2. What can Windows do that Linux cannot?
  • NEVER buy single copies unless you have less than 20 computers. ALWAYS buy a blanket copy from MS.

    Or never buy an operating system that needs two licenses - one for the software itself, and one for each computer connecting to it. The company I described in my original post got suckered because:

    • Management chose the software
    • Management bought the software
    • IT (in other words, me and my colleagues) wouldn't have believed how stupid NT server's licensing is even if someone had told us

    And remember, this was the time when all big-brand PC suppliers shipped with Windows as default. Even if we wanted SCO or Novell, we would have had to pay extra on top of the Windows tax.


  • by sjames ( 1099 )

    Only because they glibly installed software without keeping track of their licenses. It really isn't that difficult a thing to do, storing and filing is something that business people have been doing with financial data for a very long time, and they don't generally lose financial information often.

    They did that 3-5 years ago according to the article. Don't forget that not allowing a user to just get and install what is needed means adding red tape, paperwork, an administrative authority for approving and tracking purchaces etc. etc. In other words, that software costing $200 that would save you $1000 worth of hours you dont have if you get it today will do you no good next week after it is approved and purchased through channels.

    Remember the paranoia about that tag on the matress (do not remove under penelty of law)? That was all a mis-understanding (doesn't apply to end user). Well, that little certificate that comes with Windows is the full realization of that paranoia. Don't have it? Pay again! Loose the key? Pay again!

    Compare that to a Linux shop. Central distro server. Need software? Just select it from the menu and it's yours.

    I'm just waiting for the grand irony of a company that tracks their licensing in Excel and Access, then has to pay again because the data was lost after an incompatable upgrade (or when access merged too many different record's data together).

    Many companies WOULD be hard pressed to pull up financial data from 5 years ago, because they didn't realise that they had to update the spreadsheet formats with each 'upgrade' or risk losing it to bit rot.

  • There were posts from employees there on the last article. The IT staff apparently wasn't just undereducated, they were non-existant, with the IT Director position being unfilled for more than a year. Plus they had a "WordPerfect is the standard" policy that was bogus and unenforced.

    So, users and departments 'obtained' their own copies of MS Office. Which pretty much ensures that they was a little piracy and that they would never find all the paperwork. And thus they were screwed.
  • Yup, or you can use programs like Exceed, X-Win32, etc. to host apps or full sessions on Windows. I usually run Exceed, with X traffic forwarded and compressed through an ssh session - works rather well. Exceed will also allow you to run a full desktop session, instead of just selected apps.

    VNC works well (I use that, too), but an X-server allows you to connect to more types of hosts and only send the individual windows that you want... of course, I run the Citrix stuff at work, since there isn't a supported version of Notes for AIX (although 4.5.2 runs...).

  • Actually, you are mostly correct, but it isn't that bad. I won't talk about linux, but instead Solaris right now. I assume you can do pretty much the same with linux as well as install a bettter office application. I want to show that there are things I do at work that normally run on windows but I do on Solaris now instead:

    1) Netscape. Sure, the new one sucks. I think I have 4.7 or something old. It works prefectly fine for me on Solaris, and never crashes.

    2) Exchange email. Unfortunately, where I work we are required to use exchange. The good thing is that there is a web based version that works in netscape. It has most of the same functionality as the Windows client, so I can send emails and do whatever I want, except those annoying macro virus things, and of course not view Word or Excel files (yet.)

    3) AOL Instant Messenger. It's too easy to run that via the web. There is the java applet, which I like better than the Win32 client because it stores my list on AOL's server and I never have to set that up again on each computer I use. And yes, I am required to use that at work. At home I prefer ICQ/ICQnix.

    4) ssh. I won't even go in to this one, but my job does require me to use ssh. I do like being able to do it in an xterm instead of the bulky Win32 program SecureCRT that I have to use at work.

    There are other apps but those are probably some of the more common ones. I think if I had a decent office program for Solaris I'd be 99% completely using it, but I have not been happy enough with what I have found so far. Also, I think that with things like SunRay, you can set up terminals for your users that they can simply pop in a smart card and will be at their own machine. It would be very preferable than lugging a laptop around to the conference room, or to another person's desk to show them something on your machine. Plus, the CDE desktop is more suited to me than the Windows GUI. However, if it wasn't, and if the users preferred something else, I have been told that it's not that difficult to install another one like gnome. A sysadmin could do that on the server for all the users of the sunrays. That would also save time in system upgrades because you only need to install it once, rather than on every machine like you would with Windows 9x, NT, 2k, ME, etc.

    Using unix in any form on the desktop is not realy that bad of an idea. I do think if you have a good sysadmin the users won't need to know the command line or how to edit their .profile or anything.

  • It's better than Windows' version, since to reveal mines, you can middle click instead of left and right click together

    You can do that with the Windows version, too. Okay, so I've never tried it with a "real" three button mouse, but clicking the wheel on a wheel mouse is the same as button 3, right? Well, clicking that in Windows Minesweeper does the same as a dual-click.


  • Ok. Here's a solution. Institute a policy. Install Microsoft Windows or any Microsoft software, and you're fired.

    So then the users don't purchase their computer systems through corporate IT, but instead go to Best Buy to buy their computers.

    I've been there, I've done that... Corporate IT can not win battles by ignoring the needs and desires of the end users. At my current company we have a whole division which refuses to use IT resources and instead has their own server admins, desktop guys, etc. All because they think it's ridiculously constrictive to abide by the guidelines our IT staff has put in place.

    Now the one difference is if the endusers go off and buy their own services and refuse to rely on the corporate IT, they are at least lawfully abiding by licenses and such.

    The danger is, this dramatically decreases the power of the IT department and the entity as a whole loses the benefits of scale. i.e. the ability to purchase bulk licensing contracts, etc.

  • I think you miss the point. To a large number of the users Microsoft Office was the best solution. As some comments from the original article indicated, the endusers almost overwhelmingly rejected the WordPerfect suite forced upon them.

    The solution that they devised resulted in costing twice as much because they required each department to effectively buy two different office suites... One imposed by IT, the other that they actually wanted.

    That's not cost effective.

    There are definately some things users want that are harmful to the company, and it is possible to explain and document that. Obviously unfirewalled Internet access would be bad, and there are technical reasons for that.

    But in this case there was no technical basis for the WordPerfect choice, it was only financial, and as it turns out the financial decision was totally ill thought out as the final cost was much much more.
  • Um...perhaps you didn't realize, but the issue at hand is not home use, where you are free to download and decorate as much as you like. This is a municipal government. If I caught one of my employees downloading wallpaper and touching it up, I'd reprimand them on the spot. There are better things to do when you're on the clock.
  • Doesnt this just show its time for governments to fund open source projects? If governments collaborated on software, that im sure they all use, society would be better off. There would be new, freely available applications, and governments budgets would be so much lower.
  • You don't have to deal with everybodyisroot. Remote administration is easier and you have no such thing as a screwed up registry within a couple weeks.

    In all the years I've used Windows, I've never once had a screwed up registry. I don't like the registry, and it's an obvious failure point, but it hasn't caused me any problems. The myth of the fragile registry needs to go away.

  • Not the 500 users I'm responsible for. Most can't even navigate a hierarchical file structure or rename a file.
  • And can you imagine what will happen when in a few years' time, productivity across Virginia Beach will come to a complete halt when their Office 2000 subscription runs out? If they can't keep track of regular licenses, how in the world are they going to handle maintaining a subscription-based office suite? And I can guarantee you that the technology situtation in virginia beach is not that far off from that of many, if not most other state agencies across the nation.
  • Ahh, so good software can't be free, but work by people to keep track of liscenses somehow is. Hmmm...

  • Of course, that much money (just the money they're paying to take care of uncertain licenses) could probably also buy CD burners and enough blanks to create no-license-hassles copies of Linux or Free / Open / NetBSD for every computer the city owns.

    Sure it does. Does it also cover the expenses required in order to get the expertise to get those 6000 systems running and keep 'm that way? With all due respect, but I still think a M$ network is easier to maintain than a *Nix one. And as a previous poster already mentioned, we have to care for our Minesweeper-addicted public workers, don't we?
  • Just thought that I would chime in that Microsoft is pretty reasonable as far as licence auditing goes, in my experience. (No certificate or licence # checks or anything, just a machine count using Server Manager.)

    People here like to make them out to be jackbooted thugs, but the alternative (licence key servers or dongles) would be far far worse. And there's been talk of that for the next version of Office.

    Plus, Microsoft's business model depends on a certain number of non-paying users that they will eventually catch up with. Some folks would love to take advantage of that situation by never paying them, but when it's a large org with thousands of desktops, that's wishful thinking.

    My guess is that someone ratted them out to the SPA that they were using Office without paying for it. When MS called to offer a site licence, they either told them 1) Fuck Off, 2) We use WordPerfect (righhht..), or 3) DUHHH?!!! And thus the hardball started. It looks to me that it's 10-to-1 that they weren't actually 100% legal.
  • I feel governments should be encouraged to adopt more Open Source software. $129,000 doesn't sound a lot, but that is for a mere 800 of 6000+ packages. Multiplying up means Virginia Beach Municipal government has spent $1,000,000 with Microsoft, and replicated across the States that is a huge figure. They aren't necessarily even getting great support for it since MS licenses are infamous for protecting them from everything and anything resembling responsibility.

    If the appropriate Open Source software existed then their software expenditure would be for 1CD plus a few blanks, and then employing the requisite support staff [which they have to do anyway to run their Windows systems].

    Slashdot posted an earlier article concerning setting up a company to markety Open Source software to government, and after reading and thinking about this I realise that it is a Good Thing (TM).
  • ``I don't know if this satisfies Microsoft, but in my role as a council member it doesn't satisfy me,'' McClanan said. ``The fact that we can't produce records that simple is disconcerting to say the least.''

    Exactly. With that amount of money changing hands for licenses, you'd think they'd keep track of them a little better. What other records can they not find?
  • by LizardKing ( 5245 ) on Friday December 01, 2000 @03:35AM (#589570)
    This reminds me of the FAST visit one of my former employers suffered. FAST (the Fedaration Against Software Theft if memory serves me well), sent a polite note to the head of IT offering an `instructive talk' about software licensing. This really constituted a fact finding mission from a FAST operative, as he carefully milked our IT people (including me) for our knowledge on licensing issues.

    A few weeks later FAST `offered' to audit our license situation. This was a thinly veiled accusation that are licenses were not upto snuff.

    It turned out that unscrupulous or unknowing resellers (including Compaq) had failed to sell us the required licenses. They knowingly sold us systems with NT installed on them that we couldn't legally connect together on a LAN (no client licenses). In Compaq's case, they had sold us the licenses, but conveniently forgotten to ship them with the computers.

    Another problem was that too many staff had access to the software lockers, and many of our Windows 95 licenses had gone walkabout along with the CDs ...

    The upshot of all this was that we had to buy several hundred licenses, many of which we had legally bought already. My boss also started to read those shrinkwrapped licenses *very* carefully. The client license problem was happily resolved by installing Linux on the NT file and print servers.

  • by CaptainZapp ( 182233 ) on Friday December 01, 2000 @03:36AM (#589572) Homepage
    Ah, the gold old times when a company purchased 120 DECWrite licenses and got half a standard containers worth of certificates and the good boys in system administration had to hack in 120 PAKs (ho!ho!).

    Now, that was easy, since hardly any organization had thousands or ten thousands of VAXstations that must be licensed.

    This is very different in todays world. Even if there is such a thing as a central purchasing department they have to deal with just a helluva mess regarding software licenses, upgrade licenses and client licenses.

    To make matters worse there very often is no such thing as a central purchasing department but every department runs its separate purchasing. This is especially evident in larger communities.

    Considering that the blokes could have bought exactly one copy of - say - SuSE Linux and deploy it (including most applications) as they saw fit. That should have left a bunch of cash to hire good Linux administrators, especially considering the manpower you need to maintain and administer an NT network.

    Unfortunately this eposide does nothing to impact Micro$ofts image, since this is so much down the toilet already that I really don't think playing bully towards communities can impact it any further.

  • I once felt the same way, but it turns out its a good policy. What turned me around? Building a pretty profound OpenBSD box with 4 files totally 45 mb. Just because tons of geeks have DSL and cable doesn't mean that the OpenBSD project gets multiple T3's. People downloading ISO's when they don't need all that stuff would be a huge strain on the project's resources.
  • Aw, No one said "Yes Microsoft, Virginia is a Santa Claus". And its the first of december and all.

  • What expensive and buggy add-on software do you have to buy to remotely admin a Win2k installation?

    The GUI administration tools provided with both NT and Win2k will work on remote instances of servers, desktops, etc.

    Most of the administration objects provided for use by Windows Scripting Host will operate remotely as well.

    In the situations where you may need to work directly on the machine, Win2k provides a telnet server and with the extensive administrative capabilities provide by WSH it is quite easy to administer a server remotely.

    I suppose if the network is down, then you'd have trouble. In those cases there are add-on solutions such as the Compaq Remote Insight board.

    I've already read the Kirch article and found it to be poorly argued, as well as out of date and factually incorrect. His most glaring problem is a continuous attempt to try to prove Linux is great by using examples of say Solaris or HPUX.

  • Both windows and exchange are very very scriptable. One trick is to export your exchange account settings into a delimited file, make your changes to it, then import it back in, for example.
  • I've often wondered whether the GPL will eventually replace proprietry licences, simply because its such low maintainance. You don't keep getting a bunch of BSA Nazis calling on you.
  • I agree. Not neccessarily that Windows is the best quality software available, but that you should buy what is best suited to get the job done. And in many times, Linux is NOT the answer. Looking at the probable average computer experience of a civil servant workforce, something like Linux is probably above their heads.

    HOWEVER, if someone were to sit down and write a specific application (CivilServant 2000) for that community, and distribute it as an application under linux, that takes into account the userbase, then it might be useful. Especially one that turned a linux desktop into a CivilServant terminal, like those computerized cash registers you see.

    My 2 pesos
  • First of all, Microsoft select license agreements are designed to confuse and distort reality. IAAL, and I can't read the damn thing without getting a headache. Add to that the licensee's administrative burden in managing the thousands and thousands of enrollment forms and the pernicious audit rights that M$ reserves for itself. There's no hope in negotiating the agreement, since M$ is a truly a 1600 pound gorilla.

    I would tell you what to negotiate out of the agreement if you are about to spend some real money with M$, but no one on slashdot is in any position to control a spend on the magnitude that can dictate terms to M$. I've done it myself, on behalf of very, very big clients.

    Judging by the conversation here, people seem to think that this $130K audit settlement is a big deal. Remember, some of M$'s customer's sneeze $130K on a slow day. I've seen license agreements with M$ that contemplate a few million $$ recurring monthly in maintenance fees. The one-time license fees figures are staggering. How do you think they got so rich? It wasn't VA beach's measly little 129K. VA beach was just being used as an example, because it has public books.
  • Hate to sound snobby, but being able to read a software manual should be a job requirement if you use any software. Then again, many never care to figure out how to program their VCR, let alone solve the blinking 12.
  • With all due respect, but I still think a M$ network is easier to maintain than a *Nix one.

    This is going to start a flame war, but you're partly right. As a former resident of Virginia Beach, I can tell you that M$ net admins were a dime a dozen in that market. We were paying over $200 an hour for Linux admins on contract, because they refused to come on board full time. (Rightly so - there was just too much demand and not enough supply.) At that rate, $129k only buys you 645 hours, less admin costs and taxes. Two guys working for eight weeks aren't going to manage the switchover for six thousand workstations and servers. (No two guys I know.)

    Plus, remember that this is the government we're talking about. If they switched operating systems, they would have to retrain all existing network admins. You can't just go and lay off your admins because they don't know Linux: these small-government employees are lifers, and it's about as close to job security as you could ever get.
  • Even if Virginia beach told M$ to go away, what says that they would have to 'produce evidence upon demand'* even if M$ had bought a search warrant based on the suspicion that VBeach was running pirated copies? Wouldnt the auditors have to sit down at each computer and find evidence that there were illegal (unlicensed) copies on that computers?

    What happened to concept of innocent until proven guilty?

    Virgina Beach has done themselves and everyone else a disservice by just taking this bend-over from Micro$oft - Does anyone not see how wrong this is? Why dont we just put police stations and courthouses and legislators under direct accounting to American Big Business? And forget about all this 'liberty' and 'free will' of the citizenry mess - its just a waste of time apparently. For gosh sakes - this is a Municipal corporation no less - they should be the first to tell M$ to blast-off. Apperently the citizens of Virgina Beach (via its municipal employees and elected officials) are answerable to M$. What a fine system you have down there friends - this whole 'idea' of what is happening in Virgina Beach leaves a bad taste in my mouth, what next? Will the electric company be able to audit your 'electrical devices'? Will Maytag be able to 'license' the contents of your fridge to Kraft? Will buying XXX brand of running shoes mean you cannot wear a YYY brand of Tshirt at the same time? Will the 'duely appointed forces' of these companies be able to 'audit' or 'arrest' you if they suspect you are in violation? What civic power has been granted to these entities?

    I think VBeach is just as much 'at fault' here for being spinless and devoid of any real morals (not to mention any 'nuts')... no one likes a coward.

    *IANAL & I recognize that demand may be in the contract itself... but that is a non-issue I believe (for other reasons of monopoly and un-reasonable 'license agreements' by those monoplies)

  • by LizardKing ( 5245 ) on Friday December 01, 2000 @03:41AM (#589600)

    With all due respect, but I still think a M$ network is easier to maintain than a *Nix one.

    With all due respect, NT network administration is a nightmare. Try and remotely adminster a large NT setup out of the box. Sure, you can buy expensive and buggy add on software that makes remote admin possible, but it's not as easy as administering Unix. The problem is that clueless bosses and newbies see NT's GUI and think ``this must be easier than Unix''. The truth is that the investment in a little Unix knowledge pays off much better than investing in an NT `solution'.

    If you want some more info on this check out http://www.unix-vs-nt.org/kirch/ [unix-vs-nt.org].


  • by CaptainZapp ( 182233 ) on Friday December 01, 2000 @03:41AM (#589603) Homepage
    Most people have trouble using and adminstering Windows (there are lots of silver surfers who aren't used to technlogy and can't manage Windows, never mind anything else). Can you imagine these people trying to use/configure Linux.

    You're right in one point. Administering a Windows system (let alone thousands) is hard. I disagree with the other part of your statement however.

    You have a point that setting up a Linux box is hard for Average Q User. Expertise that can set up a reference distribution exists and can be bought. When a Linux box is set up well it runs and runs and runs. From that point on adminstering a UNIX type box is significantly easier.

    You don't have to deal with everybodyisroot. Remote administration is easier and you have no such thing as a screwed up registry within a couple weeks.

  • I'm not going to stop glibly saying that because I think it's in everybody's best interests to destroy the monopoly that produces the garbage that is Windows. This goal of monopoly destruction is well worth a temporarily slightly less than optimal solution to a particular problem. And whether or not it's slightly less than optimal is rather debatable IMHO. I think you're just afraid of a world without customer lock-in and propietary liscenses because you can't figure out how to make money by doing things other than stealing from the public domain and selling it to your customers.

    This liscensing thing is a ridiculous abuse of the system on Microsoft's part. People should abandon this liscensing scheme. I'm happy this is being so well publicized so people truly realize what an evil trap they're getting themselves into when they buy into the Microsoft ideal.

  • Actually, the post was about quality, not features. However, since you asked, I will give you features of Linux that I _think_ aren't in Windows (I know, I should check my facts, but I don't have an NT box anywhere near).

    1) Logical Volume Management - The ability to
    a) have "virtual" partitions that span disks
    b) be able to grow or shrink these while the system is running
    c) be able to make a "snapshot" - this allows you to make a copy of the system as it stands on a particular second, while the rest of the system keeps running. For example, the "tar" command will back up files as it comes across them, and if there are interfile dependencies - these will be toasted. But the snapshot feature allows you to back up everything simultaneously without stopping your system. This is actually a 2.4 feature, but it is very spiffy.

    2) Standards-compliant and pluggable authentication. If I understand correctly, the only way Win2000 computers can authenticate is to other Windows servers. With Linux, the authentication methods are entirely pluggable, so you could come up with your own authentication method if you wished.

    3) Ability to run without the GUI. I've actually heard of being able to do this with NT4 (by setting shell to explorer.exe in win.ini), but I imagine that you can't do much once you're there. No matter what kind of machine you are running on, it will run faster without a GUI, and will run much stabler (or whatever that adjective is) because graphic drivers cause much of NTs problems.

    4) Run diskless X-terminals. As far as manageability and TCO, nothing beats terminals. Windows has started to have this, with Windows Terminal Server, but I'm told that there are lots of problems. X was made to run this way, so you don't run into the same problems (until you start doing games with sound or 3-D graphics, but then you wouldn't care about TCO in those situations anyway). Also, note that it doesn't take a lot of horsepower for Linux to do this. I do this on my home computer, where the server is a PII-200 with 64M, where it is running both my wife's stuff (the server is actually her desktop), and my stuff that I'm running on a diskless machine.

    Windows has some advantages, too. For example,

    1) They've made it easier to manage the network from a single console. Netware actually has had this forever, but I'm told that Microsoft's has started to work well.

    2) It is easier to set up the most common case. However, this has a converse, in that slightly more complicated cases are a real pain to set up. With Linux, in just 3 days I was able to set up a system for my boss that did Web hosting for multiple domains that he could run himself (no experience except Win9x). In fact, I've been gone from the company for over a year, and he hasn't had to find a sysadmin yet.

    Anyway, I'm probably missing arguments from both sides, so please add your responses with the stuff I missed!
  • So, if you consider: out of the box vs out of the box... what's more friendlier? with NT I have to install a free telnetd, well.. that takes ages to do.. not. Then I have out of the box my scripting host and off I am. that is the same setup the unix sysadmin has.

    Oh, of course I have to install the FREE tools of the resourcekit.

    On Unix I also have to write scripts to make my life as an admin easier. The same goes on NT. You can also install PC Anywhere, on NT. Works very ok. (true, it had some bugs over the years, but it's quite stable, as stable as X can be.)

    So... where is your nightmare? I don't see it really.

  • This is a decentralized organisation with offices in many physical locations. Each office had its own purchasing authority, and, _should_ have filed its own certificates.

    Unfortunatley, the task of pulling all these together, in a hurry has proved troublesome.

    Should Microsoft be required to provide details of its own records of sales to this customer? Some data-protection law might help here.

  • I have rarely seen departments who managed the deployment of software and licenses in a controlled and consistant manner. More often than not, I have seen absolute chaos reign when yearly audits of software inventory turned up many missing licenses. It may be a costly exercise to keep on top of such things, but when it comes down to a clearly legal issue, it's worthwhile.

    I do think however that it is funny - a teacher at a local college has done analysis of companies, and in performed in-depth interviews with their staff and management and the results from M$ was interesting - honestly, they only expect to retrieve money from 15% of all installations of Windoze to make a decent profit. For the most part they expect government and government related contract companies to comply, making up a majority of the 15%. Small businesses are largely ignored. Medium-sized businesses are the target: 50-200 employees. My wife who was in this teacher's class said that Medium-sized companies are easily bullied.

    Although, I would have thought that each installation of Windoze would have its own key or signature on the PC, proving that it was a unique install, or even an install from a site-license. That would reduce the requirement of producing the original CD or license on the spot.

    On the other hand, we've all seen a bogus install that needs a quick re-install, so you turn to your neighbour, ask for their CD, and go right ahead with a new install.

    Oh well, try your best, track software better, and avoid lawyers.

  • by sheldon ( 2322 ) on Friday December 01, 2000 @06:14AM (#589624)
    A suggestion that this city move to Linux with StarOffice is most certainly not the answer and shows a tremendous lack of understanding of the problem they had.

    From the original story, the issue was that while the city IT shop had decided to choose Wordperfect Suite as their standard office productivity tool, that wasn't what their users wanted.

    Rather than slog their way through using Wordperfect, the users instead just went ahead and installed Microsoft Office without permission.

    So now they find themselves in a position where there is rampant piracy all because the IT staff did not listen to it's users when making a software buying decision.

    And you think Linux/StarOffice is the answer? All that would result in is the users bringing Win95 CD's from home to get their computers to a point where they found them useful again.

    IT has to talk to it's users, they have to listen to their users, they have to provide solutions taht the users want!
  • NEVER buy single copies unless you have less than 20 computers. ALWAYS buy a blanket copy from MS.
    Keeping track of one piece of paper is easy.

    Except that a one to one correspondence of pieces of paper to computers makes it easier to work out if you have too few (or too many) licences. Let alone having single pieces of paper which belong in bank vaults, since their value exceeds any currency ever likely to be issued.
  • Management chose the software
    Management bought the software
    IT (in other words, me and my colleagues) wouldn't have believed how stupid NT server's licensing is even if someone had told us

    Then managment expects IT to sort out the managment created problems.
  • To be quite frank, MS gets a lot of money to sell something that cost hardly nothing to make.

    In at least one case, that of client access licences, they are actually getting money for nothing. Not that microsoft is alone with doing this.
  • What I would like to see is MS auditing the entire justice dept.

    I doubt Microsoft would try that with any part of the US Federal government. Otherwise they might suffer a few "accidents".
  • by mpe ( 36238 )
    A proprietary piece of software requires tracking of it's licenses - an issue that has been routinely ignored by most companies.

    Which also means that easy end user installation is a problem rather than a feature. If the user needs to get the sysadmin to install software then that makes creating an appropriate system easier.
  • However, if you can't find your ownership papers anywhere (can you say inquisitive 2 year old?), then after a small inconvenience, I'm sure you can find proof of ownership from the DMV, the dealership you purchased the car from, etc.

    Making both parties keep track of any transaction is not only good for accounting reasons, it creates redundancies in case one party happens to (oops) misplace the physical proof that they actually own the software. Any time I've been involved in any purchasing for a company, there have been at least four copies of the purchase order, and at least four of the delivery slip. Plus, the companies we purchased from all had records of our purchases. Granted, it was all hardware, but c'mon folks, really. How hard can it be?
  • by mpe ( 36238 )
    You have a point that setting up a Linux box is hard for Average Q User. Expertise that can set up a reference distribution exists and can be bought. When a Linux box is set up well it runs and runs and runs. From that point on adminstering a UNIX type box is significantly easier.

    This is about a corporate set up, John Q user shouldn't be setting up their computer, any more than they should be doing maintenance on their company car.
    The only reason it's become an issue is that Windows more or less demands that the end user perform sysadmin tasks.
  • So, if you consider: out of the box vs out of the box... what's more friendlier? with NT I have to install a free telnetd, well.. that takes ages to do.. not. Then I have out of the box my scripting host and off I am. that is the same setup the unix sysadmin has.

    Bullshit. Windows has no decent scripting langauge `out of the box'. You can install Perl, and enjoy the fact that many of the modules on CPAN are Unix specific. You could install Cygwin but I've always found it's installed as a last act of desperaration by ex-Unix admins looking for some decent tools. By the time you've gotten used to the limitations of usng things like bash on Windows your brain's turned to mush.

    And all this installing of third party packages still doesn't get round the fact that Windows NT was not designed with remote administration in mind. The features simply aren't there. It was designed to be a stable workstation OS with the Windows look and feel. It's too late to go back to the drawing board now, so Microsoft are stuck with a fundamentally crippled server OS. So stop trying to come up with shallow arguments for NT as a server OS.


  • >What happened to concept of innocent until proven

    That's criminal doctrine, and this is a civil matter. To win a civil case, one only needs
    superior evidence. You can be innocent as Snow
    White but if you get to court without your paperwork you can lose a civil suit.

  • That's strange... my company only pays about 30k/year for Unix admins.
  • Why not use X terminals. Its the best way (TCO-wise) to handle large installations. It even makes it easy if someone needs a special installation, because they can just have a Windows box for their stuff, running Xceed or whatever to connect to the standard apps.
  • by onion2k ( 203094 ) on Friday December 01, 2000 @03:51AM (#589662) Homepage
    Microsoft is a private corporation. Do they actually have any right to check on whether the software you use is legal? I realise that the police/copyright theft department/whatever have legal rights to find out whether you're running licensed applications, but does the company that created them? Certainly they're not within their rights to come in uninvited. Could the city have simply asked Microsoft to go away?

    Also, what effect will this have on the use of Microsoft software in the future within the city? I would imagine it'd have little affect, once the platform is chosen it tends to stay the same for a long time. On the other hand this sort of stuff causes much aggro. I say bring back site licenses.
  • by Platinum Dragon ( 34829 ) on Friday December 01, 2000 @03:51AM (#589663) Journal
    People need to stop glibly saying that you should just use Linux - Windows is the best quality software available, and people should pay for it accordingly.

    Incorrect - the software that runs on top of Windows is the best-quality software available. Windows itself, however, is of debatable quality. I know if Windows had worked as well as I thought it should have, I would never have bothered to learn how to use Linux. Windows has probably been the best marketing tool Linux could ever ask for, and it's usually software other than Windows itself that keeps people tied to the platform.
  • by mpe ( 36238 )
    In all the years I've used Windows, I've never once had a screwed up registry. I don't like the registry, and it's an obvious failure point, but it hasn't caused me any problems. The myth of the fragile registry needs to go away.

    No doubt cigarette companies can find healthy smokers in their 90s... The Windows registry is fragile by design.
  • by mpe ( 36238 )
    Why waste time finding the cause? Support departments reinstall because it fixes the problem, and saves days and weeks of screwing around. You can have a customer up and running again in less than 10 minutes..

    Except that that 10 minutes (which sounds more like a reimaging than a reinstall) can easily mount up over time. Anyway it's not just that 10 minutes, other time is lost whilst the thing wasn't working.
  • Oh and it's just that easy right. You just take the end users Win box from them which they get around in fairly well (they are used to it) and then set a U*X box in front of them and no problems. Bull#%#$, You can just change something small on their Win box and they get totally confused. If you switch their entire system wait and see how many helpdesk calls come pouring in on things like how do I do this now or how do I do that

    In which case it probaby dosn't matter if you move them from Windows (X) to Windows (Y) or from Windows (X) to U*X. Maybe someone should make a unix desktop and call it Windows 2001...
  • I disagree that it's so much easier to find Windows then U*X expertise. Sure, there are zillions claiming to be Windows experts because they're fully capable of double clicking a setup icon.

    Well it's rather difficult for people to become experts without information being available.

  • Naaah.. MS just wanted to remind the gov. what kind of software they use to type up all of the justice dept. vs MS cases.

    What I would like to see is MS auditing the entire justice dept.

  • Also, users might be pissed initially about not being able to use Outlook.

    Someone might even rediscover the lost art of "systems analysis" possibly even the radical idea of finding/adapting/writing software to fit the organisation, rather than expecting the organisation to fit the software. Far easier with the software equivalent of "lego" than the current monolithing monsters.
  • WSH for starters... it runs VBscript, Jscript, embedded perl etc. As long as the languageinterpreter is COM compliant. It's shipped with NT. You can code whatever you want in it, using WMI api's to control whatever you want in NT.

    Doesn't cost you anything. So... where are your arguments now? ah I see... you don't understand HOW to remote administrate NT server. Well. that's fine. But don't come with default Unix rethoric crap that NT lacks this and that. It doesn't. All tools needed are available and most of them free and installed with NT or with a free service pack (read: kernel update), or free resource kit. But whatever... you of course know more of NT administration than I do. :) (do you really ;)?)

  • I ain't a zealot of any sort. There is no reason for me to get the Blue Screen o' Death when all I did was placed my copy of The Sims into the DVD-Rom drive and clicked on "Install". Of course the subsequent reboot fried my Hard Drive.

    The point is that in the case of a work machine clicking "install" should do nothing. Installing software is a job for the sysadmin, who should know what to do if it pukes up.

    Microsoft claims that Linux isn't a real OS because it doesn't have this or that feature that Winows has, well when you think about how buggy those features that Windows has are, then Windows doesn't really have them.

    Or the Windows features are there to cope with a Windows inadequacy. A bit like someone looking at a B2 and saying "it's got no tailplane, not a proper aircraft."
  • by mpe ( 36238 )
    I have never met a user who has a particular problem with a setup where they have a home drive mapped. In fact it makes sense to them.. home is in H:

    Assuming the admin knows the right incantation to get each app to use H: as it's default load/save location.

    With roaming network profiles it gets saved to a network drive, allowing it to be retrieved from any machine on the network.

    The problems with these Windows profiles are a lack of admin tools for them and what amounts to a very lazy writeback cache algorithm, which means login twice and all hell can break loose.
  • You're missing the point. Its not just that they are saying they won't provide an ISO, they are saying that others can't make it available for download (legally) themselves.
  • by mpe ( 36238 )
    Incorrect - the software that runs on top of Windows is the best-quality software available.

    Or possibly the only software available, objectivly it can be of utterly dreadful quality...
  • by _|()|\| ( 159991 ) on Friday December 01, 2000 @03:52AM (#589680)
    Yes, but [burning 6,000 Linux CDs] would be a waste of another $129k ... $129k does *not* buy you many administrators

    Proprietary software vendors attack free software by invoking "total cost of ownership." An expensive operating system will pay for itself because of zero-administration features, because it's more stable, because it's the standard.

    Have you ever talked to a salesman who said, "And how will you account for all your licenses?" Microsoft's raid on VA Beach vividly demonstrates an addition to the TCO of proprietary software.

  • by mpe ( 36238 )
    or (and I KNOW we've all heard this one) "I'd switch, but everything else besides Windows isn't really that good for gaming!"

    This is about corporate systems, if the staff are playing games at work then there si a serious problem...
  • I think the point was, users shouldn't be doing any of these things anyway, whether using Windows or Unix. You don't have to train them to do these things because it isn't their job.
  • Does that mean that any company can bully and bluff their way into your home or office, ask for proof that you purchased any products of their's they find and have you fined or jailed if you can't find the receipt? That's lunacy.
  • I disagree. If Microsoft wants to do the whole licesnse thing right, by golly, let them do it. Flexlm is great. Use something like that to serve a license. It would enforce the EULA that everyone agrees to by opening the package to read the EULA. There is no need for this middle ground.
    I would rather see them be 100% strict about how they license than see them have tough words in the EULA and then only follow up on it every now and then.
  • Exactly...Thank you!
  • by mpe ( 36238 )
    But this is a professional environment where PCs will have a standard configuration and the user will not have to do the work.

    Too many people confuse home and work situations. Indeed the end user explicitally should not be installing and configuring their computer in a corporate set up of any size. Problem with Windows is that it both tends to expect to be end user administered and to make things difficult for any proper sysadmin. (e.g. requiring physical access to the machine to do things.)
  • by wowbagger ( 69688 ) on Friday December 01, 2000 @04:21AM (#589754) Homepage Journal
    <music type="Italian Violins">
    <scene location="some IS dept., some city">
    <voice type="hoarse" accent="Italian">

    It has come to our attention that some of the software you posess may not have proper licenses. This wounds us deeply, as it shows a lack of respect for us.

    However, we will give you a chance to make ... amends. You may show us proper respect, in the proper amounts. In return, we shall ... overlook ... this unfortunate occurance.

    It would be most unfortunate, if you fail to make amends. In this business, unfortunate, accidents, happen, accidents we could help, prevent.

    I am sure you will do the right thing, for I know you respect me, Don Gates.


    With apologies to any responsible businessmen or Italians out there.
  • by Thalia ( 42305 ) on Friday December 01, 2000 @04:29AM (#589808)
    Why does everyone assume that it was M$ Windows that was causing the problems? This audit was for ALL Microsoft products. Very few users (of M$ products at least) actually install their own operating system. Rather, they're more likely to have bought the M$ Office Suite, Encarta, and similar products. Although using Linux has its advantages, there isn't a Word equivalent editor, or a presentation tool like PowerPoint that could be used by any braindead city employee.

    The scary part about this story is that:

    "Like most software companies, Microsoft includes contracts with its merchandise that explain that the company reserves the right to ask consumers for proof of purchase and an inventory of what it uses. The rule applies not only to governments and privately owned companies but to individuals."

    And it appears that no one has challenged this provision. This means that M$ could go into your house, and demand that you provide an actual inventory of what products you use, and proofs of purchase. If you've ever bought a laptop or any hardware that came with the M$ operarting system, or anything else from M$ you could be up next. Got to love those shrinkwrap licenses!

  • by Luminous ( 192747 ) on Friday December 01, 2000 @04:33AM (#589827) Journal
    p.s. Replacing all of their systems with LInux/StarOffice?!? bahahahahaha - obviously some of you have never dealt with government employees - they couldn't handle linux/bsd in GUI mode or CLI mode - admit to yourself that *nix isn't ready for the home/little-knowledge user yet, will ya?
    I have to strongly agree with this statement. Last year we had to move our users from a non-Y2K compliant Lotus to Excel. Most of these users just use spreadsheets so we thought this would be a fairly easy change. WRONG. Never underestimate the 'comfortable' aspect of software. If you try to switch from a MS office to a *nix office, you may save money in the long run, but the costs in training and last productivity would bury your budget for the quarter and most likely the year.
  • by Alex Belits ( 437 ) on Friday December 01, 2000 @04:35AM (#589833) Homepage

    Have you used Star Orifice??

    Yes. And I didn't forget to install truetype fonts, so it works perfectly with documents that were written using the same fonts by Microsoft lamers like you (Microsoft formats are so shitty, minimal change in font totally screws up the layout, so if you run StarOffice with minimal set of X fonts, most of documents will be be barely recognizable -- but then, I dare you to run Word on Windows with deleted Arial and Times New Roman fonts).

When all else fails, read the instructions.