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Microsoft Turning Screws on Customers 432

Mitch Wagner submitted his own story about Microsoft cracking down on big customers who it thinks aren't playing fair on their licenses. "These days, the only thing that Microsoft is interested in discussing with its customers is licensing issues," said John Luludis, CIO of Danzas AEI, an international shipping company with about 10,000 Windows desktops. "We spend a lot of time and resources constantly proving license compliance, while we try to plan an optimum configuration to deal with the rising cost of ownership related to Microsoft's products.""
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Microsoft Turning Screws on Customers

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  • by Will The Real Bruce ( 235478 ) on Friday March 30, 2001 @09:08AM (#326733) Homepage
    Why should this be a surprise?

    If the companies in question signed an agreement with Microsoft, surely they can't complain when the other party actually wants what is due to them.

    It's high time everyone learned what making deals with the devil actually means. Eventually he will collect, in blood...
  • by boing boing ( 182014 ) on Friday March 30, 2001 @09:08AM (#326734) Journal
    Sounds like Microsoft has a long term plan to help linux out....Screw its biggest customers and make them look for alternatives.

    I guess the outlook for alternative OSs and office suites is VERY good.
  • We spend a lot of time and resources constantly proving license compliance, while we try to plan an optimum configuration to deal with the rising cost of ownership related to Microsoft's products.

    Linux? BSD?
  • With companies like Burlington Coat Factory and large parts of the Mexican government leading the way, perhaps we'll see corporations deploy Linux to the desktop as a way to minimize TCO and eliminate licensing issues and the consequent legal costs.
    Give a man a fish and he eats for a day.
  • For them to dig their own grave with. Looks like M$ is intent on making things as difficult as possible for companies which use M$ products. With enemies like that, LINUX doesn't need friends =).
  • Anyone who has read the news about Virginia Beach Gov't should not find this surprising at all. A company wants to ensure it's licenses are being upheld.

    Now, I could get into the idea that MS waited until there was ample evidence that some governments were dependant on it's products before starting this, but that would sound like a Linux zelot.

    Still begs the issue, why now? Why did they not start on day one and come down on pirates? Why have there been posts on MS bulletin boards saying that they don't care if you take the OS you use at work home with you to use. Unless they knew this day would come and only now the boom is lowering.

    Does this really surprise anyone? Ensure everyone is dependant on it, saturate the market, then suddenly decide to play hardball with licenses. Gee, sounds like a decent business practice, but only works if you're a monopoly.

    Cav Pilot's Reference Page []
  • Why do these people comply with Micro$oft's requests for license audits? Is there actually a lay that forces them to do so? It seems to me that if a company owns the hardware, and knows that they at least got an OEM license for Windows with the machine, they should be able to tell Micro$oft to take their audit request and shove it.

    So does anyone know what happens if a company refuses to audit?
  • by deran9ed ( 300694 ) on Friday March 30, 2001 @09:12AM (#326741) Homepage
    Microsoft Corporation are actually murderers.

    New York, N.Y. March 30th,2001

    In an independent study conducted this month by staff at, and, it was revelead that Microsoft is killing people on a daily basis, with the evidence verified by statisticians at New York University's Mike Hunt.

    "Based on these estimated projections, it seems the Justice Department needs to begin a prompt investigation into this matter." states Mike.

    Judging on data gathered on a one month term this is the output:

    Windows users crash an estimated two times a day which requires an estimated 3 minutes to reboot. Result?

    (Rough estimates)
    100 million Windows users x 120 seconds == 507 years lost. 6 deaths a day are attributed to this product. This alone does not include any estimates from those users who have to reboot upon installing programs. Nor does this include time spent configuring TCP/IP reboots.

    With an estimated dollar amount of about 22 million dollars lost weekly (this is a generous amount) due to these reboots, its strange that no company has gone bankrupt.

    "If anyone would care to break these figures down into dramatic fashion, their would probably be global catastrophes." states Sil of AntiOffline

    The difference between life and death on the workplace is no longer restricted to psychotic Postal workers, but rather a more chilling enemy known as the Blue Screen of Death.

    We've yet attempted to solidly document that *actual* numbers out of fears our calculator could not reach the given amount, so we actually have given Microsoft what could be an actual death toll of 20-30 people daily.

    Staff at Microsoft declined to return our e-mails repeatedly but we will continue to pursue the numbers as time goes by.

    President George W. Bush today also intervened on Microsoft's behalf stating, AntiOffline's numbers are fuzzy math. Sil could not be contacted for comment.

    "Windows -- When do you want to reboot today?"

    who'd a thought []
  • MS has every right to expect everyone who uses their software to have a license and conform to it (under proper fair use laws). Everyone who uses Linux is supposed to conform to the GPL and just because MS is charging huge amounts of money for their OS and has tighter restrictions doesn't change a thing. If a large company doesn't want to pay MS for all 10 000 copies of Windows 2000, they should use another OS, not break the license.

  • by drenehtsral ( 29789 ) on Friday March 30, 2001 @09:14AM (#326745) Homepage
    The problem i see with this is that doing an software licence audit has a high direct cost (time spent doing it, xeroxing of papers, etc...), and also disrups normal operation of the company.
    If a software company wants to, they could audit your licence compliance monthy and put you out of business _EVEN IF YOU DON'T USE A SINGLE PIRATED PROGRAM_. The fact that they are taking a week out of every one of your months will probably kill you.
  • ...while we try to plan an optimum configuration to deal with the rising cost of ownership related to Microsoft's products.

    I know this has been beaten like a dead horse but, Linux. One copy, one license, 10,000 desktops, it does th office productivity and internetworking that the windows machines do just fine, A good desktop (Gnome, KDE) is intutive enough that retraining would be minimal, not to mention the costs that could be saved. On the flip side, it would take more on the technician end, but I think dropping the cost of 10,000 M$ Windows licenses would more than make up for it.

  • by TheFlu ( 213162 ) on Friday March 30, 2001 @09:15AM (#326747) Homepage
    Running an Internet Services organization myself, we have a huge number of machines here to keep track of, so I have this same type of problem. In fact, I'll having a hell of a time trying to locate all those RedHat licenses I have. Anyone know where the user license gets placed after you download RedHat? I'm scared they're gonna come in and sue me...

    Legally licensed and Operated...The Linux Pimp []

  • by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Friday March 30, 2001 @09:15AM (#326748)
    No I'm not going to mention the company name, but we are big (fortune 200) and M$ has a very different opinion about the number of licenses we own than we do. There is really little or no intentional piracy going on, but there is bad record keeping which to M$ is no different. They only consider a license to be that hologram code that ships with the computer/CD. No hologram, no legal license. Needless to say, it is not happy days for our IT folks.

    Some of it is our fault because we trusted the wrong folks internally to keep track (long story and trust me, you don't care to hear it) but there is a lesson to be learned in making sure someone keeps track of these things. Preferably someone involved with computers...

    Of course I'm having a very hard time biting my tongue about how we could avoid this problem in the future. (*cough* linux *cough*)

  • by DirkGently ( 32794 ) <.dirk. .at.> on Friday March 30, 2001 @09:16AM (#326750) Homepage
    Our company recently recieved an intersting little letter from MS. The gist of it was "We know licensing is very important to our customers. Please let us know what we can do to help you maintain compliance."

    Uh-huh. Talk about a thinly veiled threat. We had just done a software audit a couple weeks beforehand, so we were cool. But still, the damn thing read like some Mafia protection letter.

  • by Bonker ( 243350 ) on Friday March 30, 2001 @09:17AM (#326752)
    Use to be, you heard everybody talk about the 'Blind Eye' at Microsoft, i.e.: the attitude that yes, there is going to be some OS piracy, and no we're never going to get rid of it all, but that's okay, because it means that more people are using Microsoft than Mac0S or Linux.

    I guess with a company that is as large as the one mentioned, with as many Win32 desktops, Microsoft values extracting as many dollars as they can through extortion tacticts rather than turning the other cheek and increasing their good karma with 'Microsoft Shops'.

  • by Aggrazel ( 13616 ) <> on Friday March 30, 2001 @09:18AM (#326753) Journal
    You ought to make that sentence more clear to people like me that have trouble reading things.

    I first read it as:

    "Turning Microsoft On Screws Customers"
  • It has been known for some time that MS screws its customers with licenses. To use Win2K for any heavy use web site costs a FORTUNE. WinME is expensive. Win2K Pro is expensive. Office is unbelievably expensive. MS has little trolls running around businesses constantly demanding to see proof that its MS software is "properly" licensed. Generally speaking, I've always had the impression that MS screwed thier customers. Which is why I'm not one of them.

    So please CmdrTaco, please don't do the knee jerk response and post EVERYTHING that goes against MS, we already KNOW how full of shit Gate and co are...and anyways, after a certain point it just makes you look like a troll.

  • they're in trouble, Microsoft just wants to get money for people who use their software. Up until their stock started dropping they didn't seem to cate, now however.. .NET should offer a subscription model.

    BTW, about a year ago i interviewed for the "Anti Piracy" group at MS. They we're very interested in encyption, and my JavaScript skills (which i had none of). Bunch of weird scary looking guys, not the normal breed of geek you find at MS. They didn't seem to bright either (hey they made me an offer). They also wanted a second interview to see what kind of "person" i was.. i think because i would be the only guy there who was under 40 and didn't live with there mother.

    but anyway.


    Streamripper []

  • As usual, some people are writing in to say, "Well, if you signed the contract, ya can't complain if the other guy upholds it?"


    No, you can't be surprised at that. However, one point raised in the article is (if I may be allowed to paraphrase) is that trying to understand the terms of the MS license for your software is somewhat akin to trying to derive a sommon sense meaning from a Scientology manual.

    (Sigh, sigh!)

    Just because something is legal, doesn't mean that is moral - or practical - or good business sense - or reasonable!

  • by PimpBot ( 32046 ) on Friday March 30, 2001 @09:21AM (#326760) Homepage
    Yes, they do.

    By scaring people now, corporations will buy licenses. They will continue buying MS to stay legal. This will force home users to also buy the latest software, as the corporations are distributing everything using MS Word 2004 Shiney Professional with Sprinkle Power.

    The question will become, how fast will people be able crack the activation scheme?
  • The article implies MS is doing this as a way to raise revenues which are currently flattening out.

    Analysts said Microsoft is cracking down on licensees amid lackluster financials. After years of racking up spectacular earnings growth, Microsoft posted flat earnings in its most recent quarter compared with a year ago and has warned that earnings for the current quarter will be lower than expected. "The teams are looking for every ounce of revenue," said Giga Information Group analyst Rob Enderle, who said client complaints about Microsoft licensing have shot up in the last six months. "It's been a tough market, and they're going to have to scratch for all the money they can get."
  • by segmond ( 34052 ) on Friday March 30, 2001 @09:23AM (#326765)
    If Microsoft accuses a company, and claims the company owns X number of licenses while the company claims it has Y number of licenses. If Microsoft forces them to an audit, and in the end, it is show that the company only owns Y number of copies with the license required, can the company sue Micro$0ft for the lost time/money in auditing, and is there a minimum amount of time Microsoft has to wait before it accuses the company again?

  • by crovira ( 10242 ) on Friday March 30, 2001 @09:23AM (#326767) Homepage
    If their record keeping tracks the number of (re)installs, every Win'95 machine owner must owe about a million bucks by now.
  • by Ian Wolf ( 171633 ) on Friday March 30, 2001 @09:24AM (#326768) Homepage
    Why do these people comply with Micro$oft's requests for license audits?
    Because licenses are binding contracts and they can be fined for breaking them.
    It seems to me that if a company owns the hardware, and knows that they at least got an OEM license for Windows with the machine, they should be able to tell Micro$oft to take their audit request and shove it.
    This assumes that they only license stand alone operating systems and don't have any kind of applications or services requiring client access like SQL Server or Exchange.
    So does anyone know what happens if a company refuses to audit?
    You pray you can't be sued in a state that has passed UCITA. Maryland and Virginia, I think.
  • by mrRaist- ( 300868 ) on Friday March 30, 2001 @09:26AM (#326771)
    A lot of posts on the forums here always point to "too bad we can't switch to Linux" or "We wouldn't have this problem with Linux". While I agree that Linux, or pretty much any version of Unix, is better than running M$ products, Linux is NOT ALWAYS the answer. In your case, your answer is to keep better records of your Windows licenses. I find it odd that if you're such a big company, that you don't have a site license for your workstations.

    Picture putting Linux on one of your sales force's desk. They wouldn't know what to do with it. Linux (or in my case FreeBSD) is the answer for people like US. All of the techies, kernel hackers, coders and network admins that understand how to use Unix. You would spend more money retraining your people, and higher support costs running around answering questions, than you would spending to make your company M$ license compliant.

    Get a site license and don't worry about it. You'll sleep better tonight.

  • Actually i read it as
    "Microsoft Screws Turning Customers"

  • The Vulture Central [] has an interesting article [] about the current Passport Terms of Use []. Who would want to have his communication run through any MSN server now?

    // Klaus

  • Microsoft has been able to keep it's stock price stratospheric for years by posting record earnings. However, with slumping hardware sales, a slowing economy, lethargic adoption of Windows 2000 and Office 2000 and a emergence of a real threat on the low end server from Linux and BSD Microsoft can no longer afford to look the other way when it comes to licensing issues. Microsoft needs the revenues, and it needs them now. After all, employee options are a huge part of the average Microsoftie's employment package. If their stock doesn't go up (or worse, if it goes down), then working at Microsoft is not really that nifty a job.

    In the past Microsoft realized that casual sharing of their software actually served as a very effective free advertising campaign. It helped maintain their position by making sure that their software was ubiquitous. Now that they have the market tied up, they are looking to reel in all the freeloaders.

    Microsoft's plan will backfire, especially if they continue pestering companies that are honestly trying to comply.

  • Of course we are all thinking, good now they'll switch to Linux. It sure would be nice if they did, but you have to remember something. Businesses are run by businessmen. The words computer and Windows are interchangeable in their minds. They aren't going to change to linux, because they know NOTHING about computers. NOTHING.

    It's sad to say, but this is why Microsoft is so successful. Bill Gates is both a computer guy AND a businessman. He probably knows, but wont admit, that windows is unstable as hell and that the things he does are evil. But he doesn't care, because it gets him more money.

    A company isn't going to switch from windows to something like linux because microsoft harrasses them about licenses. It's just a way for microsoft to squeeze money out of its customers who can't or wont use another product. That's why it's called a MONOPOLY.
  • Well, that, and the fact that I think Microsoft has realized that it's not infallible like everyone once thought it did. It knows that it's not immortal anymore (contradiction?). Anyway, if my guess is right, we'll see more and more of it trying small, underhanded ways to make more money, instead of big, giant underhanded ways.
  • Microsoft is very dependant on steadily growing profits. That's what keeps Wall Street happy, and is necessary for their stock prices to go up (although clearly not sufficient as recent prices prove.) Since they have largely saturated their primary market, they have two options. One is to expand into new markets (ala X-Box) to increase profits. The other is to extract ever-increasing amounts of money from current customers. That's why the screws are being tightened now. In the past, the OS market was growing fast enough that they could let quite a bit of stuff slip and keep the train rolling. Now, they are losing steam profit-wise, and need generate more pressure. This also explains why they want to move to a subscription-based model. Guaranteed revenue. No more of these slackers (like me) running Win98 and Office97, denying M$ it's "rightful" profit from Win2K and Office2K. When they need more money, they will just up the monthly fee, and instant cash. Any suckers still trapped in their clutches is going to really start feeling the pain then.
  • Microsoft starts auditing to enforce it's licenses and Slashdot runs around expounding on how evil they are and how we must all turn to the light to stop the coming of Satan.

    The FSF starts a GPL crackdown and the person that broke the license is the bad guy, not the FSF.

    Perhaps you people need to know that people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones?
  • by Ralph Wiggam ( 22354 ) on Friday March 30, 2001 @09:29AM (#326782) Homepage
    It's not like these companies are saying, "We signed a contract saying we would pay you $500 per license, but now we're only going to pay you $100". These companies are being forced into things that they do not believe they agreed to.

    The biggest problem is that no two people at MS give you the same answer to the same question. I have spent many hours on the phone with MS sales people and they are in general, smart, competent folks. But one guy interprets the contract-speak one way, another sales guy interprets it another way, and I read it a completely different way. When nobody is on the same page, things get screwed up. What I'm really afriad of is how they're going to license the new .net stuff. We'll jump off that bridge when we come to it.

  • I feel that corporations are the ones who *should* be paying for software. After all, they can afford it, and when you compare $200 for a piece of productivity software to the salary of the person that will be in theory more productive for having used it, it's really not that large of an investment. Besides, the corporate clients are where the software companies make their real money. When business can pay for software, it takes the pressure off the home user, for whom $200 for a piece of software is a large investment. I don't see any real ethical problem for Joe User to have all the pirated apps he wants, but businesses really ought to pay for their software. After all, they are using it for profit themselves. However, I don't see why Microsoft should be able to pressure companies into compliance audits. If they are so worried that their software is being stolen, then they should petition to have a criminal investigation launched. What really scares me about this is I may some day have the RIAA or the MPAA knocking at my door, demanding an audit to make sure all the music and movies I own have been legally purchased, or the cops coming to my door to request an audit to make sure that I don't have any marijuana in my possession. Nobody, even corporations, should be treated like criminals just because they 'might be' commiting a crime.


  • Just when I was starting to think that /. wasn't being biased against Microsoft, and was actually engaging in fair reporting, CmdrTaco comes in and ensures that this is not the case. Thanks again!


    Seriously though, why should we be feeling sorry for these people? So they didn't bother to document how many licenses they have and how many desktops they have running which software.... how exactly is that some sort of Microsoft problem?

    It would appear that CmdrTaco is attempting to scare people by giving the impression that Microsoft runs around with a club trying to beat people over the head for more money (that may or may not be the case.)

    I know that we keep exact records of how many licenses we have for each piece of software, and how many of those licenses are currently in use. Microsoft could walk in tomorrow and we can present the proof that we have x copies installed and we own y licenses, end of story. Any IT/PC support department worth their salt would be doing the same.

    Cost is another issue entirely. Sure, the initial price for a Linux system is little to nothing, but when you factor in other issues that corporations face every day, the Linux value isn't quite the deal it once appeared to be.

    First of all, there is no MS Access equivalent. That would mean we'd have to switch over all these little programs that have maybe 10 users to another system. There really isn't any RAD programming system for Linux (Klyx ain't there yet.), so that means a lot of time and effort for something pretty small.

    There is also the cost of retraining all of our users and staff. We would have to try and track down and support lots of Linux apps for various tasks, if they even exist. If not, we'd have to write and support our own from scratch. I would also say anywhere from 20% to 50% of the peripherals and components in the systems we have out there don't have any Linux support whatsoever, which means replacing a lot of hardware.

    The lack of any standard Directory Services client also hurts. The only real options without spending an insane amount of money are NDS and AD, neither of which have Linux clients.

    Oh, and any time any person on the company wants a software application, we would have to go scour the net to try and find a Linux-compatible one, or try and write out own.

    When you compare all that to the cost of Windows 2000 (less than $10,000 for 7 copies of server and 1000 user CALs under our select contract), and it really doesn't make sense to switch.

    -- russ

    "You want people to think logically? ACK! Turn in your UID, you traitor!"
  • That isn't actually true. The GPL is a license (in other words an implicit contract), but it rests on the right of distribution (a copyright) without which agreement you would be unable to distribute GPL'd software.

    Use of GPL'd software doesn't come into it. First of all using a product isn't a copyright, so you don't need to agree to anything in order to do it (with the exception of public performances). Secondly, prohibiting specific uses would be inimical to the free software community.

    FWIW, I doubt that use clauses of a standard shrinkwrap license would be enforcable if you made it clear that you didn't intend to be bound by them, and were using the software without a license under the general use provisions of copyright law.

  • "We spend a lot of time and resources constantly proving license compliance"

    Maybe a better investment would be, to train the staff to use another operating system, instead of always trying to figure out how to make the best of Microsoft licensing terms, only to have it in pieces again, when Microsoft decides to change their licensing again. At least retraining has to be done only once. Also they may expect that with the event of XP (which means eXPerience as we all now learned) they're in for a totally new (but not better) licensing eXPerience.
  • In 1997 my company decided to pursue what is now called the ASP model - renting our software over the Internet and managing the servers for our clients. We initially worked with Citrix Winframe (now Windows Terminal Server) and Microsoft development tools. Our target market was small to medium-sized operations and our competition had lowball entry pricing. We even developed a successful product using this model - but then quickly scrapped everything. Know why?

    Microsoft's licensing scheme would have killed us. We would have to buy a client license for every client machine, a server license for every connection to the server, and a Citrix license on top of all this. We would have paid these, but even without charging for our application and services we would have been unable to compete on price. There must be another way.

    [Enter stage left: Linux.]

    We were already a Unix shop. Some of our programmers were playing with RedHat 5.x. Then, it hit us: no client license fees for Linux. Would Linux prove robust enough for mission critical applications? Yep.

    This is a compelling business reason for choosing Linux (or other OS/FS alternative). Yes, we had technical reasons, too (having the source is terrific), but the business realities sealed the deal.

    Microsoft may have changed its technologies to focus on the Internet, but its pricing strategies are stuck in a 1983 standalone time warp.

  • Hey man, copies of Win2K just blew across the road and sprouted on my desktop ... I didn't plant it here!
  • Really, it all depends on the corporation. I used to work for one that had no need for things like CAD and whatnot, and they had a similar number of machines, and of course, they all ran windows. It would have been a perfect candidate for a large Linux rollout. Granted, there are a lot of different niche (and I use the term loosely) programs that only run on windows. So, it is easy enough to CUT the number of wndows machines you use, unless of courser, every machine in your shop runs CAD. Hell, make those IT boys work for thier pay :-) Anyhow, I think it is possible, just not probable.
  • Yeah... Damn them for making sure other companies are following the law.

    The problem isn't making other companies follow the law, it's what constitutes "following the law."

    Apparently, the issue is what constitutes a valid Windows license. As a result, there is significant confusion as to whether companies have valid licenses, need upgraded licenses, or how many licenses they need for a particular software installation. Microsoft seems to be in no hurry to clean up confusion, leading to people paying double for software, or outright discontinuing software installation plans when it turns out that they need some outrageously large number of licenses.

    Read the article, not the summary, before posting.

  • So would you like to retrain the 1000's of employees my company has on how to use KDE or Gnome? Oh yeah, you'll also need to rewrite the dozen or so programs we use to run on Linux instead of Windows. Oh, and one last thing, make sure any incoming employees are familiar with Linux and the X Desktop so we do not need to train basic "How to use Linux and X" classes.

    Sorry, that sounds like a major flame, but I'm just trying to make a point. Switching to Linux would work for a technically proficient, computer programming only company, but any service oriented company with customer service reps is going to have a hard time doing so. You must remember that non-programmer types (which are more prevelant than programmers) use Windows everyday, but they don't have a clue what Linux is. That having been said, I'm sick of using Windows and would love to use Linux for everyday use, but that's not how my company works.

  • Well, there is one important difference: the GPL licensing really only deals with distribution, not use, but a Microsoft license is primarily concerned with your use of the product. That's why Bruce Perens (who seems to come to mind as someone likely to point out GPL violations, although my apologies to him if that is an unfair characterization) can't come into your place of business and audit your Linux boxes the way that Microsoft can come in and audit your Windows boxes.

    What Microsoft is doing is entirely legal, but I think that overall they're creating more problems for themselves than they're solving.

  • I would be damn happy if people pirated my software, because that would mean that more people are using my product, thus equating increased revenues when they go and buy the real thing.

    Were you ever a marketing director for a failed .com media company? This sounds a bit too much like "mindshare is our biggest asset" for me to be comfortable with.

  • A licensing disagreement with Microsoft forced Alaska Airlines to scrap a plan to give pilots browser access to a mainframe work-scheduling application, said CIO Robert Reeder. The initial plan was to run terminal emulation software on Windows NT, letting pilots access the app from their home PCs and airport kiosks.

    When Microsoft heard about the application, it demanded that the airline pay for a full-time license for every computer that would access the app, Reeder said. "I told them that was ridiculous," he said. "I can't license every computer in the world."

    This is pretty damn funny, but am I missing something here? Why should the airline be responsible for licensing remote users? Is this "mainframe work-scheduling application" a Microsoft app that has to be licensed (which I can almost understand), or are they saying that any computer simply accessing a remote NT box has to be licensed to do so?

    Somehow, I can't help but think of the Star Wars quote, "The more you tighten your grip, the more systems will slip though your fingers". And yes all you quote geeks, I realize that probably isn't exact ;)
  • I'm for using alternate OSes, even better ones, and do where I can. The problem with the idea of switching over to Linux is the lack of apps. Sure there are office suites, but there are thousands of specialty apps built ONLY for MS OSes, with no comparable 'free' alternative. The big hurdle I see is the lack of a standard, and lack of development tools built on this standard to start replacing these MS only apps. For us geeks, it's loads of fun to have a non-MS OS, but end-users don't care, they need the apps that they've struggled to learn.
  • by Ian Wolf ( 171633 ) on Friday March 30, 2001 @09:41AM (#326816) Homepage
    I fail to see how this was moderated as Flamebait. It may be a little flippant, but its hardly incendiary, unless Bill G's been moderating again.

    Of course, I could be biased because I happen to agree with the poster. The simple truth is that this tactic is nothing but good for Linux and friends. Take for instance the Alaska Airlines bit. The overall cost of the project was going to exceed their acceptable budget by $250,000. For a small airline, still suffering from a tarnished image that is just way too much money.

    I fully expect that we will see this scenario replayed many more times with different companies and I'd bet that most aren't going to be willing to shelf a good idea, when there is a more economical solution.

  • They don't need the blind eye anymore at least in North America. There's one defacto standard in computing, an Intel box running Microsoft Windows, they've got over a 90% market share. They probably can't dramatically grow the market share anymore so they have to look for new markets if they want to maintain growth. Consumers? Whoops, we've already dominated that area. Business? Hey, what do you know, we've hammered the competition there as well.

    About the only way they can increase market share is if the market itself is growing or if they can use their thumbscrews to extract more seats from that market.

  • by jCaT ( 1320 ) on Friday March 30, 2001 @09:41AM (#326818)
    I know that we keep exact records of how many licenses we have for each piece of software, and how many of those licenses are currently in use. Microsoft could walk in tomorrow and we can present the proof that we have x copies installed and we own y licenses, end of story.

    Pardon me sir, Haywood Jablome here. I'm chief auditor for Microsoft, and I'm troubled by the figures you present in your analysis here. You mentioned "X copies installed and Y licenses", pointing to the fact that there is a DISCREPANCY between the number of copies installed and the number of licenses you have purchased. Please stay where you are; an auditing strike team will be arriving within 3 hours to verify that your values of X and Y are equal, or even better, that Y is greater than X.

    Thank you for your time,

    Heywood Jablome
    Chief Auditor, Microsoft Corp.
    "All your license are belong to us"
  • If your ISP used NT servers as terminal servers (as opposed to Portmasters, MAX's, Cisco, etc.), then they *would* have to pay for a client license for every line that would be in use at max capacity. If they're just running NT as a Radius server, then they only have to pay for client licenses for each of the terminal servers that connect to them. An ISP using NT would normally have to pay fairly hefty client license fees. Figure out how many users will be checking their mail, how many web pages are being viewed and how many radius clients are connecting simultaniously at maximum capacity, and pay client licenses for all of them.

    In the Alaska Airlines situation you describe, the clients in question are connecting directly to the NT servers and using their resources. According to MS, that means they have to pay for client licenses.
  • The small company I work for was recently audited by Microsoft. In the audit notification email, that I saw just briefly, was the fact that what triggered the audit was the fact - according to MS - that 'a company of you size cannot be run on the amount of license we have on record for you.' This is as best as I remember the quote. Anyway, apparently MS is looking for reasons to audit companies. Apparently what MS did was to look at publicly available data about our company and then looked at what we had licensed with them and decided to force us to buy more product because they need to make a quota for sales. Their problem was that they looked at the entire company for the public data and looked only at one division (half of the company) for the registered product. The point being is that MS decides how much of their product that a company must buy to do business. This clearly is morally wrong of Microsoft, at least in my viewpoint. Yet we are making plans to upgrade to MS 2000 even though we have a drive on to lower TCO. I've proposed a GNU/Linux solution to management before but nothing ever gets approved.
  • If you're big enough you should be able to get something in writing as to what exactly the license allows you to do and if/how it can be transferred. Actually this should be just part of the license (which i always thought of as a kind of contract) and accessible for everyone. Sorry, i can't understand why it should be necessary to phone after microsoft, to know what the licenses terms are, if it's not in the license (and if the license not points to reliable sources either) it is, in my opinion, not part of the license. So if you have got a piece of paper, saying that this piece of paper allows you to do x, but nowhere it says anything limiting the transfer of said piece of paper, then whoever holds the piece of paper may do x.
    So if i have a license which allows my business to run 200 instances of program "foo" worldwide, and do the necessary installing on the machines it's supposed to run on, then i might even install it on 600 machines if only 200 of them use it at a time (think license server, applications only used during daytime, worldwide business and timezones). Now *that* might be something to lower license costs.
  • by Tom7 ( 102298 ) on Friday March 30, 2001 @09:47AM (#326832) Homepage Journal
    So, what do you think?

    Gosh, these licenses sure are hard to keep track of!

    Oh I know ... what if there was a way for me to pay for and use my software online -- it wouldn't even be stored on my computer! Then I'd have no worries about licensing!

    If only Microsoft had some kind of product for me...
  • There are a great number of software packages out there to track licenses..... for example, Tally Systems has an inventory solution that will tell how how many copies of each piece of software are installed on your network.

    Novell's ZENWorks is supposed to do that, but the inventory functions are pure S***.

    Microsoft's SMS will do it as well, among the many things it also does.

    If you need Remote Control, Software distribution, Inventory, etc... and you are on a Windows network, go with SMS.

    If you just need Inventory, go with Tally Systems.

    Hope this helps those out there in the IT world that cannot afford to use Open Source software for everything, and still need to keep track of licenses.
    -- russ

    "You want people to think logically? ACK! Turn in your UID, you traitor!"
  • I think lots of people are sticking with WIN 98 and Office 97. They can't justify it to the bean counters. New versions can't be uninstalled off one machine and reinstalled on it's replacement hardware without MS blessing. I have never upgraded and don't plan to because of that very reason. I tinker with the hardware and upgrade bit by bit. Replacing the 2 gig drive with a 45 Gig drive should not prevent the software from installing. (Office 2K breaks if not registered) It's hard to get it registered as it is already registered on another hard drive. This is the big reason not to use it. I don't want to trigger an audit because I upgraded the hardware. We can't afford it.
  • Our company is one of the many who received registered mail requesting a list of all our Microsoft software, license information, and a list of any equipment that may be running said software. Our head of purchasing has flipped out and is running around like an idiot and scaring management into thinking we're under attack.

    When my girlfriend was in a car accident, the idiot who caused it hired a lawyer. The weasel lawyer sent out official-looking, registered mail stating that he needed her immediate written responses to the contained survey and questions. Her insurance company said to forward it to them and forget about it, as the lawyer had no right to any of that information. A similar tactic was used when my mother was rear-ended at a stoplight.

    Simple fact is that we aren't required to give Microsoft diddly. They are not a federal agency, they don't have authority to demand the info, and we aren't going to give it to them.

    Simple solution is to quietly make sure, should the occassion arise that we need to give the proper authority proof, we are up-to-date on our licensing. Sending the information places you in a much more dangerous situation, because Microsoft knows you're scared and ready to cooperate with them.

    Incidentally, we were contacted very shortly after by a Microsoft employee who congratulated us on our recent growth (no, I don't know how he knew) and asked if we needed any more licenses to keep us legal. Coincidence... I think not.
  • The GPL, unlike certain other licenses, does not require that all changes be redistributed. You are perfectly free to keep altered source code to yourself, AS LONG AS YOU DON'T DISTRIBUTE THE BINARY. Anyone who's given the binary must also be given availablility to the source code.

    The only "intuitive" interface is the nipple. After that, it's all learned.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 30, 2001 @10:00AM (#326850)
    I work for a small city govt in southeast Texas near the Houston area, posting A/C naturally. Microsoft has accused us and about 250 other city govts in Texas of software piracy and demanded not only audits but proof of purchase for all our licenses. We are 100% compliant and even have more licenses than we have installed MS software but it is a real pain to have to drop all our present projects on hold to comply with this b.s. request. We are seriously considering treating this audit request as a request for public records under the Texas Open Records law, which states that we can charge a "fair" fee for time and materials expended in searching for and producing copies of these public records. I certainly hope that my superiors agree to go ahead and do this, it will be poetic justice in a way. On a more upbeat note, I recently heard that the City of Midland TX's city manager has told MS to go fly a kite and is refusing to comply. I think that this targeting of small, weak government organizations by MS is revenge for the US DOJ's lawsuit and breakup order.
  • Does Microsoft inform you in their EULA about these audits?

  • "unless Bill G's been moderating again"

    Well, now that I understand true subversive tactics from "1984", it's clear to me that CmdrTaco == Bill Gates.

    Identify deviants, recruit them, gain their trust, then burn and 're-educate' them. How do you think /. stays running despite losing money on every post? (They don't make it up in volume.) It's all secretly funded by M$ ("Andover"? Pfft! As if that's a real company.)

    Old /.'ers don't die, they just 'learn' the joy of windows.

    (evil grin)
    D. Fischer
  • Hassling your customers is NOT a good way to stay in business. They are more likely to look at their alternatives, including the free software beloved of most the /. readership.

    • Will there be mandatory code 'sweeps' to make sure all GPL'd code is available to others outside the company that developed it?

    Sheesh, the M$ FUD is getting more subtle all the time, isn't it?

    The answer to your question is no. There will be no such sweeps. Why? Because no organization, certainly not the FSF, has the right to demand that you divulge internal records or allow their access to your equipment like Microsoft gains when you "sign" one of their licensing agreements.

    Pretty much compliance with GPL and other licenses will depend on informants, which BTW is probably the primary way that the SPA finds out about corporations cheating on licensing agreements now.


  • by Ian Wolf ( 171633 ) on Friday March 30, 2001 @10:11AM (#326868) Homepage
    I agree, this is a legitimate business practice, but that doesn't make it wise.

    First of all, Microsoft's licensing terms and conditions are unbelievably vague, and not just for the operating system licenses, but for the applications and client access licenses as well.

    Try developing a custom application using Exchange 2000, Conferencing Server, and SQL Server 2000 to be accessed by internal users, business partners, and transient consultants. Now imagine the project has a dedicated MS salesperson, and a squad of MS consultants who all have completely differing opinions on what requires a license and what does not. Now take it one step further, and imagine that someone at Microsoft thinks you're missing some licenses and demands a license audit. You spend the next two days trying to piece together what you have, what MS thinks you need, and what you really do need. It happened to my previous company, and after a week of arguing with MS were ultimately vindicated, when the know nothing in licensing was proved wrong.

    Now I'm not saying that it isn't within MS's right to do so, but you should seriously consider the impact such a position will have on your customers. That situation so infuriated our CTO, that are next big _similar_ project used Domino and Sametime.
  • Retraining? I work for a big company and never got any training on Win9x. Basically the management seems to belive in 'trickle down' knowledge.
  • Microsoft is screwing themselves right out of business. Here's why:

    Picture two little companies, competing against each other, one uses Windows, the other uses Linux. Microsoft has to do everything it can to milk as much cash as possible out of the first one, and cost of production for that company will inevitalbly be higher than for the other company. (Even accounting for the fact that the Linux-using company might need to hire a guru as its IT manager.

    Its pure Darwin folks. The smarter comapnies will use the free OS, the dumber ones will stick with Bill & Co, and run themselves right out of business.
    During the boom, this wasn't a problem because everyone was raking in the cash, but as soon as the coming Depression get really bad, people will be looking for ways to cut costs, and getting rid of the MS in a company is the best way to do that. Microsoft is doomed, but they are far too arrogant to realize it, and they might not until its too late.
  • Oh Jesus Fuck, I didn't proof my last post. Holy Fuck on a city bus when will Commander Taco get a fucking spell checker. Please disregard my last post, this is what I meant to say:

    I didn't mispell it. I left a 'b' out to symbolize all the pain and suffering my people have had to endure. So fuck off you smarmy little retard

  • by Technician ( 215283 ) on Friday March 30, 2001 @10:14AM (#326876)
    MS has gone further on this. They are advertising on the radio in the Portland Oregon area for disgruntled employees to turn in their companies. I expect Portland Oregon to be the next Virgina Beach. They are doing it through a third party that does the audits. Autodesk does not advertise "turn in your company" on the public radio.

    I think this get back at your employer tatic of advertising on the radio is about as slimeball a thing you can do. It's worse than ambulance chasers.

    Did anyone know the more litigation in a society, the lower the GNP? It's a proven fact. Productivity drops sharply. Quality of life goes down.

  • how many web pages are being viewed and how many radius clients are connecting simultaniously at maximum capacity, and pay client licenses for all of them.

    Except when Microsoft say you must pay client licenses for each unique user who may possibly connect, as happened with Alaska in the story.

  • by infinite9 ( 319274 ) on Friday March 30, 2001 @10:18AM (#326879)

    Is it just me, or does it sound to anyone else like microsoft is finally dying? Dying may be a bit harsh. I'm certain that they'll always be around in one form or another. Even Novell is still with us. But there really seems to be serious issues with nearly every one of their products.

    Does anyone know anybody who likes the idea of renting their software? It sounds to me like .NET will be the last nail in the coffin for MS. I can see entire companies leaving microsoft in droves over this one. Which is good for me. I'm a consultant who specializes in MS/Unix interoperability and porting from one to the other.

    And what about becomming a license nazi? MS has already been caught collecting info from users machines and sending it back to MS. I read a newsgroup post saying that even some of their games were doing this. They're going after corporate customers now, when will they send a bomb to private users? Maybe it's not a coinsidence that this outlook/activex bug won't seem to die.

    And has anyone actually looked at OS X? I played with it at compusa the other day. For the first time ever, I'm actually considering buying a macintosh. I'm telling you, it's unix, I was shocked. I opened a tcsh shell and looked around. With the MACH kernel and the aqua interface, it's everything that linux should be.

    And they're taking a beating on the server front as we all know, especially with IIS. If I were doing a new web development project, I would certainly hesitate to go the IIS/ASP route. And is anyone really using C#?

    All we need now is a champion for Star Office so that it's as polished as Office, yet still free/open-source.

    It looks to me like they've dug their own grave, and now it's time for us to dance on it.

  • by cworley ( 96911 ) on Friday March 30, 2001 @10:20AM (#326881)
    My brother, who works as a SysAdmin at a hospital, says they used to pay for 200 licences of Word, covering the number of copies of Word being served by their Citrix servers at any one time. Microsoft recently changed the license agreement (which it can do), and now they have to buy over 1000 licences, to cover each terminal that might run Word. Furthermore, Microsoft has informed the hospital that in a few years the license will change again: they will need a license for every employee that might use Word on a terminal.

    (I submitted this InternetWeek story yesterday morning and it was rejected. How come it's accepted a day late?)

  • Well, perhaps most of the responses here are of your usual knee-jerk type. Some of them, however are driven by the fear of being interogated at Microsoft's whim for license compliance. If you read about the Business Software Alliance (my father recent received one of their spam-faxes), their tactics sound nearly Gestapo-like. For your average small business, being able to produce licenses on demand isn't hard. But imagine trying to do it for 10,000 machines bought from several vendors spread all over a dozen buildings. You would have to pay a guy full-time just to figure out if you were in compliance. Read the article on the State of Virginia to get an idea of the costs and annoyance involved.

    Moreover, the BSA (not the Boy Scouts) encourage employees to report their employers for non-compliance. Sounds innocent enough, until you have to deal with BSA representatives at your door because your ex-employee was ticked and told them you have pirated Windows installations. You could be completely legit, but you'll waste time and money proving it whenever some software company decides to ask.

    Wow, I think I've slipped into rant mode, so I'll wrap up. I think illegal copying of software is wrong, but I have issues with companies that want to own me because I use their software.

  • Recently there was a string of ads on the radio in Boston, that they were calling a temporary truce that they wouldn't be targeting any new companies. The gist of the message was get your act together, because we're coming after you as soon as the truce is up.

  • now that'd be cool....
  • ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) is all about IT planning and contingencies (flood, fire, quake, earthquake :) Among all the other contingencies, perhaps a non-MS scenio should be prepared by responsible ERPers.

    Microsoft software is arguably a single point-of-failure. Desktops preferentially all run one version of MS-Windows, mailservers all run another, and fileservers are similarly uniform. Technically, this is very dangerous because an entire category of service could be lost to a bug/virus.

    Now MS playing hardball is adding a legal failure mechanism. One or all MS software may become unrunnable due to legal issues. In negotiations with MS, a CEO needs alternatives if he is to have any power at all. ERP should give him some so he doesn't have to "bend over ..."

  • I should have mentioned that Microsoft obviously favors #1, and will make #2 difficult for you.

    It should be a cost/benefit analysis -- if you can't afford the lawyers and the accountants, don't select option #2. Businesses make these decisions all the time, chosing to pay out one large sum of money for low risk in favor of many small sums of money with unknown risk.

    One of the worst mistakes is to put the techies in charge of licence compliance (because they usually have a totally lax attitude towards such things, and they are not exactly organizational geniuses).

    I lived through a MS audit a few years ago with the kinder, gentler Microsoft. We had our shit in order and had bought certain selective site licences (such as for Office), so it was no problem.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 30, 2001 @10:33AM (#326892)
    I'm post this anonymously do deflect unwanted attention.

    For the past several years our firm was receiving shipments (100's at a time) of computers from various vendors (lowest price) which I was in charge of setting up and delivering to various users/desktops/cubes/etc. I always saved the documentation that came with these units (warranty/licenses/CD's/etc) and set them aside for safe keeping.

    About a year ago, my boss asked what I did with this stuff. I showed him full monitor boxes stuffed with these goodies. Each box was clearly marked with what was inside (i.e. Office97: 200, Win95B: 200, etc). He promptly asked me to load them into his SUV so he could take them to our offsite storage building. While loading his truck, the shipping manager asked what I was doing. I explained myself. The manager then asked my boss to sign manifest/paperwork of some sort showing what was being removed from his shipping area. My boss signed it, then threw his copy into the trash. After loading his vehicle, I walked back thru shipping, stopping at the can my boss threw the paperwork into. For some reason, I picked up the slip he discarded into the trash and placed it into my pocket.

    Eight months ago, Microsoft came calling. A meeting was held which I attended. Finance asked my boss where the licenses were. My boss then turned to me. Right then and there my career flashed before my eyes... then I remembered the slip I had picked up lazily out of the trash container that one day. I spoke up and said "Let me get the paperwork on that". I came back with the paperwork that the shipping manager made the boss sign and showed it to the CFO.

    I'm typing this from my bosses old office.

  • I think that this targeting of small, weak government organizations by MS is revenge for the US DOJ's lawsuit and breakup order.

    Interesting point! As an owner of an OEM, I'm all for the fact that the are going after those who do not comply. I have to make sure that systems I sell, have licenses, so should everyone else.

    HOWEVER, it does seem strange that they are going after small local governments, that probably have little organization and poor record keeping, as far as IS is concerned anyway. So why don't they go after the larger offenders, rather than pick on the small governments? Why don't they go after the 31337 h4x0rz that have CD images of Win 2k and the like on their FTP sites?
  • There really isn't any RAD programming system for Linux (Klyx ain't there yet.), so that means a lot of time and effort for something pretty small.

    Au Contrairy!!! Check out RadBuilder 3.0 from Emediat Solutions Inc. []. I really like this RAD platform and have written a couple of client applications. Excellent string manipulations, a complete widget set (with the ability to extend), an integrated IDE, cross-platform with Windows, and, most importantly, comprehensive HTML documentation. Sorry if I sound like too much of a booster, but its sad to see good products fall by the wayside due to a lack of exposure.

    On the down side, I've heard that they are going to go Open Source but they are not currently... though it is pretty inexpensive (~ $100 for linux I think)

    They have a support site at []

  • Finally, a voice of REASON on slashdot. This is getting rare nowadays.

    -- Dr. Eldarion --
  • Hmmm. That would be excellent actually. "Gee, boss, you could make sure you never get a disgruntled employee calling in to MS about your shady copying of proprietary software. It's easy. We'll install Linux."
  • Could it be that Microsoft is trying to annoy people and companies to the point where they demand that software can only run, if it licensed? Microsofts current plan is to one day require online-authentication every time a PC boots. That would annoy the heck out of people, unless the people see it as "better" to the alternative auditing system...

    Microsoft I think believes, "If we want to do something annoying and to take away the privacy of people, do something legal that is worse so that our "new alternative" looks better and is accepted.".

  • by jabbo ( 860 )
    With proper document management and a little foresight, this wouldn't be an issue. Keep triplicate copies of everything, keep licenses, contracts, and SLA agreements on file, yadda yadda.

    Could Microsoft audit IBM? Sure! Would it bankrupt them? I doubt it highly, knowing how the shop is run there.

    Microsoft is now resorting to harassing customers with lawyers to extract profit growths. This is good. It means they're putting themselves increasingly into a very unpopular position with large corporations and governments, which may prompt some of the "victims" to lobby (throw money at) lawmakers.

    It's bad for customers, but that's par for the course. Microsoft has never been good for the consumer, I don't expect them to change now.
  • I believe this is partly the point. Everyone and their grandma can use Windows. With Linux, it's quite a different story.

    -- Dr. Eldarion --
  • by afniv ( 10789 ) on Friday March 30, 2001 @10:57AM (#326921) Homepage
    I thought there was an M$ license with every computer sold? I can' buy a computer without it....

    "Man könnte froh sein, wenn die Luft so rein wäre wie das Bier"
  • I have yet to see any practical advantage of
    winblows over Linux.

    You mean other than application support? Yeah, it's pretty easy to miss that.
  • Hmm... Well, I just sat down and read my NT server and CAL pack licenses, and all they really say (IANAL, and boy, you probably should be to wade through this crap) is that MS can yank the license if they determine that you're in violation of the EULA. Doesn't say anything about giving them the right to come in and do an audit, which is pretty much the only way they could determine you're in violation of the EULA. Seems kind of circular, don't it?
  • Yeah, you hit the nail on the head there. Piracy has always been Microsoft's best marketing strategy, but there's nobody left to market against for their core products.

    You can also see the attitude change between Gates and Ballmer. Gates, since the doomed hobbiest letter, hasn't ever really sweated if someone somewhere was ripping him off, as long as he knew he'd eventually get paid. On the other hand, rampant MS piracy probably keeps Ballmer awake at night.
  • What i'd like to know is why M$ can sue for a pirated program -- but I can't sue when a legit program dosen't work as advertised?

    We have a couple WinME machines where I work and its an accomplishment if they don't crash once or twice during a workday ... but *I* would be the bad guy if I grabbed a NT WKS disk and downgraded to a stable os?

  • "With proper document management and a little foresight, this wouldn't be an issue. Keep triplicate copies of everything, keep licenses,
    contracts, and SLA agreements on file, yadda yadda. "

    You are presuming that all this has no cost. It costs money to keep track of documents it costs money to prove you have the documents. For many companies this could add a several full time staff in and of itself.
  • The MS astro turfers are gettign desperate. You can all the GPLed code you want internally it kosher. If you distribute then the whoever receiveds the app can demend the code it up to the receiver to do the "audit".
  • by psocccer ( 105399 ) on Friday March 30, 2001 @11:17AM (#326944) Homepage
    Contrary to popular belief here, MOST businesses could probably not just "up and switch" everyone over.
    • Custom software: Maybe companies have at least a little custom software, usually written for Windows. Some have more. Where I work we have over 3.5 million lines of COBOL code written with Microfocus extensions for Windows. You can't run that on Linux now, there is no compiler and the file formats would change, it would literally be a nightmare to switch. Sure, there's VMWare or Wine, but do you want an emulator managing your mission critical data? I'm talking all the financials, AP/AR/GL, ordering, purchasing, history, EVERYTHING. Well I don't trust it. You don't get away from this until you get to upper-mid sized companies that are using terminal emulation and a single mainframe.
    • Small businesses depend on Quick Books, Peach Tree, and other "Small Business" related management software. And no, GNU Cash does not replace it. It can't even generate invoices yet.
    • There isn't any decent group ware application for Linux that's not web-based. That means people will be leaving behind their Outlook/NDS/ADS/Notes stuff behind unless they licence some kind of shared server for that. You get practically no savings.
    • Most companies don't need to. Lots of companies still run Win95 through 98 or NT3 to NT4. They don't plan on upgrading their Windows licences. When they buy a new computer, it will come with Windows and a new licence anyway, and they're not the type to go off building their own computers and installing OS's. There is no cost since you already payed for it.
    So basically you'd need to be a company that only used your computer for web/mail and office, then you might have a relatively smooth transition. Don't forget though, people use windows at home too, and they are familiar with it's tools. Just because Star Office looks similar to word doesn't mean it's the same. There will be things people can't figure out and there will be retraining.

    As far as your 10,000 user example, I wouldn't want to retraing 10,000 users for anything.

  • You're missing the point...
    Sure you keep track of how many license you own and how many are in use. You think that MS is gonna come and ask you for these number, you're going to tell them, and then they're going to say "Okidoki... Thanks very much, have a nice day!" Fat chance is hell.

    What they want is proof. On one hand you'd better have a big room with thousands of those holograms (typically glued on top of a manual) that come with your pre-installed Dell PCs. And (if you read the article) the proof of purchase for everyone of those holograms. On the other hand, you're gonna have to prove that you really have all of these installed machine and not more that you're just not declaring.

    Now the whole idea behind an audit is that they're probably going to want to verify the information you provided. That's kind of the idea behind the word "audit". Who knows how they do that, they may walk around in your organization and count machines for all I know...

    The point is, regardless on how organized you might be, someone (and probably more than one person) at your company will be busy for a while. Since I assume that person gets paid by your company, that's money your company is spending on completely unproductive work. It is very disruptive - the level of disruptivity might be slightly alleviated if your IT people have their act together, but it will nevertheless be disruptive.

    And my last point is that no corporation should have the right to barge in your company and "demand" anything - regardless on how easy it might be to give an answer. The government can't do it (not without "probably cause") why should microsoft be allowed to?
  • by psin psycle ( 118560 ) <psinpsycle&yahoo,com> on Friday March 30, 2001 @11:20AM (#326948) Homepage
    A couple years ago the company that I worked for started getting theats from microsoft. They wanted to audit our licenses. The threatened to sue us a bunch of times, and in the end we just handed over $250 000 to make them go away. They said the money was for CALS and Office. I think it was just protection money. Kind of like giving the bullys at school your lunch money.
    Anyway, if you want to avoid this situation, just pirate everything. In our case, we were trying to do the right thing. We called to get estimates on some exchange licenses. The sales lady asked a bunch of questions... how many clients... do they all need it... how many servers. All the questions seemed innocent enough. In the end, they took our answers, looked at the number of licenses they knew we had, and they decided we needed to buy more.
  • These companies don't think they're pirating software, Microsoft does. This is all about intrepretation and Microsofts interpretation is that you can't transfer liscenses (if you upgrade to a newer machine or in some cases just newer hardware). There are issues with seat licences with their server OSes too. When originally released NT was never, ever going to have per user client licences (Novell did that and that was evil, Microsoft told us). Then they created Windows NT 4.0 with, guess what, per seat licences, lying bastards.

    Microsoft is moving to per seat licences for almost all their new software. This is harder than hell to keep up with, espically if the licencses aren't transferrable.

    Don't be suprised if the first .NET components check your licenses with the Microsoft home office, and that after you have upgraded your hardware and/or your whole PC you will be conviently asked for your credit card #.
  • Personally, I find Python/TK much easier to develop with than VB. I use it in Windows and Linux. I don't know if there's a GUI IDE for it because it's so easy I've never felt the need to even look for one.

    And Python is a much nicer language than Basic.

  • by GMC-jimmy ( 243376 ) on Friday March 30, 2001 @11:31AM (#326955) Homepage
    "...even if this means paying for certain copies of Windows twice. At least you know you are legit."

    Is that like installing it twice ? ...just to make sure it's there ?
  • by OmegaDan ( 101255 ) on Friday March 30, 2001 @12:00PM (#326980) Homepage
    Its a sad day in a country when a EULA has legal standing ...

    these are the reasons I think EULA's are not legal:

    They're not avaliable prior to purchase.

    No retailer allows the return of software if you don't like the license.

    If a retailer *DID* allow the return, MS should bare the cost of that return (restocking fees, shipping etc), but they don't.

    A contract is an agreement between two parties ... usually both parties recieve some benifit from the contract ... in the EULA, theres no agreement its "take it or leave it." And the Eula provides no benifit (IE waranty, fitness of purpose) and seeks only to benifit the software company.

    Last but not least, a legally enforcable contract has to have a minimum of 3 signatures, the notary and the two parties ... The notary serves several purposes -- she authenticates both parties, can be called upon in a legal dispute, and establishes that both parties are aware of the contents of the contract, which I believe is called [IANAL] "communication." It is my belief that "press f8 to continue" [NT4 installer] is not a sufficent "notary". Can you prove I read and understood the entire agreement then pressed f8 ?

    What if I gave someone 5 bucks to install a MS os on my machine ... would I be then bound by the EULA ? I didn't agree to it, someone else did ... is this situation is analgous to purchasing a computer with preinstalled software?

  • by Wansu ( 846 ) on Friday March 30, 2001 @12:05PM (#326987)
    There's little doubt that if M$ had been so aggressive about enforcing it's licenses long ago, M$ would not have the market share it has today. Now, their market has more or less reached a saturation point. Acceptance of new products like Win2k and WinME has been underwhelming. They are resorting to hardball tactics to make up for profit shortfalls. I'm sure many customers did not go with Microsoft with the expectation that M$ would later impose onerous audit requirements on them. Thus, the perceived terms of ownership have been switched from the ones these companies were baited in with.
  • by emil ( 695 ) on Friday March 30, 2001 @12:36PM (#327006)

    Instead, go download Sybase for Linux or FreeBSD. It works just the same, and it is free for almost all commercial use.

    MS SQL server and Sybase were once the same product. MS ODBC drivers work with Sybase, and the SQL syntax is pretty much identical.

    If you need support, just upgrade. No, you aren't buying a product with the spectacular benchmarks of SQL Server 2000, but then again, you aren't buying anything at all, so why complain?

  • by sjames ( 1099 ) on Friday March 30, 2001 @01:51PM (#327047) Homepage Journal

    2) throwing all of your Microsoft holograms in one file cabinet with a sheet of paper attached to each that shows the PC's manufacturer and serial number

    And keeping the install disks locked away with the key held by the most anal person in the company. And searching employees on their way in to make sure they don't bring software from home to install, make sure that all software purchases be handled exclusively through the above anal person (no more running to Office Depot with petty cash), having your legal staff study the licenses carefully in a vain attempt to come up with the same interpretation that MS will use, and finally: get audited and screwed anyway. It seems that even if you buy an unlimited site license, MS will argue about what constitutes 'your site'.

    On the other hand, Linux and the BSDs all effectively have an unlimited universe wide no questions asked site license.

Life in the state of nature is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. - Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan