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More Thoughts on Microsoft vs. Open Source 213

An anonymous reader submitted a pretty well-written editorial running over at LinuxPlanet about the Microsoft Open Source Hoopla that has been fluttering about lately. Several good points (like how MS will obviously blur perception of Open Source and Free Software to their benefit). Worth a read.
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More Thoughts on Microsoft vs. Open Source

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    For IT managers, talk about improved uptime and security, reduced support costs, smoother upgrade paths and the knowledge that you can't be orphaned by your vendor. For corporate executives, talk about reduced support costs, cheaper hardware, better IT productivity and superior performance.

    Save your breath. I tell my bosses about these things every day. Some of them are pretty smart guys. And they agree with me. And then they go out and budget another $20k for Microsoft products. It's not worth the effort; when they decide to stop using Unix I'll just go somewhere else. Microsoft has made people really believe there's no life without them. The only solution is a 100% Microsoft free work environment from the machine room to the R&D labs to the CEO's desk. Once you let the bad guys in, it's over.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    MS could steal ideas from Xerox...just like Apple's crack "R&D" dept.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Who listens to MS? Perhaps the 90% of desktop computer users who run Windows? Don't kid yourself into thinking that that market share doesn't matter--right now, many of the installed base of Windows users don't particularly like Windows but even the ones who are aware of Linux see NO alternatives. The sooner the Linux developers and companies wake up to that fact, the better.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Another slashbrat heard from. I can't believe how many Linux users have this bizarre attitude that boils down to 1) MS is evil and corrupt and should be opposed at every opportunity, but 2) hey, it's not our place to try to oust Windows from the 90% of desktops where it's already running--Linux is just our special little toy and not for the unwashed masses.

    Bullshit. All the Linux zealots should either grow up and take on the responsibility of challenging MS on terms that will win a significant chunk of the desktop, or they should shut the hell up about MS. I think there's almost no threat of Linux challenging Windows for the desktop as long as the developers cling to this immature view of the world.

    Put another way, you can either do the hard work and rule the world (and Linux is definitely good enough to do that), or you can play with your toys, ignore the hard problems, and stay in your market niche. But you can't do both.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I am as irked by M$'s FUD attempts as anyone, but I don't see why we are all crying about it. WE are the IT of our companies, not Microsofty reps. I have yet to work anywhere where IT did not have a MAJOR say in what went on in userland. People usually become CFOs because they know what they are doing (in terms of finances and making money). No rational board member is going to want to lock the company into Microserfdom when it is explained calmly and logically by IT. It seems like this article is suggesting IT will just sit idly by and watch all this happen. M$ is scared, and scared badly. This attack on open and free software is the last desperate act of a company whose greedy nature has begun to backfire on itself. I have already printed Microsoft's FUD attempt and sent it around the offices of our VPs. I then went around and made sure they understood the FUD in there. If you are viewed as someone who knows their shit (IT-wise), you WILL be listened to! I mean, for God's sake, they ask me what kind of MOUSE to buy for their home machines! Are these the same folks who will overrule the IT guys? No Way! USE YOUR INFLUENCE NOW! They trust you with their systems for a reason...... remind them of that.
  • by KMSelf ( 361 )

    Microsoft has, and has exercised, its power to make offers too good to refuse. Often in the sense of financing or otherwise sweetening the pot for IT adoption. There have been a number of spectacular defections from companies which had been particularly close to Microsoft but switched sides, notably SGI's former CEO (Rick Belluzo) and our good friend Doug Miller, of Interix (now "Unix Services for Windows NT", a Microsoft product.

    With US$30 billion in cash on hand (today's Yahoo profile [] -- and up from $17b a year ago), Microsoft is in a very real position to literally buy business. One of the weak points of free software is that it doesn't come with the inherent, tangible, partnering deals that have traditionally lubricated major software and IT projects.

    This has definitely changed with the very active involvement of IBM, but there are few other major hardware and software vendors, and particularly systems integrators and Big insert declining single-digit number here accounting firms who are playing this game yet. Financing new projects is a major part of IT, and it's a game Microsoft is positioned to play, well, and with high stakes, for years to come.

    Yes, you should fear marketing.

    What part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?

  • We work in an unsigned system here. Get over it.
  • There are many of us, like me, who want to see Linux continue to improve until it becomes a real contender in every OS market, including the mainstream desktop

    It already is. In every technical way measurable, the Free Unix systems are already superior. The remaining barriers to acceptance are political. Political battles are never worth fighting.

  • by The Man ( 684 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2001 @07:31AM (#237867) Homepage
    I use Linux. I hack Linux. Nobody can ever stop me from doing either of these things, even if I'm the only one in the world to do so. The court of public opinion does not matter for this very reason. Microsoft could have (~0)-1 market share and it would affect my life not in the slightest. So tell me, why should I care what the papers print?

    People will use whatever the media tells them to use...and businesses who use better software should have a competitive advantage over those who use crap. I doubt Mr. Mundie has ever used Linux, so who cares what he thinks? If he wants to use an inferior product, we should all snicker at him quietly and move on. Enough of this feeding frenzy.

    Take a step back from the brink, folks; if you just want a stable, reliable, high-performance OS, Linux is a great choice. If you want a cause, go join the Peace Corps.

  • ...the Linux community needs a more professional aura around it.

    Forgive me my skepticism, but-- why? Yes, I believe the loudest "advocates" are nothing more than overzealous adolescent (no matter their age) loudmouths, no better than hooligans; but why should that bother the Linux community?

    Why should the community even care what the business world thinks of Linux? So we can get more proprietary software? So more people can make money off closed software built for an open system? So more companies can make money from Free software while giving nothing back?

    Yes, it would be nice if Linux were a bit more widespread; but really, I'd rather the community stay small and open than giant and closed.

  • I fear you are falling into a common trap, thinking that software is only created by paid programmers and people who work for someone else. You forget the legions of people who work for the "common good" and people who work on software for the love and adventure of creating a digital work that will benefit others. Some people actually LIKE having their digital works used by other people, as long as those other people follow the rules established for that particular piece of work (Whether it be the free-for-all of the BSD or the "Do what you will, but don't restrict others" of the GPL).

    Sorry, I just can't see it taking off. The whole software industry is about coming up with something thats better than others and encouraging people to buy their product over others.

    No, that's what the software industry WAS about, however, if you look at .NET, HailStorm, and a lot of other "initiatives" that Microsoft has on the table, they're going the "service" route, which is something that Free Software / Open Source has been doing for a while. Give away the software, charge for support and possibly access to world-wide servers. It doesn't work for me (And I suspect, many people on Slashdot), but it does work for people like my mother who wants to be able to check her e-mail from any computer with a browser.

    This is where I get all confused. Microsoft is essentially arguing that if I write something and release it then I can't make money from that code and, that itself is bad.

    And that is wrong. Who says you can't sell the software? Certainly not RedHat, Mandrake, SuSE, IBM, or any of the other Linux vendors or reseller. What is stopping you? There are dozens of ways that you can make money off of your software. You can charge for sending it to people on CD, you can write a book on how to use it and sell the book. You can setup support contracts with people or (more likely) companies (Those can be worth quite a few bucks).
  • by jd ( 1658 ) <> on Tuesday May 08, 2001 @07:22AM (#237870) Homepage Journal
    With some VERY well-made points. It's all too true that perception makes the difference. (For those in the UK, "Bill Baggs" and "Environmental Sci-Fi" should be all I need to say on this.)

    IMHO, Linux distros that are aimed at the educational, corporate or government markets should be concerned. Mud sticks, even when the mud only exists in the minds of others.

  • by sheldon ( 2322 )
    Microsoft's motive is to produce a product which people want to buy. That is a product that people can derive value from in terms of increased productivity and ability to do things.

    Linux users on the other hand is only interested in if it's free beer. Could care less if it makes them less productive as long as they don't have to pay for it.

    It depends on your perspective I guess.

    On the other hand, I am not at all impressed by Microsoft's attempts to replace software purchases with subscription. It may make them more money, but I don't see how it benefits me.

    However, I haven't seen the terms. If I can "rent" Office XP for $5/month, then that is a preferable alternative to buying it for $400 or whatever it is.

    This is the reason most people have cable television after all. HBO is $10/month, or you can go out and buy video tapes at $15/each.
  • I haven't read the article yet, will do so later.

    But regarding the slashdot comment about Microsoft trying to blur Open Source and Free Software...

    Doesn't slashdot do this virtually every day? Well maybe not intentionally, but I see it in a lot of posts by Linux fanatics, etc.

    There is a *HUGE* divide in the OSS camp between the BSD and GPL crowds. That divide seems to get larger every day.

    What I find curious is that a lot of the GPL-GNU/Linux crowd frequently refers to BSD projects as being tremendous successes and they prove the validity of Open Source.

    But then they go on muttering under their breath:
    "Oh yeah, but if you are going to release something it should be under the GPL."

    There is a debate here which is worth arguing about. I believe the problem is that there is not two sides to this camp. It is not Open Source versus Microsoft.

    It's Microsoft versus GPL proponents, with BSD proponents kind of off in the sidelines and not really wanting to agree with either of these other two groups.

    Basically my point is, Microsoft isn't the only one blurring the lines. Each group seems to blur lines in whatever way is most convenient to them.

    One other thing I've noticed. The GNU/Linux-GPL crowd seems to rely not on solid arguments but on a belief that if they overwhelm their opponents with verbal attacks the other guys will just give up. It's worked so far with the BSD proponents, KDE, etc.

    But I doubt this will work with Microsoft.

    One thing Microsoft has a history of, and is really quite good at is losing gracelessly. They throw something out to the public, doesn't work, they come back with version 2, doesn't work... Here's version 3, and then it finally sticks.

    What you're seeing now is Version 1 of Microsoft Argumentation. It'll be refined internally and Version 2 will evolve.

    Are you prepared for Version 2?

  • But on the other hand, they have well over 10x the risk, as DSL solutions have nowhere the guarantees of availability as the 56K frame relay.

    This is part of making an informed IT recommendation, evaluating risk and reward. It's a problem that we juggle with every day.

    Now this solution may work exceptionally well right now.

    But when the DSL line goes out, and USWest doesn't fix it for two weeks... Will this still look like a good decision?

    I don't know, it depends on the business. But most businesses I know of can't survive an extended downtime on their network.
  • by sheldon ( 2322 )
    Oh I don't know. I'm an MCSE, but before that was a very active Linux user and have contributed small parts to open source projects over the years.

    You'd be amazed at just how well informed us "MS people" are.
  • by sheldon ( 2322 )
    But notice how both the Soviet Union and the GPL proponents think they should lead us towards the great wonderful Community of Communism.

    They both wish to force everybody to conform, if you don't accept we'll beat it out of you.

    That more than anything else is why Communism failed.
  • I believe you are correct. The GPL and OSS are the antithesis of the corporate model and our current economy.

    It would then follow that for GPL/OSS to reach its "full potential", our current society will have to undergo a complete top-to-bottom restructuring.

    ...and I think that's already started. If the open nature of the internet and GPL/OSS is able to continue despite all governmental and corporate attempts to control it, then those structures will eventually become obsolete, and political and economic power will naturally flow in the direction of the hackers. Once that happens, the needs of Free software programming and programmers could easily be supported by taxes, or slave labor. And no coder who writes good code would ever have to live in a dumpster.

  • by RenQuanta ( 3274 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2001 @07:49AM (#237877) Homepage
    And, really, do any of us give a flying fsck if PHBs love free software or not? The choice will still always be OURS - and that's the important part.

    I don't really give a ff if PHBs love free software or not, but I do care about whether or not they're willing to deploy it in a production environment in place of Windows9x/NT/2K/XP.

    While I may love running Linux and FreeBSD at home, the only place I can run it in my little domain at work (a Fortune 10 company) is in the lab. And then, only because I do IT security, and need to simulate "hostile hacker boxes" to test various security implementations. A lot of our infrastructure is NT/2K because we aren't allowed to use Linux (even though many vendors are now supporting it).

    Why? Because PHBs and senior executives not only don't love Free Software or Open Source, but also because they are 1.)scared of using something which "isn't supported by a vendor" 2.)not interested in deploying something they where they can't own stock in the vendor company 3.)Don't really care about cost differences, only want to pass the next corporate audit, etc.

    Sadly, I've learned since I came to corporate from Academia that the article's author is spot on - perception is everyting! The only way to gain ground in corporate is to get the right perception out there, and to get more vendors to write software to support Linux and *BSD.

    So why do I care if FS/OS gets adopted in the workplace? Because I spend anywhere from 40-60 hours a week in the workplace, and what we use there has a serious influence in how much time I can spend at home on what technology. I've actually got Win2K at home, and I'm working on an MCSE (shudder!) because there's so much Windows at work. Granted, I'm working on SAIR Linux and Solaris certifications also, but because of the environment at work, I'm spending 33% less time on UNIX technology, just to ensure my resume is spiffy when a PHB/Senior Exec looks at it.

    That's why I care what they think.

  • Exactly. Give the PHBs a choice - if they're smart and the choices are well laid-out, they'll most likely make the right decision.

    Your example of using Linux as a router is a perfect example. I had to investigate the most cost-efficient means for a small business here to upgrade it's WAN from 56K frame to something faster. The solution eventually turned out to be and OpenBSD-based IPSec VPN with DSL lines. Proving that this was the best solution was easy to my boss - I pointed out the cost and reliabilty of the OS ($30 for the CD and the best security rep out there), and the cost of the alternatives (faster frame, PTP T1's, cable modems). The decision was a no-brainer and the speed and uptime is very impressive. The cost was half of what they paid for almost 10x the bandwidth.

    These kinds of applications for free OSes will be the beginning of their inroads into business.
  • by Luke ( 7869 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2001 @07:29AM (#237881) Homepage
    This is the wrong attitude to take. Because of the very nature of free software, there is NOTHING microsoft can do to prevent people from writing and using free software. The only thing that they can do is spread FUD so that businesses may think twice about using Linux/BSD/emacs/What have you.

    And, really, do any of us give a flying fsck if PHBs love free software or not? The choice will still always be OURS - and that's the important part.
  • If you combine the recent comments from Microsoft's Mundie with those made by Allchin a few months ago, Microsoft is really sounding loopier than the loopiest Linux defenders. Allchin as much as said that it is un-American to make something and give it away. He said that it ought to be illegal and that Congress was being informed. You want to talk about loopy?

    I'm very, very concerned about the mental state of Microsoft's top executives and about that corporation's future being run by people who hold such psychopathic views.
  • by crovira ( 10242 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2001 @09:14AM (#237885) Homepage
    When that didn't work, many of us aren't American anyway, they attacked our credibility.

    But if you have the source code you can defend yourself so you don't have to be towed back to port because the clock management software (the clock for Christ's sake,) has a bug and divides by zero.

    And as a bazillion scrips kiddies can tell you, its easy to repeatedly crack OSes that evolves as slowly as Microsoft's. You don't need source code. In fact you don't want the source code because the writer's intent keeps getting in the way of seeing what the code really does.

    And, by the way, NOBODY who spends serious money on software (like a million for a package and a couple of grand per seat on maintenance for one mission critical system,) buys it without getting ALL of the source code. Of course we make them sign non-competition and non-disclosure agreements out the wazoo.

    Microsoft has been selling a pig in a poke for years now because they don't sell anything important. Office apps. Bid deal... And when that market gets saturated, they're broke.

    Now the bag is unravelling and their business model is proving to be mushroom fertilizer. For years they made money selling something that was only "almost good-enough."

    Well it IS now only just good enough so they're sucking wind trying to hype crap. Nobody I know's buying it. If the OEMs weren't bundling it, nobody would bother buying anything beyond Windows '95 with service packs to fix some bugs.

    FUD doesn't work if you can't show something scary. All M$ can show is a bunch of Unix and Linux systems working and not cratering the bottom line.
  • I just want to point out that the secretaries might have sworn by WordPerfect, but everyone else swore at it.*

    The adoption of a GUI word processor was part of the general downsizing of the secretary pool in US corporations in the early 90s. It was decreed that middle managers shall type their own memos, and Microsoft just so happened to have the most robust product available at the time.

    Anyway, check the newspaper, and you'll find that the demand for "Word Processor" (a job title) isn't as high as it was back in the 80s.

    Besides the opportuntity to rip on WordPerfect, I'm posting this to point out that people often are living in their own user-microcosm when they are talking about computers. Microsoft got where they are as a desktop and small server software vendor due to large shifts in the management style of US corporations, not anything they said or did specifically. Future trends may well help establish Linux, or they may reinforce Microsoft. Time will tell.

    * Compared to, say, WordStar which let you know what the commands were right on the screen, WordPerfect's 'clean-screen' UI and bizarro F-keys were a ploy to elitists and certainly not in the best interests of the userbase as a whole. Their empire was built on print drivers, nothing more.
  • The only thing that they can do is spread FUD so that businesses may think twice about using Linux/BSD/emacs/What have you.

    Gee, is that all?

    That's rather a hell of a lot, actually. The history of ideas is littered with the corpses of better ideas killed by worse ideas that were marketed better.

    Microsoft may be mediocre as far as technical innovation is concerned, but as far as manipulating the market is concerned, they are way, way the fuck out in front.

  • by BeBoxer ( 14448 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2001 @08:19AM (#237892)
    If your PHB's like passing audits, perhaps you should invite the BSA to have M$ over for a little audit party? After all, these audits are for their own good, and they should be more than willing to pay such a small price for quality software and peace of mind, right?

    Perception is everything, and the perception that M$'s ever-tightening licensing demands coupled with their ever-faster upgrade cycles and ever-more-aggressive lawyers is a significant cost of their "solution" needs to be reinforced. If M$ can be egged into reinforcing that perception themselves, that's even better ;-)>
  • I guess part of the problem is that when I leave the company, they are going to have a hard time finding someone who can administer the Linux systems I have implemeneted, and therefor would rather stick with Microsoft "soultions".

    I think the word in quotes should be "problems"... :-) Anyway, it basically is not true in most places that it is harder to find a qualified *nix administrator than a qualified Windows administrator. Sure, you can hire some joker who went to some diploma mill school and has a shiny new MCSE certificate really easy, but that doesn't mean much in the real world. For that matter, it isn't that hard to find a junior level *nix adminstrator these days, as a lot of people are using it at home these days.

  • "Free software is bad for innovation - unless we tie it to Windows."

    "We have made Windows source code available to thousands of partners. .. Open source software is dangerous and kills innovation."

    Somebody needs to call a meeting and decide what the standard line will be.... FUD isn't effective when it contradicts itself.

  • People who spend their time in any debate making personal comments about the opposition instead of countering their arguments are sure to lose the debate. You can see this in politics in any country. You would see this in any high-school class debate. And you may see it in the great Linux versus Microsoft debate.

    What is needed is a united front from the Linux side. To do this, Linux people need to employ marketing people and spin doctors. While we may ordinarily be wary of such people, they have their uses and we should employ them if they can be of benefit to us.

    Whenever Microsoft announces a Great New Product, the people on the Linux side can best devastate Microsoft's marketing efforts by pointing out the weaknesses in the Microsoft offering and how Linux products can overcome these weaknesses.

    Imagine that Linux and Microsoft are ships in a naval battle. To sink Microsoft, make your shots count.

    Microsoft products are expensive. Linux products are far more cost-effective. Wham!

    Microsoft products have restrictive licence agreements. Linux products have more lenient software licenses. Wham!

    Microsoft products tend to be overintegrated and this makes them unstable. Linux products don't take integration too far and are more stable as a result. Wham!

    A few telling broadsides like that fired from the Linux ship and the Microsoft product is dead in the water and doomed to sink. In naval combat, you don't waste your ammunition firing warning shots across the bows of the enemy ship. You take aim at the ship and try to sink it.

  • If Microsoft is engaging in a campaign against the idea of Open Source, then they're forgetting something very important:

    Their own image problems.

    This is Microsoft, a compnay whose products people use, but use at best out of habit, often reluctantly.

    This is a company that has been investigated on monopoly charges and whose representatives lied in court.

    This is a company who, after kissing up to AOL, appears to be ready to compete with them via .NET.

    This is a company remembered by every user who suffered through a blue screen.

    This is a company fearful that Open Source and Linux are catching on overseas - partially because people are sick of being beholden to an American company.

    MS has only managed to make Open Source and related issues more visible. People will now ask about Open Source. People will want to know.

    And people will wonder if Microsoft hates it, is it then such a bad thing?
  • First a quick remark to your parent post...

    Software on Windows tends to be either a one-click install, where it's smart enough to find the boot drive when it's not C, to use the real program files, etc. Or it's a disaster where they hardcode stuff and it refuses to work unless you tweak a lot of option - if they let you tweak.

    This is almost exactly the same as Linux software. Some RPMs install perfectly, some were written by idiots. If they work well, it's seamless, if not, they'll screw the computer up, just without the pretty graphics.

    Now, as to the idea of a LSP...

    This is quite reasonable to expect. The LSP would have perfect access to your computer, not like PC Anywhere and other Windows remote access programs. They could do anything remotely that a good admin could do locally.

    In fact, they'd find it easier because if the 'user' didn't have root privs for anything they'd be unable to screw things up, so the main system would be untouched since the LSP had last connected.
  • It was also Bill Gates who once said "What's a network?" - a quote that really doesn't get enough coverage these days. Get the full story [].

    Of course, this isn't about Bill Gates, though. It's naive to assume that Microsoft don't know what open source is - they see it is a serious threat, and any apparent confusion over what it is (confusing open source with free software, or the GPL with Marxism) is just more FUD.

    And why should open source force MS to drop their prices? If people are still willing to pay $500 for Office then more power to them. They like the features it offers, they like the support and accountability, they like the hundreds of books on Word for Dummies. You're not likely to get all that for an open source product. There's room in the world for both models, which is something the hardliners from both sides seem to be unaware of. Or just ignoring.

  • Yes, you are confused. Not because you misunderstand MS's message, but because you misunderstand the audience.

    MS isn't pitching this message to techies. They aren't pitching it to home users (right now). They are pitching it to MBAs, the CEO/CIO/CFO of major corporations. You know, the people that don't say "give me a budget for new servers" but instead say "give me a budget for new Microsoft servers".

    Microsoft is very aware of who their audience is, and how to communicate with that audience. And they do it very well.
  • by schon ( 31600 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2001 @10:40AM (#237907)
    After reading this article (and the others on the same topic) there seems to be something missing.. MS is attacking the GPL, but why? They can say 'Linux' specifically, but (as Alan Cox pointed out) why would they urge others to not use the GPL?

    The general consensus is that they're scared of something they can't compete with, but I think that's a little short sighted..

    It dawned on me while reading this article, that MS is urging against the GPL, not because they're scared of competition, but because they can't own a GPL'ed product..

    I think that if MS was the only software company that provided non-GPL software (as in the unlikely event that every other company on earth suddenly GPL'ed their products..) from a competition standpoint, MS wouldn't really care - from what I've seen, they don't care about competing with other companies...

    It's well known that MS rarely (ever?) invents anything themselves - most of their 'R&D' consists of buying other people's technologies.. Just think about what a GPL'ed world would do to them: unable to 'innovate', they'd be forced to come up with new technologies themselves!

    I think that this is what really has MS running scared.. each of their competitors that embraces the GPL means one less corporate aquisition.. and that scares them more than anything else in the world..

    Linux, by extension of this, is their worst nightmare - a technology that they can't own.
  • by Russ Nelson ( 33911 ) <> on Tuesday May 08, 2001 @07:30AM (#237909) Homepage
    Well, Microsoft isn't going to be able to touch the meaning of OSI Certification. It would help us if people explicitly said that their open source project, using a license listed at, is "OSI Certified".
  • Okay wiseguy, how long does it take your mother to figure out how to install a piece of software on Linux?

    Installing software is a sysadmin task. A good few of the problems with windows can be traced back to the "end user is the sysadmin" paradigm.
    Whilst it may be ok to do this on a "home computer" in any corporate environment it's a way to pour money down the drain.
    We don't expect drivers to be motor mechanics, so why treat computers differently?
  • In the past, Microsoft solutions have been popular because of their ease of use,

    Except that people have caught on that "GUI for everything" does not mean ease of use. Also could you imagine an NT machine getting walled up for 4 years and nobody noticing?
  • Foaming at the mouth is ineffective marketing technology. Microsoft is a master of marketing, using their strength in marketing to sell what is considered by some to be inferior products.

    You could interpret this as "foaming at the mouth only works when you are already a monoploy"... Then it can work very well.
  • 1.)scared of using something which "isn't supported by a vendor"

    Maybe these same PHB's should try actually getting support on Microsoft products...

    2.)not interested in deploying something they where they can't own stock in the vendor company

    Do they own stock in building companies, in utilities, in insurance companies, in banks, in car dealerships, in hardware suppliers? If not why should software be different...

    3.)Don't really care about cost differences, only want to pass the next corporate audit, etc.

    A lot easier to pass an "audit" where you don't have licencing which is tied to specific machines. Any open source is also a "site licence"...
  • You are using quotation marks but I'm pretty sure nobody said exactly that. I read what Craig Mundie said and he actually admitted that there are good points with open source software - namely that it helps debugging and development. That's why he said they would follow a model where they share the source code with partners to get the benefit of "given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow" but without putting the source under a license that would allow it to be forked.

    You and I may or may not agree with his points (if people can't contribute, will they really look for bugs either?) but don't misquote / fake-quote and then act all flabbergasted about it. If you didn't understand what his points where or if you thought they were contradicting, i suggest you re-read it.
  • by macpeep ( 36699 ) on Wednesday May 09, 2001 @01:31AM (#237915)
    I don't see what is so contradicting about that.

    Mundie talks about advantages and disadvantages of open source. The main advantage he mentions is that it gives more eyeballs and indeed makes development more efficient. The main disadvantage he talks about is that putting stuff under GPL is the "viral nature" of GPL in that any code that is used with GPL also has to be under GPL. He talks about how some companies may not have fully understood what it means to open source their software and that they run the risk of doing an un-reversible move simply because they are uninformed or have not understood the issues right.

    Steve Ballmer bragging about MS partners having access to their source code is not contradicting what Mundie says, since sharing the source code ("read only") is exactly one of the strong points that Mundie mentioned about open source.

    Bill Gates saying things about Linux and it's economical impact on Microsoft are completely unrelated from any statements by Ballmer and Mundie regarding the pro's and con's about open source. He could just as well be talking about Solaris or BeOS.

    And what was Jim Allchin talking about when he says free software hurts innovation? He was not talking just about software but also other forms of intellectual property business, such as music. He talks about how the community mentality is that *all* software should be free. So how does it hurt innovation? He thinks that hurts innovation because he believes that without companies being able to charge for software, they won't be able to spend $$ on R&D and thus innovation. You may argue that he doesn't get it or that he is wrong but that's not the point. The point is that his statements are not contradicting any other MS statements about open source. If you think they contradict Bill Gates' statements that Linux is no threat, then that's a different thing - he is talking about Red Hat selling lots of Linux distros for servers. Allchin was talking the mentality about all software, music, movies etc. being free: "I worry if the government encourages open source, and I don't think we've done enough education of policy makers to understand the threat."
  • Am I becoming a crusty old man, only telling stories of the "good old days"? The old days I am talking about here are when marketshare didn't mean a thing to us--we just used what worked for us and what we liked. For some of us, that was and is Linux. And it was cool to see how so many were adopting Linux because it worked and they liked it, and the marketshare grew anyway, even though nobody was trying to "grow" it.

    Now, we sound consumed by getting market share. We are trying to _force_ Linux's success, instead of watching it grow naturally. Maybe we should go into marketing.

    On the other hand, watching Microsoft writhe is kinda fun.

  • Those few Apple users that are left will probably not switch to MS just because they make their GUI look more like Apples

    No but those incomming college freshmen next year who need to buy a computer for the first time and don't know anything about computers might chose XP over OSX when they used to chose iMac over Dell w/ Win98. A major demographic for the iBook and iMac is first time computer buyers. The Macs are simpler and "cooler looking." This is what XP is competing for -- not hardcore mac users. Hardcore Apple users use G4s anyway.

  • In the portrait Microsoft is trying to paint, open source and free software are synonymous and they are bad news for software developers who want to succeed. In their world, the free software model is just as bad a business model as the dot.coms who just tanked on the stock market. Sure, the Linux community knows these facts are in error--but far too many people may take these erroneous conclusions as fact.

    MS Rep: We've got the latest icons an paperclips assistants to help you point and click
    Client: Well I was looking into Linu...
    MS Rep: YOU DON'T WANT TO USE THAT TRUST ME! Nothing in this world would cripple your finances more than an OS environment who is willing to give you something for free when you could pay for exclusive licensing through a reputable source such as Microsoft. I mean have you ever heard of Linus Torvalds or Richard Stallman. Who are these rejects
    Client: I don't follow how can free hurt me
    MS Rep: Simple, see when you call tech support at least we put you on hold when you call, what are you gonna jump on IRC everytime your systems bluescreen?
    MS Rep: Well you go ahead and use it, but when all those hackers who use that operating system infiltrate your networks, you'll see why closed source precompiled executables will outlast an OS who lets you tweak anything you want on the system
    Client: Your right I keep reading all those horror stories about hackers using Unix


    This reminds me back to when Billy G was on trial and the judge asked him "Whats a box" and Billy G stated, its what's used to ship a PC. Ahh... MS obscurity through obscurity.

  • Sortof like the *BSD camp, eh? I have to admit that those guys seem a little more grown up than us Linuxers. And their stuff is just as "free" as ours.

  • by taniwha ( 70410 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2001 @10:24AM (#237925) Homepage Journal
    Forget open source, forget the DoJ - MS does have a real problem .... they're a public company in the new sense (ie they provide investors with a payback in the form of an ever increasing stock price) rather than the old sense (they pay a dividend). THIS is not a sustainable business model - just like many of the dotcom models - there's a point beyond which they can't grow - even with a monopoly there are only so many people to sell windows to.

    They have to think of ways to increase revenues - charge more for software, make sure people pay every 3 years rather than copy their old software onto their new machine, tie OS software to particular pieces of haredware so you have to pay them again when you replace a machine, produce incompatable versions of office documents so everyone has to upgrade etc etc. They're stuck on this treadmill - just to keep still they have to do all these things or the tower of cards (aka the stock price) will collapse - AND they have to do more - in order for them to be a GOOD investment they need to keep growing - and for them to do that they have to continually find new ways to suck money out of someone's pocket - this is reality in corporate america

    I think MS is worried about Linux for a lot of reasons - we're stopping them taking over the server marketplace from Sun - we're eroding mindshare - and we (in their eyes) compete unfairly - we give it away for free (let's forget that little explorer/netscape incident for the moment) - but worst of all we're not even competing in the same ballpark - it's kinda like we're playing across town in the football stadium - they have to worry about the quarterly bottom line - we care if people think our code is cool - they worry about dollars - we get paid in kudos

  • Are you insane? FUD is twice as effective when it contradicts itself. Even better is if it takes twelve different steps to actually prove it. By the time he's done thinking about all that crap, your typical IT manager is like "Whoa this is way too exhausting... I'll just stick with what I've already got."

    Since MS has a monopoly, that's exactly the kind of thinking they have to encourage.
  • Why we should care:

    Most people here at slashdot either advocate linux or at least consider it a viable alternative to any propietary closed source OS. Most people here also have a job either working directly with computers, or using them on a day to day basis. Taken these two facts into consideration, Many people are stuck using an OS at work that they are unhappy due to the current propoganda that Microsoft throws around about anything besides Microsoft. It is extremely important, IMO that linux and open-source in general are seen as not only viable alternatives in the corporate world, but as better alternatives.

  • by Matrium ( 75816 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2001 @07:49AM (#237928)
    Brian Proffitt makes some very interesting points in this article that anyone interested in the future of the GNU / Linux / GPL / Open Source movement should pay attention to.

    "... Microsoft, it seems, has not learned Universal Law No. 312: If you call automatically equate GPL'd software with "open source," you will get a corrective statement from the FSF or Richard Stallman. It's like smoke and fire, can't have one without the other.

    Yes, Microsoft did confuse the two concepts of GPL and open source. Care to take a guess why? Because they know the average listener is not going to know the difference. And like any good political campaigner, Microsoft is not going after the truth here. They are going for perception and sometimes that's all you need."

    That's right, the average person does not know or even care about the difference between GPL'd software and open source software. Now that Microsoft is taking direct shots at Linux, GPL, and Open Source its time for Linux guru's, users and advocates to stop rolling their collective eyes at the thought that someone doesn't understand the difference and to start talking to the masses about Linux, the GPL and Open Source.

    In the eyes of the average person Linux is an underdog, this strange OS used by college kids and computer geeks in dark rooms late at night. What is going to change this not the superior attitude that, "Linux kicks ass, and Microsoft sucks so much. Why does it suck? 'Cause Microsoft is evil and Bill Gates is the devil!" Sorry, this just isn't going to work, as Proffitt points out:

    "We don't need to attack them just because they're there. When we do, we are just making their case for them"

    What this movement needs are speakers that know how to handle the media and the public. Linus is a bit too self effacing and RMS is a bit too fanatical to make good spokespersons. So I issue this question to the Slashdot audience: Who is going to stand for the whole GNU / Linux / GPL / Open Source movement? Who has the availability proclaim the strengths of this movement in an intelligent manner? Who has the availability to manipulate the media in favor of this movement?
  • You modified proprietary code and he doesn't get it?

  • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2001 @10:30AM (#237931) Homepage Journal
    You underestimate them. They've been trying to make sure that the next round of hardware will not work with open source software for quite a while now. Remember I2O? The only reason they're not merrily shutting us out of actually developing our own OSes for our computers is because of the tremendous outcry this generated. And although it is possible to play a DVD on a Linux box these days, the legal solutions for doing that are still few and far between. And they've been talking about encrypting audio streams so that they can only be decrypted on authorized speakers and video between the system and the monitor so that only authorized monitors can display data. Open Source and Open Standards cause a huge negative impact on a few companies' bottom lines, they they're merrily working toward doing away with them.

    And as several people have said, I rather like using Linux at work, too. Right now the PHBs don't care because I program for UNIX boxen and I get the job done. I'd rather they didn't mandate that I have to use Windows. Having to deal with that shit would severely impact my productivity.

  • What us advocates of Linux need to do is hold community open source meeting, invite the public, give corporate managers food. I'm sure that there are enough of us around that the costs would be less than TV campaigns and things like that (although advertising is a good idea). But such a community "grass roots" effort might be extremely effecitive. We could show exactly how and why MS products can crash and can cost businesses far more money. We could even crush the idea that NT/2000 is so easy to use that anyone can set it up. Just ask an exec to come set up IIS in the presentation :).

    Its not a war of OS's, but I think we have an obligation to let people know there are alternatives, and there are inexpensive ways to spin the other way :), MS may be king of the hill in marketing, maybe rather than just accepting that we should make a challange.

    "One World, one Web, one Program" - Microsoft promotional ad

  • You can make a few offers "too good to refuse", but as the demise of internet companies have recently showed us, you can't build a business model around it.

    I guarantee you that no amount of marketing push from Microsoft will eliminate Linux's inherent advantages: flexibility and price.

    Furthermore, as Linux becomes an ever more acceptable network platform, you will begin to see ISVs start to build products specifically for it. These ISVs can easily carve out profitable niches - becoming Linux evanglists - and can be run by some of the most unlikely people, even so called "Microsoft villains" [].

  • Something I see in the Linux community over and over again is the overestimation of the power of marketing, and the underestimation of the intelligence of consumers. This article is a classic example of it.

    By saying Microsoft marketing is to be feared, the Linux bigots are implicitly criticizing Microsoft's technology. I assure you that the latter - while not focused on the same things Linux is - is quite formidable.

    People do not choose Microsoft over Linux (or vice versa) due to marketing. They choose it due to hard-nosed business considerations - cost of licensing, cost of ownership, support costs, training costs, documentation, features and uniformity of available applications, etc., etc.

    Based on the above, it is easy to see why Microsoft has (and probably will always have) a dominant position on the desktop. Ms. Secretary values the ability to drag-and-drop her bosses' excell-based expense report into her email to send off to finance, than she ever will having an elegant Samba configuration. Linux will (due to it's many different subcommunities) never be able to create a consistent unified user interface - among other things.

    On the other hand, Linux is obviously better for the network server type tasks it grew up doing. Microsoft products will never be as flexible as Linux, nor free.

  • /opinion/dgillmor/weblog/torvalds.htm
  • by jbarnett ( 127033 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2001 @07:24AM (#237948) Homepage
    Universal Law No. 312: If you call automatically equate GPL'd software with "open source," you will get a corrective statement from the FSF or Richard Stallman.

    I think they teach that in physics 101, right after the gravity chapter.

  • by evilphish ( 128599 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2001 @07:29AM (#237950) Homepage
    Office is worth as much as the market will allow. if people still buy it at that price then microsoft has no reason to lower it. it sucks but *shrug* thats the way it works

  • by MongooseCN ( 139203 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2001 @08:38AM (#237953) Homepage
    "And Microsoft knows this. Every time we fly off the collective handle when they do something threatening and they can just sit back and say 'see how unreasonable those people are? See how derisive the keepers of this Linux technology can be?'"

    This is very true, I know many people that have been turned off from Linux simply by reading Slashdot. Most people don't like ideas that are assciated with advocates and fanatics, which is what most people see from slashdot postings. They think of Linux as a cult of some sort, you know those groups that rant and rave about the world and then kill themselves off because they can't handle society. I'm not saying this is the Linux community, but what I am saying is that the Linux community needs a more professional aura around it. People should look at the Linux community as something they can comfortably come into and talk with, not something they have to worry about getting their head bitten off by if they say the wrong thing.
  • Hahahaha, good one!! If only I had moderator points today!


  • by Andrewkov ( 140579 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2001 @07:40AM (#237956)
    I for one would like to use Linux at work, but this is not a decision I can make. It's hard to find employers looking for Linux people. So from this perspective I do feel like I am forced to use Microsoft products at work. I do choose to use Linux at home, and they can't take that away from me, but I'm not truly free until I can make that decision at work as well as at home.

    For this reason it is very important for main-stream acceptance of Linux, and PHB's are only getting one side of the story.

    Just a personal note, I do use Linux at work to a limited extend, for our Intranet and diald/squid proxy server, but my PHB is still very anti-Linux, and won't allow me to implement an SQL server, or other things I've suggested. I guess part of the problem is that when I leave the company, they are going to have a hard time finding someone who can administer the Linux systems I have implemeneted, and therefor would rather stick with Microsoft "soultions".


  • by Andrewkov ( 140579 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2001 @07:28AM (#237957)
    Don't underestimate what they "get" and "don't get". Most moves they make are well thought out and quite devious. This attack on open source seems quite well thought out carefully executed.


  • Unfortunately, with customers lacking even the ability to see the source code, the reality is that software companies have come to rely on marketing strategies to make people think their software is better instead of actually making their software better. That is how the industry works today, and as usual, Microsoft is one of the prime establishers of this model.

    You are right, though, in that it has the potential to totally negate the business model of selling shrink-wrapped software. It will not prevent businesses from making money, only force them to change their methods of making money to something which just might be a little more honest. Corporations don't have a right to exist, let alone make money in a particular fashion. Microsoft apparently believes otherwise, hence this FUD tactic. Smart people within the giant corporations will recognize the BS for what it is, and will exert considerable influence over what goes on in the software industry, in the coming years.

  • . If I work for a company developing software (which I did) and they went open source then I can practically wave goodbye to my job.

    Actually, I made quite a decent living for several years in the mid to late 80's working with open source software. It was an accounting package that was FAR from GPL'd, but it was nonetheless supplied in source code format. The customer purchased the base package from the vendor, and paid me to tweak it for them. Just because a hunk of code is Open Source doesn't mean it's a zero revenue stream...

    Remember: Open Source != Free[1], GPL === Free[1].

    [1] as in beer.

  • Ha! I'd pay good money to watch RMS bust out his arsenal of bushio-kung-foo rhetoric. It would be awsome! He'd probably convert the Microsoft enterage on the spot, and in three months they'd be seen sporting beards and sandals amongst the masses, doing pennace for thier sins.

    Sadly, Microsoft is smart enough to know what a bad idea this would be, coolness notwithstanding. It provide RMS an opportunity to give his Sermon On the Mount on national TV, and we all know he'd rise to the occation. It would be an event of epic proportions.


  • Office is worth as much as the market will allow. if people still buy it at that price then microsoft has no reason to lower it. it sucks but *shrug* thats the way it works

    "The fool is not the one who sets the price, but the one who pays."
    -- Finnish proverb


  • The Register [] writes: "While Microsoft pours buckets of vitriol over open source, some of its most distinguished former executives are backing Linux."

    ( Read more... [] )


  • Of course if they did lower it then some of the people who are using a "stolen" copy might actually buy the "real" thing.

    Then again, since the days of the printed manual are gone there is absolutely no difference between the "stolen" copy and the "real" copy. Bits are bits.

    It's like buying music (although mp3's aren't quite the same as cd audio tracks in terms of quality). The "stolen" audio sounds just like the "real" audio. All you get for your money is some crappy packaging.

    I don't advocate IP theft but admittedly there's not a whole lot of people that are going to fork over five hundred clams for a box with an MSFT hologram on the side (other than businesses who have the MSFT police beating down their doors).
  • I would agree whole-heartedly, but there is a shitload of people in that tent. "Beware the power of stupid people in large groups" is a quote from a demotivator, and applies beautifully here.
  • Well of course you can't you're using a graphing calculator.

    - I connect to the NET.
    - I share files using Samba.
    - I open/save/share Office docs with StarOffice.
    - I view web pages with Mozilla
    - I've never written a lick of code, let alone a device driver or modified a network protocol.
    - I've never written a patch for an application
    - I chat on AOL IM and Yahoo! Messenger as well as IRC.
    - My whole life is outside of programming.

    Oh yeah, I use Linux.

    Like a moth to a flame, I just can't resist flamebait.

  • Oh, man, is that ever true! In the late 80's, the Air Force (and perhaps DoD in general) decreed that all delivered documents were to be in WP format and we the engineers had to learn it as our first word processor. I can still remember "F7 Y Y" as the way to get out of a document, and then there were the little dots you had to put on the CTRL, ALT, and Shift keys, and the F-key template that had Identical commands in multiple places. I, in fact, was one of the ones who swore at it.

    But to this day I hear sec'ys bemoaning the lack of er, 'reveal codes' for instance... yes, they may subconsciously deploring their loss of power.

    But you wanna know what I Praised, and what hasn't to this day been rivalled? MacWord and MacDraw, the most obviously wonderful feature of which was the fact that Cut and Paste were the Same commands in both programs! Flower-C/Flower-V!

    And although MacWord was swallowed up whole and belched out as MS Word, noone to this date has created a graphics program with near the usability and functionality of MacDraw. PP doesn't even come close.

    About your comment on future trends... isn't it a completely different playing field today? I mean, MS is spreading their propaganda thick. But I do wholeheartedly agree about us not being able to see the forest for the trees, or as I like to say "does the fish know if it's wet?" The person who can read those tea-leaves is a true prophet, but individuals and small groups can of course create their own micro-cosmic universe...
  • {rant and ramble alert}

    Change brings uncertainty, uncertainty fear. Those in power fear a new way of doing business. I was once an advocate for a radical revolution in the marketplace, and I actually thought that the whole internet thing might do as a surrogate catalyst for that change. But those entrenched in the status quo are strong, and they resist the change. Besides, we cannot all gain consensus on what is good change. I might prefer a world without cars in which we stay at home and work miracles from our bedside terminals and then go take herbal baths in mountain rivers just outside of our verdant dwellings; a world where there are no roads; a world where information is free and the government truly is not a part of our everyday life, but a servant to man and not his jailer.

    But that vision threatens the current economic model. In any case, hackers work way too many hours for me to want that vision of the future, because it involves us being enslaved by our machines. Don't get me wrong, I love hackers, who work tirelessly in their unceasing efforts to improve the world one app at a time. But we as a people, as a global village have not yet arrived at a consenual vision of what the future will bring.

    But corporations do not see such a humanist vision as useful. Ever thirsting for instant profitability, they only see what is in their immediate best interests, this to the detriment of a truly long view. There is no better example of what is wrong with corporations and capitalist greed than, um, US Steel, no, wait, Standard Oil, um, no wait, it was on the tip of my tongue...

    Until people with vision have some sort of advocate in a position of power (either the government, the church, or corporations - no wait, strike that last one), then visions will never rise above the next quarterly statement, and no True Utopia can form, even as it is almost now within our reach. It's kind of like Talk Show Hosts; do you think they ever Really mean to resolve anything, to arrive at any kind of consensus? No, because then people would stop calling in. Because they would be happy. Picture it: a world without Talk Show Hosts and Lawyers. That's what I'm talkin about!!! Kumbay-yah, babeeee!
  • by Bluesee ( 173416 ) <michaelpatrickkenny@yahoo . c om> on Tuesday May 08, 2001 @07:55AM (#237978)
    It would seem that they are supporting techies who are in their camp, and seeking to provide a single career route for the average programmer: the MS way, where people can't rip off your stuff like the GPL lets you do. It would appear that they are investing in brainwashing techniques, where, if you repeat something long enough (GPL == Open Source == hackers == that evil guy who stole all those passwords) it becomes true.

    Funny how the author of the article talks about how calm and reasoned spokespeople appear and yet there was no voice more shrill than Gates before the DoJ. In any event, I suspect that in the business world the average CEO doesn't avail himself of the choices before him. Maybe they remember having spent a bundle on Lotus and WordPerfect, and even though the secretaries swore by WP as a better product (not so sure Excel, the one app worth a damn, is worse than Lotus per se), they were forced to switch to the Word standard in oh, 1990 or so, as all their peers were perceived to have made that the standard.

    In my business, engineers are free to establish their own platforms. But Windows and Office are offered as standard; you have to 'purchase' Red Hat. Hell, one guy still uses WordStar in OS2. But even he has buckled under the weight of all those PowerPoint attachments, and so he has learned to use alternative boot schemes.

    But I digress. I believe that some of the best programming minds have settled on Linux/Unix, but whereas you have a bunch of tinkering programmers on one side of the fence playing with code to add features and constantly improve performance, on the other side you have a corporate Giant dedicated to the development of products that are targeted at each and every application niche in the business world, with a cadre of trained professionals hawking their product and publicly electrocuting elephants (so what was that time the BSOD showed up in a trade conference? Edison electrocuting himself with a battery?), spreading FUD.

    I actually Do think it's time for Linux programmers to put on a tie for once, because, like it or not, it's about politics, it's about marketing, and it's about propaganda. And those dishes are best served with garnishes on the side; the businessman is used to being catered to, not lectured.
  • Microsoft "soultions"

    I like that (Freudian typo?). Sell your soul to get a "solution".

  • Wouldn't be nice to see a few of the top people from both Mirosoft and FSF, GNU, etc to sit down, in a live broadcast and have an honest to goodness debate! No fanatics from either side, but a true debate where they discuss issues like public licensing vs proprietary, open and closed source. Instead of all these articles, and responses, and follow-ups, an actual sit down debate.
  • by Alien54 ( 180860 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2001 @07:40AM (#237982) Journal
    My take on this is as follows:

    We have our own future in our hands.

    We will not loose to MS because of anything that MS does.

    If we loose, it is because we become our own worst enemies.

    Foaming at the mouth is ineffective marketing technology. Microsoft is a master of marketing, using their strength in marketing to sell what is considered by some to be inferior products. They market to the masses, people who follow opinion leaders, because those folks do not have the time, ambition, or wherewithal to do the legwork themselves.

    This is most likely the correct target to go after.

    If you go to page three of the article, there is this bit which sums is up nicely:

    There's a lot Microsoft can do, because right now, more people will listen to them than they will to the average Linux über-hacker. If you believe otherwise, then you may need to check your ego at the door.

    Because when presented with a calm, reasonable-sounding statement from a large corporation versus sarcastic rants and flames from a bunch of apparent malcontents who do nothing all day but argue why Microsoft is an evil entity instead of stipulating exactly why their product is better, I will guarantee you that the average listener is going to give far more weight to the calm, reasonable-sounding statements every single time.

    I am not proposing that everyone associated with Linux get haircuts, take manners lessons, and start wearing Tux-logoed polo shirts. But I am advocating that we don't rest on our superior technological laurels and think that's all we need to fend off Microsoft's very carefully planned attacks. Nor can we get so pleased with ourselves with how inventive we can get with hammering Microsoft with lofty insults. Because all of this is leading up to one inescapable conclusion: no one outside of our community is going to keep listening to this much longer.

    And Microsoft knows this. Every time we fly off the collective handle when they do something threatening and they can just sit back and say "see how unreasonable those people are? See how derisive the keepers of this Linux technology can be?" We have our own future in our hands.

    We will not loose to MS because of anything that MS does.

    If we loose, it is because we become our own worst enemies..

    Check out the Vinny the Vampire [] comic strip

  • We all know that the app makes the OS, right?

    It's all about providing alternatives. In my previous life/job, I was a java developer. So I introduced the Windows Heads to Forte, now NetBeans. Voila, a few people made the switch. They just wanted a graphical IDE. They could care less what's running it (although they do enjoy increased uptime now). A few more complained about email. I showed them prototypes of Evolution. Once that's up and running, perhaps they will make the switch as well.

    My current job is wireless broadband. All the embedded developers use an Windows IDE because the compiler is only available under NT. I introduced several people to a new idea in programming: it's called a cross compiler people. Developer under what OS makes you most productive. For me, that's Unix, or more precisely Linux. So, I'll just sit here under Gnome and use gcc to generate cross compiled objects for the PowerPC embedded processor.

    So, get of your butts people, and show your windows-hooked friends the altnerative apps that Linux/BSD, Open Source, Free Software can provide. IMHO, the enemy isn't Microsoft (some of their products actually rock -- Age of Empires for example), the enemy (if we have to have one) are people who take what's given to them and think there is only one way to do things -- the Microsoft way!

  • Yes, an interesting article. One point that really must be noted is that Microsoft are really not that bad at "perception handling", as the article puts it. Sadly, spin works, and could work in winning the public over against Linux - and after the author says this, he tries to justify it, thus:

    "Perception is something, you may have noticed, I tend to put a lot of stock in. I know this earns scoffing from the more hard-core Linux user/hackers, who proudly proclaim that "Linux kicks ass, it will always kick ass, and there's nothing those [insert insulting expletive here] at Microsoft can do about it!"

    Or some stupid thing to that effect.

    How many comments like this will we see here today. Quite alot, I fear. Read on....

    This is a foolish attitude to take. There's a lot Microsoft can do, because right now, more people will listen to them than they will to the average Linux über-hacker. If you believe otherwise, then you may need to check your ego at the door.

    Because when presented with a calm, reasonable-sounding statement from a large corporation versus sarcastic rants and flames from a bunch of apparent malcontents who do nothing all day but argue why Microsoft is an evil entity instead of stipulating exactly why their product is better, I will guarantee you that the average listener is going to give far more weight to the calm, reasonable-sounding statements every single time.

    Brian coninues:

    And when they try to distort reality with their perceptions, of course we need to counter their statements with the truth. Not with scathing flames and rants, however, but with our own calm and reasonable statements. We have to get the word out beyond our little community and into the mindset of the wider public view.

    That is where this argument will be won, not on the PC.

    I know it's boring to have to read the article (again, for some of you), but I doubt most rabid MS haters will bother getting to the third page.


  • Seriously, this is the clearest point I've seen on the topic. Microsoft et al. are making fools of themselves right now - witness the severely user-hostile decisions being made re WMA vs. MP3, and copy protection / watermarking - and those who want to win against them should simply let them.

    Meanwhile, push your product based on its benefits (Free as in Beer ain't bad)! And try, just try, to standardize a little, for Joe User out there...

  • Would you like to send a monthly bill to Microsoft, [] or not?

    This applies equally to the "enterprise" and Joe User audiences.

  • Then as an "MS person" should not your response deal with the fact that MS is, has and will attack anyone and anything that prevents it from earning increasingly rediculous profits at the expense of every person who is "locked in" to a contract on the software they choose to use. The real issue is just that: choice. Frankly, that's not something any monopoly is interested it. Freedom to innundate.

  • by BluedemonX ( 198949 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2001 @08:57AM (#237995)
    The KKK have this policy where they decide to go out and have a "peaceful demonstration". The police oblige by putting riot troops between them and the people who show up to demonstrate. A few off-camera sly comments here and there by the protestors, and the protestors go nuts, hurling stuff at police and the Klan, while the Klan, cameras rolling, just stand there trying to look angelic. The spin? "Well, we're just here exercising our constitutional rights. It's those animals who were the problem."

    Microsoft is trying to provoke the same in the Open Source community. "Hey, we're just the most successful and useful software company ever, while they're a bunch of unwashed, unshaved rabble."
  • by mgkimsal2 ( 200677 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2001 @09:36AM (#237996) Homepage
    Honestly, for all the back-patting Linux and OpenSource people do, they/we are still in a hard position with the 'average joe/jane' out there.

    If you point out the flaws in MS stuff, you're 'biased'. The louder you shout, the more you turn people off. If you are calm, and simply point out the 'benefits' of open source, you end up sounding like an MS commercial.

    "Improved uptime, better security, more stability, etc".

    Sounds like those MS commercials where they show the machines in the server room silently chugging away.

    IMO, the biggest benefit is actual real-world examples, but as you can't even publish benchmarks these days from the big boys, even that becomes hard to do in a large, public manner.

    Showing that you can get the same, or better, performance from open source technologies as closed, WITH a better price tag (long term and short term) is probably the best way, but it's also a longer 'education' process to take people through.
  • For the most part, you're correct. But, look deeper. While your complacent with your use of Linux and not caring about PHB's use of it, the industry is going to change around you, and not for the better.

    I submit as a personally experienced example of superiority left by the wayside because the idea wasn't defended as well as it should have been.

    In 1988, I became the prowd owner of an Amiga 500. FAR superior graphics and multimedia than anything on the consumer market. True multitasking OS in 512K ROM space. Back then, I argued over the use of those superior aspects and how they'll make computing more enjoyable. The 'PHB' types would say "Well, I don't need anything like that". Years later, full color graphics and multitasking (of sorts) became available on PC platforms thanks in part to Microsoft. You'd think it was a brand new idea at the time. The PHB types would then say "Hey, look what I can do!!" Those hailing the Amiga knew about these features years before. And the Amiga was coming into its own with productivity software and was destined to be side by side with the MAC. But, in the early days of FUD, MS Windows was perceived as the best, and you could get it very cheap (**cough**) for your PC compatible computer. Eventually, the Amiga died off. Even though I still have an Amiga tightly closed in my white knuckled grip, I look at Linux as a new icon of superiority and creativity. And as an example of a beneficial computing platform even though PHBs don't know that yet.

    My point is: If you believe it, and you know it's value to the PHBs even if they don't know it yet, don't sit there. Let them know. Take the time to provide examples. I let the public know about it all the time. I have "LINUX OS" as my state issued license plate. I answer questions people have when asked about it. I've even set a few people straight who thought Linux was only to hack other computers. And as soon as someone wants to bankroll it, I'll advertise Linux with a vinyl wrap on my car and a big Tux graphic on the hood.

  • And, really, do any of us give a flying fsck if PHBs love free software or not? The choice will still always be OURS - and that's the important part.

    Waaaaaaaait a minute there, Luke. There's a big difference to be noted here.

    I remember moving from DOS to Windows. I pushed it as a kid at home, because Windows was cool, had a GUI, and wasn't a Mac. I knew nothing of Unix or its variants, and without the Internet [realize, this was the early-to-mid-1990s in Mississippi...], I had no way of knowing.

    I got my mom and my brother to use it. My dad remained stalwart in his DOS usage--it was what he'd used in the Air Force, it was what he used at his current job, and it was good enough for him, so why change?

    Eventually, my dad went to a work environment where Windows use was pretty well required. Kicking and screaming, he switched. Why? It was what he used at work, so he became familiar with it, enough to use it at home, too.

    Now, the entire family hates Windows, and I'm slowly but slowly pushing them to be Linux converts. It's going to take me building a system I can use stably for a long period of time and have them use and go, "Damn, this is cool!" before they'll use it themselves.

    Even so, my dad probably won't switch over. Why? Why use two things, one at work, one at home, when one thing does adequately [if not that well, of course].

    Before you jump up and down, my dad's an engineer. So am I. My dad took CS courses back in the '60s because he recognized what tools computers were back then. Even still, it will take entry into the workplace--where people have to use Linux/BSD/etc.--for the mainstream computer user to want to install it at home. They will have to see the benefits on a daily basis to make the desire to switch--they're not like some of us, who'll install three or four OS's in a weekend just for the hell of it.

  • by Mr_Silver ( 213637 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2001 @08:09AM (#238006)
    Have I totally lost the plot? I read Mundies comments and actually found myself thinking "hmm, actually some of them are quite true".

    Mundies states that GPL is bad because if you use a bit of code then you have to give away everything. This I can understand. After all, if you don't like the licence, don't use it. But were also getting to the stage where people are gpl'ing tiny snippets of code. This is almost as silly as record companies trying to copyright a couple bars of music and bill ringtone providers!

    This is where I get all confused. Microsoft is essentially arguing that if I write something and release it then I can't make money from that code and, that itself is bad.

    Well unless I fancy living in a dumpster for the rest of my life I think I can see where they're coming from. If I work for a company developing software (which I did) and they went open source then I can practically wave goodbye to my job. That company makes its money on the basis that its product is better than anyone elses (which for a very boring market - it kicks other competitors stuff up the arse). By opening up the source, any tom, dick and harry can view the source and the innovation.

    This, for the open source crowd, is a good thing. Everyone benifits, the authors get people reporting bugs and the competitors get access to their groovy stuff. Provided of course they release their updates using that code to everyone else.

    Sorry, I just can't see it taking off. The whole software industry is about coming up with something thats better than others and encouraging people to buy their product over others.

    Okay, lets put this another way. There are three and only three companies (A,B and C) that produce a product called "X"). If X is GPL'ed then why on earth should A develop for it, if its only going to mean that B and C get a load of work for free? (You have to think like a corporation here)

    You get this little loop where no-one will work on something because at the end of the day, its a total waste of time because your hard work will be just dropped into someone elses impementation because thats what the licence says they have to do. And for them, it'll cost a tenth of the cost.

    Don't get me wrong, the GPL has opened up stuff and helped me enormiously and I'm grateful. But thats me, as in an individual entity, not a global corporation.

    And thats where I'm not sure what they think about it ...


  • Wear your "Got Root?" shirt and show off your machine. Show that user A can't delete the OS and files of user B and how this is a great advantage if you have kids in the house. Stability and Security is one thing lacking in MS products. My wife needs Office so Windows has to be in a dual boot machine with password protection on the boot manager. It will be great when I can get rid of the MS partition so we don't have to shutdown to change users.
  • It's funny you assumed Win 2K. It's not anywhere that new. Think original Win 95 upgrade (buggy version without IE). Office 97 works OK on it. I keep the forced upgrade MS tax to a minimum. It is to encourage the upgrade from buggy software to a more stable platform. When she wants to upgrade, I ask about the latest .VBS virus. The older version doesn't run it without IE.
  • by Auckerman ( 223266 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2001 @07:27AM (#238013)
    Unable to connect to the database. Please email

    Oh yeah, like thats a really good idea at this point.

  • Reading editorials like this makes me wonder what the "perfect world" would be for people like Brian Proffitt (the author of the above editorial).

    There seems to be no other solution to this "Microsoft is evil" dilemma than for Microsoft to disapper, which would really cause us all to be in a lot of trouble. Imagine if the entire world had to start using Linux -- I'm sorry, Linux is not so user friendly that everyone and their grandmas are going to love using a computer. I get incredibly frustrated trying to do anything in Linux, but most of that is due to the couple of months I've used it in comparison to my 15 years of DOS/Windows experience. I can hardly imagine someone with no clue what a directory is trying to get Linux...

    I get just as scared as all of you everytime I hear about MS changing licensing policies, whether it be to subscriptions, software timers, calling phone numbers to have to explain why I'm installing Office for a third time (regular reformatting is normal, of course...), etc. But, I'm not going to lose much sleep over it.

    If Microsoft's business practices are causing that much harm to the industry, then something else will inevitably take its spot. If the new license is really that terrible, then companies will stop using it. And if Office is too annoying, then there will be something else to install over the top of it. But, it's certainly not anything to get into an uproar about, and it's certainly not anything to condemn the company for, which is just doing what it feels it needs to to keep progessing profitably and intellectually.

    We all need to take a look at what exactly we want MS to do. Die? Play nice? Be our friend?

    I'm curious to hear what you all think? I used to love MS products, now I wish there was an alternative... I'm just not sure anymore.

  • I am a rabid supporter of GNU/Linux and Open source in general, but my job is mostly Microsoft-Centric. Next time we budget new servers, will I purchase NT? No, forget about it...

    You are one of the converted so of course you will suggest Linux, but your comments would be more interesting if you had said "I am a techy who only knows windows but all the games Microsoft is playing is making me interested in looking at linux." I am not saying you should lie but if a lot of post came up saying more people are dabling with linux now, it would really mean MS's ploys have not been working.

  • by Bonker ( 243350 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2001 @08:06AM (#238024)
    The article spent quite a bit of time on Microsoft's work on public preception, but there's almost no emphasis on the work Microsoft is doing to educate (subvert) the U.S. and other governments around to their way of thinking.

    While I don't hold much hope of the antitrust trial helping to solve this problem one way or the other, what really can help this problem is if some of the larger linux shops... ARE YOU LISTENING, IBM?!?... will start dropping the Benjamins around Washington just like Microsoft's lobbies have been doing.

    This is also a great opportunity to encourage the countries that are considering open source initiatives with promotions, recognition, and cooperative deals. It's also a great time to start building bonuses for international companies who use Linux and open-source software.

    Think about all those Internet cafes in Mexico and Eastern Europe that use Linux and Star Office rather than trying to pirate MS Office. Wouldn't it be wonderful mindshare to maybe drop a few late-model or promo PC's on these guys to help speed adoption?

    This is not going to be a hard thing to accomplish because no one company or individual will be the driving factor. It does need some big names to happen, however. Maybe if VA Linux ever comes out of Chapter 11, they can start doing some lobby work, maybe?
  • Agreed. The absolute best thing the Linux community can do is simply do the best job we can in our respective positions. I'm a consultant, so when I walk into a Microsoft-only business I don't proclaim how terrible their systems are and how I must convert everyone/everything over to Linux. That would just get me fired.

    Instead, I do my job. And when new servers/routers/etc are needed, I typically recommend a Linux solution. At first, businesses are uncomfortable with this--and then I tell them the price ($100+ for a supported version of RH) and that I completely support Linux and can do much, much more with a single well-configured Linux box than three or four NT servers. I've never had anyone turn me down.

    Microsoft's biggest fear right now is really people like me--the guys that recommend a gradual transfer to Linux. But it's not a true Microsoft vs. Linux situation. If Microsoft had a product that better fit the needs of my customers, then I would recommend it totally. Right now, Linux is a better choice in the back-end. But I believe Win2K is a much better choice for workstations, mostly because people are used to Microsoft's OS and Office products.

    The fear at Microsoft is that those of us using/writing free software are not competing with Windows. We're in a different league. We don't play by their rules, and they can't kill free software using the very practices that caused the monopoly cases.

    By fighting Microsoft, we are stating they they are a threat to us--but Microsoft isn't our enemy. In fact, we should care less about what Microsoft is doing. Linux and other GPL software is getting to the point of "critical mass" where the software is on par or better (from the "average" user's perspective) with anything Microsoft can produce. Once that critical point is reached, there won't be anything Microsoft, or anyone else, can do to prevent the spreading of GPL software. People will just choose Linux because it's not only cheaper but also because it has a large amounts of advantages over Windows. So why "compete" with a company that only cares about money and market share? Instead, GPL programmers need only be worried about their individual products and inprovements to those. After all, in the GPL community, marketing is done through word-of-mouth and reviews.

  • For those interested, because it was mentioned but not linked to from LinuxPlanet, here's Stallman & Moglen's response [] to Craig Mundie's interview.


    Moglen noted that Microsoft's confusion about the GPL's origins is not surprising. He said that "taking advice on what the GPL means from Microsoft is like taking Stalin's word on the meaning of the US Constitution.
    Despite the above quote, it's a good response and also one that might take aback some of the "Free software is a tool of communism" people.
  • If you are calm, and simply point out the 'benefits' of open source, you end up sounding like an MS commercial. "Improved uptime, better security, more stability, etc". Sounds like those MS commercials where they show the machines in the server room silently chugging away.
    "This user is trying to read his documents after reinstalling the latest bug fix to his operating system last night. He's getting frustraited, as every button he hits seems to do nothing at all. The computer's responding, it's just his wordprocessor keeps beeping at him and he can't seem to close the window or bring up the file menu.

    "But the paperclip doesn't mind. The paperclip can cope with the user's frustraition as he bangs away at the keyboard trying to get something to work. The paperclip is happy to sit in the corner, unseen, with a modal requester disguised as a help window waiting for the user to notice. The paperclip doesn't mind that the user's only question is "How do I get the file menu to open" to which the answer is "close the f---ing paperclip.". The paperclip will be there as long as it takes. And when the user finally throws the entire machine out of the window, the paperclip wont mind either.

    "Microsoft, where do you want to go today?"

  • I'll do it!!

    Oh, right, I'd probably need credentials or something. I think that Eric S. Reynolds does a very good job at promoting open source. Linus also does a great job at this, IMHO. He's well spoken, intelligent, and most importantly, the media think of him as the father of open source because he shares a name with a certain popular open source project.

    Poor Richard Stallman, he actually was responsible for the whole thing, yet he rarely gets much credit. Unfortunately, he seems too bitter about that to make an effective spokesperson.

    I say, that Linus and ESR are the best choices. Fortunately, the whole community-oriented nature of open source means that anyone can write a press release for it. Just don't expect it to be published unless you have some sort of importance.

    The day we start seeing press releases in newspapers written by "Anonymous Coward," is the day I stop reading newspapers.
  • Would Microsoft try and kill Apple? Apple has become their new R&D department! Where would they get new OS ideas from if Apple died?
  • by McSpew ( 316871 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2001 @07:28AM (#238044)

    Fiery sermons may work in revival tents, but the people in those tents are already waiting for something. The people outside the tents couldn't care less.

    The only way to get most people to pay attention to you is to frame your ideas in a context which means something to them. For IT managers, talk about improved uptime and security, reduced support costs, smoother upgrade paths and the knowledge that you can't be orphaned by your vendor.

    For corporate executives, talk about reduced support costs, cheaper hardware, better IT productivity and superior performance.

    For Mr. and Mrs. America, talk about Free as in Beer and explain that roughly 10% of the price of a computer these days is the Windows Tax.

    When someone uses hyperbole or inflammatory language, most people start to tune them out, unless they're really charismatic. :::Cough::: Steve Jobs :::Cough:::

  • It never ceases to amaze me how you linux freaks delude yourselfs into thinking that everyone else sees the world EXACTLY the same way you do and has EXACTLY the same attitudes about EVERYTHING.

    Linux is succeeding in small business IT and that is great and wonderful. It has not caught on with corporate executives because corporate executives would rather spent their money on big dog vendors like Sun, HP, etc. There are also departmental standards in which certain hardware and software platforms are pretty much set and standardized.

    As far as the consumer market goes.... geesh as if Windoze isn't hard enough for mom to figure out how to use -- let's get her to learn Linux!!! Hint: A computer's usability is not determined merely by the amount of colors and purty widgets present in the window manager.

  • by nate1138 ( 325593 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2001 @07:31AM (#238050)
    I have to admit, I am a tad bit confused by Microsoft these days. Between this subscription model software (pay us every 3 years or we pull your apps), the .NET strategy (Host my applications offsite? I don't think so), and all this verbal warfare against open-source and free-software (we can't buy it, so lets just discredit it). It seems as though they are trying to alienate every hard-core techie out there. Do they not realize that these are the same techies that support their products day in and day out?? I am a rabid supporter of GNU/Linux and Open source in general, but my job is mostly Microsoft-Centric. Next time we budget new servers, will I purchase NT? No, forget about it, especially with all the new features in SAMBA, it's getting easier and easier to find alternate routes. I hope Microsoft comes to their senses and stops pissing off the people who have the most interaction with their business-class products.
  • For another example, if you are deploying a departmental application, then there is no valid reason to purchase enterprise class hardware.


    So you install a cheaper Sun box in that setting instead, and it works seamlessly with the enterprise hardware, because it's all running Solaris. That's called 'scalability.'

A bug in the code is worth two in the documentation.