Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?

Ballmer: "We'll Outsmart Open Source" 833

An anonymous reader writes "Micorosofts Steve Ballmer is spouting off again in this ZDNet UK article. To an audience of Most Valued Professionals in London, he says 'We'll outsmart open source.' Among other things, he also says 'Linux is a serious competitor.' We've known ever since the Halloween Documents that they have been running scared, but this looks like a prelude to a whole new round of dirty tricks. It also looks like damage control for the statements of Microsoft's Sr. VP Brian Valentines last week."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Ballmer: "We'll Outsmart Open Source"

Comments Filter:
  • by teamhasnoi ( 554944 ) <.teamhasnoi. .at. .yahoo.com.> on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @12:20PM (#4319823) Journal
    to outsmart perspiration.
  • by BurritoWarrior ( 90481 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @12:21PM (#4319835)
    Developers, developers, developers, developers.
    • by Erris ( 531066 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @11:38PM (#4324916) Homepage Journal

      Quoth the article: For nine years, the company has designated users with particular skills--usually seen by how often they intervene helpfully in newsgroups--as "most valued professionals". Currently there are about 1,200 MVPs, half of whom are in the United States.

      Wow, 1,200 ultra suckers, is that all? I was sure there were at least 5,000 microsoft trolls at Slashdot alone. Oh well, it just goes to show what a few loud mouths can do to a useful conversation. Has it really been nine years since Steven Barktoo [essential.org]? You gotta love the M$ community where advocating M$ profits is more valuable than code.

      Seriously, there are no new dirty tricks here. It's the same old BS that's been used with the MSDN and what not. M$ has attempted to build a community around purchasing their software. Tools developed by those members are shared, but they are routinely broken by M$. If M$ were free, or even just open, a real community could exist. What's there instead, at it's best, is simply a loyal group of ever abused consumers. At it's worst, these folks take their frustrations out on other communities.

      You can fool all the people some of the time and some people all the time, but you can't fool all the people all the time. M$ will eventually run out of "developers". Is there realy anyone out there who develops for M$ platforms because they think it's the best platform? Most people who do write for M$ tell me that they "have" to know how to do it simply because of it's prevalance. That's not a situation that can last.

  • Legal liability (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Animats ( 122034 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @12:21PM (#4319836) Homepage
    The big issue there, he said, was a reluctance to accept legal liability for open-source software. -- Ballmer

    Does this constitute an admission by Microsoft's CEO that Microsoft has legal liability for their own software? That's quite a concession.

    • Re:Legal liability (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Ami Ganguli ( 921 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @12:29PM (#4319909) Homepage

      I read it differently. He's claiming that IBM won't sell Linux (they get you to buy from RedHat/Suse/etc. instead) because they're afraid to take on the liability themselves. This way they can presumably push the liability onto somebody else.

      Seems like a stretch to me, but that's how I read his statement.

      • Re:Legal liability (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Codex The Sloth ( 93427 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @12:40PM (#4320020)
        because they're afraid to take on the liability themselves

        But they're not liable for the software they write (according to their EULA and if they were they would have bigger problems than Linux).
      • by gosand ( 234100 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @01:19PM (#4320382)
        I read it differently. He's claiming that IBM won't sell Linux (they get you to buy from RedHat/Suse/etc. instead) because they're afraid to take on the liability themselves. This way they can presumably push the liability onto somebody else. Seems like a stretch to me, but that's how I read his statement.

        That is how I read it too. But it doesn't change what is implied. Does it mean that people who resell Windows systems accept legal liability? No. Oh, so it means Microsoft does? No.

        Either way you read his statement, what he is saying is FUD. It implies that Linux is bad because there is nobody who is legally accountable for the software. While that may be true, Microsoft does not hold itself accountable for the software it releases. The difference is that Open Source software (including Linux) is open about the fact that it is distributed with no warranty. Microsoft creates this false sense of security that they are accountable, even though you click on the "I agree" and absolve them from any responsibility. Linux and Open Source have no PR and marketing department. I see that as a good thing, but the rest of the world sees it as a bad thing. People need a technology shepherd, and unfortunately it seems that happens to be Microsoft. But we all know what happens to sheep, don't we...

        • MS = Illusionists (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Locutus ( 9039 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @01:59PM (#4320696)
          This company is nothing but a bunch of illusionists. Their only goal is to get people and companies to purchase computers with MS-Windows on it. Solving problems and providing solutions would be a very lucky side-effect. When they have the OS, they control the APIs so Microsoft apps are promoted over all others. Every thing they do is a reaction to a threat to Windows( the OS ) and the most effective way they know to combat this is with illusions such as this. It's better known as FUD and it's all they have now because the house of cards has grown too big.

          Why any company or person would think there was any truth to anything coming from Microsoft is still amazing. It's like 20 years of history never existed. Did you see Siebol invited Bill-G to keynote their annual conference? Idiots...Our biggest fear has to be of Microsoft getting something to "stick" outside of the PC/client. Something big like having all cable TV transmissions driven by MS patented coders/decoders. They are working the client monopoly in an attempt to drive their protocols out to another monopoly and Linux and opensource is hindering this "effort".

          Microsoft is like that SnakeHead fish recently found in the US. They've already taken over a HUGE "pond"(PC client market) but now the "pond" is no longer life sustainable. So they are crawling out of the "pond" and looking for other "ponds". And they need a very large one. If they find one, they will consume it's contents just like the first.

          The only thing of interest coming from Microsoft exec's would be that they ARE mentioning Linux. That means it's serious folks and that means there is going to be alot of worthless spewage coming from Redmond. The PHB's will need this "explained" or they will believe the illusions are real.


      • Re:Legal liability (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Ed Avis ( 5917 ) <ed@membled.com> on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @02:52PM (#4321184) Homepage
        What IBM says:

        'Hey! Buy Linux... from SuSE.'

        What Steve Ballmer would like them to say:

        'Hey! Buy Windows... from Microsoft.'

        I don't understand his argument.
      • Re:Legal liability (Score:3, Insightful)

        by MrResistor ( 120588 )
        I see IBMs Linux policies and the statement about legal liability as being totally seperate, unless, of course, Balmer is a complete idiot.

        First, IBM does sell Linux. You can buy an IBM server with Linux pre-installed. Last time I checked (about 6 months ago) they would only pre-install Red Hat, but they offered plenty of other distros with the stipulation that the customer had to do the installation. What IBM doesn't do is sell their own distro. It doesn't make sense for them to do that. IBM has arrangements with distros that already exist and have established marketshare, there's no reason for IBM to try and fight that battle with their own distro when they can take advantage of the work that's already been done by others. That, after all, is what Open Source is all about.

        Perhaps Balmer thought the question was whether MS would put out their own Linux distro? I don't know, but that's the only way I could see those 2 statements being connected. IBM certainly sells software for Linux, just like they sell software for Windows.

        Basically, the way IBM deals with their Linux-based solutions is really not any different, as far as I can tell, from the way they deal with their Windows-based solutions.

        Especially amusing to me, though, is the implication by Balmer that Microsoft accepts legal liability for their software on their own, closed, proprietary systems, or even for those systems themselves. This is clearly false to anyone who has ever read an MS EULA.

  • Step 1: (Score:4, Funny)

    by dimator ( 71399 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @12:21PM (#4319837) Homepage Journal
    Start buying ad space on slashdot.

  • TCO? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Adam Wiggins ( 349 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @12:21PM (#4319839) Homepage
    Interesting: they aparently are abandoning their whole total-cost-of-ownership argument. Balmer states, "We cannot price at zero" and "We can't beat them [Linux] on price" - thus implying that Linux's price is zero. Quite the opposite from "it costs you more in the long run!"
    • Re:TCO? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Xerithane ( 13482 ) <xerithane@n e r d f a r m . o rg> on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @01:00PM (#4320204) Homepage Journal
      Interesting: they aparently are abandoning their whole total-cost-of-ownership argument. Balmer states, "We cannot price at zero" and "We can't beat them [Linux] on price" - thus implying that Linux's price is zero. Quite the opposite from "it costs you more in the long run!"

      I think they are just starting to realize they can't beat them. Outsmarting some of the smartest developers on the planet is going to be very difficult. We don't need marketing, we have word of mouth. It's proven itself time and time again that word of mouth is more important than any advertising campaign ever ran.

      Microsoft will change their "Strategy" claiming they will win with it each time they do it. In reality, it's showing Microsoft doesn't really know what to do with it. They'll pull BS lines, about IBM and liability, but in reality it means nothing.

      I think the last strategy Microsoft will come up with is writing quality software, which is the real reason why most people switch I think. At that point, I hope it's too late for them. They've had their time in the spotlight, they've helped and done their part evolving computers to where they've been. They are a dinosaur now, desperately holding on by using yesterdays flawed technology and attempting to purchase innovation. Not to say I think Microsoft will ever go away. It's going to change drastically though.
      • Do what Apple did with OS X but use Linux instead. Ignore X-Windows and any kernel development that is made you release under GPL. Now Windows will still be a proprietary system (like OS X) but they will have a system that scales, is secure, cost them next to nothing to develop (the base OS like darwin) and will be very competitive with any Unix variant free or not that is thrown at MS/Linux (no GNU necessary as there is no GNU/Darwin/OS X) or better yet just call it MS Windows/NX.

        If MS did this it would kill, Linux, OS X, Solaris (and all the Unix variants). Granted this is just my opinion but realistically there is nothing to stop them from doing this. Hell even better yet just take the Linux code out there, freeze it and make your own MS Linux Kernel fork and that will REALLY piss some people off, but there isn't a damn thing they could do.

        Being an OS X fan I hope to hell this never happens but beware of your fears (as this is one of mine!).
  • by Billly Gates ( 198444 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @12:22PM (#4319842) Journal
    My guess is they want Linus to write linux for a palladium system so they can send him to jail or sue and end up killing linux. If linus never ports it to palladium related hardware, then linux will effectively be dead on x86 and will scare IT managers away from Linux because they do not want to invest in another os/2. Very clever strategy. Since palladium will be in the cpu and bios itself, I wonder if it will even be possible to turn it off?

    • by leviramsey ( 248057 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @12:25PM (#4319874) Journal
      Since palladium will be in the cpu and bios itself, I wonder if it will even be possible to turn it off?

      Considering that the Palladium standard requires that the BIOS allow Palladium to be deactivated, I would say that it's more than possible.

      • I think that will only be true for a short time. As soon as cracked programs come out that work when this is turned off there will be a government/DMCA requirement that it be always on.
      • Considering that the Palladium standard requires that the BIOS allow Palladium to be deactivated

        It's been said over and over, yet it needs to be said again, that...

        The whole idea is get enough public services requiring Palladium/DMR on the client side and refusing to talk without it, that nearly everyone will turn it on for one reason or another (some service they value more than their privacy). It won't matter that you _could_ turn it off at the bios, because you won't. You'll need it turned on to accomplish at least some tasks that are important to you. You absolutely won't be able to turn it off by default and enable it only for certain sites and services. It'll be an all-or-nothing at boot time, and unless you like rebooting a lot, you'll just have to turn it on. At least that's the orwellian DRM future.

        But it's a chicken-and-egg problem... nobody will require use of Palladium clients until nearly every potential customer has it, and with enough publicity (hopefully) a lot of people will abstain from "upgrading"... just like the market rejected divx discs.

        Microsoft probably hopes to keep their 90-95% market share and simply discontinue 2000, (today's) XP and everything else that isn't Pallidium, and prehaps even auto-update most NT/2000/XP systems to have Pallidium features.

        That just might work for them if they do is very quickly, before gnome/kde/linux and macos-x gain more market share.

    • by chuckles1335 ( 607717 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @12:45PM (#4320066)
      My guess is they want Linus to write linux for a palladium system so they can send him to jail or sue and end up killing linux

      The "code" needed to run Palladium will be released under the BSD license.

      It seems to me that the BSD license allows BSD code to be incorporated in a GPL product because the original BSD code is freely availible. This covers any legal problems.

      As far as technology goes, the user decides what code to run, Palladium only tells you the code is unsigned and reccommends against running it, but the user still makes the final decision.

      As currently explained it will be both legal and technologically possible to run linux on a palladium box. The only question is if you want to.
  • by Noryungi ( 70322 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @12:22PM (#4319845) Homepage Journal
    That can be seen running around, screaming: "Give it to meeeeeeeeeee!!" in an MPEG file that has been mirrored all over the world... =)

    Who can take anything Ballmer says seriously after seeing this movie clip? Certainly not Linus Torvalds, that's for sure!!
  • by BitwizeGHC ( 145393 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @12:24PM (#4319860) Homepage
    I said this once on newsforge but it's worth repeating:

    The way to beat free software is through the psychology of value. "You get what you pay for." Us free software guys like to think that we are the exception, but business guys think it's true. And they'd rather pay lots of money for the backing of the Microsoft brand name than get an OS which they perceive as a "college kid's project" for little or no money. The reality is different, and we know this, but it is the PERCEPTION that counts.

    Between Beowulf and MOSIX, Linux pretty much has low-end clustering sewn up. It's at the cutting edge. Microsoft will beat Linux at clustering in the business sector, by creating the PERCEPTION that Windows NT clusters are reliable (even if it takes a huge support infrastructure just to tell the MCSE monkey to reboot the damned machine) and that Linux clusters are somehow less reliable because they lack said support infrastructure. That is my prediction.

    When it comes down to technology, Linux wins. When it comes down to people's feelings, and perceptions, and their sense of security, Microsoft wins because they can afford to hire the people and purchase the companies necessary to make it happen. In the end, it's people's perceptions that really count... not the technology.
    • by Brento ( 26177 ) <brento&brentozar,com> on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @12:31PM (#4319931) Homepage
      Microsoft will beat Linux at clustering in the business sector, by creating the PERCEPTION that Windows NT clusters are reliable (even if it takes a huge support infrastructure just to tell the MCSE monkey to reboot the damned machine) and that Linux clusters are somehow less reliable because they lack said support infrastructure.

      As somebody who's tried MS clustering, let me tell you that is one arena in which they will never succeed. The only time MS clustering even comes close to succeeding in the business sector is where you've already bet the farm on MSSQL or Exchange, and your growth rate has required more horsepower/uptime than a single box can handle. Nobody starting from scratch with clustering would even consider the MS route. My bosses didn't believe me until we brought in two separate MS-cheerleader consultants, and they even agreed. Clustering isn't where Windows succeeds in adding the perception of value.

      The value is the ability to buy a server, install it, and have "the MCSE monkey" administer it with zero training. Microsoft has succeeded in adding value by making all of their administrative tools nearly identical, via the MS Management Console. Our network admin can take care of SQL problems as they crop up, even though he's completely inexperienced in SQL, simply because he's fluent with the MMC. If you want to administer a service in *nix, you need to learn the specialized admin tools for that service. That's the cost, and that's where the MS value comes in. Trained monkeys can administer high-end servers instantly.
      • Absolutely.

        Add to this that you can put together a Linux-based cluster of x86 machines that Windows will no longer even run on, and where is Microsoft? Hmm...

        Some of the libraries that are used to parallelize code for use on Beowulf's is already available for Winderz. But who the hell wants to spend $$$ to outfit a cluster of machines with M$ operating systems?

        It's as much a price point problem as it is a technical problem. Reverse the licensing/manpower costs. With M$, you pay a little for the admin, 'cause they've become a dime a dozen. Pay a whole helluva lot for the licensing. Linux, pay more for the admin (cause I'm worth it) and save $$$$ on the licensing, plus have the added bonus of being able to substitute old hardware into places where Windows would have required more processing power than a Cray.

        Or something.

    • Very VERY well put! This is something that has never seemed to dawn on many people - that you can have the best technology in the world, but he with the biggest marketing department wins. (Do certain fruit-like computer companies ring a bell here?).

      It would be nice if there were more coverage of linux in the public eye. I generally liken Linux to a boy-genius 6-year-old that nobody takes seriously, but would run circles around the world if given the chance. It's difficult to take a 6-year-old seriously, no matter how smart/funny/good-looking he/she is.

      I am positive that Linux will eventually see its day. You are very correct that the current perception of linux is that of a college kid's senior project. However, this attitude has been slowly changing for the better. What will take Linux to "the next level" will be a major catalyst.

      There have been a few small revelations along the way, like IBMs open-arms acceptance of Linux. But, M$ seems to be able to buy most of them away (Dell no longer offers computers with no O/S because of an illegal licensing agreement that requires them to pay M$ for each computer they sell. The bad thing is that this happened since the judgement, but nobody seems to care. This is another thread entirely). Maybe the world government adoption of open-source software models (not necessarily Linux!) will be key in this actualization. I sure hope so, because I don't know what could come after that.

    • by bdowne01 ( 30824 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @12:53PM (#4320141) Homepage Journal
      You're very right about this.

      I literally just walked out of a meeting were a few of the business-zombies had just quoted "Microsoft has us backed into a corner".

      The situation is that we have just divorced our parent company, and all of our MS site licensing went with it...so now we're left with 1000 or so desktop machines with Windows 2000 Pro on them, and Bill & Co. sending us a representative next week to investigate & give us a bill.

      During one of their rambles in the meeting, one of the lead "licensing" people actually said, "...and we can't do Linux on the desktop". (We've already successfully implemented Linux in replacment of several Windows servers).

      When I asked why (our users run the basic Office apps, with standard email (no Exchange), and all their work is done through a telnet app to an HP-UX server)... no one could give a single reason other than "everyone else uses Windows".

      Microsoft has won on that battlefield. Unless technically-inclined people can make it into upper management, MS will win over customers by simply giving false claims of security, lower TOC, and pretty color PowerPoint slides.

      It seems that in just about any other industry, a monopoly would be declared foul by business-savvy execs. For some reason, a monopoly in software gives a false sense of security to these people.

      Is it fear of the unknown? Is microsoft like the reassuring parent after they've been told a scary ghost story? I'm still trying to figure that out.
      • by mwa ( 26272 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @01:19PM (#4320380)
        and pretty color PowerPoint slides

        This seems silly, but it's actually a huge opportunity for those who give presentations to decision makers: Use OpenOffice/StarOffice/KPresenter!

        After the presentation, casually mention what you used (or even finish with a little "created with [product_logo]). You'll be surprised at the audience reaction, since they were sure during the whole presentation that you were using PowerPoint.

        (If you need to distribute the presentation, export it to HTML so they can view it with nothing but a browser.)

    • by catfood ( 40112 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @12:55PM (#4320160) Homepage

      Yet I loved this quote from the article, although they're not the words from Ballmer's mouth:

      Technology like clustering would be better in Windows than Linux eventually, said Ballmer.

      That sounds like an admission that right now Beowulf beats Windows clustering. Which is yet another interesting concession.

    • Microsoft and the rest of the commercial software vendors have been questioning Linux's value for years now, and it hasn't stopped Linux from growing by leaps and bounds. Microsoft problem with Linux is that it costs next to nothing to evaluate Free Software, and in many cases Free Software does as good or a better job than commercial software. Microsoft can pretend that this isn't the case, and can advertise in glossy magazines all day long. At the end of the day Linux simply has too much positive "word of mouth" advertising to be ignored.

      People tend to think that Microsoft has gained its market share through marketing, but that really isn't the case. Microsoft has gained their marketshare by providing software that was "good enough" at a lower price than their competitors. Linux is gaining ground because it has become the value leader, and Microsoft will lose long term unless they can A) lower their prices so that they are price competitive, or B) raise the bar so that Linux remains "not quite good enough."

    • by mattdm ( 1931 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @01:07PM (#4320272) Homepage
      "You get what you pay for."

      But that's the beauty of Open Source / Free software -- you can pay for whatever level of support and brand name you want. You can choose to get everything for free, or you can get a million-dollar support contract -- or anything in between. This is the truth, and I think we've done a fairly good job of getting that perception out there -- and of course IBM's advertising dollars help too.
  • Yogi Bear? (Score:5, Funny)

    by schon ( 31600 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @12:24PM (#4319871)
    "We'll Outsmart Open Source"

    OK, when they read this, anyone hear the voice of Yogi Bear in their head?

    "Hey, Billy-boo, I'm almost as smart as the av-er-age bear! Let's go swipe the penguin's pick-in-ick bas-ket!"
    • We'll outsmart open source

      Steve, it's sort of like bringing a knife to a gunfight.

      Alternatively, read the above Yodi Bear quip.
  • by jo42 ( 227475 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @12:31PM (#4319935) Homepage
    What, Microsoft is finally going to add a "hRemoveHeadFromRectum(HANDLE phRHFR)" function?
  • by michael_cain ( 66650 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @12:35PM (#4319977) Journal

    I always thought that one area where MS has an advantage over the typical open-source application is that their developers are all on salary. So when marketing (or whoever makes the decisions) determines that there should be an integrated spell-checker, someone will code it up because that's what they're paid to do. As opposed to the open-source problem of finding someone who wants to do it.

    Let's face it, lots of the little things that make an application "full featured" in the eyes of the typical home or business consumer are a drag to code.

    • someone will code it up because that's what they're paid to do. As opposed to the open-source problem of finding someone who wants to do it.

      But that in fact is one of free softwares greatest advantage! Self Selection

      Consider this: people who like to do something are generally better at it than those who dont like to do it. (they like it because they are good at it, and they are good at it because they like it)

      In a salaried developers time he may find himself working on pieces that hes not thrilled about. In a free software environment, the developer is always working on whatever grips his interest.

      When someone comes around to wanting to do a spellchecker for free software, its damn likely theyll do it as well as they can, with no mind to deadlines, manager politics, or the other things theyd much rather be working on.

  • by 0x0d0a ( 568518 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @12:36PM (#4319979) Journal
    Technology like clustering would be better in Windows than Linux eventually, said Balmer


    "We will beat Linux on clusters."

    Good luck. There's a lot more researchers doing distributed Linux work than there are on Windows, though I'm sure MS is blowing lots of money on it in their private labs. Windows is not great for a headless cluster machine -- lousy remote administration, high CPU/RAM overhead, not the best performance, costs more.

    As for their distributed filesystem beating Linux...well, might happen, but they're building on a database (overhead implied), whereas Linux has the excellent AFS (openafs and arla implementations, both free), Coda, and Intermezzo, plus some other fringe ones. All the filesystem people I know (CMU is a big distributed filesystems research place) do Solaris or Linux...not Windows.

    Microsoft is considering extending its shared-source initiative

    You don't get it, do you, Microsoft? Seeing the source is the smallest benefit of open source to your customers. *They* mostly care about less immediate license costs, and (the biggie) no vendor lock in in the Linux world. Open source strongly facilitates this. Your NDA and smartcard supported limited shared source program doesn't interest these types in the least -- especially the NDAs, which are designed to *increase* lock-in.

    For nine years, the company has designated users with particular skills -- usually seen by how often they intervene helpfully in newsgroups -- as "most valued professionals". Currently there are about 1,200 MVPs, half of whom are in the United States

    Whee. Linux never needed a formal system for this because it already happens. Stop by any of the channels on irc.openproject.net. You can get hours of real-time help...not just one lousy newsgroup post. Good luck on this one, MS.

    "We do not anticipate offering software on Linux. Nobody pays for software on Linux."

    Hell, I'll bet there's a lower percentage of Linux users pirating *any* Linux software than there are Windows users *pirating Microsoft Windows*! The only reason anyone pays is because MS does aggressive business audits and has OEM deals.

    The big issue there [with IBM], he said, was a reluctance to accept legal liability for open-source software.

    Well, fuck me senseless. MS must be planning on accepting legal liability for their own closed source software. Hot damn. I've wasted more times fixing problems that their software has caused than I can count. Windows Updates that bluescreen and render a computer unbootable. Crashing Office installations. You name it. I've been wrong about MS all along! They're going to come through and actually support their software! Tech support will be free, not expensive "incident-based" issues! Woohoo!

    • by Jordy ( 440 )
      Hell, I'll bet there's a lower percentage of Linux users pirating *any* Linux software than there are Windows users *pirating Microsoft Windows*! The only reason anyone pays is because MS does aggressive business audits and has OEM deals.

      Speak for yourself buddy boy. Some of us pay for software because we want the company behind the software to continue to exist so they can do 24x7 onsite support.

      Coming from a company that paid for Oracle on Linux (well over $60,000), I can assure you that companies have no problems paying for software on Linux.
  • Four words:


  • Meep Meep (Score:5, Funny)

    by signe ( 64498 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @12:39PM (#4320006) Homepage
    Yep... we'll outsmart Open Source.

    You see, we're going to order this rocket sled from Acme...

  • In for a spin? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by miffo.swe ( 547642 ) <daniel.hedblom@g ... l.com minus city> on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @12:41PM (#4320028) Homepage Journal
    "The big issue there, he said, was a reluctance to accept legal liability for open-source software. Ballmer said"

    Last i checked any software from MS it did contain a nasty EULA that prevents me to take any legal action now matter how much the product was faulty. Its really ugly to pretend that they themselves give any when the never do and use that as an argument against linux.

    I think we are really in for a spin against linux from Microsoft. The bad news for them will probably be that since their trust account is completely drained none will listen to them. The more they spin the more they tend to look like bad loosers.

    To lay so much effort on making all competition look bad indicates that their own products doesnt have enough value to compete.

  • My opinion (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Mr_Silver ( 213637 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @12:42PM (#4320044)
    known ever since the Halloween Documents that they have been running scared, but this looks like a prelude to a whole new round of dirty tricks.

    My personal opinion is that if they're running scared, then they will be with regards to servers. Not the desktop.

    Disagree with me all you want, but you don't see vast numbers of people jumping the Windows ship to run Linux with Gnome or KDE.

    However, you do see them moving off IIS and onto Apache. Which is what I think they'll target with their campaignes.

    "slapper" springs to mind. Yes, IIS has plenty of its own, but Microsoft's advertising budget is far higher than that of Linux's and therefore they'll reach more people with their voice.

  • by jc42 ( 318812 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @12:46PM (#4320075) Homepage Journal
    Does anyone have a good collection of copies of and/or pointers to good Microsoft quotes like Herr Valentine's? I've been thinking that it could be very useful in the coming FUD war to have lots of their own words to use against them.

    A year or two back, some MS exec was widely quoted as saying something like "Our products are designed for functionality, not for security." I've since been very sorry that I didn't keep a copy. Anyone know who, where, and when this was said?

  • by Neumann ( 240442 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @12:47PM (#4320080)
    They are going to get their MVP's to give value to their products?

    Consider this:
    From an MVP [microsoft.com]

    If you read some of the code you will notice that there is the ability to run SQL of your choice on the page.
    For those not ASP literate the line is this:

    strSQL = "SELECT TOP 2 id, dateposted, title, body " &_
    "FROM journal WHERE dateposted < " &_
    "(SELECT dateposted FROM journal WHERE id = " & Request.QueryString("id") & ") " &_
    "ORDER BY dateposted DESC"
    Set objRS = objConn.Execute(strSQL)

    The problem is the "Request.QueryString("id")". He is injecting what he gets from the querystring right into his SQL and then running it. That is a HORRIBLE security flaw, because a bad person could inject some SQL to destroy his database.

    Its kind of ironic because how to remove this type of attack was the topic of the Security column [microsoft.com]
  • by Carnage4Life ( 106069 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @12:51PM (#4320118) Homepage Journal
    There are two main thoughts that run through my mind when I think about competing with Open Source and the IBM model. The first is that, the main problem with competing with Open Source is that it's always faster to copy than to innovate. It may take years, multiple focus groups and millions of dollars to produce feature X or behavior Y in some commercial product but after that it usually takes a fraction of the time for that feature or behavior to be replicated in competing products. This is much compounded by Open Source which is also typically free (as in beer) thus undercutting the original innovators. A good example of this is commercial Unix and Linux.

    In such an arena, it seems inevitable that the only way to slow the inexorable march of Open Source is to resort to Intellectual Property. So far no one has done this to any significant degree (the MP3 patents don't count because they are a different issue) although there has at least been discussion amongst Linux kernel hackers about patent liability [lwn.net] which will only continue given the proliferation of software patents and the more features that various Open Source projects copy from their proprietary brethren. It is food for thought.

    The second thing that comes to mind is that Open Source is shifting the balance of power from software developers to software consultants. For companies like IBM with huge consulting divisions (their Global Services division is at least thrice as large as all of Microsoft) this a great boon which they are willing to sacrifice a lot of software development to gain which explains their intense support of the Linux and Apache projects. To compete with this, I believe large software companies will have to use similar tactics including providing more source code to customers, making more software available free of charge and providing more extensive consulting services. Of course, this would significantly change the landscape of the software industry. Open Source and Linux would indeed have changed the game.

    Disclaimer: This post is my opinion and does not reflect the thoughts, strategies, intentions or opinions of my employer.
    • by miguel ( 7116 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @02:51PM (#4321179) Homepage
      dare, I do not agree with your assumptions, and hence with your conclussion.

      Linux is just starting to make inroads in the enterprise and critical application markets, say it became useful in 2001. This is the area that has been dominated by Unix since 1986. So it took us "only" 16 years to duplicate the enterprise functionality of a Unix operating system.

      Sometimes copying is easier than innovating: but achieving total compatibility -which can not be ignored- is a massive task. Wine has been cloning the Win32 API, and it is one of the most ancient projects from the Linux community: it was there back in 1996, and we have still not managed to clone the entire Win32 API. Yes, copying certain things are easy, but achieving the compatibility is a completely different matter.

      Am going to give you another example which must be closer to you: the Xml implementation in .NET features state of the art innovations for large XML document handling, and in Mono we will have an extremely hard time implementing your XPathNavigator-based XSLT. Even with reference implementations (like Daniel Veillard's), this is a truly advanced piece of code. We can emulate it using slower, more inneficient mechanisms, but we wont be able to perform as well as Microsoft's .NET XML implementation.

      I rather see Microsoft stay on the innovation track, than go into a legal battle against Open Source projects.

      Proprietary software has some advantanges, and open source has different ones. Open Source is making some inroads into a Microsoft-dominated world. And I do not see anything wrong with having more than one operating system in our day to day environments: it promotes open standards, it promotes well written and well documented reliable solutions, and ultimately, it allows the consumer to choose a solution that is right for him.

  • by tweakt ( 325224 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @12:56PM (#4320174) Homepage
    The title is highly regarded, said Thomas Lee, a Windows 2000 MVP who specializes in directory issues, and has just been appointed as chief technologist at QA Training.

    You've got to be kidding me. SPECIALIZING in directory issues? Assuming "issues" means.. problems, it's a sad fact that there are so many issues with Active Directory that one of these highly praised MS "MVPs" can actually SPECIALIZE in fixing them. Thats like specializing in DNS administration. Wow, I think i'd shoot myself in about 1.5 days at that job.

  • by pubjames ( 468013 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @12:57PM (#4320179)

    One thing I think is a misconception about open source software is that it is done 'for free'. Certainly a proportion of it is, but if, for instance, you look at the linux kernal list, you will see that the vast majority of contributors are actually employees from big companies.

    Before, I think Bill&Steve thought that Open Source software was crappy, so they kind of ignored it or mocked it. Now they realise that it isn't crappy, but they think they can defeat it because they believe that it isn't created by people who are getting paid (directly or indirectly) for it. I think this is a real misconception.
  • by PD ( 9577 ) <slashdotlinux@pdrap.org> on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @01:02PM (#4320225) Homepage Journal
    I loved it when Ballmer said in the article: "We will beat Linux on clusters. We can't beat them on price, but we will beat them off."

  • That's tough... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Fnkmaster ( 89084 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @01:07PM (#4320275)
    It's hard to "outsmart" serious developers motivated by passion and ego-fulfillment. They can't _lose_ by not being profitable. They can lose only if nobody uses or cares about their software. So the only way to "outsmart" them would be to produce software that fulfills all consumer demand at a price point so low on the common person's indifference curve that there is no motivation to use Free (and free) Software.

    If I were running Microsoft, I would focus on the ability to produce finished, refined software that results from having massive numbers of developers on payroll - control over goals and marketing-directed development allows a large corporation producing closed-source commercial software to produce certain kinds of results faster than the Open Source slowly-rolling-ball approach. In other words, it takes time for major Open Source undertakings to gain community momentum, and even longer for Open Source projects to develop user-friendly polish, when more common, non-developer users get involved and start driving development with feature requests.

    Microsoft also needs to deal with the fact that they sometimes put consumer demand in the back-seat to their own interests and big business interests in general. NOBODY demands DRM. Pushing it down people's throats is a major mistake. No endeavour yet has been successful at getting people to adopt a technology with DRM capabilities or any such non-feature "security features". In the future this may become a drag on the bottom line with Palladium et. al. losing popularity. It's hard to convince Joe Sixpack right now that Linux is cool and he should be using it. If Windows becomes so crippled by DRM and "security features" that Linux (or some OpenBeOS-alike or other Open Source OS) can serve as the basis for a fully capable operating environment for desktop PCs, the bottom line will suffer.

    Outsmarting Open Source is really more a matter of keeping in touch with what people want. Frankly, MS has done a good job of this in the past, cutting many corners, and infuriating many developers, but they have gradually improved the Windows platform - with Windows XP they have started down a path of backtracking on their advances, getting a bit too high off the hog with their monopoly. If they are trying to outsmart Open Source, they need to go back to thinking about what users want, and not what the MPAA and RIAA tell them they need to get securely in bed with them, so they can jointly 0wn the set-top box market and media-on-demand markets they have their greedy eyes set on.

  • by randomErr ( 172078 ) <ervin.kosch@gmail . c om> on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @01:10PM (#4320298) Journal
    In a parallel story by InfoWeek [infoworld.com]:

    Microsoft pushes on in server OS market

    By Stacy Cowley
    September 24, 2002 9:18 am PT

    LINUX IS THE only serious threat to Microsoft's increasing dominance of the market for server operating systems, according to new research from IDC.

    Microsoft's share of new server operating environment license shipments grew from just under 42 percent in 2000 to nearly 49 percent in 2001, IDC of Framingham, Mass., said in a summary of its recently released "Worldwide Client and Server Operating Environment Market Forecast and Analysis: 2002-2006."

    On the client side, Microsoft's already overwhelming 92 percent share crept up to 93 percent in 2001. IDC analyst Al Gillen attributes the company's continued growth to its licensing programs and to customer transitions from older Microsoft products to its current software.

    Click Here [infoworld.com] for the rest of the story.
  • by haplo21112 ( 184264 ) <haplo&epithna,com> on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @01:12PM (#4320313) Homepage
    Read...we do not want to be bound by an open source license...that Linux Zealots will try to interpret anyway they feel proper to steal our IP...in order to do serious work in the open source world we need to use open source tools(and Libs) which would then bind our products by open source license rules...

    Before you Mod me down I don't agree with him, but thats what they are thinking after all...

    I will say however that they are right in a way...
    if the OSS licenses were a little less restrictive and the community a little less over zealous there might be a bit more commercial initive. Unfortuantely, the way the community seems to see tihngs is, you used and open source lib, or other tool, to make your software...we demand the software be open sourced....

    Sorry if its unpopular to say so, but that is how they think, and damn it I think they are actually justified...
  • by garyok ( 218493 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @01:17PM (#4320367)
    "We will beat Linux on clusters. We can't beat them on price, but we have to add value." - Ballmer

    If I were a Microsoft employee I'd be a bit worried that the #2 man in the company has such an appalling grasp of economics. Open source/free solutions are nothing but added value. You start with a box of electronics which is worth nothing on it's own (unless making irritating noises is worth something to you), you install linux off a CD you downloaded for free, and presto, you have a system that can be used for work and recreation. Value value value.

    The only way Microsoft products will have any value compared to open source/free is if they can do something that open source/free products can't do (crashing twice a day, taking 15mins to boot up, and having more security holes than my underpants aren't exactly unique selling points). Microsoft would have to start innovating to sell their bloatware (today, pretty coloured GUIs != innovation). How likely is that?

    Personally, I reckon open source/free software could clean Microsoft's clock in about a decade if more work was put into educational software and entry-level programming tools. Get linux in schools! Schools'd rather be spending their money on library books and heating than licenses. They are the softest targets in the world for increasing the mindshare for open source/free software, but the effort going into office productivity apps (a market Microsoft has got sewn up tighter than a gnat's chuff) dwarfs that spent on educational gubbins.

    Microsoft only exist because of kiddie hackers who could transform Windows 3.x into a working system and install hardware for nothing as a favour. Otherwise all the refunds to users forced to return that unusable heap of shit would have killed the company like the MSX fiasco should have. If all the kids who keep PCs running around the world for nada were brought up on linux, rather than windows, they'd be selling those solutions to the grown-ups and bringing them into the workplace as they grew up themselves.
  • by cryptorella ( 611118 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @01:23PM (#4320426)
    The momentum of linux that has made the operating system go from a hobby tool, to an Enterprise quality threat to the Microsoft Monopoly, isn't just the Source, or the free hackers but the Corporations that have signed on. Feeling shunned and threatened by Microsoft many of them are turning there backs on the Wintel world or at least playing two hands of poker. Microsoft does not play nice with others... They don't play nice with Independent Software Vendors, or with other corporations. Just look at what they have done to Corel, Netscape, and now the threat to Real Audio, is it any wonder why other companies feel threatened?

    The Shared Souce Initiative has gone worse than expected. Microsoft seems stunned that noone wants to look at thier source. Perhaps it is because any enhancement you make to the source code, Microsfot owns... the company gets stronger and better, by things you do. If your a Database Vendor are you going to make Microsoft more dominant, so they can put more money into MS SQL. If you are a media company are you going to enhance media capabilities so they can put you out of business with Media Player?

    I support and encourage competition. Apple ships homegrown products with thier OS, but they in no way try to use an unfair advantage.

    It is more than Source, and it is more than "creating" a community. You need to have a real community of people who trust the company/code/operating system they are working with. Capitalism is divided by the Landowners and those that do the labor. Who is willing to do Microsoft's Labor to have thier own fruits crushed?

  • by (void*) ( 113680 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @01:27PM (#4320464)
    Steve Balmer is the clown of Microsoft, who mocks us to make us angry. Starting coding (and documenting) and he'll go away.

    You do want him to go away right?

  • it's pathological (Score:3, Interesting)

    by g4dget ( 579145 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @01:28PM (#4320466)
    "We can't beat them on price, but we have to add value."

    Microsoft has 90% of the desktop market, but enough just isn't enough for them. Their hunger to assimilate every last person on the planet is insatiable. If your tastes or working styles disagree from theirs, there is just no room for you. Microsoft's hunger for market domination is pathological. I suspect that they really do know deep down that their software is just an incoherent collection of marketing-driven features inplemented in a haphazard manner, and it scares them to think that the public at large realize that; that's why everybody with a brain needs to be assimilated before they can create resistance.

    What Microsoft just doesn't get is that different people have different preferences. People use Linux not because it's cheaper in some absolute value metric, but because they like it. To Microsoft, "value" means more features, more buttons, and more conformity in terms of appearance. To many Linux users, "value" means fewer features, fewer buttons, more configurability, and standards compliance at the API level. Microsoft can't add that value to Windows; to achieve it, they'd have to subtract stuff from Windows, a lot of stuff, and they can't do it.

    Sorry, Ballmer, but unless Microsoft gets the government to mandate Windows, you'll have to be satisfied with 90% market shares. And they may even go down as Linux (for better or for worse) steadily and unstoppably adds your kind of value--as an option for those who want it.

  • by bluGill ( 862 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @01:29PM (#4320480)

    It is hard for microsoft to lock out open source with the product mix they have. They only succede now because they were early and managed to win, but they no longer can compete on features, price, or IBM granted monopoly. (Though they can dictate hardware specs, something that is worrying to me)

    Once you have a working version of a word processor nothing much changes. Once in a while the spell checker might need an updated dictionary or import filters for you compition, but open source can get them too. What new useful features can they add. There might be a few, but most fail the useful qualifier, and the rest are useful only to a small group. If you are in the latter group there is a chance that only open source will consider it worth the bother to add your feature, and then only because YOU can hire whoever you want to add it. (your choice to open source it or not unfortunatly)

    Remember software is easy to copy. When an architect draws up house plans carpinders need to build it, which takes a team of four, 2 or 3 months, each house. With software once it is built, copies can be made easially. Open source is even easier than closed because it is free so they don't have license keys or the like. Open source: one person can put it in the default install CD, and once it works put it on all workstations in theory, closed source takes just a little longer because you have to handle license keys and legal issues, but still nothing compared to the house.

    Once something has the features you need and is free, it has a compelling argument to switch. I do not see how Microsoft or anyone else can keep coming up with new features that are compelling enough to be worth the cost.

    I have already switched to Kword. I admit that it still isn't nearly as good as MSWord, but it is good enough, and free. Many computers are coming with WordPerfect installed because it is cheaper, and most home users won't see a need to switch so long as the import/export filters work right.

    It may take 100 years, but I suspect that for software that everyone uses, you will soon find that only free software is used. Only the software that is used by few people, or changes often will survive. (tax preperation for instance)

  • by jcsehak ( 559709 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @01:30PM (#4320486) Homepage
    from the article: While Ballmer stopped short of advocating Microsoft's old "security through obscurity" policy, he pointed out that publicly posting bug fixes often prompted attacks. "The hacker waits till a fix is posted, then writes an attack and sends it out," he said. Such attacks are based on information in the fix.

    In related news, I've noticed that the more dishes I clean, there more there are to get dirty, so if I don't do the dishes, then there won't be any clean ones to get dirty, and I'll be saved a lot of work.
  • by shatfield ( 199969 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @01:39PM (#4320551)
    ... that they cannot and will not change:

    #1: They cater to businesses, not to people.

    Linux is the exact opposite - it caters to people and not to businesses. Considering that businesses are outnumbered with people by a few hundred million to 1, I see this as their biggest problem. Granted, they are trying to buy legislation that will level the playing field (make it illegal not to be *for corporations*, and Linux will have to change), but for now, they're in deep trouble.

    #2: The *need* to make even more money.

    Overcharging their customers year after year will eventually catch up to them.. most likely within the next 2 years. Linux is becoming even more user friendly, and continues to gather mind share among college students (who can't afford the cost of (or won't pay for) Windows' systems, even at the student rates). Today's college grads are tomorrows CIOs.. and they will talk with the CFO's about the massive savings that Free Software brings to the table. This doesn't bode well for Microsoft.
  • by TomatoMan ( 93630 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @01:42PM (#4320571) Homepage Journal
    I'm no fan of Uncle Steve, but unless I'm missing something, he himself didn't use the word "outsmart". He said "We have to compete with free software, on value, but in a smart way." ZDNet inexplicably translated this to "outsmart", and the anonymous poster takes this one step further to "We'll outsmart open source."

    Sloppy and dumb. Keep right on lowering your standards, everyone.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @01:48PM (#4320615)
    Take a look at DRM. Microsoft has already won.

    1. Build DRM into operating system, and patent operating systems with built in DRM.

    2. Convince content providers to ( hollywood, music industry, government, service businesses ( health care providers, insurance companies, etc ) ) to protect their IP with DRM.

    3. Lobby government to make it illegal to manufacture computers without DRM built in.

    4. Threaten computer manufacturers until they build DRM into their CPUs (as Intel and AMD have already both stated they will. Apple will follow when MS threatens to stop making MS software for them if they don't ).

    5. Lobby government to pass law to make it a jailable offense to possess tools to allow you to get around copy protection ( DMCA ).

    Worst Case Scenario:
    All online media is protected by DRM. Computers can not view any intellectual property on the internet without running a DRM compliant operating system. Running a non DRM compliant operating system on a computer with built in DRM violates the DMCA. Microsoft owns the patent on DRM in operating systems, so any competitor has to pay microsoft for the right to include closed source DRM code in their operating system.

    A lot of the things necessary to make the above happen, are already in place.

    It doesn't matter if Linux can compete with Microsoft on a technical level. Microsoft has billions of dollars to spend on lobbying the government for new laws, and with their monopoly power can threaten other businesses to support their DRM standard. They also have powerful allies in Hollywood and the RIAA, who both want microsoft to succeed with this vision.

    Time to wake up.
  • by Junks Jerzey ( 54586 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @02:13PM (#4320825)
    We've known ever since the Halloween Documents that they have been running scared

    I think it's pretty clear that Microsoft is unconcerned with Linux and rightly so. When you run Linux, you have to be very paranoid about what scanner or digital camera or video card you buy. We've all been there. There have been slashdot stories about it. The bottom line is that the fundamental differences between Linux and Windows and MacOS are very few, when it comes right down to it. But switching from Windows to Linux, assuming you do more than just download MP3s and browse the web, is a big pain in the arse. The restrictiveness that comes from not being able to walk into Best Buy and get whatever it is you want--application, game, new video card--is frustrating. It isn't worth dealing with unless the alternative gives you something that's way, way, beyond what Windows gives you in a tangible way. And speaking as someone who runs both Linux and Windows, that isn't the case.
  • by Ilan Volow ( 539597 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @02:18PM (#4320875) Homepage
    We've bested Steve's Ballmer's spaniard and we've beaten his giant. Like we didn't see a battle of wits coming....

    Compare [] and Contrast [com.com]

  • by aquarian ( 134728 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @02:29PM (#4320961)

    "We'll outsmart open source."
    If Microsoft put as much energy into creating quality software as they do trying to "outsmart" the competition, Linux wouldn't be such "a serious competitor."
  • by mbogosian ( 537034 ) <matt@@@arenaunlimited...com> on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @03:07PM (#4321354) Homepage
    We will outsmart OpenSource....

    Read as:

    We will outsmart, PHP [php.net], Perl [cpan.org], MySQL [mysql.com], OpenMosix [sourceforge.net], Apache [apache.org], Audacity [sourceforge.net], Crystal Space [sourceforge.net], MiKTeX [miktex.org], SDL [libsdl.org], Vega Strike [sourceforge.net], X-Tractor [sourceforge.net], FileZilla [sourceforge.net], ... (yes most of this also runs, if not exclusively, on windoze).


    We will outsmart freedom and choice.

    Somehow, I don't see it. Then again, a lot of money can buy a lot of laws....
  • by SysKoll ( 48967 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @03:19PM (#4321507)
    Asked by one lateral-thinking MVP whether Microsoft planned to offer applications software on Linux, Ballmer said no. "We do not anticipate offering software on Linux. Nobody pays for software on Linux."

    As usual, Ballmer is either lying or deluded. I recently fielded a call for a large Wall Street company that is deploying IBM software for Linux. Considering the size of the lunch tabs picked by the IBM sales person, I can tell you this is not a small contract.

    IBM sells complex, expensive products such as DB2 and WebSphere for Linux. These pieces of software are certainly not free (nor open-source) and they seem to sell very well.

    Please don't start a flame war against the closed-source nature of DB2. That's not the point. The point is that Ballmer does not have a clue.

    -- SysKoll

Never buy from a rich salesman. -- Goldenstern