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The Cost of Bug Fixes 181

Well, I try to avoid posting MS stories unless they're kinda large, but about 50 people have submitted a CNet story that proclaims that MS might be charging as much as $89 for a Service Patch to Windows 98. I guess I'd try to come up with an appropriately witty comment, but I'm at a loss for words here. Update: 04/07 03:27 by CT : apparently Cnet is screwed up a bit here, and CNN has a more accurate story. Read it.
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The Cost of Bug Fixes

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  • Okay, if you have looked at all the graphs of OS use, tell us what Microsoft's competition is on Intel PCs in the home. Or on Intel PC desktops in corporate use?

    Lets see. Linux? Hardly. BeOS? Again, I really don't think so. OS/2? Whatever. Where's the so-called competition?

    People who insist that Microsoft doesn't have a monopoly are just fooling themselves to believe whatever comes out of Microsoft's mouth. The fact of the matter, Microsoft soft wields tremendous market power. Regardless of whether Microsoft has a literal monopoly, they are abusing their market power to the detriment of society. That is why they must be stopped. The reason people say that Microsoft is a monopoly, is because it's alot easier to say than "The wield near-monopoly market power." (Like the whole Linux, GNU/Linux thing).

    Even AT&T had competition, as did standard oil, and they were monopolies by every sense of the word.

  • Yes, they are monopolists in their own little world. And no, they can't raise prices at will. There will be a point that it will be cheaper to rewrite everything over the long term than to stick with a vendor that is gouging you. So no, they cannot change prices at will.

    The fact of the matter is, if Microsoft decided to charge $200 for the upgrade, most people would pay for it rather than explore alternatives, simply because there aren't really any alternatives.
  • by kovacsp ( 113 )
    You present an argument, but you have yet to back it up with solid facts. Other than saying "that applies to micrsoft too" please tell me how. Microsoft does not have much, if any at all, competition in the intel desktop market. PLEASE tell me where they're competition is, I would like to be enlightened. If you can't point to specific examples, then perhaps it's time you rethink your argument.
  • Linux is the fastest growing server OS because there are so few installations. If you add a few more, *poof* you have 100% growth, or even more! Growth has nothing to do with market share or market power. Besides, you say yourself server OS. The market that Microsoft has a monopoly is the intel desktop PC, which sadly, Macintosh doesn't compete in either.

    Try again?
  • Good thing I haven't downgraded my game machine from '95 OSR2 yet...
  • Ohhh it'll remove IE4 alright... and install IE5! (insert appropriate sound effect here) ;) Then there always is that 98lite thing.. wish i still had the URL.
  • $89 bucks just for Microsoft to edit a few files and run them through a compiler? I think not. I can spend $39.95 [] and get a set of FreeBSD 3.1 CDs and get a million times more usefulness out of them than I would with software from Microsoft and its ilk.

    Look on the bright side, they're probably saving up for when they lose the DOJ trial. :-)

  • We gotta look at the big picture here. The more money BG makes now, the more he can give away later. Hopefully, the service pack will break Office and they can charge for an upgrade for that too. He just wants to be assured a top spot in the Guinness Book of Records for greatest philanthropist.

    This is of course, sarcasm.
  • same hardware, is what I think the original poster was implying.

    "[P]assable (not preferrable) alternative ..." does not suffice to recommend new purchase of hardware!
  • They'll get away with it and make a ton of cash. Same deal with Win95 Win98. By the time they're through it'll be called Windows 99 so the MS-Lemmings will think they're getting something significant. And they will keep doing this over and over.

    Don't despair. This is a good thing...everytime they pull this stunt, they piss off a few more people who begin looking elsewhere.

    Their day of reckoning is coming, and foolishness like this only accelerates their demise. So please MS...keep doing this and raking in the bucks...'cuz soon its going to sneak up and bite you in the ass.
  • Posted by JoeyRamone:

    I wonder why MS keeps insisting on diggging holes for itself. I know, they can't afford the anti-trust case against them anymore, they have to :). Or else Bill should have to dig in his pockets, but that hurts.

    Ah, what a wonderful world it could least if the world would be running on Linux.

  • Posted by JoeyRamone:

    Well they've paid for Hotmail and that's still running on a Unix-based system. It makes you wonder, nah.

  • Posted by idisasm:

    If you think paying for bug fixes is bad, you haven't seen anything, yet. There were articles during the trial which revealed that MS's plan is to try to move Windoze licensing to a subscription based model. Since too many people refuse to buy upgrades, the solution is to make them pay more than once for the same software by having the license expire.

    This is merely a first attempt at moving toward that goal.

    Don't fear the penguin.
  • They only made IE free to kill Netscape. So if Netscape dies, you bet they will slowly start charging for IE.

    They already are charging for IE, if you really want to look at it that way. You can get an IE 4.0/5.0 cd for cash, and you can get Win98, which comes with IE 4, for a good 89 bucks.

    IE, download wise, is something like 60 megs now. I have a relative who was asking me about it, had no idea how long 60 megs would take to download. She thought it would take an hour on her 33.6k modem, and I couldn't help but LMAO (the mactarnahan's stout didn't help).

    She is probably going to go out and purchase Win98-2, because she wants IE 5 and doesn't want to download it. That's where they make their money.


  • Well, I'll admit that while KDE is not quite as easy to use as Windows 9x, it is a great step forward. This most recent pricing fiasco may be just what KDE/Gnome/etc need to push their way into the desktop mark and make linux a legitimate desktop OS for John Q. Public.

    I personally refuse to pay to FIX an OS that Microsoft and Dell FORCED me to buy with the equipment I purchased.
  • by TedC ( 967 ) on Wednesday April 07, 1999 @09:33AM (#1945754)
    ...if General Motors started charging for recalls?

    I guess MS can get away with this, since their software has no warranty. So much for the theory of suing MS if something goes wrong.


  • Check out this ZDNet story:,4153, 1014301,00.html

    The bug fixes will be free, in the form of SP1, downloadable from the MS site. In addition to that, there will be multiple versions of the newer Win98 (with new features), including a nominally-priced upgrade for people who paid the full retail price already for W98.
    The $89 price willl be for a new full retail install, it looks like.

    I'm no lackey, but it doesn't look as bad as it looks.
  • Not that I care much, since I don't run MS oses at home, but I have another point here that might put this in perspective. I have an old Sun box running 4.1.4. It works. Period. It does, day in and day out, just what I've configed it for, nothing more, nothing less. The only down times have been protracted power-outages or a kernel recompile for a patch. Now, in about 7-8 months, this box will be usless. Why? SunOS 4.1.4 is not y2k compliant w/o a patch. The patch is offered by Sun, for a hefty price. This is the base os I'm talking about, not some apps. I think Sun should offer the patch for free, but that ain't gonna happen. The cost? $1,295.00. The hardware is okay according to Sun's y2k page. Now, I talked to Sun about this, and what I got was a service contract that would put me on a path to Solaris 2.x. All this for $3,060.00 per annum. Thing is, that is overkill.. It's not what I want.

    Now, I could slap RH Sparclinux on this puppy, but that is not my decision to make. I can't use the free Solaris 'cause this is for business use. My point is that I should not have to go through an upgrade/replacement because the os is doing just fine as it is. Am I pissed? You bet.
  • Other people's businesses.

    I see this as a business opportunity. The forward looking company will realise that by stepping off of the MS treadmill and installing ANY competing OS (Linux, *BSD, BEOS, etc), they can operate at lower margins than the competition which routinely looses productivity and shells out cash for bug fixes that introduce as many bugs as they fix.

    For small businesess, standardizing on MS can cost enough to make the difference between a small profit and going into the red. While Linux and co. may be more difficult for a novice user, at least the problems CAN be overcome. With MS, the novice buys it on the promise that it's so simple their parakeet can use it, and ends up with a killer bug that nobody can fix for them at any price.

  • There will be no charge for 8.5>8.6. If you want to get a CD with the 8.6 update on it, they will charge, though....big deal.

    BTW: The new 8.6 nanokernel is a BIG improvement! It supports REAL preemptive multitasking and a better memory manager called Guard Pages. Not as good as Linux or MacOS X Server, but much better. Also there is REAL SMP. My friend loaded beta4 on a 9500 with a dual 604 @ 200MHz and the speed is 60% faster overall. That means no more MP-enabled apps are needed to take advatage of dual processors. In fact up to 64 processors are supported (theoretically) although the most ever tested in beta was 12 (604e). I am using 8.6b4 and have yet to crash my system under 8.6 (in 2 months.)
    It's far easier to forgive your enemy after you get even with him.
  • This is the kind of crap that's going to kill M$.

    Not technical superiority, I dare say that's been tried. When customers perceive that they're being gouged, simply because they have no choice of where to go, they do begin to get a little pissed off.

    In practical terms what does it mean? We'll probably see slightly higher sales for Apple, coming mostly from the point and drool crowd. Be may see a little more action from media types (not sure about this), and free OS's will probably get a boost from fed-up users who consider themselves technically proficient.

    The sad part is, all of the migration will probably be too small to be noticed, except by the gaining communities.

    At least until the next bug fix.
  • Apple charge for upgrades. So do Oracle, Sybase, IBM and almost every other company.

    And the article didn't say the 'service pack' wasn't free - it says the upgrade wan't free.

    claiming the SP isn't free is hysterical scaremongering.
  • Didn't he say a while ago that nobody ever upgrades to fix bugs, but only because they want new features? Man, the arrogance of that guy never ceases to amaze me.
  • I saved $90 by not buying W98, now I can save $83 by not buying W98StepUp and going straight for RH 6.0 from cheap bytes.

    I'm just rolling in the dough!
  • As that Neal Stephenson essay pointed out, Microsoft are not there to serve customers. Bill Gates job is to please the share-holders.

    If they don't manage to sell *something* new this year -- since we all know that Win2K is going to be delayed -- there's going to be a lot of annoyed share-holders.

  • How about this for a conspiracy theory:

    Windows 2000/NT 5.0 whatever the hell they decide to call it will cost you $0.00 to upgrade.. yup that's as in:

    MS: See we have a "FREE" OS too!

    Then charge $89.95 for your first bug fix 19.95 for each additional one. Sounds like a plan to me!

  • I personally do not know a single individual who thinks that Microsoft is not a monopoly. I read stuff from people like you who think they are not, but among the people I know and consider my friends or acquaintances, not ONE disagrees with me.

    Just because there are alternatives does NOT mean that they are not a monopoly. Look at the law! There have been cases where a company with only 70% of the market were judged as a monopoly. It's not as black and white as you think.

    And the way the DOJ/MS case is going, I expect our courts to agree with me as well.

    Timur Tabi
    Remove "nospam_" from email address

  • Believe it or not, this will work for Microsoft. Sure those of us here will not settle for such a thing; could you imagine if you had to pay $89 to upgrade from Debian 2.0 to 2.1 or RH 5.0 to 5.1, much less kernel versions.

    However here is why Microsoft will make this work. Becuase many many businesses use almost exclusive Win98 networks with a spattering of WinNT and Win95. The techs at these places usually hate having to deal with the BSODs and lockups that 98 creates. Therefore they will be able to convince the people with the money to upgrade the systems to "increase productivity".

    In addition to this, Microsoft also will force PC OEMS into upgrading their licenses to ship the Win98-2ed, if they don't then they will be selling an "inferior product". Many times this leaves businesses with copies of Win98 that are never really used.

    What makes the situation even worse is suppose you have a computer that has Win3.1 on it right and just suppose you can actually upgrade it to Win98 (I've seen places where they have pII-300's doing win3.1). You can't use the copy of 98 from the old computer! Why? Because they upgrade license agreements are written in such a way that all of the software must be installed on that machine. As a result there are some machines, my parents included that to use win98 must be upgraded in this order: Dos 5.0, Dos 6.2, Windows 3.1, Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows 98-2ed. Thats an awful lot of time wasted because of poor licensing, but I guess thats the power of a monopoly now isn't it?
  • What's worse? That Microsoft is offering it, or that some people are stupid enough to buy it? I'm just glad I bailed while I still had something resembling sanity left.

    May the Source be with us.

  • I live in the US, and have always yearned to live in a nation with real freedoms like speech, property, and due process of law.

    Where do you live?

    As long as each individual is facing the TV tube alone, formal freedom poses no threat to privilege.

  • To say that MS is not a monopoly because it has (small) competitors in some markets is a cute argument...

    According to US antitrust law, more than 50% marketshare in a given market is sufficient to call a company a monopoly. Standard Oil was broken up when it had only about 50-60% market share.

    Reason being is that you don't need 100% market share to be capable of bending the market to your will.

    Rockefeller had exclusive agreements with railroads so S.O. got a kickback even when it was his competitor's oil that was being transported, just like Microsoft gets paid by OEM's even if a PC is sold with a competing OS, or with no OS at all. 50% market share is more than ample power to negotiate such agreements, because the monopoly can easily kill the OEM or the railroad by refusing to do business with them.

    So to say that MS (or Intel, or IBM) is not a monopoly is merely quibbling over semantics and dictionary definitions. Antitrust law exists to protect against anticompetitive exclusive agreements.

    As long as each individual is facing the TV tube alone, formal freedom poses no threat to privilege.

  • If they tried anything like that they would have a massive revolt on their hands. They're already having enough trouble convincing companies to switch from Win3.1, Win95, Office95, etc. to the latest versions. Even the staunchest Microsoft supporters have a hard time seeing the advantages in switching unless there's a compelling reason (Y2K, for example, or the latest Big Thing). If Microsoft started forcing companies to pay on a subscription basis (or even worse, forced them to install regular updates that hit them in TCO and lost employee productivity), companies will simply stick with whatever the latest version of Windows they have and look for an alternative doublequick.

    That isn't to say that Microsoft wouldn't love to do that, but the smart move is to get offices to upgrade by (a) purchasing new equipment from OEMs and/or (b) bundling "upgrades" with new software.
  • What I don't understand is where all the money for the Win98 update is going to do any good. Is Microsoft going to use the money to spyglass more companies so they can add more features and increase the bug pool? Is there a feature/bug list that they give out with the 98 update?
  • Micro$oft must be paying their idiot lawyers a hefty sum. What kind of lucrative company charges people for their own mistakes? Ninety bucks for BUG fixes. BUG FIXES. Not only has M$ screwed their customers for years with shoddy products, but now they're screwing the same people again by expecting them to pay for bug fixes; Micro$oft's own damn fault. Like hell I'd ever pay for bug fixes. For that bread, I could buy 45 Linux CDs from cheapbytes.
    When will BG be assassinated?
  • Just cuz the computer press denounces it(perhaps for fear of losing micro$oft ad money?) doesn't mean it's not a viable alternative to windows. After all, if it wasn't useable, you wouldn't see things like:

    January 28, 1999 -

    A quick look at the Large OS/2 Customers List [] shows a lot of banks. Banks can't afford for their systems to be down as customers tend to get rather irate if they cannot access their money.

    As far as updates, IBM is still releasing free fixpacks for Warp 4.0 as well as 3.0(released in 94). If you'd rather not download the fixpacks, OS/2 Super Site [] offers them burned on a CD for about $15. Current device drivers can be found at IBM's online Device Driver Pack []. In the past 30 days 2 new drivers have been added and 264 drivers have been updated.

    For typical office needs, Staroffice []can handle current MS office documents and is available for OS/2, Linux, and even Windows.

    OS/2 even provides for a Y2K compliant Windows 3 environment.

    What other everyday needs do you have? Perhaps people can send you suggested replacements. For a ready made list of comparable applications for OS/2, check The OS/2 Alternative [] site.

    You're part of the problem if you just let micro$oft keep screwing you over.

  • maybe because Windows 2000 are intended to be totaly new system (if we forget latest anouncements that w2000 will be based on w98 instead of win NT); so to name w98 patch as w99 is considered not good


    they are just confusing people with names so people think about "why not windows 99? why not windows 98.1?" not about "is it upgrade? is it patch? why does it cost 89$?"

  • yes, it makes me wonder. but it does not make wonder regular users because they do not know hotmail is running on SUNs; they even do not know what's sun/solaris/unix/...
    regular users just pay attention to "brought to you by microsoft"

    do anyone saw SUN logo on hotmail?

  • how can you qualify monopoly?

    for me, monopoly is when i have no choice but buy one think otherwise others wont accept me

    so try to send for example StarrOffice document (in native S.O. format) to someone else and see how they will be hot to talk with you; try to use pine and try to explain others that HTMLed or WORDed emails are causing you problems; try to buy some cool hardware and then ask vendor to provide you with driver for some other OS than windows; try to explain to your boss that when you say "i need computer" you do not mean "i need PC with windows"; etc., etc., etc.
    for me, that's monopoly
    and that's why i also consider this patch pricing as extortion; and extortion is bad even (or also?) in democracy

  • hany: mr. gates, what do you mean with "essential bug" and "significant number of users"?

    i also hope, that mr. gates considered threat of macro-viruses (i.e. lack of usefull protection againts such intruders) in office family as "essential bug" which affects "significant number of users"; i'm not affected, i just want that poor common users not to risk heart attacks, head-aches, ... for those things

  • and the biggest problem is, that people do not realize they are underestimating others (and overestimating themselves :)
  • cars and warranty was alredy mentioned here but ...

    this whole thing with charged bug-fix is like buying a car with airbag and then after (maybe successfuly) using it for year you "can" buy and "upgrade" of your car which fixes airbags (it do not works this whole year) and makes your car burn +1 liter per kilometer just to makes you think this "upgrade" is improvement and you need it and it is OK to pay for it

    what a pitty that car comes with some warranty so you can get fixed airbag for free and you do not have to buy new engine to get airbag fixed

  • |Seriously, though... this feature is something
    |I've managed to use to convince a friend or two
    |to install Linux with. Very smart
    |for MS to do this.

    My wonderings are:
    * Do all the client boxes have to be Win98?
    * How well does the MS solution work? Better than Wingate and/or Linux's IP Masq? At any rate, people selling Windows IP Masq solutions are now going to be in a world of hurt, even if they *do* work better than this new 98 feature.
    * Does anyone else get the screaming heebie jeebies at the idea of a Windows 98 box as a firewall?

  • >>If they didn't have monopoly status

    >>Arrghh! Why do people insist on treating this as if it were settled and byond debate?

    Because it is settled and beyond debate. Glad to help.
  • Micro$oft screws the customers (again), but in the long run, people are getting seriously pissed off about the arrogance displayed by Redmond.

    In the end, they screw themselves; people will look for (and find) better alternatives.

    there are 3 kinds of people:
    * those who can count

  • Do you think $500M is big money for Gates? Give me a break! It's probably less then 50 bucks for me.
  • I mean, if the small amount of bug fixing that went into the 95.1 patch made it worth the Windows 98 moniker, why not make this 95.2 patch called Windows 99? If I was a brain-dead M$ user, I'd fall for it. I'd have to try really hard to believe it, sure, but I could manage to tie-off my logic for long enough to sign the credit card slip. *sigh*

    "The Constitution admittedly has a few defects and blemishes, but it still seems a hell of a lot better than the system we have now."

  • Incredulous. Im getting so sick of MS's crap. When they f*ck up, I don't want to have pay to fix their mistakes.

  • I fail to see why there can't be a warranty on software...
    I mean if you let your horde of trained mammals loose, I'm sure one can _prove_, using elementary mathematics, whether a given program is bug-free or not.
    Of course as the codebase gets bigger and bigger, this requires more of an effort, but that's what QA is for, isn't it?

    So how come the software companies can have no warranty at all, and noone's complaining???

    Heck, even I could sell you WinExtra++ 53.953 for only $500. What? You got an empty floppy disk? Sorry, read my disclaimer and non-warranty fine print...
  • Microsoft isn't releasing a service pack now. You'll be able to get the fixes only through "Step Up".

    Microsoft will sell the StepUp CD on its Web site, but will not post the bug fixes and other technologies for free downloads, she said.

  • Wait until they announce the Plus pack (to be released same day) which contains some "groovy extra features" (aka better User Interface to key functionality, such as scripting for dial-up networking).

    I always thought these were the real rip-off, but no-one ever remembers to factor in these costs.

    MS started charging for IE in the same way about a year ago, you got "IE Basic" for free, but they released an "IE Plus Pack" (I forget the exact name, Gold Edition or something) for about $80 that added not very much, but gave you a nice box.
  • is that most people underestimates the ingenuity of geuine idiots :)
  • 1. How did you manage to get an osr2 upgrade cd. There weren't any upgrade cds to go from a previous version to osr2. There was just an oem osr2 cd that had the full os on it to install on a clean hard drive.

    2. Why did you have to repartition to install it? Win95 didn't support FAT32 until osr2.5. All it would require is at least deleting some program directories and at most a reformat.

    3. Who'd you find dumb enough to pay you $340 to install win95 on something? I'd sure as hell like to find some people like that.

    4. You indicate that upgrading to win98 takes 4 hours. Since when? On average, it takes me 20-30 minutes to install it. Even installing from disks wouldn't take 4 hours.

    5. I'm asuming that the refusal parts after win98 means you didn't install 98 on the computer. So, why did you include the cost of win98 installation in your tco?
  • by ruud ( 7631 ) on Wednesday April 07, 1999 @09:00AM (#1945794) Homepage
    From 3.html#subj5 []:

    Focus: But it is a fact: if you buy a new version of a program to overcome faults of an old one, you unavoidably get more features and need more storage.
    Gates: We have strong competitors and produce only products which we believe to be able to sell. New versions are not offered to cure faults. I have never heard of a less relevant reason to bring a new version on the market.

    Focus: There are always bugs in programs.
    Gates: No. There are no essential bugs ("keine bedeutenden Fehler") in our software which a significant number fo users might wish to be removed.

  • where is it?
  • Or would it be switch and bait? M$ is working to get everyone all worked up so we'll be all happy when they announce their subscription program and the associated *savings*. What they really want is an annual fee from all of us to cover their *development* costs.

    Ever heard of the (sic) Open License []?

  • Ever since I first installed IE and noticed it was Free I have been sure that it wouldn't be free forever. I never thought that MS would stoop so low as to charge for service packs. Maybe they didn't anticipate netscape lasting as long as it has, and to compensate for their inability to kill their browser competion they decided to charge for service packs instead. Dosn't matter much to me now since I use Linux now.
  • After all, wasn't Windows 98 itself just an $89 bug fix?

    Anyway, there are no bugs in any Microsoft products, just "issues".
  • No significant number of users want any bugs in Microsoft products fixed.

    He based this on the fact that a low percentage of people call the tech support numbers and say "hey, I found a bug!" Of course ignoring the fact that most MS users are not technical enough to know when they've found a bug, they assume that they themselves are doing something wrong.
  • Sometimes it's referred to as StepUp and sometimes SetUp, which makes it look like it's 2 different products. Either there ARE 2 different products or the author was too lazy to even do a cursory proofread of his material.
  • This is fantastic news. The more MS screw over their customers, the more they will run into the arms of alternate OS's like Linux.

    Way to go MS, keep it up :-)

  • Also, the economic definition of a monopoly is that it can raise prices at will

    So could any RDBMS vendor - the cost of switching systems is so prohibitive, most users would gladly pay $100 more than switch, even if the cost was unjustifiable.

    So does that mean that Informix and Sybase are both monopolists?

    Your rules don't apply to software, where any installed software has a stickiness, especially if apps have been built around it.

    Example:A RDBMS vendor who has 1% market share can change prices at will for a present customer that has built a number of apps based on that RDBMS - the customer simply cannot afford to reeengineer the code. So could any vendor. So are they all monopolisits?
  • I think the courts have ruled that because of the "stickiness" they MUST be treated as monopolies.

    But then virtually every software platform vendor is a monopolist. At best, you need some new rules to govern platform builders (OSs, RDBMSs, etc.). Calling each one a monopoly isn't going to be very constructive in the long run.
  • I think the courts have ruled that because of the "stickiness" they MUST be treated as monopolies.

    But then virtually every software platform vendor is a monopolist. At best, you need some new rules to govern platform builders (OSs, RDBMSs, etc.). Calling each one a monopoly isn't going to be very constructive in the long run.
  • And no, they can't raise prices at will. There will be a point that it will be cheaper to rewrite everything over the long term than to stick with a vendor that is gouging you

    This applies to Microsoft too though, blowing your argument. Really, most serious data wharehouses are more closely tied to their RDBMS than their OS.

    Oracle users, for example, can move between HPUX and Solaris and still use OCI. Moving away from Oracle would be far more costly than switching OSs.
  • They have to give away service packs for OS/2 - no one would buy them.
  • by Cassius ( 9481 )
    you're being dense.

    linux is the fastest growing server OS right now.

    the biggest selling home pc is the iMac.

    how much more obvious do you need it?
  • by Cassius ( 9481 ) on Wednesday April 07, 1999 @10:00AM (#1945808)
    If they didn't have monopoly status

    Arrghh! Why do people insist on treating this as if it were settled and byond debate?

    Microsoft is NOT A MONOPOLY. Look at any graph of OS use - Microsoft has competition in every segment. In the server OS segment it wasn't even the fastest growing product this year.

    Microsoft abuses contracts, attempts to impose its will where it shouldn't and uses some questionable bundling practices. But these are NOT tantamount to a monopoly.

    Please people, we just make ourselves look silly when we believe our own BS and throw around terms like this as if they were resolved historical facts.
  • by Cassius ( 9481 ) on Wednesday April 07, 1999 @09:02AM (#1945809)
    Okay, okay. I used to think that Justice needed something better to do than try to break up a company like Microsoft.

    Then how about Oracle, IBM, Sybase, Sun, Informix, etc. who release .x releases that mainly contain bug fixes (and charge for them)?

    I just wish there was some *usuable* competitive OS

    If you don't want to use Linux, the MacOS is a passable (not preferrable) alternative to win95/98.
  • by Cassius ( 9481 ) on Wednesday April 07, 1999 @08:59AM (#1945810)
    You're free to be as stupid as you want to be.

    Really. If Microsoft can get people to fall for it, then why not?

    Honestly folks, every piece of software is a fix, upgrade, or amendment to something that has come before, so I don't really see a logical reason why a pricetag can't be put on the upgrade.

    There were no claims that the original piece of software was defect free, and no one is claiming that users must purchase the upgrade.

    I fervently disagree that the government must "do" something about this as other knee-jerk responses above have stated. Software vendors do this all the time. Database vendors, for example, typically roll out .x versions of software that mainly contain fixes, and charge for it.

    This really isn't that abnormal.
  • Other companies do not enjoy Microsoft's unique position. Microsoft can and do use its Office monopoly to force users to upgrade the OS.

    Usually, Office bugs are far more important to day-to-day users than Windows bugs (see Melissa).

    It always worked like this. They will release the Win98 upgrade now. Some months after that an Office upgrade will come out, but this upgrade will only work with the Win98 upgrade in place.

    Other companies usually can not use this kind of tatic because they only cover a segment of the market. If I use Oracle, I can keep using it without problems if the bugs corrected by a given upgrade are irrelevant to me.
  • Microsoft isn't really out of line here. Charging $10 - $15 for an update, which is basically the cost of media and shipping, isn't totally unreasonable. As the CNN story said, almost all of the updated features in Win98-2 are already available freely online (through Windows Update). The main feature which can't be downloaded currently is the internet connection sharing thing, but a similar product in the store costs way more than $10.

    In short, saying that you have to buy the Win98-2 upgrade to have a current Windows setup is like saying that you have to go to the store and buy the latest boxed version of Red Hat (approx $45) every time a new kernel or other major feature is available.

  • Okay, okay. I used to think that Justice needed something better to do than try to break up a company like Microsoft.

    However, I would prefer its put out of business. Any company as stupid as this, meaning lets show what a monopoly can do while we're in a trial about acting like one, does not deserve to be in business.

    So now I have to PAY to get the fixes that were promised in the MS literature when I paid to get my 98 fixes to 95!

    Screw them.

    They're screwing us.

    I just wish there was some *usuable* competitive OS. (Be and Linux just don't work for everyday needs I have)

  • So, I won't get nuked 90 bucks if I need the fixes or "working versions" of promised features in 98 (like USB modems)

    I do not see why owners of 98 should pay for more than shipping/manufacturing of the CDs. Furthermore whats the point of Windows Update? Gather marketing information?
  • I wonder if this "commercial" sale of a bug release is a simple attempt to fatten the bottom-line pending a financial settlement with Justice and the states?

    Y'know - a last ditch effort to make some hard cash.
  • From what I had previously read Steve Balmer (sp?) wants to make MSoft's products more stable and consumer friendly. He was talking about making quality a high proirity to boost consumer's confidence. This new policy of charging for bug fixes flies totally in the opposite direction? As usual end users are left screwed by Microsoft. And on another note, where do they get off charging beta-testers for the opportunity to find Microsoft's bugs?
  • bug fixes will be available online (free) as part of a service pack for Win 98. They'll be charging for the Win 98 SE, but you can still get the service pack separately.

  • Sorry, I think all the M$ bashing is missing the point.  MS is getting screwed by recently revised FASB software revenue accounting rules, which leave MS almost no choice but to screw their customers.

    My employer is faced with the same ugly dilemma.  We are also making awful, contorted product release and pricing decisions based on idiotic accounting BS.  My very limited understanding of the new rules goes something like:

    • Company ABC spends a year and $10M developing the next release, Rn, of their cash cow product BigBucks2000
    • The schedule gets grim, so they cut feature Y from the product a few months before FCS and redirect the Y team to get the release out.
    • A month later, they have bugs that need to be fixed in the field, so they spend $.1M fixing them and release an update, Rn.1
    • Feature Y is now complete and ready to include in the update.
    At this point they are caught on the horns of an accounting rule.  If they add Y to Rn.1, the accountants will claim the Rn.1 is different from the original Rn.  If it is ruled a different product, and they do not charge for it, all $10M of the R&D expenses for Rn must be booked against the one month where Rn was sold.  The $.1M R&D expenses associated with Rn.1 would be booked against Rn.1 revenue.  If they charge for Rn.1, they can continue spreading the Rn R&D expenses over the full selling cycle of Rn & Rn.1 while booking the update expenses against the selling cycle of Rn.1.  If they charge, their books look good.  If they don't, they crater the first quarter and their stock tanks.  I tried to dig up URLs on this stuff, but so far I've come up empty.

    Its all BS.  MS customers are about to get screwed by it.  But the problem is not specific to MS and may not be entirely MS's fault.  Like I said, we have chosen to withhold enhancements from updates, charge separately for new stuff, or only ship new stuff to subscription customers based on this FASB idiocy.  Perhaps MS could have made different product packaging and delivery choices that would have given the W98 customers free bug fixes.  But my guess is that would have distorted IE5 and the tight coupling of W98 & IE in ways that were just too painful.

    Its bad enough that public corporations live and die based on quarterly results and market expectations.  Compound this with bean counting straight jackets and the result is that software consumers are getting screwed for no good reason.

  • Very interesting - where did you buy 95 OSR2? It wasn't for sale to the public.

    (The "O" is OEM.)


  • Thanks for debunking this, Mr. Objectivty. Microsoft has *never* charged for a service pack (except for Win98, which is essentially as service pack!), so the news would be suprising, if true.

    Microsoft is probably trying to avoid the Win95 fiasco, where the retail upgrade version didn't change one iota in 3 years, while they had slipstreamed in several "OEM Service Releases" onto new computers that had things like USB support. This made it troublesome for small shops and individuals to get all the bug fixes.

    Note that big site licenced corporations DON'T PAY for upgrades at all from Microsoft. They get their stuff on a subscription basis.

    So now you go to the store and buy Win98-SR1 instead of Win98. Big f*ing deal - think RedHat 5.1 -> 5.2. Yet there's 100s of posts bemoaning the horrors of this action from people who supposedly aren't Microsoft customers.

  • by IntlHarvester ( 11985 ) on Wednesday April 07, 1999 @11:03AM (#1945825) Journal

    There's a different mind set at work here than unix admins probably have. When Sun came out with Solaris 7, production administrators did not run out to CompUSA to stand in line. No, they carefully examined the fix lists, contacted their other vendors, ran a test machine and so on.

    People who run out and buy the latest Microsoft product are kinda like people who trade in their 1997 Mustang for a 1999, becuase there were cosmetic changes. They don't care about techncial improvements or bug fixes, they just want the latest and greatest.

    Of course these people don't call in with Bugs. Do you think they would actually go through the systematic routine to try to reproduce a bug? On the other hand, corporate IS departments do report bugs to Microsoft -- their just not very receptive, so I doubt the bug reporting from the technically adept customers is as good as it could be.

  • It is a free country and everything you said is true.

    However, what makes me frustrated is that every wierd thing MS has ever done suddenly becomes the norm. Users just eventually accept that this is the way things are supposed to be. MS has been moving towards a subscription based pricing model for a long time and I only see this as another step towards that goal.

    re:Databases. In the cases of Oracle, Sybase, etc... their software is fairly specific. The chances of having a seriously fatal bug are fairly rare, and if you are a large enough customer they will usually send you patches anyway. Charging for an upgrade makes a little more sense in this case. Many customers won't upgrade and others will. It just depends on how it affects the bottom line. Some deals like these are still done on a handshake. It is viewed like an almost custom "service" in that case. For a service, you expect to keep paying.

    In the case of Windows, this is a little more intangible. A user will upgrade because there is a momentum that has been created. There is almost no relationship between cost and revenue other than a manufactured marketing message. MS is trying to make people think of the OS as a service. This is a little scary.

    It is a free country and if they can get away with it then fine. I again have to wonder how far their cockiness will take them.

    The fact that they've been promissing a free upgrade only to turn around and charge for it is also a little frustrating. I know at least a few people that only upgrade to Win98 because they knew a patch was forthcoming. The worst part is that they now just shrug and say, "Oh well." This means that this idea is already starting to feel normal to some people.

    If they didn't have monopoly status, then I'm sure none of use would care at all. It is, after all, a free country. I can say, though, that it would be more fun to watch if I wasn't sitting right smack in the middle of it.

  • by pspeed ( 12169 ) on Wednesday April 07, 1999 @08:56AM (#1945827)
    Whereas it wasn't as obvious with Windows 4.1^H^H^H98, it is now pretty obvious here where their pricing model is going. To some of us this comes as no big surprise because we've been saying it all along. To others of us we don't care anyway because we never paid for an MS OS anyway. (And no, I'm not referring to pirating.) This is bound to surprise at least a few MS advocates in the world.

    I just have to wonder if their cockiness will eventually be their downfall or will it just continue to work in their favor because they are who they are.

    Conspiracy theorists will of course say that this is just an excuse to obtain peoples' personal information since it looks like Win 98.1 can only be bought through their web site. This means that they will be able to associate your name, address, and credit card number to your system GUID. Theoretically, they could also use this information to build a huge database of any web sites you've visited that use Link Exchange (since they own that too). Is MS going to become the largest marketer of personal data?

    Realists know that this probably isn't going to happen. An NT server could never handle the data load we are talking about. I seriously doubt that MS would actually pay Sun Microsystems money for one of their huge data mining machines. Imagining the internal psychological struggle that Bill must be going through on that one is sort of funny.

    Anyway, I don't want this to turn into a Jon Katz article so I'll stop now while I'm ahead.

    -Paul (
  • by Mr. Objectivity ( 12265 ) on Wednesday April 07, 1999 @09:38AM (#1945828) Homepage
    Check the latest article on PCWeek on this topic []. got it real wrong when they orignally posted their article, CNet picked up their story. In summary, MS is going to send you a StepUp CD, which does not cost $89, and will only be available for order from their website. They haven't mentioned price, but the PCWeek article said it would be signifacntly less then the $89. The retail Win98 SE will simply replace the Win98 out in the channel at the same price of $89, like RedHat 5.2 replaced 5.1 and 5.0 in the retail channel at $49 or $50. Also, PCWeek states MS is going to post an SP1 on their website, but it will not have any new features, unlike like the StepUp CD. Thanks.
  • by PedXing ( 14787 ) on Wednesday April 07, 1999 @10:34AM (#1945836) Homepage
    So MS wants to move to subscription-based pricing? That's fine. This is (supposed to be) a competitive, open industry. But I think not. Instead, they'll have a faux-subscription model with paid updates every year.

    Let's all suppose that MS is limited by regular economic laws for a minute and say that they can only charge what the market will bear. Let's also say that they thought about this before arriving at the prices for their Operating Systems.

    Price for Windows 95: $89 (9/95)
    Price for Windows 98: $89 (11/98)
    Price for Windows 98 update: under $89 (6/99)

    As PC Week says, the update for Win98 users will be substantially less than $89. What does that mean? We'll estimate it at half that, or about $45.

    Assuming that the Win98 SE is the first rollout of their new pricing model, and assuming it's this year's only update, this means MS means to charge about $45 a year to use their OS. This compares to $89 for three years of using Win95.

    But wait, they just charged $89 for Win98 last year, too! Since they deliver a new OS every three years or so, we'll assume that they'll continue to do this and charge about the same for it.

    Will consumers really pay $89 every three years for a new OS, plus $45 a year for updates? I know I sure wouldn't! That's quite steep indeed!

    Or maybe this is MS' way of getting more money out of the vast majority of people who get their Windows from an OEM with a computer purchase.

    This makes much more sense. Assume that they give away windows for free (which they don't) and then charge $45 per year for updates. Over the three-year lifespan of a machine, this is almost $150, or a 50% increase on the price of Windows!

    I always believed that the secret to MS' success was piracy. They turned a blind eye on pirates
    in order to gain market share. This has worked
    incredibly well for more than 10 years.

    If they used subscription pricing, they would have to try to crack down on Pirates. If instead they invent a new update to charge for every year, they can let the pirates work and cement their market share, and still get a little money back... Would they really kill their golden goose by moving to a subscription model? I think not.

  • So why did people upgrade to windows 98?
    They believed it will be y2k tolerant.
    what they got is nothing except being forced to use IE4.

    Yet again, they continue to amaze me.
    They call it "second edition" when it's not even a bugfix.
    what it does? this time it forces IE5!
    (yet again making people think it is y2k tolerant)

    people pay MORE MONEY to get LESS CHOICE.
    they expect people to pay by an interval of 1 year.
    "Just rent the goddamn thing!!!!"

    but, they're shooting into they're own ass.
    people will think: "If I have to upgrade (and obviously i do, since MS is admitting that windows98 is incomplete) I'll just upgrade to Linux, or BeOS!"

  • Your argument would be true if they had actually gone to the trouble of fixing these bugs in the first place, but they didnt!

    I can imagine a conversation at Microsoft right now:
    employee 1: "So, are we going to fix XXnastyBug?"
    employee 2: "Ok, let's go"
    gates: "STOP! Let's save some bugs for windows 98.3"

    Think about it.
    they have thousands of employees and billions of dollars.
    they can afford to fix all these bugs IF THEY WANT.
    are they fixing them?
    do they care?
    they get more money for upgrades,
    and spend less for debugging.

    the goverment didt care that win98 is just a bugfix,
    they cared that it bundled internet explorer.

  • Do you want to see the preview of windows2001? (codename neptune)
    very close to ms-bob? (toaster-os thingy).
    try to view it on john dvorak column on pc magazine. (now zdnet)
    quite funny.
    click here []

  • Microsoft is NOT A MONOPOLY. Look at any graph of OS use - Microsoft has competition in every segment. In the server OS segment it wasn't even the fastest growing product this year.

    Are you looking at percentage growth? That is a misleading figure. If only one person uses my server, and another uses it next year, I have 100% growth. Whoopee. 12% growth for NT amounts to a HUGE number of new machines running NT.

    A higher percentage growth can still take a long time to overcome overwhelming odds. If Linux and Windows keep the same growth rate, it will take about 20 years for Linux to surpass Windows. How many people actually believe that today's growth rates will be the same in two years?

    Also, the economic definition of a monopoly is that it can raise prices at will. Ignoring the 90% market share, MS has demonstrated that they can charge whatever they want to hardware manufacturers and large corporations. At least end users are showing some sense with slow adoption.

    What, pray tell, would be their competition for end-user desktop OS? BeOS maybe? Or perhaps you are still a GEM user?

  • by mr2 ( 16489 ) on Wednesday April 07, 1999 @01:58PM (#1945848)
    It's not the price for upgrading that suprises me, but the price for bug fixes.

    However, what I find MOST troubling is that most of those who purchase software (in the windows realm) aren't the least bit suprised when it has bugs in it. Or to find out that tech support can't help them because there's not a fix for it. They may be a little miffed, but they just accept it even though there is *rarely* a money-back guarantee.

    I mean COME ON! I don't expect a $1 razor to be defective, but I'll return it if it is and get a new one that *works* or get my money back. Isn't facinating how a most of the software vendors for windoze put disclaimers on there software that states there is no guarantee with this software at all what-so-ever? Isn't it more amazing that those users just sit and take it?

    Micro$oft has really poisoned the water of expectation that their customers have for the platform and the software that runs on it.
    1. You are correct about the OSR2 CD not being an "upgrade." I was not clear in my use of the word, and yes, it is an OEM CD. I had to "upgrade" to OSR2, as will be explained in item #2.
    2. The "new" hard disk was originally sold with Win95 pre-installed, however, because of some undocumented detail which I no longer remember, the motherboard required OSR2 to function correctly. I had alreadly reloaded my data directories, etc. into secondary partitions. OSR2 refused to install to anything other than a completely unformatted, unpartitioned drive. This requirement was also not documented, by the way. Which is why it took way too long to accomplish. M$ poor phone support wasn't any help either.
    3. You missed my point. My time as a programmer bills out at $85 an hour and up. Which means that I could have earned $340. during the amount of time I spent dinking around with buggy old Win95 and buggy new Win95.
    4. Again you're right -- clean installs are much faster. That said, every time I've been involved with a major Win9X or NT upgrade at a client site I feel damn lucky to get the first one done in under 4 hours because of way too many poorly documented and often stupid changes between versions, without giving us power users / developers / installers an opportunity to select what we want. At least in Win3.X M$ gave us more choices during installation.
    5. I included win98 in my TCO because based on prior experience, I would expect similar worst case time scenarios to take place.
    Which is why, in my book, Linux still wins.
  • Hmmm.... In order to remain operational about a year ago, I had to fork out $89 for the Win95 OSR-2 upgrade. Which turned out to be uninstallable over Win95 (without backing up, repartitioning the hard drive, etc.) It actually took longer because of poor M$ support, but figure 4 hours extra work for a "simple" OS upgrade, $85/hr. (My billing rate to top clients.)

    Win95 OSR2: $89 Install: $340.
    Win98 $89 + $340? (refused to install it)
    Win98 $89 + $340? (will not install it)

    Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) --not counting down time in the mean time due to OS bugs-- estimated at $1287* for one year. Who says Windows is not abusing their near monopoly? DOJ, are you listening?

    Cost of Linux, including latest bug fixes: $60.
    Time to Install, including Backup: 4 hrs $340
    TCO = $400.00. For those purists, yes, I will have to spend additional time once the 2.2X kernels are fully incorporated into an RH release.

    My point?? Linux Wins!!!

  • There is some truth to your statement about database upgrades, but not 100%. A person can buy a given version of Oracle, for example, and without paying a single dime, continue to patch their current version of the database as bug fixes are made. That said, Oracle 7.3 is not just a bug fix to 7.2, 7.2 not just a fix to 7.1, 7.1 not just bug fixes to 7.0. Each of these releases added significant new functionality to the database.

    Secondarily, most corporations have SLA's (service level agreements) with Oracle covering upgrades, etc. The TCO for an Oracle database is usually spread across many, many users, vs. M$ which has a high TCO on every machine. [think: vulnerability due to Word Macro Virii, downtime on NT servers, etc.]

    So if a corporation with 1,000 deskktops connected to the database paid $89 for every machine upgraded to Win98-Second Edition, plus the time to perform the upgrade, we're talking potentially many hundreds of thousands of dollars additional cost here, without (IMHO) a fully spec'd out list of improvements and bug fixes.

    Thanks but no thanks. Up with Linux!

  • Windows 98 Second Edition is due in the fall.

    Let's see, W'98(2) -- is that what they've been talking about when they've been saying "Windows 2000"?

    Put another way, it will cost as much to upgrade from the current version of Windows 98 to the fixed version of Windows 98 as it will to go from Windows 95 to Windows 98.

    Windows 98: A bug-fixxin bargin at only $188!

    (That's an exclamation point at the end of the previous line, not the symbol for factorial. I thought I had better clarify it.)

    In many cases, bug fixes are posted for free by software companies.

    In many cases, people give their whole damn product away for free. But Bill's is still well behind on that road.

    Windows 98 Setup has grown from a collection of bug fixes and application updates to include Internet Explorer 5 and other features

    Ummm, wait a minute there. I thought the original W'98 was a collection of bug fixes, updates, and a new integrated Explorer. Wouldn't it have been better PR to call this W'99 ?

    Or should we say, the've hardly wiped Netscape's blood off their hands, and now they're back to charging for the browser that's supposed to be an integral part of the OS?

    Thank you, Linus, oh, thank you!
  • People, there's a critical point being missed here. There's nothing wrong with having a monopoly. There IS something wrong with wielding massive market influence (like a monopoly) to try to force other competitors out of the market. It is also something wrong with using domination of one market (operating systems) to try to stifle competition in other markets (word processors). THAT is why Microsoft is wrong, and Oracle/Sybase/Apple/Be/Whoever are not (at least not in the same way).

    Oracle's evil, but for a whole different set of reasons. : )
  • Why don't they just call it Plus!98 2 or something else Microsoft-esque? Seriously though, folks, my "average joe" theory on bugfixes is this:

    1) I didn't purchase this program on the contingency that there are major (or minor) bugs still in the software

    2) I shouldn't have to worry about quirks/bugs in a final, shrinkwrapped (figuratively speaking; I've never unwrapped a 98 box :) version of a major OS, and I certainly shouldn't have to PAY to fix THEIR sloppy code and ultimately, THEIR bugs.

    As one person said before, I can understand a charge for a maintenance release/upgrade of a major program such as Oracle, Sybase, and even major applications specific to an industry or custom programmed. But, often times, if you're a large enough sale/account, a representative from the company will come out and ISSUE the bugfix/update FOR YOU.

    Microsoft is off base here. I doubt this will last long once the mainstream print and television media catches on.

    I also find it quite humorous that not only are they fixing bugs with this "Second Edition", but they're "..adding new technologies and expanded driver support." I think the only driver that I use on my 95 system that *CAME* with 95 is the Microsoft Serial Mouse driver. I don't need to pay $89 to have MS download the latest driver(s) for me and then, as they like to say so much, 'seamlessly integrate'-it into the Windows Hardware list.


  • I've worked with both NT and Linux web and file servers. When it came time to spend MY money setting up a server and workstations for MY business, the contest was pretty one-sided in favor of GNU/Linux. I got the NT-Spanking Server(TM) on a CD for less than a Win98 upgrade.
  • OMFG! So I byt this new PC with 98 preloaded, (I still run it, BTW( then M$ says, "Screw you, Jack! You want a Windows that doesn't crash daily? I got yer bug fixes right here.

    I'm at a loss for words...

    "Responsibility for my career? I'm just a freakin' phone monkey!"
  • Thank you! I downloaded IE5 the day after it came out and uninstalled it two days later. Try it, if you open two windows and have two active links... bang! The whole bloody house comes down.

    "Responsibility for my career? I'm just a freakin' phone monkey!"
  • Yes, and I can see them charging the same as for Win 98 shrink-wrapped, but how can they justify charging anything for the bug fix?

    Look at it this way...

    Win98 Upgrade = $89.00
    Win98 SE = $89.00

    Win 98 Upgrabe and SE CDROM = more than $89.00

    How does this work again??

    "Responsibility for my career? I'm just a freakin' phone monkey!"

In less than a century, computers will be making substantial progress on ... the overriding problem of war and peace. -- James Slagle