Microsoft's Masterpiece of FUD

I've been tracking the evolution of Microsoft FUD for nearly 10 years now, and wrote a short history of the subject a few months back.  But even I was impressed when I came across Microsoft's latest effort in this department: it's truly a masterpiece of its kind.

Whereas previous FUDs have revolved around details like the relative speed, price and legality of free software compared with Microsoft's own code, its most recent offering takes a different tack, and purports to look at the bigger picture.

It's a white paper from IDC, "sponsored" by Microsoft, on "The Economic Impact of Microsoft Windows Vista".  But this is not some abstract ivory-tower analysis: on the contrary, it is highly targeted, and aimed at a very particular audience - the European Commission - that is proving to be annoyingly unaccommodating when it comes to letting Microsoft have its monopolistic way.  Not content with slapping some juicy fines on the company for past misdemeanors, the European Commission is now starting to make unfriendly noises about the forthcoming Windows Vista.

The white paper is a clear attempt to head off this threat by pointing out the huge "benefits" that will accrue to Europe if the Commission just minds its own business.  Specifically:

The IDC research shows that the launch of Windows Vista will precipitate cascading economic benefits, from increased employment in the region and increased taxes to a stronger economic base for those 150,000+ local firms that will be selling and servicing products that run on Windows Vista. At least a million IT professionals and industry employees in the region will be working with Windows Vista in 2007.

These direct benefits - 100,000 new jobs - will help the local economies grow, improve the labor force, and support the formation of new companies. The indirect benefits of using newer software will help boost productivity, increase competitiveness, and support local innovation.

The implication is that the European Commission would be crazy to jeopardize these wonderful benefits by clipping the wings of this digital golden goose, or even grounding it completely.  The white paper looks tremendously professional, and is filled with tables, bar and pie charts; it has suitably serious discussions of methodology, and even introduces a few measured caveats: who could doubt its conclusions?

What makes this FUD so impressive is that this attention to detail obscures the sleight of hand that is going on here.  The white paper may predict sales by the "Microsoft ecosystem" of over $40 billion in six of Europe's biggest economies, but what this figure hides is the fact that income for Microsoft and its chums is a cost for the rest of Europe.  In other words, IDC's white paper is effectively touting an expense of over $40 billion as a reason why the European Commission should welcome Vista with open arms.

As the paper itself mentions, half of this cost is down to the hardware.  Some of these purchases would have taken place anyway; the rest represent upgrades from older hardware that cannot meet Vista's requirements.  But if Vista did not exist (or, for example, if the European Commission were to block its sale for whatever reason), the old systems would not suddenly stop working: they would tick along for a few more years, gradually being replaced.  The only justification for this hefty expenditure is to be able to run Vista: no Vista, no need to rustle up many extra billions on hardware upgrades outside the usual replacement cycles.

It's the same on the software side.  The case for Vista itself is hardly strong.  As the product's ship date has slipped, so more of its new features have been ripped out.  Now it is not entirely clear what the benefit of upgrading is (apart from the evergreen "better security", of course).  And without the need for hardware and software upgrades, the associated consultancy and service costs disappear too: most of Vista's $40 billion "benefit" is not only a cost, but an unnecessary one at that.

As far as I can tell, the phrases "free software" and "open source" are not mentioned once in the white paper.  The whole analysis ignores completely the rich and expanding world of free software as a possible alternative to Vista and its ecosystem.  Instead, Vista is presented as the only possible option for those who wish to enjoy the benefits of "newer software", as IDC puts it.

In fact, many of the 100,000 jobs the white paper claims will be generated by Vista could just as easily be created if companies and users ignored Vista and turned to free software instead.  Moreover, the wider benefits of nurturing free software - for example, in creating public resources that anyone can use - are increasingly being recognized.  None of this is discussed in the IDC white paper because proprietary software - the only kind considered in the report - offers no such social and business bonus.

This, then, is Microsoft's FUD masterstroke: by focusing attention squarely on the overall costs to society, and redefining them as "cascading economic benefits", it has finally managed to come up with a way of looking at things where free software is always inferior.

Glyn Moody writes about free software at opendotdotdot.

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Broken Window economic parable writ large

tz's picture

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parable_of_the_broken_window

If a series of jets flew over europe and with sonic booms broke most of the windows, think of all the economic activity for glaziers! The economy would boom as the glaziers then spent the money on new cars and big screen TVs.

The problem is that the money to replace the windows would have been used to buy something else - people will put off purchasing a computer or their own big screen TV because they won't have the money.

Microsoft says Vista will basically break lots of Windows in europe, so they can be replaced.

Instead, switching to the shatterproof Linux (or MacOSX) would allow them to spend the same money developing software they want, instead of having to bear an undesired upgrade cost, and there will be transistion costs, whether to Vista or Linux or something else.

Though I've heard there are streets with women visible through the windows who will beat you and otherwise cause pain, and you can pay for the privilige. Microsoft isn't out for world domination as much as world dominatrix.

Will europe go for it?

And there's that ugly cost and risk of license management..

Anonymous's picture

I'm so glad the likes of BSA and FAST have made that visible to the executive team. If there ever was an own goal, it's creating a clearly visible risk to the CEO if (s)he gets it wrong with license management.

Even discounting the cost of Windows, all you need to talk about is the cost of managing the risks of Windows and the whole TCO and 'secure' story is shot. Works exceedingly well at executive level - those guys have an (understandible) almost allergic reaction to risk..

Excellent own goal - keep going.

Calculate it

Florian Liekweg's picture

Ok, let's do a few back-of-the-envelope calculations, shall we?

  • 100,000 Jobs for 150,000+ businesses? That's one new employee for two out of three companies, at most. If we consider that some huge enterprises hire more than a single new employee, it's more likely even less than that.
  • 100,000 Jobs after an up-front cost of $40 billion? That's $400,000 per job, or a comfortable $100,000 income over four years or maybe a very acceptable $50,000 per year over eight years. Don't tell me the new Windows version won't be out (or, at least, announced) by then.
  • 100,000 Jobs? Germany, for example, currently has approx. 3,42 million people unemployed, making 100,000 a whooping 2.2% of that, and, with approx. 40 million people able to work, has the potential of reducing the unemployment rate from 8.55% to 8.53% assuming that all jobs were created in Germany.

Now, if that isn't the the final ... err, let's not go into that.

It is true (as others have pointed out already) that a technology or a product is good news for the economy if it would cause less people to be employed because less workers can now create an equal or greater value with the new technology in place. But "people will loose their jobs because of Vista" isn't the kind of message that will be well received in Brussels, of course, where the politicians sit that do their best to "create jobs" every day. Seesh.

If you want to persuade business CEOs, you have to produce a message with the opposite contents. Let's see how Microsoft plays the FUD game to get that done.

Actually, I would expect every reputable business to run at the top load that its financial ressources can support - if they could afford to hire more people to do more work (and contribute to more profit) on their behalf, they would always do it. Do we have to hire new employees because Vista is coming? Or would it be - as Moody points out already - be even more profitable to stick to the current employee setup and use pre-Vista Windows, or FOSS?

cheers,
-- Florian

Megalomania

P.Woods's picture

Just as MicroSoft wants to rule the world (of compooters), EU wants to rule Europe (and beyond)! But that's not a software subject.

Buy a Mac.. Everyone knows

Anonymous's picture

Buy a Mac.. Everyone knows Linux is still only for geeks and those trained to be geeks.

Who?

Anonymous's picture

Who is this everybody you speak of? Maybe you are talking about 5 years ago or something.

Although, the harder use the

Anonymous's picture

Although, the harder use the better right? That way it will create more support jobs ;-)

FWLIW, some fun instead of FUD

Wesley Parish's picture

antisf.com will be publishing a short short story of mine in which the problem with HAL on board Discovery One is traced down to HAL running a Vista Beta, and going blind as a result.

As they say, don't get mad, get even - or at least, have a laugh instead of a cry.

How does it help?

Bozikins's picture

Why is it beneficial to anyone that a new operating system will require 100,000 new jobs to support it - couldn't they be better employed improving the human condition? Should we consider the parable of the broken Windows mentioned elsewhere ("http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parable_of_the_broken_window") to be significant?

New jobs, or old?

Anonymous's picture

Are these new jobs, or existing XP jobs that have been repurposed?

So many jobs ...

Jens@Denmark's picture

It is interesting that they state that introduction of a new modern, easy to use, no maintenance operating systems will give extra work to so many people.
My first thought was that now we can decrease number of employes in servicing all those damn computers...
I know some of the job is selling products for vista, but they must come from selling older produts... or am I wrong.

It is nearly like selling a brand new car to you and at the same time tell you that you will have to come more often to your garage for repair and maintenance. And that was what I excatly wanted to get rid of by buying a new car ...
and also the 50 extra horsepowers you have in your new car compared to the old one will let it have nearly the same top speed as your old one - if your a lucky and go to Germany for testing on their highways(whjich has no speed limits, so running 250 km/h is allowed :-)

/Jens

Re: Speed Limits

Anonymous's picture

Please note that, while there's no general speed limit on german highways (a. k. a. Autobahn), about 95% of all hightway kilometers have local speed limits on them.

Yeah - and it's a pain

Anonymous's picture

Especially when you get in between those islands of local limits - you just come out of a 120km/h zone, go up through the gears and just when you hit twice that speed you can slow down again. Grr.

At this rate I'm never going to work out what the top speed of my car is - I just can't get there in time. All I know for now is that I need to change to top gear at about 220km/h to avoid the rev limiter :-)

IDC Study - Environmental costs ??

Matt's picture

I seem to have missed the environmental cost that would have to be paid for by someone (tax payers as usual) if M$ were to sell thousands of copies of Vista. Lets try and predict :

Cardboard - not everyone if going to go out and buy a brand spanking new PC, all those sparkling M$ boxes will have to go somewhere.

Old CDs - I've got enough drinks coasters so I'll *have* to throw something away won't I ?

Old PCs - Gartner says in 2005 that EMEA accounted for 80 million units (I presume this means servers and PCs but who knows). Lets say Europe does what 30% of that, and say that people replace old PCs without Vista for new PCs with Vista at the same rate (yeah very ify I know but I've got to start somewhere). So 24 million PCs are going to be dumped in the year following Vista's release. Lets say that 25% of screens are dumped at the same time - lots of people will use the upgrade opportunity to replace that old CRT with a flat screen as well. Yeah I know that not all units are sold with screens, but the majority are. Plus keyboards, mice, new mouse mat, speakers that go with the flashy flat screen have to be added in.

OK, the estimations may not be perfect but neither are the job creation figures or the increased revenue figures provided by IDC.

So : 6 million screens and 24 million computers + assorted 'junk'

... hmmm ...

Actually IDC and M$ are correct. We'll need about 100000 people to be ripping these buggers apart, recycling, then digging great big pits to bury the 'rest' in. Nearly forgot all the managers and finance and quality people that are needed for each person that actually works as well.

Might start my own business.

Good Point

Glyn Moody's picture

This is, of course, a much broader issue, and not just one that applies to Microsoft. The *real* cost - including environmental impact - of PCs is still not something that is taken seriously when making these kind of statements about "benefits". Of course, you could argue that free software let's you use older machines for longer, and so reduces the environmental impact.

Great article

Nicholas Petreley's picture

Great article, Glyn. My only quibble is that I think Microsoft could do better, and has done a better job spreading FUD in the past. So I wouldn't call this particular bit of FUD a masterpiece. If anything, I think Microsoft is losing its edge when it comes to generating FUD. They were much better at it about 10 or more years ago. Those were the golden days of Microsoft FUD.

Some examples:

Fake error messages in DOS to spread FUD about compatibility problems with other versions of DOS

Deliberately tweaking/breaking DOS and Windows 3.1/95 so that competing software wouldn't run properly

Steve Barkto (the fake name of the Microsoft exec who impersonated an IBM customer on forums, mostly Compuserve, in order to spread FUD about IBM software and support)

The eventually well-publicized astroturf campaign for Windows 95

Assigning buddies and owners (good cop, bad cop, respectively) to members of the press (yes, me included), to manipulate what they wrote. No, it didn't work on me, but when I confronted my "buddy", she admitted she was the one assigned to be my buddy.

Using threats of withholding news to make publications sign partial NDA agreements so that they could write about the good things in Windows 95 before it was released, but were forbidden from writing about the bad things

Using threats of withholding advertising dollars to manipulate the outcome of reviews and product comparsions in publications (ex. Microsoft got a major publication to change the outcome of a comparison of DB2 vs. SQL Server such that SQL Server went from being scored as "unusuable under high loads" to winning the comparison)

And so on...

Example:

cprise's picture

Another example that I recall is when they added an install-time warning to the MSJVM they offered for Windows NT4, stating that Java (not "MSJVM", but "Java") technology poses an inherent security risk. It was a real "piece of work".

This was around 1999/2000 when MSJVM had just been divorced from default Windows installations and service packs, for a combination of reasons that included legal wrangling with Sun and the security flaws in their inhouse implementation.

Thanks

Glyn Moody's picture

You're right, "masterpiece" is a rather subjective term, and I'm sure we could argue over the relative merits of various vintage FUDs for hours. But what I particularly liked about this one is that it gives the impression of rising well above the usual level of dirty tricks into the pure realm of abstract economics, so it doesn't even look like FUD (free software isn't even mentioned, so how could it be FUD?)

And judging by the comments on Digg about this posting, it certainly seems to have fooled a lot of people....

Wow!

Nicholas Petreley's picture

I shouldn't be surprised, but I am amazed that anyone has bought into this argument. It seems so transparent to me. It's like saying, "We intend to improve the economy by shipping a product that's broken and a security nightmare. Think of how many jobs will be created to deal with all those deficiencies!"

This cascading benefit

Steve's picture

This cascading benefit theory has also been known (and refuted) as the trickle-down theory of economics. That is, if you give an organization or group that has lots of money even more money they will be pleased to let some of it trickle on down to the the "little folks lower down on the hill."

Overlooked in the IDC report is the negative effect or cost of lost opportunity. The longer Microsoft delays it's new system the longer the old inefficient system they've been paid to maintain will be at work. That means, in effect, that Microsoft *owes* the EU, and the world, billions of $ or Euros for the waste they've promulgated.

Microsoft is very much about denying the world technical benefits they don't get money from. The world should move on now and let Microsoft catch up if they can.

Where's the FUD?

Anonymous's picture

Funny, I didn't see where Glyn challenged anything the paper said.

He just said he'd rather see people spend their money on something else.

Reply - Where's the FUD?

Jesse's picture

When you step in dog poop, do you pretend it's rose petals?

He not only talks about it, he describes it. The FUD is MS calling a $40 bill. cost to Europe a benefit {cost=>benefit}

{COST ==>> BENEFIT}

MS fails to mention how most of that money will not remain in Europe servicing their needs. The bulk goes straight to MS. Some goes to Bangalore, India (Where most of the tech support is handled). A couple of million may make its way to training programs for MCSE techs, for the European version of companies like Geeksquad.

What MS should have said was cost => investment, assuming that they could prove that the new software will help the European economy generate income that the existing software couldn't.

BTW, nice corsage. Try taking it off your shoe and pinning it to your shirt.

Here's your FUD

Anonymous's picture

The whole point MS is trying to make is that it is better for the European Commission to leave Microsoft and Vista alone, otherwise Europe will miss out on the so called "economic benefits". That's FUD. If you fail to see this, you're either dumb or a Microsoft fanatic.

Logical error

Anonymous's picture

Naturally, the entire report is a classic example of the Broken Window fallacy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parable_of_the_broken_window

A broken window with a foriegn glazier

Richard's picture

It's not only broken window, but for us europeans it is a broken window with a foriegn glazier who takes the money out of the econonomy.

My immediate reaction to Microsoft's announcement was "How many of those jobs already exist, and are not new jobs at all?"

Nice reference

Anonymous's picture

Thanks for the reference, that's very useful to know.

Create More Local Jobs...

Brad C's picture

...by using the millions of dollars you would be shipping to MS for Vista and spending that locally hiring local Linux companies and programmers. I bet you could create a lot more jobs that way and the money stays at home helping out the local workforce.

This is Linux Journal and I

Anonymous's picture

This is Linux Journal and I subscribe to it because it's called "Linux" Journal. Why the heck do I need to hear about Microsoft this and Microsoft that from you guys ?. If you have something Linux or related to Linux to write about, then write about that and people will read.

You do not have to read

Anonymous's picture

You do not have to read articles you do not like. You won't get the electric chair for skipping an article, honoustly.

Grow up, my dear friend.

"Why the heck do I need to

Anonymous's picture

"Why the heck do I need to hear about Microsoft this and Microsoft that from you guys?"

Er, possibly because Microsoft has been known to try and cut Linux off at the knees whenever possible (see the earlier article referenced here)? Do you believe that if someone tells lies about you you should just ignore it and not speak out? Microsoft can buy more column inches than any other IT company (see this article on its approach to puffing Vista, by the way: http://thebeez.vnunetblogs.com/the_beez_speaks/2006/09/microsoft_can_b.html), and it's used that ability in the past to snuff out rivals. Please remember that Linux is free as in freedom - it's not just a Windows Mark 2, so there's no reason why users should cosy up to a compnay which has only its own interests at heart.

"Do you believe that if

Anonymous's picture

"Do you believe that if someone tells lies about you you should just ignore it and not speak out?"

Counter attacking them on something not related to their lies about linux is not the way to deal with it either. Way too many folks are personalizing the conflict. It's like 2 five year olds fighting and crying "he hit me first", "no he hit me first".

Grow up and use your energy towards something constructive.

"Do you believe that if

Anonymous's picture

Glyn is hardly counter attacking, but rather showing the hidden falacy within the IDC white paper.

I am a free software sales professional. I value information such as in Glyn's article because it prepares me for the oppositions' tactics and empowers me by providing counter arguments to potential clients.

Or would you suggest I sit in the corner sucking my thumb and hoping it'll all just go away, hmm?

Free Software Sales

Anonymous's picture

Free Software Sales Professional.. If the software is Free then excatly what are you selling? Plus if Linux was the best software around.. like really drove through XP/Vista and its free then surely people would run that instead of Windows? woulnt they?

Free means freedom from Microsoft expenses and lawsuits

Anonymous's picture

[To r_a_trip reply: I know you must be really really tired to hear people make those comments. But let me add a little more detail, since the person (or someone reading) might actually be legitimately confused.]

The "free" does not mean money is not charged. Sure money might not be charged in some cases (legitimate open source software can be given away for no or minimal charge almost in all cases, much unlike something like Windows, which if given away or even resold, it is probably against the terms of Microsoft's EULA and would be considered "piracy"); however, the English language usually has words with multiple meanings. For example, "cat" sometimes refers to a four-legged animal. Sometimes it refers to a cool person. "Cool" sometimes means something like cold, and sometimes it means suave, sophisticated, or just plain admirable. "Cold" sometimes means that the temperature is below what is considered comfortable. Sometimes "cold" is used to refer to a person that appears to have little consideration for others. Etc, etc, you get the point.

The "free" in Free software means something like freedom software cool cats use when they want to keep their cold hard cash cold-hearted Microsoft would otherwise sue for if they found out you were sharing their software [think bad Windows, think worse Vista].

One type of business people do around Free (Libre) and Open Source Software [FLOSS or FOSS] is to sell you the company's support, expertise, hope for future business, etc, by given away the software programs completely for free or for a small charge (but allowing you to make as many copies as you want). Think of it like a typical advertizer on television. They spend all of this money to make an expensive commercial, only to let you see it for free (no charge) ..in the hopes that you will want to buy their products or services in the future. But FLOSS is better for the seller as well as better for the consumer. FLOSS is actually a commercial whose cost to create is shared by many and not just the person giving it away. FLOSS can be copied and resold (try that with a TV commercial and you may be breaking the law because the commercial may be viewable for no charge but you do not have the freedom to share it or modify it and reuse it). Finally, FLOSS is useful all by itself. For example OpenOffice.org is very useful even if it isn't as funny as some commercials.

So Free Software is usually just as free as some commercial but it does have to be, yet you always have the freedom to know what the software is doing exactly, share it with others, and modify to do something even cooler with it. Microsoft software like Windows and Vista is very much the opposite, and that's the cold truth.

As for the other confused comment about "why aren't people running to free software" made in the prior post, I won't add much more beyond saying that there are many reasons. A main reason is that some people ARE in fact running mad from Windows to FLOSS, but their numbers are in the small percentages of those who own computers. The reason is that most people are not sophisticated enough with computers to know better. Most people break the law by sharing software but continue to do so because everyone else does it (and the crack down has not yet been that serious -- Microsoft is still filthy but oh so rich).

A second reason is that some people mistakenly believe that if they used a Linux distro, they would not be able to open things like their MS Word documents or surf the web or play cool games. The reason for the first misconception is that Microsoft does not make MS Office for Linux, and those programs like OpenOffice.org that do open MS Word documents occasionally cannot understand a few of the proprietary secret items found inside Word Documents. The second misconception (the one about surfing the web on Linux) comes from the fact that Microsoft has successfully encouraged some web designers to break away with web standards in order to build web sites that are only viewable on Windows. Microsoft has succeeded to some extent by their ability to illegally leverage their existing Windows monopoly in order to create more monopolies. As for the truth behind surfing the web on Linux, it's that it is usually a better experience, at least for people that like to keep their information private and not have their computer hijacked by hidden secret bad and illegal programs that lurk around and only infect you if you use any of several Microsoft products. Also, even some pages that unfortunately are designed for Windows, are in fact completely viewable properly on the Firefox or Opera browsers -- that's like magic. Finally, as for playing games on Linux, this depends on what you want. Where Linux is weak is that most of the very newest games (and some older games too) are not yet available on Linux. But Linux has a lot more free (no charge and/or freedom) games than does Windows.

In conclusion, how many people actually buy Windows or even really know what Windows is? Not very many. Microsoft sells Windows principally through contracts, many of which are illegal monopoly leveraging contracts, with vendors whose entire income stream would be seriously damaged if they were to fight Microsoft in court over the contract terms. Fortunately, a few have fought or complained, making it easier for the rest. Microsoft took the consumer out of the picture and won the war in dirty fashion through back room out of public view deals (NDAs). So Linux is spread almost solely by word of mouth. Anyway, most who make the FLOSS software don't even care about marketing. They make the software for themselves. Fortunately, for everyone else, companies are now finding this gold mine and actively trying to use it to pierce through Microsoft's Lock-in Web (of Terror) inside of which most of the industry seems trapped.

The best way to find out about Linux is to find a friend that uses it already and have that person help you out. Why? ..because sometimes downloading and installing any operating system is a challenge. This is a major reason why operating systems already come installed on most computers one buys at the store or orders online [except that Microsoft's monopoly and NDA's have made it so that only recently does the average consumer have an iota of a chance of finding a computer with anything but Windows pre-loaded]. A second option is to try something that you can't find for Windows: Live Linux CD's. An example of three are PCLinuxOS, Mepis, and Suse. The Suse distro and some others, fwiw, come with a three dimensional desktop [see for example the youtube clips on http://www.ehomeupgrade.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2915 ]. Also, ask for Linux when you go shop for a PC. Tell them you want the cool desktop and all the legally free programs. Then when the (typically unenlightened) salesperson insist on Windows, tell them you understand they make higher commission selling the more expensive product but that you want your Linux.

Congratulations

r_a_trip's picture

You've singlehandedly revived the corpse of 90's GNU/Linux FUD.

The "free as in gratis"/"free as in freedom" mix-up tactic is older than the universe. The "xx million uninterested, computer illiterates using Windows, can't be wrong" is possibly a little older than the former.

I disagree

Wolfgang Lonien's picture

First, this is another good written article by Glyn.

Second, as a European citizen, I'm directly targeted by something like this.

And third, tho I also gave up on M$ long ago for everything private (and that includes support for friends, because you wouldn't recooemnd crap like that to a friend), I'm still forced to deal with that stuff by my employers, who blindly believe in anything coming out of big cash cows like the one mentioned here.

And tho I trust the European Commission, I still see how subtle the ways are getting - this is war. Really.

And as a network admin, I fear that everything we achieved so far, like Samba for shares, Mono for dotnet compatibility, and so on and so forth will soon be thrown to ashes because another great version of that giant out there will bring new incompatibilities we all have to deal and live with. How long are we going to allow them to?

Glyn's article is basically like: don't believe their FUD, and therefore it's really appreciated around here.

friendly,
wjl aka Wolfgang Lonien
http://wolfgang.lonien.de/
http://thedebianuser.org/

Thanks to both Glyn and Wolfgang

Embarrassed American's picture

A perfect picture of the coming attack by M$. Thanks Glyn.

Well said Wolfgang! I resigned my position as IT for a national bank here in the states over their blind acceptance of virtually everything the M$ salespeople told them. Not only would Linux/Unix have done a superior job hosting our banking software, but at 1/3 the total cost.

I see M$ as spreading the "ugly American" image almost as badly as our present administration. I am embarrassed that both are resident in my country!

On the other hand....

Glyn Moody's picture

...your own honourable action in resigning over a matter of principle demonstrates that it's not possible to generalise about these things.

Indeed

Alan Jones's picture

When the report first surfaced I was laughing my head off - previously they've claimed the retraining costs of shifting to FLOSS are one of the large benefits of remaining with windows.

What we could do with now is someone to put together a report of shifting to linux including the longer term benefits - companies with reduced overheads can look for other ways to better improve their service.

Training Costs

Glyn Moody's picture

Yes, that's a great point, because the "more expenses bad" is exactly the opposite argument to the "more expenses good" in the present white paper. You can't have it both ways.

Well...

Glyn Moody's picture

...maybe because, like it or not, Microsoft's actions have a huge influence on what happens throughout the computer world, and hence on open source. Microsoft FUD is one of the biggest obstacles to getting people to accept GNU/Linux and programs that run on it. So countering that FUD is one of the most useful things that can be done concretely to further the cause of free software. And to counter it, people need to be aware of it and the flaws in its argument.

name calling

Defenestrator's picture

One of M$ favorite tactics is name calling, aka the ad hominem logical fallacy. Sadly it works often enough for M$ proponents to keep it up. You've seen it since the advent of M$ Windows often in the form of the attack, "oh, you just hate MS", as a way to try to dismiss the person's message. Pretty much all technical criticism can be dismissed that way.
Now that M$ is a political movement and not just a lobbying company, it also applies to politics. The scary part is that the media helps so *&^%$*~ much. Look at all the headlines attacking Nelie Kroes this week. Sometimes the article underneath takes a quite different orientation. Right now, though it's been pathetically inneffective at enforcing remedies, the EC actually "gets it" in regards to the anti-competitive problems M$ is creating. However, the media, and especially the editorial staff, now barks when Gates pulls their chain.

Yep, that ad hominem attack

Anonymous's picture

Yep, that ad hominem attack is levied against me all the time. Depending on the situation, I've been known to successfully counter, "What, are you just afraid of Linux?" or "What, are you, uh, Microsoft Certified or something?" with a smile on my face. Another tactic I've successfully used is "Nah, I just hate getting my computers/servers infected with worms." Again, a smile is on my face as I say this. What usually follows is a few chuckles from some other folks.

Then I move in for the kill. I then add, with a friendly smile, "You know, having worked for Microsoft, I understand why you feel the way you do. I used to be the same way not so long ago. Linux scared the hell out of me because it felt different from Windows." I go on for a short bit about what I've learned over the years about GNU/Linux's power and finish with the power and freedom of Free Software in general. I take the discussion totally away from being personal.

Now, folks are more curious and listening to me, and the Microsoft fanboy is kinda quiet, since I've established among his own audience that I know what I'm talking about (obviously more than he does!).

Note that the ad-hominem attacker has been a pimply-faced 15-year-old brat ranging all the way up to MCSE's in their 40's.

Nelie Kroes

Dennis Meulensteen's picture

I think the article has its merits. Why shouldn't Linux Journal carry articles like this?

MicroSoft(c)(r)(tm)(etc) wants to rule the world, they never made it a secret, and I can't blame them. It's the job of any responsible society to offer checks and balances to such ambitions though. The EU, in the person of Nelie Kroes is squarely taking up that responsibility where others sit by the wayside complacently, content to watch the outcome.

Exposing MS tactics is very important. It gives the readers something to think about and this might help somebody out of an argument someday, without their having to resort to name calling.

Whether you like it or not MS isn't going to leave FOSS alone, it will not go away of it's own accord and sticking your head in the sand isn't going to stop this particular steamroller from squashing poor Tux into a black and white cudly pizza.

I appreciate the article and just wanted to offer my support for the author's excellent efforts.

Microsoft vs EU

Buffy The Vampire's picture

Microsoft' monopoly on the IT market is indeed a problem for the EU.

First, Microsoft does everything to prevent innovations by other IT companies.

Second, Microsoft does everything to prevent alternative operating systems to be delivered on hardware. Everybody knows that DELL, HP, IBM, ... recommends Microsoft Windows XP. And everybody knows why they recommend it. Microsoft created a win-win situation with this companies. These companies (almost) never deliver hardware without a Microsoft OS installed on it. Even not when explicitly asking for hardware without software.

Universities around europe are doing everything they can to inform the EU about these situations. Let's hope that at least the EU can put a stop to it.

Recommend?

Nicholas Petreley's picture

It's an advertising deal. Microsoft pays Dell etc., to put "Dell Recommends Windows XP" into their ads.

Does anyone really think Dell, IBM, etc., thought it through and decided on their own, "Hey, Windows XP is so good, I think we should put something about how we recommend Windows XP in our ads!"

Why recommends Dell, HP, IBM, ... Microsoft Windows XP?

Maarten's picture

> And everybody knows why they recommend it.
>
Call me naive, but why is that exactly? Money?

Mandriva on Dell

Anonymous's picture

As far as companies like Dell HP and so forth recommending M$ Windows, Dell has taken a step in the right dimension, not only have they started to offer systems built with hardware from Intel, AND Advanced Micro Devices, in France, they are also starting to sell PC's with Mandriva Linux 2006 pre-installed. It's definitely a start, and it's nice to see that one of the worlds largest computer manufacturers, is listening to their customersis are at least willing to give Linux a shot, and not hide the fact that they are doing it, unlike when they were selling the workstations with Redhat, and making it almost impossible to get one without a corporate IT letterhead.

i meant direction not

Anonymous's picture

i meant direction not dimension

computers with Linux pre-installed

Anonymous's picture

This is not a new situation. Many will remember that in the States a couple of years ago Walmart tried marketing a box with Linux pre-installed. I think it was Mandrake that was installed but I may be wrong. At the same time Carrefour (one of France's major hypermarket chains) launched a box with Mandrake 10 pre-installed. It was only available on their web site, not in store. It was a very cheap, down-spec box, the version of Mandrake 10 (which I use at home still, in spite of recent upgrades) was stripped of a lot of software and the nub of the sales pitch was to persuade the punter to pay up for an annual subscription for the Mandrake support. For 100€ more there was a box with a much better spec with Windows XP loaded and no sales pitch suggesting that you might need (or be able) to pay a further 20 or 50€ for M$ support. I am not sure if any of the Linux boxes were sold since they were meant to be for the "enthusiast" (who would not have wasted his time on a poor spec) and Carrefour promised to be unable to give support for the system themselves. I hope Dell's effort is better thought out and targetted than this one was!
This is of course all of no consequence because the M$ type of sustem is a dinosaur and doomed to extinction. The reason: in a couple of years no-one is going to contemplate buying a system requiring 7Go of disc space, a 4GHz processor and 500W of powersupply. Energy is a scarce commodity and getting scarcer. We already buy washing machines and other domestic electric devices with an eye on the power (and water) requirements. I suggest that when we have to pay 1$ per Watt per year M$ will be dead and buried. Cheers Jo

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