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Microsoft plays costs card against open source

By   |  December 4, 2008

For years Microsoft denied that open source software was a competitor to its business. And then suddenly a year or so ago it began to talk “standards”, “interoperability” and other good things. It even went so far as to give money to open source projects.

But, just as we were starting to think that the company was ready for a new course it comes out with a piece of PR that sounds as if Steve Ballmer could have written it himself.

In a release titled Microsoft Gives Businesses Lower TCO Versus Hidden Costs of Open Source Microsoft offers us a Q&A with UK company Speedy Hire‘s infrastructure and support manager, James Fleming.

In the release Fleming makes a number of intriguing comparisons between open source software and what Microsoft has on offer.

He says, for example, that the company switched from Linux desktops running OpenOffice.org to Microsoft Office, Microsoft SQL Server and Microsoft Dynamics. Which is a little like deciding that SAP is a better choice than Microsoft Outlook Express.

He also goes on about the “needs of the enterprise” and how open source support is hard to find. He then likens open source software to the stuff that you get on a CD on the cover of a magazine: “You save money up front, but over the long haul you’ll pay more. The message is, if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Sure, you can get a CD off a magazine cover, stick it in a machine, and there’s your operating system. But if you want to actually do anything with it and make it bulletproof enough to withstand the rigors of corporate use, it’s going to cost a lot of money and require considerable work.”

He’s got that last bit right, though. It does cost money to make sure your IT can withstand the rigors of corporate use. And if you get your enterprise IT infrastructure off a magazine cover disk then you pretty much deserve what you get.

As far as marketing goes, it is a ham-fisted and poor attempt which is worth a read only for its use of phrases such as “incredibly broad, deep network of experienced, enterprise-savvy partners” and other tongue-twisters.

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4 Responses to “Microsoft plays costs card against open source”

  1. rob
    December 4th, 2008 @ 7:32 pm

    Thanks for the comedy – very nice – this fleming guy is your typical business guy asked to manage the IT department – doesn’t like IT and doesn’t have a clue, loves publicity/saleswomen buying him dinner and loves to claim he is saving money so he can get a bonus. I bet he’ll be in a different job inside 12 months and leave some technical guy to sort out the expensive mess he has created.

    “it was lots of little niggly things that individually may not seem like a big deal, but quickly added up to major inconveniences – like :- …

    “the lack of automatic updates and security patches that forced us to rely on pricey third parties to perform upgrades” – thankyou microsoft for sortof fixing your buggy code (and using up much of our 3gb cap in the process)

    “difficulty of exchanging OpenOffice documents with employees and customers running different systems” – um.. just set the openoffice default save to word 97 / excel 97 and you have will have very few problems.

    “felt vulnerable to security breaches because of the less stringent authentication protocols compared with Microsoft Windows.” – Um … AppArmor??

    So the real problem was poor support and poor management.

    Just wait till they upgrade to Vista and Office 2007 – staff will be begging for their openoffice back.

  2. ps
    December 5th, 2008 @ 8:59 am

    Clearly fleming never tried exchanging Office 2007 files with someone who uses any previous version of MS Office (about 90% of the IT using world at the moment). Docx? WTF is docx?

  3. Ivan
    December 5th, 2008 @ 3:28 pm

    @ps:

    http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=941B3470-3AE9-4AEE-8F43-C6BB74CD1466&displaylang=en

    ^^ for Users of Office 2003 and lower, enables them to open Office 2007 documents.

    But this is not something MS are preaching from rooftops, because they would rather con you into an expensive upgrade instead of a free download.

  4. Roy Schestowitz
    December 5th, 2008 @ 7:48 pm

    From 2007. 😉

    Running out of material at Microsoft…

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