Has Linux got Microsoft running scared?

by Volker Weber

Alastair Otter, Sunday Times, South Africa:

Is Microsoft concerned about the threat Linux poses to its entrenched position in the IT market? Apparently not, given the statements made at public events and trade shows, but the cracks are starting to show and Microsoft may be more apprehensive than it would like to let on.

Take the chopping and changing licensing rules that Microsoft is presenting to the world. First the company tries to lock in as many users as possible with long-term volume licensing agreements, then it bends the rules slightly, locally, to allow smaller customers to pay off their software over three years, still locking them in for as long as possible.

On the surface, it may seem relatively innocuous, but the one rather obvious target I can see is that the company is eager to tie up as much of the market as possible, as quickly as possible. This comes at a time when the open source alternative to its software offerings is becoming increasingly appealing to financially-strapped businesses.

Now we hear the news that Microsoft is telling its sales reps to keep an eye open for users looking to switch over to Linux or other open source alternatives. Called Open Value, the scheme is apparently part of the Licensing 6.0 agreement and allows sales representatives to offer huge discounts on Microsoft software to any company making too big a switch to open source.

This scheme somehow slipped my attention. Lock people in with long term contracts, so they would be throwing away expensive (read: valuable?) stuff they already paid for. Remember that MS did that to OEMs when they charged them by boxes sold, with or without the O/S.

The answer to this scam is obvious. Don't do it. Switch now.

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On related news from Australia, ZDNet reports:

The New South Wales Department of Public Works and Services (DPWS) has become a key battleground on which Microsoft Australia is campaigning to defend its domination of the desktop from Sun Microsystem's StarOffice.

Sun Microsystems has confirmed that it is in discussions with the DPWS in a bid to snare NSW government desktops with its alternative Linux-based PC operating system and office software suite. According to Sun's estimates the NSW government could save just under AU$100 million if it migrates just one-third of the estimated 300,000 desktop PCs throughout its departments.

However, according to well-placed industry sources Microsoft is campaigning heavily for the NSW governent to accept a new cross-agency desktop software contract to supercede its its existing arrangement. The sources said that the DPWS had forwarded a letter to heads of department throughout its agencies outlining an offer from Microsoft containing generous terms if they extend their existing Office software contracts with the giant. According to the sources, the letter contains a time-limited offer for between 60,000 and 120,000 three-year, Office XP licenses at a cost of approximately AU$770.00 per seat under its controversial software assurance scheme.

Time limited offer? Three year contract? Lock them in for three years and don't give them enough time to think about it. Does that ring a bell?

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Und das ganze drohende Unheil aus der TCPA/Palladium-Ecke wird sicherlich dazu beitragen, Linux zu mehr Popularität zu verhelfen. Momentan schert sich die breite Masse noch nicht drum und ist uninformiert.

P.S.: gibt's die windows.ger noch? :-)

Marc Beckersjuergen, 2002-12-01

Ich habe keine Ahnung.

Volker Weber, 2002-12-01

This has definitely been a factor in our business. MS tells customers "hey you already own Exchange, why would you buy something from IBM". My response is always, if someone gives you a free bicycle, would you give up your automobile?

Ed Brill, 2002-12-01

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