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So called "free software"

Thu Apr 29 17:34:05 GMT 2004

Link: Microsoft's Strategy Memos . That link in turn leads you to a summary of an internal memo sent to Microsoft employees by Steve Ballmer. I think one of the more interesting phrases was his reference to "So-called 'free software' ". Ther's nothing like the judicious use of "so-called" to diminish your opponents strengths.

What Steve wants to imply here is that it isn't free at all - that there are always associated costs for support. True enough, but the fact is that the software IS free. Microsoft can argue about support all it likes, but those of us with real experience in both the Unix and Microsoft worlds know that it always costs more to support Microsoft, and that the proprietary nature of their software is part of why that is so. Even without source, it's usually easier to track down a Unix/Linux problem than it is on Microsoft; Unix/Linux systems have both the design and the tools that MAKE problem solving easier.

You can argue (and Microsoft does) that Unix support people cost more. That's true, for two reasons: one, it takes a little bit more brains to understand Unixy systems at the OS level (and how many Microsoft "support" people know ANYTHING about the OS anyway?), and two, there are less available bodies so of course supply and demand increases their cost. But what the Microsoft funded studies never mention is that you can support far more Unixish machines with less people. I've said many times that I couldn't run my business if all my clients had Windows machines - I'd need employees!

Well, we all know I'm an opinionated anti-Microsoft Unix/Linux zealot, so these opinions are strongly tainted by that. But hey, Ballmer's are even more tainted by the fact that if Linux wins, he loses a lot more than I do if Microsoft continues toward complete domination. Heck, he's got billions at stake. I have slightly less.

The other quote I love is:

"While the noncommercial model may lead to many flavors of software,
getting broad, consistent innovation requires coordination across
many technology components. In the event of needed enhancements or
fixes, the Linux development community, no matter how well intentioned,
simply cannot advance Linux the way we can - and must - innovate
in Windows."

Innovate? Huh? Oh, he must mean "starting now", 'cause Microsoft sure never innovated diddly up to now. Repackage, re-market, yep. But innovate? Who are you trying to kid, Steve? What's your latest innovation? Oh yeah, you want to out-Google Google. Yes, QUITE innovative.

I also liked ""There is always enthusiasm in our business for new concepts". Yeah, right. Like the "enthusiastic" way that Microsoft ignored the Internet until it was almost (darn it!) too late.

Microsoft memos are always so much fun!

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