Ex-Microsoftie: Free Software Will Kill Redmond

Discussion in 'all things UNIX' started by lewmur, May 21, 2009.

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  1. lewmur

    lewmur Registered Member

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    I thought Eice would really appreciate this article.
     
  2. Arup

    Arup Guest

    But of course it won't work for him, its free.
     
  3. AKAJohnDoe

    AKAJohnDoe Registered Member

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    Interesting article. Clearly written by, or at least from the point of view of, a technocrat (programmer), though. The naivety comes across loud and clear. Since when has technical superiority ever won against marketing?

    :D
     
  4. lewmur

    lewmur Registered Member

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    Naive is believing that marketing can beat free over the long haul.
     
  5. AKAJohnDoe

    AKAJohnDoe Registered Member

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    In the long run, we're all dead.

    In any case, as long as food, housing, and health care, among other things cost "money" there will be that component in anything people expend a good portion of their time upon. You can't eat intangibles.
     
  6. Kerodo

    Kerodo Registered Member

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    It always has, and it always will... Look at the Mac... 10%...
     
  7. Arup

    Arup Guest

    Judging by the number of Mac users who come to Ubuntu forum, it surely has its work cut out.
     
  8. Kerodo

    Kerodo Registered Member

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    Yeah, the Mac is an amazing example of marketing and hype. Just shows you what people will pay and do when they think they're buying something great. Free is often better, but try convincing people of that. ;)
     
  9. Arup

    Arup Guest

    Mac which build on the security and stable platform of BSD has been just caught napping, they have concentrated on i pods and other hype stuff forgetting the crux of their product that is the OSX. Various security holes are popping up here and there.
     
  10. NGRhodes

    NGRhodes Registered Member

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    Badly written article !

    Erm, Linux is free as in Freedom, Google Docs is free as in cost, some Linux distros cost money and Google docs is NOT open source in anyway.

    I think the main problem is the average consumer does not care about freedom Vs propiertary, they only care about the end product and what they see (not whats under the hood).
    The other issue is that Microsoft is a known household brand, Linux very few people outside the tech community (people at home or in the office) have heard of Linux.
     
  11. Eice

    Eice Registered Member

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    I don't think that's not the problem per se. IMHO the real problem is how the FOSS community thinks about it. Many of them see FOSS as something users should want, and they lament about it when reality disagrees with them, and call users caring about the quality of the end product as a "problem".

    Firefox is perhaps the best and only example of open-source success on the end-user market that I can think of right now. Admittedly the stagnant browser market back then was all but ready to be taken over, but Mozilla succeeded in creating a product that people wanted to use, and they marketed it well. People aren't averse to FOSS, as Firefox shows, but it's just that the majority of other FOSS projects simply don't have the "polish" of their established commercial counterparts. Either they're focused on design goals intended to make the product technically superior on paper but turn off the masses, or worse, they're still playing catch up with commercial products and struggling to present themselves as a viable alternative.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2009
  12. Arup

    Arup Guest

    Some of the FOSS products like WinFF, Handbrake, Avidemux, Open Office and many more have more than enough polish to be embraced by Windows world, the conception of polished is actually a misnomer here, its years of MS brainwash which leads to every program being expected to so called MS look and feel, if they don't have that but are competent performers, they are deemed unpolished. Thats how years of brainwashing changes the perception.
     
  13. lewmur

    lewmur Registered Member

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    There is no problem for Linux. Unlike MS, Linux has no "bottom line" to worry about. Those that predicted its early demise because it "lacks a viable business model" have been proven wrong. Linux doesn't need a "business model," viable or otherwise, to survive, because it isn't a business.

    And its growth may be slow but it is steady and accelerating. And if the MS people weren't worried about it, you wouldn't have the tr0lls in every Linux forum spreading FUD.
     
  14. Arup

    Arup Guest

    For a slow growth OS, it has come with variety of file system when the so called leading OS still clings to an ancient file system. Also every new kernel in Linux brings some great advancements unlike the costly paid OS where the advancements are on how well one can play games with it or do eye candy.
     
  15. lodore

    lodore Registered Member

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    Hey Arup,
    I agree that linux is moving forward at a fast rate and also that microsoft should replace NTFS. windows does have some under the hood changes thou.
    infact windows 7 is pretty good.

    the problem is getting people to know it excists and to use it.
    the best chance is dell and hp selling ubuntu on laptops and desktops. atm dell only sells a small number of its laptops with ubuntu as an option and i dont think hp sells any laptops with ubuntu.
     
  16. Arup

    Arup Guest

    Lodore,

    Two things that keep people away from Linux, one is fear of unknown as most have been conditioned to run PC in a particular way, the GUI of Linux has come a long way to solve that, simply installing nautilus-gksu eliminates need for any command prompt. The other two factors that will always lack are the marketing and gaming aspect, two things that I don't see happening soon since Linux is free. For a gaming company there is no money to be made because only a few percentage of Linux users play games and those who do, expect them for free. As for marketing Linux, if there is no revenue generated in sales, there is no fund for marketing. Mark Shuttleworth spends his personal money on pushing Ubuntu, I don't suppose he makes enough from Linux sales to use it for revenues etc.

    As for Windows 7 and NFTS changes, I am aware of them but they are subtle, nothing new, years back Windows gave you choices of three different file systems, they are still there namely FAT 16, FAT 32 and NTFS, things have remained stagnant. Windows 7 is also not breaking any new grounds when it coems to the registry, it has continued with the same flawed structure and I expect the same scenario of Win7 slowing down over time. Also do all this so called polishing of Vista deserve a hefty $300 price tag, Ultimate edition still doesnt' come with a basic word processor and spell check. Where is the value?
     
  17. snowdrift

    snowdrift Registered Member

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    I actually like the combo of a highly polished for-pay OS that runs GNU apps. In the end, I go with the best tool for the job, and am not concerned with philosophical GNU debates.
     
  18. snowdrift

    snowdrift Registered Member

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    I personally think word processing isn't part of an OS's function. I am glad it is *not* included and am glad to see the modularity of Windows 7, wherein I can deselect things like IE8 and don't get an out-of-the-box email program (I use Thunderbird). I do use Office 2003/2007, though, as it is superior to OO.
     
  19. Arup

    Arup Guest

    For basic users, WP is essential, all they need to do is to type out letters etc. so a WP with spell check should be at least an installable option for a $300 OS DVD when all that is crammed nicely in a Linux CD. MS Office is not superior to OO, in fact the 3.1 OO can do most of what MS Office does and Calc is a better option for math write ups than MS's equivalent. When you consider the plugins like Language Tools, Writers Tools and Sun PDF import to name a few, the so called superiorty of MS Office levels out.
     
  20. Kerodo

    Kerodo Registered Member

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    I don't think it does at all. That's too much to ask IMO....
     
  21. ronjor

    ronjor Global Moderator

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    Let the market decide. Is there any other way?
     
  22. lewmur

    lewmur Registered Member

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    Unfortunately the answer is yes. The issue won't be decided in the court of public opinion. It will be decided in a court of law.

    MS proponents will scream and holler about "the market," but in reality, if it weren't for govt grants (call them patents or call them copyrights) MS wouldn't have any business at all.
     
  23. Eice

    Eice Registered Member

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    Glad someone brought this up.

    I've been using OOo for almost 4 years, but switched over to Office 2007 since early this year when my workplace upgraded from 2003 to 2007 and I had a chance to try it out myself. I work with scientific documents quite a bit, and features like Math Autocomplete and the new equation editor won me over. In OOo Math one had to repeatedly type lengthy commands over and over just to achieve simple tasks like aligning and wrapping equations, but Word handles that in one click. The syntax highlighting for equations and debugging features in Excel 2007 are also very useful, makes it a easier to work with monster spreadsheets whereas in OOo Calc you had to hunt down errors manually by naked eye. A nightmare when there are tens of thousands of cells each with equations over 150 characters long.

    And of course, no more worries about document compatibility between my home machines and at work. Previously I used to export my OOo documents to PDF to make sure they'd look right; I miss this function in Office, but then again I don't need it anymore.

    By contrast OOo has been anaemic in terms of features almost every release. The only introduced features I can remember caring about were the solver in Calc and improved OOXML support. When I found out Microsoft was offering Office 2007 at $75 for academia I snapped up the offer. Of course, for the people whining that the price for Office is too high: just use OOo, or any one of the numerous freeware word processors floating around. But as far as I'm concerned Office 2007 was worth the price; am going to see if its possible to install it in Ubuntu using Wine when I have some spare time.
     
  24. BlueZannetti

    BlueZannetti Administrator

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    One personally directed post removed. Let's keep the discussion focused on the topic.

    My own read is that both side of the debate above have valid points, but each of you are missing the counterpoints on each side.

    With respect to free software, there are a lot of amazing products out there in the Linux and free Win/Mac areas.

    However, simple reality is that if you're trying to replace an entrenched incumbent application, one must deal with overcoming the user's learning curve to take root. Pragmatically, that often means embracing basic look/feel/operational traits of the incumbent. You see this both in competing products and version upgrades (like MS Office). Step too far beyond a dominate look/feel/operating ethic and you run into a brick wall of user resistance. Occasionally, you'll see breaks with legacy paradigms via breakthrough technologies, but you'll also see the trash bin littered similar efforts that didn't gain traction. If you've ever run a production environment (office/lab/manufacturing site/etc.), you'll understand that the transient productivity hit due to a major operational change can be an absolute killer and it is something everyone tries to avoid. If you're trying to displace an incumbent, this is a practical reality that needs to be considered.

    I don't think any user out there appreciates MS's pricing/SKU strategy. Given the state of the industry, it's fairly delusional. Given the distribution/suport mechanisms these days, the volume based discounts to OEM's and large purchasers versus individual users are pretty ridiculous. Look at street vs academic vs home program usage pricing ($300-500 $ vs ~$75 vs media only charge). This alone would drive people to free, except (using myself as an example), if I avail myself of the home usage program to coordinate my home PC's with work, I get the work version of Office (for example) for a media charge only (i.e. basically free). If the launch of Win7 has a problem, the pricing/SKU positioning is where it will be. Legacy PC's won't be converted if the cost is too high and the turnover in hardware has really slowed. MS really needs to look at the OSX/Mac model - one version, 2 basic SKU's (single vs home (= 5 seats) for $130 vs $200) - for individual users.

    On the Linux side - too many options dilute the focus. Efforts such as Ubuntu have served to act against this dilution, but this natural entropy of a multitude of options is basically an organic feature of Linux. It's a real instance in which a primary strength is a weakness as well. However, one thing to understand is that while setting a machine up to run Linux is fairly trivial, how many users would blanch at attempting the same thing using Windows and a new PC with a bare metal HDD? More than you'd probably believe.

    It's useful to remember that we're still in the middle of a transition in which much of the software world is considered a highly specialized enabler to what's really a commodity product. Word processor? Commodity. Spreadsheet? Commodity. Browser? Commodity. And so on. Some tools will remain specialized and command a premium, but they will no longer be the norm. Perhaps Linux/free software will drive that transition. At some point the marketplace will assert its authority. Given the current economy, that's likely to happen sooner rather than later.

    Blue
     
  25. Eice

    Eice Registered Member

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    Unfortunately I have to agree with you on this. The cost of upgrading a machine from XP/2003 to corporate versions of Vista/2007 can easily exceed $400-500. Multiply that by however many machines are in the company and you run into tens or hundreds of thousands in upgrade costs. We're still running XP at work, and the upgrade to Office 2007 was made only this year due to budgeting issues.

    In such a scenario Linux/OOo provides a strong alternative, but I suspect that many companies will simply choose not to upgrade at all.
     
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