MS fights Open Source with freebies – an eyewitness writes

But there's Free Software and there's free software...

Letters One of Microsoft's special strengths is the speed and intensity with which the sales team (right the way up to Bill, for government and really big accounts) goes in whenever a defection is threatened. As we noted last week Open Source is currently in the counter-insurgency SWAT team's crosshairs, with who knows what discounts and pressures being deployed to nip rebellion in the bud.

Who knows? Well, the would-be defectors, of course. What? How does free server licences grab you? One defector who declined to hock his soul to Microstopheles in exchange for absolute temporal power in the IS department, writes:

I am currently doing some new media projects in an emerging market country. As one of the reasons I was sent there was that I care about cost, I decided to develop the projects based on Open Source.

The main reason for choosing Open Source software was:
- Licensing Cost for Server Software
- Openness, i.e. the ability to change software to fit our purpose
- Security & Reliability and (last not least)
- Low hardware requirements.

The fourth reason was very important as I didn't want to buy any new hardware for the servers and instead reuse existing old hardware and extend its lifetime by using Open Source Server software. We decided to Use FreeBSD, Apache, mySQL+PostgreSQL, Perl+PHP

The company I am working with is a pure-Microsoft company, i.e. they only used to use Microsoft software, and they even didn't know anything about Open Source.

It was a painful but successful transition. But this is not the reason I am writing.

The reason is Microsoft itself. When the local Microsoft rep "heard" (someone inside the company tipped them off), they asked to meet my team(!) and discuss the reasons for our Open Source use.

In fact, it was a meeting of 2 1/2 hours with 3 Microsoft sales/consulting reps trying to persuade us not to use Open Source (mainy they talked about "Linux" until we told them that we don't use Linux and that we don't understand what they are talking about :-) because "it is inherently insecure, unreliable" and, what was their biggest argument, "there is nobody in this country who could give you any support for Open Source", etc.

Also, they wanted(!) (actually they "required") us to tell them the reasons why we are using Open Source instead of the already introduced and long-time proven Microsoft Software in this company.

Then I started explaining the four reasons above, and when we came to the point of "Licensing Costs", they offered us TO give the Windows server licences for free.

I am not kidding. When I told them that I'd need at least ten licenses and at $400/each, this would be too much for me for the beginning, they offered to give us the license for free - and not only for now, but also for the future when we kept working on Microsoft.

Of course, they knew that if we implement succesful projects based on Open Source in the New Media Group, this might extend to other areas, too, e.g. data servers (we are in fact planning to create a print archive fully based on Open Source now that the technicians in the company see that Open Source can be successfully implemented).

I just wanted to let you know about this fact. The meeting was very funny as they were trying to explain us that Microsoft software is more reliable, secure and cheaper than Linux and I was trying to explain to them that a) we are not using Linux, and b) that they have wrong numbers about TCO and c) that I could prove that Open Source is cheaper and lastly d) that any survey trying to figure out the TCO is definitely wrong as they try to please the company who ordered the survey, etc. etc.


Any better offers been made out there in the trenches? Do we hear a bid of ten server licences, a handshake from Bill and an iPaq? We surely do... ®

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