Dumping the Licensing Chaos with Linux
by Mark Rais, OPINION/EDITORIAL section.
Our other related OP/ED postings include:
Linux Not Cause of Microsoft's Downfall
Microsoft's Approach May Isolate U.S. Permanently
I'm writing this brief article to point out that there
really is a lot of monkeying around in the world of software
To begin with, let me share some of the
concerns raised regarding the various Microsoft licenses. This is
not to say that your organization or any other should just throw out
the baby with the bath water and move on to wholesale removal of current licensing.
No. I'm a realist and won't even try to sell you that bridge.
But we should at least take a quick
look at two key items.
First, let's take a brief glance at
the world you and I live in regarding Microsoft licensing. Let's
uncover some of the reasons we keep seeing banana peels lying around.
Let's try to figure out why there's a strange stench coming from
the IT office space down the hall - and prove that the smell is not
just burned microwave popcorn.
Second, let's then take a quick look
at the licensing necessary to INTEGRATE Linux. Nay, not to migrate,
but simply to integrate.
Microsoft Vista is heading in and this
is a very opportune time to review licensing schemes.
MICROSOFT LICENSING: ONE COMPLEX
GORILLA TO MANAGE
If you are like most IT leaders and
working your tail off day to day, you may have missed something
rather odd going on in the back cages. Let's look to see if there
is some monkey business.
First, Microsoft licensing schemes and
their complexity don't just add up to a management challenge.
True, for some they also add a management headache. But most
importantly, the complex licensing schemes also can add up to higher
This isn't some little fib, nor is it
something new. Let's reach way back to the good ol' days of 2000
and remind ourselves.
Joe Wilcox, in an article for
News.com, summarized the 2000 Gartner analysis report with some
powerful quotes. It was the Gartner report that pointed out that the Microsoft Licensing schemes were overly complex.
The Silicon.com overview includes great quotes, such as:
"By contrast, Microsoft is telling customers it's not that simple. The
software that comes on their computers and the software that is part
of their software image are covered by separate license contracts."
The net result - many companies were paying DOUBLE fees!
The CNet news.com article continues:
"Microsoft uses changes in licensing terms and conditions to increase the amount of money organizations pay for their products"
I must admit the point is nicely put.
And has anything changed?
Today, nearly six years later we see
the same kind of thing going on.
Andy McCue quite poignantly noted in his Silicon.com article:
"Delays to the release of new
Microsoft software such as Windows Vista has left them [MS customers]
without upgrades they have effectively paid for"
We're talking about Microsoft's own
customers basically paying more for licensing than they potentially
even need to because the complexity is so darn - complex!
Licensing is now so complicated that
Microsoft has a nifty on-line tool (Microsoft Product Licensing Advisor) to help people weed through and
find the right volume licensing!
I'm reading more and more regarding a
number of big shakeups and flare ups with Microsoft's SA licensing.
Some IT people don't seem at all happy with the changes.
And it's not just Microsoft's SA
licensing that's complex and rather disliked, even among the general
In the article above, from ZDNet, well titled Revised Microsoft licensing gets muted reaction, the reality is that MS isn't
fairing well even with existing customers.
The Counter Response
Organizations and government bodies are
starting to bite back. Recently announced is the UK education
licensing re-evaluation. I have to wonder whether the aggressive
Microsoft pirating campaign that hit UK a few years back is not now
just turning back to bite them?
You don't recall those wonderful
stories of Microsoft checking for piracy in the UK school system?
Here's a quick little reminder:
Remember that for every
action there will be... ahh, you know it too!
Steve Ranger's recent article titled Review checks Microsoft licence lock
in risk for schools makes this point too.
Pay careful attention to the quote by
the chief executive of the company performing the review for UK:
"for products which are 'free' to the education sector it makes sense to reduce barriers to uptake by 'pre-loading' such offerings."
His subtly put remark nevertheless hits hard to ensure Open Source
offerings get preloaded on systems.
OPEN SOURCE AND LINUX: A SOOTHING BALM
TO THE LICENSING CHAOS
So what if the UK is growing open minded about Open Source, letting people get away from that
stench and get some fresh air in the open? It does not require a
licensing lawyer to figure out what I can do with my latest release
of Linux. I stick it in to the CD drive, install and move on.
What intensifies my passions even more is that good people are PAYING A LOT MORE THAN JUST CAPITAL
EXPENDITURE COSTS as a result of such licensing. In some instances, people are
getting fired while IT budgets drain away paying software licensing fees.
The Linux licensing landscape is
nothing so complex at all. And using Linux offers a variety of options
regarding business integration from full fledged desktops to the use of Thin-client terminals.
Most importantly, we can all
breath a bit easier avoiding reems of licensing papers,
and instead focusing on our day to day jobs in IT.
If it saves
some of us from headaches, reduces chaos, and simplifies life then
good. If in the long run it ends up saving someone's job, then
With the advent of Vista rollouts and
new licensing schemes, now may be an optimal time to look over the chaos of existing licensing schemes and do something about it.
This brief opinion piece should not be construed as factual information, and only contains the opinions and personal experiences of the author only at the time of publication. Reallylinux.com could not find information in this article that at the time of publication was inaccurate. However, the opinions and personal experiences that have been posted do not express the opinions of Reallylinux.com and are not endorsed in any way. Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds. IBM, PC-DOS, and OS/2 are the registered trademarks or trademarks of International Business Machines. Microsoft, Microsoft Service Agreement, Microsoft Windows are trademarks or registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation both in the United States and Internationally. All other trademarks or registered trademarks in this opinion piece belong to their respective owners.