Locking Yourself Into Windows?


Fully vaccinated are you?
USAToday discovers the new Microsoft upgrade scheme is designed to milk every last cent out of those who've locked themselves into Windows...


Costs of Microsoft upgrades increase

By Michelle Kessler, USA TODAY

SAN FRANCISCO — Many companies that use Microsoft software will have to pay more to upgrade it, and they're not happy about it.

Most firms will see costs rise 33% to 107%, research firm Gartner says. A company with 5,000 desktops will see its 3-year upgrade cost for Microsoft Office, for instance, jump from about $900,000 to $1.5 million, it says.

"There are a lot of (angry) chief information officers out there," says Steven Steinbrecher, CIO for California's Contra Costa County. His 3-year costs will jump to $651 per desktop from $335.

The new program launches Monday, but Microsoft is giving many companies until Feb. 28 to sign up. If they don't, they will no longer be able to buy upgrades.

Costs are going up because Microsoft will no longer allow corporate customers to buy software upgrades at a volume discount whenever they choose. Instead, firms will receive upgrades when they are released, whether they want them or not.

Microsoft says the changes will make upgrading more simple and that they were made at the request of customers. It claims only 20% of customers will see price increases, 50% will pay the same and 30% will save money. Companies who upgrade a lot will save the most, it says.

But David Roberts, CEO of the British trade group Infrastructure Forum, expects average increases of 94%. The Forum, which represents 98 firms, has asked the British government to investigate the increases.

The problem, critics say, is that Microsoft's software is so dominant that customers have no choice but to pay the higher fees. The software giant is being called an "evil empire, despots — I can't even repeat what the Europeans are saying," says Giga Information Group analyst Rob Enderle.

Steinbrecher says most of Contra Costa County's agencies expect to stick with their old software rather than pay more.

Analysts expect non-profits and small firms to be hardest hit. Habitat for Humanity, which builds houses for poor people, could have its technology budget wiped out by the increases, says Teresa Pudi, vice president of information services.

Some firms also say they don't want to upgrade every time Microsoft kicks out new versions of everything from Office to Windows. The "disruption to our business" would be great, says Rod Hamilton, CIO of Hygeia. The Toronto-based travel health insurance firm, which is still figuring out how its costs will change, recently upgraded to Windows 2000. It took several weeks.

Habitat for Humanity is considering the free Linux operating system. But because Microsoft is so dominant, it will be difficult for firms to switch. Windows runs 92% of PCs. Its Office software has better than a 90% market share, Gartner says.


Fully vaccinated are you?
Staying with Windows 2000

From: http://www.infoworld.com/articles/op/xml/01/10/08/011008oplivingston.xml

Brian Livingston
There'll be no XP for me

MANY READERS have written me with the question, "Faced with the choice of Windows 95, 98, Me, NT, 2000, and now XP, which operating system is the best one to standardize on?"

After looking at the changes Microsoft has made in its forthcoming Windows XP, I'm recommending that most companies and individuals avoid it. I won't be adding to my line of books a Windows XP Secrets (although someone else will inevitably write a work with that title, and if it's good I'll recommend it). Instead, I'm planning to keep Windows 2000 running on my office network indefinitely.

The following are some of the reasons that XP feels to me like a downgrade rather than an upgrade.

* You need a Passport. Despite the severe security weaknesses of Microsoft's Passport authentication system (see <A CLASS="regularArticleU" HREF="http://www.avirubin.com/passport.html">www.avirubin.com/passport.html</A> for an AT&amp;T Labs analysis), XP repeatedly requests the user's e-mail address and password to create a Passport e-commerce account. And Microsoft made Passport a requirement to use Windows Messenger and other features.

* Spam I am. The Passport agreement, which you accept when you click OK, permits Microsoft and its partners to send you an unlimited number of commercial e-mail messages. Furthermore, you can't rescind Microsoft's permission to use your e-mail address. You must unsubscribe from every partner's e-mail list individually. One marketing study found that many well-known companies won't take you off their e-mail lists even after several requests (see <A HREF="http://brianlivingston.com/011008">brianlivingston.com/011008</A>).

* We don't need no stinkin' contract. The same agreement says that Microsoft can change the contract's terms at any time, merely by editing a Web page. Every time you use Passport, you're supposed to reread this page to see if you detect any changes. Right. I predict that one day the contract will read, "If you use Passport after the 1st of next month, a $4.95-per-month charge will be placed on the credit card number you registered."

* Weak Java. Instead of including the latest version of Java support, as a recent Sun-Microsoft lawsuit settlement would suggest, XP will default to a 4-year-old version. Users can get a new Java download, but its 5MB size will discourage many.

* No plug-ins. Internet Explorer loses support for all Netscape-style plug-ins, including embedded QuickTime clips (unless you download a kludge from Apple). New users surfing the Web under XP will undoubtedly run into sites that IE will no longer handle properly.

I haven't even gotten to XP's Product Activation scheme. I'll discuss this in a future column.

What all these new XP "features" have in common is that they make Windows more convenient for Microsoft but less convenient for users. I think I'll stick with Windows 2000 for a few more years. And after that? Stay tuned.
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