Mailinglist Archive: opensuse (2358 mails)
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[SLE] The Great M$ Robbery
- From: vulpus12@xxxxxxxxxxx (an an)
- Date: Fri, 29 Oct 1999 21:10:26 GMT
- Message-id: <19991029211028.13692.qmail@xxxxxxxxxxx>
I read an article the other day that said MS was charging US$59.95 (plus an
additional $19.95 if you want the "Advanced Server" edition) for the "right"
to use their beta 3 release of Windows 2000 (formerly known as NT
5). So what do you get for your money? Not much. Firstly from what I
understand, the whole thing is very restrictive. Dell was one of the first
companies to offer it. You get the software and can even have it
pre-installed on your Dell system if you wish. But it's what you don't get
that is surprising, or perhaps not, considering it's Microsoft we're talking
Firstly there's the standard "no way in hell are we responsible for
anything" End User License Agreement (EULA). That's to be expected and is
actually quite common for software in general, so I'll let that go by. Of
course the MS EULA is incredibly restrictive on exactly how you can legally
use the software, which is quite different from the GNU License (or Copy
Left), and I'm quite sure you're all fairly familiar with that, so I'll not
belabor the point.
Secondly there's the unthinkable... charging for beta software! So what does
your US$60-$80 get you? You may, or may not, receive documentation or tech
support along with it. That seems to be totally dependent upon whom you
purchase the beta from. I believe that Dell is offering some "limited tech
support", but quite clearly you're supposed to know that - since because
it's beta software, bugs are to be expected and so it's a "use at your own
risk" deal. Which is actually appropriate because any beta (or alpha)
software is not officially "released" yet and still in the testing stage.
And also indicates the moral issue of actually charging for beta software in
the first place!
I know what you're thinking. People aren't forced to buy it. Unfortunately
that's not true. Many professionals are going too have to buy it to learn
about it and make an informed judgment on whether their company
should plan for it's future (and costly) implementation. Hardly that morally
wrong if a few thousand systems administrators around the world purchase it,
but what about when
this company just happens to have a monopolized strangle-hold on 90% of the
world's computers, has an advertising campaign the likes of which you've
never seen (I kid you not, there were banner ads all over the Net for
Windows 2000 Beta 3) and makes a fortune from the sale of this beta
software. Is this right? I think not.
What I found of interest especially, was that it would seem that your
purchase of the beta, in no way, entitles you to a "free upgrade" to the
"official release" when it's finally deemed ready. It was not clear that you
would even get a "break" on the upgrade if you purchased the beta, although
I could be mistaken on this aspect.
So, what you really get for your US$60-$80 is the "right" to run the beta
software under strict MS restrictions, with no break on the upgrade price
should you decide to upgrade to the "official" release, when it's
finally set loose on the world. No "bundled apps" at all that I could tell.
Not much of anything really.
Ok, now let's see what your same US$60-$80 can get you from Linux. The
answer of course is a lot! The "standard" asking price for most Linux
distributions is around US$50 or so, and that includes the Linux kernel, the
usual assortment of included utilities and apps, including things such as
the Apache Web server, the graphics package The Gimp, maybe an office suite
like StarOffice or Applix, Corel WordPerfect, loads of server tools for both
LANs and the Internet, some browsers,
some e-mail and FTP clients, text editors, games, mutilmedia tools, and
loads of online documentation! Depending on which distro you choose to use,
you'll get a slightly different mixture of software that have been bundled
together in that company's idea of what the "perfect" distro package is.
Additionally, most distros now come with the excellent GNOME and KDE GUIs if
you want to use them. The install routines have also been much improved,
judging by all reports I've received. You also get "support" of some form -
usually via e-mail, although Red Hat is offering telephone support for the
new Red Hat 6.0. Of course that option is for the US$99 package so they've
raised their price a bit. Not so much considering they are adding phone
support I suppose, but still it may
come as quite a shock to those who've become accustomed to the US$50 price
being pretty much "standard" for all Linux distros.
In short, you get enough software for your $50 to fill up close to 1Gb of
drive space - maybe even a bit more - with software that has been thoroughly
tested and is for the most part distributed under the Copy Left / Open
Source concept. Most of the software packages are "free" for "personal use"
and of course there are not the onerous restrictions on who you can or
cannot give it too. You bought it, it's yours, you get to decide what to do
Some of the software is perhaps limited in some fashion for the free
"personal edition". For example, I know that WordPerfect doesn't include all
the clipart in the "free" edition (available in the "regular" edition), or a
manual. But, if you want to go to the Corel site and get the "registered"
version it's only US$89, which is a far cry from the usual cost of Windows
software of this caliber.
I know that the BRU backup software for the "personal" edition doesn't do
things like backup Windows SNB volumes over a network. So? If you need that
- buy the "commercial strength" edition. I think it's about US$200. But if
you need that capability, that's not so bad really, all things considered.
And if you're just running Linux and Win9x in a dual-boot config it will
work just fine (at least to my understanding).
So I suppose the real "bottom line" here is, why would anyone in their right
mind want to pay US$60-$80 for the right to run a beta OS, with no bundled
apps, when you can have a tested, proven OS with a raft-load of software for
a bit less? I've no idea. You tell me!
Along the same lines, the last I heard, MS was going to charge US$89 for the
"bug-fix" for Win98. I could maybe understand wanting to charge US$40 or so
(considering that they are after all MS, and therefore overcharge for
everything) but to charge US$89 for a "bug-fix" upgrade is robbery. Pure and
simple robbery. You'd be better advised to just use the Win98 "update
windows" function to snag the files you need off the Net while you sleep. Of
course that raises a whole other set of issues related to Windows and your
privacy which I'll talk about another time...
All of this is of course, my view. What's yours?
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