Starting a new business, 5 reasons to avoid Microsoft now!
If you are a new online business owner, one of the best pieces of advice I can give you is to not become a whore to Microsoft, their high cost, and their ludicrous licensing system.
Since most of us started with Microsoft Windows it’s natural to assume that they are the only viable company that can provide software for our business computers. What you will find especially if you can grow into a medium size business with several employees, is that Microsoft is truly an evil company, and your business is far better off without them. I don’t just mean that your web server should not be running Microsoft, but if you have the capacity to, I recommend not installing a single piece of Microsoft software in your entire business.
There’s millions of people that make the Microsoft sucks claim, but here’s why you should avoid them with your business:
5.) Microsoft software is unnecessarily expensive.
Desktops: To license a single computer with Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office standard, you are looking at a price of about $500 per computer. That means that every other computer you outfit adds an additional $500 in software cost, just to be able to function with the computers you already have.
Servers: This is where things start to get crazy. For a Windows server, you can expect to spend about $800 for the standard Windows Server operating system. For each computer that you connect to it, you can expect to spend another $50 just for the right to access your server software that you just purchased.
Databases: I love Microsoft SQL. It is a great database, with outstanding speed, reporting, security, and functionality. But, it is very expensive, especially for a small business. For a web server you can expect to pay $10,000+ for each processor of a single server you want to install it on. You can use the express edition, however it is stripped down, and is limited in both the number of connections it can support, and in the RAM and CPU that is can use. What’s even more troublesome is that Microsoft went out of their way to reduce the performance of their standard SQL software, just because…
4.) There is better (free) software for just about everything.
Microsoft Windows XP or Vista vs. Fedora, FreeBSD, Ubuntu
Microsoft Office vs. Open Office and Mozilla Thunderbird, or Eudora
Internet Explorer vs. Mozilla Firefox, Opera, Safari
Windows Server vs. Fedora, CentOS
Microsoft SQL vs. MySQL, PGSQL
Windows Active Directory vs. OpenLDAP, Fedora Directory Server
There are a few software products that unfortunately don’t have free replacements like Visio, but for most computer users, there is an open source and better replacement for anything.
3.) Microsoft Windows is inherently insecure.
There is a milti-billion dollar industry built on providing anti-spyware, anti-virus, personal firewalls, and every other security service for Windows. Windows is painfully insecure, and while Linux is not full-proof, it is much better than Windows on every front of security.
When windows does provide their own security, it is a drag on the entire system, and doesn’t provide enough options for all but the most basic uses.
Windows security sucks, enough said!
2.) Microsoft software is slower than most open source software.
Put a Windows web server up against a Linux web server with the same hardware, and Linux will win just about every test. Put Vista up against that computer that you thought was too slow to work five years ago running Fedora, and Vista is probably slower.
Compare Open Office with Microsoft Office, and it wont take more than a few seconds to see which one is faster.
If you really want to be amazed, compare Thunderbird with Outlook. Outlook is about the slowest program ever made, and just about every business uses it. If you want to slow it down some more along with the rest of your computer, install Microsoft’s desktop search engine which integrates directly with Outlook 2003 an up, and is a Microsoft recommended installation.
Microsoft arguably pulls ahead when it comes to the database. Microsoft SQL is no doubt an awesome system when using the enterprise version on a good server, but MySQL or PGSQL can be designed to compete with Microsoft SQL, and are sufficient for the majority of tasks. Considering that Microsoft SQL Enterprise would cost $20,000 – $50,000 to license a single web server, just imagine what kind of hardware you can setup for a mere portion of that. How does a 64 Bit, 4 Quad Processor server with 32Gb of Ram sound, and you still have enough left over to buy a car or two.
1.) Microsoft’s method of dealing with licensing violations.
This one bothers me more than anything else about Microsoft. I can completely understand a software company wanting to protect their product, but simply put, the way that Microsoft handles the situation is unacceptable.
The initial problem for a business attempting to use the software legally is in the complex licensing system, and the record keeping requirements that come into play if a business is audited. You can have the box that you received when you purchased the software, you can personally be the one who bought it, but if you don’t have the proper invoice, the software is illegal. Let’s say a computer goes down and you decide to reinstall Microsoft Office on another computer. You better check the manual, because in many cases this isn’t allowed, the software has to die with the machine. You also better destroy that other hard drive because you now have two copies installed. There are open licenses, government, academic, OEM, retail, and more, and each one has different provisions to the licensing requirement for it to remain legal.
If you are never audited, then of course you are going to be fine, but it’s a virtual certainty that at some point your business will get a visit from the BSA, or SIIA. Who’s the biggest target for software auditing? That’s right, small to medium size businesses. Microsoft knows that smaller businesses don’t have rock-solid records for purchases and hardly ever have dedicated people to manage their licenses. They know that they will get money, so that’s who they target. All it takes is one anonymous person or disgruntled employee to submit a report about your company and there can be an audit. Oh, and you think that you will just tell them to go away and lock the door. Well their Federal Warrant will say otherwise, which once they get they can raid you business and confiscate your computers even when you’re not there.
Let’s say you have a copy of Microsoft office, and you lose the invoice for it. Is Microsoft going to fine you $350 (the retail price)? Absolutely not, they’re going to charge you the retail cost for each individual software in the bundle. $200 for Outlook, $200 for Word, $200 for Excel, and $200 more for PowerPoint, plus a huge fine. Oh you bought the OEM version instead of the retail version, well if you installed it on an existing computer, it’s illegal.
The point of this is that as a customer of a business, I would expect a proactive approach at dealing with a situation like this, especially if it was obviously unintentional, or due to impossible poor record keeping requirements. If a business is stealing software and reselling it after it was de-engineered, then fire away. But, to go after customers who more than likely made a mistake, lets come back down to earth.
It is so hard to break yourself away from Microsoft once you start using them, I suggest to stop while you’re small or don’t start to begin with. Even if you can only get rid of Microsoft Office, you’re going in the right direction. Take it from businesses like Ernie Ball, you simply don’t need to become a slave to Microsoft and their Arcane licensing to be successful. In the end you end up with better support, a lower cost, and faster and more efficient equipment, all of which contribute to a better business.
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