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Jan
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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.

Conclusion:

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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34 Comments:
  1. Michelle Greer 18 Jan, 2008

    I use Ubuntu now, and recommending it for someone else would depend on what they are using it for. Since programs like Photoshop and Dreamweaver have to run on an emulator on Ubuntu, they would not be as stable. Ubuntu doesn’t even support Photoshop CS and above. If you are running web based applications though, it’s solid, easy to upgrade, and RIDICULOUSLY FAST. I’m reformatting it this weekend to be dual boot w/ Ubuntu and XP so I can have the best of both worlds.

    Just to reiterate your point, I have never installed anti-viral software with Ubuntu and have never had a problem.

    Open Office should have just about every feature most people need.

    Photoshop’s open source counterpart Gimp is very frustrating to use, but ok for basic graphics.

    It will be interesting to see how the increase in web based applications will affect how many people choose to use Ubuntu.

    Regards,
    Michelle Greer

  2. jestep 19 Jan, 2008

    One thing I didn’t mention is how a business owner can increase productivity when using Linus OS’s.

    Linux makes it much easier to restrict a computer to certain functions. When setup correctly users don’t have any ability to install their own programs, and in most cases, the average employee will have no idea how to install something in Linux. Everything can be controlled, so only employees that need to use certain programs can use them. In a corporate environment this can be extremely useful, as it’s rarely necessary for many employees to need access to the internet, or to be able to install programs, etc. All of this can be done in windows of course, but most businesses would be switching to an active directory setup at this point, which costs a lot and requires someone with some solid experience to properly manage. Even then, it’s still difficult to cover everything.

    Unfortunately, most of the major software creators aren’t making Linux builds of their products, which I think is really keeping widespread adoption of Linux in business and home environments. The more advanced the program, the less likely it is going to work on Linux. Once you get into print design, Quark, Indesign, there’s not much chance of using Linux at all. Luckily, the need for even Photoshop is nonexistent for most users, but the lack of compatibility for advanced programs is definitely a holding point right now.

  3. Michelle Greer 25 Jan, 2008

    Agreed. Just make sure someone in the office is somewhat familiar with using Linux on desktops before committing, since there are no easy “Wizards” to help you set something up. While setting up my wired internet, I clicked some setting that made my Linux desktop completely worthless! An obvious no-no for the Linux strategist who helped me set it up, but completely new to me!

    This topic should definitely be explored more among business owners with basic computing needs. There would be setbacks behind using Linux in a workplace. Try getting your secretary to install Adobe reader in Ubuntu without any help. If there is someone in the office who is familiar with it though, the increased speed and security of Linux is totally worth it.

    Also, how much would business owners save by not needing to purchase licensing for Vista or anti-viral software?

    Regards,
    Michelle Greer

  4. James Leicester 17 Mar, 2008

    Second That ! Although you can incur some of the same costs with Macintosh too, those prices are crazy. With the way that Open Source is going at the moment and programs like Firefox, which I’m using now, prices for operating systems and software are eventually going to have to decrease in price if they want to compete.

  5. Parduotuviu kurimas 24 Oct, 2008

    Also, how much would business owners save by not needing to purchase licensing for Vista or anti-viral software???

    BR
    Parduotuviu kurimas

  6. fas 1 Apr, 2009

    That very much makes sense and thats why I think Apple rocks. Best software to use is no doubt Java or maybe even Linux. No virus issues, no software costs 🙂

  7. Ric P 1 Apr, 2009

    Yes, yes, yes, and yes… Lets talk about economics keeping in mind that this is a small business, and keeping an open mind.

    Althought in the long term the open source solutions do make sense, for small tech business Microsoft does offer the Action Pack for about 299, icluding SQL and enough software to run a team of ten people for your internals. For other purposes they sell the MSDN subscription for developers (3K) – both products come with great support.

    When you are starting small, you will be hard to find assistants that are familiar with a Linux OS, not to mention that most used business/financial packages are MS based (Quickbook) – Oh, I forgot, WINE and such will help, but most likely the vendor wont support on a Linux OS under WINE.

    The reality is that for the time being Windows rules since they have penetrated the market early and Linux has not provided a viable enough market share to facilitate its migration from back rooms into the major retailers and sexy marketing.

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  9. Des 1 Apr, 2009

    Microsoft works, It just works, that’s why people buy it. That’s why software companies make software it. That’s why they are still there.

    Don’t waste time on Linux, with bad user interface and no software at all. You are limiting yourself to less software and support.

    Its worth the money.

    But good to see that no one was going on about macs!!!

  10. Johno 1 Apr, 2009

    Interesting article.

    On the subject of licensing, maybe you should speak to TomTom as they are being sued by Microsoft after a year of ‘negotiation’ for various patents on the Linux kernel.
    Of course, we all know that Linux is open source, but apparently when redistributing, it somehow falls under the realm of Microsoft.

    I have just lost my job at TomTom, they are in dire financial straights but as the author says, small to medium sized companies are Microssofts main targets, regardless of their financial position. TomTom reap what they sew though and so it will be an intersting battle.

    There are now a few stories online worth googling for which can tell you more specifically what the infringements are.

  11. Alan B 1 Apr, 2009

    Yeah! Screw Microsoft! Okay, let’s get this all great Linux software installed ….

    Mail server – check!

    Mail clients – check!

    Word processing, spreadsheet software – check!

    Business-critical accountancy and payroll software – um … err …. wait a minute ….

  12. Yang Yang 1 Apr, 2009

    Well I think business owners have all thought these through when making their decisions whether to buy Microsoft products or not. It’s far from as appalling as what you have described.

    But one thing is true. Not using M$ software does save A LOT of cash!

  13. snarf 1 Apr, 2009

    hmmm…the whole “security thing” where people claim linux is more secure than windows is not really true anymore, especially with the more recent releases of windows…
    if you want security, use bsd or solaris…

  14. Ceejo Thomas 1 Apr, 2009

    If you are a technology start up, Microsoft Bizspark offers a great way to start operations with minimal cost

    http://www.microsoft.com/BizSpark

  15. Name 1 Apr, 2009

    Microsoft is EASY TO USE, while open source software is not always.

  16. Jeremy Glover 1 Apr, 2009

    I’m all for free, open-source software. I run a server at home with Ubuntu 8.10 that uses 2 1TB drives in a RAID 1 array for redundancy. So far it’s met all my needs. The only complaint I have about most open-source server software compared to Microsoft products is the difficulty of configuring the software. Microsoft (while their software is usually extremely bloated) does a good job of creating intuitive GUIs for configuring products. That being said, most of the time it’s not worth the cost.

  17. jestep 1 Apr, 2009

    Business-critical accountancy and payroll software – um … err …. wait a minute ….

    This is where you would have to use an online program.

    The other huge problem to which right now, there is no solution, is for graphic design and media production. There are some programs out there that work, but for most including myself, if I can’t use adobe, then there isn’t an alternative.

  18. David 1 Apr, 2009

    Over the last 7 years, our small agency has been running 4-7 computers. We have not had a single system crash or security issue in that time. Costs for O/S updates have been about $100 per year, as Apple continually updates OSX.

    The real value is in the certainty that things are gong to run. No one is putting any effort into maintaining systems at our small internet marketing firm.

    So many people fall into the trap of fanatical religious fundamentalism when it comes to operating systems – do what works…

  19. Loloy Daemonic 17 Apr, 2009

    Licensing costs can be a business killer or a very huge business stumbling block. Doing research *over* free software *on* free software *remains* free so you can easily check out and eventually contribute to various free or open source ERP and CRM software already out there. Using great friends Google and Wikipedia are also free for searching those accountancy and payroll software alternatives.

    It is my guess that the audio/video/image media production stumbling block has already been mitigated and addressed by using free and open source virtualization software like http://www.virtualbox.org/. No offense to Wine users but using a Virtual Box, using Linux as host and Windows as guest, would *virtually* end all your compatibility issues. And there wouldn’t be any use for dual-booting your system either. You just need to have a powerful enough hardware base to be able to run both host and guest OS’es and you’re good to go. Welcome back, Adobe Photoshop – without the compatibility headaches – *if you find it difficult to migrate to* GIMP.

    Instead of shelling your money to proprietary vendors, why don’t you consider shelling it to paid open-source software support consultants instead? You not only learn how to do it yourself, you also learn how to fix it if it breaks. You can’t do much of that with proprietary software solutions.

    Hello to businesses, hello open source computing and cost-effective solutions.

  20. Rob Abdul 13 Jun, 2009

    It is an understatement to say that Microsoft’s licensing system is “ludicrous”.

    I honestly believe that even the boys and girls at Microsoft do not understand their licensing system, except that they are on a win-win situation.

  21. Luca Colli 20 Jul, 2009

    @Rob Abdul

    You are right…. But recently i have tray to make a price for a the new our Web application…. is really not easy to make a good price! I think the best way is make the application free for the low usage users…. Microsoft has never do this! Probably this is the first a lot of big mistake…..

  22. David 12 Aug, 2009

    I recently switched from Windows to Ubuntu – the switch was prompted by a nasty virus and I had to rebuild. I am dealing with some limitations, however because I used a lot of MS software (such as Visual Web Developer) that I can’t run with Wine and I can’t find it’s equal in the world of Linux… yet.

    I have to agree that for a small to mid-size business – or even a big business for that matter, Ubuntu offers the needed solutions for office computing without having to pay the huge price. On the internet end, MS is absolutely losing its grip. The vast majority of hosting servers out there are running Linux and the ones that do support MS are generally more expensive to have as a host. So, even though I’ve done web development (and app development) with MS tools, I’m thinking, time to start learning PHP and MySQL and such lest I get left in the dust.

    On the personal computing end I think that the two biggest things that keeps MS in the game for now is 1) Windows comes bundled on new PCs, and 2) More software creators need to begin to make Linux friendly versions of their apps. I think that once that starts to happen (and it will) the migration away from MS will get even bigger.

    That’s how I see it, anyway.

  23. A silent partner 18 Aug, 2009

    It is nice to see journalists who have the guts to tell the true and will not put up with msfud. We dropped Microsoft several years ago and have not looked back. Ltsp (linux terminal server project) has been a real money saver for us to leverage legacy equipment. I can run linux on it seems anything from mac ppc boxes to Arm based equipment in addition to many Intel based boxes. I pick up old pc’s for free, so we are getting replacements parts for free. No new brand new machine for years now. Could not do that with MS. Another thing I like about linux I do not have to spend a thousand dollars just for software to set up a server. Long live freedom software.

  24. Nick 18 Aug, 2009

    If you are a business owner and are serious about getting away from Microsoft, there are well founded,experienced Linux vendors who can meet ALL of your needs, from the server and database side, to the desktop-office productivity side. Redhat is a great option, they are now in the S&P 500. Novell offers great packages. That is why Microsoft recently bought thousands of Novell enterprise license packages. Canonical/Ubuntu is a great up and coming option, especially on the server side of things. Novell charges $50 a desktop license with superb support. Microsoft charges $500, and well….we all know how lackluster their support is. Linux is an excellent computing platform that has massive potential. If there is something that is lacking for your needs, companies such as Novell and Redhat will develop software and features to meet your needs, at a fraction of the cost of Microsoft.

    I am not sure who said that Linux lacked a viable accounting software, but there are many of them in existence. By the way, Microsoft is discontinuing production and support of Microsoft Money. Since the source code is closed, if you deploy that software currently, you are screwed.

    Get your facts straight, and do some research before you spread false information about Linux.

  25. Trond 19 Aug, 2009

    Business-critical accountancy and payroll software – um … err …. wait a minute ….

    This is where you would have to use an online program.

    —-
    Would you really trust an online service for such business critical data? I wouldn’t.

  26. […] Microsoft products and the cost that comes with them, you’re not alone. I still stand by my recommendation of avoiding Microsoft products before you become their slave, but I must admit, there’s still a number of them that I […]

  27. London SEO 1 Jul, 2010

    I think I just need You a powerful enough hardware base to be able to run both host and guest OS’es am i right?

  28. Chelsea Rae 14 Dec, 2011

    Now this is where contracting a remote assistant can be beneficial to your business. Why purchase all the license for your workers when you can contract a work at home mom or freelance professional to fill the spot?

  29. santiago ronquillo 6 Aug, 2012

    if it home user little out of business servers above I used most nice ubuntu os styles,fedora and many linux like crunch bang centos iso’s etc..with no good results of have it for no more of upgrades time because it need time to read to fix troubleshooting’s and after each upgrade nothing it same or new staff you can’t control like drivers,media for windows native pc’s and some web pages don’t accept linux online. I like try others os and size time I wait for good chrome pc os and until I have windows maybe ever. in short,it need have more of two pc’s or laptop’s for fix any problem.

  30. Susanne G. 26 Aug, 2012

    Unfortunately there’s no professional software for Linux … I’m an engineer, there’s no software for engineers for Linux like SolidWorks, SolidEdge, Inventor etc. Linux sucks. Linux is so inferior.

    🙁

  31. John Adams 23 Sep, 2012

    You are incorrect. Private entities cannot seize anything, nor even trespass on your property. A federal court order (what you call a “warrant,”) can only be enforced by U.S. Marshals.

  32. jestep 19 Oct, 2012

    You are incorrect. Private entities cannot seize anything, nor even trespass on your property. A federal court order (what you call a “warrant,”) can only be enforced by U.S. Marshals.

    Here’s an old but still valid discussion on the process: http://ask.slashdot.org/story/01/07/07/1829241/how-do-bsa-raids-work

    In theory I don’t think they should be granted a warrant for this, but it happens all the time.

  33. Neil Greene 29 Apr, 2013

    Great article, obviously a lot of other people thought so too. I do use Microsoft products at the moment but this article has opened my eyes to Mozzila Thunderbird. Thanks for that, it’s Awesome!! 🙂

  34. Andrea 12 Oct, 2014

    Worst of all is when you need help and they deliver you to the Indians who are rude, incompetent and expensive, even when they don’t deliver. Why can’t they use domestic personnel?

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