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Microsoft Loses Showdown in Houston

chrisd posted more than 11 years ago | from the shut-up-jerry-carter dept.

Microsoft 540

An anonymous reader writes "It seems the city of Houston has decided against using Microsoft software. It really is amazing how much it costs to use (and maintain) software. I can't help but wonder if this will become a trend." Turns out they decided on the relativly unknown SimDesk suite, which has nothing to do with The Sims, sadly. Many, many posts about this. In additional news seldo writes "There's an interesting interview on News.Com with Peter Houston. He discusses Microsoft's changing attitude in competing with Linux -- no longer calling it a "cancer" but instead promoting the advantages of Windows."

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First XBox ! (-1)

Adolf Hitroll (562418) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135117)

Re:First XBox ! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5135156)

RIP BIGGIE SMALLS 1967-1996

Free Matthew Kelly

From all your Greek hip-hop fans, lovin' "STARZ" and hoping the british police don't shut you down.

Cannon and Ball watch your back! We are all rootin' for Kelly!

big up to all the true hip-hop fans trying to unite all the coasts! including the Greek coastal resorts, yeh you know how we do it.

Re:First XBox ! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5135212)

Mad Propz from Belarus!

We be land-locked but still lovin' the plan to unite the coasts,

and Matthew Kelly is THA BOMB.
we support him all the way, if he goes down there will be gang violence across europe and BEYOND. these are difficult times, so "keep ya head up".

In Soviet Russia.... (-1, Funny)

elnerdoricardo (637672) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135120)

Houston loses Microsoft!

Oh, wait a second... that's what happened!

frist spot (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5135122)

frost spit

4th post? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5135132)

Spent too much time reading the headline, and didn't realize that there weren't any posts on the story :(

More Kelly Clarkson, less Justin Guarini (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5135135)

If I wanted to see Sideshow Bob, I'd watch The Simpsons. Kelly, on the other hand, has a gorgeous caboose.

Just Wait (-1)

l33t j03 (222209) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135137)

Wait until they actually start using the shit software they picked. Like all Open Source software, the screenshots look great until you realize that it doesn't actually include any features.

They be back! Another qualude, they love MS in the morning!

Amazing (5, Funny)

pitabutter (234478) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135139)

As goes Peru, so goes the world......

Yep, it is a Cancer.... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5135140)

For Micro$oft that is....

Err (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5135146)

Looking at the "Sim Desk" screenshots, it's all Microsoft products?! Windows Explorer and Outlook are deffinatly there, or are they using some source code?

Re:Err (-1, Offtopic)

Alan Partridge (516639) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135210)

I'm sorry to have to correct you in this patronising manner, but the fucking word is spelled DEFINITELY

how many more fucking times?

LOOSE is wrong, LOSE is right
DEFINATELY is wrong, DEFINITELY is right
THEN and THAN are NOT INTERCHANGEABLE, they mean DIFFERENT things.

Re:Err (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5135285)

LOOSE is wrong, LOSE is right

Actually "loose" is correct if describing how your pants fit, or your ex-girlfriend.

Re:Err (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5135398)

Maybe they should include the "Anal Retentive Asshole Prevention Spell Check Preview" (ARAPSCP) button on the comment submit form as well.

SimDesk bogus patents (4, Informative)

StCredZero (169093) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135288)

From the SimExplorer page [simdesk.com] on the SimDesk site:

Several patents have been filed for SimExplorer, including a recycle bin available on the Internet. SimExplorer moves deleted data to a virtual recycle bin and allows users to recover or restore that data if it was deleted by mistake. Previously, this functionality was only available on Microsoft© platforms: SimExplorer now makes it possible on all computer platforms.

Sorry, but it's already out there for multiple platforms [r-tt.com] . All they did was put it behind the familiar "Recycle bin" interface. This isn't so different from the Amazon one-click patent [gnu.org] .

Re:SimDesk bogus patents (0, Offtopic)

Ponty (15710) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135358)

Or, alternatively, how about the trash? Reliably saving deleted files on your Mac since 1984.

More SimDesk bogus patents (3, Interesting)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135411)

Internet Printing:
With SimPrinter, any computer can print to any printer connected to the Internet. This patented process works like this: User A is viewing a file in his office and needs to print it to his client's office for his client to sign. He selects a printer connected to a computer in his client's office. The mainframe computer at the Service Provider then spools the file to the computer in the client's office and instructs the printer there to print the data. Once the printing is complete, the computer in the client's office notifies the mainframe. The mainframe in turn notifies the user in User A's office.

It's not just the software (1)

nucal (561664) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135407)

It looks as though they want to supply the server [simdesk.com] as well.

From their web site [simdesk.com] :

SimDesk Technologies, Inc. (STI) was founded in 1999 to develop a revolutionary way to deliver software applications using the Internet. STI offers SimDesk(TM), an office productivity suite of applications that provide a word processor, spreadsheet, personal organizer, and e-mail client. All SimDesk Technologies' products run on the World Wide ServerTM (WWS), a groundbreaking means for economically and efficiently transporting applications, connecting millions of users to one server.

Using the WWS, SimDesk(TM) disperses the load so that a task can be completed with a fraction of the bandwidth and server power normally needed. Using a patented proprietary transport layer protocol and load-balancing technique, the SimDesk(TM) product suite is able to support millions of simultaneous users with a small fraction of the hardware normally needed in networks today.

SimDesk Technologies is a privately funded company. All products are developed in-house and are protected with numerous patents, trademarks, and copyrights. There are no license fees paid to outside software companies, which allows us to offer extremely attractive pricing models to end users.

SimDesk Servers on Win2k (0, Redundant)

StCredZero (169093) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135440)

Check out this Unisys Newsletter [unisysworld.com] . It says:

As an ASP, Unisys will host SimDesk on the Unisys ES7000, the only enterprise server taking advantage of the Microsoft Windows 2000 Datacenter Server operating system's support for 32-processor scalability.

Not exactly a "big defeat" for Microsoft. They still make money on licensing servers.

Funny enough, this will be good for MS users too. (4, Insightful)

Bonker (243350) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135159)

Think about it. For the first time in a decade, what with all the city and national governments giving the dirty bird to Microsoft in favor of Linux or other alternatives, Redmond has finally realized that it has real competition again. Better, Microsoft can't 'embrace and extend' this competition without a significant alteration of their core business plan.

This means that, for the foreseeable future, MS users will be getting a product that will be the result of a pricewar with Free software, will have features that compete with OSS features, and will have a level of quality that attempts to approach OSS quality.

I don't think that Microsoft will belly up any time soon, regardless of how wonderful that would be. I do see Windows getting very good in the near future since quality and ease of use are the only ways it has left to compete with Linux.

Re:Funny enough, this will be good for MS users to (5, Insightful)

sql*kitten (1359) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135259)

This means that, for the foreseeable future, MS users will be getting a product that will be the result of a pricewar with Free software, will have features that compete with OSS features, and will have a level of quality that attempts to approach OSS quality.

Have a look at simdesk.com - it's covered in words like "proprietary" and "patented". Houston's decision is neither particularly good nor bad for OSS.

OSS software? (4, Insightful)

Twister002 (537605) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135275)

I'm not seeing anything at the web site that says this is OSS?

They don't need to embrace and extend this software because they already HAVE software that does everything this purports to do, the MS Office Suite. This is just a clone of Office, nothing innovative, I can't download the source, heck I can't even get a price list off of their web site.

I think this is just a case of price. The city of Houston got a great deal from a Houston based company. What's it called when a city practices nepotism, except without the relatives? Oh yeah, politics. ;) Wonder if SimDesk is getting any tax breaks from Houston?

Actually Linux is a Cancer (0, Insightful)

BoomerSooner (308737) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135280)

It's just a cancer to the MS bottom line. Just wait until OpenOffice/StarOffice has come a little farther. The only thing I'm waiting on is Quartz support in OS X.

I have 3 companies that I've converted to Linux in the last 2 years and it saves tens of thousands of dollars.

Now if I could only get sftp to not crash on my raid-0 smp computer at home!!! damn thread model.

Re:Funny enough, this will be good for MS users to (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5135299)


Think about it. For the first time in a decade, what with all the city and national governments giving the dirty bird to Microsoft in favor of Linux or other alternatives, Redmond has finally realized that it has real competition again.

Unfortunately I have to post this as an AC but I'm speaking as one of the top geeks in a large place of work (~6,000 employees). We're not upgrading to XP and we're tesing a large group of people (~200) on Linux and OpenOffice on machines we've had in storage for a year. Thus far there have been no real technical problems although the user education has been a bit of work. Once they are familiar with an X desktop they spend most of their time using email and "Office" anyhow.
We love it, we love the price and we love the excellent support we get from newsgroups and FAQs/docs.

Re:Funny enough, this will be good for MS users to (5, Interesting)

October_30th (531777) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135373)

Ok. Sounds good, but what will happen when your ~200 Linux/OpenOffice people will have to communicate with the outside world (clients?) who use MS Office exclusively?

I've run into OpenOfficeMS Office export and import problems even with plain Word letters, so I can't imagine a complex spreadsheet with macros will work very well.

Re:Funny enough, this will be good for MS users to (5, Insightful)

esarjeant (100503) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135453)

I think it depends what you're doing. If you're sending information to customers, then simply export your OpenOffice docs to PDF. You should be doing this anyway, even if you're using MS Word, because the PDF is the only way to ensure your document will be delivered properly. Heck, even MS Word isn't compatible with MS Word!

If you need to collaborate, then encourage everyone on the team to either adopt an open standard (HTML, RDF, etc.) or get them onboard with OO.

Re:Funny enough, this will be good for MS users to (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5135460)


Ok. Sounds good, but what will happen when your ~200 Linux/OpenOffice people will have to communicate with the outside world (clients?) who use MS Office exclusively?

This is the same AC as above :) As I've said, we've had no real technical problems. We've educated the users that there's no need to send a .DOC file if it's just a schedule of people and their weeks to take care of the coffee machine. Plain text is a great thing.

We're science researchers, most of our office work is just text writing, not many spreadsheets or databases. In fact a lot of it is still done with LateX etc etc. We have a lot of IRIX machines and a several Linux Beowulf clusters and a sole OpenMOSIX cluster I'm hacking on.

I'm convinced people use MS crud only because of inertia.

Re:Funny enough, this will be good for MS users to (2, Troll)

iosphere (14517) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135301)

I don't think that Microsoft will belly up any time soon, regardless of how wonderful that would be.

Imagine if Microsoft did go tits up. After a year or two we'd have free/oss copies/emulations/whatever of all MS programs, then what? Who's features would we try to copy then? Sure, I'm over generalizing.

As Obi-Wan would say, "You and the Naboo form a symbiotic relationship. What happens to them will surely affect you" (or something like that).

Re:Funny enough, this will be good for MS users to (4, Insightful)

TaoTeCheese (643669) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135310)

"He discusses Microsoft's changing attitude in competing with Linux -- no longer calling it a "cancer" but instead promoting the advantages of Windows."
So you mean M$ will actually have to promote themselves instead of bashing the other guy? Imagine that! Now, if only politicians would start doing that...

Security of Simdesk (5, Interesting)

squant0 (553256) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135160)

From simdesk.com:
Security
In the same way vendors use SSL (Secure Socket Layer) technology to receive sensitive credit card and banking information, SimDesk(TM) is able to offer secure transmissions of data and other communications. The Internet is eager for this type of communication and SimDesk Technologies has filed patents to ensure that the company's methodology and software remain proprietary.

Isn't that a bad thing?

They are also hyping their office suit as a Revolutionary Product. I thought word processors and office suits have been around for a while....?

Re:Security of Simdesk (1)

Angry White Guy (521337) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135192)

The revolutionary part is that it's pretty much all web apps.

Re:Security of Simdesk (1)

squant0 (553256) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135246)

I thought M$ has been pushing this for a few years now? I read an article in PC mag about 3 years ago about how the New MS Office 2000 will be web based and everyone will pay to use asp's (application service providers) over their broadband connections. It never happened, and now these guys are trying to make it sound like they invented the idea.

Re:Security of Simdesk (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135286)

web based Office-like apps are around for some years by now, like ThinkFree Office [thinkfree.com]

Re:Security of Simdesk (1)

Usquebaugh (230216) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135291)

That's not revolutionary.

Desktop.Com did a very similar thing. You could even argue remote X-Windows does a similar thing, maybe. It's a good idea,well I think so, but it's not revolutionary. Centralised computing resources make a lot of sense for a business.

Revolutionary, there's very little that is revolutionary in modern day computing. Try to come up with last original idea in computing? Most things are an evolution the web was an evolution of gopher etc

Re:Security of Simdesk (1)

Angry White Guy (521337) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135436)

I'm not saying that I think that it's revolutionary, but put yourself in the position of a (shudder) politician. What is old hat to us, is groundbreaking to non-techies.

Re:Security of Simdesk (1)

molarmass192 (608071) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135264)

Good catch. That's either a typo or one of the worst thought out sentences I've ever seen. It reads like a *threat* in my eyes. Hey moderators ... mod parent up ... I want to read more opinions on this!

From simdesk.com (5, Funny)

sql*kitten (1359) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135164)


a software development company incorporated in 1999, has created technology that represents the most significant and pioneering Internet innovation in the last 20 years. The essential component of the technology is an exclusive, first to market, proprietary web-enabled transport protocol. Its patented methodology is unrivaled and is the most groundbreaking and efficient way for applications to communicate data over the Internet.


Phew! For a second there I was worried that they might actually be selling products and services! Houston had a narrow escape!

largoriffic (4, Insightful)

mikeee (137160) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135227)

So, it's basically the same NC-model Largo, FL is using, but Houston has somehow managed to do it with 100% proprietary software.

Any reduction in the MS-monopoly is good for alternatives, but this isn't exactly a ringing endorsement of free software.

I must say... (3, Interesting)

Mr Teddy Bear (540142) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135165)

I am very happy to see some competition winning in this market. I know Linux is awesome, I use it all the time (although I am running XP at the moment.) This SimDesk thing though, I've personally never heard of it, and I consider myself to be quite knowledgable about these kinds of things.

I wonder how long it will be before they have to switch due to lack of support? Switch to what? I don't know, don't care... and I hope for their sake I am wrong about the support... but good support comes from people knowing how to use it OUTSIDE of the company that created it. We all know MS support sucks... and if you use Linux then you better be on the mailing lists rather than calling RedHat or Suse or whoever.

Should be interesting is all.

Re:I must say... (4, Insightful)

bilbobuggins (535860) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135270)

I wonder how long it will be before they have to switch due to lack of support?

You don't think the 4th largest city in the US represents a good business oppportunity to start offering support?
If the money is there, the support will come - or rather if the need is there, our capitalist economy will strive to satisfy that need in an attempt to make money.

Trust me, every computer company in Houston that's ever even _talked_ to the govt. is scrambling their butts off to try to learn SimDesk right now...

Re:I must say... (1)

Mr Teddy Bear (540142) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135444)

Trust me, every computer company in Houston that's ever even _talked_ to the govt. is scrambling their butts off to try to learn SimDesk right now...

Yeah, I see your point. However, it is very difficult to learn 5 to 20 years worth of experience in a few months. All I have to say is that SimDesk support staff better be on the ball because I highly doubt any outside company will be able to help much for the next couple years.

But, I could be wrong, and SimDesk could be the greatest and most stable thing to ever come out. :-)

Re:I must say... (2, Funny)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135406)

and I consider myself to be quite knowledgable about these kinds of things.

Well that really sets you apart around here.

It runs on Windows 2000! (1)

StCredZero (169093) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135476)

Check out this Unisys Newsletter [unisysworld.com] . It says:

As an ASP, Unisys will host SimDesk on the Unisys ES7000, the only enterprise server taking advantage of the Microsoft Windows 2000 Datacenter Server operating system's support for 32-processor scalability.

Not exactly a "big defeat" for Microsoft. They still make money on licensing servers.

Cost? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5135171)

I looked at the site and articles and do not find any pricing information. Is priced in such a way that the home user can find a cost advantage?

Obvious Joe strikes again (3, Funny)

LiftOp (637065) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135175)

"For us the key challenge in 2003 will be speaking to Unix users about why they ought to use Windows on Intel rather than Linux on Intel."

Wow, pretty astute, Pete. How much they payin' this guy?

Re:Obvious Joe strikes again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5135439)

Probably quite a bit. That blurb isn't the most obvious move.

Don't believe me? Fine. Walk up to your local bearded Unix guru, and say the word Windows.

You won't even have time to say 'On Intel instead of Linux on Intel.' You'll be replaced with a very small shell script before you end the second syllable of 'Windows'.

To think that Microsoft would try to talk Unix users into using Windows is unthinkable. It shows guts, something they'll need to survive the coming storm.

It also shows that they must have a lot of employees that they want to have terminated.

Bill's dad: member of "resposible wealth" (-1, Troll)

hey (83763) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135178)

... his son isn't.
Bill Gates Sr. is FOR the estate tax [forbes.com]

Houston, we have a problem... (5, Insightful)

simi-lost (639853) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135183)

"Sign up for a multiyear, $12 million software licensing plan or face an audit exposing the city's use of software it hadn't paid for" Will M$ ever learn, they can't keep giving ultimatums.. most people don't like that....and it's worth saying "get forked" just for the thrill of showing Microcrap they aren't the only show in town...

Re:Houston, we have a problem... (5, Interesting)

broken_bones (307900) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135334)

I think that the willingness of Houston to resist the heavy handed techniques MS has been using for liscence enforcement is the real highlight of this story. Intimidation only works when everyone is intimidated. As soon as the ranks start breaking it becomes harder and harder to threaten and intimidate. If this works out and Houston demonstrates that MS replacement products can be used successfully it will cause a real shakeup in MS's office division and its OS division. Office is, in my not so humble opinion, one of the big reasons that people stay with Windows. It is also where I think MS is most vulnerable to competition on the desktop due to its, shall we say, very large price.

Server-Based Software (5, Insightful)

IAmRenegadeX (627910) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135194)

Funny thing is, SimDesk works as a server-side application (think: thin-client). Similarly, Microsoft has been beating the drums of applications-on-the-server since Hydra, since it should be able to control licensing better than installed-on-the-desktop does. Problem is, everyone's resisted this paradigm...and for good reasons.

Re:Server-Based Software (2, Interesting)

Jethro On Deathrow (641338) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135298)

I would be curious to hear some of the good reasons. I can see a boatload of good reasons to use this model.

1) Deployment
2) Updates
3) Security
4) Lower system requirements on the workstation.

I could be all wet here, but it seems like a good way to go.

Re:Server-Based Software (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5135395)

The biggest reason is cost of licensing. In order to do a Microsoft Office based thin client setup you will need:
  • Cheap terminals (Which are close in price to real computers, usually within $100 or so)
  • Huge servers (or lots of small ones, or lots of huge ones, depending on your needs)
  • Terminal server connection Licenses
  • Citrix Licenses (?? If you have terminal server, you may not need citrix, haven't looked into this enough to know for sure)
  • Office licsense. Depending on the deal that you get with MS, it is concievable that you will have to pay a license for everyone that might even use Word. For example: 30 Connect licenses for 50 potential Word users yields: Yep 50 licenses for Word.
There might be more depending on circumstance, but these are usually enough to keep a corporation from using a thin-client solution wholescale.

Re:Server-Based Software (3, Insightful)

IAmRenegadeX (627910) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135401)

Gladly. 1) Deployment was always the big reason, but ended up being the biggest headache. Admins found that using hard drive images for roll-out (and then pushing updates) worked better than anything else. 2) Updates are generally pushed or installed by users, unless they're major ones -- then see (1). 3) Since everyone shares the same binaries on the same server, the risk is that someone could corrupt/trojan one copy and "infect" everyone. 4) The price between a thin client and a regular PC was fairly large a while back, but economics of scale pushed desktop prices to within a few percentage points of the thin desktops. The biggest reason nobody stuck with thin clients (unless they had to, for industry-specific reasons) was performance. Transporting all the application binaries/information over a network just never caught up to the speed of using applications on a desktop PC. Any system admin will tell you -- not having to hear "why is this system so damn slow??!" all the time, all day, is worth a LOT.

Re:Server-Based Software (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5135405)

I have a bad feeling about this. My local goverment USED to run everything off of Solaris and even used Applix as the office suite. Guess what they are now all Microsoft. The reason was Applix could not share files with anyone else. The support was bad, you could not go down to Book a Million and grab Applix for dummies. I told some of the IT people about StarOffice and OpenOffice but after the disaster they had they do not want to run any risk of failing.
This SimDesk is from a Comapny in Houston. I have never heard of it and I do not know how many people are using it. I am afraid it is a political pay off and that it will fail and Houston will go running back to MS.

Dear SimDesk: (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5135196)

I am an unemployed, broke, homeless, flea infested, transvestite midget. To raise myself out of the muck I need a productivity suite for my computer. Per your corporate philosopy:

We strive to develop products that will bridge the digital divide and provide innovative technology to all, regardless of the end user's socioeconomic status.

I'd like to receive a disk containing all of your products. I have no internet connection so it has to be on a disk. Look forward to seeing something from you and good luck with the business model. TTFN!

- l33t j03

Re:Dear SimDesk: (2, Funny)

$rtbl_this (584653) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135362)

I am an unemployed, broke, homeless, flea infested, transvestite midget.

I didn't realise that Prince had fallen on such hard times. Must be all those P2P pirates stealing the food from out of his mouth!

Re:Dear SimDesk: (1)

rspress (623984) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135387)

You unemployed, broke, homeless, flea infested, transvestite midgets are all alike....you always want something for free! ;-)

Actually I hope this works for Houston. I hope others follow suit. I don't hate Microsoft products...just Microsoft and the way they do business. If we see more of this we might see a Microsoft that will be nice, price fairly and might even have better software.....or we could see a 1gig version of Microsoft Word...I shudder to think.

Misleading.. (1, Funny)

grub (11606) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135204)


"Showdown in Houston"?

I was expecting a story about Gates and Ballmer getting blasted by Doc Holiday and Wyatt Earp.

The big question would be (4, Interesting)

suman28 (558822) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135220)

The question is about privacy. Imagine the possibilities. If a company wants to store confidential data, they would first have to know that the data is safe from everyone, including the people running the servers. Then there is the issue of accessibility. I don't have to be on a network to open and print and read. This is not like that. I guess we just have to wait and see

Disadvantages of Non-Standard Software (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5135231)

I used to work in a place that had a corporate policy of using Corel WordPerfect Office on all its computers. All the secretaries had Microsoft Word by the time I got there in order to process correspondence with people from outside the company, all of whom standardized on Microsoft Office. Shortly after I left the whole company migrated.

Governments may well be even more pig-headed than medium sized corporations, but I can't imagine some no name office suite being more suitable. They will switch again soon, if they know what is good for them. Perhaps to OpenOffice.org, but more likely to Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office.

Somehow the Linux grass always look green until you get there, then it is wilted and brown.

This post brought to you by CmdrTaco and T. Achilles

One thin leads to.... (2, Funny)

poindextrose (640377) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135235)

Spokesman: We've done a market analysis and found that some people don't like microsoft. So, we decided not to use thier software.
Interviewer: Were you concerned about platform stability or security issues?
Spokesman: Well, not exactly, more like.... client base
Interviewer: So, you're saying that you chose against microsoft due to public demand?
Spokesman: Hey, 50 Million Elvis fans can't be wrong.
Interviewer: What does Elvis have to do with anything?
Spokesman: Have you even seen his movies? Talk about acting!

hmmmm, wonder why they chose SimDesk (4, Interesting)

Twister002 (537605) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135236)

SimDesk
5450 Northwest Central, Suite 300
Houston, Texas 77092
Houston Area Phone: 713.690.6016
Toll-free Phone: 866.746.3375 (866-SimDesk)

Plus they've GOT to be using MS technology in the SimDesk applications themselves. At least they have Palm versions too.

I'm trying to figure out what the big advantage of using SimDesk would be vs. just installing Office and using Windows? Other than giving MS the finger. I guess it must just be the price difference, they probably got a great deal from the Houston based company.

Re:hmmmm, wonder why they chose SimDesk (4, Interesting)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135341)

The article addressed this directly: SimDesk allows Houston to turn their PC's into X terminals. Thus, they don't have to spend extra money on new hardware just to run this week's version of Office.

The real advantage of SimDesk is that they don't have to worry about being shaken down by Microsoft.

It never ceases to amaze me how Microsoft apologists will attempt to reduce any valid reason for not using a Microsoft product into some irrational "Anything But Microsoft" motivation.

Re:hmmmm, wonder why they chose SimDesk (1)

Twister002 (537605) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135441)

You should read the article before commenting, it never said anything about X terminals. It only talked about strong-arm tactics by Microsoft and cost.

It said they could use their existing equipment instead of buying Office XP licenses and having to upgrade their computers to run Office XP.

Re:hmmmm, wonder why they chose SimDesk (0)

Elvisisdead (450946) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135434)

Yeah. It's more than just a bit fishy that all of the sudden the City gives MS the finger in favor of a local company. I mean, good for them for supporting a local company, but it absolutely reeks of a kickback to some government approving official in Houston. I'd be interested to see how the leadership of the company may/may not tie in to the people in the city government that made the decision to migrate away from MS.

Some Truth in Peter Houston (5, Interesting)

4of12 (97621) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135239)


I found the last comment in his interview interesting:

Q: What's the potential risk for Microsoft in all of this?

A: The challenge will come if customers start rejecting the proposition that there is value in integration.

"Integration" is the lever that MS uses to generate revenue. Customers are becoming increasingly aware of this and are assessing its value as best they can (given that they've lived in the MS Matrix monoculture for so long.)

Quoting from the Financial Times article that is another Slashdot story, too,

For many users the software question simply comes down to money. To Paul Friday, head of IT for the West Yorkshire Police, using Linux is not a statement against Microsoft but a way to save money.
."No one has ever worked out what it really costs [to run Windows]. There was never a real alternative; you just did it."

The Mahatma Gandhi said it best... (5, Funny)

Noryungi (70322) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135240)

First, they ignore you.
Then, they laugh at you.
Then, they fight you.
Then you win.

It's not as funny as:

Step 1. Create Gcc.
Step 2. Create Linux kernel.
Step 3. ???
Step 4. World Domination!!

Re:The Mahatma Gandhi said it best... (1, Insightful)

Junks Jerzey (54586) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135279)

First, they ignore you.
Then, they laugh at you.
Then, they fight you.
Then you win.


Every time I see this my immediate reaction is "So _that's_ why Microsoft is so successful." I'm not trolling; I just find it hilarious that so many Linux advocates consider crazed zealotry and endless flames about other operating systems to be passive resistance.

Re:The Mahatma Gandhi said it best... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5135350)

That only works if your advesary claims to be liberal (in the tradtional sense), and cares that others view them in the same way.

Had Japan won WW2, India would have been part of the Japanese Empire rather than the British Empire.

No one would have ever heard of Ghandi because he would have said "First they shoot you, then they disembowel you, then you lose."

quote Mahatma Gandhi (2, Insightful)

jsse (254124) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135248)

He discusses Microsoft's changing attitude in competing with Linux -- no longer calling it a "cancer" but instead promoting the advantages of Windows.

3) then you win.

Recession and Open-Source (5, Insightful)

ignatzMouse (447031) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135251)

It's starting to look like the US recession will be one of the best things to happen to the Open-Source movement.

Re:Recession and Open-Source (3, Insightful)

Dan Ost (415913) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135363)

Tight budgets will motivate people to find
alternatives to expensive software.

This is a good thing.

Switching to something just because it's cheaper and
not because it meets your need as well or better
than what you're currently using is stupid and
dangerous.

The biggest challenge for OSS is to educate
the masses so that the masses can make intelligent
decisions with regards to the software they're
using. Once we do that, we win. Use cost as an
added bonus to already good software, not as the
sole selling point.

Sim - Houston - I wonder why (2, Insightful)

boxless (35756) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135256)

If you look at the CEO's bio, he's some Houston good-ol boy who made a billion at BFI (trash collection), and now is dabbling in high tech.

Since everything in Texas is controlled by good ol boys, I'm sure the decision to use this software was anything but objective.

Re:Sim - Houston - I wonder why (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5135410)

BFI (trash collection)

Uh-oh... does that mean like waste management [bbc.co.uk] ?

Surprise... (0, Offtopic)

Saltine Cracker (116414) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135261)

I was somewhat surprised not to see this article [pcworld.com] posted to /. regarding the court's decision against Mircosoft not including Java in Windows XP.

Re:Surprise... (1)

MrP- (45616) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135329)

You must not be refreshing slashdot every 30 seconds like me. They did cover it:

MS Must Ship Java With Windows Within 120 Days [slashdot.org]

Sounds like Houston may be in trouble (2)

jocknerd (29758) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135266)

I'm glad they told Microsoft to F??? off! But to choose Simdesk instead? Sounds like someone went with the local guy since Simdesk is out of Houston I believe I read. They would have been much better off going with Open Office or even Corel.

Re:Sounds like Houston may be in trouble (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135376)

That may be true. However, the mere fact that there is such a "good-ole-boy" alternative available is actually a very positive thing. This kind of abuse can't even exist unless there is some sort of diversity in the marketplace.

This situation is still an improvement over the old regime.

Good to see... (4, Interesting)

ErnieD (19277) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135295)

"I can't help but wonder if this will become a trend."

I think it's safe to say this is already a trend, what with all the stories we've seen here in the last few months. Hopefully a trend that will become more and more widespread as the truth gets out there.

"Microsoft's changing attitude in competing with Linux -- no longer calling it a "cancer" but instead promoting the advantages of Windows."

Well it looks like Microsoft is finally catching onto the idea that it can't compete with Linux using their normal "FUD" tactics. Of course, touting the *cough*advantages*cough* of Windows may not be such a winning solution either. :) But maybe now we'll see how MS reacts to competition when it can't just stamp it out. My guess is they'll run around like decapitated chickens for another few months at least.

Re:Good to see... (1)

axxackall (579006) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135330)

I think it's safe to say this is already a trend

It will be a trend when MSFT will drop half of its current price at the period when both Nasdaq and Dow will keep the same or even grow.

Now it's not a trend, it's just a subject to discuss on ./

Re:Good to see... (2, Insightful)

Winterblink (575267) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135375)

Like it or not, there ARE advantages to running Microsoft OS's, depending on on the user, the environment, and the uses. Don't get me wrong, I'm fully supportive of non-MS OS's (innovation is good, yadda yadda), but my parents, for instance, love Windows XP's ease of use and stability. (Yes, stability, when you boot it, read some email, browse the net for recipes and shut it down it's pretty stable)

Just my 2c.

Simdesk is the app not the os... (1)

cjustus (601772) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135302)

Outside of getting a word processor and a calculator within SimDesk, what else are they getting? They're still going to need an OS... Most OS's have free/bundled email apps... Am I missing something?

Re:Simdesk is the app not the os... (1)

AlgUSF (238240) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135318)

Calculator? SimCalc is a spreadsheet, much like StarCalc.

usatoday's attitude (5, Insightful)

daniel_howell (457947) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135304)

The actual meat of the story is interesting, an a hopeful sign, but so is the lead paragraph. It presents Microsoft as bullying it's clients into agreeing to it's terms.

Nothing new there, but when this is the tone taken by mainstream media, and seen as so non-controversial that it's mentioned and then passed over, then Microsoft have already lost their key battle. Their marketing depends on them being seen as the safe option. If they are seen as the problem, then (as here) people will go looking for solutions.

Interesting... (4, Insightful)

TheRealFixer (552803) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135331)

From the interview with Peter Houston:
I still believe Linux is an extension of the Unix paradigm. It's a command-line-focused approach that's not particularly designed to be user friendly. The Windows approach is very different.

This kind of shows how clueless Microsoft really is about competing with Linux. Lest anyone forget that Windows was nothing more than a extension of a command-line-focused operating system called MS-DOS that wasn't particularly use friendly? Microsoft just started to hide the command-line with Windows 95. The same is happening with Linux, as it gains more acceptance. More and more tools are being developed that eliminate the need for command-line work.

True, any distro of Linux isn't quite at the XP level not needing to use the command-line, but it's starting to head in that direction. And if more and more companies and, more importantly, governments start to actively look at switching, there will be a big boom in eliminating the command-lind dependence.

Re:Interesting... (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135478)

Is not so clueless. One of the big improvements of Windows .Net sever 2003 is that it can be actually used from the command line.

support, software, hardware, COST?? (1)

qoncept (599709) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135352)

I've done no management or analysis of cost, but I'd be willing to bet there are plenty of people on the other side of the fence that haven't either..

I'm definately not pro-Microsoft, but it seems that the cost of the software licenses is almost a non-issue to large corporations. ie, the money saved by using Linux instead is negligable compared to the cost to support it, which would be about the same either way. Professional 3d graphics cards are ridiculously expensive but it doesn't matter because a slower card would cost more in salary to the artists. Am I wrong in assuming that the cost of software licenses is much less of an impact than people tend to think?

Re:support, software, hardware, COST?? (1)

rudy_wayne (414635) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135412)

Maybe for a small company, there's no significant cost difference between Linux and Windows. But in big companies the cost is enormous. My company, for example has over 7000 people. Do the math. You can easily spend half a million dollars just putting a copy of Windows on every desktop.

Re:support, software, hardware, COST?? (1)

Petronius (515525) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135428)

No cost is a non-issue to a large corporation. To any corporation for that matter. I don't buy it.

The big story would be (1)

Twister002 (537605) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135356)

if the "thin-client" is cross-browser complient. If Houston would move from Windows based clients to Linux-based clients or, Doug forbid, dumb-terminals with browsers.

I'm Brian Fellows!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5135357)

I'm Brian Fellows!!

I'm proud of My home town (-1, Troll)

Rudy Rodarte (597418) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135404)

For not going out and looking for alternatives. Also, that simPrinter looks pretty cool. Check this out:
With SimPrinter, any computer can print to any printer connected to the Internet. This patented process works like this: User A is viewing a file in his office and needs to print it to his client's office for his client to sign. He selects a printer connected to a computer in his client's office. The mainframe computer at the Service Provider then spools the file to the computer in the client's office and instructs the printer there to print the data. Once the printing is complete, the computer in the client's office notifies the mainframe. The mainframe in turn notifies the user in User A's office.


Printers are given names that can be given out to other users in much the same way a fax number is given out. However, instead of receiving a poor copy of a contract from your lawyer on your fax machine, you can get a sharp, crisp copy printed on your laser printer.
Sweet! Imagine priting out pr0n and such on your buddy's computer and have his momma find it! Good times.

MS entrapment spells doom for Houstin (4, Insightful)

esarjeant (100503) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135421)

After reading all this, it sounds like Houstin opted for SimDesk only because they felt trapped by Microsoft licensing issues.

It's not clear to me they will save money, although it does seem clear that by doing this they can at least quantify the amount of money they need to spend. I wonder if these kinds of MS sales tactics can be argued as entrapment or bait & switch? Customers shouldn't need to feel like they must pay millions to get MS off their back, especially when the amount involved is in dispute.

A greater concern for Houstin is where the data will be stored. It's not clear from the website or the marketing blurbs if the SimDesk apps drop documents locally or remotely to the SimDesk server. At a minimum, the patent-pending Trashbin is purported to be remote - which would give you access to this content from anywhere. I sure hope this system is secure!

Of course, the fact that they are looking to partner with Unisys is reason enough to be concerned. Remember GIF [burnallgifs.org] ? TBPH, Microsoft doesn't look like a bad alternative here -- if anything this should be a wakeup call for MS that license audits need to be approached with extreme caution.

Re:MS entrapment spells doom for Houstin (1)

steak (145650) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135452)

not trying to flame but its houston not houstin

Not a big change (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135425)

they switch from a company that makes closed source programs and propietary formats to another. Most of the problems using Microsoft will be still there with SimDesk (with the difference that SimDesk could dissapear and they would not be able to improve the product, work with their own files, etc).

Changing to open source software, open file formats and/or patent/licence free environments would be a lot better.

Civic motivators (4, Insightful)

watchful.babbler (621535) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135458)

Sad to say, but this has nothing to do with Linux, little to do with Microsoft (except for their enterprise licensing scheme), and everything to do with getting workstations off desks.

Given the small budgets, byzantine approval processes, and both political and bureaucratic stumbling blocks that affect civic IT departments (and I sadly speak from experience), the most effective place to get cost savings is at the client side.

Only a very few people at the civic level need independent workstations, and the cost of support per user is higher than that of private-sector firms of comparable size. Ripping out the PCs and replacing them with Sun Rays or Wyse terms is a bright solution for cash-strapped cities. However, don't confuse this with a move to open source: as has been pointed out above, it's a fallacy to think that "proprietary" is synonymous with "Microsoft."

Why not Open Source? (3, Informative)

terrencefw (605681) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135469)

Okay... so these guys got p*ssed off with Microsoft. Lots of people get p*ssed off with Microsoft and they fall into two camps:

1. They don't know about OSS and Free Software
2. The do know about OSS and Free Software

Now, the people in group 1 tend to do nothing about it, and carry on getting shafted by MS. The people in group 2 tend to think "Yeah, all this new licensing is gonna cripple us. Time to look elsewhere". And end up going down the OSS/Free route. The West Yorkshire Police [police.uk] did it [theregister.co.uk] .

So, what made these guys go down this odd, obscure, proprietary route with a company which seems to saddle all their technology with proprietaryness and software patentyness?

EXCELLENT !!! (Mr. Burns) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5135474)

You can't stop Linux, M$. You will have to pretend it doesn't exist and deny, deny, deny, because attacking Linux only generates more attention FOR Linux and shows how crappy Winbl0wZ really is.

Fecal fingers make pretty pictures.

right... (0, Redundant)

vorovsky (413068) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135475)

I don't think m$ totally lost out on this one unfortunately. After quickly visiting SimDesk's site, I noticed they were using asp. Sure enough, after a quick lookup:

The site simdesk.com is running Microsoft-IIS/5.0 on Windows 2000

Is it just me that this strikes as odd?

Houston (the person) sez (1)

rnturn (11092) | more than 11 years ago | (#5135481)

From Cooper's interview with Houston on news.com:

``There's the Windows paradigm of a comprehensive, integrated, easy-to-use stack of technologies and then there is the Unix approach, which is a piece-parts approach where the customer integrates those parts into the ultimate solution.''

[emphasis mine]

And who wouldn't want the ultimate solution? All this talk about ``integration'', IMHO, is just happy talk that really means ``lock in''. When your businees needs change and the Microsoft package no longer fits your needs, you have two option: Keep doing things the way the Microsoft package allows you to do them or you can dump the Microsoft package and potentially have to dump everything because it's all integrated to the pointer where it's really difficult/impossible to separate them (and there aren't any comparable applications from 3rd party vendors because Microsoft scared off any potential competitors). Which one sounds the least disruptive to a businesses future and/or bottom line.

This news.com article was a humor piece, right?

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