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MA Dept. of Revenue consider Linux

CmdrTaco posted more than 11 years ago | from the don't-fear-the-penguin dept.

Linux 407

hansroy writes "Massachusetts Department of Revenue is still using Windows 95 on the desktop. Faced with upgrade costs of $500-600 per user, they're considering Linux at about one-third the cost. This comes at a very good time, as the new governor of MA is making significant budget cuts this year."

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first post baby (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5480560)

first post baby. nutsack.

Surely (1, Funny)

Sad Loser (625938) | more than 11 years ago | (#5480565)

there are some people who should be forced to use Windows?

Dumb quotes (0, Offtopic)

anomaly (15035) | more than 11 years ago | (#5480690)

When every word you say is recorded, it's not hard to find stupid things that were said by leaders.

"I created the Internet"

"I may not have been the greatest president, but I've had the most fun eight years."

"Just try to imagine what it would be like to be 300 million years old." -- President Clinton in Ashe County, N.C. He was speaking on the banks of the New River, which scientists say is the oldest river in the United States.

5th post (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5480567)

>Massachusetts Department of Revenue is still using Windows 95 on the desktop They're probably still making payments on it.

Re:5th post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5480711)

With the consistent budget cuts without appropriate allocation of our furthering dwindling budget, that probably isn't too far from the truth.

I definitely hate the "Install Linux, Problem Solved" crew, but one can only hope that MA doesn't keep sticking their heads in the sand with the budget crisis.

But (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5480583)

They will need to spend a lot on ram and processors to be able to run Openoffice, or they could use koffice which isn't compatible with anything.

Re:But (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5480630)

or they could use koffice which isn't compatible with anything.

lol

Re:But (1)

feed_me_cereal (452042) | more than 11 years ago | (#5480669)

They will need to spend a lot on ram and processors to be able to run Openoffice

I'm guessing you mean faster processors. It doesn't take SMP to run openoffice. But hey, what do you expect from a troll, intelligence? bah!

or they could use koffice which isn't compatible with anything

It's compatible with more than koffice. Word isn't compatible with much other than word. If Koffice is all you're using, why the fuck do you need it to support word?

Re:But (4, Insightful)

zerocool^ (112121) | more than 11 years ago | (#5480831)

I'm guessing you mean faster processors. It doesn't take SMP to run openoffice. But hey, what do you expect from a troll, intelligence? bah!

No, he meant processors. Not as in multi procs for one system, but as in multiple machines. Obviously it's not newsworthy if Mass. is upgrading one machine. He meant multiple machines, processors with cost over many machines.

It's compatible with more than koffice. Word isn't compatible with much other than word. If Koffice is all you're using, why the fuck do you need it to support word?

Because word is the world standard for written documents in the professional business world. Hate to break it to you, but where I work, we don't have but 2 windows machines, and one running VMware, out of about 80 computers. We get lease documents, legal notices, business proposals, ad nauseum, in word or excel format. If you can't read it, you limit your professional image and connectivity.
K-office is compatable with k-office. Open/Star office at least has basic word compatability and functionality.
Please, microsoft may suck for their draconian EULA's, their extremely high prices, their business model, etc. But they make a good office suite. Plus, like it or not, it's the world standard.

Touche, troll. Touche.

~Will

Re:But (1)

anonymous56789 (642907) | more than 11 years ago | (#5480734)

It would take a lot more ram and processors to support Windows XP and Microsoft Office.

Re:But (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5480840)

And money too!

Re:But (1)

rusty spoon (564695) | more than 11 years ago | (#5480810)

That's because it's kompatible with everything important, knothing ;-)

I dunno (4, Interesting)

Erwos (553607) | more than 11 years ago | (#5480587)

I gotta say, what's cheaper?
1. $600 for WinXP
2. Putting Linux on all the machines, configuring them to work interoperably with the Windows machines, and retraining everyone?

No idea which really is cheaper, but I wouldn't automatically say "Linux is cheaper". Training costs money. Interoperability work costs money.

-Erwos

Re:I dunno (5, Funny)

B3ryllium (571199) | more than 11 years ago | (#5480615)

"Linux is only free if your time has no value", the old saying goes. In this case, though, I think it would more suitably be "Linux is only free if your co-workers aren't completely fucking retarded". Sounds about right, right?

Re:I dunno (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5480662)

Still, retraining is a one-time cost, whereas MS licensing is now an ongoing cost. Over two or three years, Linux becomes more and more cost effective, I'd guess.

Re:I dunno (4, Interesting)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 11 years ago | (#5480723)

The old aphorism is more accurately stated as:

"Linux is only free if you have more surplus time than money."

This is more often the case than not.

Re:I dunno (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5480818)

Actually, I think the correct phrase is:

Linux. Written by tards, for tards.

Or perhaps

Linux. Written by reclusive, socially inept tards, for reclusive, socially inept tards.

P.S. my apologies to true tards. It's a shame to cast you in with the likes of the linux zealots.

Re:I dunno (5, Insightful)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 11 years ago | (#5480648)

They would have to be retrained no matter what. You cannot go from Windows 95 to any NT-based Windows without a learning curve. Might as well save money in that regard.

Up-front costs for interoperability will likely pay for themselves in the long run because the infrastructure will open itself up to a cross-platform environment, allowing for best-of-breed solutions regardless of the platform.

Re:I dunno (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5480653)

That depends on how much retraining will be needed - if they've got large numbers of data entry people who use some sort of network published app that will look the same across the board there will only be minimal retraining.

Re:I dunno (2, Informative)

Tailhook (98486) | more than 11 years ago | (#5480656)

The difference between win95 and XP is cause for a retrain all by itself. Remember, these are municipal governement employees. Mostly clerks. Most of them don't know what version of Microsoft's bootloader their running and won't care they've been switched to something else.

Re:I dunno (5, Insightful)

Mnemic (33264) | more than 11 years ago | (#5480672)

I agree training costs money but MANY goverment agencies are using very old usualy custom software, many times running on *nix Backends to do their work.

The OS is just a mouse for them to double click icons. It would not be very hard to create a new interface to run in linux, and slap an icon on their desktop to run that interface, which looks very familiar to Windows, and still allows them to work comfertably in the custom software they have been using for some time.

It really all depends on what apps they have been using to determine if they need to retrain MANY things or not.

What about when this issue comes up again in 2010? (4, Insightful)

John Harrison (223649) | more than 11 years ago | (#5480676)

You make an excellent point. In the short term Linux might not be cheaper. In the long term however, what is going to be cheaper for continuing upgrades, given that the retraining (which might be minimal) only needs to be done once, but you have to pay Microsoft every few years.

Re:What about when this issue comes up again in 20 (-1, Offtopic)

mattACK (90482) | more than 11 years ago | (#5480749)

My god... it's full of stars

Re:I dunno (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5480681)

"retraining" is no biggie. my grandmother uses open office, and she was on win95 before she switched, so i don't think it's much of a problem.

and yes, xppro + xpoffice is about $600 for upgrades. more for full licences.

big picture, seems like the penguin makes a lot of sense on this one.

Re:I dunno (4, Insightful)

Ami Ganguli (921) | more than 11 years ago | (#5480684)

Put WinXP, Gnome, KDE, and Win95 next to each other and click around a little. (Make sure you don't set up some wierdo theme - just use the defaults.)

WinXP is less like Win95 than either Gnome or KDE. You could just as easily argue that the retraining costs for XP would be greater than for Linux because MS gratuitously messed with the user interface.

As for interoperability - it's pretty straightforward and you only have to do it once. After that you duplicate the configuration on the rest of the machines.

LICK MY ASSHOLE YOU JEWISH BEAN COUNTER (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5480688)

n/t

factor this in (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5480713)

Depends on which one is a one-time cost, and which one is recurring every 2-3 years.

Training the users to jump from Office 4.2 to Office XP isn't a small feat either.

And upgrading Win95 era workstations (~200Mhz Pentiums) won't be cheap either. The right version of Linux won't require much of an upgrade.

mghz (1)

zogger (617870) | more than 11 years ago | (#5480865)

--I'm just amazed all the time when I read you "need" a 1 gig or larger mghz rating to be cool or something. I'm runnin linux just great on an old 200PP machine, the only real thing I had to do was stick some more ram in it. For workers/clerks in an office? No massive full upgrade or new computer is needed I would think. And even if they *think* it's needed they should milk those older machines dry, this is the age of cutting costs and getting efficient. Innovation is great-where it's REALLY needed. The OS upgrade to linux? Yep, I think it stands a good chance of being a smooth move for them. But the hardware? Unless there's a specific graphic need or some other exotic task, there's no real need.

Re:I dunno (4, Insightful)

Hiro Antagonist (310179) | more than 11 years ago | (#5480716)

It's more than just the "$600 for WinXP". They've got to purchase licenses for Win2K (XP is a half-assed upgrade, W2K is at least a half-decent OS), plus hardware upgrades for every system, new servers, etc. And they'll have to train everyone on the new applications, and they'll have to port existing applications to the newer Windows architecture (backwards-compatible my ass).

So, they've got to buy more hardware, and do the almost the same amount of work as they would if they migrated to Linux. Sounds more expensive to me.

Not to mention that they could chuck some of the cash they save at IBM or Sun for some nice back-end application servers, so that the next time they "upgrade", it's a transparent process to the users.

Re:I dunno (2, Insightful)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 11 years ago | (#5480727)

1. $600 for WinXP

2. Putting Linux on all the machines, configuring them to work interoperably with the Windows machines, and retraining everyone?
In #1, you left out out the part about "putting XP on all the machines, configuring them to work interoperabily with the old Windows machines, and retraining everyone about XP." If you're going to throw that into the cost of Linux, include it in the cost of XP too.

This guy's moronic- Not Interesting (1)

screwthemoderators (590476) | more than 11 years ago | (#5480728)

You need training for windows XP, configuring the machines to work with "interoperably" with XP costs money. You're not talking about Linux vs Win98, its WinNT (5.x) There's a lot of money to be spent and even more to be wasted. Being a resident, I'm sure that's what we'll end up doing, spending ten times what we should for "upgrading"

really guessing but... (1)

zogger (617870) | more than 11 years ago | (#5480805)

..I'm really guessing(have not read the article yet either) but, I would imagine that retraining really only means in this instance learning a new similar app, perhaps three of them, and that's it. They'll have some office-like app, their database/accounting, and whatever email thing they will use. And coming from 95, I bet most of them would be looking forward to something new, which might make it easier, enthusiasm tends to do that.

[Insert Subject] (-1, Troll)

Qaless (621291) | more than 11 years ago | (#5480599)

duh

The very least they could get out of it... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5480604)

...is *very cheap* Windows licenses.

Which in itself is not bad. It is just M$ feeling the weight of competition.

Hang in tight, Bill. It will get worse ;-)

Re:The very least they could get out of it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5480709)

But the $600 doen't take into account the new hardware required to run XP.

P400's with 128M RAM can't handle it, and judging by the fact that they're still on Win95, you can safely guess their hardware is going to be older than that.

Looks like Linux/Open Office to me!

One third? (2, Interesting)

Kurin (629086) | more than 11 years ago | (#5480605)

So it'll cost $200 for Linux?

I take it they mean training, right?

I wonder how long it would take to train all of those people on Linux. It's not like they're using Linux for a server, it's just average joe using a computer. Chances are they haven't even heard of Linux (the people using those desktops).

Re:One third? (2, Informative)

deego (587575) | more than 11 years ago | (#5480787)

> I wonder how long it would take to train all of those people on Linux. It's not like they're using Linux for a server, it's just average joe using a computer. Chances are they haven't even heard of Linux (the people using those desktops).

Only the sysads need to know the nitty gritty and the indepth stuff.. one good sysadmin can configure the default desktop for scores of users, who would find the desktop very point-and-clicky.. and require minimal training..

MIT have a say? (1, Funny)

aePrime (469226) | more than 11 years ago | (#5480608)

Seems like they'd get enough pressure to not use Windows from MIT alone.

http://hacks.mit.edu/Hacks/by_year/1996/gates/in de x.html

FUCK DIS SHIT YO (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5480610)

THSI SITE=TEH GAY

mods: choke on cock!

Wait a second. $500-600? (1, Interesting)

_RidG_ (603552) | more than 11 years ago | (#5480612)

WWait, wait, wait. $500-600 per license? Where are they getting these numbers?

According to Pricegrabber.com [pricegrabber.com] , Windows 2000 Professional upgrade is only $158.

Small wonder they have a budget crisis if this is a typical example of their expenditures :)

Re:Wait a second. $500-600? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5480649)

thats a upgrade... u need to buy the full version for new computers

Re:Wait a second. $500-600? (1)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 11 years ago | (#5480664)

Maybe they're including associated costs, such as the cost for new hardware needed to run the new bloated OS, and new licenses of Office XP, too.

Re:Wait a second. $500-600? (1)

B3ryllium (571199) | more than 11 years ago | (#5480668)

Does that disc upgrade from Windows 95?

And, afaik, for business licensing there can be package deals and crap ... academic licensing is cheaper still ...

Perhaps part of that $600 is the hardware end of the stick? I mean, compare a standard linux machine to a standard Windows XP machine. For the average academic purpose, Linux can do more with less hardware. Personally, though, I would do the whole thing using FreeBSD. :)

Re:Wait a second. $500-600? (1)

CMonk (20789) | more than 11 years ago | (#5480801)

No, XP Upgrade edition is only good for Win98 and higher.

Re:Wait a second. $500-600? (5, Informative)

green pizza (159161) | more than 11 years ago | (#5480692)

We recently looked at the final costs from a new machine rollout in my office. The numbers do add up, even when using the cheaper OEM versions. Win XP Pro was about $100 per machine. Office XP was about $150 per machine. Client access licenses for the multiple new fileservers and Exchange server farm cost about $150 per client machine. Misc other other software (full Acrobat, antivirus, etc) added another $150.

It's not cheap... the little things add up.

Re:Wait a second. $500-600? (1)

dmayle (200765) | more than 11 years ago | (#5480735)

They're probably including the price of an Office License, and also possibly retraining users to get used to some of the differences (eg. the whole Ctr-Alt-Del paradigm, getting users used to logging out when they leave, getting used to the fact that they won't have crashes 15 times a day, etc.)

There's also the fact that they have to buy through Microsoft's open licensing program in order to not have to pay someone to open X * 1000 boxes and arranging all of the licenses

There may also be new server licenses required, depending on backend upgrades going alongside this, and I'm not talking just about MS licenses...

Re:Wait a second. $500-600? (2, Insightful)

Hiro Antagonist (310179) | more than 11 years ago | (#5480742)

You're not factoring in the other licenses (Office, Exchange, etc.), plus the cost of new servers, and new hardware -- a machine spec'd for Windows95 isn't about to run W2K. Period.

It'd make a gorgeous X-terminal though.

Re:Wait a second. $500-600? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 11 years ago | (#5480802)

TCO.
Installed, trained, possible System upgrade.
How many systems, that where new in 95, would be able to run XP with no opgrade in parts?

Err ahh the website is down (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5480614)

Err ahh who's got the mirror. Teddy, get me another bourbon, err ahh let's go down to the compound.

Re:Err ahh the website is down (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5480661)

Ted Kennedy is a BIG FAT DRUNK!

CowboyKneel is just big and fat.

watch out for the microsoft mobsters (5, Funny)

caffeine_monkey (576033) | more than 11 years ago | (#5480616)

with the way the mob run everything in this state, i wouldn't be surprised that if this was implemented, you'd soon find the director of the mass department of revenue at the bottom of boston harbor, with a hundred pounds of linux distros tied to his ankles and a copy of windows xp jammed into his mouth.

Re:watch out for the microsoft mobsters (3, Funny)

Kurin (629086) | more than 11 years ago | (#5480793)

And you know it'd be a hundred pounds of Linux on his legs and XP in his mouth rather than a hundred pounds of XP on his legs and a copy of Linux in his mouth because you know that'd cost a billion dollars.

well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5480620)

I'm living in Massachussets, WHAT should I do with my LIFE ?!!

MS Discount (5, Funny)

djchristensen (472087) | more than 11 years ago | (#5480633)

First prize to whoever posts the first "MS reps offer substantial discounts" story.

GOATSE.CX uses linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5480634)

If that isn't reason enough, I don't know what is. Linux and goatse are a lot alike. They can be stretched to do things that people wouldn't think possible. And they both can take a slashdotting and keep on asking for more.

IMO (3, Interesting)

intermodal (534361) | more than 11 years ago | (#5480636)

Running on 95 at this point is a good example of actually getting use out of your hardware and software. If you don't have an absolute need for the newest, snazziest, fastest machine in the world with the latest and "greatest" (YMMV) operating system and software, then don't bother. Having them consider linux is the best thing they can do, since even if a vendor drops support, updating one's system is free if you do it right. Imagine being an administrator of an all-Gentoo government department...you could easily update everyone from your own desk via terminal emulation, simultaneously from your office, while maintaining that humming little pentium II (if that high) buzzing in the corner as a portage download mirror for speed...

ah, a man has gotta have a right to dream, eh?

Re:IMO (1)

mhesseltine (541806) | more than 11 years ago | (#5480705)

Imagine being an administrator of an all-Gentoo government department...you could easily update everyone from your own desk via terminal emulation, simultaneously from your office, while maintaining that humming little pentium II (if that high) buzzing in the corner as a portage download mirror for speed...

Although, consider that these systems running Win95 probably aren't the fastest systems around. Therefore, do you really want to do an emerge some-big-program on a gutless computer and wait 3 days while it builds?

I could see setting up a beefy server and building packages on that, then distributing the packages to the users. But, if you're going to do that, why not just use Debian as a base, run your own package repository, and have apt-get update cron jobs on the desktops?

Re:IMO (1)

intermodal (534361) | more than 11 years ago | (#5480779)

both options are good. I merely used Gentoo as an example because it is what I personally use. Compiling on a central system is all dependent of course upon how homogenized each system is. If Jimmy Manager has a pentium 233 MMX and Jane Secretary has a pentium 133 without MMX, I cannot use the same optimizing codes in my /etc/make.conf as Jane lacks MMX. So you would have to do it in batches, which is also doable. While it would be good to gradually upgrade a bit (Pentium II systems for example are very inexpensive to get parts for, or even full systems at this point), running an emerge at night wouldn't cause problems, nor would having everyone leave their machine on for a weekend while an emerge runs on a larger program.

Re:IMO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5480873)

http://distcc.samba.org

distcc is a program to distribute compilation of C or C++ code across several machines on a network. distcc should always generate the same results as a local compile, is simple to install and use, and is often two or more times faster than a local compile.

Re:IMO (1)

Tailhook (98486) | more than 11 years ago | (#5480744)

This "getting use out of your hardware and software" is pretty common in municipal systems. I saw genuine Sperry terminals in use by clerks processing election returns in Fort Collins, CO three years back. That would be Sperry equipment manufactured prior to the Sperry + Burroughs = Unisys merger, circa 1986. No telling when it was purchased originally, but figuring in a couple years prior to the merger and the possibility that they're still in use, you're going on two decades!

Re:IMO (1)

GreyWolf3000 (468618) | more than 11 years ago | (#5480754)

Actually, I think debian would be better suited for this. Any working system of automatic dependency resolving is a must, but building from source isn't necessary.

While you *can* use gentoo with binaries, it isn't very useful, and debian is much more tried and tested. Packages have to be well tested to get into stable.

Re:IMO (1)

intermodal (534361) | more than 11 years ago | (#5480797)

i was merely using an example because I personally use Gentoo. Debian is also well suited to it. I just suggest optimization of everything possible on older machines, and especially RAM upgrades if the person using them needs to use large files or multitask.

distro (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5480875)

Sick of gentoo zealots throwing plugs in completely unrelated topics? Me too!

Sick of people being dicks about other people's choice of distribution? me too!

IP Concerns rule out all Unix-derivatives (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5480638)

If the latest revalations regarding IBM's possible leakage of copyrighted Unix code into Linux have proven anything, it is that using any derivative of this outdated operating system is a legal disaster waiting to happen. Not only is Linux licensed under the anti-business GNU General Public License, but it turns out that commercial code may have been unlawfully added, making it illegal to use or distribute.

This should suprise no one familiar with the history of Unix. The earliest version was an unlicensed ripoff of the proprietary Multics operating system, and was partly responsible for destroying the market for this pioneering operating system. The Berkeley Shareware Distribution (BSD) was sued by AT&T in the early 1990s, for openly distributed copyrighted code in its public-domain source releases. As if this wasn't enough, it turned out that AT&T had also broken the license on code they had taken from BSD, leaving both sides forced to essentially accept the other's illegal behavior in order to avoid stiffer penalties.

Reputable software companies such as Microsoft, though initially interested in Unix, have learned to steer clear of the mess of standards, licenses, and conflicting intellectual property rights that Unix forms. Windows XP [microsoft.com] is the latest release of Microsoft's flagship release of Windows, built from the ground up in the early 1990s based on the most modern concepts in operating systems, without any legacy baggage from the 1970s. And it is available essentially for free, preloaded on hardware from all major manufacturers. There is really no reason to use anything else, unless you need a truly high-performance computing system such as IBM's proprietary OS/390 or HP's OpenVMS.

Win95 no longer working? (4, Insightful)

green pizza (159161) | more than 11 years ago | (#5480645)

What's the reason for their upgrade? Windows 95 + Office 95 is still a decent combination and probably does more than what 99% of their users will ever need. Security isn't too great out of the box, but it's not that hard to configure the clients and/or a firewire in a sane manner.

I don't understand this "we must upgrade" mindset. If the wiz-bang product worked wonders when it was new, isn't is still working just as good today? My office recently replaced hundreds of P3/933 machines (running Win2K + Office2K) with P4/2.5G machines running WinXP + OfficeXP. Aside from the different default color and button theme, nobody really noticed a difference.... other than having to migrate files to the new boxes. The new machine rollout wasn't needed and was expensive... but the IT department said it "NEEDED TO BE DONE".

I don't get it.

Reason: MAnager needs to justify existence. (2, Insightful)

Unknown Poltroon (31628) | more than 11 years ago | (#5480695)

HEy, everythings working fine, why dont we cut the IT departments budget......

Re:Win95 no longer working? (4, Insightful)

HaeMaker (221642) | more than 11 years ago | (#5480696)

The hardware is probably failing, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to find drivers for '95 for new hardware. Instead of running systems with different OSes, which becomes a support nightmare. Mass upgrade.

Re:Win95 no longer working? (5, Informative)

BWJones (18351) | more than 11 years ago | (#5480745)

I don't understand this "we must upgrade" mindset.

The problem is that Microsoft is no longer supporting older releases thus "forcing" many users to upgrade regardless of their satisfaction with the current OS. This is what happens when your business model relys on folks constantly upgrading and is a problem with the PC market. Apple appears to buck the trend in many ways in that while they do not officially support really old versions of their MacOS Classic OS, you can still download it from Apple's servers for computers that cannot support more modern versions of the OS. This is one of the many reasons why I purchase Macs. They simply are functional machines for a lot longer than Wintel stuff, they hold their value longer, and they run lots of commonly used software making my return on investment much higher with Macintosh than with Wintel.

Re:Win95 no longer working? (1)

steveha (103154) | more than 11 years ago | (#5480769)

When you buy a new computer, it will not have Win95. Unless they bought full versions of Win95, they aren't allowed to move Win95 to the new computers.

Even if they have many, legal boxes of Win95 in a warehouse, it may not run well on new hardware. Suppose they buy a system with a VIA chipset. Will the VIA 4-in-1 drivers support Win95? And I sure hope they have the OEM version with FAT32 support; FAT16 really sucks on huge disks. (Max partition size is 2GB, and to get that you need an incredibly huge cluster size.)

They may actually want to be able to use USB devices. Even if they have that really rare OEM build of 95 that supports some USB stuff, no one ships drivers for that. Win98 is the oldest MS system that anyone provides drivers for.

And of course they may actually want a system that crashes less.

Your example, of replacing PIII/933 boxes running Win2K, makes much less sense. Especially since WinXP probably runs decently on a PIII (just add lots of RAM).

steveha

Re:Win95 no longer working? (1)

apachetoolbox (456499) | more than 11 years ago | (#5480815)

...but the IT department said it "NEEDED TO BE DONE".
well ya.. seti@home anyone?

Re:Win95 no longer working? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5480833)

Many application vendors (including Microsoft) no longer support Windows 95. Why? Because it's the oldest and least reliable of the many not-quite-compatible "Windows platforms" (95/95OSR2/98/98SE/Me/NT4/2000/XP). I'm pretty sure that the Windows Installer, the latest versions of IE, and other MS stuff that new/updated apps and components depend on (even when they don't *want* to depend on them) also don't work under Windows 95. All it takes is one dependency (direct or indirect) on some whizzy new thing and suddenly Win95 becomes very unattractive.

What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5480651)

A government? Cutting the budget? Will wonders never cease?

Most governments would just jack the taxes through the roof.

High Tech... riight (1)

chocochip (456883) | more than 11 years ago | (#5480655)

masshightech - 10 comments and dead

Re:High Tech... riight (1)

willum448 (461084) | more than 11 years ago | (#5480783)

I think that is the point, they need to upgrade.

Hmm... (1)

blitzoid (618964) | more than 11 years ago | (#5480665)

The problem is, of course, retraining. Windows-esque KDE environments can go a long way, but there are all those little niggling things that can throw a user off. THat's not to say I'm not behind them switching to Linux, I thinkn it's an excellent idea if it does what they want it to do, I'm just saying they have to consider all those small things you might think of at first.

Finally! Or is it? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5480675)

There was an excellent overview of the Linux on the desktop issue [osnews.com] at OSNews [osnews.com] some time ago.

Personally, I feel that if they get pretty good hardware (800 to gigahertz range to run Gnome or KDE without glitches) then they wouldnt need that much training. Maybe just a bonus to the IT guys for answering some questions but that would be all.

So, indeed, Linux does cost less and it will cost even more less in the future with the 2.5 and 2.6 solving many many problems. First thing that pops into my mind would be ALSA in the kernel - no more messing around, just build the kernel and be done with it. Excellent!

massinghightech.com... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5480677)

I think that web server is running Windows 95 as well.. judging by the speed at which it was bought to its knees :)

In need of upgrade... (2, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 11 years ago | (#5480678)

Their server appears in dire need of upgrade, it's slashdotted already.

...wait... I just got the first couple characters, all is not lost...

What I'm curious about is what software they plan to run on their desktop. If it's the standard office package then cool. If they run, like some public agencies do, canned software they they may have issues with getting that ported or finding alternatives, which isn't so cool (unless the alternatives are equal or better in useability and performance.)

Still have the brown screen. Looks grim.

hopefully it works. (2, Interesting)

capoccia (312092) | more than 11 years ago | (#5480685)

hopefully it works for them. most companies are so tied to windows and x86 they couldn't get out for anything near $200 a seat. they would need custom software to interact with their old data in proprietary format. many would need custom software just to allow them to continue working because no open-source software or even linux software is available to do the things they need for their business.

for example, i use a 3d cadd package (solid edge) to model parts and make drawings. as far as i know, the closest thing for linux is the army's brl-cad. which isn't very close at all.

in addition, our parts database has pdf's, doc's, xls's and such as part of the oracle database. there is a web frontend, but what good is it if you can't open the microsoft attachments.

there are many other layers of shackles in place, and there is no way anyone would easily be able to change platforms.

linux may work in this situation where the switch is from windows 95. any place the dor switches to will require new file formats, new programs and more training for everyone. so there is no net loss directly associated with switching to linux in particular.

full article text (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5480694)


"Microsoft bigots" is how Scott Akers describes users and administrators who won't consider so-called solutions outside the Microsoft realm.

"For them, it's 100 percent Microsoft and that's the end of the discussion," said the chief administrator of technical support for the Massachusetts Department of Revenue, a government entity with 3,500 users. "I feel like there should be an alternative to Microsoft. My intent is to make it free, and it's looking extremely promising."

To that end, Akers is advocating a DOR switch to open source/Linux, and he speaks of the possibility with the fervor of an activist. Charged with the technical direction of DOR, he talks about "altruistic decisions that have to be made" and the fiscal need to "embrace the open source solution."

Open source software is distributed under licensing terms that make the source code available at no cost, and through Linux servers, push word processing, spreadsheet, slide presentation, e-mail, Web browsing and slide presentation, all without the licensing fees charged for applications, most notably, Windows. And with DOR currently using Windows 95 and Microsoft not budging on per user licensing costs of between $500 and $600 a seat, Akers sees open source/Linux as the best solution for the Commonwealth's DOR, which processes information related to all taxation, underground storage tanks and child support.

"My intention is within 12 months to start rolling it out to users," he said. "The state has been stalled for two-and-a-half years on a licensing agreement with Microsoft. (Open source/Linux) would cost about a third."

Not to mention allowing Akers to get at the source code and customize the software to meet his department's needs.

Rebecca LaBrunerie, product manager for Microsoft's worldwide licensing, said the software giant is working with DOR and other state agencies to convince them of the benefits of Microsoft. Those benefits, she said, include familiarity, ease, application and productivity.

She also reminds that licensing costs are linked to "buying behavior;" in particular, the more a customer buys and upgrades, the bigger the discount.

Purchasing software insurance is also an option she said may be in the state's best interest, adding that switching to new programs always involves new training costs.

"But we encourage our customers to look at all their options," she said. "That's what they should do."

One of those options seems to be licensing, Akers said.

"Microsoft now wants annual licensing schemes. That's a whole different paradigm," he said. "We've been on Windows 95 for six years. If we'd been paying a licensing fee, we would've been paying a lot more. That's where the rub comes."

A rub, coupled with a tight economy, that may give Morgan Lim's company the push it needs. Co-founder and director of sales for Chelsea's Open-PC, Lim designs, integrates and sells desktops, laptops, video games and servers with pre-loaded Linux, offering the open source choices of Red Hat, Mandrake, Lycoris or Suse. Lim is targeting the little guys with not a lot of resources.

"We're very, very glad to be in this place," said Lim, adding a deal with DOR would be the "breakthrough" Open-PC needs.

"The state has no money and Microsoft is not budging," he said. "It's a stuck-in-the-mud situation."

A situation he claims he can fix by getting DOR onto open source/Linux for about $200 a user, about a third of Microsoft's $500 to $600.

"Desktop is the battlefield," he said. "That is the big story. The kind of thing Microsoft would pay attention to."

Lim is also training IT professionals to master open source/Linux through Boston University's corporate education center, while proselytizing about reduced cost, reliability and independence of proprietary obligations. He points to Amazon.com, Oracle and Merrill Lynch as large-scale Linux converts, and he notes that the MIT computer lab uses Unix or Linux and that IBM has invested many billions of dollars to support Linux. Sun, Oracle and Hewlett-Packard have also announced Linux support.

Meanwhile, as Lim tries to capture the smaller New England market, he's sold Akers. Open-PC has the go-ahead to bring a pilot program to DOR, allowing state IT professionals to "see it work." DOR skeptics want to see if Linux Open Office will allow for exchange of information with Windows systems, something Lim says is happening in his office and elsewhere.

"We use a mixed environment to simulate a work environment and we've been doing this since last year. It all works," he said. "Take the Microsoft exchange server out and the licensing costs go away. And you can upgrade whenever you want. I just think we live in a framework where people think anything free can't be good."

Akers concedes that some of the open source/Linux options are "not easily navigated" but is confident he and his staff can master it, as Lim promises support. Like all open source businesses, support is the business, given that by definition, open source software cannot be bought and sold.

And if the state likes the pilot program and later secures the funding to implement it across the board, by then open source/Linux bugs will be exterminated, Akers predicts.

"It could be two years from now, but at that point, we could have a simple solution," he said. "It's still very much up in the air. We're doing the pilot application, then we'll ask for some real funds to prove the whole Linux-based (system) will hold together. But again, there's a lot of religion involved."

New England Microsoft representative Alison Kenney points to the company's "shared source initiative" for partners and educators. Lim describes it as "partial" and "selective" open source, adding "you either are or you aren't."

Meanwhile, Lim's predicting an Open-PC-DOR deal will be the catalyst for change.

"Right now the state is very poor and Linux is very mature," he said. "We're doing a very good business. I think open source is going to grow bigger and bigger. The technology is there, but the mind-set is not there."

Yet.

Familiarity, ha! (5, Insightful)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 11 years ago | (#5480702)

Rebecca LaBrunerie, product manager for Microsoft's worldwide licensing, said the software giant is working with DOR and other state agencies to convince them of the benefits of Microsoft. Those benefits, she said, include familiarity, ease, application and productivity.
Heh, familiarity. My boss talked to a user this morning who "upgraded" to XP. User needed to add a printer. Anyone here seen XP? It's about as "familiar" to a Win95/98/ME/NT4/2k user as CP/M is. There's a "classic mode" but to make it act like MS' old products, but it's still pretty bizarre.

That isn't to say UI can't ever be changed (I'm not arguing against progress, nor making any comments on whether XP's approach is progress), but the "familiarity" argument for staying with MS is total bullshit.

The "ease" argument is bullshit too. You have to turn off the firewall that comes with XP to use Win98's SMB printer. Yeah, that's really intuitive and easy. Today, somebody paid a couple hundred dollars for that "ease."

Applications: this one is true; you might be locked into MS. Tell your vendor you want the next wave of custom apps to be platform independent. It is inexcusable for most business software to not be super-portable these days: PYTHON ROCKS and there's almost nothing it can't do (well, not counting realtime stuff, like monitoring the neutron rods in your reactor ;-). And I'm sure the Java and perl guys have something to say as well. If your vendors are still creating unportable apps, either find other vendors, or at least tell them that their decisions are costing YOU money.

BTW, I mean that about portability. Don't trust Linux either. Just be able to use anything and then whatever platform comes out on top .. will come out on top. I don't see Tux's flippers shaking with fear over that prospect.

My magic 8-ball sez... (2, Interesting)

mrsam (12205) | more than 11 years ago | (#5480710)

A) Ballmer should be booking a flight to MA right about now?

B) So I understand that the state estimates that they will have to pay $300 per new PC, with no cost for Linux? Who wants to be that Ballmer will now offer to sell the state XP licenses for fifty bucks a pop.

Now what's going to happen next is going to be intereting. Microsoft will argue that fifty bucks a pop would still be cheaper than the cost of retraining their orkers.

That's absolutely true. The only realistic way I see for Linux to be a viable option here would be either if:

A) The state intends to load Linux on their existing, aging PCs, thus eliminating the hardware costs alltogether, but were this true the story would've reflected that

B) The state was so scrapped for cash that even the fifty bucks per XP is too much, and they do not consider retraining as a budget line item

C) The state is smart enough to realize the monetary value of vendor lock-in. The greatest savnigs the state will realize with the Linux solution, of course, is the elimination of vendor lock-in. That's something that Microsoft will desperately try to avoid mentioning, but their popular trick is to first act as if they're going to give away copies of XP at rock-bottom price, only forgeting to emphasize that the "fire sale" is only for the first two or three years of the annual XP subscription license, and after the honeymoon is over, you bend over, grab your ankles, and start shitting out XP license fees...

Re:My magic 8-ball sez... (1)

kalidasa (577403) | more than 11 years ago | (#5480766)

I believe MA is was one of the dissenting states in the MS trial. On the other hand, that would have been the Attorney General's office, and the AG in Massachusetts is elected, and is a Democrat (Tom Reilly of the Nanny Murder case fame), while Mitt "Olympics" Romney is a Republican.

Text of article in case of /.ing (slow already) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5480720)

Great wide open (source)
03/10/2003 08:54 AM
By Elizabeth Dinan

"Microsoft bigots" is how Scott Akers describes users and administrators who won't consider so-called solutions outside the Microsoft realm.

"For them, it's 100 percent Microsoft and that's the end of the discussion," said the chief administrator of technical support for the Massachusetts Department of Revenue, a government entity with 3,500 users. "I feel like there should be an alternative to Microsoft. My intent is to make it free, and it's looking extremely promising."

To that end, Akers is advocating a DOR switch to open source/Linux, and he speaks of the possibility with the fervor of an activist. Charged with the technical direction of DOR, he talks about "altruistic decisions that have to be made" and the fiscal need to "embrace the open source solution."

Open source software is distributed under licensing terms that make the source code available at no cost, and through Linux servers, push word processing, spreadsheet, slide presentation, e-mail, Web browsing and slide presentation, all without the licensing fees charged for applications, most notably, Windows. And with DOR currently using Windows 95 and Microsoft not budging on per user licensing costs of between $500 and $600 a seat, Akers sees open source/Linux as the best solution for the Commonwealth's DOR, which processes information related to all taxation, underground storage tanks and child support.

"My intention is within 12 months to start rolling it out to users," he said. "The state has been stalled for two-and-a-half years on a licensing agreement with Microsoft. (Open source/Linux) would cost about a third."

Not to mention allowing Akers to get at the source code and customize the software to meet his department's needs.

Rebecca LaBrunerie, product manager for Microsoft's worldwide licensing, said the software giant is working with DOR and other state agencies to convince them of the benefits of Microsoft. Those benefits, she said, include familiarity, ease, application and productivity.

She also reminds that licensing costs are linked to "buying behavior;" in particular, the more a customer buys and upgrades, the bigger the discount.

Purchasing software insurance is also an option she said may be in the state's best interest, adding that switching to new programs always involves new training costs.

"But we encourage our customers to look at all their options," she said. "That's what they should do."

One of those options seems to be licensing, Akers said.

"Microsoft now wants annual licensing schemes. That's a whole different paradigm," he said. "We've been on Windows 95 for six years. If we'd been paying a licensing fee, we would've been paying a lot more. That's where the rub comes."

A rub, coupled with a tight economy, that may give Morgan Lim's company the push it needs. Co-founder and director of sales for Chelsea's Open-PC, Lim designs, integrates and sells desktops, laptops, video games and servers with pre-loaded Linux, offering the open source choices of Red Hat, Mandrake, Lycoris or Suse. Lim is targeting the little guys with not a lot of resources.

"We're very, very glad to be in this place," said Lim, adding a deal with DOR would be the "breakthrough" Open-PC needs.

"The state has no money and Microsoft is not budging," he said. "It's a stuck-in-the-mud situation."

A situation he claims he can fix by getting DOR onto open source/Linux for about $200 a user, about a third of Microsoft's $500 to $600.

"Desktop is the battlefield," he said. "That is the big story. The kind of thing Microsoft would pay attention to."

Lim is also training IT professionals to master open source/Linux through Boston University's corporate education center, while proselytizing about reduced cost, reliability and independence of proprietary obligations. He points to Amazon.com, Oracle and Merrill Lynch as large-scale Linux converts, and he notes that the MIT computer lab uses Unix or Linux and that IBM has invested many billions of dollars to support Linux. Sun, Oracle and Hewlett-Packard have also announced Linux support.

Meanwhile, as Lim tries to capture the smaller New England market, he's sold Akers. Open-PC has the go-ahead to bring a pilot program to DOR, allowing state IT professionals to "see it work." DOR skeptics want to see if Linux Open Office will allow for exchange of information with Windows systems, something Lim says is happening in his office and elsewhere.

"We use a mixed environment to simulate a work environment and we've been doing this since last year. It all works," he said. "Take the Microsoft exchange server out and the licensing costs go away. And you can upgrade whenever you want. I just think we live in a framework where people think anything free can't be good."

Akers concedes that some of the open source/Linux options are "not easily navigated" but is confident he and his staff can master it, as Lim promises support. Like all open source businesses, support is the business, given that by definition, open source software cannot be bought and sold.

And if the state likes the pilot program and later secures the funding to implement it across the board, by then open source/Linux bugs will be exterminated, Akers predicts.

"It could be two years from now, but at that point, we could have a simple solution," he said. "It's still very much up in the air. We're doing the pilot application, then we'll ask for some real funds to prove the whole Linux-based (system) will hold together. But again, there's a lot of religion involved."

New England Microsoft representative Alison Kenney points to the company's "shared source initiative" for partners and educators. Lim describes it as "partial" and "selective" open source, adding "you either are or you aren't."

Meanwhile, Lim's predicting an Open-PC-DOR deal will be the catalyst for change.

"Right now the state is very poor and Linux is very mature," he said. "We're doing a very good business. I think open source is going to grow bigger and bigger. The technology is there, but the mind-set is not there."

Yet.

Why upgrade? (3, Interesting)

zerocool^ (112121) | more than 11 years ago | (#5480722)

Not to ask the obvious, but why upgrade?

I mean, if the computers were built for a specific purpose, and they're still used for that purpose, why upgrade?

Reasons to upgrade:
1.) Your programs require more system resources. This is fair. We were using QuickBooks from ages ago until they stopped providing tax tables for our version, forcing us to upgrade *grr* and the new version has new bells and whistles so that it bogs down the P-90 w/ 32 megs of ram.
2.) You want support from Microsoft. But, then, if you really wanted to install all the updates for windows 95, wow. That's a lot of updates, probably adding enough to your system to bog it down alone.

But, then, why not upgrade the hardware and install the same copies of Win95? You'd be surprised how many programs will work with win95.

Or, how much do new copies of windows 98 cost? I don't know if they're still available, or how that works. You may have to do the MS stupid "upgrade to downgrade" thing.

If you want to keep windows there are lots of alternatives to look at. I say this because developing new software for linux and training your average high school grad 40 year old secretary to use linux won't be cheap. Something like RedHat 8 is intuitive, but it ain't perfect. Keep in mind that intuitive doesn't mean everything - familiarity is much more important.

I'm all for linux, but I'm also all for lowering the TCO. And i know that over time, linux is definately cheaper. But, then, how many politicians look long term? You look short term so that you get re-elected. Long term politicians get voted out of office.

~Will

Re:Why upgrade? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5480842)

Not to ask the obvious, but why upgrade?

They are probably using Windows under a site-license, instead of having actually purchased copies. That means they don't own any copies at all, they have to periodically renegotiate with Microsoft. If Microsoft says they don't want to license Win95 anymore, then they can't use Win95 anymore.

This is one of the dangers of licensing software instead of buying it. Don't do it, unless you have very smart lawyers read the contract first.

Good now they can consider lowering taxes (1)

argoff (142580) | more than 11 years ago | (#5480729)


A little off topic, but IMHO government is the servent of the people. When times are bad they should be the first to take a loss, and when times are good government should be the last sector to recover. CA could especially take a hint.

Department of Revenue? (0, Flamebait)

silvakow (91320) | more than 11 years ago | (#5480746)

Why is a "Department of Revenue" short on money? Isn't the whole point of the office to take it from other people?

The usual question... (1)

IGnatius T Foobar (4328) | more than 11 years ago | (#5480751)

The usual question will come up ... are they really considering Linux, or are they just proclaiming it to grab the Evil Empire's attention, hoping to be offered deep discounts on the new version of Windows?

State Governments (1)

MBraynard (653724) | more than 11 years ago | (#5480752)

State governments are notoriously horrific when it comes to staying up to date.

While I am very skeptical of the pro-linux argument that this is $600 versus "free" due to TCO, note that for the $600, that probably means $600 for an upgrade of software that is meant to similarly last another eight years or more.

Given the subscription basis of MS software, it will likely require additional infusions of cash every few years for upgrading software.

On the other hand, maybe rather than the state doing the purchasing and maintenance in house, they should consider out-sourcing their entire IT department to a private company who can get more flexible and cheaper contracts for sofware and hardware.

I am glad that I live in Wisconsin (1)

Montgomery Burns III (642155) | more than 11 years ago | (#5480755)

If I were a resident of the fine state of MA I would be very concerned about any or all of my personal tax info leaking. Linux on the desktop is bound to improve their security posture.

two words (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5480764)

BIG DIG

Any questions?

This will benefit them greatly (5, Insightful)

Zapdos (70654) | more than 11 years ago | (#5480765)

I really like the "if it is not broke dont fix it" group here.

We are talking about windows 95.. Guess what? It is broke. It has a MTBF of about 180 hours,

The product is no longer supported by the manufacturer. This means no more security updates. Windows 95 was never a very secure networked computer OS. I am sure that the Massachusetts Department of Revenue, could use some security.

obligatory simpsons quote (0, Offtopic)

thdexter (239625) | more than 11 years ago | (#5480776)

% Americatown is themed with a random assortment of United States politics and
% pop culture. Each table is shaped like a state. The Simpsons sit at
% Massachusetts.

Homer: I can't believe they stuck us at Taxachusetts! [points to table] Hey, you know, I once knew a man from Nantucket.
Bart: And?
Homer: Let's just say the stories about him are greatly exaggerated.
Waiter: Howdy gangstas! I'm average American Joe Salaryman waiter.
Bart: These prices suck! 10,000 yen for coleslaw?
Lisa: Don't you serve anything that's even remotely Japanese?
Waiter: Don't ask me; I don't know anything! I'm product of American education system. I also build poor-quality cars and inferior-style electronics.
Homer: [cackles] Oh, they got our number!

The way to the desktop .. through business? (4, Insightful)

cannon_trodder (264217) | more than 11 years ago | (#5480788)

A company I used to work for had around 6 users on terminals connected to a Unix box. I was experimenting with Linux at the time and was taken aback by these users who had been running tape backups, as root, from the command line years before I ever did!

Anyway - the point!!! :-

People will use *anything* at work. If the average user is sat in front of a well controlled desktop with easy access to the software they need, they'll care "not a jot" whether it's Linux, Windows or "Whatever"-soft (bought from "Whatever" local company who can supply the goods cheap enough).

As long as the Linux desktop crashes *less* than Win95 (ahem) then at least this may be an another outlet which exposes Linux to the average person in a positive way - as long as they can get stuff done on it.

In businessess I have worked in, price has always been the deciding factor and this might just be where Linux has the perceived edge to the business. Maybe business is the (indirect) way to the user desktop?

Mirror (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5480816)

The server is on it's way down from The /. effect.
Posted anonymously, so not to look like a whore.

Great wide open (source)
03/10/2003 08:54 AM By Elizabeth Dinan
"Microsoft bigots" is how Scott Akers describes users and administrators who won't consider so-called solutions outside the Microsoft realm.

"For them, it's 100 percent Microsoft and that's the end of the discussion," said the chief administrator of technical support for the Massachusetts Department of Revenue, a government entity with 3,500 users. "I feel like there should be an alternative to Microsoft. My intent is to make it free, and it's looking extremely promising."

To that end, Akers is advocating a DOR switch to open source/Linux, and he speaks of the possibility with the fervor of an activist. Charged with the technical direction of DOR, he talks about "altruistic decisions that have to be made" and the fiscal need to "embrace the open source solution."

Open source software is distributed under licensing terms that make the source code available at no cost, and through Linux servers, push word processing, spreadsheet, slide presentation, e-mail, Web browsing and slide presentation, all without the licensing fees charged for applications, most notably, Windows. And with DOR currently using Windows 95 and Microsoft not budging on per user licensing costs of between $500 and $600 a seat, Akers sees open source/Linux as the best solution for the Commonwealth's DOR, which processes information related to all taxation, underground storage tanks and child support.

"My intention is within 12 months to start rolling it out to users," he said. "The state has been stalled for two-and-a-half years on a licensing agreement with Microsoft. (Open source/Linux) would cost about a third."

Not to mention allowing Akers to get at the source code and customize the software to meet his department's needs.

Rebecca LaBrunerie, product manager for Microsoft's worldwide licensing, said the software giant is working with DOR and other state agencies to convince them of the benefits of Microsoft. Those benefits, she said, include familiarity, ease, application and productivity.

She also reminds that licensing costs are linked to "buying behavior;" in particular, the more a customer buys and upgrades, the bigger the discount.

Purchasing software insurance is also an option she said may be in the state's best interest, adding that switching to new programs always involves new training costs.

"But we encourage our customers to look at all their options," she said. "That's what they should do."

One of those options seems to be licensing, Akers said.

"Microsoft now wants annual licensing schemes. That's a whole different paradigm," he said. "We've been on Windows 95 for six years. If we'd been paying a licensing fee, we would've been paying a lot more. That's where the rub comes."

A rub, coupled with a tight economy, that may give Morgan Lim's company the push it needs. Co-founder and director of sales for Chelsea's Open-PC, Lim designs, integrates and sells desktops, laptops, video games and servers with pre-loaded Linux, offering the open source choices of Red Hat, Mandrake, Lycoris or Suse. Lim is targeting the little guys with not a lot of resources.

"We're very, very glad to be in this place," said Lim, adding a deal with DOR would be the "breakthrough" Open-PC needs.

"The state has no money and Microsoft is not budging," he said. "It's a stuck-in-the-mud situation."

A situation he claims he can fix by getting DOR onto open source/Linux for about $200 a user, about a third of Microsoft's $500 to $600.

"Desktop is the battlefield," he said. "That is the big story. The kind of thing Microsoft would pay attention to."

Lim is also training IT professionals to master open source/Linux through Boston University's corporate education center, while proselytizing about reduced cost, reliability and independence of proprietary obligations. He points to Amazon.com, Oracle and Merrill Lynch as large-scale Linux converts, and he notes that the MIT computer lab uses Unix or Linux and that IBM has invested many billions of dollars to support Linux. Sun, Oracle and Hewlett-Packard have also announced Linux support.

Meanwhile, as Lim tries to capture the smaller New England market, he's sold Akers. Open-PC has the go-ahead to bring a pilot program to DOR, allowing state IT professionals to "see it work." DOR skeptics want to see if Linux Open Office will allow for exchange of information with Windows systems, something Lim says is happening in his office and elsewhere.

"We use a mixed environment to simulate a work environment and we've been doing this since last year. It all works," he said. "Take the Microsoft exchange server out and the licensing costs go away. And you can upgrade whenever you want. I just think we live in a framework where people think anything free can't be good."

Akers concedes that some of the open source/Linux options are "not easily navigated" but is confident he and his staff can master it, as Lim promises support. Like all open source businesses, support is the business, given that by definition, open source software cannot be bought and sold.

And if the state likes the pilot program and later secures the funding to implement it across the board, by then open source/Linux bugs will be exterminated, Akers predicts.

"It could be two years from now, but at that point, we could have a simple solution," he said. "It's still very much up in the air. We're doing the pilot application, then we'll ask for some real funds to prove the whole Linux-based (system) will hold together. But again, there's a lot of religion involved."

New England Microsoft representative Alison Kenney points to the company's "shared source initiative" for partners and educators. Lim describes it as "partial" and "selective" open source, adding "you either are or you aren't."

Meanwhile, Lim's predicting an Open-PC-DOR deal will be the catalyst for change.

"Right now the state is very poor and Linux is very mature," he said. "We're doing a very good business. I think open source is going to grow bigger and bigger. The technology is there, but the mind-set is not there."

Yet.

whole cost of upgrades (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5480834)

Most here will be aware of the total cost of ownership factors involving not only just setting up and using a service but more importantly setting up a different type of service requiring trained personnel for that as well as the learning curve for end users on workstations. MS likes to use this very real factor and run it through it's FUD Amp v.2.3. However, I think that if more large organizations actually "make the switch" then by their experiences we can all learn from and refine the process. Actually we can refine the actual technological tools they use as well. Many will say (whether they actually know from first hand experience or are just parroting) that Linux to many end users is daunting because many of the graphical environments pull the ol' trick of having only two levels of customization: Useless to none in which you just go with what you get and the next level of configuring various config files and manually modifying modules and then sticking them in all of which are spread out to various parts of the system. It's obviously much better now but how to get over that fear is not an easy thing. Hell, my parents were frightened to start with Windows 95... think how this Evil Nightmare (tm) known as Linux would seem!

Basically, as the process and tools improve and more information is not only just available but EASILY available and organized (and written) well then the more you will see moves like this happen in the world. If your goal is to strike out at MS simply because you hate them then well you might get what you want. If however, your goal is to promote an actual free market system that promotes quality craftsmanship over cute advertizing and other gimicks then you are in luck as well.

As the market begins to show even more signs that it is tired of shoddy and sloppy software at massively bloated prices and requirements then you can bet MS will respond. Those that hate MS will not like this... those that simply wish to have choice and quality (and reasonable prices) have about a 33% chance of liking it. 33% goes to MS successfully using its FUD machine and strong arm tactics to sway the weak willed to once again set up an empire of bloatware and crashware. Crackers will rejoice at this as it will be literally a virtual playground. The last 33% goes to the very real possibility of government intervention (most likely all under a nice soft blanket of "good intentions" at least initially). Government needs no explanation just as human physiological responses and limitations need no explanation into modern context if one studies history... some things just are, the wise learn to avoid, adapt and overcome.

This just in... (2, Funny)

MisterFancypants (615129) | more than 11 years ago | (#5480878)

My maternal grandmother is considering the possibility of switching to Linux. Citing increased budgetary pressure from her retired lifestyle, she thinks moving to Linux might save enough money to get her dentures professionally cleaned. Truly this means Linux is well on its way to being the #1 Operating System on the PLANET!

More States to Come (1)

geomon (78680) | more than 11 years ago | (#5480879)

Oregon is moving toward passage of a measure [theregister.co.uk] that would direct all government agencies to 'consider' open source products when making IT procurement decisions.

While that is not an outright requirement, cash strapped states will invariably start looking deeply at their commitments to proprietary software.

My state government is screwed. We are the home of the Beast.

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