Monday, August 23, 2004
Today I was browsing though the Microsoft ASP.NET website and I discovered something new. Microsoft is going to be giving away a new product called “Visual Web Developer Express Edition 2005” for free.
You may now be thinking, “Whoa!!! Geeky stuff! Stop reading.” No, don’t stop reading, this article endeavors to take a non-technical look at Microsoft’s business strategy.
As you already know, Microsoft has essentially won the battle of the desktop. You are probably reading this blog using a Microsoft Windows computer, and you’re probably using Internet Explorer as your web browser, and there’s a good chance your computer has Microsoft Office installed on it. Windows XP and Office are Microsoft’s bread and butter products that are making them billions of dollars a year in profits.
But when it comes to the servers the run the websites and databases, Microsoft doesn’t dominate the way it does on the desktop. Only a small percentage of web servers are running Windows, the bulk are running some kind of Unix operating system. Microsoft is facing heavy competition from free “open source” software. A Linux/Apache web server is pretty common, and then throw in PHP and the free open source database mySQL and you have a completely free non-Microsoft web server.
Does it really make economic sense to use this free software? I don’t think so. The biggest expense of any type of IT project is the cost of the programmers and network administrators, not the cost of the operating system software. If easier to use software can save a few hours of expensive programmer time, then the more expensive software pays for itself.
I am a big fan of Microsoft’s software. Once I tried to get the free database mySQL to run on my Windows computer and I couldn’t figure it out. This is typically what happens when you use open source software. Only hardcore geeks can figure out how to use it. For the rest of us, it just sucks. In contrast, when you install SQL Server it just installs without a hitch and it’s ready to use.
Despite my own positive view of Microsoft, Microsoft has a definite image problem with the web development community. Out of principle, a lot of programmers don’t want to spend any money on expensive Microsoft software when they can develop websites completely free using the open source tools, even though a lot of time is wasted with them because they are less efficient.
It finally seems to me that Microsoft realizes it has a problem and is doing something about it. Microsoft is developing a free, or almost-free (I hope for Microsoft’s sake that they just make it completely free), version of its suite of programming tools, called Visual Studio 2005 Express, and there will even be a free version of SQL Server called “SQL Server 2005 Express.”
How does Microsoft make money giving the stuff away for free? Well, they don’t make any money doing that, but they make money by dominating the market, and they make money by selling Windows Server 2003 and the full version of SQL Server (which costs a hefty $5000 per processor, but is still a bargain compared to Oracle).
Microsoft will sell a lot of Windows Server 2003 and SQL Server licenses if they can get the developers to develop software that will only run on those operating systems. Developers will develop with the tools they are used to using, and if they are used to using PHP and mySQL then that’s what they will use. Therefore, if Microsoft desires to dominate web servers like it dominates the desktop, it has to entice the programmers into using its tools. Microsoft, in its greed to make as much money as possible, requires you to pay $2,800 to obtain the “Visual Studio Enterprise Architect Edition.” A price tag like that scares away new developers. I applaud Microsoft’s new strategy of promoting the use of free versions of its development tools.
Sunday, August 22, 2004
I’ve always been a fan of this show. I watched it as a kid when it first aired in 1978, and as an adult living in the 00s (what is this decade called?) I’m an even bigger fan than I was when I was a kid.
Unlike most science fiction which seems to be a front for liberal politics (can’t humans and aliens all just get along?), Battlestar Galactica was definitely a conservative show. I always saw the series as an allegory for the cold war. The humans represented the United States, and the Cylon Empire represented the Soviet Union. Only a few years later, Ronald Reagan called the Soviet Union an “evil empire.”
For many years the SciFi Channel has been re-airing the original Battlestar Galactica series, but unfortunately they cut out a few minutes of each episode in order to fit in more commercials. But now you can now purchase The Complete Epic Series on DVD, a must buy for any fan of great science fiction television.
After I bought my set of DVDs the month they came out, I got so excited that I went and started the Battlestar Galactica Blog where I write about nothing but Battlestar Galactica.
Is there enough to write about to keep a whole blog going? Well, I only write something about once a month, and the topics are unlimited. My most recent post was Microsoft Project Server and Battlestar Galactica, which I feel is a must read for people who work in Project Management or who use Microsoft Project. To fully appreciate the humor it would probably help if you had watched the particular Battlestar Galactica episode where Commander Adam uses the Colonial Fleet’s version of project management software, nevertheless it contains some valuable commentary on management and personnel selection.
I also added a Battlestar Galactica Directory to the site so hardcore fans can find other Battlestar Galactica resources on the web.
With a new Battlestar Galactica series coming out in 2005, I guess I will have plenty of Battlestar Galactica stuff to write about for many years to come.