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Once again MS does all it can to make WP fail

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  • User profile image
    figuerres

    , Ray7 wrote

    *snip*

    Okay, I didn't know that. I thought they were different depending on whether it was going on a desktop machine or a server machine. Then why do they charge so much more for the server versions if it's all just the same code?

     

    aside from the "they can" reply let's think about this for a minute:

    with a server the customer is generally more concerned about support and not losing data and such. also the server SKU will often be used on somewhat different hardware than a desktop.

    driver testing and reliability and the fact that you sell a lower number of server OS units but also have a higher demand on that sku.

    some of the reasons why ...

  • User profile image
    AndyC

    , figuerres wrote

    *snip*

    some of the reasons why ...

    Also some of the functionality, DNS, Active Directory, Replication, Clustering etc, are present only in Server SKUs, so sales of Windows Server have to fund the development of those wheras most (but not all, eg Media Center) client functionality is also present on server editions.

  • User profile image
    Bass

    Microsoft actually further subdivides servers. For instead Windows Server "Web Edition" is something like half the cost of "Standard Edition". That's just the starting cost: Web Edition has no concept of a CAL, so you don't have to pay extra for the number of users the server services as you do with other Microsoft offerings.

    This is probably because they have more competition in web servers (Apache/nginx vs IIS). You can run web servers and databases (that are only allowed to communicate with web apps) on Web Edition, but not much else without violating the EULA.

    Standard Edition however is the minimum required for a domain controller, a field where MSFT doesn't have as much competition (the primary thing being Samba) and thus are able to charge significantly more because of it.

    Also the client and server editions of Windows are very similar. The thing that keeps people from using the less expensive versions of Windows as servers are largely artificial limitations like restrictions on the number of concurrent connections a Windows client can make. These limitations can be trivially hacked out of the OS, but that would arguably be against the EULA.


    All these trololo aritifical limitation edition games Microsoft plays to try to squeeze a few extra bucks out of people is possible the biggest reason I'm not a particularly huge fan of Windows. Software which intentionally tries to make itself less useful to customers annoys the hell out of me. Generally speaking, if I am looking for something to run on a server application, I'm going to try really hard to get it to work on Linux first.

  • User profile image
    AndyC

    @Bass:They aren't "artificial" though, because ultimately somebody has to pay for the development of advanced features and that's the people that need more out of their operating system than the bare minimum. Market segmentation allows you to deliver a cheaper and better product to those customers who only need the minimum of functionality and to ensure that's all they're paying for.

    Now sure, some components like File Sharing are actually built to a very high spec, able to scale to extremes of performance and you don't really want to also write a less performant version (it would make no sense), so you have 2 choices. Either you charge all Windows users for the work that goes into building and optimising File Server technology, or you constrain it in lower editions (such as client SKUs) and treat it esentially as a freebie function funded by the sales of Server editions. This allows the cheaper SKUs to benefit from features that were primarily developed for high end server releases without pushing up the cost (Client versions of Windows would never have had Remote Desktop, for instance, if it weren't for Terminal Services existance).

    If there were a single version of Windows it's price would be far closer to that of Windows Server Enterprise edition than Home or Home Premium. Would you really want to be paying that much just for a machine you do a bit of casual web browsing on?

  • User profile image
    devSpeed

    @Bass:

    , Bass wrote

    ...Plus, you can always take your games you bought with you to a new iPhone, but not to a new WP7 or Android phone...

    You seem to be indicating on WP7 the app is tied to the device. Its tied to your Xbox live account. If you get a new phone you still have rights to your purchased games. The same way if you got a new Xbox. However game save data is lost when switching to a new WP7 device.

  • User profile image
    W3bbo

    , AndyC wrote

    *snip*

    I'm saying it isn't an issue of Windows being able to scale. You could just bundle all the functionality of both Windows 7 Ultimate and Windows Server into a single Windows edition and it could function on all the hardware configurations that Windows does today. The difference in SKUs is basically in the selection of which functionality can be enabled and that's simply decided by what the target market is likely to want (netbooks probably aren't going to be used as Active Directory domain controllers, for example)

    As an aside, I want to see more of this. I've been around to a few typical offices and they all tend to have ridiculously overpowered boxen serving as Domain Controllers and File Servers - the power of a modern netbook is equal to that of a good server from 2003-2004 (if not later) which is more than enough to run Windows Server, yet these handy boxes cost a fraction of the price and consume an even smaller fraction of electrical power, plus the built-in battery and display screen make resilience and troubleshooting easier than with a typical headless server. Finally if you need true resiliency it's cheap enough to get two netbooks running software in a failover configuration. And if you need RAID storage then just use a USB RAID enclosure - problem solved. It's just a shame this solution isn't more popular because when you tell your customer you'll be using a £250 netbook to run their business (despite your £3000 consulation fee) they'll think you're mad - people want to see expensive and complicated gear, when a simpler solution would do just as well. My first home domain controller was a Sempron box with 256MB of RAM, and that worked perfectly fine for three years until I moved to WS2008.

    The reason they don't do a single SKU like this is because it doesn't allow you to sell the product in the way that offers maximum reach at maximum profit. This is exactly the same reason Apple sells an iMac and a Mac Pro, for example.

    The unit production cost of an iMac and Mac Pro are different - whereas a physical SKU of Windows 7 Starter x86 costs the same as Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter IA-64 - I understand concerns about amortizing development costs, but when the only difference between one product and the other is by entering a magic code that "unlocks" features I start to feel a bit shafted, like how you can "upgrade" Cisco gear by entering a password - the product has already been delivered - anything on top is almost like rent-seeking.

    (I'm actually for a limited amount of market segmentation - I like having Windows 7 Professional because it makes me feel special when I'm surrounded by people running Windows 7 Home Premium and people get all "ooh!" and "aaah!" when they see my laptop's Welcome screen that looks different to theirs.)

  • User profile image
    Bass

    @AndyC:

    They are wholly artificial in there is no real inherent technical limitation preventing the OS from being used in a certain way. In some cases there isn't even any "defective by design" anti-feature added to the software, it's simply "we might sue you if you try to do that".

    I don't know any other industry that makes use of anti-features as much as the software industry. I've heard (but can't confirm) that American automobile companies in the 60s and 70s would design anti-features into the cars for similar business reasons, but that's it. If that's true I don't think it worked in the long run.

  • User profile image
    Bass

    @devSpeed:

    I was talking about hidden switching costs (eg: switching from iPhone to WP7).

  • User profile image
    AndyC

    @Bass: They're not though. It's extra features you aren't paying for in the cheaper versions. It's the same principle as optional extras on a car, don't want rear-parking sensors? Well they're optional. It's just harder for some people to mentally relate the cost of development of a feature to it's existence, but that doesn't change the fact that it did cost something to develop, even if the cost at the point of producing individual copies is minimal.

  • User profile image
    W3bbo

    , Bass wrote

     

    I don't know any other industry that makes use of anti-features as much as the software industry. I've heard (but can't confirm) that American automobile companies in the 60s and 70s would design anti-features into the cars for similar business reasons, but that's it. If that's true I don't think it worked in the long run.

    Porsche does. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crippleware

  • User profile image
    Bass

    @W3bbo:

    Why is that not surprising to me?

  • User profile image
    Bass

    @AndyC:

    I think a better analogy is taking a car and adding something to it to make it less useful for the purpose of product differentiation. Like putting in systems that make the drive-train less reliable or powerful. This strategy allows you to sell basically the same product to different markets and different price points without "competing with yourself".

    That's why Microsoft does this, not because Windows Server is difficult to produce or Windows Starter Edition is super simple code. As I mentioned before, in some cases the differences are entirely legal or even something like a registry key and a "do not touch" sign around it.

    It's not that they don't want to charge eleventy billion dollars for a "Windows" license, it's just that the market won't have it.

    So they separate into different markets and charge the highest that market will bear. For netbook market, it's very low. But for "Enterprise" (a common English buzzword meaning "rich and stupid") customers it's very high.

    That being said, it just doesn't sit well with me to make a software product crippled for the purpose of making it more "affordable". It's not the kind of product that should be treated as a limited resource, because software can be copied infinitely. So really the optimal configuration is to make software that is as useful as possible.

  • User profile image
    AndyC

    , Bass wrote

    @AndyC:

    That being said, it just doesn't sit well with me to make a software product crippled for the purpose of making it more "affordable". It's not the kind of product that should be treated as a limited resource, because software can be copied infinitely. So really the optimal configuration is to make software that is as useful as possible.

    But that's a flawed argument, because valuing the cost of software solely by the cost of duplication is just fundamentally flawed. Ultimately it would mean boxed software shouldn't cost more than a blank DVD and that download software should be basically free of charge. That might sound great, but it's not going to cover the costs of actually writing the software in the first place.

    And ultimately that means that if you want to sell similar software to different sectors of the market you either cut down features of the main one and sell at a lower price (whether "artificially" or not) or write a completely different version just to satisfy the idea they should be "uncrippled", which seems a far bigger waste of time to me.

  • User profile image
    Bass

    But that's a flawed argument, because valuing the cost of software solely by the cost of duplication is just fundamentally flawed. Ultimately it would mean boxed software shouldn't cost more than a blank DVD and that download software should be basically free of charge. That might sound great, but it's not going to cover the costs of actually writing the software in the first place.

    That argument would be all great and all, if the counter example of open source didn't exist. Maybe I'm out of line here, but I think it's possible to write software without making it defective by design.

    I understand the whole business case for this practice. It's not exactly hard to figure out. Regardless of the business reasons I'm just annoyed by it.

  • User profile image
    AndyC

    , Bass wrote

    *snip*

    That argument would be all great and all, if the counter example of open source didn't exist. Maybe I'm out of line here, but I think it's possible to write software without making it defective by design.

    Yeah, I had to write that sentence a few times because otherwise it was kind of cancelled out by FOSS. There are a lot of scenarios where there just isn't a suitable FOSS package though, nor is their likely to be because it's too domain specific or inherently complex. So I don't think it's the universal panacea that many suggest (not to mention it rather relies on generous donations by developers, many of whom are paid to develop on commercial software during working hours). There's also a bunch of FOSS applications like OpenOffice that really only exist because they stemmed from an initial commercial offering that was end of lined, which simply wouldn't exist if there were no ability to fund the initial offering.

  • User profile image
    Bass

    , AndyC wrote

    *snip*

    Yeah, I had to write that sentence a few times because otherwise it was kind of cancelled out by FOSS. There are a lot of scenarios where there just isn't a suitable FOSS package though, nor is their likely to be because it's too domain specific or inherently complex. So I don't think it's the universal panacea that many suggest (not to mention it rather relies on generous donations by developers, many of whom are paid to develop on commercial software during working hours). There's also a bunch of FOSS applications like OpenOffice that really only exist because they stemmed from an initial commercial offering that was end of lined, which simply wouldn't exist if there were no ability to fund the initial offering.



    Plenty of inherently complex and domain specific FOSS exists especially in scientific areas. It is not true that FOSS projects rely on donations or hobbyist programmers: some of the largest and well known FOSS projects are mostly developed by well paid full time staff (Firefox, Chrome, Android, MySQL, jQuery).

    Although I don't know where this conversation is going. Fundamentally if we are talking about my opinion on anti-features, arguing that it's good business sense probably wouldn't convince me. It would be great if I was a major shareholder or had I financial stake in this practice, I'd probably be arguing about how great this idea is. Even though I (mostly) work as a software developer, my employer generates revenue through methods that has little to do with actually selling software as a product - this source of revenue wouldn't change if all software went FOSS overnight.

    And if I have any stock in Microsoft or any proprietary software company it's mixed in with hundreds or thousands of other funds as part of my pension plan. Not much incentive there. I don't have any real interest in this practice continuing.

    I can only view this through the lens of an end user. Through that lens, these kind of restrictions annoy me to no end. It just doesn't feel right knowing that the software you bought and paid for contains features designed to protect the software's author's bottom line from you, the customer.

  • User profile image
    Ray7

    , W3bbo wrote

    *snip*

    The unit production cost of an iMac and Mac Pro are different - whereas a physical SKU of Windows 7 Starter x86 costs the same as Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter IA-64 - I understand concerns about amortizing development costs, but when the only difference between one product and the other is by entering a magic code that "unlocks" features I start to feel a bit shafted, like how you can "upgrade" Cisco gear by entering a password - the product has already been delivered - anything on top is almost like rent-seeking.

    Yes, when you're talking about a couple of quid then I don't really mind so much, but when you're talking about the price of a Windows license…

    The company I'm working at has shifted their whole technical team to Linux because the cost of Windows upgrades was getting ridiculous. The development manager realised that they'd got into a cycle of upgrading Windows to run Word, so they stopped buying Office and the problem went away ... :-/

    At home, I seem to have got into the habit of just using the Mac. The last OS upgrade for the laptop cost me about £20. Now folk point out that Apple can do this because they're a hardware company and that's where they make their money. This doesn't seem to explain the fact that I don't have to buy a new machine every time I upgrade the operating system (this is my third upgrade on the same hardware) and that new machines get the new operating system for free. 

    Folk also say that they have to charge for Windows because of all the drivers and testing they have to do for loads of different hardware platforms. But I always thought that Microsoft produced a spec that all the manufacturers adhered to, and so the manufacturers handle the bulk of testing themselves. I find it hard to believe that even Microsoft can test for every single configurable combination that goes into a PC. Likewise, even the drivers that come with the Windows installation are probably developed (at least in part) by the hardware manufacturers.

    I think a year of solid Linux/Mac use has really changed my perspective on operating systems. I no longer see them as products in their own right, just as something let's me run stuff to get stuff done, so I find it increasingly difficult to justify throwing away a hundred quid or so to buy a license for one.  I think this is the area that Apple and MS have very different approaches. Apple is working very hard to make the operating system disappear: muted colours, no scroll bars, versioning at the application level, and, in many many cases, an annoying lack of configurability. They're going to reach a point where they won't be able to charge for the operating system because no one will be able to find it. 

    Judging by WP7 and Win8, MS likes to have the operating system very much in your face as a reminder of what you're paying for: bright colours, moving tiles, gadgets and widgets and options galore. Windows is a product, hence the high price.

  • User profile image
    cbae

    @Ray7: I see you've taken in Apple's philosophy of devices being simply a launcher of a shiteload of unrelated "apps" hook, line, and sinker.

    For me, I WANT the OS to be the "product" because I'd rather have it do everything rather than do nothing. If I didn't have to install 50 separate programs every time I buy a new computer, I'd welcome the concept wholeheartedly.

    The device itself should be the most unobtrusive part of computing. When I'm using the computer I spend about 99.9% looking at the software on the screen. I don't sit there staring at the shiny aluminum case of the machine while self-gratifying myself. 

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