Bad, Bad Reasons Not to Buy Open-Source Software

 
 
By Steven Vaughan-Nichols  |  Posted 2007-06-20
 
 
 

Without further ado, here are my answers to the "reasons" not to buy open-source software.

1) Microsoft is the safe choice

Safe? Safe!?

Come on. Microsofts products are infamous for not being safe. Vista was supposed to be soooo much more secure than earlier versions of Windows. I said that was nonsense when Vista was first coming out. And what do we now see? Why, this month alone, we see that there are four flaws.

Three of the flaws could let information slip out if users visit malicious pages using IE, and with the fourth vulnerability, all you have to do is view a malicious e-mail with Windows Mail, and ta-da, youve just been hijacked. I hope you enjoy your PC being part of a botnet.

Oh, and if you mean safe, as in "No one was ever fired for buying Microsoft." You may want to reflect on the fact that the saying originally was "No one was ever fired for buying IBM." Things change my friends, even computer software company monopolies.

2) Richer set of application development tools

Really? The last I knew your choices were Visual Studio and ... ah ... Visual Studio. That said, Visual Studio is a heck of a development environment, but you are locked in to one vendor for all your development needs.

If you want to pick and choose your development tools theres Eclipse, IBM Rationals Jazz.net, Red Hats JBoss, or, heck, if you insist on Microsoft .NET compatibility, give Mono a try.

3) Larger number of packaged applications available

You can have any application you want so long as its from Microsoft. There are a few exceptions: Intuits Quicken, Adobes imaging and pre-press software and 20 different freeware programs to compress and decompress files. But Windows stopped being about software choice a long, long time ago.

If anything, the Linux and the open-source world has an embarrassment of software riches. You name the functionality, theres probably half-a-dozen different programs that can deliver it.

4) Desktop Linux Is Immature and Perhaps Unnecessary

Excuse me? Then why did Dell just start offering Ubuntu on three of its consumer systems? Have you looked at Novells SLED (SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop) 10? What about MEPIS 6.5? If youre serious about your desktop, then you need to take a long, serious look at todays Linux desktops.

5) Technical Support Costs Are Actually Higher than Microsoft.Net

I call FUD. Ive yet to see a serious study that has proven this contention. Ill simply note however that Windows desktop must be patched every month and have its anti-virus software updated essentially daily for it to be safe.

I can leave a Linux desktop alone for months and it will be as safe as houses. You tell me which costs more to maintain.

6) Richer Layer for Application and Business Process Integration Middleware

Could have fooled me. Why then is it that the last I checked, JEE (Java Enterprise Edition), in both its official Sun version and the open-source versions like JBoss, is still owning the application server space?

And, funny isnt it, how all the talk about Web 2.0 development seems to focus on AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) and not on anything out of Microsoft?

7) More Focused Commercial Technical Support from Microsoft

I dont see how. Yes, if you pick a hodgepodge of open-source development tools—one from column A, two from column B—youll have more trouble getting support. If you stick with say, Interface21s Spring Framework, Suns Java family of tools, or Red Hats JBoss, what makes you think theyre not going to support you?

The Microsoft Linux patent FUD seeps into devices. Click here to read more.

Of course, you can develop by hand with open source, but the days when you had to do it that way are ancient history. Theres more than enough top-level commercial support out there for any would-be enterprise open-source developers.

8) Microsoft.Net Creates End-to-End Framework That Offers Lower TCO

Again with this? Whats Java and JEE? Chopped liver? If you want an end-to-end framework for lower TCO, lots of companies will give it to you while trying their darnest to beat Microsofts prices.

9) Microsoft Will Try to Convince Your CEO that Youre an Idiot If You Do

Of course they will. Its what Microsoft does. But this is 2007, not 2001. Your CEO—really much more likely your chief financial officer or CIO these days—may not be able to tell Apache from Zimbra, but he probably already knows that open source is a viable contender for almost any IT job.

In fact, chances are your company is already using Linux, at the very least, in your servers. Marshall your argument for the software you think is best for your company and make your best pitch. If you do, youve got a decent shot of winning no matter what Microsoft tries to pull.

Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.

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