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The Dutch government has pushed through a new open source and open standards policy which will leave Redmond with smoke coming out of its ears. The Netherlands economic affairs ministry said last week that parliament had approved a plan that will mandate the use of open standards and open source software government-wide. It has …

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Alert

The EU has to approve

This development is very promising, and I hope it will make a difference. One thing though, it seems the EU still has to approve this law. And Microsoft can lobby and object once again.

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Great news.

Yet another reason for Holland being my destination of choice if I can manage to save up enough money to get out of this police state.

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"would put a dent in the market economy"

Sure...'cos all that money that would have been spent on Office will just vanish into thin air instead of being used for other things.

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Stop

When will they learn

Regardless of vendor or development type, technology should be chosen on it's merits, and nothing more.

For some tasks, I would consider nothing other than OSS, simply as it's the best all round choice, For other tasks I would only use MS or closed sourced solutions. There is no one solution fits all, no matter how much Redmond on the OSS crew want us to believe it.

Linux is simply too expensive to put onto desktops regarding end-user productivity, training and complexity. Yet I would never in a million years consider a Windows based firewall solution due to security concerns.

Mix of both will enable great things for a business in terms of it's IT - dedicating yourself to a single type of source model isn't good no matter which way you swing.

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Alien

HiFlying HelloWwworld dDutchmen ...... Schwartz Ops?

You can always rely on the Dutch for Novel Initiatives ..... IT is in their Genes/NetBeans DNA?

And IT Brings a whole NeuReal Virtual Meaning to .... The Future is Brighter when IT is Orange and TrotsopNederland :-)

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Status report captain?...

There's been a few of these announcements over the last few years; didn't Germany announce something similar a couple of years back? And Sweden also, no?

Anyway, what about a summary of the global state of play of this "Sod MS, we are going to use standards that will work next year too!" policy?

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Gates Halo

When did you last use Word?

Yeh, but in the web world who uses Word???? It's like a throwback, everyone thinks they need it but when was the last time you actually USED it??

[spec.doc] 22900 results

[spec.pdf] 60500 results

[spec.html] 299000 results

The world already tends to open standards, who on earth wants to pay Microsoft $400 every few years for the rights to read their documents?

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Sam
Coat

open source police

Does that mean when they raid a local government office they'll have little penguins on their cap badges?

I'm off for a schmoke and a pancake.

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@ Steven Hewitt

Please compare these two statements:

"There is no one solution fits all."

"Linux is simply too expensive to put onto desktops regarding end-user productivity, training and complexity."

Hmm?

Perhaps in your business Linux is too expensive in terms of productivity, training and complexity, but that isn't the case for all, or even most, businesses.

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Unhappy

Err Labour lead goverment?

Sorry, have to correct you here. It's a right-wing christian (CDA) lead goverment, in which 'Labour' (PvDA) participates. (I've forgotten who the third party involved is...).

As for the choice, it's insane. As someone pointed out why pick an application based on whether it's open source or not? Pick it for it's merits. I guess my tax is going to go up with all the beurocrats (and they have more here than in the UK, or at least it seems like it) struggling twice as much with Linux desktops (even more than they do with Windows), and contractors getting even more work setting up complex open source apps and redeveloping software designed to work with Windows...

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good oh..

I've mentioned this kind of approach in IT circles at a couple of Local authorities. You just get met with stoney silence - which is better than having stones lobbed at you I suppose!

So much money is wasted on MS products in government. Money that could be used to deliver better services. It's a no brainer really.

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Alert

re: When will they learn

"Linux is simply too expensive to put onto desktops regarding end-user productivity, training and complexity."

Erm... yes and no. It depends on which apps are being used and how competent your admins are. If you have bespoke Windows apps and admins who know nothing about Linux, there's going to be a high cost. If your staff already use mainly open-source apps anyway and the admins are comfortable with Linux, you can skin KDE to look like XP and half the end users won't notice that anything's changed.

At the end of the day, it's all about the applications. Moves like this will help defeat the catch-22 deadlocks that are preventing desktop adoption of Linux (example: some companies won't consider Linux until they can run Photoshop on it, but Adobe won't bother making a Linux version until enough customers are running Linux).

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Anonymous Coward

Funny that...

... I've been using PortableOffice (a variant of OpenOffice) on the road, and frankly, Microsoft's arguments are null and void. Portable Office works very well, is free, and has allowed me to do my work while still using Word documents where necessary.

Considering that MS Office is hellishly expensive for a small business, having a low-cost alternative makes more business sense than shelling out for MS Office, purely because "it's MS Office and it's the bestest since sliced toast".

Using open source software does not mean shoving Linux onto every desktop and telling the civil servants to get on with it. Open source software means using alternatives that are just as easy to use, cost less, and free up resources for use elsewhere. Well done to the Netherlands.

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Anonymous Coward

Reality check from UK expat in NL

@ Steve

"Yet another reason for Holland being my destination of choice if I can manage to save up enough money to get out of this police state."

ID cards are compulsory here. You will be arrested if you cannot produce ID when asked to do so by a police officer.

All citizens must register with the local authorities with 7 days of moving to a new address. Non-EU foreigners are also required to register with the 'Aliens Police' (no, not Will Smith and the 'Men in Black').

Oh, and it was the Dutch that invented the Gatso speed camera (though some of the cloggies do try to make amends for this by regularly setting them on fire / blowing them up / or filling them with cavity-wall insulation foam).

@John Stag

"Sure...'cos all that money that would have been spent on Office will just vanish into thin air instead of being used for other things."

I wouldn't be surprised if it did just 'vanish'. I really don't know how the Dutch government spends the 35+% tax that they take from my monthly salary. Considering that: there is no NHS here (health insurance is compulsory); VAT on everything is 19%; and the Dutch military is small (though they are actually participating in combat operations in Afghanistan, which is more than most of the other NATO 'allies').

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Linux

Hmm...

On the face of it, I should very happy about this, but I don't understand the requirement for Open Source software from a policy perspective?? Open standards, definitely, but Open Source, I'm not sure.

It also doesn't really make sense. What does it matter what application created the data as long as the data is accessible to whoever needs it, with whatever standards compliant software they like.

I also think this requirement is much too restrictive and will be difficult/expensive to enforce.

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Jobs Horns

The sound of a whining herd of iLemmings and Loonix hippies again

... Man it drives me CRAZY!!! MS should just stop selling to you period since you don't seem to understand the concept of a STANDARD and the difficulty and amount of work that goes into developing e.g. an advanced word processor. And while we're at it I think Intel should do the same. That would teach you COMMIES some RESPECT.

We do just fine without doing business with Cuba, and you're no different.

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> I guess my tax is going to go up

But the money will be spent in your country instead of being sent off to Eire in order to avoid taxation. There's a lot of virtuous circle in having money spent in your own country on contractors rather than in Eire on licenses.

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@ Duncan Hothersall

Dude, get a grip!

Steven Hewitt is completely right... linux on the desktop is just not practical in terms of support costs and user training. Industry tends to lean towards the solution which has the lowest overall costs and the best support package and that is why Windows is still around. In a world where redhat guys are as common and as cheap as mcse's then linux may be a practical alternative but IT directors will still get freaked out by anything they can't hire cheap people to look after.

Linux has its place in web hosting and suchlike or in poor mans alternatives to some of the bigger unix applications but on the desktop it has no place other than as a thin client bootstrap for something like citrix or terminal services.

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What's Linux got to do with it?

Whatever your views on "cost" of Linux, it's irrelevant to the use of ODF file formats. The best known application suite that supports ODF is multi platform and works just fine on Windows.

Use of ODF doesn't even mean you have to use open source software.

Instead of complaining, Microsoft could support ODF export and import in its file save and open dialog. It's not as if they don't have the development manpower or easy access to the spec for ODF. Of course they have reasons why they don't want to do that, but they're not good reasons, are they?

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Merits? I Give You Merits.

S said: As someone pointed out why pick an application based on whether it's open source or not? Pick it for it's merits.

Open standards and verifiable source code can certainly be merits, and overwhelming ones. The odds of MS releasing source code and ensuring that files are exchangeable with other packages is something one which I doubt I'll put money.

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Good weed?

"Linux is simply too expensive to put onto desktops regarding end-user productivity, training and complexity."

Not sure what you are smoking, but *nix can be set up to operate just like MS Windows. Hence the GNOME project, et al. So it costs sod all (standard admin costs are the same for either system = X techies...). MS windows is just as hard (probably harder) to shove on a desktop and lock the user out from the functionality.

Also, I think you'll find the desktops will be MS Windows for all bar basic word processing machines. If there is a piece of software which requires WinXP then WinXP will remain on the system. It's the applications that are being targeted.

Also, the most important part of this change over is not the software, but the standards. If this world doesn't start adopting open (un-butchered) standards then we will just continue to regress to a state of lock in with one provider of crap software.

And, finally, you'll find that if the software isn't up to doing the job it won't be used. This includes if the software isn't usable or stable, it just won't be considered. Don't just jump on the belief that ALL software in the government must be OSS, it's just saying that people should consider it first.

Good luck to them.

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Paris Hilton

Training...

"...end-user productivity, training and complexity..."

Anybody would think the government were going to make their end-users use simplified Chinese, not a modern Open Source software app.

I installed Ubuntu on my girlfriends computer about 2 weeks ago and she has only had to ask me 2-3 questions about it in that time. The only thing she's not happy with is media player setup, hardly a major problem in the workplace...

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Linux

Not replacing MS Windows

As far as I understand from local Dutch news sources, the plan is not to replace MS Windows with an open source OS, but rather the applications running on Windows, like MS Office and others. There are no plans to enforce Linux unto a bunch of bureaucrats, although that would no even be such a big problem in my opinion.

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Anonymous Coward

@s

The other party is the Christian Union... at least it's not the fascist so and so of the VVD.

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Anonymous Coward

@ s

The third party of the Dutch coalition is the ultra right-wing Christen Unie. And indeed it's silly to choose which software is used on any other basis than its merits.

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cor
Go

@ s and Steven

"Linux is simply too expensive to put onto desktops regarding end-user productivity, training and complexity".

1) My computer illiterate mother-in-law uses Ubuntu on her new laptop. No problem there.

2) the training involves mainly explaining to people that they no longer need to wait half an hour while the anti-virus loads. That their system hasn't crashed, but is in sleep mode 'cos they've been slacking..;)

3) The productivity will be only better, since the uptime is much higher, the virus infection rate is zero etc.

There is a question of added expense. Better trained IT personnel will be needed to maintain the system. A Microsoft certificate of obedience will no longer suffice, real savvy will be needed.

This does not affect users in any way. There has already been a tender by a Dutch company to maintain the entire system, at a fraction of the cost of the MS license renewal.

By the way, all joking apart, OSS does not automatically imply Linux. There is a subtle difference. There are closed, propriety apps for Linux, and open, free ones for windows.

- @ s : You were looking for the CU, the Christian Union. They are extremely conservative, traditional party that have a very dim view on e.g. homosexuality, sex before marriage, divorce.. and all that kind of stuff.

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Flame

Has anyone noticed...

... that those who support the use of Microsoft products in this thread can't spell and don't understand the correct use of the apostrophe?

it's = it is (always)

The apostrophe indicates the possessive case but not when used with the pronoun "it".

So, Stephen and s, "it's merits" = "it is merits". Got it?

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RE: Labour Goverment

why do you think the politians will struggel to use linux more than windows

the using linux for office tasks is no more difficult than windows

the hard part of linux is getting none legacy hardware to work because of driver issues

as most large workplaces (live governments) tend not to use cutting edge hardware and use suppliers such as dell or hp (who already supply linux to bussiness) most of the hardware they will be using will be easily setup plus it will be done by it support persons no government officals

ok there are some applications designed specifically for certain industries (sticking with local goverement there is caps uni-form and flare but they are just fancy front ends for an oracle database and a simplified gis system that requires an sde server) so redevelopment will take time but its not like it is a major cad/cam package that will cost millions and take a long period of time to redevelope.

also as this is legislative the vendors will redevelop the software so they can keep the support contracts (i know most of the money we pay caps is for training and support no licensing so it is in their interest as a business to redevelop plus in the case of local government in the uk atleast i cann't think of one fuction of caps uniform that isn't covered by an open source alternative

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biscuits

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would put a dent in the market economy

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Erm... how? This is a mandate for governmental departments only. As such, they are funded by tax revenue. Reducing public spending could, theoretically, lower the tax rate and actually mean more money in the market economy?

I can think of one reason to pick an application on being open source - legacy. Should you have any older applications, no longer supported by the original supplier, then anyone familiar with the original coding language can be brought in to support or develop that application (oki, working with other people's code is often horrible, but it can be done).

Open source is, in itself, a merit; I've seen some god-awful open source code but at least I've been able to see it - I've no real idea how bad the code is in closed source applications except by how slow they run, how often they crash or by CPU/disk usage (as indicators).

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Not entirely true

There are a number of errors in this article:

1. the Dutch government is led by the Christian-democrats (cda), in coalition with labour (pvda) and a moderate right-wing christian party (christenunie)

2. the plan has only passed approval by the second chamber (like the house of commons) but has yet to pass in the first chamber (house of lords)

3. the plan does make open standards mandatory for the government, but not open source; only when there are equally qualified open and closed source products (like that's ever going to happen), open source is preferred.

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Linux

@Steven Hewitt

"Regardless of vendor or development type, technology should be chosen on it's merits, and nothing more."

Thats pure utopian thinking. In the real world, licensing and supporting infrastructure have to be factored in too.

"Linux is simply too expensive to put onto desktops regarding end-user productivity, training and complexity."

And this is brainwashed propoganda. Linux can be used just as productively as M$'s offerings, doesn't have the associated M$ tax and ongoing licensing and 'support' fees, and perhaps even more importantly does't require ever increasing investments in more and more powerful hardware to be able to run it in the first place.

In these debates, people tend to forget that you still have to teach users to use Windows/MS Office - why not spend the same money teaching them to use a Linux desktop/Openoffice. Every year, organisations spend millions sending their employees on courses to learn even the most basic features of MS Word/Excel. These features are no harder to learn on the open source equivalents, and once you've got them up and running, you reap ongoing benefits.

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UK expats on a 35% tax scheme...

should not complain, or ask to be transferred to the regular tax scheme that goes up to 50%. Dutch Revenue is happy to set you straight.

(I know, off topic, but some A.C. hit my nerve there)

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Outlaws

Charlton Heston and the NMA say "if you outlaw windows, only outlaws will have windows".

Maybe they should outlaw the use of MS windows by their citizens too. The drop in their GDP, will clearly be made up by all of the Linux zealots who will be rushing to vacation there.

If it is such an obvious choice, why is a law required? Why not just recommend the use of open source, then cut the IT budget by 30%?

If the Linux zealots, the vegetarian zealots, and the global warming zealots ever unite, we are all in trouble. They all know what is best for the people, but the people are just too dumb to listen to them.

Those of us that are allowed to live, will spend our time compiling free software on our cheap but powerfull PCs, that run on very expensive electricity, while eating vegetarian hot dogs that "are so good, they taste just like real hot dogs".

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This post has been deleted by its author

@ Simon Painter

Dude! You're so wrong, man.

What you're saying is, nobody ever got fired for buying Windows for the desktop. Windows is the incumbent, the most widely used by a factor of twenty, and has by far the biggest base of trained users and administrators. None of that says anything about any given Linux desktop distribution, its usability or its maintainability. You're just saying Windows has the market sewn up right now. Well, duh!

More than 50% of people in this country are employed in small to medium sized businesses which are far more agile when it comes to desktop OSes. Because of its prevalence in web serving, Linux skills are a huge growth area in such businesses. And in small business, because of budgetary constraints, purchase costs are often considered far more important than maintenance costs. And Linux is free to purchase.

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Anonymous Coward

Just port office

If Microsoft wants to compete it can port Office to Linux.

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Errr...

Dutch cap to prevent problems with Microsoft penetration?

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You would think people had insulted Mother...

by the comments here. M$ can take care of itself. The government has chosen to protect its documents with ODF. Who could possibly object to that? If M$ does not want to be squeezed out, they can support ODF.

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Belgium

Belgium, Danemark, Finland, France and Norway were the first European countries evaluating the adoption of the OpenDocument format.

In June 2006, Belgium was the first country in the world to mandate its use in his services, baning proprietary formats.

The Belgian federal administration plans to exchange all documents in ODF from September 2008. All federal administrations should be able to read ODF documents from September 2007.

http://presscenter.org/archive/20060623/432d0130470a88df1105dda38d1282b0/?lang=fr&prLang=en

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Linux

What merits ?

A couple of persons have mentionned "merits" of Office here, implying that ease of use was the #1 item on top of the list.

But as I see it, the Dutch legislative body favored long term access and preservation of the documents over a (mostly supposed) ease of use.

Isn't that a real -democratic- merit in itself ?

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Ian

How is Linux harder to use/train?

can someone tell me where all these new support calls are going to come from?

scenario: Windows

1. Employees opening mail attachments and getting infected...

2. Employees surfing the web hitting the monkey or whatever and getting infected

3. Employess installing unsanctioned applications and getting infected...

scenario: Linux

1. Employees open a exe mail attachment and nothing happens...

2 Employees surf the web in reasonable safety and skive all they like

3. Employees already have the apps installed by admins and dont need to be

installing the spyware weatherbar

4. Employee tries to install weatherbar but admins wont tell them the root password..

Scenario of employee working in windows:

click click type type click click click <crash> click type type type...

Scenario of employee working in Linux:

click click type type click click click click type type type click type...

So whats the problem? I see substantial savings in security, privacy and productivity but I dont see any negatives (other than teaching your employees to use a computer rather than windows (and yes I chose those words for a reason)

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Linux

What about opensolaris?What's wrong with that?

(.....mutters summat about disk encryption and slopes off to the pub)

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It is a matter of independance also.

I think that one of the issues at stake here is also governement independance.

If the Dutch administration is dependent on microsoft for it's software, that may mean that the governement can't be fully neutral toward the company.

Let me explain: imagine Microsoft breaks some dutch laws (like, antitrust or something like that...) and that the dutch governement needs to prosecute microsoft or even ban the use of windows to uphold the law, then the dutch governement got a problem because they depend on windows being availlable in the netherlands for the governement to function.

Having an unregulated private company as single supplier of a critical piece of your country's infrastructure is a recipe for disaster, and that's what they want to avoid.

Currently if some company wanted to sue microsoft for patent infringement and requested that windows is barred from being sold in the US (like I think they are allowed to do), what do you think is the chance of the US governement cutting off the it's own supply of windows licenses , no matter what the merits of the case?

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The Netherlands follow the belgian road

Belgium, Danemark, Finland, France and Norway were the first European countries evaluating the adoption of the OpenDocument format.

In June 2006, Belgium was the first country in the world to mandate its use in his services and to ban the use of proprietary formats.

The Belgian federal administration plans to exchange all documents in ODF from September 2008. All federal administrations are supposed to be able to read ODF documents since September 2007.

http://presscenter.org/archive/20060623/432d0130470a88df1105dda38d1282b0/?lang=en

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Jobs Halo

Have any of the commentators used OpenOffice?

For the majority of users moving from MS Office to OpenOffice the cost of retraining should be low. You get different icons for documents, spreadsheets etc., but otherwise the look and feel between the two is very close. There are some quirky differences, but nothing to stop deployment.

Try it, its free http://www.openoffice.org/ and it is supported by Sun

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Paris Hilton

People vs Microsoft

People seem to prioritise constancy over just about everything. That's the only explanation I can think of for the love affair that the public has with Microsoft, demonstrated ad nauseam by the comments every time a story like this comes up.

People: don't worry. Nobody is going to take Microsoft away from you. You need to have some faith here: the company can take care of itself. You may not understand what the issue is here and that makes you feel uneasy but then again there's probably a lot in the universe that you don't understand so it's not like you're not used to it. Just relax and go on living your life. Nothing to see here.

(Paris Hilton because at least she's doing the right thing regarding this story and the 'Post comment' button)

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@Webster Phreaky

For many of us 'loonixes' it would be true to say that MS don't sell us anything anyway. I haven't bought an MS product since 1996.

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Anonymous Coward

"You get different ..."

"You get different icons for documents, spreadsheets etc., but otherwise the look and feel between the two is very close. There are some quirky differences, but nothing to stop deployment."

You get all of that when changing versions of Windows or versions of Office too (or of Visual Studio or of any classic MS product). So if there's going to be a cost to change, which there is, all other things being equal you change to the one with the lower TCO, which isn't going to be Windows.

As at least one reply has already pointed out, the change to Linux is happening a fair amount in the SME market right now, because their driving factors are business benefit and cost containment. The change to Linux is less likely in the corporates because in the corporate sector there are whole Windows-dependent ecosystems (IT directors, PC manufacturers, resellers, application providers, outsourcers, "security" providers, etc) who will fight tooth and nail to preserve their budgets and their current Windows-only revenue streams; Linux, to many of them, is a threat to their empires.

Fortunately, Vista and Office 2008 are a wonderful and possibly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for bigger companies to evaluate their costs and benefits, and thus get off the Microsoft ever-increasing-cost treadmill once and for all.

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Black Helicopters

Good times

What's all the ruckus for? I'm just glad to see Balmer's ass getting chapped. I hoped his office staff bolted down all the chairs before he heard about this.

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Stop

Anybody know...

How much the Dutch government pays MS per year?

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