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back to article Microsoft's VDI deals make Windows Server cheapest desktop OS

Microsoft's licensing policies for virtual desktops (VDI) include two anomalies that make it cheaper to provide Windows Server to end users. Those hoping to adopt desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) have problems because hosting companies cannot rent out Windows licences and must serve desktops from dedicated hardware. Hosting …

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simpler to move to FLOSS?

Bite the bullet. Escape. Reimplement on Linux.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: simpler to move to FLOSS?

Windows has always been the cheapest desktop OS if you look at TCO.

Munich council has more than proved that over the last decade... Tens of millions were spent and ten years later they still havnt been able to migrate all users to Linux, and all users when they need to use a version of Office that actually works - have to connect to Windows via VDI!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: simpler to move to FLOSS?

Surely you actually mean "Windows is the cheapest desktop OS if you are already fully committed to Windows"?

Munich was an attempt to convert an existing system. Realistically it was always going to be very expensive, like trying to convert your house from timber construction to brick construction while continuing to live in it. The only valid comparison would be between two companies of similar size in the same sector, one of which used Windows and the other Linux. Is such a comparison possible?

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Re: simpler to move to FLOSS?

I always get suspicious when people talk about TCO. It is one of the Microsoft mantras. They say it, so it must be true.

Microsoft products come out so often, and with the dropping of support after 7 years of official release, there is always a game of catch-up to be played. This edition works well and we are used to it and can work quickly with it but is no longer supported, so we are obliged to buy the newest package that has hit SP1. And it costs a hell of a lot more. Lower TCO my arse.

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Re: simpler to move to FLOSS?

There is no desktop software out there that matches or beats Microsoft's offering.

For example, I can't think of one replacement to Microsoft RDP that allows users to remote desktop using either local and/or directory accounts. If there is one, then let me know.

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Re: simpler to move to FLOSS?

"I can't think of one replacement to Microsoft RDP that allows users to......"

My wife used krdc for YEARS to access her school's Windows server for remote access - no problems and indeed faster than using Windows and not prone to crashing.

BTW thanks for joining The Register TODAY to post this ! It all helps to validate your impartiality !

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Re: simpler to move to FLOSS?

Disclaimer: Desktop linux user for the past 15 years - still use it pretty much exclusively today.

Are you mad? Have you yourself not seen the DROVES of Linux users jump ship to OS X over the past ~8 years ? I must admit it was pretty sad to see. I don't know a single professional person that uses Linux on their desktop/laptops. Note I do not associate with user groups or things like that, so I'm talking more normal people not hard core folks. I started seeing the migration back in 2006 myself - even at that time at the company I was one of MAYBE 2 or 3 at the most people at the company that used Linux on their desktop - everyone else that might of used linux was on a Mac. Since that time the ratio has been - just me - everyone else on Mac (with a tiny minority on windows).

I gave OS X a sort of honest attempt about 3 years ago for a few weeks - company was only issuing Mac laptops. The experience was so different - it was easier for me to go spend $2200 out of pocket for a good PC laptop and put Ubuntu on it then try to stay on Mac. I still use that PC laptop every day (including right now) - it's got another year left in the on site warranty so I imagine I got at least that much time left before I think about upgrading. The issues on Mac for me were just more than I cared to deal with -- I believe much like the issues on Linux are more than most everyone else cares to deal with.

Linux on the desktop failed before it ever got off the ground. Lack of a stable ABI in the kernel was a big reason, lack of a stable ABI in user land was another big reason. Breaking and changing shit with every release doesn't cut it. Lack of long term support and up to date drivers doesn't cut it. Ubuntu 10.04 LTS was a decent desktop system but even they never bothered to update the e1000e driver that my work desktop came with more than two years ago, every kernel update I have to re-compile the driver and re-install it.

Red hat abandoned desktop linux what seems like a decade ago for good reason. The war was never winnable.

I don't see myself jumping ship from Linux on the desktop any time soon (if ever), though I do keep a windows VM running in VMware(been a customer since pre 1.0 when it was a linux-only app) mainly for work related things but it's useful for other stuff too. Fortunately computers these days are so powerful that it's not a big deal.

I've also purchased more Microsoft software (Visio, 7 copies of windows 7(several VMs on different hosts), and probably a couple of other things) in the past 3 years than in the previous 15 years combined.

I find it highly amusing these days when people seem to seriously try to push Linux as a desktop alternative. Sure you can make it work (it works fine for me) - but if the Linux admins and developers have for the most part jumped ship for OS X - I don't see how anyone could seriously think the general public should switch.

The market of "only do email and browsing" has been solved by the tablet revolution.

Desktop Linux is dead, in fact it was never alive. (again sort of pains me to say those words).

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Re: simpler to move to FLOSS?

Oh and even though Android has a commanding market share lead over IOS -- at least the last time I remember seeing numbers -- IOS still dominated the internet for mobile traffic. At the company I'm at for example IOS represents something like 30% of our ENTIRE site's traffic (includes mobile+desktop), a share far higher than I would of expected given that the web site was never really optimized for mobile, and it wasn't until fairly recently that we launched an IPad app. (which AFAIK does not support iPhone). The company gave every employee a free iPad mini as an xmas gift early this year- I sold mine immediately to a friend as I do not and will not use Apple products(even if they are free - something which this friend pointed out to me where most people don't follow through with their ideals if the product is free, I didn't hesitate for this one).

The last time I saw an update on that was probably several months ago, I don't remember, perhaps the state today is significantly different but I doubt it.

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Re: simpler to move to FLOSS?

"I don't know a single professional person that uses Linux on their desktop/laptops"

Well I do and I guess almost all computational chemists use Linux or Unix and that was 200 seats in the company I was in + protein scientists + x-ray structural people

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Re: simpler to move to FLOSS?

Here's a simple example for the horrid state of drivers on various Linux ABIs. I wrote a blog post on this a while back but won't link to it..

I looked at the vmware tools distribution for Linux a while back, they distribute *both* source and binaries for their drivers -- and at the time (Sept 2012) there was *197 kernels supported*

* 47 for Ubuntu

* 55 For Red Hat Enterprise

* 57 for SuSE Linux Enterprise

* 39 for various other kernels

I argue, from my post

"In an ideal world I would expect maybe 10 kernel [ABIs] for everything, including kernels that are 64 vs 32 bit." (going to the past decade)

It's depressing. It's laughable. It's pathetic. Ugh..

believe me I do like to use Linux, these truths are hard to accept..

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Anonymous Coward

Re: simpler to move to FLOSS?

That's just hogwash. Windows XP is still supported after nearly 13 years!

Good luck finding an enterprise Linux release that even gets 3 years of support....

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Re: simpler to move to FLOSS?

Citrix Xen Desktop?

Perhaps not the best example of Microsoft's uniqueness....

There are plenty of features that Microsoft does have that are a long way ahead of the competition though. A good example would be Dynamic Access Control....

http://blogs.technet.com/b/windowsserver/archive/2012/05/22/introduction-to-windows-server-2012-dynamic-access-control.aspx

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Anonymous Coward

Re: simpler to move to FLOSS?

Yes, OK - research and academia are exceptions to that generalisation....

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Re: simpler to move to FLOSS?

> I can't think of one replacement to

Your inability to think is not a limitation on alternate software.

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Re: simpler to move to FLOSS?

> there was *197 kernels supported*

It is your lack of understanding of what is meant by 'supported'. It means that the company has tested it on those and they will accept support questions.

In much the same way some software is _supported_ on certain versions of Windows with particular updates and service packs. It doesn't mean that it won't run on others, only that the company does not test on those and may not be able to provide answers.

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Re: simpler to move to FLOSS?

What truth? That VMware can't be bothered to submit their drivers upstream? Sure, that's sad, but not exactly news.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: sort of pains me to say those words

Not really though, does it? Nice try at subtle MSFT FUD, Mr Shill.

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Gee, I wonder why Microsoft is so afraid of VDI

Maybe they think it is the death of Windows on the client?

People should look at LTSP. Great stuff.

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Re: Gee, I wonder why Microsoft is so afraid of VDI

I think the newer version of smb will work better than anything that uses swap over nfs.

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Re: Gee, I wonder why Microsoft is so afraid of VDI

You don't need swap for a thin client OS. Or disk. You just Netboot your PC and log in to your desktop on the server. Bang, like that you've got server resources on whatever client you happen to have. Works like magic 13 years now.

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Anonymous Coward

Headline Misleading

Linux is the cheapest desktop OS. What he really means is VDI makes windows server the cheapest windows desktop version.

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Trollface

Re: Headline Misleading

You're right - it should have said cheapest useable desktop OS.

If you're gonna troll expect to be trolled fanboi.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Headline Misleading

Yes very good Gordon, you wouldn't happen to be the Gordon mentioned in the song by Jilted John ?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Headline Misleading

Yes, Linux is free at the point of installation. However companies need to have support, Linux with any meaningful support is never free, this is where all the Linux companies make their money.

I personally would never suggest a company run production infrastructure without support, doing so would be a severely career limiting decision in any company I've worked for.

The usual upshot is that while a credible desktop OS, Linux is better in serverland and Windows when TCO is taken into account ends up a better all-round desktop OS.

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Re: Headline Misleading

Windows TCO is worst of all for the HOME user. Even OSX will cost less in the long run, much less.

To have a useful Windows machine you will spend a day installing all application programs. Find a start menu replacement. Then pay a yearly fee for AV. After time your kids get viruses on it anyway. So start all over installing again. Time is money.

Companies make clones so reinstalling is not a big issue for them, They don't let kids in and don't mind paying yearly fees. So for them Windows is probably fine (just don't put company secrets on them).

With Linux I install all those 10+ apps I use with one command line, take a cup of tea while computer does the work and its done. That is TCO for me!

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Accident or Design

Is this MS looking to swap desktop license with sluggish sales to more lucrative (presumably) server license sales?

Or just a sales cock up driven by overly complex licensing regimes?

Knowing MS its the second but you never know....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Accident or Design

I don't think this is a sales error at all - it is a marketing error, frantically trying to prevent users from getting things a little cheaper. In fact, it resembles nothing so much as IBM crippling its early PCs at the behest of their minicomputer divisions.

And look how that turned out.

It's 2013, Apple is about to release a cheaper iPhone, Google has released its first real Chgrome applications (though still at the moment tied to Windows/OS X), the cost of computing is going down just as fast as it ever has, but Microsoft hasn't yet had the memo.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Accident or Design

Err... From one point of view, IBM sold off their desktop/laptop division because there just wasn't enough profit to make it worthwhile keeping, they still have a minicomputer division though and it's one of the most successful in the world.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Accident or Design

That's the fallacy of temporal noncontiguity. The time interval between IBM losing its dominance of the PC market it created (due to its offerings being underpowered and expensive), and IBM selling off its PC division to Lenovo, is many years. The point was that by restricting their desktops and making them too expensive, they opened the door to the competitors. Just as they did with mainframes.

The IBM attempt to throttle PC demand did not lead to a world of minis and thin clients/terminals. The takeoff of the PC and the rise of democratised computing, however, led to the expansion of the WWW and the need for all those backend servers.

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Buying in Virtual Windows Desktops is dangerous then

So, right now you can do it with Windows Server, how long before MS notice and change the licensing rules?

Then what happens?

The hosting costs suddenly multiply by however many customers were sharing the Windows hardware. So the customer gets a x3 - x10 monthly bill increase, and/or the host goes bankrupt and the customers are screwed because all their computers stop working.

So quite simply, it's too dangerous to contemplate outsourcing a virtual Windows desktop.

And that's what MS wants, they don't want people being able to buy-in virtual desktop machines, they want thick clients running full-fat desktop Windows.

If a company wants to outsource their virtual desktop and actually save money rather than paying more, they must use Linux desktops - that's the only way to be sure that your contract costs won't suddenly multiply in the future.

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Re: Buying in Virtual Windows Desktops is dangerous then

It's actually been like this for some time, I was told over a year ago to re-skin server 2008 if I wanted to use VDI

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Re: Buying in Virtual Windows Desktops is dangerous then

>So, right now you can do it with Windows Server, how long before MS notice and change the licensing rules?

Indeed, surely this is one of the best arguments for floss - fickle licensing. Yes, I know the desktop isn't as useful or well-managed as MS'. The question is, how high do the costs have to go before "it just isn't worth it" is the answer?

Perhaps this is also why the GUI has been split from the Server versions - it can then be removed entirely (or licensed separately), making this kind of thing impossible.

If I were a large corporate, I'd be mandating cross-platform code for new desktop apps, even if I were running it on windows at the moment.

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Re: Buying in Virtual Windows Desktops is dangerous then

Every company wants to save money.

Most Enterprises however have a policy of only using vendor supported hardware, OS and applications - gives them someone to kick when it goes wrong.

So as soon as a viable Linux offering is available that is fully supported and runs all the supported applications then you'll seem Enterprises leaping at it (assuming the cost isn't more than Windows). But for now most Enterprises will continue to pay MS as the perceived risk of Linux is too high.

And I'm not defending Windows - I'd like to see more choice for the Enterprise - It's just not going to happen any day soon - Linux remains a specialised platform - try and recruit an experienced desktop support person for Linux and you'll pay through the nose, where Windows support staff are relatively cheap. Plus you've got to retrain all your staff (no, really, you do, despite how easy or similar you may think it is).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Buying in Virtual Windows Desktops is dangerous then

"So quite simply, it's too dangerous to contemplate outsourcing a virtual Windows desktop."

Lots of infrastructure as a service companies like Colt already have a successful business model doing just that...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Buying in Virtual Windows Desktops is dangerous then

"try and recruit an experienced desktop support person for Linux"

I'm sure The Vogon told us all that Windows staff were paid far more than Linux staff - mind it could have been a certain AC

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Microsoft Licencing - Ugh

MS Licencing's department is always behind the curve, and usually not even in the same ball park as the software development guys and even their marketing guys.

Please MS simplify the licencing - reduce the size of your licencing department - I don't even care if you keep the cost savings!!

Licencing - PITA

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I remember this....

I came across this a couple of years ago during a discussion with a chap from Microsoft. I recall there being a split opinion in Microsoft with how to deal with X-as-a-service cloud licensing.

On one side, you had the grown-ups in the server side who were more than happy to work in a multi-tenancy scenario, which is why Server licensing isn't (generally) a problem, and you can run server OS in this fashion.

The client side were taking this stubborn stance of licenses are part of the assigned tin, which in turn must be owned by the user (or user's business, by extension). As I recall, you have to be careful of Office licensing too for the same reason. A ridiculous, and in the long-term, an untenable position largely born out of trying (vainly) to maintain some semblance of control while selling as many licenses as possible. In other words - the end-user side just doesn't 'get it'.

It's either 'the fall of the Roman Empire' or death by a thousand cuts. Neither seem a good idea.

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I wioder if this will tip the balance towards TUX?

Its getting harder and harder to justify spending money at MS and easier and easier to justify spending it on someone to roll out Linux in your business instead.

Years ago, we had all windows desks, and one MAC. for the creative who refused to use anything else. Quark then ran only on Macs.

I wonder if its going to be these days all Linux, except for the [insert specialist app that only runs on windows] machine..

I cant help feeling that thee days Microsoft is its own worst enemy.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I wioder if this will tip the balance towards TUX?

"Its getting harder and harder to justify spending money at MS and easier and easier to justify spending it on someone to roll out Linux in your business instead."

Really? Why are near zero people doing it then? If there was a better mousetrap, surely everyone would be beating a path to it....?

From my perspective, I see less and less reason to consider anything else on the desktop. Windows is by far the most secure desktop option, has a lower support cost for most users, and has much better integrated toolsets like SCCM and AD Group Policy than the alternatives. And most importantly, it runs MS Office natively.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I wioder if this will tip the balance towards TUX?-From my perspective

"ting as an AC doesn't suggest you have much confidence in your judgement."

I don't know who he is but I bet he come from the planet Vogsphere

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Re: I wioder if this will tip the balance towards TUX?

Generally, people buy PCs equipped with MS systems. They do it out of habit, or out of ignorance, or out of fear because of the FUD posted about Linux, or simply because companies supplying them don't supply Linux, ANY Linux, because of habit, ignorance or fear.

Until Linux can break this vicious cycle, MS will continue to screw around with licensing and the users will willingly pay through the nose under the impression that they have to. Especially where those posting the FUD insist on using brand names to frighten people into thinking that MS is the only hope.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I wioder if this will tip the balance towards TUX?

@Chika - If you want linux to be successful, you'd probably be better off stopping calling the users of Windows ignorant. This is a major problem with FOSS enthusiasts, in that many will happily tell the users on COTS that they are ignorant and that only a moron would use X, Y or Z software, without thinking what message this conveys to other people.

The upshot is that the average user of COTS will think, well, "I'm not using software that people like that enthuse about." This does, of course miss the point that not all FOSS users behave like this, but those who do are loud and spoil the adoption of FOSS for the rest of us.

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Re: I wioder if this will tip the balance towards TUX?

"you'd probably be better off stopping calling the users of Windows ignorant."

If you are SO smart you would have realised that he/she didn't. He/she called SOME people buying PC's (almost always) supplied with Windows ignorant. That is the CORRECT usage :

ignorant

Use Ignorant in a sentence

ig·no·rant

[ig-ner-uhnt]

adjective

1.lacking in knowledge or training; unlearned: an ignorant man.

2.lacking knowledge or information as to a particular subject or fact: ignorant of quantum physics.

3.uninformed; unaware.

4.due to or showing lack of knowledge or training: an ignorant statement.

Plenty of SAs here would describe their users as ignorant whatever OS they used !

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Anonymous Coward

@ribosome

Posting as an AC doesn't suggest you have much confidence in your judgement.

ribosome, please apply your moral filter to ALL the AC posts here, not just the MS defending ones.

Also you're just as AC as other commenters who post under a nom de plume, and your comments don't have that much weight.

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Re: @ribosome

"Also you're just as AC as other commenters who post under a nom de plume, and your comments don't have that much weight."

Absolute nonsense - he/she has a posting history - ACs can be anyone or more suspiciously just one.

Incidently Munich ALWAYS intended to take a LONG time to move to Linux - it's the sensible way, it's certainly the German way.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @ribosome

Of course The Reg has your email address. And they gracefully allow us all to post as AC to each other if we wish to do so. I still don't know who 'ribosome' is or what drives him even if you posted your totally AC ribosome@somewhere address.

I fail to see why posting histories are of so much importance. Maybe the AC you first responded to didn't have much of a history here anyway or (s)he has commented on other things than Linux/Microsoft. Who knows and frankly, who cares. Probably whole posting history would have gathered a whole lot more down-votes from the hordes that rampage here. Posting as AC doesn't equal trolling.

Also, the post you first answered (AC 11:01) was coherent enough to warrant something else than the "Vogon" reference from an AC. Didn't you notice this AC and why didn't you chastise him? You didn't comment on that point but diverted and chose to ramble about your OS's of choice and whatnot.

BTW, have YOU lost your confidence on your first reply because you deleted it afterwards?

Posted as AC just because.

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Microsoft (DaaS) desktop-as-a-service (DaaS)

Yet another technical acronym, of which I wasn't yet familar, is it anything like remote desktop only under a new marketing term?

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