back to article Sysadmins: Let's perch on Microsoft Santa's lap, show him our wish list

Griping is easy. Solving problems in an acceptable way is not. I've had a year to chew on what exactly it is about Microsoft's recent moves that bugs me, so it's time to put my money where my mouth is and try to be constructive. Here is my wish list for the next iteration of Windows, offered in the vain hope that someone at …


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  1. southpacificpom

    I think there doing just fine, leave them to rot...

  2. Paul Shirley

    a MS wet dream

    Not seeing how lubing our wallets is a compromise...

  3. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    And the reaction in MS Towers is?...?

    nah-nah-nah-nah-nah can't hear you.

    Being serious for a moment.

    MS are clearly trying to keep their revenue/gross margins up. With the lack of people buying into the Windows 8 nightmare they are seeing their daily takings dropping. So they are raising the prices of just about everything else in their price book.

    Whilst this may have a short term $$$ value I am sure that many such as the Author will be looking for lower cost alternatives

    IMHO, MS are in a downward spiral and these moves seem to be nearly the last throws of their dice in the Enterprise Game.

    My Employers are firmly wedded to the MS Mantra with whole swathes of software written in .Net. Thankfully some of us have been preaching platform independence for some time. The ironic thing is that it is IBM who are key suppliers to us in many areas because of the ability to run things like MQSeries on a wide range of Hardware.

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: And the reaction in MS Towers is?...?

      If they want a quick way to bring in some cash they could just offer Windows XP -> Windows 7 upgrades for, say, $50/£30, instead of the ludicrous prices they charge for W7 at the moment.

      It might not get people onto Windows 8, but at least it would help get them off XP...

      1. Suricou Raven

        Re: And the reaction in MS Towers is?...?

        The marketing people would refer to that as 'devaluing the brand.' If you make your products cheap, people will regard them as worth less in ways other than just monetary.

        Besides, MS wants to kill Windows 7 too, eventually.

  4. Hogwam

    Even if the VDI licensing was the only thing that MS take seriously from above, that will be a step in the right direction.

    Also the gap between educational and corporate pricing is rediculous.

    I recently priced up the upgrade from my 2005 SQL server to 2012. Oh. My God.

    Absolute minefield.

    And after speaking to no less than 3 microsoft licensing 'experts' did they finally agree on a price that I should pay. I then asked a friend of mine who works in educatin to get a quote based on the same config. Thousands of $ difference for exactly the same product.

    Absolute joke.

    I'm currently spending that money on getting my DBs and applications that use them moved over to openSQL for a dev cost that's less than half the price of the upgrade

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      And after speaking to no less than 3 microsoft licensing 'experts' did they finally agree on a price that I should pay

      That's an interesting risk in itself. Imagine the entry in the corporate risk management system: "unsure if we are exposed to FAST gangsters or not due to lack of license clarity".. The issue seems to be one of interpretation, and any lawyer can tell you that that is where it all gets *really* expensive..

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      1. keithpeter

        Re: Education is how you LOCK THEM IN

        It is possible to get open source software in use in educational contexts.

        I got GIMP and Inkscape put on PCs at one of the centres I teach in, Audacity is already there, so students have alternatives to look at (even if they decide they are not as good as Adobe &c at least they have seen what they look like).

        LibreOffice? No go, it 'might confuse people' - concern was file format differences and round-trip editing rendering assignments un-openable. I can appreciate why there is a need to reduce, or at least not increase, support calls &c so I'm not pushing that one.

        Oddly enough, the other centre I teach in has got libreoffice available - but only on the admin machines!

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          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Education is how you LOCK THEM IN

            My son taught himself to read and write quite early (thanks, BBC), so a natural consequence of that was wanting to play with daddy's PC when sitting on my lap. So, after a month's worth using Word 2003 for typing in words and changing font, size and colour (your average 4 year old is only interested in shapes, so apart from the reading ability no surprise there), I started up OpenOffice instead and watched what happened.

            I think it took him all but 3 seconds to work out where the controls were, after which normal service was resumed..

            We need to tell kids about computer functions. In word processing, we need to tell them about the use of styles and document structures, not about which program to use. In spreadsheets, show how cells interact, not which icon does what. On desktops, windows work in a certain way (my pet peeve is people running every %ç*& app maximised). This is what kids need to learn, the basics. Anyone who claims they need to learn a brand specific app must either be a salesman or have shares somewhere.

            The aforementioned son now uses Linux, Windows and OSX. Linux because I sometimes ask him to, Windows because that's where his homework lives and OSX as a late discovery because he's interested in music software. His next laptop will thus probably be a Mac..

          2. James O'Shea

            Re: Education is how you LOCK THEM IN

            Look. Eadon, you merely make yourself look worse when you burble nonsense like this. MS Office can, and does, read and write the OD formats, and has done so for a _long_ time, and does so with trivial effort. i just did a save-as on a DOCX to ODT which opened just fine in Libre Office. If by 'half-hearted hack' you mean 'can open and write OD files without trouble', well...

            And, as for Libre Office 'opening and saving in any word processing format you like'... I don't see how to make it open, for example, a Word Perfect file. Perhaps you could enlighten me on this?

            There are reasons in plenty for not using MS Office. Use real reasons, don't make up stuff which can be disproved in _seconds_.

            1. Rukario

              Re: Education is how you LOCK THEM IN

              @James O'Shea

              I've never had any problems with Open & Libre Office Writer opening WordPerfect documents. I occasionally have to add a ".wpd" extension to some of my older (5.x and 6) files but otherwise, they open fine. Not sure about WordPerfect after 8 though (that was when I switched to OpenOffice).

              1. James O'Shea

                Re: Education is how you LOCK THEM IN

                I can't get LO to open WP 12 documents and have them display properly. I've given up trying. And the persons who use WP 12 will not move to another platform, they like WPO. I personally don't give a damn, except that personal experience says that LO will NOT open all other word processing formats. I've got three WP files which won't open in LO sitting on a thumb drive on my desk. And all the downvotes in the world will not change that simple fact.

                Of course, maybe I'm just Doing it Wrong. As I asked, perhaps someone can share the secret handshake with me?

                1. Rukario

                  Re: Education is how you LOCK THEM IN

                  I like WP too (though I'm just Linux now at home and haven't used WP in 10 years), I still miss the reveal codes feature. But sorry can't help with WP12. They've obviously changed the file format *again*... but let me guess, persons using WP12 are lawyers/paralegals?

                  1. James O'Shea

                    Re: Education is how you LOCK THEM IN

                    Of course. No-one else uses WP now-a-days.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @keithpeter - Re: Education is how you LOCK THEM IN

          If you don't tackle MS Office problem you'd better give up avoiding lock-in altogether.

    3. Pirate Dave Silver badge


      Educational pricing was always cheaper, at least for MS software as well as Novell software. In higher-ed, eh, we're not afraid of *NIX, so MS knows they have to cut deep or we'll make everyone use VT-220 terminals again. ;)

      And I seem to recall there was a large price increase in MS-SQL late last year, even for EDU. Not sure what the reason was, other than MS needed more money. Luckily, I haven't needed 2012 yet, as 2008 is still doing what we need.

  5. thondwe

    Private Cloud licencing for SQL etc

    Licencing a private cloud is getting better, but only for System Centre and Windows Server, can we see something more flexible for other products - e.g. Office Cloud Suite - which would licence any physical server/CPU for all the backoffice products (SQL, Exchange, Lync, Sharepoint, Project, etc...) so I don't need to provide rules on my cloud to nail VMs to licenced hardware.

    Also do away with the silly rules about who can then use the software - we're a University, and would like to host a few servers for a College we support, but the licencing for that is a mess - so we'd have to run a seperate cloud licenced with their software just to run these - PITA.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Private Cloud licencing for SQL etc

      Since you are an university, I believe starting projects to get away from vendor lock-in would be a valuable academic achievement.

  6. P. Lee

    Dear Microsoft

    I'd like to make a one-off purchase of Office, including Visio (but excluding Access) for 2013 (on the assumption it isn't as bug-ridden as 2010) to allow one flesh and blood user to use the software at any one time.

    And I'd like it to run on Linux.


  7. Joe Montana

    They won't do anything without leverage

    Ask yourself this, will you still be using MS software if they comply with absolutely none of your requests?

    If the answer is yes, then they have absolutely no reason whatsoever to implement any of your suggestions. You are locked in, and you will take whatever crap they throw at you. They don't care about existing customers because they know they won't lose them, they only care about getting new customers and new markets.

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    1. koolholio

      Re: Licencing

      You forgot the training... but I guess thats what supposedly separates the techies from the 'average office user'

      With linux, you either know it or you dont, and its not the paperwork that proves it!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Licencing

      Have you ever trusted a bunch of civil servants ? UK government recommendations ? You mean the ones suggested by Microsoft ?

      Oh and by the way, it's not the Public sector that will pay. It is you as a taxpayer that will contribute to Microsoft general welfare. This is the proper way for UK citizens to sponsor a US multinational.

  9. Arachnoid

    Also the gap between educational and corporate pricing is rediculous

    Whilst I dont agree with the price point on MS products the "educational license" is a reduction on the full price, much like a loss leader in the supermarket its there to get you in the store.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Also the gap between educational and corporate pricing is rediculous

      From a legal standpoint, home and educational licences are also limited versions. You are expected to use the software to either learn about the product or to learn how to use the product. They specifically do not include the right to use the software for commercial purposes. So, one could argue that the massive difference in pricing is to allow commercial usage. Though I seriously doubt the companies that use this strategy overlook the above factor either.

      Note that these pricing differences are common across many types of software; they're not just limited to Microsoft products. Adobe and Autodesk come to mind.

  10. Uwe Dippel

    Poor sod! :(

    I really pity you in your current situation!

    You have nothing better left than kneeling in front of Microsoft, and clearly explaining all your thoughts most reasonably, and understandable, and throw in a sweetener frequently: "I am willing to pay exorbitant amounts!"

    How does that feel? It must feel terrible, I am afraid, like crime victim continuously begging the perpetrator to accept all sorts of wealth, money and jewelry, to let him go, just let him go.

    Hello, dear, there is no real need for you to use pay as a bribe to get what you reasonably demand. For those horrendous sums, you can even pay (e.g. me) for a planned exercise in migrating software; and offer a lot of training to your users on software that is free as in beer. Plus, hopefully, as well free as in 'libre'.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Poor sod! :(

      Kneeling in front of Microsoft. You, sir, you said it brilliantly!

      It's a sad thing I am limited to one single up-vote for your post because you deserve thousands of them.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Poor sod! :(

        Ok Eadon, we would like to take you up on that offer.

        I would like a replacement for Outlook implementing emails (the easy bit) as well as calendars and tasks to at least equivalent functionality as office 2003 & exchange (at a decade old, it's not too much to ask for?)

        Acceptance is based not upon IT Professionals, but the end users who couldn't give a rats ass about if the software is from Microsoft or not.

  11. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Tech Support Mode is another variation of "dump TIFKAM".

    Have MS listened up till now to people's requests to dump TIFKAM? No.

    Maybe in another financial year they'll start to listen when all the Excel spreadsheets are counted in.

  12. Bigpatc

    The only real solution for VDI licensing...

    The simplest and perhaps the best solution for VDI licensing is to create an OS-CAL, similar to the existing RDS-CAL. The OS-CAL would grant a named user the right to use any Microsoft OS for company business. Let us decide on the back end whether to use Windows 8, Terminal Services or XP, physical or virtual to support that user. Then business has a fixed cost per employee to budget for the OS and I don't have to worry if what I am doing is legal or not.

  13. MacGyver

    DHCP and RADIUS (NPS) and 802.1x

    I have a request Microsoft:

    Make an AD object specifically for MAB, so I don't have to create bogus User accounts made from MAC addresses with reduced password complexity under AD just to use MAB with NPS and AD.

    Second request:

    Allow NPS to point to DHCP and if a reservation exists in the same subnet in DHCP with the same MAC as the MAB client request, then allow it. (you made it go the other way [NPS can tell the DHCP server not to allow an IP to be given out], but not this way [DHCP reservations authorizing NPS], what were you thinking?)

    Do they not have non-802.1x devices in your organization? It can only be one of three things, 1) Microsoft allows 8 character passwords for the AD accounts, or 2) Microsoft use a third party RADIUS software for their MAB. I guess maybe 3) they have no port security or simply use switch only based port security.

    It took Microsoft 10 years to allow me to right-click on a DHCP lease and convert it to a reservation, how long is it going to take for them to figure out those requests.

    P.S. Bring back the "File Explorer", Search Window/Box, and the Start-menu from XP to Windows 8, oh and a working WiFi interface (one that doesn't lock up my router, or require me to "Troubleshoot" every time my computer is turned on. And one where I can change the priority of stored connections).

    1. Tezfair

      Re: DHCP and RADIUS (NPS) and 802.1x

      " And one where I can change the priority of stored connections)"

      Control Panel\Network and Internet\Manage Wireless Networks

      set the order in here by clicking on the network and going up or down

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  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Sysadmins: Let's perch on Microsoft Santa's lap, show him our wish list"

    Sysadmins: Let's perch on Microsoft Satan's lap, show him our wish list - fixed, it was just a typo !

  16. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Requests to Microsoft

      What, is this based on the success of Munich?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @AC 15:08GMT - Re: Requests to Microsoft

        Shh! Don't mention about Munich! That will hurt Mr. Ballmer and chairs will suffer the consequences.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Requests to Microsoft

      Eason, you can barely string a coherent sentence together. If you were to tell me that 'you are migrating to linux' I would laugh, pat you on the head and go and find a grown up to talk to.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Another idea? Useful product lifetimes.

    There is no earthly point in actually getting training or certification for a product that gets replaced after 3 years, because it takes a year or two to find out if the flaws in the new OS/Program are getting fixed, and therefore if people are deploying it in numbers sufficant to make getting training and certification in that system worthwhile.

    And either reduce upgrade pricing to make it viable to upgrade an entire network in one go, or quit fucking around with compatibility between one version of a product and the next so SME's can upgrade through buying new boxes through dell/hp.

  18. Anons anon

    Dear oh dear! I suppose it could all be worse though... Imagine if there was no Microsoft and the only alternative was ugly, cumbersome and inefficient free and "Libre" software.

    I suspect that's the real reason why schools and educational institutions stay away from "Libre office" er al. It's just too darn awful for even a user who's just learning!

    1. Chemist

      "Imagine if there was no Microsoft"

      I'd just settle for several competing vendors so that 'lock-in' didn't happen. Funny how 'everyone' ( by which I actually mean WP supporters) insist that the mobile phone market needs several competing companies

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      1. Anons anon

        Re: @anons

        Yes, the products you mentioned sure are slick and wonderful, eh? So awesome and impressive that even though they're absolutely free compared to a MS or Adobe product that costs hundreds of dollars, people avoid it like the plague, and couldn't be bothered with installing that junk on their computers. (A few diehard neckbeards excepted)

        Desktop Linux has been out for well over a decade, as has Libre Office and its predecessors, they get lots of free press and magazin/blog mentions (as in every time they run a lets have a look at Office alternatives feature) and despite all of that and all of the evangelizing and the gratis price, the percentage of people using the mess is still in the very low single digits. That speaks volumes. Of a truly awful and rejected product, in the eyes of consumers and office professionals... (Except obviously, the few Sysadmins, network admins and other assorted neckbeards for some odd reason likes the foulness that is FOSS.)

        1. Chemist

          Re: @anons

          Your answer, wonderful as it might seem to you, still doesn't address the problem that Microsoft essentially holds the world in a grip of their own deriving. They are out to make as much money as possible of course but they have essentially no commercial competition and up to date they have been able to do much as they like - that's now changing.

          By the way you seem awfully familiar , with the same stilted views, right down to the icon. Are you of the prostetnic class really ?

          1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

            Re: @anons

            > they have essentially no commercial competition

            The reason that they have "essentially no commercial competition" is that they have eliminated it using various means such as vaporware, outright purchase, withholding API information*, and contractual anti-marketing**.

            What is left is software that is immune to such tactics. FOSS cannot be bought out of existence, it doesn't rely on OEMs or retailers who are influenced by MS, it cannot be undermined by MS giving away their products for free***.

            * such as Wordperfect.

            ** OEMs were allegedly paid $5 to _not_ install Netscape. Per Box pricing was also to eliminate competition.

            *** IE was given away for free to eliminate Netscape (and to avoid paying Spyglass). MS-DOS was given away for free (in a DOS/Windows bundle that was the same price as Windows) to eliminate DR-DOS.

            1. Chemist

              Re: @anons

              " they have essentially no commercial competition"

              Yes I know the reasons for that. I was trying to point out the consequences not the reason. The fact that most of the world has managed to lock itself into a very unhealthy situation bodes very badly for costs and innovation. Even Trevor is suggesting giving MS even more money ( & power of course) in exchange for a few crumbs, admittedly crumbs he wants.

              I don't know what can be done about it in the short term other than the change to mobile devices and a much healthier mix of OSs - I'm just glad that me and mine are completely out of it.

  19. phuzz Silver badge

    "What you want and what customers want are quite obviously at odds here."

    That pretty much sums up the current microsoft strategy right there.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why did MS never include a simple UI EXPERT / NOVICE mode toggle switch?

    Question: Am I the only one????

    #1. Its not just Win8, why did MS never include a simple EXPERT / NOVICE mode toggle switch for all its UI?

    I'm bored having to expend the same wasteful energy troubleshooting computers whether its helping out girlfriends, friends or neighbors every time they have a PC problem or buy a new one :-

    A. Uncheck hide extensions for known file types.

    B. Change all default file folder views to DETAILS view!

    C. Show hidden files and folders.

    D. Hide unused folders in the left-pane of explorer and expand necessary ones etc.

    E. Disable bland security notifications and endless tray icon balloon notifications.

    F. Change System settings to 'Adjust for Best Performance'.

    #2. Why is there no toggle button for a Safe PC Mode i.e. OS wide PRIVATE-MODE where the following are all disabled :-

    A. All SCHEDULED TASKS including Facebook Voice, Google, Adobe, Java Updaters.

    B. All browser add-ons & plug-ins in all installed browsers especially the most cracked: Flash & Java!!!

    C. All unnecessary SERVICES especially the most hacked: VNC Server, MS SQL, Remote Access RDP.

    D. All Registry Run / Runonce key commands.

    E. All Pointless windows sounds.

    F. All Remote Access.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Santa doesn't exist.

    And hopefully, in a few years, neither will...

  22. Herby Silver badge

    Microsoft listen???

    You have GOT to be kidding! I don't believe that anyone at Microsoft listens to anything from outside the Redmond campus, much less users or sysadmins.

    We will now invoke Godwin's law and point it to Ballmer and Gates with a bit of airborne chairs.

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