GBdirect - Surviving without Microsoft
Although we teach and implement the integration of Microsoft applications for our customers, we use few of the company’s products internally.
We switched away from Microsoft several years ago for the simple reason that we found it difficult to support either our ecommerce solutions or our day-to-day office administration on Windows/NT.
We were pleasantly surprised to discover how easy it was to live without Microsoft. We were utterly ‘gobsmacked’ when customers started demanding non-Microsoft solutions for themselves.
These are some of the reasons we went ‘Microsoft free’:
- Insecurity — In technical circles, Microsoft are notorious for the insecurity of their products and are held primarily responsible for the billions of dollars lost through viruses, worms and other malicious attacks on legitimate e-commerce. Almost all of these threats only effect Microsoft based systems. Having removed MS products from our systems, we have experienced none of these troubles.
- Standards and Interoperability — The Internet’s open standards are what makes ecommerce possible. For some reason, Microsoft finds it very difficult to adhere to international standards. Doing e-business with their products meant cutting ourselves and our customers off from other businesses and from our own legacy systems.
- Cost — Almost everything in IT costs a fraction of what it did ten years ago, except Microsoft licence fees and admin costs. Indeed, our experience was that the admin costs increased as Microsoft built more functions and complexity on top of fundamentally limited architectures.
- Inpenetrable Administration — Compared with UNIX, Microsoft systems have limited potential for remote and automated administration.
- Loss of Control — When we bought into Microsoft systems we put our information infrastructure in their hands. Incompatibility with non-Microsoft products effectively closed off the option of a ‘Plan B’. Because every UNIX adheres to common standards, we have dozens of fall-back positions should any one of our systems or suppliers prove inadequate.
- Low Technology — We are not fashion victims, here. We tend to judge a technology by its ‘fitness for purpose’. If it’s old tech or low tech, but it does the job better than the ‘latest thing’ then we are happy to go with it. We knew something was wrong, however, when we heard the Windows marketing guys trumpeting ‘new’ features which we had used on UNIX during the 1970s and 80s. When we eventually shifted to Linux we not only found it implementing features unheard of in Windows, we actually found it ahead of commercial UNIX in a many areas.
- Unreliability — We found that MS applications, servers and workstations simply failed too often for comfort. Apart from the internal dislocation this caused, the regular loss of network services had the direct effect of losing us fee-paying customers. Today, our customers can still do business whilst competitors are rushing to the machine room to press the reset button.