% fortune -ae paul murphy

A weak of rants

The trouble with ranting about stuff I can't change is that it's pointless - Microsoft's Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) program will, for example, continue to operate to Microsoft's genuine advantage whether I froth at the mouth over it or not.

There is, nevertheless, more than enough lying and stealing going on to rant over, however ineffectually, with today's case in point being a Mercer Consulting report for Microsoft called Driving Lower TCO and Rapid ROI through Unix Migrations.

Read this casually and you'll find yourself nodding because it's full of little truths most people will blandly accept. They say, for example, that Linux adoption has slowed since 2002, that Linux and Windows licensing fees are about the same, that Linux is generally adopted in ones and twoes rather than in global enterprise transformations, and that many executives think it's easier to find Wintel people than Lintel people.

As in: duh?

Since Microsoft believes, with I'm sorry to think some truth, that IBM and Red Hat have pretty much defeated Linux as a threat to Windows, their real target is Sun. That's what this thing is designed to do: help Microsoft mislead a million or so HP-UX and AIX holdouts who have to be considering a move to Solaris. That's the marketing focus necessitating the pretence that Linux isn't Unix and enabling Mercer's great discovery: that if you interview people who picked Windows over Solaris, they'll tell you that theirs is the smarter choice.

Specifically, the self reverential will generally agree that those who agree with them have done a better job of analysis than those who don't. Using this, Mercer picks respondents who believe that their analysis led them to pick Windows for rational reasons, offers them the proposition that those who perform an undefined (but 'rigorous'!) financial analysis pick Windows while those who don't do their homework pick Linux, and transforms their agreement with this into the implicit assertion that a Wintel decision suffices to prove the validity of the financial analysis leading to that decision; and, conversely that a Linux decision demonstrates poor financial analysis.

Bottom line? according to Mercer and Microsoft 45% of people facing a Unix migration get it right while 55% get it wrong - mostly by not adequately valuing strong application vendor support for Windows, readily available system management and development resources for Windows, and the strong infrastructure offered by a wide range of Windows services providers.

And how did these intangibles get valued? by rigorously interviewing analysts and executives who made the right decision.

As in, oh.

Somebody should do this for real, but not, I think, Mercer -all these guys have shown is that the opinions of decision makers tend to support the decisions they've made - and that essentially nobody will ask what Microsoft's ability to see genuine advantage in paying for and distributing such obvious trash says about how it sees its markets.

Paul Murphy wrote and published The Unix Guide to Defenestration. Murphy is a 25-year veteran of the I.T. consulting industry, specialising in Unix and Unix-related management issues.