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Why UNIX is better than Windows... By Microsoft 974

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the nice-to-know dept.
BenBenBen writes "According to a whitepaper found on "a fairly insecure server", UNIX not only is more reliable and easier to maintain than Windows (2000 in this case), it's cheaper too. These shock results are reported on both The Register and (the source) Security Office."
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Why UNIX is better than Windows... By Microsoft

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  • by carb (611951) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @12:15PM (#4723341) Homepage
    At least it shows Microsoft is keeping some goal in mind in developing Windows - personally I was beginning to wonder ...
    • by dnoyeb (547705) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @12:34PM (#4723527) Homepage Journal
      Sorry to bust your bubble. Most big corporations have intelligent technicians. However, the message gets lost somewhere between tech and management.

      I am sure managements response to this letter was to start an 'investigation team.' Or send the techs to a '7 habits' seminar or 5S, QS9000, pokeyoke...

      Years later nothing has changed I assure you. They are still using Windows Servers no?
      • by red_dragon (1761) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @12:41PM (#4723593) Homepage

        Most big corporations have intelligent technicians. However, the message gets lost somewhere between tech and management.

        This, of course, is the basis for the SNAFU principle [tuxedo.org]:

        In the beginning was the plan, and then the specification; And the plan was without form, and the specification was void. And darkness was on the faces of the implementors thereof; And they spake unto their leader, saying: "It is a crock of shit, and smells as of a sewer." And the leader took pity on them, and spoke to the project leader: "It is a crock of excrement, and none may abide the odor thereof." And the project leader spake unto his section head, saying: "It is a container of excrement, and it is very strong, such that none may abide it." The section head then hurried to his department manager, and informed him thus: "It is a vessel of fertilizer, and none may abide its strength." The department manager carried these words to his general manager, and spoke unto him saying: "It containeth that which aideth the growth of plants, and it is very strong." And so it was that the general manager rejoiced and delivered the good news unto the Vice President. "It promoteth growth, and it is very powerful." The Vice President rushed to the President's side, and joyously exclaimed: "This powerful new software product will promote the growth of the company!" And the President looked upon the product, and saw that it was very good.
        • by red_dragon (1761) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @12:44PM (#4723621) Homepage
          Ugh... the Submit button needs to be placed farther away from the Preview button (*covers head with brown paper bag*).
        • Systemantics (Score:5, Interesting)

          by jefu (53450) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @04:13PM (#4725586) Homepage Journal
          Along the same lines (more or less) is "Systemantics" by John Gall. Everyone in any kind of organization should read this - especially managers. (Don't worry, they'll have little problem finishing it, it doesn't use too many big words, there are pictures and its only about 100 pages long.)

          But it portrays, about as accurately as I've ever seen it, how systems are created to do one thing and end up doing something very different - and usually not something all that valuable.

          The following is quoted (excerpted) from the back cover.

          • Systems are seductive. They promise to do a hard job faster better and more easily ... But ... you are likely to find you time ... now being consumed in the care ... of the system itself. New prolems are created by its very presence.
          • Once set up, it won't go away.
          • It begins to do strange and wonderful things
          • Breaks down in ways you never thought possible
          • It kicks back, gets in the way
          • Your own perspective becomes distorted by being in the system
          • You push on it to make it work
          • Eventually you come to believe that the misbegotten product it so grudgingly delivers is what you really wanted all that time.
          • You are now a Systems Person
      • by Pig Hogger (10379) <pig.hogger@NoSpAM.gmail.com> on Thursday November 21, 2002 @01:37PM (#4724112) Journal
        Most big corporations have intelligent technicians. However, the message gets lost somewhere between tech and management.
        As always. Nothing new there...
      • by smitty_one_each (243267) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @02:02PM (#4724339) Homepage Journal
        Your observation holds true in a large number of cases.
        But beware.
        The technician/sergeant with the tactical view of things is not the manager/general with the strategic view.
        The Big Picture and the Little Picture will remain in tension indefinitely.
      • by ryochiji (453715) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @02:33PM (#4724636) Homepage
        > intelligent technicians. However, the message gets lost somewhere between tech and management

        One of the things I like about my current job is that that doesn't happen. Okay, I don't work for a big corporation, but a university bookstore run by the student organization (employing something like 100 students).

        The web-group (which does web design, development, and server administration) reports directly to the bookstore manager (we're the only non-staff employees to do so). The really cool thing is, he trusts our judgement and actually listens to our recommendations. Hell, the other day, we even got him to start using Mozilla!

        But I know my manager's an exception. I don't know what it is with managers. I think it's a lot like politicians...the people who want to achieve power are the last ones to deserve it.

    • by Pac (9516) <paulo...candido@@@gmail...com> on Thursday November 21, 2002 @12:37PM (#4723549)
      Why bother then? If Apple, with far less resources of any kind whatsoever, managed to plug a decent user interface on the top of a free UNIX-like layer, Microsoft could certainly do the same, only better and faster.
      • by MalleusEBHC (597600) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @12:59PM (#4723746)
        If Apple, with far less resources of any kind whatsoever, managed to plug a decent user interface on the top of a free UNIX-like layer, Microsoft could certainly do the same, only better and faster.

        Duh. They would just copy the Apple product like they have for all those other great M$ GUI "innovations."
      • by oconnorcjo (242077) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @01:09PM (#4723834) Journal
        Why bother then? If Apple, with far less resources of any kind whatsoever, managed to plug a decent user interface on the top of a free UNIX-like layer, Microsoft could certainly do the same, only better and faster.

        Because it is not the way to make money. 1) They have spent a lot of money on "Microsoft technology" that only works on Windows and they don't want to make that stuff portable(and please people, don't reply back about IE on Solaris and Mac). 2) They invested a lot of PR into branding Windows as easier and better than Unix which will go down the toilet (ok- this leaked but it is not that big a deal). 3) It would cost them less to fix the shit they already have than to go to a whole new system.

        Ok Apple did replace the OS but apple probably has a lot cleaner code and to this day, Apple has not been able to emulate all their old apps. If Microsoft broke compatibility, I could just see all kinds of people jumping ship to Linux or some other OS.

        • by EnderWiggnz (39214) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @01:15PM (#4723892)
          look - until they went to a BSD kernel, the OS acted like it was written by some dropouts in a garage.

      • by qwijibrumm (559350) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @01:12PM (#4723873)
        MS: It's easy to implement a good UI on top of unix... We know from experience.

        Consumer: No, no you don't.

        MS: Yeah... But our friends. Them and unix GOT IT ON!

        Consumer: No... They didn't.

        MS: No... But you could imagine what it'd be like if they did.
      • by superdan2k (135614) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @01:49PM (#4724224) Homepage Journal
        You are, of course, assuming that bigger and more money/resources equates to better-positioned. Bear in mind that with an organization sized like Micro$oft comes a lot of bureaucracy and inertia. And a lot of little political turfs that need protecting.

        I think that part of the reason Apple was able to make the transition to UNIX is because they are a smaller, more agile company. They're not afraid to throw out things that don't work -- OpenDoc, for example. And the Newton. (Sorry, I owned a Newton. It was a piece of dogshit.)

        Even a small company like Apple had to fight to get certain key Apple technologies to work with OS X. Imagine how bad it would be at Micro$oft.

        Add to that the need to support all old legacy hardware, and the WindowsOS X would be just as bad as the current one -- stuck trying to kludge out solutions for every possible combination of hardware and driver.

        Let's face it. MS has gotten to "that" point. The guy in the control tower in Airplane 2 said it best: "First the dinosaurs came. But they got too big and fat. Then they died and turned into oil."

        Micro$oft is putting it's fingers into too many pies. And the brain is getting confused as to which finger is in which pie.
        • by tmark (230091) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @02:18PM (#4724504)
          Bear in mind that with an organization sized like Micro$oft comes a lot of bureaucracy and inertia. And a lot of little political turfs that need protecting.

          I actually think that of companies its size, Microsoft probably has among the least "inertia". Is there any question that (his change in formal position notwithstanding) Billy-boy runs the whole show with the assistance of a cadre of highly-loyal, highly-trusted, and like-minded lieutenants ? Is there any question that he can make major strategic changes without going through the bureaucracy and red tape that defines most similarly-large organizations ?
          If you doubt the above, just look at how quickly MS changed its stance on the Net and the Web. Once Gates finally realized how important the Web was going to be, MS turned 180 degrees and moved. FAST. Just ask Netscape.
      • by j-turkey (187775) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @02:04PM (#4724366) Homepage
        Why bother then? If Apple, with far less resources of any kind whatsoever, managed to plug a decent user interface on the top of a free UNIX-like layer, Microsoft could certainly do the same, only better and faster.

        The thing is that Microsoft knows this already. Bill Gates was an big promoter of UNIX in his early days. He knew that the future of the server OS was in UNIX. In the late 70's, Microsoft licensed UNIX from Bell Labs and wrote their own "flavor" called Xenix (here's a little FAQ [unicom.com]). It was ported to multiple architectures. The problem? Nobody bought it, and it was cancelled. (Though it was later picked up by SCO).

        Microsoft can certainly do it right now. The problem is that I don't think that Mr. Gates cares much for failure -- and failing twice is likely not an option. Their early UNIX adoption came back and bit them in the ass, hard. So Microsoft went ahead and tried a different approach to taking a bite out of the server market. They designed an OS to do what UNIX did -- just a little differently...and with a friendlier face.

        Enter WindowsNT.

        Is it as good as UNIX? Arguably not. But just like in the old days with IBM:
        Nobody ever got fired for buying Microsoft.

        Because of this axiom (really, the thought process and ideology behind it) NT is now pretty widespread.

        -Turkey
  • Huh? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by danheskett (178529) <danheskett@gmail.OPENBSDcom minus bsd> on Thursday November 21, 2002 @12:16PM (#4723344)
    I think this is good. Seriously. MS is aware its products have problems. This is a nice place to start to work on them.

    Hopefully we can see some movement on them. The whole "services being interdependent" thing is very true. Annoying.
    • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by program21 (469995) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @12:17PM (#4723362) Homepage Journal
      Agreed. Now, if they would just be a little more upfront about this sort of thing, I'd feel a little better.
      It seems like most of what we have in this regard is leaked stuff, so internally MS knows, but their public face would never admit to it (IMHO).
    • Exactly. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by rebelcool (247749) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @12:22PM (#4723417)
      Are slashdotters extremely naive or something? Every company takes a look at the competition and compares it to their own product, distributing memos on whats better about the competition so that they can improve on their own products.

      This isn't news. It's business.

      • Re:Exactly. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anarchofascist (4820) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @12:43PM (#4723613) Homepage Journal
        Are slashdotters extremely naive or something? ... This isn't news. It's business.

        That's right. I agree. Companies lying about the capabilities of their products is not news, it's just marketing, just business. It's like political promises, we know everyone does it, so please don't draw attention to it - you're disturbing the happy sleeping consumers.

        Nothing to see here. Please move along. Please raise no confusing or irritating questions, citizen. Consume more products. Let us be thankful we have an occupation to fill. Work hard, increase production, prevent accidents and be happy. Let us be thankful we have commerce. Buy more. Buy more now. Buy. And be happy.

        thx1138 [imdb.com]
      • Re:Exactly. (Score:5, Funny)

        by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Thursday November 21, 2002 @01:19PM (#4723935) Homepage Journal

        WARNING: Your comment "Are slashdotters extremely naive or something" brings common sense into a slashdot discussion. Common sense on slashdot goes against several RFCs.Your karma will be appropriately decimated.

        Thank you,

        The Editors

      • Re:Exactly. (Score:5, Informative)

        by kubla2000 (218039) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @01:58PM (#4724296) Homepage

        Are slashdotters extremely naive or something? Every company takes a look at the competition and compares it to their own product, distributing memos on whats better about the competition so that they can improve on their own products. This isn't news. It's business.

        I was about to mod you down but decided to respond instead.

        Have you read the article? I suspect not. As you are clearly unaware, Microsoft bought Hotmail. At the time they bought it, Hotmail was running on FreeBSD. Much to Microsoft's shame, they couldn't port Hotmail to Windows and keep the service running. Finally, after months and months and months of effort, they did it. But it isn't done well and as this report demonstrates, their own engineers aren't happy with how it's been done.

        This has nothing to do with "looking at the competition". This has everything to do with Microsoft's engineers writing up the reasons for the inadequacy of w2k for a large-scale deployment of this kind. Key phrases from the article:

        - "Although Hotmail uses Microsoft software without license fees, we must consider this project as a model for real customers. Use of WLBS requires Advanced Server, but Server provides all the other features used by Hotmail. Using list prices, the cost comparison for a farm of 3500 servers is: Using WLBS (hence Advanced Server): $15M+ / Using LD and Server: $6M+"
        - "A service may be hung, and rather than take the time to find and fix the problem, it is often more convenient to reboot [a Windows machine]. By contrast, UNIX administrators are conditioned to quickly identify the failing service and simply restart it; they are helped in this by the greater transparency of UNIX and the small number of interdependencies."

        ...and so on. You accuse the /. masses of rabidity but it is, as a point of fact, you who are knee-jerking in defence of the justified laughter and celebration of those of us who have to fight against Microsoft FUD on a daily basis. How nice to have a document to point to now and say, "look, if you don't believe me, believe microsoft. Deploying on a *nix platform is cheaper and better!"

        • Re:Exactly. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by shyster (245228) <<ude.lfu> <ta> <ttekcarb>> on Thursday November 21, 2002 @02:36PM (#4724665) Homepage
          - "Although Hotmail uses Microsoft software without license fees, we must consider this project as a model for real customers. Use of WLBS requires Advanced Server, but Server provides all the other features used by Hotmail. Using list prices, the cost comparison for a farm of 3500 servers is: Using WLBS (hence Advanced Server): $15M+ / Using LD and Server: $6M+"

          The costs issues you quote was between Windows 2000 Advanced Server and Windows 2000 Server...nothing about *nix.

          As for the whitepaper, it seems to me it was written by a *nix admin with little Windows server experience (which describes a majority of /. readers as well). I mean, what is this:

          - "A service may be hung, and rather than take the time to find and fix the problem, it is often more convenient to reboot [a Windows machine]. By contrast, UNIX administrators are conditioned to quickly identify the failing service and simply restart it; they are helped in this by the greater transparency of UNIX and the small number of interdependencies."

          If it's more convenient to reboot the machine, then what's the complaint? If it's inconvenient to reboot (which describes 90% of the servers I work on), then find the service and restart it. Hint: Look in the Services console...then right click and Restart. Or, if you prefer the CLI, use net stop/start . For bonus points, you can use the short or long name of the service. What's so difficult about that?

          Oh...and interdependencies? Look in the Services console and click on Dependencies. Most even have a short description so you know what it does. If that's not enough info for you, search Google or Technet. Or get a test server. It's not rocket science, nor is it any more difficult than UNIX.

          The CLI is pretty flexible and allows most maintenance work to be done in it, and when that doesn't work AutoIt (3rd party freeware) can script GUI events (pretty easily I might add). WSH scripts can also automate just about everything you can think of.

          "A fact about UNIX is that it is easy for an administrator to ensure that there are no irrelevant services running. As well as giving the potential for maximizing performance, it is useful to be sure that there are no random TCP/IP or UDP ports open that could be used as a basis for an attack," the paper notes.

          Once again, the Services console could really help this guy get a clue. As for random ports being open, that's one reason we have these things called firewalls...not to mention port scanners and knowledgeable Windows admins.

          "...there are many services that have a complex set of dependencies, and it is never clear which ones are necessary and which can be removed to improve the system's efficiency."

          I think what he meant to say was, "it is never clear TO ME OR MY TEAM which services are necessary". Others do quite well at it.

          Imaging servers should be done by multicasting, effectively negating bandwidth concerns. Windows 2000 rarely needs a reboot (though apps and the like will prompt you to do it even if they don't need it), and you can easily stop and restart a service.

          The author does have points on the Task Scheduler/at command which is a real PITA. There are 3rd party utilities to help with that, but MS does need some work done in that department. Also, the GUI and performance concerns are relevant when discussing a web server, which is why I wish MS would just come out with a web server version of Windows (wasn't that in the pipe a while ago?). And I think Windows 2000 has proven to be pretty stable (as long as it's on quality hardware, of course).

          • Re:Exactly. (Score:4, Interesting)

            by Fulcrum of Evil (560260) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @03:54PM (#4725395)

            The costs issues you quote was between Windows 2000 Advanced Server and Windows 2000 Server...nothing about *nix.

            And $15M is nothing to sneeze at. That's probably on par with the hardware cost.

            As for the whitepaper, it seems to me it was written by a *nix admin with little Windows server experience (which describes a majority of /. readers as well).

            I dunno, looks fairly accurate - in windowsland, admins are prone to Retry, Reboot, Reinstall because it's often difficult or impossible to find out what is really happening. Also, keep in mind that this guy and his team probably have access to the devs who wrote this stuff, which is more than you can say for almost everybody else (on windows, anyway)

            Oh...and interdependencies? Look in the Services console and click on Dependencies. Most even have a short description so you know what it does.

            He's probably referring to the compex and non-obvious interactions going on in a windows system. When something breaks, your first clue is when something seemingly unrelated falls over. This is the problem with tight integration.

            Once again, the Services console could really help this guy get a clue.

            Where ddid he ssay that he had no clue? He merely stated that Unix made it easier

            As for random ports being open, that's one reason we have these things called firewalls.

            And you're supposed to use both. It's this thing called defense in depth - you don't want to be compromised by a single failure.

            I think what he meant to say was, "it is never clear TO ME OR MY TEAM which services are necessary". Others do quite well at it.

            Bullshit. given that he is working on a high-profile project within MS, it's probably as clear to him as to anybody. The fact is that another company, when doing a large deployment will have trouble.

            You seem to have a rather large chip on your shoulder. Just because some admin says that some specific things in windows are lacking, or overly confusing does not make him a high school dropout with an MCSE.

    • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Saint Aardvark (159009) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @12:31PM (#4723501) Homepage Journal
      Exactly -- my first impression was "They really are smart, aren't they?"

      [#include unixfan_disclaimer], but honestly: look at the advantages of Unix over Windows in so many situations. I'd always kind of wondered if MS was ignoring those problems/advantages for marketing purposes, or if they Just Didn't Get It. Looks like the former, which is reassuring.

  • by MacAndrew (463832) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @12:18PM (#4723375) Homepage
    ...constitute some sort of business tort, like disclosing trade secrets? I'm not trying to give MS lawyers any ideas (like they need them) but I've certainly seen Apple goes nuts over this sort of thing.

    BTW, that it was on a "fairly insecure server" is as much a defense as "his house had cheap locks." :P
    • by MacAndrew (463832) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @12:26PM (#4723453) Homepage
      I realized after I hit submit that I was thinking by the old rules -- I should have asked whether pilfering documents from their server wasn't punishable by a federal death penalty by now. (I wish that was entirely a joke.)

      Also, isn't the paper just the opinion of the writer, and dismissable by MS like the tobacco industry dismissed the memo by one of its ad exec mapping out marketing cigarettes to children. They would never do such a thing, no.

      That MS has one honest soul in its ranks shouldn't be all that much of a shocker, right? Oops, I guess that was a troll.
      • by coyote-san (38515) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @01:33PM (#4724084)
        Nope, not the death penalty.

        A special clause on page 394 of the enacting legislation says that anyone convicted of publishing Microsoft's dirty laundy is enjoined from using any other operating system for life. It's Microsoft only, baby!

        Repeat offenders are enjoined from using any operating system other than Windows ME.

        And for the hard-core cases... they bring out BOB.
    • by dpilot (134227) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @12:36PM (#4723541) Homepage Journal
      Or at the very least, a violation of the DMCA?
  • by dirkdidit (550955) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @12:19PM (#4723381) Homepage
    may have insecure server products(and desktop products for that matter) but whatever Security Office was running is nothing more than a smoking pile of silicon and hard drive.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 21, 2002 @12:19PM (#4723387)
    But Security Office wants us to believe that they hax0red some random MS Server and just happened to find a detailed analysis on Unix vs Windows? And this analysis happened to say "we should eat our own dog food"? Not one analysis I have ever read had such a ridiculous analogy in it.

    And let's look at this:
    The whitepaper, by MS Windows 2000 Server Product Group member David Brooks, has been posted on the Web by Security Office, which says it discovered the item and numerous other confidential MS documents on a poorly protected server.

    So Security Office is admitting to criminal activity? Sorry, I call hoax.
    • by NickV (30252) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @12:24PM (#4723431)
      Actually, I have a few friends who interned at MS this summer and apparently the phrase "eat your own dog food" is very very very popular on the campus.

      If anything, including that phrase in the document only makes it seem MORE credible.
      • by sparkz (146432) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @12:45PM (#4723622) Homepage
        It's a common phrase - I've worked at ICL and Sun, and they both use it. It's just another cliche like "singing from the same hymnsheet" and all the other stupid phrases that nobody would use after 5pm.
      • by ENOENT (25325) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @01:05PM (#4723800) Homepage Journal
        The idea that a company's employees should eat their own dog food doesn't make the dog food any better. It just ensures that the people who find the idea of eating dog food disgusting will work somewhere else.

        By the way, if MS engineers really have to "eat their own dog food", does that mean the the developers for the Paperclip were required to be running the Paperclip while they wrote their code in MS Word? "It looks like you're trying to declare a variable. Would you like to use a handy 12-step wizard to assist you in writing this declaration?" Hopefully, they remembered to turn off auto-correct and "smart" quotes.

    • by SquadBoy (167263) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @12:33PM (#4723512) Homepage Journal
      No it was almost certainly this [geek.com] over the next few days and weeks I have a feeling we will see many more of these kinds of things.

      Also see this [google.com].
      So no it is not criminal it was a screw up at MS.
    • by schon (31600) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @12:35PM (#4723536)
      Security Office is admitting to criminal activity?

      Not necesarily. They never said they "hacked" it. Read this article [wired.com] at Wired yesterday. Apparently there was a public FTP server at MS that MS employees were using to store sensitive files, because they weren't aware that it was public.

      The funny thing is that MS was notified, took the server down, cleaned it, put it back up, and the same employees started doing it again.

      If the data is in a public server, then it's not "hacking".
    • by mosch (204) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @01:16PM (#4723903) Homepage
      I read the whitepaper, and I definitely don't call hoax. It offers an objective overview of the Hotmail FreeBSD to Windows transition, and doesn't portray either system as being perfect.

      One of the main reasons for the transition to Windows was obviously not only to be able to say 'Hotmail runs Windows', but also to find the places where Windows was weak and to fix them. The paper details a number of places where Windows had trouble (unattended installation, IIS configuration, software distribution, content and code updates, inability to change various parameters without a reboot), but it also mentions that this input was given to the various development teams, to try to make the next version of Windows better.

      Yes, the document explicitly states that there was not a straightforward business case for the transition due to the license fees which would be incurred by customers, and that a number of Microsoft technologies (AD, WLBS) were either useless in that setting, or were not price competitive to the alternatives, but it looks to me like Microsoft was smart enough to use this experience to find and address their shortcomings.

      The whitepaper is real and accurate; the sensationalistic headline on this article, is not.

    • by stinky wizzleteats (552063) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @01:32PM (#4724077) Homepage Journal

      Not one analysis I have ever read had such a ridiculous analogy in it.

      This report was not written by a marketing department, it was written by someone familiar with the project (probably an engineer). It is quite common for reports written by technical people for a technical audience to include such "ridiculous" statements due to the lack of wordsmithing acumen on the part of people who actually work for a living, as opposed to those who talk (and write) about it. As someone who spends a great deal of my professional time reading and writing such documents, I indeed use this characteristic to determine how close the material is to "where the goats graze":).

      If I'm writing that document, and I know that everyone reading it will understand "eating one's own dog food", I am not going to take the time to translate that to:

      Further, due to the visibility of Hotmail, there existed a marketing concern with regard to using Microsoft server solutions following the acquisition, in that Microsoft's credibility in selling those solutions depended on actually using them.
  • News at 11 (Score:5, Funny)

    by Yoda2 (522522) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @12:19PM (#4723388)
    Author of "secret" whitepaper hung with sheet over head from balcony by Bill Gates.
  • by Theodore Logan (139352) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @12:22PM (#4723410)
    There has been one hour and 46 minutes since the last MS critical article was posted. You need to wait at least two hours.
  • by comic-not (316313) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @12:23PM (#4723426) Homepage
    Read the paper - pretty reasonable stuff. The only thing that may raise eyebrows is the origin of the paper. Goes to show that Microsoft has some competent people working for them (did anybody doubt that, it's after all the company policy that is rotten) but also a horde of absolutely brilliant PR weasels which can turn black to white when you're not watching.
  • Bingo! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Saint Aardvark (159009) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @12:25PM (#4723447) Homepage Journal
    From the Register article:

    Another strike against Windows is the GUI: "GUI operations are essentially impossible to script. With large numbers of servers, it is impractical to use the GUI to carry out installation tasks or regular maintenance tasks."

    I love Unix. But a huge reason for this unnatural affection is the command line, and the enhancements Unix has made to it (pipes, file descriptors, everything-is-a-file, shell scripting). Even if Microsoft turned around tomorrow and made everything GPL, fixed their security holes and sent chocolates and hookers to Linus and RMS, I'd still prefer Unix for the power of the command line.

    In Windows, the command line almost seems like an optional afterthought. In Unix, it's the other way around. (Disclaimer: I'm partly joking, and much more familiar w/U. than M [as I'm sure everyone can tell].) And I think for admin purposes, that makes Unix the more powerful choice.

    • Re:Bingo! (Score:4, Funny)

      by kcbrown (7426) <slashdot@sysexperts.com> on Thursday November 21, 2002 @12:52PM (#4723691)
      Even if Microsoft turned around tomorrow and made everything GPL, fixed their security holes and sent chocolates and hookers to Linus and RMS, I'd still prefer Unix for the power of the command line.

      Yeah, but what if they sent chocolates and hookers to you?

    • Re:Bingo! (Score:5, Informative)

      by tshak (173364) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @01:12PM (#4723865) Homepage
      As a full time Windows developer, I would hate working in Windows if EVERYTHING wasn't easily scriptable. I'll agree that the original nonsense with the registry and VBScript/COM based WSH was a mess, but almost everything has gone XML and by WIndows.NET server everything will be XML configurable. For example, IIS6 is configured like Apache's httpd.conf (but true XML) and there's just a GUI on top for those who want to waste their time or setup a personal web site really quick. Actually, I know people who work internally at MS and they use Perl all the time for automation scripts. I'm not saying that Windows's scripting better, Unix scripting is still a bit more 'natural' IMHO. The problem with Windows is more that the sysadmins generally don't know how to code.

  • Stupid headline (Score:5, Informative)

    by be-fan (61476) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @12:27PM (#4723465)
    I hate Microsoft much as the next guy, but the headline is *way* overwrought. If you actually read the linked article, it's just an honest pro/con comparison. They mention certain advantages of UNIX (text configuration, small size) and certain advantages of Windows (better internationalization, more developer support, better throughput). Entirely realistic and a perfectly fine rationale document. There are some bits I disagree with (eg. Visual Studio being better than the UNIX development tools) but overall, this is just a document written by an engineer weighing the various issues involved in switching from UNIX to Windows.
  • by Hasie (316698) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @12:31PM (#4723499)
    Windows is not intended for servers and UNIX is. That's essentially all that is said. Windows is built for the lowest common denominator (hence all the GUIs) and UNIX is built for people that know what they are doing to get the job done quickly and efficiently.


    If Microsoft were to modify their configuration files to be more UNIX like, and offer a decent UNIX-like shell, most of the UNIX advantages would fall away. But this kind of modification would be difficult because of the way Windows is structured. UNIX, on the other hand, doesn't have this problem. It is much easier to build a decent GUI on top of a fundamentally sound architecture than it is to build a fundamentally sound architecture under a good GUI.


    This represents a tremendous opportunity for UNIX. The UNIX world must develop GUIs to rival Windows' and make sure that the performance is equal to that of Windows. Then one can have the best of both worlds. And then nobody can argue that Windows is better.

    • by Rorschach1 (174480) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @02:15PM (#4724472) Homepage
      UNIX-like configuration files? Yeah, there's nothing I enjoy more than tweaking my sendmail.cf...

      Config files in *nix are often inconsistent and obscure. Not that hairy, undocumented registry keys are any better. How about an open, common XML format for configuration files? That way we can edit them in vi, or build whatever fancy GUI you want.
  • by dubious9 (580994) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @12:32PM (#4723504) Journal
    Spend money to fix problems with its software? If they know its poorly coded, why don't they launch an entire other branch dedicated to fixing bugs/product maintenance? It's not like they don't have the money. Throw a billion dollars at .net and windows and see if you can make it better. Hell throw five. They'll still have enough money to run the company for a year without any other income.

    As much as we'd all like to think, they people over at Microsoft are not idiots. They have enough money to hire the best and the brightest. They do have some quality products (i.e. those whose securities problems are not much of a problem like games, and i personally like their Intellimouse Optical.).

    Can anybody tell me why so many smart people won't see the light of day and dedicate big resources to overcome their biggest drawback?
    • by jedidiah (1196) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @12:46PM (#4723635) Homepage
      They don't have to.

      They have been immune from market pressures since at least 1987.
    • by Sloppy (14984) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @02:37PM (#4724679) Homepage Journal
      Why should they improve quality? Would doing this increase their revenue? If anything, I think it might decrease their revenue. Combine that with the increased expense, and you've got a publicly-traded company intentionally making less profit than it could -- I smell lawsuit!

      I bet almost everyone who has tried to help Windows users over the last few years has heard actual people (not actors auditioning for the part of a moron on a sitcom) say things like this in real life:

      • "Darn it, my Windows 98 system is crashing too often. I need to upgrade to that new one, XP."
      • "Darn it, Excel95 locked up the whole machine when I tried to load that document. I guess I need to buy the latest version."
      • "Darn, I got a virus again."
      • "This computer is slow and unreliable, but I'm going to buy a new Dell soon."
      If your customers said things like that, what would you do? Ok, now pretend that you are an evil son of a bitch, and answer that question again.
  • by quantax (12175) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @12:33PM (#4723523) Homepage
    I do not know what people are acting all surprised. What MS says and what MS knows are two very seperate things. Why do you think they say Linux is a competitor to be watched? Yea, they say 'MS software is better for xyz reasons, yatta yatta' but you better be damn sure that privately they are analyzing their competition inside and out. The first way to get raped by your competition is to ignore it. The second is to assume that you are automatically better than the competition, product quality wise. If a company is dishonest in its internal evaluations of its products against their competition, they will merely alienate their customers even more due to poor design decisions. Remember, MS has a shitload of investors, so going out publicly saying 'our product is subpar to unix' would result in their stocks playing a rollercoaster game. Never mistake self-honesty with PR.
  • by job0 (134689) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @12:37PM (#4723557)
    lamenes filter won't let me post the whole document so I will have to break it up

    Abstract

    This white paper discusses the approach used to convert the Hotmail web
    server farm from UNIX to Windows 2000, and the reasons the features and
    techniques were chosen. It will focus primarily on the planners,
    developers, and system administrators. The purpose of the paper is to
    provide insight for similar deployments using Windows 2000. We will
    discuss the techniques from the viewpoint of human engineering as well
    as software engineering.

    Early results from the conversion, which was limited to the front-end
    web servers, are:

    Windows 2000 provides much better throughput than UNIX.

    Windows 2000 provides slightly better performance than UNIX.

    There is potential, not yet realized, for stability of
    individual systems to be equal to that of UNIX. The load-balancing
    technology ensures that the user experience of the service is that
    stability is as good as it was before the conversion.

    As this paper will show, while the core features of Windows
    2000 are able to run the service, its administrative model is not well
    suited to the conversion.

    The observations related here are derived from experience gained at a
    single site. More work would be needed to establish whether they are
    representative.
  • by Hays (409837) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @12:38PM (#4723564)
    You have to remember that MS employees are real human beings. They aren't idiots for the most part. This guy was being very candid about the shortfalls of a windows server, perhaps with hopes of seeing it improved it in the future. It's the higher ups in the corporate ladder and the marketers that candy-coat all things windows and belittle all things *nix.

    Ironically, many of those (perfectly valid) reasons that *nix can make a better server are the same reasons I don't like it on my desktop. Text configuration is a blessing for server farms but a nightmare for newbies with a fresh install.
  • Slashdotted (Score:5, Informative)

    by bckspc (172870) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @12:39PM (#4723570) Homepage
  • Drivers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by labratuk (204918) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @12:45PM (#4723627)
    Having read their section on Windows' Strengths, there are several bits that I disagree with, but really the hardware issue is the most annoying.

    Better hardware detection. Setting up UNIX on a new PC is difficult, requiring a more intimate knowledge of how the hardware is built. That's an up-front cost; given the existence of multiple identically configured systems, cloning an established system doesn't present the same problems.

    This I don't agree with. Granted that you need a little bit more knowledge to get hardware working, if you do know what you're doing (and this paper is aimed at people who do, or at least should know what they're doing), it is far more reliable. If something goes wrong, there is a reason it went wrong, and a way to fix it. In windows, even the biggest guru finds the hardware detection system to be black magic to say the least. At worst, it can be completely random!

    Plus cloning a Linux is very easy and reliable, because as a general rule there are fewer driver dependencies. Think about a Slackware setup booting into console only server mode. How many hardware/module dependencies are there? All I can think of is the Ethernet card. Other than that, the image is completely transferrable.
  • mirror (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 21, 2002 @12:46PM (#4723631)
    memo [pitt.edu]
  • by mj01nir (153067) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @12:56PM (#4723733)
    I was curious about the author, so I started Googling a bit. Many of his newsgroup posts are in relation to Microsoft's UNIX products (like Outlook Express for HP-UX and IE for Solaris) and his .sig is ususally "Test Lead, Microsoft Corp." Here [google.com] he mentions being an ex-employee of OSF and The Open Group.

    Enquiring minds and all that.
  • by 4of12 (97621) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @01:15PM (#4723897) Homepage Journal

    Microsoft's "public" interface is constantly tearing at the bounds of credibility. Witness Balmer's talk about how they didn't adequately sell their customers on the benefits of Software Assurance:)

    Internally, though, this shows that Microsoft is quite rational and realistic. As a company, they will survive and prosper a lot longer on that course than if too much of the internal management started to actually believe what is destined for external public consumption in the marketplace.

    Let's all learn the good lesson from Microsoft here.

    It should be obvious that if you're in a business that relies on evaluation of information technology that you should rely only very loosely upon what is presented to you publicly.

    Second, keep your internal evaluations

    • private,
    • rational, and
    • closely-based on reality.

    Shoot, I knew years ago that BSD was a cheap solid workhorse after learning about ftp.cdrom.com

  • by benmhall (9092) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @03:30PM (#4725157) Homepage Journal
    I actually read this whole paper yesterday. I was quite impressed with it. My take was that it was a very honest appraisal of the situation. I dove into this paper expecting to get the usual marketing-speak. Instead I was greeted with valid strengths and weaknesses of both Unix and Win32, it tried not to take sides, and presented a very interesting case of a large scale migration from one platform to another.

    As for whether or not moving to Win32 was a wise financial move, the paper concedes that this was not the primary motivation. Obviously, from the analysis given, most companies would have stuck with Unix. It had been performing adequately, and Windows provided no real additional value. However, in this particular case, switching was imperative. Microsoft had been repeatedly laughed at for pushing Win32 yet running one of their largest on-line endeavours on Unix. Switching to Windows was absolutely necessary for them. Despite this, an honest report weighing the pros and cons of the switch was produced.

    This was a very interesting report that any administrator of either Unix or Windows systems would be wise to read.

    I'm not a friend of MS by any stretch (just ask anyone who knows me) but if they actually released papers like this I think it would do much to improve people's perception of them as an organization.
  • by Oestergaard (3005) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @04:47PM (#4725860) Homepage
    Nice piece of documentation, but I really almost fell off my chair when I read the part about:
    The development platform, specifically Visual Studio, is a major advantage. Even before the conversion to Windows was contemplated, Hotmail developers used Visual Studio on NT4 to develop and debug their code.

    And later on: In the first days of deployment, some server threads went into a CPU-consuming loop. Using Visual Studio, Hotmail developers were able to find the application-level problem in a few minutes. That would have been impossible using UNIX tools.

    Now *that* just takes the price. I was involved with the performance analysis prior to rolling out a heavy-traffic on-line gaming site. We benchmarked backend databases, and we did investigations on how to get the right web server performance.

    Our solution: Code Apache modules in C++. Run them as modules there. And run them on GNU/Linux.

    Development platform: Same as deployment platform: Some GNU/Linux boxen with GCC and Apache.

    We saw the same problems as MS did with ASAPI; crashes (only taking down single Apache processes, not the whole server of course), infinite loops, memory leaks, etc. etc. And simply because of the superior development environment that we had, by *not* developing on windows, we could easily:
    • produce system-call traces (strace -p on a running apache process)
    • attach debuggers (gdb on a running process)
    • automatically let a segfault signal handler dump a stack trace and *e-mail* us the stack-trace as the segfault happened. On a production system.


    I code for many platforms and I do it for a living. I have not, ever, seen as crippled a development environment as Windows (2000 and NT4, same shit different wrapping). Considering everything from tools to APIs, even NetWare is nicer (using gdb to cross-compile, but contrary to Win32, the NetWare API actually works as documented).

    "would have been impossible using UNIX tools" my ass...
  • by chaeron (128155) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @07:10PM (#4727225) Homepage
    Windows XP - $499
    Office XP - $699
    MS admitting that Unix is better: Priceless

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