[K12OSN] No flames: Why use M$ offerings?

Terrell Prude', Jr. microman at cmosnetworks.com
Mon May 3 03:36:36 UTC 2004

And there in lies a philosophical contradiction.  It was "free as in 
beer" in your specific case and those others that happened to attend 
that same meeting.  Six years ago, I got several components of 
BackOffice 4.5 by attending a TechNet meeting in Las Vegas.  At the 
time, I thought, wow, this is great!  Outlook 98 is great!  Exchange 
Server 5.x is terrific!  At the time, I was a MCSE who loved Windows NT 
and was trying to convert as many people to it from Novell NetWare as I 
could.  It was easy to not think of the economics because, of course, 
for me it was free as in beer.

Then I met GNU/Linux.

Richard Stallman speaks of the importance of using software that is 
"Free as in Freedom," and if there is a "deficiency", it should be 
worked on as soon as possible.  He, and many others, have shown us how 
to do that, by example.  Eric Harrison and Jim McQ are doing it as 
well.  Their efforts are benefiting us hugely today.  The fact that Red 
Hat Linux / Fedora can be tweaked into a distribution called K12LTSP is 
due to the software being Free.

If you want to use Outlook, personally, I have no problem with that.  
However, the more people choose to use Free Software and report any 
"deficiencies" back to the developers, the better the software will 
become.  OpenOffice.org build 641c was not quite as capable as Microsoft 
Office 2000 or XP, so I helped by using it and reporting issues that I'd 
find, and now OpenOffice.org 1.1 is one heck of an office suite as a 
result of folks like me doing this.

Back when I worked for Microsoft, we constantly heard about the need to 
"eat our own dog food," even if someone else's product did the job 
better at that time.  Why?  So we could report issues back to the dev 
teams.  That's why we were constantly asked during 1995 and 1996 to 
eschew using Netscape Navigator, which we had used for years, and start 
using the beta versions of IE.  Same for Windows 95; most of us were 
using Windows 95 back in January 1995, on our production boxes, eight 
months before its release to the public.  Microsoft to this day, for 
example, routinely runs beta server software on their production network 
and gets feedback from the employees to make it better.  Same for client 
platforms and apps.

I believe that it behooves us to take a page from the Microsoft 
Corporation in this regard.  We eat our own dog food, as they do, and we 
too will see the benefits in improvements to Free Software.  This is why 
at work I use Ximian Evolution with the MS Exchange Connector.  Sure, I 
could use Outlook and things would work fine.  Currently, the Exchange 
Connector (admittedly, not Free Software) for Evolution, I find, has a 
few stability issues.  However, it allows me to use a Free mail client 
at work (Evolution), for which I can provide feedback to Ximian, and I do.


Yancey B. Jones wrote:

>Sorry, I did not mean to imply that there was no solution to sync a PDA with
>Linux. That was poor wording on my part. I like Outlook 2003 and I simply
>added the syncing ability as another reason that I like Outlook - not as the
>only reason I use it. I was also not making a complaint, just adding that
>there are those of us who use Outlook by choice. I did not mean to imply
>that "that one WISHED to use Linux, but could not, due to its deficiencies".
>I apologize for the confusion.
>On a side note, had I had to purchase my Office 2003, then perhaps I would
>be using something different. No, I did not steal it - I got a "free" copy
>by going to a Microsoft TS2 seminar. I got Small Business Server 2003
>Premium for "free" that way as well. I probably would not like Outlook as
>much if I would have had to pay $400+ for it.

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