Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Medicine Microsoft Open Source

A Public Funded "Microsoft Shop?" 490

Posted by kdawson
from the no-firefox-for-you dept.
An anonymous reader writes "I work at a public hospital in the computer / technical department and (amongst others) was recently outraged by an email that was sent around our department: '(XXXX) District Health Board — Information Services is strategically a Microsoft shop and when talking to staff / customers we are to support this strategy. I no longer want to see comments promoting other Operating Systems.' We have also been told to remove Firefox found on anyone's computer unless they have specific authorisation from management to have it installed under special circumstances. Now, I could somewhat understand this if I was working in a company that sold and promoted the use of Microsoft software for financial gain, but I work in the publicly / government funded health system. Several of the IT big-wigs at the DHB are seemingly blindly pro-Microsoft and seem all too quick to shrug off other, perhaps more efficient alternatives. As a taxpayer, I want nothing more than to see our health systems improve and run more efficiently. I am not foolish enough to say all our problems would be solved overnight by changing away from Microsoft's infrastructure, but I am convinced that if we took less than half the money we spend on licensing Microsoft's software alone and invested that in training users for an open source system, we would be far better off in the long run. I would very much like to hear Slashdot's ideas / opinions on this 'Strategic Direction' and the silencing of our technical opinions."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

A Public Funded "Microsoft Shop?"

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward

    He just wants us to have more sick people so he can heal them with his glowing palms.

  • hmm... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Pojut (1027544) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @12:13PM (#31358734) Homepage

    It's entirely possible that your hospital signed a deal with Microsoft...by exclusively using their products, they would get a discount.

    It certainly wouldn't be the first time...

    • Re:hmm... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 04, 2010 @12:22PM (#31358898)

      Yes, it would be the first time. Microsoft doesn't offer any kind of licensing that requires an organization to use their software exclusively. If they did they would open themselves up to a whole new round of anti-trust litigation.

      • Re:hmm... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by characterZer0 (138196) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @12:24PM (#31358930)

        No, but they can *wink*wink* *nudge*nudge* take an executive on a nice golf vacation if the organization does not use anything else.

        • Re:hmm... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by digitalunity (19107) <digitalunity@yahoo . c om> on Thursday March 04, 2010 @01:25PM (#31359862) Homepage

          They share marketing money with customers who are pro-microsoft, so there is financial incentive for some to be MS only.

          The biggest potential cause of action here is that the hospital may have violated state procurement laws for publicly funded institutions. I would contact the state attorney general by snail mail letting them know of the situation and asking them if this is a violation of state procurement laws.

          The hospital might have a strong argument though by saying the healthcare specific software they need is Windows only, limiting their OS choice to a single vendor. As for firefox, not much you can do about that. Both Firefox and IE are monetarily free and it's quite common in the IT industry to standardize the software across departments or organizations. This makes support cheaper. From a security standpoint alone, I think IE is a bad choice but sadly it isn't illegal to use insecure software - unless of course HIPPA has requirements for software security(which I have no knowledge of).

          • Re:hmm... (Score:5, Interesting)

            by duffbeer703 (177751) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @01:47PM (#31360182)

            State procurement laws don't prescribe the degree of openness or standardization within the government. They establish rules to ensure that procurements are handled appropriately. Its very common for technical requirements to specify that an application work with Windows, Internet Explorer, Oracle, .Net, Tomcat Java Server, etc.

            I pushed to get Firefox tested within the large organization that I work in. It was an abject failure. While Firefox is free to download, Mozilla doesn't care about enterprise IT shops and makes it impossible to support the browser in a cost-effective manner. We support hundreds of applications and dozens of business critical applications with browser interfaces. We need to have a robust testing process before we can upgrade code, and Firefox makes that really difficult. Browser add-ons routinely break, it's difficult to manage user profile settings, and if you disable auto-updates you need to manually package patches for distribution.

            IE is hardly perfect, but we can test and distribute patches easily, use group policy to configure browser settings to provide a good user experience and had fewer complaints about add-ons with 50,000 users than we did with 300 Firefox pilot users.

            At the end of the day, we have 4 folks managing desktops for 50,000 people, and they have more compelling things to do than futz around with Firefox. A small government agency with a few hundred staff with have 2 IT folks, a supervisor and maybe a couple of interns. For them, the Microsoft "stack" is unfortunately the only viable way to deliver the IT services that they need.

            • Re:hmm... (Score:4, Insightful)

              by digitalunity (19107) <digitalunity@yahoo . c om> on Thursday March 04, 2010 @01:56PM (#31360272) Homepage

              That's true, but procurement laws often DO describe what steps an organization must follow when choosing software vendors. This could be as simple as a formal review of software requirements with specific criteria and how a decision was reached, written on paper.

              Laws vary a lot by state, but slashdot is very US-centric and I have to assume that the submitter is in the US. Even if I knew where s/he was from, I wouldn't do them a favor and look up the laws myself. Contacting the AG is a sensible step in every state if you believe a publicly funded organization is breaking the law.

              There is no guarantee of a positive outcome and from my experience, attorneys general offices are very slow to respond.

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by duffbeer703 (177751)

                That level of formality usually applies to large-scale purchases that involve technical and financial evaluation. (ie. If you put out an RFP for an ERP system.) Usually there is a dollar threshold under which you can purchase things from state commodity contracts or GSA contracts, etc.

                If you were buying a commodity product like memory, specifying "Brand X" would generally not be acceptable. The justification would come in if you have a "Brand X" server, and for warranty reasons, buying "Brand X" memory was

            • This web thing. (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Kludge (13653) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @02:31PM (#31360682)

              Browser add-ons routinely break

              You need browser add-ons to correctly run your "critical" applications? You need different applications. One of the largest points of moving business applications to web interfaces is that the interface is standardized. That is, your web apps should run in IE, Firefox, Opera, etc. etc., because all these apps follow the same published standards. (BTW "Microsoft" is not a standard.) If an app does not follow these standards, you don't buy it, and that is what saves you headache down the road.

      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        by Pojut (1027544)

        Good point.

        Going back to the story submitter...maybe your bosses are just morons? Sorry, I got nothing...parent AC made a good point.

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

        by rutledjw (447990) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @12:52PM (#31359340) Homepage
        Good comment. Additionally, it *COULD*, MIGHT, be an attempt by a CIO/CTO/whatever to get rid of non-approved software they feel might be a security risk. With the increase in penetrations of private networks on the rise (or at least being highlighted more in the press), it would make sense.

        While I agree with the sentiment that MS may not be the best choice, I can sympathize with the goal. Also, if members of the IT staff are criticizing or trashing technology decisions, that will only make life harder (and sometimes unnecessarily so) for management. Users bitch about IT anyway, so I can see wanting to get ahead of that.

        Finally, I know a few folks who worked in IT at hospitals, their budgets were nil. There may not be $$$ available to support different OSs for various functions. Just another perspective. I don't think such a draconian approach is a good one, I can understand the sentiment.

        Hypocrisy Disclaimer: My current employer is Windows-ONLY on their network, but I have my Mac working just fine, so I'm glad they've looked the other way - thus far... [shrug] I suppose it's easier to "see their perspective" if I don't have to live with it.
        • "Good comment. Additionally, it *COULD*, MIGHT, be an attempt by a CIO/CTO/whatever to get rid of non-approved software they feel might be a security risk. With the increase in penetrations of private networks on the rise (or at least being highlighted more in the press), it would make sense. "

          It wouldn't make any sense at all. Seriously, "remove firefox use IE only"? That's not security, that's idiocy. Sure, it might be an ATTEMPT at security by removing non-approved software, but they're going about it
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by MojoRilla (591502)
          It is very debatable if monoculture (everything must be from Microsoft) is more secure than a rich software diversity. In the case of Microsoft, they have certainly gotten much better about security, but they have traditionally favored features over security. Problems like ActiveX in Internet Explorer are fundamental design flaws, and can't be solved or papered over easily. Try loading a https request with proper cache headers through a flash movie in IE.

          Another problem with Microsoft is that they are
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by pugugly (152978)

          Thought, ask legal to investigate if the implementation of a Microsoft Only policy on the public dime, given the known security risks of Microsoft software, opens the hospital up to litigation issues if there is a security breach.

          After all - they worded the policy so very strongly, one assumes they can back up the policy with the deliberations should they go to court and prove this was duly considered in light of their hippa responsibilities.

          Right?

          {G} - Pug

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by nine-times (778537)

          Good comment. Additionally, it *COULD*, MIGHT, be an attempt by a CIO/CTO/whatever to get rid of non-approved software they feel might be a security risk.

          Yeah, well of course the question is, did they decide "We're going to go with all Microsoft products," or was it more like, "We want to standardize on a single OS and a single browser, and we've decided on Windows and IE [for some set of reasons]." I definitely understand wanting to standardize on a set of software. Speaking as an IT person, having to maintain a hodgepodge of "whatever software a particular user wants" is a nightmare. I won't do it. Though I would personally like everyone to use more st

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Dancindan84 (1056246)
        Making the assumption of some kind of Microsoft site license and clueless users (and honestly, what place doesn't have those), this honestly just sounds like a pretty decent management scheme to keep their support focus as narrow as possible. If they've already got a blanket license for MS it doesn't make sense to go with a mixed OS environment, and honestly most small IT shops don't have the resources or knowledge base to convert to OSS whole hog. Also, only having to deal with 1 browser eliminates a prett
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by duffbeer703 (177751)

        Not true.

        Entering into an enterprise agreement requires that all computers within an organization count as a "seat" in the contract for any products covered by the agreement. You get a substantial discount for taking this approach, and are able to spread licensing payments over 3 years without interest. The only exceptions are servers, kiosks, atms, etc.

    • by jedidiah (1196)

      Being a "microsoft shop" one thing. obnoxiously pushing it to the exclusion of all else is another. This situation also seems to go a bit beyond just an internal standard and also seems to include evangelism and active hostility to anything else. It's Taliban vs. Amish.

      • Re:hmm... (Score:5, Funny)

        by Kell Bengal (711123) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @12:29PM (#31359012)
        Taliban vs Amish

        FIGHT!
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by ignavus (213578)

          Taliban vs Amish

          FIGHT!

          Taliban (waving scimitar or AK-47): Infidel! Die!

          Amish (holding 18th century musket): Brother, I would not hurt thee. But thou art standing where I am about to shoot.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Some one has to maintain every piece of software - and train people on each piece of software. This is not your developer shop - this is a public hospital with a lot of people who are not very computer savvy. Every piece of software adds to the complexity of the system.

        By the way - stop saying 'my tax dollars' - you are paying your share to administrators who decide how to do something. Just cos you paid $10K of a $1Billion budget doesnt mean you get to say how every penny should be used.

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

          by Mr. Freeman (933986) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @01:30PM (#31359956)
          "Just cos you paid $10K of a $1Billion budget doesnt mean you get to say how every penny should be used."

          No, but it means that you get A say in how it's used. They are HIS tax dollars, just as they are yours and mine. I don't know why you think that we shouldn't be allowed to vote as to how they're used.
    • Re:hmm... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by lymond01 (314120) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @12:25PM (#31358940)

      Our University uses the Microsoft Consolidated Campus Agreement. We pay around $2 per client for a Windows upgrade OS and Office. It doesn't have to be total buy-in throughout the university either...departments can sign up or not. Apple has something similar, but at this point your whole university has to sign up or you don't get the deal. This is a nod to the size of Apple vs Microsoft I think.

      As far as a hospital standardizing on a single OS and software infrastructure, people often forget that there's a benefit to standardization. Even if you can save money by using open source this or that, you're essentially throwing a wrench in the works if you don't do it in the right place. IE, Windows -- all centrally updateable and manageable with MS tools. Firefox has an msi made by a third party to play nice with AD group policy software distribution, but as far as I know, centrally managing it (specifying options, bookmarks, etc) isn't possible (please correct me if I'm wrong).

      You can be a Microsoft desktop shop, but have your application and database servers run UNIX or Linux and you probably won't have too many interoperability issues. We're one of the universities that is trying out the Google Apps system for students, faculty, and staff, even though we have a growing population of centralized Exchange users (email, calendaring, IM, VOIP, etc). We're working on interoperability now, but it would likely be easier if we went one way or the other.

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

        by MightyMartian (840721) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @12:48PM (#31359282) Journal

        You can be a Microsoft desktop shop, but have your application and database servers run UNIX or Linux and you probably won't have too many interoperability issues. We're one of the universities that is trying out the Google Apps system for students, faculty, and staff, even though we have a growing population of centralized Exchange users (email, calendaring, IM, VOIP, etc). We're working on interoperability now, but it would likely be easier if we went one way or the other.

        Precisely what I'm moving towards. We'll probably have Exchange for some time to come, and that means Active Directory and DCs, but our file servers are all Samba running as member servers. Maybe someday Samba 4 will allow me to migrate the DCs away from Server 2003, but it will have to be able to prop up an Exchange 2003 server. The point in my shop is not to get rid of Microsoft because I'm an MS hater (though I sure ain't their biggest fan), it's simple economics. Their licenses are too friggin' expensive. I saved the organization several thousand dollars by going to Linux file server.

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

        by LWATCDR (28044) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @01:08PM (#31359638) Homepage Journal

        While I am a big Firefox fan I will say that you will save zero using Firefox over say IE8.
        If you have properly configured workstations and a good firewall and keep updated Windows 7, Vista, and even XP are not nightmares to keep working.
        I doubt that you could move everybody to Linux because of software requirements and they are probably tired of having to defend using Windows.
        As much as I am Linux user and fan for this place it may be a good workable solution. They know how to manage Windows and don't want to learn how to deal with Linux or Unix.
        Being tied completely to a single vendor isn't the ideal solution but it is not unusual or without some benefits.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by elrous0 (869638) *
      It probably also makes it a lot easier on the IT support staff. They don't have to deal with a million different browsers, OS's, etc. They can just learn the MS stuff and sit on their asses never learning anything else.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by node 3 (115640)

        It probably also makes it a lot easier on the IT support staff. They don't have to deal with a million different browsers, OS's, etc. They can just learn the MS stuff and sit on their asses never learning anything else.

        Yeah, a million different browsers and OS's...

        Let's see, IE, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera, Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, and just 999,992 more!

        I realize "million" is meant to mean "a lot", but we're talking less than ten here. I realize there are different versions of each, but a competent IT staff can easily mandate specific versions as officially supported.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by wjousts (1529427)
          It doesn't really matter if it's 10, 1,000,000 or 2. It's additional cost to have staff trained in all possible combinations.
      • Re:hmm... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by pugugly (152978) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @02:02PM (#31360336)

        What annoys me is that Microsoft only has two modes -
        Secure - and utterly unusable for anything except for people that think inside the exact box you have designed it for, or

        Usable for someone that has some problem solving ability, and entirely insecure, because if you can do anything outside your precisely designed box you can access a pwned website that has a file that can leverage your access into complete control of your computer.

        I've watched dozens of companies, with smart admins, and no one has any way to both give their people both some room to do actual problem solving *and* stay secure.

        All of which is trivially easy in every version of Linux I've seen. Since you can feasibly lock someone down from admin rights without making the system unusable, people can do whatever they need to do, without putting your entire pc and network at risk.

        That being the case - why anyone uses windows in a business environment is just beyond me.

        Pug

    • Re:hmm... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by painandgreed (692585) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @12:44PM (#31359230)

      It's entirely possible that your hospital signed a deal with Microsoft...by exclusively using their products, they would get a discount.

      It certainly wouldn't be the first time...

      Which for a hospital often can directly impact health care. I see this all the time working for a hospital. The IT department doesn't know anything but Windows, doesn't want to support anything but Windows, and summarily declares anything but Windows 'not their problem'. The trouble is that patient care is often determined by the tools that do the job. We'll use Radiology as an example as they have been computerized due to the nature of their work for longer than most other departments in the hospital. Back in the day (10 years ago or more), most radiology was all Macintosh. Macs were built to do graphics and had networking abilities built in. It made sense that they would be used by many companies doing radiology apps and devices for use in hospitals. However, the hospital I worked at IT's department doesn't do Mac. Therefore, Radiology got no IT support. At that time, about 25% of the departments and clinics at the hospital were Macintosh. They all got no IT support simply because the people the IT department decided they'd rather support what they knew rather than what was required for their job. From talking to the networking guys, the situation was the same a few years earlier when the hospital was 50% Mac. Unfortunately, nobody gets fired for buying Microsoft. Today, there are many Radiology apps are on either linux or the Mac. IT still ignores that they exist or that patient care depends on those apps running and often talking to the rest of the hospital.

      Of course, what this means is that the Radiology department just had to go and hire their own IT department. The hospital IT department keeps trying to take over but is never willing to actually do the work that is needed to run things.

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

        by Vindicator9000 (672761) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @01:21PM (#31359804)
        Well yeah, but where do you draw the line? I also work hospital IT, and we have 5 people supporting 2500 users, who expect us to install every little thing they bring in from whatever vendor, conference, or torrent site, regardless of any good reasons not to. In the past, we had no recourse... we were literally told to support everything they asked for, because it was all 'for patient care.' In my job, I was doing hardware support, software support, printer repairs, server support, vendor app support, department app support, programming, oncall support, and database design/administration. For less than $50K/year. We had to do ANYTHING someone submitted a ticket for, at ANY time they submitted it. Thank GOD we finally got some management in who is setting firm guidelines about exactly what we are and are not expected to do as part of our jobs.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by painandgreed (692585)
          Certainly and since you work in healthcare IT, you know that it's more complicated than can be spelled out in a few paragraphs. You have clinical apps and devices, administrative apps and devices, vendor apps and devices, the EMR, the RIS, the HIS, all sorts of billing sections, etc. etc. etc. Its needed and probably good to set firm guidelines, but the main point of failure I usually see is those firm guidelines being set without discussing it with the rest of the hospital first. If the IT departments actu
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        It's entirely possible that your hospital signed a deal with Microsoft...by exclusively using their products, they would get a discount.

        It certainly wouldn't be the first time...

        Which for a hospital often can directly impact health care. I see this all the time working for a hospital. The IT department doesn't know anything but Windows, doesn't want to support anything but Windows, and summarily declares anything but Windows 'not their problem'. The trouble is that patient care is often determined by the tools that do the job. We'll use Radiology as an example as they have been computerized due to the nature of their work for longer than most other departments in the hospital. Back in the day (10 years ago or more), most radiology was all Macintosh. Macs were built to do graphics and had networking abilities built in. It made sense that they would be used by many companies doing radiology apps and devices for use in hospitals. However, the hospital I worked at IT's department doesn't do Mac. Therefore, Radiology got no IT support. At that time, about 25% of the departments and clinics at the hospital were Macintosh. They all got no IT support simply because the people the IT department decided they'd rather support what they knew rather than what was required for their job. From talking to the networking guys, the situation was the same a few years earlier when the hospital was 50% Mac. Unfortunately, nobody gets fired for buying Microsoft. Today, there are many Radiology apps are on either linux or the Mac. IT still ignores that they exist or that patient care depends on those apps running and often talking to the rest of the hospital.

        Of course, what this means is that the Radiology department just had to go and hire their own IT department. The hospital IT department keeps trying to take over but is never willing to actually do the work that is needed to run things.

        Sounds like they just need to fire the Director of IT, or whoever is in charge, with prejudice, then hire one who is willing to employ people who know more than Windows.

        Its very easy, all somebody with clout has to tell him him, "Your will support Linux and Mac for the Radiology Department, if you do not have the resources, you will hire them.". Then start documenting the process. When he whines about them not being certified or whatever, the bozo gets his policy changed, immediately.

    • Re:hmm... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by BeanThere (28381) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @12:57PM (#31359442)

      From my experience these types of managers are often also technically clueless; by aligning with MS and allowing MS to 'guide' them, they have a solution that 'even they' can get implemented and thus they can retain their management position and prevent their incompetency from being exposed. The "strategy" they are referring to is the "strategy" of keeping their own jobs. If they had to implement something that might perhaps be more cost-efficient e.g. open source, it would require more knowledge than they have and they'd simply be lost.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mcgrew (92797) *

      To not even let them talk about it smacks of bribery. Exclusively using their products is dishonest enough as it is.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by INT_QRK (1043164)
      The entire Federal Government of the United States is a publicly funded Microsoft Shop. What's the issue?
  • Here's a question I asked Canonical's Matt Asay [slashdot.org] which provoked this response [slashdot.org]:

    Adoption stories and influences
    by eldavojohn (898314)"Every so often I see an adoption story about so-and-so taking up some open source solution [slashdot.org] and sometimes I think 'Wow, French government? Now it's really going to take off. This is it. It's time.' And then I wait. And wait. Are these stories at all positive for the project? I mean, you would think with states and governments using Ubuntu or Red Hat that it would catch on like wildfire if the savings are there so why isn't that happening? I know Microsoft sends out a lot of Wormtongues to stick in the ears of important people. Do you plan on targeting governments in a similar manner? Does/will Canonical work on making a presence in things like the EU Commissions where we've seen corporations collecting members in their pockets?"
    Matt: No, we have no plans to turn Wormtongue. We do, however, have aspirations to play Frodo. :-)

    Ultimately, governments (good ones, anyway) are established to reflect the voice of their citizens. At Canonical, we believe that real, lasting change happens from the bottom up, as citizens within government and IT and those served by it clamor for change. We try to help this along by working with government organizations, including open source-friendly lobbying groups, to promote free markets and expanded choice through free and open-source software, but I personally believe that individuals will make the difference.

    Change can be expensive, whether in terms of cost or bother, and so as individuals or organizations we generally try to avoid it. But people are now starting to feel enough pain - be it software costs, inefficient use of hardware, viruses and other malware, etc. - that Linux and open-source software, generally, are getting plenty of attention. The cure, in other words, now outweighs the effort of applying it. Yes, Microsoft will do its part to thwart this progress,but even so I've seen broad and ever-increasing government adoption of open source. It's just that most of it doesn't get reported.

    Don't lose heart and, in particular, don't lose "voice." We're being heard. The worst thing we could do is to slacken our pace now.

    Basically seems to be the answer I constantly get. "No, we're not sinking to that level. If we had that money there are a lot more productive things to spend it on."

    And they're basically right. People should use open source because they choose it. Not because someone told them to. When the change comes from within and is organic, then it stays and prospers and grows.

    I would not recommend that you make this suggestion to your boss unless your job is one resembling Chief of IT at your job. A public hospital really isn't a great place to experiment with open source. If you feel a need to be vocal about this just wait until IE becomes a pain due to a virus or zero day exploit and suggest Firefox as a slightly safer alternative. If you want to discuss other operating systems, you're probably best off looking for other parts of your city's public works that use Linux and asking your IT guys why your counterparts found it so successful. Or point out that if it's good enough for the DoD to use, surely it's good enough for a public hospital. I don't know what kind of scheduling and patient programs you guys are running that might only work in Microsoft. Yes, MS Exchange is a problem without a great complete open source replacement. I don't know your details. But the last thing open source needs is "John Smith died because MS Exchange stopped working on his doctor's computer. The culprit?

    • by JumpDrive (1437895) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @02:45PM (#31360862)
      I have to agree strongly with this last part. 'build a pilot operation at home'.
      Back many years ago I worked for a company that was a Microsoft shop. We built networks, apps, websites all using MS products.
      I started using linux at home and after a few months of working on it came in telling them that this linux stuff was really stable. The answer was always 'No, No , No We can only trust MS'. I'd go away and come back and tell them you know this MySQL stuff is fast, you know I mimicked that last app we had and I got twice as many transactions per minute vs SQL Server. 'No, No, No, we can only trust MS and Oracle'. I'd go away and come back and tell them you know this PHP and perl stuff works really well. I redid our latest app using PHP and perl and it works just fine, maybe we should take a look at this Apache on linux thing 'No, No, No we can only trust MS IIS '. So I went away.
      Then one week a patch came out and screwed up a app that was written in VB. Then the following week we were hit with a storm of viruses. Then we had to pull developers off of projects to help the guys who did maintenance. Then there was the realization that network admin and developers have a completely different skill set. But this went on patches breaking things and worms and viruses. After about 2 months of this everyone was tired and I was being asked about this linux stuff and open source solutions.
      After 3 months of testing and a lot of hard work, we had moved all new development over to linux and all of our codebase was being tested on ASP on linux. First the IIS servers went , then the SQL Server, then the PDC servers and we became a linux house. We lost some people who just couldn't do without their MS shiny baubles and always wanted to return to those days. Including my boss. Guess who became the head of IT. Yep, and don't think I don't know that there are technicians who go home and practice with their AD server every night. (I've been known to do that also). But in these last few years we have sales people call trying to sell us stuff and they are always incredulous that we have no MS Servers. I keep waiting for the day when a sales rep won't be shocked to find that out.
      But anyway you have to work with the internals to learn it. Just to give you an idea, I don't hire people because they have updated there home desktop to the latest version of Ubuntu or Fedora for the last 2 years. Red Hat or Canonical may hire you, but good luck with that.
  • by IANAAC (692242) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @12:14PM (#31358750)
    It seems to me that all you're really looking for here on ./ is validation of your own opinion. What's that going to accomplish, really?

    Look, I'm not much of a MS fan either, but I just don't see what it is you really want.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 04, 2010 @12:21PM (#31358866)

      It seems to me that all you're really looking for here on ./ is validation of your own opinion.

      This is the sole purpose of "Ask Slashdot".

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tibman (623933)

      I've been fighting a battle on Ft Knox to use LAMP for the new website. Ever since i heard Whitehouse.gov was using Drupal i've been interested. Redhat, Apache, mysql, and PHP all have certificates of networthiness and are approved for purchase / download (with correct major version numbers).

      The problem is coming from DOIM/NEC the post network managers. They think using PHP and mysql and especially linux would increase the surface attack area. So, i compromised for just php and ms-sql.. still having pro

  • by jaymz2k4 (790806)

    As a taxpayer, I want nothing more than to see our health systems improve and run more efficiently.

    This is the sort of thing that should be raised with your senator or congressman. Assuming they're not in the pocket of MS already. People need to get governments round to the idea that open source is good for them. In Europe we're a bit more keen to run with such strategies and I would imagine someone ending up fired for that sort of email.

  • by Ropati (111673) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @12:15PM (#31358770)

    If the hospital is tax payer funded, then you have every right as a taxpayer to take this memo to the board.

    I would suggest that you gather a number of like minded taxpayers (and voters) and make a visit to the board to explain your stance.

    You might want to do some research and find that your IT director got a free beer (golf trip) out of this. Fodder for the meeting.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by imamac (1083405)
      The hospital Executive Committee (or Board of Directors) will usually listen to the CIO (who generally is a member of the committee/board).
    • by Registered Coward v2 (447531) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @12:37PM (#31359134)

      If the hospital is tax payer funded, then you have every right as a taxpayer to take this memo to the board.

      I would suggest that you gather a number of like minded taxpayers (and voters) and make a visit to the board to explain your stance.

      You might want to do some research and find that your IT director got a free beer (golf trip) out of this. Fodder for the meeting.

      You might have the right to do this; but consider the consequences; i.e. is it worth potentially losing your job or getting shunted aside? Poking a dog in the eye gets its attention but also may provoke a response that harms you. Accusing someone of malfeasance really puts you in a good position.

      Generally, when forced to publicly defend their position, leadership tends to strengthen their support of their position and finds ways to discredit the opposition. At any rate; that doesn't get them to consider open source but just makes it more of an enemy.

      A far better way, IMHO, is first to define how OSS can do the job better - not just cheaper, but really better. Change is hard; and changing just to save money, especially when it involves systems that currently are viewed as working, is ngh on impossible. So, if you are serious about this:

      1. Determine the requirements of current systems and how well the current solutions meet those requirements; a cost benefit analysis will also show if ot is truly worth switching.

      2. Identify an area where OSS software can do that better without impacting any other areas; implicit in this is who will provide support or add needed features? "The community" is not the right answer.

      3. Propose a small scale pilot to see if the solution will really work and be better.

      4. If 3 is successful, then you can look at a doing cost /benefit analysis for a broader rollout; and then getting support for switching.

      This type of approach builds support for your concept rather than creating an adversarial relationship from the start.

      One of the issues facing OSS is the zealot's desire to have it be everywhere simply because *they* believe it is a better way. That's nice, but in the real world people need to be convinced and it needs to be better than what currently is in use. People simply want solutions that work.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ArsenneLupin (766289)
        This proposes "takling about OSS alternatives", a move which has been explicitly forbidden by the memo. But depending on your personal situation (how much money do you have on the side, do you have wife & kids to feed?), you may just boldly ignore the memo, and continue business as usual. If you confronted, ask for a written statement. If you don't get any, you're fine. If you do, you've got excellent fodder for another Slashdot story, and for the press.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Kjella (173770)

        As much as your idea makes sense, the chances are his superiors will refuse because it's against policy or it will be seen as insubordination if the higher-ups become aware. They can easily claim that despite his local cost savings he is obstructing the architectural and strategic plans and increasing long term costs. A very expensive consultant report will agree with what the higher-ups want and that'll be the end of that and possibly his career. The only real moral leverage he has is that this is public m

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by BeanThere (28381)

        You might have the right to do this; but consider the consequences; i.e. is it worth potentially losing your job or getting shunted aside?

        Depends how good you think you are. If you're any good, you'll find another job, possibly one where you have a voice. If you're just average, and you think it will be hard to find another job, then toe the line.

        I would silence my own purely technical opinion. If management disagrees, that's their prerogative, but it's also your prerogative to give impartial technical opinions. If I was the submitter, I would write up a report detailing his "recommendations", outlining why he thinks they would save money, an

  • Leak the email (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mgessner (46612)

    Let the public know. I doubt many of the citizens would take a side, but you could be putting pressure on the IT directors to justify why they spend so much money.

    Of course, they might contact Microsoft, who would bring out their own "independent" (read: Microsoft-funded) studies that show that, in the long run, Microsoft is cheaper than open source.

    But perhaps in this time of economic trouble, a friendly journalist might take your side and decide they want to screw with the government for wasting taxpayer

  • Your management (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bugs2squash (1132591) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @12:16PM (#31358788)
    also have reason to prevent scope creep to contain support costs. Firefox may well be easier to support than IE, but IE alone will be easier to support than IE+FF.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      But as long as they are actively taking measures to enforce the use of a specific browser, why enforce the use of the worst modern browser out there? Ease of support may be used as an argument, but it certainly isn't a valid reason to push IE instead of, say, Google Chrome or Firefox. If you're going to push a standard, push a good one.

      Of course, they have a deal with the vendor of the crap standard, so there you have it.
      • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

        by ElSupreme (1217088)
        Well that being a hospital I would hope that there is a HUGE ANTI CHROME sentiment. CHROME IS SPYWARE!

        And I am sorry. IE8 is not ALL that bad. IE6 was the biggest piece of shit ever, and I am sure the taste is still in the air. But IE8 isn't really that bad. Sure as shit better than the SPYWARE that chrome is.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I am not foolish enough to say all our problems would be solved overnight by changing away from Microsoft's infrastructure, but I am convinced that if we took less than half the money we spend on licensing Microsoft's software alone and invested that in training users for an open source system, we would be far better off in the long run.

      Open source? Invested in training? I probably have some news for you...when dealing with healthcare, nothing is free, especially the software. The reason why many hospitals run Windows XP and use Exchange, MS SQL, etc, is because it interfaces with the large customer/patient databases and X-Ray machines.

      A bottom of the line digital X-Ray machine for a Vet Clinic (I'm using this as an example, because I have experience with it) is $200, 000. Software costs $50, 000 and runs only on Windows. Now, say we were

  • by gazbo (517111) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @12:16PM (#31358790)
    Have you enquired as to why they've implemented this policy? If so, it would be useful information for people to suggest counterarguments. If not, wouldn't that be a better starting point than posting in impotent rage?

    It's entirely possible they have a good (depending on viewpoint) reason for this beyond your implication of shilling for MS.

    • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @01:04PM (#31359534)
      I can think of at least one reason why this would be policy, HIPAA. It is not very hard to get a Windows Domain to not allow IE on any computer in the Domain to go to sites that would allow people to violate HIPAA. It may be possible to do with Firefox, but not as easily (I've never needed to restrict Firefox on a Domain wide basis, so I don't know how hard it would be, but the techniques that lock down IE don't lock down Firefox).
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by michael_cain (66650)

        Indeed. If I were running IT at a hospital -- or any other facility with medical records subject to the HIPAA security rules -- I would be annoyingly paranoid about standardized desktop platforms and application software. I'd also be looking for software vendors who had staff that understood HIPAA. Almost certainly true that MS has such staff, not nearly so clear about OSS.

        OTOH, if I were sending out e-mail like that in the original post, and HIPAA was the root cause for the restrictions, it would clearl

    • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @01:19PM (#31359772) Journal

      It's not even a typical "MS shop" attitude. In the past, I worked in a company that's a "Microsoft Gold Certified Partner", and while MS products were predominant on the corpnet - AD, IIS, SharePoint, Exchange etc (because they came cheap with the deal, and did offer productivity improvements) - the company products itself were still only 50% .NET-based, the other 50% using Java/J2EE. We also had some on-site client hosting running Linux and, IIRC, Solaris for those Java projects.

      Nor was there the kind of attitude displayed by email in TFS. I mean, sure, when you deal with customers, and you are on the team that works on a project written using MS-based tech, it's not exactly wise to criticize them, since you're effectively criticizing your product indirectly. And this isn't any different regardless of platform in question.

      But in internal discussions, it was not a taboo subject at all. And even in .NET projects, FOSS libraries were used where available for a given task (NHibernate, Castle, SharpZipLib - just to name a few).

  • The Gamble (Score:4, Insightful)

    by KingSkippus (799657) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @12:19PM (#31358822) Homepage Journal

    I find myself in similar situations every day, where I see a lot of inefficient and wasteful decisions and policies.

    The thing is, you have to choose your battles. Ask yourself a brutally realistic question: Do you think you can make a difference? Is there any chance at all that you could change someone's mind about this?

    The bad news is, probably not. And if you're not willing to work hard for it, you're really better off just sucking it up and going along with it, no matter how brainless the edicts are. Play it safe, keep your job, don't make waves.

    The good news is, if you are willing to pitch this battle, if you are willing to work hard, putting together the necessary information and documentation in such a way to actually demonstrate to the powers-that-be that there is a Better Way, possibly even volunteering to take on a huge chunk of the work yourself, and do your damned best to ensure that your bosses look really good in the process, that you can not only get what you want, but you can look really good in a highly visible way in the process. That's how to get promoted into places where you're not just fighting these battles, but actually making the decisions.

    Or you may get fired because someone can't handle you disagreeing with them, no matter how stupid they're being. That's the gamble, the risk versus reward. I can't tell you which path to take, because I don't know all of the politics of your particular situation, but I hope it all turns out well, no matter which road you go down.

  • by dreadlord76 (562584) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @12:20PM (#31358838)
    >> I would very much like to hear Slashdot's ideas / opinions on this 'Strategic Direction' and the silencing of our technical opinions."
    Let see, this is slashdot.

    What do we have here:
    Bossy overlords
    Bossy overlords against Free Software
    Bossy overlords against Free Software and Pro Microsoft
    Bossy overlords against Free Software, Pro Microsoft, and wasting public funds
    Bossy overlords against Free Software, Pro Microsoft, and wasting public funds
    The underdog who wants to challenge the Bossy overlords against Free Software, Pro Microsoft, and wasting public funds
    The underdog who wants to challenge the Bossy overlords against Free Software, Pro Microsoft, and wasting public funds, and censoring the underdog

    Multiple choice opinions:
    1. "Just do your job!"
    2. "We hate Microsoft!"
    3. "You da Man!"
    4. "Profit!"
  • by craznar (710808) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @12:20PM (#31358848) Homepage
    In large scale companies or departments - everyone using the wrong thing is more efficient that everyone using a different thing. Standard operating environments can suck ... but in the end save money.
  • by bheer (633842) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {reehbr}> on Thursday March 04, 2010 @12:21PM (#31358862)

    Yes it would cost less in the long run, but in the short to medium term they'll be running around like headless chickens outside their comfort zone (sorry for the mixed metaphors).

    For right now: If these guys are 'strategically' a Microsoft shop, then there's little you can do at your pay grade. Suck it up or leave.

    And as much as I hate being tied to IE, I (putting my IT manager hat on) can see why I wouldn't want an unsupported browser on my network. And Mozilla doesn't make it easy to deploy Firefox across an enterprise (no group policy, no MSI -- I know about 3rd party tools but those don't really count)

    And who knows, maybe your bosses are the nasty types who see the fact that IE performs poorly on modern websites as a 'feature'.

  • A clear case... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by HikingStick (878216) <z01riemer&hotmail,com> on Thursday March 04, 2010 @12:21PM (#31358872)
    It seems to be a clear case of management by magazine, or management influenced by some free launch event. Make proper recommendations. Respectfully document your objections while providing alternatives. Then, in a few years, when the company is facing public scrutiny for being a financial failure, someone will come across your correspondance and you'll have the unique satisfaction of being able to say "I told 'em so."
  • Free/Open software is fine, and I won't argue the point that it's short-sighted for an IT shop to stick their head in the MS sand, but there are other, very good reasons for wanting to promote a unified network/front, especially when dealing with users. Ease of management is of course the biggie, but in general, you don't want users trying to install every piece of software their brother-in-law tells them about. If you say, "Oh yeah, throw Firefox on, whatever", then they're may assume you have the same cav

  • Efficiency ? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JeremyGNJ (1102465) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @12:22PM (#31358888)
    You're speaking of "efficiency". I assume you're speaking of FireFox as an example. But there's is nothing more efficient about an IT organization supporting more than one tool for the same purpose, based on the preference of a user (or an admin). If you can lay out how a company or IT organization would improve efficiency by supporting FireFox, along side IE (because you MUST support IE since many 3rd party apps use the IE engine embedded), I'd love to see it. I might even elect you to office.
  • Efficiency (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    it is funny you say that... Efficiency.
    Open Source is great and it has its place in the world, but if you are looking for an efficient work place where IT only has one set tools to maintain and support, then mixing your OS's, software, browsers, etc., it not the way to go.

    I work at Government Lab and I am in charge of a number of Enterprise Level systems. While Mac and Linux are used exclusively in my personal life and home business, Windows is what is used at the office. Not because of my love for Micr
  • An email like that probably didn't come about spontaneously.

    "I no longer want to see comments promoting other Operating Systems". Sounds like somebody wouldn't shut up. I would suspect that some open-source fans in the organization just couldn't let it go when their pet project's architects chose Microsoft products for delivery.

    There's a fine line between promoting and being a big old pain in the ass.
  • by PPH (736903)

    Approach this from an ethics point of view. While I've never worked in the public sector, my understanding is that they have much stricter policies and laws governing conflicts of interest, fair bidding practices, vendor selection, etc.

    In private businesses, I've heard people come out and say they prefer one product over another based upon the receipt of stock options from their favorite vendor. But its my understanding that in a public entity this could lead to jail.

  • If you are in Washington state/King County, then you bow to Microsoft's every whim. I have worked at companies that had close relationships with Microsoft and had similar emails and conversations happen when Steve Ballmer came through and saw Linux books on my shelf.

    As a state/county/city, it's appalling when we could save millions when our state is in debt but we bend over vackwards for a company that incorporates in Nevada to avoid paying state taxes. Some would say the people they employ more than mak
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 04, 2010 @12:26PM (#31358970)

    As an IT Director (who came up through a 17 year career as an IT support person), I'm increasingly frustrated by IT admins who just don't see the big picture.

    Using the Firefox example:

    YES, it is absolutely true that Firefox is superior to IE on a user-by-user basis, in 90% of the cases.

    YES, most exploits are written to take advantage of IE (or, rather, its various bloat that accumulates).

    NO, the corporate management tools for Firefox are in no way comparable to what is commercially available to IE.

    Without question, a *current* version of IE which is *properly patched* is superior (security-wise) to a 6 month old, unpatched version of Firefox.

    I'm able to control my IE deployments down to a microscopic level, all from a single scree (and tied in to many of my other deployed applications). I'm not able to do that with Firefox. I'll gut it out and take my chances with the IE that I can control (including to blackhole communications at a moments notice if there's a problem), rather than Firefox which I cannot.

    The first 8 years of my life were spend as a CAD systems admin (Unix systems). I run Squid. I love open source. But don't even begin to tell me that because you're looking at "what browser is superior for Joe's computer" that you can plan a corporate infrastructure.

  • The staff probably has stocks in or other perks from MS.

  • Do Your Job (Score:5, Insightful)

    by whisper_jeff (680366) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @12:29PM (#31359016)
    Do your job. Do it well. Advance. Get into a position of influence and authority. Change the policies.

    This isn't a war worth waging. You have to ask yourself if this is something worth losing your job over because that is what is possible if you stir things up. Sure, they may not fire you for "recommending non-Microsoft software" but, if you piss off and annoy enough people (or just the wrong person), they'll find a reason to let you go ("not being a team player", for example).

    There are things worth stirring the pot over but this just isn't one of them. I agree with your general stance - government agencies being locked into Microsoft strikes me as a very bad idea - but it's not worth the fight. Just do your job and do it well, get promoted into a position of influence, and try to change policy when you're in a position to do so. Until then, pick your battles.

    And, if you knew me, you'd find it hysterical that _I_ am suggesting not starting a fight over something... :)
  • by spyrochaete (707033) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @12:31PM (#31359046) Homepage Journal

    If you go to your CIO saying "if we took less than half the money we spend on licensing Microsoft's software alone and invested that in training users for an open source system, we would be far better off in the long run" you will be ignored. Rip and replace never goes as smoothly as the pamphlets promise. Fine one application with measurable improvements over your existing system and make an ROI case for that one small change. Earn the credibility by being sympathetic to your CIO or IT Director's objectives.

  • by sirwired (27582) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @12:41PM (#31359192)

    As a front-lines IT grunt, it's your job to implement policy. It isn't your job to mouth off about it throughout the company outside your management chain to try and get it changed. That would be insubordination.

    Feel more than welcome to complain internally within your group. But when talking to customers (end customers, and the other, non-IT staff in the organization) it is reasonable to expect you, employee (in your capacity as such), not to publicly disparage the policies of your employer. It's not professional, and I'm pretty sure it's sufficient grounds to fire you unless you are protected from such by some other arrangement (civil service laws, union, etc.)

    You can talk to whatever legislative body pays the bills and ask them to encourage open source, you can talk to the media as a private citizen, you can do a lot of things. But you can't necessarily do those things at work, and you can't do them in your capacity as an employee. This goes for any employer.

    SirWired

  • Obligatory (Score:5, Funny)

    by Tikkun (992269) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @12:42PM (#31359216) Homepage
    Are you saying that this linux can run on a computer without windows underneath it, at all ? As in, without a boot disk, without any drivers, and without any services ? That sounds preposterous to me. If it were true (and I doubt it), then companies would be selling computers without a windows. This clearly is not happening, so there must be some error in your calculations. I hope you realise that windows is more than just Office ? Its a whole system that runs the computer from start to finish, and that is a very difficult thing to acheive. A lot of people dont realise this. Microsoft just spent $9 billion and many years to create Vista, so it does not sound reasonable that some new alternative could just snap into existence overnight like that. It would take billions of dollars and a massive effort to achieve. IBM tried, and spent a huge amount of money developing OS/2 but could never keep up with Windows. Apple tried to create their own system for years, but finally gave up recently and moved to Intel and Microsoft. Its just not possible that a freeware like the Linux could be extended to the point where it runs the entire computer fron start to finish, without using some of the more critical parts of windows. Not possible. I think you need to re-examine your assumptions.
  • by Petersko (564140) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @01:09PM (#31359652)
    "As a taxpayer, I want nothing more than to see our health systems improve and run more efficiently. I am not foolish enough to say all our problems would be solved overnight by changing away from Microsoft's infrastructure, but I am convinced that if we took less than half the money we spend on licensing Microsoft's software alone and invested that in training users for an open source system, we would be far better off in the long run."

    Sure. Take your decision right to your boss, just like that. And he'll say, "Exactly how did you arrive at your estimate of 'less than half', what's your measuring criteria for 'far better off', how long is 'the long run', and what training makes this magically appear?"

    At that point you'll probably stammer something like, "Open source good - Microsoft bad! Nerd SMASH!" and then your boss gets to push the button that opens the trap door beneath you.
  • by BitZtream (692029) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @03:13PM (#31361198)

    The cost of purchasing MS software is trivial in your budget I assure you. It may seem like a lot of money, but the salaries of the people using the MS software probably eclipse your entire software budget in less than 2 weeks. The cost is nothing.

    Training is not just a financial cost, this is a ignorant view point and shows very little connection with the reality that is the job of those people you support.

    Open source will likely cost more overall. You'll have more difficulty integrating with proprietary systems in use, because those private systems have no urge to deal with Linux, its not worth their effort to hit a target that moves daily. Then you have to deal with all the incompatibilities of whatever other OSS supporting software you add in, like OO.org and how those documents deal with other organizations the hospital has to deal with. You'll lose more the first year in time because of people sending documents in the wrong document format (OO native instead of MS compatible) than you'll save on the price of Office.

    The problem with your post is typical with the FLOSS community. The problem is the misconception that the cost of purchasing software is the expensive part. You couldnt' be more wrong. Software cost is in day to day operations and maintenance, which FLOSS offers no advantages to and several disadvantages. You can argue that 'fast patching' is an advantage, but to most IT departments its not. Its FAR more difficult to deal with breakage from randomly updated packages for your distro than once a month patch tuesdays. Any sane IT department isn't tracking patches as they come out anyway, they're going to QA them in their environment first, so they are going to establish some sort of schedule for this sort of thing thats effectively going to put them on a once a month or less often cycle anyway. FLOSS offers the promise of open access to your data, but no one cares how open it is from a technical point of view if every time they send it to someone else, the other people can't view it. It is in fact for all intents and purposes less open with OO.org in native format than DOCX as far as the normal user is concerned.

    Training people to switch from Windows to Linux is not as cheap as you think, you can't just send them to a couple classes and everything will be dandy and they'll be just as productive as they always were. They won't, it will take years for them to return to that level of productivity ... because ... they've been using the system they already use for years. You can't replace it and expect to return to the same level of productivity any time soon. And regardless of how much you think each version of windows or office is different than the past versions, the switch to something like Linux/KDE or Gnome and OO.org are FAR FAR greater transitions than going from Office 95 to 2007, you just don't realize it because you're constantly dealing with software that is unlike the rest of the software on the system ... Linux users are used to no consistency. These users work with Windows and Office everyday on their own, at home. They know how Windows works for them and the subtle differences are the ones that waste most of the time. The obvious difference people get used to quickly, the little quirks that you respond to subconsciously take YEARS to retrain yourself for.

    The cost for YOU to switch to Linux from MS software may be less since you already use both. The cost for your desk workers who do not work on computers as their primary job function on the other hand is much much higher and you're ignoring it completely.

    You might want to consider that those people making the choices above you might ... maybe ... have just a little more experience managing than you do. I realize this is hard to see from your perspective and you may think they are morons but they have a different view of the organization than you do and are privy to a lot of information to whi

Never test for an error condition you don't know how to handle. -- Steinbach

Working...