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IT and UNIX
I think that the consensus view, that NT's ease of use adds great value
and is a main competitive advantage, is not arguable. Mainline UNIX
(Sun, IBM, Dec, etc) has a great deal to learn from the success of NT,
in this area. (Sun and various Linux developers are working to address
that limitation, in a variety of ways, but it isn't an easy task. I'd
call this, learning from the competition.)
* UNIX is not harder to use for everyone, or for all purposes.
>From the perspective of many programmers (myself obviously
included), it is much easier to use, at every level (shell, 3gl,
system), than NT. Scientific and numerical
programming--including that used in large-scale financial
applications--is simply an annoyance, in my experience,
on anything but UNIX.
* My experience with www applications was, that the applications
actually developed for NT took nearly as long to write, and
performed abysmally. This I consider demoralizing and wasteful.
* The NeXt system--the basis of Apple's new "Rhapsody" OS--was
hailed as offering "next generation" ease of use,
for developers and end users.
* Ease of use is not a compelling factor in embedded markets.
Microsoft's hopes to dominate embedded systems are
based on obvious strongarm tactics--such as buying a minority
stake in US West, and compelling its developers to use
Microsoft technology (if the NYT story cited by Claire Macdonald
on this list is correct).
* NT administrators are not cheap. With apologies to Charles,
the web page of the "Association of NT System Professionals" currently
features the following text summarizing part of the Microsoft Certified
Professionals Salary Survey:
That caveat aside, there's little doubt that
Microsoft Certified Professionals are in great demand, and the
salaries shown here reflect that. The second annual MCP Magazine survey
shows a significant jump in income across all titles
from last year. MCSEs and MCSDs, for example, report an average salary
between them of $73,550 -- well up from last year's average of $64,000
Moreover, though it is certainly easier to find NT people, these
people also tend to know much less about the systems they
manage--they're "easier", you don't have to know internals, or
programming. (Some do, of course.)
* Although UNIX RISC hardware is still much more costly than
Intel hardware, neither this cost difference, nor the relative
"support costs" should be an overriding factor ruling out UNIX
purchases tout court.
Pace my own forgoing tone, I have no interest in forcing UNIX on users
and administrators who find it uncomfortable or, for whatever reason,
costly to support. NT is valuable. I use it myself.
On the other hand, I have a problem with attempts to claim that UNIX is
costly and inefficient--in areas where, in fact, just the opposite is
true. Indeed, I am of the opinion that, if more systems professionals
were willing to invest the time in learning UNIX and UNIX
strategies--many of them applicable in NT environments!--many claims of
NT cost savings would evaporate.
Finally, I am of the opinion that--although by no means illegal,
obviously--forcing a Micorsoft "corporate standard" on all the employees
of your company is pointlessly authoritarian, and wasteful of resources.
The assumtion that such hegemonic standardization is good or inevitable
is monopoly's strongest ally.