Microsoft has dominated the software industry for most of the past decade, despite bitter competition, and, more recently, antitrust regulation and growing anti-Microsoft sentiment from around the world. Although there have long been alternatives to Microsoft, growing interest in Linux and open-source software could provide the basis for more-compelling Microsoft alternatives that will stem the spread of the software giant's previously unchallenged reign.
Dissention in the Ranks
Corporate users' dissatisfaction with Microsoft's products and practices is soaring. The problems range from Microsoft's perceived monopolistic practices, exaggerated marketing, ongoing security trouble, and continually slipping ship dates of major new product releases. Confusion regarding the overall .NET strategy has also helped undermine the confidence of these users. A recent Yankee Group research report found that almost 40 percent of the respondents were so outraged by Microsoft's new licensing scheme that they're actively seeking alternative products.
In discussions with its clients, Gartner has found that many enterprises and governments worldwide are actively looking for alternatives to Microsoft. The reasons for this attitude are varied. For many IS departments, the desire for alternatives is because of the aggressive strategies and controlling influence Microsoft has over their companies' IT strategies (most notably driven by at least the perception of price increases, led by Microsoft'sLicensing 6.0 and a less-than-perfect record in software quality, security and privacy.
Microsoft Profitability Assurance Program
Many Microsoft customers - particularly smaller companies - have resisted Licensing 6 and its 'Software Assurance' programme for buying software under two- or three-year maintenance contracts. Up to two-thirds of Microsoft customers either rejected the plan or bought partial upgrades under the older Licensing 5 program, analysts say. Gartner estimates the program raised a majority of customer fees anywhere from 33 per cent to 107 per cent. Smaller businesses make up the majority of companies which declined to sign up for the licensing plan.
Microsoft has said it plans to offer smaller companies a more lenient licensing plan intended to stem defections to Linux or other open source software.
Under Open Value, smaller businesses can sign up for Software Assurance and spread payments out over a three-year period. Microsoft is trying to do everything they can to keep small and midsize businesses and this is an even better way for them to lock people into not some, but all, Microsoft products for three years.
The Microsoft juggernaut has, at times at least until recently, seemed oblivious to the growing antipathy shown by some of its previously loyal customers - especially small business. This apparent antipathy is one of the factors driving customers to consider alternatives that may not be perfect, but "at least they're not Microsoft."
Adding fuel to the fire, many hardware vendors must play along with this dominant software vendor to prosper - although none is allowed to prosper as much as Microsoft. Hardware vendors have to pay operating system license fees to Microsoft for every unit they ship and are looking for ways to reduce their bills of materials. Eliminating such fees from their cost of manufacturing would enable them to build products less expensively and maximize profits, but at the risk of possible increases in overall costs that IT organizations must incur for integration and total cost of ownership
Microsoft Alternative Solutions
A lot of our clients are seriously looking for advice regarding the applicability and viability of alternative strategies, so the time is right for Caveo to bring alternative solutions to our customers.
Caveo has developed a number of solutions with the goal of delivering alternatives to Microsoft. These solutions all focus on delivering the most value for the money when making IT purchase decisions. And most of these solutions focus on areas that deliver the most value for the money with little or no impact to the end-user. Caveo's Microsoft alternative solutions include:
- Alternative desktop and server operating systems
- Alternative server productivity applications
- Outlook Client without Exchange Mail and Messaging
- File and Print Services without NT
- Terminal Services without MTS
- Alternative office productivity applications
Reducing Cost and Complexity for Small Business
The Yankee Group sees smaller companies as ripe candidates for alternative office productivity applications like StarOffice running on Windows. Because of the licensing terms for this competing product, smaller companies can install the software for a fraction of what it costs to obtain Microsoft upgrades under Software Assurance.
Take a look at your infrastructure if you have a company with 1,000 PCs or 500 PCs, they're likely going to be in centralized office locations. It's not so difficult for these customers that do not have a huge infrastructure to rip out and replace Microsoft and switch to Star Office.
Outlook Client Without Exchange Mail and Messaging
Microsoft has a vision that today's e-mail systems will become the integrated collaborative environment running on a relational database. We couldn't agree more. Microsoft thinks they can get there but they are still several years off. There are solutions available today that meet this vision without the upgrade nightmare and without the need to change the users Outlook client.
E-mail Built the Right Way Saves Money
The Radicati Group, Inc. estimates the total cost of ownership of
Exchange e-mail is at $221.62 per user per year versus approximately
$65.00 for solutions from Sun Microsystems and/or Bynari. The reasons
are simple; E-mail built on the right architecture is more scalable,
easier to maintain and less likely to result in costly unplanned
downtime. With Sun and/or Bynari, you can consolidate your messaging
and collaboration infrastructure to achieve cost efficiency and
leave your users Outlook desktop untouched.
In order to bring users a full array of collaborative functionality,
Microsoft will have you buy and attempt to integrate a large number
of loosely connected products including: Exchange, SharePoint Portal
Server, SharePoint Team Services, Messenger, NetMeeting, Content
Management Server, Mobile Information Server, third party products
for voice support, and potentially others as well. These products
do not have a common database, development environment or integration.
If it sounds complicated and expensive, that's because it is. Caveo
can provide your users with all of this functionality in a single
cohesive suite that is ready to integrate seamlessly into your overall
Compare with Microsoft
- In Caveo's solutions the annual cost per user is only 30% that of Exchange e-mail
- Caveo provides one integrated solution, versus Microsoft's Exchange, Sharepoint Portal Server, SharePoint Team Services, Messenger, NetMeeting, Content Management Server, Mobile Information Server, third party voice support, and more: complex and expensive.
- Caveo solutions are based on open standards, saving your enterprise from lock-in to Microsoft's .NET.