The <EM>Personal</EM> computer as seen from Indianapolis, Wolfsburg, and points intermediate

Probably the least obvious but most telling thing these eight Microsoft documents show is the company's increasing fear of Linux.

The Microsoft promo page from which I got the Illinois case study I've been saying unkind things about hosts seven other documents: five of them comparable "case studies", one a Microsoft white paper on "Weighing Server Options in Government" and the last an IDC piece titled: "Demonstrating Business Value: Selling to Your C-Level Executives."

In all six case studies the customer is seen as leveraging a limited commitment to a Microsoft technology, often a dot.net development effort like the JUSTIS.net project in Indianapolis, to sell a much larger integration project whose effect is to give the IT manager buying in significantly enhanced control over the IT activities of larger groups of users.

Thus each of these has something in it like this - from the Wolfsburg one:

These [Microsoft] technologies were selected in favor of Linux open source software alternatives, based on their centralized management features, ease of integration with existing infrastructure, and cost-effectiveness. Wolfsburg City Council IT employees now manage workstations, user accounts, and applications centrally. As a result, they have enhanced network security, achieved significant time savings, and reduced operational costs.

Or this, from the one describing events at the Ministry of Justice for Lower Saxony:

After careful evaluation of available technologies including the Linux open source operating system, the Ministry of Justice of Lower Saxony chose Microsoft Windows Server 2003 R2, the second release of the Windows Server 2003 operating system, to support the new, centralized IT system. The decision to deploy this technology, the foundation of Microsoft Windows Server System integrated server software, was largely based on ease of upgrade.

We decided to centralize our IT infrastructure into a single domain structure based on Windows Server 2003 R2 says Guise-Ruebe. We could have chosen to support our operations with a number of other technologies, but we already work with several Windows®-based applications.

...

Seven hub sites are being created to support the 180 branch offices. Each of these sites will incorporate domain controllers, Windows Server 2003 R2, Exchange Server 2003 messaging clusters, and several supporting technologies. These include Microsoft Operations Manager 2005, which is used to monitor the network, and Systems Management Server 2003, which handles new software deployments and upgrades centrally.

As in all the others the basic writing strategy is to make statements unsullied by any need for supporting fact; but the underlying theme, the fundamental sales message Microsoft is trying to get across, is that buying Microsoft sells - and that an IT director can sell personal control and budget growth as mandated by commitments already made by others.

What brings these two themes together is the basic sales pitch that architectural harmony yields IT hegemony - in other words, that the route to personal IT success lies through the imposition of centralized IT control, that you get that control by imposing "architectural consistency", and that you sell this to upper management by claiming that centralized IT management produces lower costs and greater organizational efficiencies.

This pitch worked very well for IBM and its data processing clients in the late seventies - when big name consultants were writing reports saying that replacing of all those Data General, Wang, Honeywell, and Digital mini-computers driving the user productivity boom with mainframe programming would help unify the enterprise, reduce overall costs, and boost organizational productivity.

The argument won that round for data processing management but history shows that it was a self-serving lie then - and it's still a self-serving lie now. What these eight documents demonstrate, therefore, is the extent to which Microsoft is willing to betray the "Personal" computing revolution to make sales -and incidently the extent to which the data processing mentality has taken over Wintel in larger organizations.

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