The VAR Guy Thinks It’s Over, But The Battle’s Only Just Begun

Victory either comes quickly in a rout or slowly in a battle of endurance. The VAR Guy wrote, “History shows that technology markets typically consolidate around two competing platforms — a market leader and a potential disrupter.

  • On the desktop, Windows won, Apple Mac OS gave chase and IBM OS/2 disappeared.
  • On the server, Windows and Linux won, Unix got squeezed and NetWare got destroyed.”


That’s a pretty short view of history. The future is many centuries long… In fact, M$ did not win a battle at all. It was granted a monopoly by the sweet deal with IBM who should have known better. They insisted on second sources for hardware, but not for the OS. The result was not a victory, nor a rout, but just that guerilla warfare was needed by those who wanted to remain independent of the dynasty.

Guerilla warfare was fought on the desktop by GNU/Linux and FLOSS, and, because it was at first independent of capital for development, M$ had no levers to destroy this competition. A decade ago IBM and others began to see GNU/Linux as an eventual winner and more and more have joined the battle on the side of Free Software. So, M$’s “victory” will be hollow. They have had some fun but it is impossible for them to hold off the real competition. Just like Germany in the Second World War, they don’t have enough bullets.

The outcome is not in doubt but the timing may be. M$ has many allies and they are M$’s strength. One by one, they are seeking alternative ways of doing business and we see GNU/Linux on servers, desktops and Android/Linux on smart thingies taking enormous shares. It is possible today to make a living selling and using stuff with no input from M$ and partners. The sheer size of the IT-market makes rapid change difficult, but in the last few years we have seen M$’s share of desktops drop from 95% to 70% and the rate of decline is increasing.

So, The VAR Guy is wrong to declare the matter settled. It’s not and while the incumbent has advantages, it is locked-in to its own complex system to the point that only breakage will allow M$ to adapt to the changes we see happening. When one can buy a smart thingy which is a PC for all intents for ~$100 and it fits in a pocket, there just isn’t much need for Wintel hair-driers. M$ has a fair bit of share on servers but most of it is tied to that other OS on the desktop and that share is sliding, so they have nowhere to go but down. If M$ survives it will be either in a few niches or in a much smaller role in the world of IT.

see Software Developers: Got Time for Apple, Google & Microsoft? | The VAR Guy.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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23 Responses to The VAR Guy Thinks It’s Over, But The Battle’s Only Just Begun

  1. oldman wrote, “My 8 year old windows XP based system has no problem sharing the printer served up by it along with my windows 7 laptops.”

    Lots of people were not able to get XP to share a printer with “7”. I was one. I gave up and eliminated “7” and XP.

  2. oldman says:

    “A lot of that has to do with pressuring people to buy the latest version so old PCs are knocked off the LAN because they don’t speak the new version.”

    What are you talking about Pog? I just a installed a Seagate Goflex network storage device with built in print server My 8 year old windows XP based system has no problem sharing the printer served up by it along with my windows 7 laptops.

  3. oldman wrote of SMB/CIFS, “Can you be more specific on what you think was irrelevant and why.”

    When I share files on my LAN, it is irrelevant that printer-sharing is afoot. That is unnecessary complexity and possible vulnerability in the system. Not only does the protocol do file/print sharing, it exposes printer drivers too. What’s with that? Then there’s endless version shifting. A lot of that has to do with pressuring people to buy the latest version so old PCs are knocked off the LAN because they don’t speak the new version. That’s in nobody’s best interest except M$.

  4. oldman says:

    “M$ went far out of its way to add irrelevant stuff to SMB/CIFS making it very difficult to implement without that information.”

    I didnt realize you were an architect Robert Pogson. Can you be more specific on what you think was irrelevant and why. Or are you just talking out of your bigotry.

  5. oldman says:

    “Of course you are not aware that Microsoft developers behind AD and Samba 4 developers sit in the same room quite often comparing implementations and running each others test suites against the other ones product.”

    You make assumptions. I am very well aware of the legal games that the EU played including legally forcing a company to help incompetent competitors. thus giving one of their own companies ( the samba group) an advantage they did not deserve.

    “In fact Microsoft does guarantee that Samba 4 will perform the same in a AD forest. It has to or line up to pay EU more fines. They have lost 1 billion dollars so far to the EU. Fight lose more for the simple fact is the protocol is not Microsoft to alter. The protocol of Microsoft networking owns to IBM and IBM has appointed Samba as the compatibility body to host events to compare and test implementations. So if a AD forest does not work with Samba MS will be fined.”

    The funny thing is that the only guarantee that I can find are to comply exactly with the EU terms. Opening a protocol and providing protocol test suites does not guarantee that the people on the other end will be able to implement on time, let alone keep up with the moving target that is microsoft development even IF microsoft hands the SAMBA developers the new SMB 3.0 protocols and validation suite on the silver platter as they are required legally to do.

    “Samba 4 is tested against the same internal test suite Microsoft does for updates. Part of the reason Samba 4 has taken so long to get to Beta was not passing enough tests.”

    Also because its older 3.x code was crapping out in interoperability I believe.

    “See oldman your claims about quality here are bogus. If samba 4 upsets an AD forest so could the next windows update you receive. Equal level of testing. Lot of secuirty fixes in AD in Windows you have to thank the Samba project for.”

    Whether SAMBA 4 will “upset” an AD forest or not is IMHO irrelevant. My point was that most businesses are not going to bet the farm on whether a non commercial entity can simulate a commercial product. It is simply not worth it because in the end Linux running SAMBA 4, even if it does work, is not windows and will not be supported by microsoft beyond what is legally required ( and that requirement only exists in the EU BTW) . The only exception to this will be the storage vendors who use the SAMBA code to provide CIFS support and AD integration for what amount to file serving nodes. But then again these vendors are not going to be trying to make ersatz domain controller work-alikes.

    “Also the Samba alpha has been used in AD forests in major businesses for many years now without any major harmful effects. So its a tested solution.:”

    I don’t work with anyones alpha code. Talk to me when SAMBA 4 is in full production not before.

    “Samba 4 copies ADS right down to coping SFU way of doing Unix mapping.”

    Thats nice, but lets wait until its actually production code.

    “Samba 4 release will see MS and Samba on the same playing field level. Difference will be what one can run better.”

    As you well know Mr. Microsoft VAR, it doesnt work that way. SAMBA 4 will remain a service running on a linux box. No it will be who the business world has comfort with. Two guess who that will be.

    “When you in the world of reality you see that Microsoft stability in the server market is not going to be there soon. Microsoft also cannot use patent assault against Samba.”

    Microsoft doesnt have to, microsoft will have all of the automation tools that will make managing multiple windows servers a breeze. Presumably you have seen server 2012 installed in server core mode and system center 2012?

    That is reality.

    “In fact the next windows server is implementing features the Samba group defined into the standard.”

    And microsoft will actually have them out the door long before the samba crew figures out how to implement he SMB 3.0 extensions.

    “You wish to extend the smb protocol you message about it better go into the samba mailing list or you might join MS before EU anti-trust.”

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

    I could care less about the EU fool! I don’t live there.

    “Oldman catch up with reality please.”

    You have a far bigger problem in that regard Mr. Expert.

    BTW I am waiting for your description of the IBM SAN volume controller environment that you worked with.

  6. ch wrote, “I really enjoyed your story re. why MS had to disclose SMB – you really can spin a good yarn!”

    You can read a pretty good version at http://curia.europa.eu/jcms/upload/docs/application/pdf/2012-06/cp120089en.pdf

    “The first type of conduct found to constitute an abuse – the only one relevant in this case – consisted in Microsoft’s refusal to make available to its competitors, between October 1998 and 24 March 2004, certain ‘interoperability information’ and to authorise them to use that information to develop and distribute products competing with its own products on the work group server operating systems market. By way of remedy, the Commission had required Microsoft to grant access to that information and to allow the use of it on reasonable and non-discriminatory terms. In order to assist the Commission in monitoring Microsoft’s compliance with the decision, provision had been made for the appointment of a monitoring trustee, whose remuneration was to be borne by Microsoft, with power to have access, independently of the Commission, to Microsoft’s assistance, information, documents, premises and employees and to the source code of the relevant Microsoft products. “

    I think the EU Commission could have done much more to restrain M$’s abuse of market power but it was a good first step in dismantling Wintel, the use of Wintel as a default solution in IT. In addition to failing to disclose information, M$ went far out of its way to add irrelevant stuff to SMB/CIFS making it very difficult to implement without that information. Besides messing with competition, this added to bloat, complexity and insecurity, but the EU Commission is not about enforcing good IT…

  7. ch says:

    “Novell Netware was Dominate in some countries”

    Between roughly the late 80ies and the late 90ies, it was dominant just about everywhere. In that time, SAMBA wasn’t much of an issue, it only took of in the late 90ies AFAIK. And I really enjoyed your story re. why MS had to disclose SMB – you really can spin a good yarn! Too bad you’re so bad at actually writing, otherwise you could probably sell quite some stories.

  8. kozmcrae says:

    Robert Pogson wrote:

    “Just like Germany in the Second World War, they don’t have enough bullets.”

    For Japan it was fuel and pilots. They never changed their pilot training program which was incredibly harsh and selective (Something like only 10 out of 100 made it through.).

    Chris Weig wrote:

    “So Microsoft is basically your stand-in for the Nazis?”

    Robert Pogson made an analogy, you made the comparison. Could it be that Nazis and Microsoft are associated in your mind? Germans and Nazis are separated by time, political belief and membership in the party. They are not associated anymore than other nationalities. Robert Pogson said Germany, not Nazis. He knows his history. You can be sure he meant Germans.

  9. oiaohm says:

    ch
    “MS did play acording to the rules that exist for everyone else. A court decided that different rules apply to MS.”
    In fact this is wrong. The old rule was the invent of the protocol set the license of all future users of it.

    IBM invented SMB protocol. Released it with conditions that all extensions be released documented and all parties implement would attend compatibility events yearly. These events were given to samba to host. IBM even today could change who hosts these events IBM transferred it to samba for neutral hosting. Microsoft obeyed these rules up until the year 2000. So MS cannot claim that they did not know the rules. Year 2000 when MS released ADS Microsoft backed out of IBM rules on the protocol many years latter MS gets handed there head for breaking them. Four years of court latter in 2004 MS starts getting fined for breaking agreement.

    Since MS have been hit by the courts they are obeying the old rules to the letter. The court did not enforce any new rules on them with documentation or compatibility events. Just that Microsoft obey the old rules and take patents off the table as obstruction. Yes the only extra ruling by the EU was the 10 000 dollar sale of patent grant because MS said something were covered by patents. Yes samba had to pay for the patent license.

    ch thanks I had forgot the dos version of Symphony. I remembered the Lotus Office suite then the change to Symphony again that was the marker of the fork.

    ch where does the other 15 percent come from. Microsoft directly provides developers not cash to Mozilla mostly. http://www.firefoxwithbing.com/ There is some money going to mozilla over this.

    So Mozilla money state is not 100 percent google.

    Yes biggest Mozilla contract for cash is with google. Mozilla also has a cash contract with Microsoft for smaller amount for the firefoxwithbing. From Microsoft open source development department there is some staff working on Mozilla.

    Welcome to the weird world of assets. What is worth more developer working at Microsoft or the cash to pay a developer. The developer working at Microsoft has direct access to MS internal staff to work out why bad things are happening.

    Google provides cash for developers at Mozilla but not there own staff. Yes Google and Microsoft both provide Mozilla with valuable resources.

    ch “Novell Netware was Dominate in some countries.” Don’t miss the some countries bit.

    Samba was dominate in others. Both were more dominate that the Microsoft Solution up until the magical year of the year 2000. Yes the release of ADS and the pull out of joint cooperation projects with both. One was legal one was not. Breaking the joint cooperation with Novell netware was legal. Breaking the Joint cooperation with Samba was not legal since IBM owned the SMB protocol not Microsoft so was under IBM good grace to use it. Basically release of ADS Microsoft should have stopped using SMB as well they did not.

  10. ch wrote, ““Unbreakable Linux vs SQL server is a match up but why is odd.”

    An OS as competition to a database sure is odd, I’ld say, despite your twisted logic trying to defend that. Obviously the creator of that map is an amateur, so he doesn’t know about Oracle’s database (and business) products.”

    The problem is their are several items in close proximity. Unbreakable Linux is actually going up against RedHat and Oracle is going up against SQL Server in the diagram. File a bug report…

  11. ch says:

    And one more in the bin – Mr Pogson, please …

  12. ch says:

    “Novell Netware was Dominate”

    Yes, it WAS. Just what I said.

    “Samba won the case that want MS did was against the rules.”

    MS did play acording to the rules that exist for everyone else. A court decided that different rules apply to MS.

    “MS was doing the same thing in 2000 to web browsers.

    I’ld really like to see you explain that 😉

    “Symphony moves from IBM to Apache.”

    That’s todays Symphony, an OOo fork. Symphony used to be a Lotus-created product:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lotus_Symphony_(DOS)

    “Really not MS funds developers to work on Mozilla.”

    No, MS doesn’t, that’s right – Google does. Says WP: “Approximately 85% of Mozilla’s revenue for 2006 was derived from this contract [with Google].”

    “Unbreakable Linux vs SQL server is a match up but why is odd.”

    An OS as competition to a database sure is odd, I’ld say, despite your twisted logic trying to defend that. Obviously the creator of that map is an amateur, so he doesn’t know about Oracle’s database (and business) products.

  13. oiaohm says:

    oldman incompetence again.
    “Pure Fantasy. Samba 4 is not AD and never will be AD. It will remain a hack that will never be guaranteed to behave the same way.”

    Of course you are not aware that Microsoft developers behind AD and Samba 4 developers sit in the same room quite often comparing implementations and running each others test suites against the other ones product.

    In fact Microsoft does guarantee that Samba 4 will perform the same in a AD forest. It has to or line up to pay EU more fines. They have lost 1 billion dollars so far to the EU. Fight lose more for the simple fact is the protocol is not Microsoft to alter. The protocol of Microsoft networking owns to IBM and IBM has appointed Samba as the compatibility body to host events to compare and test implementations. So if a AD forest does not work with Samba MS will be fined.

    EU ruling really does restrict taking someone else protocol and extending it in a incompatible way.

    Samba 4 is tested against the same internal test suite Microsoft does for updates. Part of the reason Samba 4 has taken so long to get to Beta was not passing enough tests.

    See oldman your claims about quality here are bogus. If samba 4 upsets an AD forest so could the next windows update you receive. Equal level of testing. Lot of secuirty fixes in AD in Windows you have to thank the Samba project for.

    Also the Samba alpha has been used in AD forests in major businesses for many years now without any major harmful effects. So its a tested solution.

    Samba 4 copies ADS right down to coping SFU way of doing Unix mapping.

    Oldman you are in the world of Pure Fantasy. This is the problem Oldman you are incompetent and don’t know when to keep your mouth shut.

    Samba 4 release will see MS and Samba on the same playing field level. Difference will be what one can run better.

    When you in the world of reality you see that Microsoft stability in the server market is not going to be there soon. Microsoft also cannot use patent assault against Samba.

    In fact the next windows server is implementing features the Samba group defined into the standard.

    You wish to extend the smb protocol you message about it better go into the samba mailing list or you might join MS before EU anti-trust.

    Oldman catch up with reality please.

  14. oldman says:

    “Samba 4 when it releases should level Samba back up on the playing field again.”

    Pure Fantasy. Samba 4 is not AD and never will be AD. It will remain a hack that will never be guaranteed to behave the same way. The only people who will use SAMBA 4 and its pseudo AD support will be those who were already trying to avoid commercial software. Businesses who are running large AD forests are not going to bet the farm on a FOSS kludge just to save some licensing fees for their domain controllers.
    .

  15. oiaohm says:

    Phenom really Facebook and MS are not friends.

    They do sue each other from time to time.
    http://www.slashgear.com/facebook-and-microsoft-reach-550m-deal-over-aol-patents-23224231/

    ch depends on country. Novell Netware was Dominate in some countries. Samba on Linux or BSD was Dominate in others. Samba won the case that want MS did was against the rules. MS is still trying to get out of paying the billion+ fine. Samba 4 when it releases should level Samba back up on the playing field again.

    The ldap to ldap replicating design inside ADS was done by samba first. MS basically took the samba design copied it and made it incompatible. MS was doing the same thing in 2000 to web browsers.

    “IBM’s own former Symphony is officially dead”

    Not really. Symphony moves from IBM to Apache. Symphony developers will work on Apache OpenOffice.

    The old core developers of OpenOffice are now at Libreoffice. So really you can say its been a major name shuffle.

    ch
    “And Mozilla should be depicted as a part of the Googleperium.”
    Really not MS funds developers to work on Mozilla. So its not part of Google.

    Really to display the picture well you would need a 3d map.

    Unbreakable Linux vs SQL server is a match up but why is odd. When Oracle sells Oracle db they recommend it running on Unbreakable Linux. So quality of MS SQL server product does define how far Unbreakable gets.

  16. Phenom says:

    And why on earth someone would think that Facebook and MS are at war? FB uses Bing maps, and even ads from MS. Further, FB integrates with WP7 in such a way, that any FB app for Android and iOS looks like crap.

  17. ch says:

    And yet another one in the filter …

    I like the “Plant a garden” game, but your filter really, really sucks.

  18. ch says:

    Somewhere in a different universe, “M$ did not win a battle at all.”

    In this here universe, MS won the DOS-vs-CP/M battle. OK, DR made that all too easy for MS, asking a ridiculus price for CP/M, but the point is that MS did win against a competition that had the advantage of being the incumbent.

    MS won the Office battle against heavyweights like Lotus and Wordperfect (former market-leaders for spreadsheets and word processing, respectively).

    MS won the desktop-database battle against former market-leader Ashton-Tate. They won the Network-OS battle against former market-leader Novell Netware. On PDAs, WinCE defeated former market-leader Palm (and Psion, too).

  19. ch says:

    Mr Pogson,

    yet another post didn’t make it through your filter … 🙁

    But at least the verification games are nice 🙂

  20. ch says:

    Regarding the SW wars map:

    OpenSolaris and Netware are essentially dead. You can claim that technically they are still around, but man do they smell funny. IBM’s own former Symphony is officially dead, what they sewll today as Symphony is an OOo fork. Oracle’s main products are not even mentioned. Unbreakable Linux isn’t really a competitor to SQL Server, and since when is Chrome a Mozilla product? (And Mozilla should be depicted as a part of the Googleperium.) And all Linux OSes and the BSDs are united against MS? No infighting at all? Sure …

  21. Chris Weig says:

    So, M$’s “victory” will be hollow. They have had some fun but it is impossible for them to hold off the real competition. Just like Germany in the Second World War, they don’t have enough bullets.

    An apt and tasteful comparison. So Microsoft is basically your stand-in for the Nazis? Will you declare Ballmer Microsoft’s Hitler next?

  22. Good point. Got it. With Ballmer in charge how can we lose?

    There are still a few things not up to date. It’s so hard to keep up with M$’s reversals like “8”… and IE and the cloud and Phoney “7”. It’s a war of attrition but FLOSS has the whole world to recruit…

  23. Ray says:

    You left out the old CP/M and DR-DOS, which was still alive and fighting far after MS-DOS came to seen, but ultimately killed by Windows 95, and you should really update the image, there a version which is 5 years more up to date.

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