Thursday, July 30, 2015

Windows 10 alternative installation

So if you're like me and prefer to pick your own time to take the Windows 10 plunge then you're probably going to need some help when you finally push the go button.

That's because unlike most who'll take advantage of the free upgrade, disabling the automatic upgrade process requires a little more effort but no more than installing any other OS. It's still an upgrade so you still get to keep all your old apps ( so long as they're compatible.)

I haven't changed my position and the tight integration with Microsoft's ecosystem is ever present in Windows 10 but you can get around it.  In fact I'll be doing a series of videos in the near future on just how to minimize the amount of information you share.  

Microsoft may be taking a page from Apple's book with this latest version of the "one Windows to rule them all" mantra but for now it's more of an inconvenience than an Apple-like mandate.  

The reality of tech in the 21st century is that the more convenience you demand the more of your life you'll be asked to expose.  With Windows 10 it's still mostly your choice of how wide to open the Kimono but you need to know what you're buying into.  

For the most part, Windows users have gotten off easy with privacy but with an OS that's more connected than any previous version, it's high time we stop taking privacy for granted.  Look, if it's got a chip in it  somebody can hack it.  That's just the world we live in.  So make sure to clean up your act before upgrading to Windows 10.

That said, you may need some help when you finally do the upgrade.  That's what the series of videos below will show you.  I'll walk you through creating media for a manual install then using it to upgrade a Windows 7 Ultimate PC.

Check them out.  You'll find them a bit irreverent but likely similar to your own experience when you do upgrade.  

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Windws 10 is almost here, Know what you're getting

No long form posts this time just a bit of reality.

The wider web is just waking up to the fact that with the impending launch of Windows 10 things are going to be a bit different.

The most obvious, of course, is that for most people the "upgrade" will be free unless you happen to be an enterprise customer.

What IT pros have known for a couple of months now is that Microsoft's definition of "Free" as it pertains to Windows 10 is less like "Free Beer" and more like "Free vacation" as in those awful timeshare sales pitch weekends.

As an IT pro I'll tolerate a lot of things if nobody's in my wallet but I'm always mindful that somewhere down the line there will be a price exacted.

And so it is with Windows 10...

I'll cut to the quick.  The most important thing to know about Windows 10 is that it's more than a better Windows 8.  It's the cornerstone of a sales platform which is why they can afford to give it away.

Which is also why things like mandatory updates are in your future.  Like it or not if Microsoft wants to change something you have nothing to say about it. 

That's problematic because the Redmond guys don't have the greatest track record with updates.  Any IT pro can probably think of at least half a dozen that ruined their day.

It's also wise to be suspicious of motives when a company hides its true intentions in seemingly innocuous descriptions like " an update to the update. "  (KB3035583)

As such you'd be well advised to treat the new OS like one of those Internet Kiosks you used to find in the airports.  In short, it's an access point but it's not personal. 

So what does all of this really mean? 

Windows 10 is the first real version of Windows to enforce a EULA that's been around since Windows 3.1.  I.E. Wake up kiddies, you don't own the software and for whatever ills Windows 10 may cure you're essentially granting them root access. 

There are changes under the hood that go beyond a fresh interface to include updates, licensing and authentication. Things you may not see but nonetheless should be aware of.

It's simple, Microsoft is interested in building a tightly walled garden much like Apple but without the huge investments in hardware. 

It makes sense.  Why reinvent the wheel when there's so many willing and eager to do it for you?

If you're ok passing everything through Microsoft's sanity filter then this probably isn't a problem for you and 90% of users will gladly give up a little more control for a free copy of a "Windows" OS.

However, If you're at all interested in security and privacy then I'd start interviewing Linux distros and secure offline storage.  I'd also be wary of any project that embraces MS recent change of heart about open source. 

Nothing's free and to be fair they have a right to control their OS but you have a right to be in exclusive control of your data.

I know, it sounds like we're venturing into the realm of conspiracy theory but stop for a moment and think about just how much of your life lies within those bits. 

Of course if you have nothing to hide then you don't have a problem right?

Yes, yes we do...

Monday, June 22, 2015

Windows 10: Nag Be Gone! Here's how...

So, are you tired of being nagged about Windows 10 yet?

Yeah, I want it too but I don't need to be nagged about it for the next year so here's a quick video on how to get rid of that annoying little icon in your taskbar.

Note that in this case even after uninstalling KB3035583 the nag screen directory (system32\GWX) remained and this is where we come into our story...

Check out the video...

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Windows 10, A Mandatory update?

So if you're reading this there's a good chance you've already read my rant about Microsoft's clandestine little plan to shove Windows 10 down your throat whether you want it or not. 

It came in the form of an "Important" patch (KB3035583) with a fairly innocuous description that gives no indication of its true intent.

"Update enables additional capabilities for Windows Update notifications..."

Now some of you out there think I'm making much ado about nothing.  I'm told, " People want it, it's no big deal. "

Hey, I want it too but when I get a patch that that tries to automatically install itself and gives no indication as to its true intent, I get suspicious.

Maybe I've just been around this business too long but if there's anything I've learned in 20+ years of being a server jockey it's that you never take anything Microsoft says on face value.

It's a company that's built their business on ambiguity and misdirection.

I've said for years that Microsoft wants your toaster and with Windows 10 they may finally get it. 

That's fine, so long as you know what you're buying into and right now we most undeniably don't.

Which is why I have a new rant directed simultaneously at Microsoft and a certain Windows podcast produced Weekly on a network named after a gentrified term for a moron (TWIT).

This week said podcast (Windows Weekly) was primarily focused on the impending release of Windows 10.  In it we found that Microsoft had for the most part reiterated the obvious and essentially told us nothing new.


We found out that whether you're a business customer or a lowly consumer, Windows 10 was going to update itself whether you liked it or not.

With Windows 10 Microsoft seeks to put the days of a la' carte updates behind them.  Meaning if Microsoft wants to force a nag screen onto your desktop to promote the latest version of Office or Skype, you are, in the words of Mary Jo Foley, "Going to take it and like it.

Now I've noticed that Skype keeps showing up as an "Important" update over the past 3 months on all my Windows 7 machines. 

Thing is, I only use Skype on one of them and then it's very sparingly.  I don't like Skype, I don't like its constant nagging and I sure as hell don't like Microsoft goading me into installing it when I don't want it!

With Microsoft's new update directives, however, Skype would be considered a new "feature."

That goes for enterprise customers too by the way.  It's just like it sounds guys.  Microsoft has seen fit to take the burden of desktop management off your hands.  I wonder if they'll take the support calls too...

You enterprise guys do get some reprieve, however.  You can choose to "delay" updates for short period of time but if you don't allow those "feature updates" to deploy you run the risk of losing security updates for your entire business.

In their grand plan, to paraphrase Mary Jo Foley, Microsoft is seeking to eliminate third party desktop management and essentially control the desktop build regardless of the needs of your enterprise.

Like Manage Engine instead of System Management Server?  Too bad, it's all or nothing baby...

If you're not quite an "Enterprise" customer then Microsoft lumps you in with all those other "consumers"  Meaning you don't get the option to delay your updates.  No a la' carte either.

It also means that if Microsoft happens to roll out an update that blue screens half the Windows PC's on the planet you have no recourse. 

I'm thinking there's going to be a whole lot of business continuation insurance policies sold in the next year.

Am I blowing things out of proportion?  I don't think so for two reasons. 

    1. It's happened before.  Actually it's a fairly regular occurrence but the smart IT pro knows better than to just blindly allow updates to install without at least reviewing the descriptions.  That option disappears for consumer versions of Windows 10 (and largely for Enterprise as well)                                                            
    2. This could be disastrous for small businesses who rely on applications that may not be 100% compatible with a given update.  I don't want to hear about how stupid people keep using old software either.  It's not always their choice and it shouldn't be Microsoft's either.

Mary Jo Foley attempted to explain the new update strategy by claiming that some security updates could be dependent on other non-security updates.  Potentially causing issues if the current update model was allowed to continue.

This is where my rant about Windows Weekly starts...

By what stretch of the imagination should a SECURITY  update ever be tied to a FEATURE update?  By their very nature security updates are meant to address an existing security vulnerability not support new features or deal with compatibility issues. 

That's why even Microsoft classifies them.   You see, it's done that way because all those silly IT managers have this bad habit of wanting to know what the hell an update is going to do to their user base BEFORE it gets deployed. 

It's an example of Microsoft marketing speak.  It comes from the same people who describe an update that adds a  nag screen and background downloader as "additional update capabilities."

I have to wonder what color the sky is in a tech journalist's world...

It is this fundamental disconnect with the way that IT works that's put me at odds with tech journalists like Paul Thurrott (who still thinks Windows Vista was ok) and Mary Jo Foley.

For god's sake, the woman covers enterprise computing!  Is she just reading the sales brochures??  How could she not understand that taking away control of update deployments from IT departments is a VERY real problem.

Look, I get it.

Until recently, Thurrott and Foley were on the outs with Microsoft.  A condition that only recently changed around the time of Satjay Nadella taking the helm.

Since then I've noticed a far less critical point of view on Windows Weekly.  It's understandable if they don't want to jeopardize their newfound access but really now.

If you can't be objective then don't cover the topic.  That's what good journalists do.  Further, I don't want to hear anybody's ruminations on how enterprise IT works who's never had to do it for a living.  Report what you find but keep your admonitions to yourself.

Don't get me wrong, I believe Windows 10 will be a better Windows OS but to ignore the price it's going to exact is just naive. 

Ignore me if you want, just don't come crying if Microsoft decides that your 5000 seat enterprise should be using Lync for all its messaging some sad Monday morning.

Eyes open kids...

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

KB3035583 and Windows 10, why you shouldn't install it

No, No, No a thousand times NO!

They're at it again...

In case you didn't notice, an "Important" patch (KB3035583) showed up today or should I say showed up again.  Originally hidden in a batch of updates last April, Microsoft was planning on installing "nag screens" on every copy of Windows from version 7 and above to promote the upcoming release of Windows 10.  Nag screens are bad enough but some clever engineer discovered there was more than just the suggestion to upgrade.   

Of course the description of KB3035583 is dripping with ambiguity meaning most people will just blithely install this latest "important" update without a thought.  

That's a bad thing...

The patch includes not only a series of marketing nag screens but code to install Windows 10 as well.  That's a problem due to the fact that by default many Windows PC's are set to automatically install updates deemed "important" of which KB3035583 is one.  Reportedly, Windows 10 will be distributed similar to the 2014 Windows 8.1 update meaning unless you turn off automatic updates, the upgrade could begin without your knowledge.

But this is all just supposition right? Surely nothing can go wrong with a description like...

" This update enables additional capabilities for Windows Update notifications when new updates are available to the user..."

It's wise practice to question what Microsoft deems "important" and what exactly is meant by "additional capabilities"  especially when those capabilities have the potential to become a pain in the posterior.

Which is why I'm disappointed.  I had hoped that the "New" Microsoft under Nadella would have done away with Ballmer era subterfuge.  Surely the days of clandestine updates that killed off email attachments and upgrade nag screens were over or so I thought.

This latest update lays the foundation for the upcoming Windows 10 rollout.  Yes this latest and reportedly last version of Windows may finally cure the evils of its predecessor but there are still far more questions than answers. 

Questions like, is Windows 10 really free or am I going to get a bill for it in a year.  If I don't want to upgrade immediately what will the "retail" versions cost?  Worse, what happens if I have to reinstall the operating system when it inevitably blows up after the "free" period expires.

For now I suggest that you hide this update.  It's not Microsoft's decision whether or not you upgrade to Windows 10 and you sure as hell don't need to conform to their timeline.

For the next few months keep a close eye on those "Important" Windows updates and if KB3035583 is already installed, remove it.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Ghosts in the Malwarebytes

Just a quick note.  If you've just suffered a debilitating round of re-installing Office 2003 today ( C'mon now, at least a few of you still have to support it) I may know why.

At roughly 2PM PST on April 2nd 2015,  Malwarebytes released an update (4.2.6) for it's malware scanner  that falsely triggered a quarantine of Microsoft Office 2003 files for a supposed "Trojan.Agent.edt" infection.  The first victim is usually outlook.dll since it's part of Outlook client and the most used application of the suite.  

While the Fortune 500 IT guys may have nothing to worry about here, the rest of us just might.  In the "real" world to find an old version of outlook (like 2003) to be running alongside a newer version of the MS Office suite isn't uncommon.   More often than not small businesses opted to upgrade to a version of MS Office that didn't include Outlook.

That there were more versions of MS Office without it than with was either bad marketing or just a cruel joke.  Regardless, it means you as a small business IT guy or consultant can run into this issue.  

So here are those ingredients for pain again...

You need one part Microsoft Office 2003, one part Malwarebytes and one part bad update.

The fix?

Depending on whether or not the affected system had Office running today the fix is as simple as allowing the latest updates to install (4.3.x).

If, however, you received a feverish phone call toady from users convinced they were experiencing a "Virus!" there's an extra step.

The "infected" office files will be in the quarantine (under the History tab) of the Malwarebytes application.  Select their associated check boxes and simply click "Restore" and answer in the affirmative to any questioning prompt.

You should update the Malwarebytes signature files first, BTW, so that you don't end up in chasing your tail in an endless circle of restoration/quarantine.

The quarantine process removes but does not damage files so their restoration requires no further action to return your MS Office 2003 applications to full functionality.

Follow the steps above and you can consider this bullet dodged.

Check out the video below to see the steps in action!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Windows 10: Free or Freemium?


Finally, Microsoft has come to their senses and Windows will be free from now to evermore...


Ok, so the bottom line is this.   The way we'll get a new version of Windows will forever be changed once Windows 10 launches this summer.  From now on Windows should cost you nothing more than a bit of time and a slight hit on your bandwidth cap.


Sometime in the near future you're going to find a very large update in your monthly batch of Windows patches.  It will be Windows 10 and it's coming free of charge to anyone with Windows 7 and above. 

Better yet, it's been suggested that Microsoft doesn't even care if you've got a pirated version.  Could this possibly mean the scourge of "Microsoft Genuine Advantage" will finally be ending?  That would be nice but considering the huge investment Microsoft has put into licensing technologies it's hard to believe that they'd completely abandon them.

Originally, Microsoft claimed that upgrades to 10 would come free to users of all "consumer" versions of Windows 7 and above except for Enterprise versions (labeled Enterprise or Enterprise N.)  That means everything from Windows "Home" to "Ultimate" should be eligible.  In case you don't know, "Enterprise" versions are only available via a volume license agreement offering the rough equivalent of a stripped down  "Pro" version.

What we don't know is if that word "consumer" is just an adjective or a label.  For one thing, will you suddenly find your "Professional" version downgraded to some anemic "Home" version of 10 that can barely browse a web page or will you get the equivalent to what you have now?

If, for example, I suddenly can't connect to my home NAS box or my small office's domain services then we're going to have a serious problem.  I don't say this often but it's true nonetheless.  I'd rather install Linux on an end user's work PC than any combination of the words "Windows" and "Home."

It seems to me there's a hole in Microsoft's strategy in the way its segregating the "enterprise" and "consumer" versions of Windows.  Most small to mid-sized businesses are not running "enterprise" versions meaning whatever it is they are running is considered a "consumer" version.

If Windows 10 is going to be free to "consumers" then what's to stop the next round of hardware upgrades in someone's "enterprise" (as in Fortune 500) just being a bunch of Dell's with free versions of Windows 10 Pro? 

I don't believe Microsoft is going to let that happen since they still make the bulk of their money off corporate volume licensing programs and Windows is a big part of that.

Which makes the use of the word "consumer" suspicious.  Are we going to again fork Windows versions much like the days before Windows XP so that Enterprise grade tools like SCCM can no longer manage a "consumer" version?  Not likely unless the enterprise is getting left out of the whole "unified desktop" thing.

Right now I can push an SCCM package to Windows (7 or 8) Pro and Ultimate.  If I try to do the same to  our theoretical "home" version of Windows 10 I'd have to believe it would fail.   In short, a crippled version of 10 would be little more than a refresh of the much hated Windows Starter Edition. 

With current available information, I don't see how Microsoft could protect the corporate honey pot any other way. That is, unless they really do believe that they can get by on Office 365 license revenues or they're going to be like Red Hat Enterprise Linux and charge for "premium" support.

Regardless of whatever conspiracies are floating around my head, the goal is obvious.  Where Windows 8 was Microsoft's initial attempt to push the idea of "one OS to rule them all."  This next iteration is meant to finally bring that goal to fruition on any device.  The best way to do that is to literally give it away and make your money off services and support. 

While still being closed source, giving away Windows is a very Linux way of getting an operating system into the hands of users.  However, that begs the question of whether the giveaway is really just another revenue stream.  Even Linux can cost you dearly if you can't find the answer in a support forum.

Let's also remember that Microsoft is about making money not social change.

Back in the 90's there was a PC maker called Free-PC who built their business by literally giving away computers. They did that by encapsulating the entire user experience in a horrific advertising shell (or Hell) that you couldn't escape.  You were forced to look at ads, participate in surveys and consent to have your every action monitored.

What price freedom indeed.  Thankfully that model died as quickly as the low grade hardware in those machines.  The question is, much like free apps on smartphones could we find something similar in the form of spontaneous ads or diminished functionality unless we subscribe to "premium" functionality?

So as consumers we have to ask ourselves if "free" is worth a diminished experience if that's indeed what Windows 10 turns out to be.  Unfortunately, we won't know till the OS is launched.  Yes, there are millions of preview builds out there right now but that doesn't really mean much.  Preview builds are generally unrestricted versions analogous to a "Pro" or "Ultimate" retail product. 

Meaning we really don't know what we're going to get for free and Microsoft is apparently content to  keep us all guessing.

Of course all of this grows out of a history of bad faith with Microsoft.  From legitimate copies of Windows being bricked by an update or Genuine Advantage running amok, it's hard to take anything the company says at face value. 

But we are in the age of subscriptions aren't we.  Paying for an operating system is akin to buying a new car and being charged an extra $500 for the ignition key.  Making money off platforms goes against all marketing principles.  

Nobody buys products anymore, they buy an experience.  It's why people pay twice as much for an Iphone when its hardware is frequently inferior to even the cheapest Android phone.

Most normal people could care less about how advanced your operating system is.  They're far more interested in what kind of software can run on it.  If you're proprietary, like Microsoft, you'd rather sell 100 Office 365 licenses than 1000 copies of Windows.  Mostly because you'll sell the Office licenses faster and be back in a year when it's time to "renew."  Nobody is going to pay to renew an OS.  In fact it's amazing that anyone ever paid upwards of $200 for an operating system in the first place.

In a freemium world a "free" OS is de rigeur.  The question is how far does that philosophy seep into Windows 10.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Are you FREAKed out yet?

So maybe you heard about the latest round of security nightmares that plague what everyone thought was secure web traffic.

A few months back it was a serious security flaw in OpenSSL known as HeartBleed that sent webmasters scrambling.  Then came a left field sucker punch when it was discovered that all an attacker needed to do to compromise your entire server (not just a website) was to insert some code that a BASH prompt would respond to. 

Encryption be damned if you have root access to the server!

Which brings us to the latest security gaffe, otherwise known as a Freak attack...

This one has its roots in the earliest implementations of web security.  Back in the days when the U.S. government was so paranoid about not being able to clandestinely snoop on your encrypted communications that they enforced a ban on strong encryption ( aka: stuff they couldn't break.) It was deemed "export-grade" encryption which was just a fancy name for "weak."

They did it by forcing SSL to downgrade its encryption bit strength when traffic left the U.S. thus allowing easy surveillance of all "suspicious" (meaning all) traffic.

Well, as we know from the Snowden leaks there's not much need to worry about borders anymore.  The U.S. has monitoring bases worldwide now.  Besides, the juicy fruit of of the spy game is gathered from far less hardened sources these days.  Just bug a German chancellor's phone and you've got all the dirt you need on the EU.

But let's get back to the problem at hand. 

There are still remnants of this "backdoor" in SSL and because of it millions of websites are vulnerable to compromise using relatively simple "man in the middle" attacks that utilize the facilities of weak encryption still present in SSL implementations.

The worst part is that the problem exists on both the client (aka: your browser) and server sides.  A compromised client and a compromised server are a marriage made in heaven. 

So what's the solution?  Pretty much the same as always.  Keep abreast of security news and patch, patch, patch!  Which is why there were so many Internet Explorer security patches this week.  Open SSL will have a patch available too.

If you'd like to dig a little deeper the following site will let you test both your browser and your favorite SSL secured websites.

Do it now.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Case against Open Source

Every now and then I'm up pretty early on a Wednesday morning and if my Squeezbox radio happens to be on I'm probably going to hear at least part of Randal Schwartz's weekly window into all things Open Source, Floss Weekly.

Randal's a nice enough guy and if we're honest one of a scarce few real geeks left on TWIT...

So I listen for awhile.  That is, up until the content ends and the propaganda starts...

The premise of Open Source is sound enough.  It's community driven often filling a need that's either not being adequately addressed by more traditional offerings or breaks new ground.  It also gives budding tech types somewhere to try out their ideas without fear of running afoul of someone else's copyright.  Of course it also has the frequent advantage of being free of charge in hopes of continuing development and maximizing distribution.

It's how Linux, Apache Web Server and Wordpress came to be. 

Considering much of what you see on the web depends on at least one of those open source projects there's a strong case for community driven alternatives.

Which would normally be the end of the story but for the past few years where a number of projects have been taking aim at the enterprise.  Everything from telephony to CRM is in the mix.

Which is fine so long as you've got support for them.

And there's the rub....

In the landscape of current technology solutions you really have two options.  You can pay a lot of money now for somebody else's pre-packaged whatever or try an Open Source alternative and pay someone to make it work later.

That is the dichotomy of so-called "Open" and "closed source" projects. 

Open source sprang from the belief that software development should not be a dark art kept in bowels of some mega corporation who controls its every permutation.  Anyone who's dealt with botched Microsoft updates bringing their business to a standstill can identify with that.

The Microsoft's of the world may be more user friendly and better supported but they're by no means perfect.  

Customization is limited and new features often only come with a new version which starts a whole new round of checkbook bleeding.

That's supposedly one of the advantages of Open Source.  Being community driven, changes happen more quickly and development is more responsive to the user base.  But what is perceived as a strength becomes a weakness when you realize that the word "community" can easily be replaced by "mob rule."

Just because updates come along more frequently doesn't mean the problem you're having gets resolved or the feature you want will show up. The squeaky wheel gets the grease as they say and if your problem isn't at the top of the community's list of priorities you're pretty much out of luck.

There's also the possibility that an update actually makes a problem worse or breaks unrelated services.  Something very common especially in the Linux world.

Of course you could always try to fix it yourself. There's plenty of White Papers, community forums and support avenues available.  Or at least that's the sales pitch.

The real story is that White papers, those tomes of wisdom, are written by developers... for developers.   If you don't speak the language they're little more than insomnia cures.  Ever read a phone book?  It's like that.


Community forums?  Those are fun too.  Populated by the equally afflicted and rarely served.  You may get lucky and get an answer but most of the time it's just a lot of wailing followed up by arrogant guru types belittling hapless victims for not reading the white paper more closely.

So much for the "community"

How about support directly from the development team? 

See above...

Even if there are thousands of contributors to a project, development usually ends up being controlled by a select few.  Infighting is frequent and is the primary reason you see so many variants of the same core project.  It splinters the community and makes support even more difficult.

Established projects aren't immune from the chaos and code rot either. Take the example of the popular open source web hosting control panel Zpanel.  Zpanel is a free alternative to the commercial Cpanel product offering a similar experience for far less cost (as in free).  

Unfortunately, it hasn't been updated in a year and much of the functionality is broken leaving users flailing while the "official" support team remains silent.

It's gotten so bad that the dev team actually shut down the public support forum shortly after a user reported a security issue to them which even when proven was subsequently denied.  In short a promising stable project has become broken due to ego and neglect.  A post-mortem that's all too common.

Still, If you want to sign up with Zpanel's official maintainer, Hostwinds, you may get some support, if you pay for it.  They call it "Premium" support and require a paid Hostwinds account.

Let's also remember that Open Source devotees often cite superior security of their wares.  That can be true but only so long as somebody's paying attention.  Apache has had numerous security flaws for example so too has OpenSSL and lest we forget the granddaddy of them all a BASH shell vulnerability that went unchecked for 20 years.  Yes, technically BASH isn't Open Source but its code is and it's maintained the same way.

Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with paying for support.  It's been the foundation of many Independent consultants for years. 

What is wrong is foisting an unstable product on a hapless user base and then charging them to fix your own mistakes.  

Even Microsoft will refund a support charge if they find out it's their problem.

In the case of Zpanel their only response to the charge is that it's a product created on their own free time and thus isn't a priority.

So much for pushing the state of the art...

Read the next excerpt I took straight from, a leading Open Source publication...

Doesn't "open source" just mean something is free of charge?

No. This is a common misconception about what "open source" implies. Programmers can charge money for the open source software they create or to which they contribute. But because most open source licenses require them to release their source code when they sell software to others, many open source software programmers find that charging users money for software services and support (rather than for the software itself) is more lucrative. This way, their software remains free of charge and they make money helping others install, use, and troubleshoot it.

In other words, if you expect the same kind of experience you get from closed sources you're going to pay for it either in time or money.  Nothing is free.

There's a common quip when describing the "Free" nature of Open Source.  They say it's "Free" as in speech not "Free Beer."

Cute but oversimplified.

In a world built on consumerism, free speech doesn't hold a candle to free beer.   Besides, If you accept the Open Source view of freedom then "free speech" ends up unintelligible gibberish.

Which coincidentally is a lot like your support options.

There are just far too many projects out there that are the very antithesis of usability unless you're the type that likes to write Apache modules for fun.  Many are bleeding edge offering promise but in any other realm they'd be considered an "Alpha" release.

Do they really want me to put my neck on the line for an ideology?

I'll put it this way.  If you're ok with rolling out a "Developer Preview" of the Windows operating system (aka: Beta) to your entire enterprise then you're probably ok trusting that same enterprise to poorly supported open source software.

There's a history in Open Source that goes beyond just sticking it to the establishment.  It hearkens back the days when computer guys had all the answers.

Open source is where the gurus go.  You can trace its roots to the custom applications that literally held business hostage in the early days of enterprise computing.  Back then business wanted computerization but there were very few who knew how to make it work.  There were no Microsoft's just hardware and a few people that knew how to press the right buttons and work the magic.  Those people held the keys to the kingdom tightly.

The inroads of Windows and Mac operating systems in the early 90's eliminated the need for such exalted wizardry.  Any bright kid with a couple of exam cram books could run an enterprise.  The wizard gurus were none too pleased to see their grip on power loosening.

Ok so that's a bit melodramatic but there was definitely a lot of ego bruising going on when the PDP-11's got kicked to the curb.  I'm in danger of flying off on a tangent that sounds like something found in a Tolkien trilogy so I'll just wrap up this thought with this. 

There's a reason there's so much bile hurled at the likes of Microsoft by the Open Source community.  Contrary to the marketing, It's not about some David vs. Goliath battle.  It's simpler than that.  It really comes down to ego and wanting back the days when the Uber Geek held all the cards.

Control the Information and you control the world. 

They eschew anything "packaged" instead touting the virtue of getting one's hands dirty.  To hell with those "lazy" users wanting everything "handed" to them.  Every child should know C-Sharp by the age of 3!

They don't get it.  They just can't understand why everyone doesn't want to be a part-time software engineer.  Which is the root of the attitude and the reason why Open Source tends to have a narcissistic vibe even while proclaiming the democracy of a community.

If the masses will not be turned they will be ruled...


Who knew it was so political!

It's not all bad, however, and there are good ideas and good projects out there but there's no guarantee they'll stay that way.  Projects can start out with lofty aspirations but most are just some poor Joe looking to fix his own issues.  Once the problem is solved the project is abandoned.  

As such, the world of Open Source is a wonderful laboratory but little more.  A place to try new approaches and work out the bugs but not to trust an entire enterprise to unless someone has taken it to the next level as in the example of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL. )

Even then a competent talent pool to administer it will be much shallower than its competition and more expensive since it's still a niche skill set.

The bottom line is this.  No business should be held hostage by what is all too often the product of a hobbyist's whim who got inspiration from an Internet forum.  

Yes there are serious Open Source initiatives out there but most of them aren't ready for prime time and if their devs are honest with themselves, never will be. 

Open source is great for advancing the art but artists make bad businessmen.