My presidential choices look like an episode of "Fear Factor," my sister thinks the only newsmagazine not influenced by the government is Mother Jones, IBM took my beautiful ThinkPad T40p back, and Microsoft just announced that Longhorn is going to lose features just so we can install it on Redmond's sales schedule. About the only good thing I've got going is that football season starts next week (after 20 years of painful endings, I'm still giddy when I think of the Pats starting off as favorites).
In the meantime, I read another pundit's essay on why the Longhorn-gutting is the right decision for Microsoft -- how extending the schedule will upset PC makers and how Redmond risks mass defections to other platforms (like those crazy Linux people) if it doesn't keep close to its release schedule. See, columns like that are what happen when you approach this industry from the press kit perspective.
If you put down your press card and get dirty in the real world a bit, you quickly see that gutting Longhorn is definitely not a good decision. Certainly not for us, meaning Microsoft's end-users and IT customers. Several of the businesses with which I work are seriously considering moving everything to Linux -- and absolutely none of them are doing it because Microsoft isn't releasing enough new products. They're considering a change specifically because the grasping fingers in Redmond are releasing too many products, each pulling you toward yet other Microsoft products.
It's become a veritable whirlwind of new releases, upgrades, patches, release schedules, and, most problematic, ongoing license fees. Not to mention all the extra bucks spent on IT staff-hours, consultants, and the continuing mirage of security. In the eyes of these IT managers, Linux doesn't represent more features; it represents some peace. A little breathing room. A little yoga-mat time so they can once again figure out how to make PCs a business tool instead of a budgeting burden.
It has become a recurring and increasingly painful meeting for me and countless other IT directors, network managers, and consultants: the Annual Microsoft Expense and New-stuff meeting (aka AMEN, which is, coincidentally, the last word we utter before going into the conference room). They used to occur only every two years or so. But between Office, Exchange, SQL Server, the rest of the nebulous Server family, and the operating systems, I seem to be in several such meetings at least once per year per client. And don't think the suits aren't noticing. In a time that can only be described as "economically troubled," Microsoft is single-handedly making the IT department a bigger cost center than ever. And that's exactly what we don't want to be right at this moment.