April 20, 2005 11:55 AM PDT

Ballmer grins and bears Linux--a little

Despite his fondness for Windows, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer says the company will make it easier for businesses to manage a wide variety of machines--including those running Linux.

Ballmer said Wednesday that Microsoft has listened to customers who've demanded better support for non-Windows machines in Operations Manager software, Microsoft's key management product. Also, he said, the company will step up support for running Linux-based virtual machines in a service pack update to its Virtual Server product later this year.

A Microsoft representative demonstrated Virtual Server running instances of Red Hat Enterprise Linux as Ballmer delivered a keynote speech at a management conference on Wednesday.

"Much as that hurts my eyes, I know that's an important capability for our Virtual Server customers," Ballmer said, speaking at the Microsoft Management Summit 2005 in Las Vegas.

Although the current version allows someone to run Linux or another operating system, Microsoft plans with the update to add support when customers run into trouble with a non-Windows operating system.

The company also showed Microsoft Operations Manager, or MOM, controlling Solaris servers. Ballmer pulled out the fans from a Solaris box to show the resulting alert messages that pop up inside the MOM console.

"We've worked closely with Sun--yes, Sun, the people we never worked closely with before," he said, adding that Microsoft and Sun Microsystems would soon give an update on the progress made by the two companies since their detente was announced a year ago.

Using MOM to oversee the Solaris box occurred via the WS-Management Web services standard, meaning that no special software was needed for the management program to identify the Windows machine. A reverse demonstration could also have been done. "Just as easily, Solaris could manage a Windows box using the same protocol," said Bob Kelly, Microsoft's general manager of infrastructure server marketing.

Still, Kelly said Microsoft's goal is to make sure Windows is the most cost-effective way to manage any number of Windows and non-Windows systems. Although the management piece is new, the interoperability has been there for some time, something for which the company doesn't get enough credit, he said.

"It's really kind of 'shame on us' that the perception is that we don't interoperate well with others," Kelly said.

In his speech Wednesday, Ballmer also talked about the next generation of Windows for desktops, known as Longhorn. He reiterated some of the points made last week by Windows chief Jim Allchin about planned advances in manageability and lower operating costs when the operating system debuts in the second half of next year.

In addition, Ballmer offered a little more specificity on the timing of Longhorn Server, saying it would arrive about six months after the desktop version. Historically, that schedule has proved a challenge, given the longer testing time typically needed for server releases.

Kelly said the development cycles of the client and server versions of Longhorn have been synchronized, meaning the six-month time frame should allow for the additional testing he acknowledged is needed for server releases. "We are working hard to make it true," he said.

Ballmer's talk came a day after Microsoft laid out a road map for future versions of its management software, scrapping plans for a unified System Center product and instead planning updates to its existing MOM and Systems Management Server, or SMS, products.

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Microsoft
I think that Microsoft is doing what it has to do to keep people from defecting to that communist Linux. I think it is also a sign that the alternitives are making headway into Microsofts territory.

I still think most of this is for show, but at least the effort is there. It's kind of interesting to see them being forced by their customers to support other OS's. It does show the power customers do wield over their venders though. This could have been easily any company.

It really comes down to what customers want. Something I really think Microsoft is tuned into. Some other venders don't really seam to get it. I have had to deal with venders that give you what you think you need and don't work on giving you what you ask for. It's an easy trap to fall into and can be hard and costly to get out of.
Posted by System Tyrant (1453 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Communist Linux?
So Linux is a communist? And Microsoft is....?

I really despise Microsoft for trying so hard to stomp out my freedom of choice just so they can be the only provider of software for my computer.

They're using every dirty legal {and not so legal} trick in the book to make Linux and Open Source go away.

Face it, Microsoft software is bloated, buggy and full of security holes. In reality, it is costing everyone a lot more than just the cost of the software alone.

Microsoft claims that Windows has a lower total cost of ownership than it's competitors. But it's funny how they don't factor in all the additional software you need to purchase an annual subscription for in order to keep your machine safe and running correctly. They don't account for productivity losses due to malware and time required to keep the system patched.

There are much better alternatives out there and always will be.
Posted by (56 comments )
Link Flag
It's about time.
I for one am not a Linux fan (as a desktop client, a server is another story). But at least they're finally realizing that if they don't, Mac and Linux will grind their market share to nothing, which I think in 5 years the Mac platform will gain at least a 30% market share..at least.

Standards have not been very standardized in the entire industry, EVER. The closer we get to standardizing the smoother everyone's digital life will work.
Posted by (461 comments )
Reply Link Flag
That's a good one
The MAC will have 30% market share ...
Thay can't manage their small market share as it is, with 5 weeks to wait for a mini. 30%!! Get real!
A well, MS always had a problem with competition, since there were many that wanted a piece of their pie, the MAC always had problems with delivering. And it was always believed that if MS woudn't exist, Apple would be number one. Right ...
Posted by orfeu_niko (104 comments )
Link Flag
Doesn't apple already have 30%?
La la la I live in a crazy world so Apple has 30% of the markeeeet la la la la la

To go from 2% to 8% in that time would be great for Apple. Too bad they're nowhere to be seen in the only increasing market - the 3rd world, where Linux and (pirated) Windows rule.

For all this "switching" campaign a few years back all Jobs can now say is how the IPod has had a "halo" effect.

Yes 30% that's where my money's at! First I have to ask the singing trafalasous that just entered my 4-D cubicle to leave.
Posted by sanenazok (3449 comments )
Link Flag
Hello! MAPI support for Entourage ???
Give me a break. Where is the MAPI support for Entourage to
sync with calendar, addressbook and mail seamlessly, without
IMAP or WebDAV? Also, why is it that the Live Communication
server, SharePoint Portal servers don't support Microsoft Office
2004. Or is Microsoft doing the minimum to keep the DoJ off its
back, while the anti-trust watch dogs have fallen asleep at the
wheel?

If Ballmer is sincere then I'll see Entourage support MAPI, MSN
Messenger updated to talk to Live Communication server and
Windows Media Player updated to version 10 and lastly IE 7.0 for
Mac, for those of us who occasionally need to surf a website
poorly designed with only IE in mind.
Posted by digantasaha (21 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Don't get it
It's just like the iPod thing. Only that Apple refuses to license their farplay, and MS is very reluctant with MAPI because only Office Outlook has all the features that can integrate perfectly with Exchange. And Office is a big sell. I've heard that they licensed MAPI, but I don't know any other mail client that use it.
Posted by orfeu_niko (104 comments )
Link Flag
A Net Centered OS for Net Centered World!
Why should one be bugged down with all these different flavors of Operating Systems Software; Red Hat/White Hat/SuSe Linux/LongHorn/ShortHorn/BullHorn et cetera; and, as it appears from this article these may now about to be managed or are being managed by "Operations Manager Software" just so customers' demands and requirements may be met.
Has anyone considered what will be the TCO to customers who have to purchase the SLAs (in the Open Source cases) or the OSes and Appications from proprietary vendors which may not now even deliver on the all the functionalities that a particular consumer may require, thus the need for the acquisition for additional software purchases. Couldn't the industry focus on a strategy to reduce the number of different flavors of OSes that now proliferate the marketplace and put more emphasis on the development of network centered "interoperable" (web Services) application and services perhaps on an on demand basis so that consumers may be afforded a lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)!
Posted by (187 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You want to go back to what are essentially mainframes?
Plus add the inherent insecurities of web based services?

Why? If you save $100 upfront, just to pay out $1000 later on to deal with security issues, and perhaps data loss, that is not how to save money.
Posted by pcLoadLetter (395 comments )
Link Flag
Finish your MBA
From the acronyms we see that you're going to excel at marketing.

Why do people need "proprietary software" if the OS could just do everything, you ask? Well, that's why we have applications and not everything has to be in an OS.
Posted by sanenazok (3449 comments )
Link Flag
I will believe their blather
Once I can reinstall windows on my PC without losing Grub.
Posted by pcLoadLetter (395 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Amen
Right... I totally forgot how painful that is. Thanx Micro$oft.
Posted by (92 comments )
Link Flag
Message to MS: AI or bust
Time has come to tell Microsoft the bottom line.

Moving towards the internet and Linux, or whoever, isn't enough.

Serious Artificial Intelligence must NOW be built into OSes. If not, the vendors are going to start building AI supercomputer cards with massive human interactivity capability.

You didn't hear it here first.

As for the rest of the submitters, lol, cumon guys check the date. For crisakes, it's 2005.

I worked on UNIX ... over 30 years ago. And Ken Thomson worked on B and UNIX in 1969. (yes, there was a B, before C)
Posted by (88 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Sorry
I don't get it. Windows, Linux, BSD, UNIX are written in C. Which was developed in 1969 and some face lifts along the way.
What's with the AI stuff. I've never heard about anyone demandin AI. Automatic stuff yes, but thats not AI.
I think I know way: because people have more important things to figure it out, like security, and better optimization, and better algorithms for parallel tasks and threads and processes. I know I have a problem with the last one!
There are always stories about products too early in the market.
Posted by orfeu_niko (104 comments )
Link Flag
That one word
" the <<perception>> is that we don't interoperate well with others," Kelly said.

Ah I see. So then the general perception is wrong? For instance when will I be able to see my ext3/reiserfs partitions under windows? When will I be able to import my adress book from thunderbird? Importing bookmarks from firefox? Reading openoffice format files?

I don't know about the rest but all this is possible the other way around. (import from windows to linux)
Wouldn't it be in the interest of M$ to facilitate the migration from linux to windows?
Posted by (92 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Wouldn't it be in the interest of MS to facilitate the migration from linux
I changed the $ to an S. Let's be grown up about it.

With the growth in Linux in third world countries the core skills of users will be Linux and Linux apps. These users will consider this environment 'normal' and Windows will be the O/S that they will have to learn.

I'm a PC person and run Windows. I occasionally have to use a Mac and find its ways strange. One mouse button. A menu bar that changes depending on which application is live, rather than a menu bar for each app. Disappearing apps when you click on the desktop. All these are normal for Mac users but for me they are strange.
Computers are not intuitive. We have to learn to use them

The same will happen with the users who grow up with Linux. Windows will be strange and they will have to be re-trained.
Posted by ahickey (177 comments )
Link Flag
Yeap
Like shooting them self in the foot. That would be the most idiotic menagerial decision I would ever see: help the competition mouving away from you.
Posted by orfeu_niko (104 comments )
Link Flag
Be grateful
That Windows can't see Linux file systems. On my dual-boot machine, anything that is remotely sensitive goes on my linux partition. That way it is secure from hole-filled Windows, and I can access anything I need on my Fat32 partition from Linux.
Posted by pcLoadLetter (395 comments )
Link Flag
Frontpage needs php support
Microsoft should also support windows users who rely on websites running linix and apachie server. If I'm hosting my frontpage web on a server that uses php and mysql instead of asp and sql I shouldn't be penalized. Microsoft started when Bill wrote BASIC for pc's which he didn't invent. Since these are open source it should be relitivly simple.
Posted by stevenmcs (47 comments )
Reply Link Flag
So the Empire shows a crack
The Question is why go through a windows machine to support a linux machine? Its like locking your windows and leaving your doors wide open and thinking your secure!
<A HREF="http://www.ingsoft.net">hoi</A>
Posted by hoiatl (2 comments )
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