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August 20, 2003 4:00 AM PDT

Newsmaker: Rockin' on without Microsoft

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Rockin' on without Microsoft
Sterling Ball, a jovial, plain-talking businessman, is CEO of Ernie Ball, the world's leading maker of premium guitar strings endorsed by generations of artists ranging from the likes of Eric Clapton to the dudes from Metallica.

But since jettisoning all of Microsoft products three years ago, Ernie Ball has also gained notoriety as a company that dumped most of its proprietary software--and still lived to tell the tale.

In 2000, the Business Software Alliance conducted a raid and subsequent audit at the San Luis Obispo, Calif.-based company that turned up a few dozen unlicensed copies of programs. Ball settled for $65,000, plus $35,000 in legal fees. But by then, the BSA, a trade group that helps enforce copyrights and licensing provisions for major business software makers, had put the company on the evening news and featured it in regional ads warning other businesses to monitor their software licenses.

Humiliated by the experience, Ball told his IT department he wanted Microsoft products out of his business within six months. "I said, 'I don't care if we have to buy 10,000 abacuses,'" recalled Ball, who recently addressed the LinuxWorld trade show. "We won't do business with someone who treats us poorly."

Ball's IT crew settled on a potpourri of open-source software--Red Hat's version of Linux, the OpenOffice office suite, Mozilla's Web browser--plus a few proprietary applications that couldn't be duplicated by open source. Ball, whose father, Ernie, founded the company, says the transition was a breeze, and since then he's been happy to extol the virtues of open-source software to anyone who asks. He spoke with CNET News.com about his experience.

Q: Can you start by giving us a brief rundown of how you became an open-source advocate?
A: I became an open-source guy because we're a privately owned company, a family business that's been around for 30 years, making products and being a good member of society. We've never been sued, never had any problems paying our bills. And one day I got a call that there were armed marshals at my door talking about software license compliance...I thought I was OK; I buy computers with licensed software. But my lawyer told me it could be pretty bad.

The BSA had a program back then called "Nail Your Boss," where they encouraged disgruntled employees to report on their company...and that's what happened to us. Anyways, they basically shut us down...We were out of compliance I figure by about 8 percent (out of 72 desktops).

How did that happen?
We pass our old computers down. The guys in engineering need a new PC, so they get one and we pass theirs on to somebody doing clerical work. Well, if you don't wipe the hard drive on that PC, that's a violation. Even if they can tell a piece of software isn't being used, it's still a violation if it's on that hard drive. What I really thought is that you ought to treat people the way you want to be treated. I couldn't treat a customer the way Microsoft dealt with me...I went from being a pro-Microsoft guy to instantly being an anti-Microsoft guy.

Did you want to settle?
Never, never. That's the difference between the way an employee and an owner thinks. They attacked my family's name and came into my community and made us look bad. There was never an instance of me wanting to give in. I would have loved to have fought it. But when (the BSA) went to Congress to get their powers, part of what they got is that I automatically have to pay their legal fees from day one. That's why nobody's ever challenged them--they can't afford it. My attorney said it was going to cost our side a quarter million dollars to fight them, and since you're paying their side, too, figure at least half a million. It's not worth it. You pay the fine and get on with your business. What most people do is get terrified and pay their license and continue to pay their licenses. And they do that no matter what the license program turns into.

What happened after the auditors showed up?
It was just negotiation between lawyers back and forth. And while that was going on, that's when I vowed I was never going to use another one of their products. But I've got to tell you, I couldn't have built my business without Microsoft, so I thank them. Now that I'm not so bitter, I'm glad I'm in the position I'm in. They made that possible, and I thank them.

So it was the publicity more than the audit itself that got you riled?
Nobody likes to be made an example of, but especially in the name of commerce. They were using me to sell software, and I just didn't think that was right. Call me first if you think we have a compliance issue. Let's do a voluntary audit and see what's there. They went right for the gut...I think it was because it was a new (geographical) area for them, and we're the No. 1 manufacturer in the county, so why not go after us?

So what did swearing off Microsoft entail?
We looked at all the alternatives. We looked at Apple, but that's owned in part by Microsoft. (Editor's note: Microsoft invested $150 million in Apple in 1997.) We just looked around. We looked at Sun's Sun Ray systems. We looked at a lot of things. And it just came back to Linux, and Red Hat in particular, was a good solution.

So what kind of Linux setup do you have?
You know what, I'm not the IT guy. I make the business decisions. All I know is we're running Red Hat with Open Office and Mozilla and Evolution and the basic stuff.

I know I saved $80,000 right away by going to open source.
We were creating the cocktail that people are guzzling down today, but we had to find it and put it together on our own. It's so funny--in three and half years, we went from being these idiots that were thinking emotionally rather than businesslike...to now we're smart and talking to tech guys. I know I saved $80,000 right away by going to open source, and each time something like (Windows) XP comes along, I save even more money because I don't have to buy new equipment to run the software. One of the great things is that we're able to run a poor man's thin client by using old computers we weren't using before because it couldn't handle Windows 2000. They work fine with the software we have now.

How has the transition gone?
It's the funniest thing--we're using it for e-mail client/server, spreadsheets and word processing. It's like working in Windows. One of the analysts said it costs $1,250 per person to change over to open source. It wasn't anywhere near that for us. I'm reluctant to give actual numbers. I can give any number I want to support my position, and so can the other guy. But I'll tell you, I'm not paying any per-seat license. I'm not buying any new computers. When we need something, we have white box systems we put together ourselves. It doesn't need to be much of a system for most of what we do.

But there's a real argument now about total cost of ownership, once you start adding up service, support, etc.
What support? I'm not making calls to Red Hat; I don't need to. I think that's propaganda...What about the cost of dealing with a virus? We don't have 'em. How about when we do have a problem, you don't have to send some guy to a corner of the building to find out what's going on--he never leaves his desk, because everything's server-based. There's no doubt that what I'm doing is cheaper to operate. The analyst guys can say whatever they want.

The other thing is that if you look at productivity. If you put a bunch of stuff on people's desktops they don't need to do their job, chances are they're going to use it. I don't have that problem. If all you need is word processing, that's all you're going to have on your desktop, a word processor. It's not going to have Paint or PowerPoint. I tell you what, our hits to eBay went down greatly when not everybody had a Web browser. For somebody whose job is filling out forms all day, invoicing and exporting, why do they need a Web browser? The idea that if you have 2,000 terminals they all have to have a Web browser, that's crazy. It just creates distractions.

Have you heard anything from Microsoft since you started speaking out about them?
I got an apology today from a wants-to-be-anonymous Microsoft employee who heard me talk. He asked me if anyone ever apologized, because what happened to me sounded pretty rough to him, and I told him no. He said, "Well, I am. But we're nice guys." I'm sure they are. When a machine gets too big, it doesn't know when it's stepping on ants. But every once in a while, you step on a red ant.

Ernie Ball is pretty much known as a musician's buddy. How does it feel to be a technology guru, as well?

The myth has been built so big that you can't survive without Microsoft.
I think it's great for me to be a technology influence. It shows how ridiculous it is that I can get press because I switched to OpenOffice. And the reason why is because the myth has been built so big that you can't survive without Microsoft, so that somebody who does get by without Microsoft is a story.

It's just software. You have to figure out what you need to do within your organization and then get the right stuff for that. And we're not a backwards organization. We're progressive; we've won communications and design awards...The fact that I'm not sending my e-mail through Outlook doesn't hinder us. It's just kind of funny. I'm speaking to a standing-room-only audience at a major technology show because I use a different piece of software--that's hysterical.

You've pretty much gotten by with off-the-shelf software. Was it tough to find everything you needed in the open-source world?
Yeah, there are some things that are tough to find, like payroll software. We found something, and it works well. But the developers need to start writing the real-world applications people need to run a business...engineering, art and design tools, that kind of stuff...They're all trying to build servers that already exist and do a whole bunch of stuff that's already out there...I think there's a lot of room to not just create an alternative to Microsoft but really take the next step and do something new.

Any thoughts on SCO's claims on Linux?
I don't know the merits of the lawsuit, but I run their Unix and I'm taking it off that system. I just don't like the way it's being handled. I feel like I'm being threatened again.

They never said anything to me, and if I was smart, I probably wouldn't mention it. But I don't like how they're doing it. What they're doing is casting a shadow over the whole Linux community. Look, when you've got Windows 98 not being supported, NT not being supported, OS/2 not being supported--if you're a decision maker in the IT field, you need to be able to look at Linux as something that's going to continue to be supported. It's a major consideration when you're making those decisions.

What if SCO wins?
There are too many what-ifs. What if they lose? What if IBM buys them? I really don't know, and I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. But I can't believe somebody really wants to claim ownership of Linux...it's not going to make me think twice.

You see, I'm not in this just to get free software. No. 1, I don't think there's any such thing as free software. I think there's a cost in implementing all of it. How much of a cost depends on whom you talk to. Microsoft and some analysts will tell you about all the support calls and service problems. That's hysterical. Have they worked in my office? I can find out how many calls my guys have made to Red Hat, but I'm pretty sure the answer is none or close to it...It just doesn't crash as much as Windows. And I don't have to buy new computers every time they come out with a new release and abandon the old one.

Has Microsoft tried to win you back?
Microsoft is a growing business with $49 billion in the bank. What do they care about me? If they cared about me, they wouldn't have approached me the way they did in the first place...And I'm glad they didn't try to get me back. I thank them for opening my eyes, because I'm definitely money ahead now and I'm definitely just as productive, and I don't have any problems communicating with my customers. So thank you, Microsoft.  

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start of school paper
by July 26, 2004 1:37 PM PDT
Loved reading about how open source has helped your savings on your biz. Have a college paper due on a technology process improvement, and I think I have a good subject, and you gave me lots of direction. Thanks and good luck in your biz!
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get your Apple facts straight
by December 5, 2004 11:12 AM PST
If you want to continue to be taken seriously I suggest you get
your facts straight about MicroSoft owning a part of Apple.
Billy boy was sold $150 Mil of NON-VOTING shares in Apple
Computer as a sign of SUPPORT.
Get it right!
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Michael, why are you replying to this story a year later?
by aabcdefghij987654321 December 28, 2004 8:37 AM PST
Are you a Micro$oft shill?
View all 2 replies
Bringing up old crap...
by FretBuzzard April 3, 2006 6:41 AM PDT
Non-voting shares still pay dividends. Sterling Ball didn't snub Apple because he was afraid Gates would control it badly, he just didn't want to support the schmuck. I wouldn't want my money going to someone who treated me that way either. Long live Ernie Ball!
Way to go!
by April 4, 2005 12:20 PM PDT

That is terrible what happened to your business. However, you seem to handle the situation pro-actively and that serves as a good example to the business world. I am currently working on my business degree and I hope to someday start my own business. I will keep this in mind when I start to build up the technology that is necessary. So where do you find Linux and the software to go on it? It is an OS right?
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Good on you fella.
by April 8, 2005 5:40 PM PDT
I have worked in the IT industry for ten years, before leaving it for good, a couple of years ago.
I've ran LANs and been responsible for all IT decisions for various companies and organisations.
The whole industry has mutated out of all recognition, since the days that I enjoyed working in it. Too many idiots with their nice new MCSE certificates trying to tell me stuff I'd almost, but not quite, forgotten. The cost of Windows based software deployments is ridiculous and from what I gather has gotten worse since I left it all behind.

I too have gone mainly open source, with 4 PCs at home including a LAMP based server. Support is not a problem, just via the community and search engines alone, before you even have to look at any formal channels. Obviously from a business' point of view, formal support is available, but if you have a fairly savvy IT support staff in house, then all the information that they need is at their disposal through one means or another.

I would see no reason for any forward thinking company to migrate to a linux based network. The hardware savings alone would probably justify it.

The stats for pass rates on the relevant qualifactions tells a lot. Believe me, it's not difficult to pass an MCSE&I certification. RHCE does have a far higher rate of first time failures. In my opinion, it's usually a higher standard of IT pro who goes for an RHCE cert. so I reckon this is a clear indicator. MCSE and similar, MCP et al, are mainly another money spinner for MS. RHCE is a real indicator of technical knowledge and ability. ie real talent

Since leaving the IT industry I have decided to retrain as a cabinet maker, but still maintain my IT hobbyist streak. Website and Web Application development on a LAMP platform. You know what? I'm REALLY enjoying my computing again. The last time I did, I think was on the Amiga! S'funny, I've not really ever enjoyed being a Windows user.
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Way to Go
by May 9, 2005 6:39 PM PDT
I encourage everyone to get into Open Source. I am migrating more and more towards Linux and other open source based programs. It makes sense to get a product that is supported by an entire community, does'nt crash, increases your computer skills, and i could go on and on. I makes great economical sense. It is how computing should be, and lets you learn more grass roots computer knowledge. As far as the payroll software, adopt a hobby, and design one that suits your needs. That's another wonderful benefit to open source, you can build onto, or do it yourself. The help is out there, and the knowledge of programming and developing has many resources available...free of charge! Congrats my friend, sorry Microsoft treated you so badly, they didn't deserve you as a consumer. Sooner or later they'll learn, a little bit goes a long way.
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Rockin' on without Microsoft
by coldbluezone December 14, 2005 1:02 PM PST
I am encouraged to become totaly "Microsoft Free" by the end of 2006, and show others how !
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His situation fits
by nknk417 January 1, 2006 11:34 PM PST
and there are a lot company situations similar to this that can benefit from Linux and open source. The guy said all they are doing is excel, word and email. But in a larger more complex environment can linux hold up, can they provide those tools that many Windows Admins are so familiar with. Active Direcotry, Group Policy, and much of the standardization that comes with a Windows Network. Lets say if I was starting a company with say 20 employees and all they need it was spreadsheet, word and email. Then yah I would go linux, or say I was starting a new software company than yah linux would be the way to go as well. Linux has its place. But when you are talking about a corporate environment with offices across the country and you want a standard way to centralize and control more of your IT than really I don't see anyone competing against Windows.
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no one can compete with lazy tech workers
by chris__anderson March 1, 2006 8:49 AM PST
MS gets us all because they can capitalize on the one thing that no one will admit to existing: the laziness of the american tech worker. sys admins fear unix because they will have to grow technically. IE is the dominant browser, and windows is the dominant OS because it is so easy for lazy devs to code for it. why would you learn to write elegant usable code when windows/IE/CLR can do the heavy lifting for you?

enterprise apps, enterprise system administration, *should* be consistent and controlled, but the truth is that in reality, there is no such thing as consistency or control. enterprise systems are built by lazy developers who rely on MS to cover up their pitiful coding, testing, and review practices. those systems are rolled into production to be supported by lazy system and network engineers who want grphical tools that are powered by wizards instead of using real engineering talent and skill to get things done.

why write standards compliant code when ie will display your miserably broken HTML/script just fine? why learn to use infinitely more flexible languages like perl or python or PHP (or *GASP* C/C++) when you can lean on .NET and ASP to conceal the fact that you only know how to code in javascript?

why would you learn about system administration, tuning, or maintenance when you can just let windows do your thinking for you? when it fails you can just re-install it and suffer all that downtime. i mean so what if you need to repair/reboot once a month, when it only took you an hour to build that server? thankfully it will only take another hour when you rebuild it in a year.

you want real centralization? NFS shares can be mounted *anywhere* in a unix file system tree and the OS won't know or care about the difference. the "profile" for every user on a unix system is in /home/$username, and all application data and settings are pulled form there (just like c:\documents and settings). /home could be a local mount or mounted from a file server, and the files are accessed and updated in real time, not on logon/logoff like active directory's roaming profiles, that eventaully stop working in most user cases.

you can also install an app anywhere you want to, like /usr/local/bin. that too can be a network share and the OS would never know/care (be that the OS for a server, for a workstation, or for a thin client). try mouning c:\program files or c:\windows\system32 from a remote server.

how is that cetralized? well, if you want to update open office, which is installed to and mounted from /usr/local/bin, all you have to do is update the bits on the server that it's all pulled from.

network too busy to mount everything from remote file shares? you can use rsync to update everything in the middle of the night at a designated time, rather than waiting for all of your users to log in in the morning and bring the network to it's knees with their mass of updates delivered via active directory login scripts.

you want group policy? user and group permissions can guarantee that only the right people get access to certian applications/files/devices.

and all of this functionality is free. yes it's free, you can download pretty much any version you want. if you need commercial support cuz you are too lazy to read an FAQ, a manual, message board, or book that doesn't say "exam cram" on it, then you can get it, and pay for it as you need it, and only when you need it.

too bad only small companies with little or no application needs can see that.
Active Directory
by March 15, 2006 6:49 PM PST
You mean MS's sub-implementation of X.500 (can you say LDAP?) Group Policy controls existed in the Unix world prior to Microsoft's "innovation". What do you mean by standardization? Oh you mean MS's incompatible implementation of Kerberos...
Let's get something straight about Active Directory...
by DaveD1948 December 31, 2007 6:29 PM PST
Active Directory is just a name Microsoft gave to LDAP, a light-weight version of x.509 Directory Authentication Protocol, an authentication method developed for, and used in Unix many years ago. While it was awesomely powerful, it was also complex and more than the doctor ordered. So LDAP evolved from it.

To Wit - Red Hat's DS, or RedHat Directory Server as it's called, _is_ the clear winner, authenticating more users world wide than all other methods...combined. Period.

Further, this POSIX compatible LDAP implementation includes application configuration, user profiles, policies and access control information (ACLs) storage in a network based registry with really innovative replication architecture and security.

Microsoft does not invent much of anything. They either buy it or attempt to crush it (fairly successfully) if it's a competitor. That's it.

That's all they know how to do well.

Unix based operating systems including Mac OS X, Linux, BSD, HP/UX, IBM AIX and Sun OS all are derived from the core methods introduced in AT&T Unix developed from 1970 onward, along with the "C" programming language. For the most part these and their derivatives are now open source, and developed with strict industry standards and checks.

These are multi-tasking, multi-user OSes with very smooth task scheduling and NSA certified security which is both earned (as opposed to being bought) and field proven over time. FreeBSD for example, Apple's choice for Mac OS X, has not had a root-level exploit in over three years [as of 12/2007]. Zero. Nada. A true success.

That's why it doesn't need anti-virus, and why it's so difficult to hack in comparison to Microsoft's naive Windows.

Unlike all Unix OSes, Microsoft's Windows is a tightly held proprietary product without peer review, and is IMHO, a very poorly written pile of bloat, unable to keep from crashing.

There are Unix and Linux systems running out there that have not been rebooted in years. Try that with Windows.

Today, there is little issue as to what can business critical applications that be run on ?nix except for a few hold-outs who've pretty much tied their wagons tightly to Microsoft's vision. But those too are slowing coming around to the realization that just possibly, they've made a serious mistake. (Autodesk, Adobe and Intuit come to mind.) But don't you fear, what goes around comes around and these ISVs already have ports to ?nix past the beta stage and nearly ready for full release-to-manufacturing trials and when the CEOs of these firms feel the cold water coming up over their socks, you'll see they won't hold out too long. When their bottom lines take too much of a hit, they'll bail out pretty quickly.

I see Ernie Ball was being polite about it.

For my money, MS is getting too greedy, too fat and too stupid to do anything but replay the Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire scenario.

And that's ok by me.

There are other ways to go now. And I for one, am glad.

How much money does Bill need?
by unique distractions March 3, 2006 5:07 AM PST
Every time I turn around, I have to pay Microsoft more money, Linux is looking better all of the time.
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Same story here, albeit without the hounds of hell
by atoning May 4, 2006 4:25 AM PDT
This is probably old news now, but I just used Stumble'd'Upon in Firefox and came across this article - just wanted to say, as a business owner, I've found exactly the same thing. Removing Microsoft products has not only removed the constant headache of virii and the upgrade cycle for things I've never needed, its saved me a huge amount of money and I'm now dealing with quality software. You summed it up for me when you said 'propoganda' ... if only the average person was smart enough to filter out the Microsoft marketing and propoganda from the reality of quality software in the open source world, we'd have a healthier software environment. Cheers.
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by andyguitar August 21, 2006 3:09 PM PDT
Funny that Sterling Ball is quoted in this article as saying "What I really thought is that you ought to treat people the way you want to be treated". I just got completely hosed by his company! I bought a Ernie Ball Musicman guitar for $1,650.00, and within a year the neck twisted. When I sent it back for repair, they were unwilling to change it and sent it back to me with the neck still twisted. What do they call him? Friend to musician's? I think not!

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sounds one sided to me!
by kevinscientist December 23, 2007 4:27 PM PST
As a musician's tech for years, I wonder what info you leave out? Ernie Ball has helped us techs for years with open source schematics, free for all, as well as amazing customer support. I rep for some biggies, yet EB are top notch.

Your problem may be how you treated your guitar or what you expected [http://eg, free repair of a non mfg. defect|http://eg, free repair of a non mfg. defect] so I have to say you sound like a disgruntled child.
by ss_Whiplash September 26, 2006 7:26 AM PDT
I've never been the "stick it to the man" type when it comes to Microsoft, but this just shows how ridiculous our industry has become, when everyone thinks that the world will just fall apart without Microsoft. Rock on Ernie Ball!
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by a_pickle November 10, 2006 11:18 AM PST
...so... his company got raided and was found to be using unlicensed, illegitimate software, and he has the gall to say, "We won't do business with someone who treats us poorly?"

********. Microsoft shouldn't have tried to win him back, he's in the wrong.
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by T38 January 29, 2007 4:34 PM PST
You've obviously never tried to figure out the Microshaft licensing needed to run a business. Even a lawyer couldn't figure their licensing scam^H^H^H^Hscheme out.

Read the rest of what Mr. Ball had to say--he thought he was in compliance. When raided, he found out that about 8% of his computers had some kind of violation.

No, he's right on the money. Honest mistakes happen, and a company run by decent human beings would try to determine if there is a pattern of willful disregard or if it was just a mistake, and then proceed as appropriate. This was a heavy handed approach driven by greed.

I always liked the products Ernie Ball makes--I exclusively use their strings on my bass and on both of my Strats. Now I have a reason to like the company that makes the strings, as well.
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I agree!
by misplacedcowboy March 21, 2007 4:32 PM PDT
Down with Bill Gates and Microsoft! I'm following your lead!
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by Supaplex200706 June 9, 2007 4:36 PM PDT
Fine work you've done. I will link back to your story from http://www.goodbye-windows.com at the next site update. (with some excerpts) Good luck with Linux =-)
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I never thought it would happen
by Douglas W. Goodall July 12, 2007 2:12 PM PDT
Sterling Ball was a bully who beat me up in elementary school. I
find it very interesting that I would ever hear his name again, much
less in this context. I am glad a bully beat him up. Good for you
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No web browsers
by 3rdalbum July 28, 2007 10:10 PM PDT
He's a very clever man. I don't think I would ever have thought of removing the web browser from an operating system, even if it wasn't necessary to somebody's job. But doing so has obviously increased their productivity as people doing clerical work can't go and stuff around on the web.

And I never thought about thin clients reducing the time it takes to resolve support issues, due to not having to physically travel across a building to fix problems.
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Right move. Wrong reason.
by vfrickey September 5, 2007 12:24 PM PDT
As a former small businessman myself, I sympathize with Mr. Ball - to a point. However, I think that he would have the same attitude toward someone swiping his merchandise that ANY software publisher - not just Microsoft - has toward software piracy.

Now, I have to say that I agree with Mr. Ball's points regarding the way Microsoft treats its customers with respect to the way it changes its technology around and effectively requires business users to discard perfectly good hardware and software - wasting its customers' money.

In fact, Linux and other open source solutions have matured to the point that staying with Microsoft is no longer a defensible business move.
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by inno8sky September 8, 2007 3:05 PM PDT
let's see, you're now an advocate for open source software because your company got caught stealing software. Let me tell you what software companies think of customers like you.. we don't need you!

How can you claim higher ground here, give me a break.
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Who's perfect?
by DaveD1948 December 31, 2007 6:51 PM PST
I don't think Mr. Ball was denying he wasn't in compliance. It's obvious he wasn't fully aware of it.

And most if not all firms (really) have been at some time out of compliance with their licensing.

Surely though, Microsoft should've made a call first, and suggested his firm buy up or remove apps as needed.

There was no need for MS to treat him the way they did.

I wonder how many people who've complained here about his firm's compliance could withstand a software audit with a perfect score?

Although I'll admit, since I'm a consultant, when I got my warning letter from the BSA, I went around to all my PCs and wiped everything from them which were duplicates, and purchased up-to-date copies of MS Office 2000 Pro.

But that wasn't the problem. After installing Small Business Server, it installed Outlook 2003, which refused to launch Word and Excel from forms or the Contacts - unless I upgraded to Office 2003.

So I too got caught up in the forced upgrade cyclone.

No more though.

I am moving all my clients to Linux based servers, shedding Outlook and as soon as possible, moving the workstations over to Linux and other alternative OSes including Mac OS X (which is BSD Unix based).
You just reiterated the point...
by guitodd April 14, 2008 8:37 PM PDT
This is exactly the response I would expect. This is exactly why my company switched to Open Source. We are no longer shackled by hard to understand license agreements and made criminals by not removing software that we purchased in the first place. Companies like YOU have made it difficult to stay in compliance and the threat of nazi-like raids and fines are just the push we needed.
by kidknapp April 6, 2009 9:03 AM PDT
I know its been almost a year since anyone has left a comment to this post, but the point is as relevant as ever... But , first, Ernie Ball strings are great, been using them since I was 12 years old (am 27 now). Only other ones I tolerate are d'addario(sorry, sterling). And I must admit, *Andyguitar*, Within a year a guitar's neck could easily get twisted if you didn't store or rest the guitar properly between use. Just a guess bet you probably thought it was cool to lean it on the headstock frequently instead of the body which can severely warp the neck very quickly. Manufacturer defects show up A LOT sooner than 'within a year.' And most warranties don't cover being an idiot about maintenance;)

At any rate I would also like to note those who have posted claiming that Sterling Ball was committing an act of theft or piracy has no clue! How could they? Clearly they sell the software and haven't ever experienced the embarrassment that comes with such a debacle - 8% of 72 computers is fairly minimal. But to be put on the news about it is OUT OF LINE. He'd already been paid up and clear on the other 92% of the 72 computers, He just didn't realize their was an issue and was heavily punished for it in terms of monetary damage and reputation. If I treated the customers at my grocery store like that for eating a few grapes on the way to checkout, no one would shop my store - not because everyone steals the grapes, but because you just don't treat your customer's that way. Their money on the products they DO pay for easily covers any potential loss from a few measly grapes. If I stopped them all out of principle, I would lose the rest of their money. Sterling Ball has demonstrated this. Microsoft wasn't really losing money, they just like to get all they feel entitled for. But now they ARE losing money because they've treated their customers like thieves. The same is been going on for a long time with DRM and copyrighted music and movies. Treat us like thieves and we will make sure you get even less money. Screw us and we will pirate even harder.

And especially with computers and the internet - there is becoming less tolerance. People shouldn't have to pay and pay, and pay for something that won't benefit them when there is no electricity or heat in their homes, or no food on their table. Companies have been allowed the luxury of uncontrolled profits for too long. I wouldn't be pissed if the actual developers of a software got the profits, but instead they are generally hourly and the company paying them gets to retain everything they do as intellectual property, I know this is standard practice, but why should I feel sympathy for software companies like this when open-source community driven development is quality and free.
Corporations are running out of wool to pull over our eyes. Sue me, Fine me, lock me up, It won't get you another dime out of my broke ass. So at what point can these companies actually claim a loss? If I have to pay too much for something then I wouldn't use it anyway. So using something pirated doesn't create a loss because I would never have the money anyway. And thus would never use the software unless a free alternative presented itself - such as Linux or OpenOffice.
This all comes from Congress being ignorant about computers from the beginning. If years ago we said No to DMCA and companies leeching royalty for code. We the people and consumer would have the control, and not Operating System companies that have to patch a new remote-exploit vulnerability every week. My point being that the result computers produce isn't worth the cost. As a luxury versus necessity, consumers must recognize this and quit letting Microsoft convince us to buy a new machine and license every time they crap out a new edition of Windows. But that is the consequence we live with as Americans in a Capitalist, Free-Enterprise, psuedo-Democracy where Corporations can entice politicians with lobbying and under the table perks. Anytime someone has something NEW, they fabricate demand for it and triple the price of its predecessor. And Our unwillingness to accept that WE DON"T NEED COMPUTERS OR TECHNOLOGY TO LIVE SUCCESSFUL HAPPY AND ENRICHED LIVES.
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