But Wait, There's More
Microsoft to Offer Stripped-Down, Lower-Cost Version of Windows in Southeast Asia
Maybe Microsoft isn't ready to cede the international market to Linux, after all. Last week the software vendor announced details of its plan to offer a stripped-down, lower-cost version of Windows in certain countries. Windows XP Starter Edition will be available to people in Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia as part of a 12-month trial program beginning this October. As part of the deal, Microsoft's OEM partners will be selling complete Windows-based PCs for as little as $300. Microsoft is not disclosing how much of that figure accounts for Windows XP Starter Edition, but it is undoubtedly less than the $199 it charges for new Windows licenses. This is the first time the Redmond, Washington, software giant has deviated from its global pricing policy, which dictates that Windows cost the same everywhere to protect Microsoft profits.
The move should bolster Microsoft's image in the eyes of foreign governments, which seem inclined to install lower-cost, open-source alternatives. Stories of governments' defections from Windows to Linux are becoming widespread. In June, the city of Munich, Germany, officially switched 14,000 government PCs from Windows to Novell SuSE Linux, along with the OpenOffice productivity toolset and the Mozilla browser. U.S. governments, including the city of Austin, Texas, and the state of Massachusetts, are also considering the move to Linux. But the biggest battle for Microsoft remains in developing countries, where government employees are getting computers for the very first time.
To prevent PCs with the Windows XP Starter Edition from making their way to the United States, Microsoft has restricted the new operating system to the Thai, Malay, and Indonesian languages. Additionally, the operating system will be able to run only three applications at once.
HP Does vPars for Linux, Windows
Hewlett-Packard this week announced that it will offer subprocessor virtual machine partitioning on Integrity and PA-RISC servers. IBM has thus far been the only midrange and enterprise server maker offering this capability, which ships for the first time on its pSeries and p5 Unix servers in a few weeks with AIX 5L 5.3 and its new Virtualization Engine hypervisor. Up until now, the finest granularity that was available with vPars was one partition per processor. Now HP is offering vPars that can be as small as 1/20th of a processor and that can be as large as eight processors. IBM's granularity on the new p5 machines is 1/10th of a processor all the way up to all processors in a single machine (which currently stands at 16 processors with the p5 570 but will be extended to 64-way processing with the p5 590, due by the end of the year).
Each vPar in HP's new Virtual Server Environment running on the Integrity machines can run a single instance of HP-UX, Linux, or Windows, and with the delivery of OpenVMS for Itanium, later this year, customers will also be able to run OpenVMS inside vPars. In theory, any Itanium-based operating system can be put inside one of the new vPars, which could mean one of the open source BSDs or even Solaris, if Sun ever announces it. The new vPars also have shared I/O capabilities, which means that many partitions can logically share physical I/O devices, such as disk controllers, LAN cards, and so forth.
HP has also extended the Workload Manager for its HP-UX Unix platform, which keeps applications from butting heads inside HP-UX, to cover hundreds of machines in a network or hundreds of nPar or vPar partitions spanning one or many machines; these machines can now be running either HP-UX or Linux. This Global Workload Manager is a significant upgrade from the Workload Manager, which could only manage 20 machines or partitions. This new Global Workload Manager will ship before the end of the year, and will eventually support Windows Server editions as well. Exactly when that will happen is unclear, but HP says that as soon as Microsoft offers APIs that are similar to the processor set APIs in Linux 2.6, which allow specific applications to be pegged to specific processors, then HP will support the management of Windows instances through Global Workload Manager.
Dell Continues to Gather Momentum in Second Quarter
Server and storage maker Dell reported its second quarter fiscal 2005 results last week, and unlike Hewlett-Packard, business is up steadily. Dell's aggregate sales, which include X86 PCs, laptops, and workstations as well as servers and storage, were up 20 percent, to $11.7 billion, in the quarter, which ended July 30, matching the growth that Dell experienced in the first fiscal quarter. Net income was $799 million, up 29 percent from the same period last year, and higher than the profit rate that Dell had in the first quarter of fiscal 2005. Dell's profits are accelerating in fiscal 2005, not declining, like rival HP's. However, Dell is expecting a slight cooling in sales in its fiscal third quarter, with shipments up 21 percent across all products, driving sales up 18 percent, to $12.5 billion, and earnings per share up 27 percent, to $.33 per share (that should be a little more than $850 million in net earnings). Dell said that server shipments were up 31 percent in the fiscal second quarter, outpacing the industry by 12 points. Overall sales in Dell's Enterprise unit were up 22 percent in the quarter, a little better than the 21 percent growth it booked in the second fiscal quarter of 2004. Dell's growth in desktop sales (up 49 percent) is what is driving its revenue growth, and enterprise sales are what is driving its profits.
Evans Data Survey Suggests Three Quarters of Linux Servers Never Hacked
According to the summer 2004 poll of developers performed by Evans Data, 78 percent of developers working on production Linux servers say that they have never had their systems compromised by a hack attack. Some 10 percent of developers report that they have had one hack, and another 6 percent say that they have had two hacks. Only 7 percent report three or more hacks on their machines. Evans Data asks this question every six months of developers, and the answer has been more or less the same over the past three years.
Oracle to Offer Low-Cost J2EE Application Server Stack for SMBs
Oracle next month will launch a new Java-based application server stack of middleware that will compete against the likes of Microsoft and other vendors for small and midsized businesses. The new software, Oracle Application Server Standard Edition One, will feature a Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) application server and integration, business intelligence, and identity management software, and will sell for about $5,000 per CPU, Guild Companies has learned. Oracle, which writes software for both the Windows and Unix operating systems, has traditionally focused on high-end customers, but a lack of compelling midmarket solutions from competing J2EE vendors IBM and BEA Systems, in Oracle's mind, made the prospect of competing with the Windows-only software stack from Microsoft too great to resist.
Mauritius' New Online E-Marketplace Built on Windows and PKI Technology
Manufacturers, distributors, and retailers on the island-nation of Mauritius are able to connect to a secure e-marketplace, thanks to software from Microsoft and Wisekey, Microsoft announced this week. Wisekey, based in Geneva, Switzerland, developed the Mauritian trading portal on a public key infrastructure (PKI) security framework, implemented on the Windows Server 2003 operating system. The portal provides an online trading environment where companies in Mauritius can sell and procure products and transact business electronically with customers around the world, the companies say.
MBS Integrators Merge to Create Largest Service Provider for Axapta and Navision ERP
Two Microsoft Business Solutions service providers have merged to create what claims to be Microsoft's largest partner in the mid-market. Tectura, which is based in Tempe, Arizona, and Aston Business Solutions A/S, based in Copenhagen, Denmark, have merged and will do business under the Tectura name, the companies announced last week. The newly merged company employs about 1,000 workers from offices in 50 cities across Europe, North America, and Australia, and has about 4,000 customers in more than 50 countries. Tectura says this makes it the largest MBS partner "by far" for the MBS Axapta and Navision ERP product lines, and one of the leading partners in the Great Plains, Solomon, and MS-CRM product lines. The deal was financed by Pequot Capital Management, and the company's new headquarters will be in San Mateo, California.