Microsoft uses an old but effective strategy of selling “interrelated components”.
You want X to work? Then you need to buy A, B, C and spend a many work hours (and lots of dollars, too), only to find out:
• Everything about A, B, and C before you understand how they work together
• it doesn’t work: the overall solution won’t fit your needs
• you don’t like it: the solution uses a workflow that doesn’t suit your needs
• the “free” component requires other parts that cost thousands of dollars to make things work
The freemium practice (see this article) is quite common in the IT world because downloads don’t cost anything; yet, in many economies freemium may be considered an unethical or even illegal practice for the simple reason that many legal systems don’t allow selling below cost. If you think about monopolies and how they negatively affect the economy, it may be a good thing at times to have such laws.
Microsoft wants to sell and there’s nothing wrong about it, as long as you understand how their marketing works. VMware employs similar gimmicks; however, there is one crucial difference in the kind of “confusion marketing” deployed.
Microsoft Operates in the Operating System Business, Not Virtualization Business
Unlike VMware, Microsoft’s main business is not virtualization or any other technology (not yet at least); it’s all about selling operating system licenses.
Hence, the main Hyper-V disadvantage is that Microsoft owns Hyper-V and Microsoft wants to sell operating systems, not virtualization technology per se. When you start using Hyper-V, you are indirectly agreeing to buy operating systems in the not so distant future.
Some people speculate the only reason why Microsoft jumped into the virtualization game (and other technologies) was to sell more Windows Servers.
While it is correct that Hyper-V Server 2012 R2 is a free operating system, when you read the terms and conditions and have a look at what the license permits and what not, and what features are not part of Hyper-V Server, but require a Windows Server instead, you realize it’s really an entry path to purchasing a Windows Server, like a prolonged trial. The most obvious feature missing is: the graphical user interface.
As you dig deeper you realize in order to run a bigger virtual platform you need a domain controller and lots of other things. You’re quickly adding up costs. The list is growing…
And, as a pleasant side-effect for Microsoft and not so pleasant one for you, you spent a lot of time looking into all of this. It’s basic psychological fact that once people have invested into something, there are more likely to buy. Why is that? Interesting question…
How Freemium Works: The Freemium “Psychology”
The psychology of the freemium idea is quite interesting and effective. You need to internally justify why you invested so much time with the software in the first place. Hence you now have a choice: trash the thing and recognize it was time wasted and bang your head a little to wake up.
You would need to face the fact you did a mistake, a wrong choice.
Or, you could engage in some self-denial and “convince” yourself the product isn’t so bad after all and worth the money (remember it was supposed to be “free” when you began…)
That way the entire process wasn’t a “mistake”. You didn’t do a mistake and you’re closer to being perfect. Making mistakes is painful, but really only for people who believe are infallible.
So the question then becomes a question whether you want to evade “pain” or do what’s best for your business.
Successful business people would chose pain over making a bad financial decision, which would obviously equate to long-term pain.
The Microsoft Hyper-V “Trap”
While Hyper-V is in fact the best choice for many businesses, some businesses fall into the “Hyper-V trap” without knowing what’s ahead.
Here are some example scenarios:
You spend a lot of time figuring out how to use Hyper-V Server because it’s free and because “everyone is doing it”. You give it up because it doesn’t have a user interface, or you discovered other missing bits, and decide to switch to a Windows Server.
Second stage: Hyper-V and Windows Server is being upgraded all the time. Some people feel like they became unpaid Microsoft’s testers. Boom, and now you find out it no longer supports XP, Server 2003, etc. Now you need to trash or upgrade VMs just because Microsoft wants you to do so; there is no business sense to do it other than satisfying what Microsoft wants. So you bite the bullet and pay the cash.
Third stage: a new Windows version comes out. The old Hyper-V won’t let you do certain things with the newer VM OS. Hence, you need to now upgrade your Hyper-V (or Windows Server).
Once you do that, the newer Hyper-V or Windows Server no longer supports the older VM OSes you’ve got.
A co-worker wants to host a Linux VM where a service is available “for free”. Unfortunately, the VM won’t run well on Hyper-V because, you guessed it, it’s Linux, not Windows. And the Linux Integration Services lag far behind those for Windows. Live backup doesn’t work well, some drivers are not available, performance may be unsatisfactory, etc. Your boss, however, doesn’t want you to buy now VMware for just one VM, nor another physical server, because it’s cheaper to scrap the idea of using a “free” Linux VM and use a “Windows Server” instead
There is nothing legally “wrong” with all of the above; it’s just that by the time most people find out what’s going on and how it translates to future costs, they have already heavily invested into Microsoft technologies, in terms of time and labor as well as money. Microsoft traditionally states “technological reasons” as to why older OSes must go, but sometimes there are more reasons beyond technology….
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