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Driver, I think this is my stop

November 12th, 2001

First, go read Scoble. Then come back here and read this.

I got my MSDN (Microsoft Developer Network) subscription renewal in the mail this week.

I subscribe to the Professional level of MSDN. Last year it cost me about $900CDN (600US) to renew. This year it’s over $1500CDN ($1033 US). That’s about a 70% increase in price. I can tell you that as an independent consultant in the internet industry, my revenue hasn’t increased by 70% in 2001.

What added value would I get this year over last? I don’t see any.

Last year I got either CD or DVD for the same price. This year it’s $120US more for the DVD version. Sure, they save on media and postage, but $120US? I don’t think so.

They recently sent me a notice saying Visual Interdev would now be “included” with the Professional subscription. I guess a 70% increase is what they mean by “included”.

Product releases. Well, I’ve already got a whole bunch of reasons for resisting the pull of XP. Here’s another one.

I’ve been seeing a lot about .NET development cross my bow. As a member of the ASP Aces group at ASPFriends.com, I’m constantly seeing how fantastic and useful ASP.NET is. I’ve got a number of great books about ASP.NET. I’m fascinated with all sorts of web-based RPC. You would think I was inhaling this stuff.

But I’m not.

The part of my time I allocate to personal development these days goes to familiarizing myself with alternatives to Microsoft’s technology. Linux, PHP, MySql, Apache, Tomcat, etc.

I remember when I was a civil servant in the late 90s. I could see the writing on the wall that most of the real hands-on technology work in the Ontario government was going to be outsourced within three years. I quit and became a consultant. When the time came, I didn’t want to be on the street with my union package looking for my first consulting gig, I wanted to be on the street with a solid three-year consulting resume. It worked out well for me.

When companies really see what licensing and product activation is coming to (and more to the point, license expiry and product deactivation) and the imminent ongoing costs that reliance on fee-per-use services portends, they will revolt against MS and stampede towards alternatives. When that day comes, I don’t want to be a one-trick pony locked in the wrong stable.

It’s not because MS has crappy technology. Ignoring their consumer products, I’m very happy with their NT/2000 technology and their .NET direction. I’m just not sure I wanna commit to it.

It’s because I believe MS is arrogant, conniving, monopolistic, an unfair player. I didn’t used to believe this. I was always one of their biggest proponents. I’ve been a huge promoter of their technologies and active in newsgroups and on BBSes since the mid-1980′s. I’ve been publicly ridiculed as an MS apologist by platform zealots. I’m actually nominated this year for their MVP program for my newsgroup support for Remote Scripting among other things.

Maybe I’m wrong – but it does it matter? – my perception of Microsoft is turning me right off them, so whether I’m right or not, they’re on the precipice of losing one of their most consistent cheerleaders.

I can certainly think of better places to spend my $1500 for now.

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