Tuesday, August 29, 2000
Unix in Redmond
I was going to avoid writing about Microsoft this week, but how could I resist sharing these tidbits from ex-Microsofties? These former Microsoft employees have written in to set the record straight about what's really going on behind the scenes at a few of the software giant's subsidiaries.
When Microsoft acquired Linkexchange (now bCentral), company officials tried to get rid of Oracle databases in favor of the company's own SQL Server.
"Some of the best folks from Redmond came down to make the change, but after two or three months they gave up and switched back to Oracle on Solaris, where it remains today," this reader wrote.
Another former bCentral employee says Microsoft mentions Linux in its help-wanted ads for bCentral just to lure unsuspecting enthusiasts to come work there. The OSes in place were primarily FreeBSD, BSD/OS, and Solaris. That is, until Microsoft tried to migrate more of the systems to Windows NT and 2000.
According to this source, Microsoft had to quadruple the number of servers when it moved to its own operating systems.
For the most part, according to our ex-Microsoftie, the company's money-making Web properties are all based around Unix, with Hotmail 99 being 99 percent FreeBSD, MSN using some Apache on Solaris, bCentral ad servers on 100 percent FreeBSD, and WebTV pretty much entirely Solaris.
"Internally when Windows 2000 was announced, people were told not to even think about using it for production because it was too unstable," says this ex-Microsoftie.
So much for mature software written by professionals. It seems that, internally, Microsoft prefers the stuff "written by college kids in their basements."