I agree in terms of how a free market should operate. If the software market where a remotely healthy free market then natural market forces would counter-balance outrageous pricing structures. Sadly, the software market has more in common with the drug market than a free healthy market. Addiction premotes much of the software sales through function lock-in or data format lock-in.
I mean $30k for a mail and calendar server? That's exorbitant and if it wasn't for addiction, the market would reject that price point outright. I mean ~$4k for hardware and ~$24,000 for software? Even if you can get server side software providing competitive functionality (which you can), how do you migrate your existing data over?
240$ for an OS; not the applications you'll actually use on top of that but the OS itself; the part that sits between hardware and your programs. If you go for volume licensing that's 240$ per computer; no reduced pricing, no volume discounts if your a business in the mid to low staffing levels (where discounts would provide real insentives for purchase). Want Win7 Pro; the volume license will be 240$ per sir. And what is the price of Win7 Ultimate on the retail shelf? 240$. And if you don't buy volume licensing, that OS claims to be bound to one single machine if the after-point-of-sale terms in the EULA hold up in court. The Server OS license falls in the thousand and up range with "up" increasing rapidly when you get into user CALS required. And if you happen to install the same OS in seporate VMs on the same server; that'll be OS plus CALS multiplied by VMs (unless you use a MS VM solution of course, then you'll get a bit of a discount for sticking with the same drug dealer).
A FOSS based mail and calendar server? It starts around $4k if your not limited by prior addictions; the cost of the hardware to run it on. You might be able to push that up to $10k with the price of a service contract.
osX? in the 30$ price point area though you do have to pay the premium on the hardware first but at least the software upgrades are more reasonable per major version changes. Mandriva Powerpack falls in the 100$ range (used to be 79$ when last I looked) and that gets you support plus access to the proprietary and patent incumbered software repository. Not sure what SUSE pricing is like though I know SUSE server pricing can fall in the same range as Windows Server (starting from around 1000$ and up).
Microsoft sure isn't the only one driving exorbitant pricing structures by any means. Licenses per CPU rather than per machine? WTF is that? VMware at 1300$ per CPU when the standard server build now ships with two multi-core processors? I either have to cripple my server or double my license costs for a single machine. In VMware's defense, they at least premote the use of the free ESXi for those who don't need advanced features. Credit where due; good on them for that. I don't think Microsoft would do similar if it was the number one virtualization solution provider. Adobe's CS prices are astronomical; thousands for a image app suite? Well, I guess when a raster editor price point is nearly a grand that kind of adds up. And as you mention, Oracle; making an art form of running open source products into the ground. They killed off openSolarise and did there best to chase off any third party developers working on the office suite (which could only benefit from a more open development aproach). I think it was also under Oracle's ownership that Java became weaponized and launched at google (that may have been near the end of Sun though).
As always, for-profit corporations are in the business of manufacturing profits; any other product or service they happen to provide is simply a by-product of the the primary manufacturing process. We won't see otherwise in this broken proprietary software market we have now.
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