Getting the Facts

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2004-10-27 Print this article Print

?"> Microsofts "Get the Facts" campaign, which it launched in January, aims to give customers information about the advantages of using its Windows operating system versus Linux, its open-source competitor. Click here to read more about Microsofts Get the Facts campaign. Ballmer admitted that its "not surprising" that one cant open a computing magazine today without running into an article about Linux and open source, adding, "Who doesnt like the idea of a free operating system that just about anyone can tinker with?" But he said things are not always as they seem.
He cited an independent, noncommissioned global study by The Yankee Group, titled "Linux, Unix and Windows TCO [Total Cost of Operation] Comparison," which surveyed 1,000 IT administrators and executives.
"All of the major Linux vendors and distributors [including Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Novell (SuSE and Ximian) and Red Hat] have begun charging hefty premiums for must-have items such as technical service and support, product warranties and licensing indemnification," the study said. "In large enterprises, a significant Linux deployment or total switch from Windows to Linux would be three to four times more expensive—and take three times as long to deploy—as an upgrade from one version of Windows to a newer release," Ballmer cited the Yankee Group study. "And nine out of 10 enterprise customers said that such a change wouldnt provide any tangible business gains," he said. The Yankee Group also noted that, for larger organizations with complex computer networks, its important to look beyond Linuxs initial low investment cost and consider all of the TCO and ROI (return on investment) factors. Click here for a column on how Microsofts and Intels records make trust a tough sell. Referring to another study, which Ballmer said was a nonsponsored report by Forrester titled "The Costs and Risks of Open Source," he said the study found that "the allure of free software is accelerating the deployment of open-source platforms, but open source is not free and may actually increase financial and business risks." But other research firms seem to view things differently. At the recent Gartner Symposium/ITxpo, Gartner vice president and distinguished analyst George Weiss said theres no question at all about Linux becoming mature. Weiss even displayed a chart showing that Linux today—not in 2010—is already better than Windows servers in enterprise-critical areas such as horizontal scaling (aka clustering), security and entry cost. And by 2006, Weiss predicted that Linux "will meet the performance requirements of 80 percent to 90 percent of single OLTP [online transaction processing] application requirements." And its competition for this gold standard of data-center computing wont be Windows; its Unix. As for open source in general, Gartner analyst Mark Driver had this to say: "Youd be stupid not to use open source as part of your application management strategy." Turning to the issue of security, Ballmer said that some three years ago, the company had made software security a top priority. "Since then, weve invested heavily in a multipronged effort to improve software quality and development processes, and to reduce risks for customers through education and guidance, industry collaboration and enforcement. "I think its fair to say that no other software platform has invested as much in security R&D, process improvements and customer education as we have at Microsoft," he said. Next Page: "Quality, tech advances and testing."

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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