"No vendor today stands behind Linux with full IP indemnification. In fact, it is rare for open-source software to provide customers with any indemnification at all," Ballmer said. "We think Microsofts indemnification already is one of the best offered by the leading players in the industry for volume licensing customers, and were looking at ways to expand it to an even broader set of our customers. Its definitely something businesses want to think about as theyre building or expanding their IT infrastructure," he said. But Ballmers comments do not reflect the fact that Red Hat Inc., HP and Novell Inc. all have announced plans to protect their enterprise Linux customers. Red Hats Open Source Assurance Plan is designed to protect customers Linux investments and ensure that they are legally able to continue to run Red Hat Enterprise Linux without any interruption.Novell, of Provo, Utah, set up a Linux Indemnification Program for its SuSE Enterprise Linux customers, under certain conditions, to protect against IP challenges to Linux and help reduce the barriers to Linux adoption in the enterprise.HP in September announced that it will indemnify its customers against any legal liability from the use of Linux. Ballmer also used his e-mail to address the issue of migrating ERP (enterprise resource planning) systems from costly, proprietary Unix environments to Windows or other platforms. He cited another "independent, qualitative survey," this one from The META Group, of organizations that had recently completed a migration of their SAP or PeopleSoft ERP systems from a Unix environment to the Microsoft Windows Server platform. Ballmer said the survey found a reduction of more than 20 percent in the number of servers required when compared with Unix. "Windows is now a mainstream option for the vast majority of ERP projects," The META Group said. Ballmer concluded his e-mail by saying theres "no question that customers are benefiting today from a healthy, competitive IT industry. Competition requires companies to really focus in on what customers want and need. At the same time, customers have a clearer opportunity than ever before to evaluate choices." As organizations increasingly rely on IT to perform mission-critical functions, and with complexity presenting a growing challenge, choosing the right computing platform for the long term can make the difference between profit and loss, and between success and failure, he said. "And its pretty clear that the facts show that Windows provides a lower total cost of ownership than Linux. The number of security vulnerabilities is lower on Windows, and Windows responsiveness on security is better than Linux; and Microsoft provides uncapped IP indemnification of their products, while no such comprehensive offering is available for Linux or open source," he said. Check out eWEEK.coms Windows Center at http://windows.eweek.com for Microsoft and Windows news, views and analysis.