Study Pits Windows Versus Linux

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2005-11-28 Print this article Print

Continuing its anti-Linux campaign, Microsoft releases the results of a study the company commissioned in an effort to show that Windows is more reliable than Linux.

Microsoft Corp., continuing its anti-Linux campaign, recently released the results of a study the company commissioned in an effort to show that Windows is more reliable than Linux.

The study, conducted by Herbert Thompson, chief security strategist at Security Innovation Inc., of Wilmington, Mass., and titled "Reliability: Analyzing Solution Uptime as Business Needs Change," compared two platforms—Microsofts Windows Server System and Novell Inc.s SUSE Linux Enterprise Server—under evolving business requirements over an extended period of time. Interestingly, Thompson made clear that neither the study nor its findings are final or conclusive but rather a starting point for further work.

Thompson said the study pitted Windows 2000 Server against SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 8, simulating the one-year period from July 1, 2004, to June 30, 2005. "During this period, we simulated the evolution of an e-commerce company that has changing business requirements while continuing to maintain security through patch application. At the end of the period, both systems are then transitioned to the more recent versions of their respective operating systems, Windows Server 2003 and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 9," he said in the summary.

Security patches were applied in one-month increments, while new business requirements appeared at three-month intervals. The experiment was conducted by three expert Windows administrators and three expert SUSE Linux administrators.

The study considered one evolution scenario: an e-commerce company that must move its site from basic purchasing to a personalized, history-driven portal. The results of this initial study showed some interesting patterns, Thompson said in the report. "On the Linux side, each administrator pursued vastly different paths to resolve dependency conflicts that arose when new components were installed. The result was solutions that grew in complexity and heterogeneity rapidly over time," he said.

During the experiment, all Windows administrators followed a fairly homogeneous route to both install patches and apply component upgrades for the simulated changing business requirements, Thompson said in the report.

Officials at Novell, of Waltham, Mass., said the report aimed to confuse the market about the value of Linux and downplay the various reliability, security and TCO (total cost of ownership) issues Windows users face. But Ryan Gavin, Microsofts director of platform strategy, defended the study. "There is a big need for a larger understanding of how we think and talk about reliability and to have a consistent dialogue about what things matter when you are talking about a reliable system," Gavin said.

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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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