Microsoft: Windows Cheaper

Company-sponsored study finds Windows has cost advantage over Linux.

A Microsoft Corp.-sponsored white paper from market researcher International Data Corp. released last week found that Windows 2000 offered a lower five-year total cost of ownership in certain Linux server environments.

The report compared the TCO of Microsofts Windows 2000 and Linux server environments across five enterprise computing workload situations at 104 companies and found that Windows offers a lower TCO in four of the five selected workloads.

The Redmond, Wash., software developer released the report "Windows 2000 Versus Linux in Enterprise Computing: An Assessment of Business Value for Selected Workloads" last week to some customers, partners and media.

The study found that in four workloads—network infrastructure, print serving, file serving and security applications—the Windows 2000 server solution cost between 11 and 22 percent less than a Linux solution over a five-year period.

For the fifth workload, Web serving, Linux showed a cost advantage of 6 percent compared with Windows 2000 server over the five-year period, the IDC paper said.

The cost advantages of the Windows 2000 solution were driven primarily by the "significantly lower" costs for IT staffing, which was normally the largest single component of IT costs.

"The study confirms that low initial software acquisition costs are only one factor, not the deciding one, in determining the five-year total cost of ownership for the two operating environments," IDC analysts Jean Bozman, Al Gillen, Charles Kolodgy, Dan Kusnetzky, Randy Perry and David Shiang said in their opinion.

The study compared the five-year TCO of Windows 2000 server environments with Linux server environments from multiple Linux vendors at some 100 North American companies.

"The TCO metrics are described in terms of five-year costs for 100 users. IDCs TCO methodology ... takes into account the costs of acquiring and supporting the hardware and software required for each of these specific workloads. Costs are broken out into six categories: hardware, software, staffing, downtime, IT staff training and outsourcing costs," the white paper said.

The IDC analysts also said those IT professionals considering the broader strategic deployment of Linux within their IT environments should examine all aspects of the cost associated with Linux server systems.

A Microsoft spokesman said the studys findings underscored the companys belief that the long-term cost advantages were the "result of customer-centric, scenario-based design, rigorous engineering and thorough testing."

While the spokesman confirmed that Microsoft had completely sponsored the white paper, he said IDC had controlled the methodology, data and findings.

In this case, Microsoft had picked out the basic infrastructure it wanted studied, as this was the area in which Linux seemed to be challenging the company. But Microsoft had no say over the methodology used, companies interviewed and the results found, the spokesman said.

Mark de Visser, a vice president at Red Hat Inc., in Raleigh, N.C., said the study is largely valid. Red Hat had worked with IDC in the past and had used the same type of methodology to establish the differences in cost between Unix and Linux.

"The research was also undertaken in the summer of 2001, so the data is more than a year old. These two points are relevant, as the study points to the differing people and management costs of the two operating systems," de Visser said.