This week SearchWindowsManageability asked Windows professionals to comment on Microsoft Corp.'s new approach to addressing competition from Linux. We asked IT pros what they thought of Microsoft's new tactic and to Microsoft's focus on the total cost of ownership advantages of Windows. TCO. Our readers quickly began responding to our questions. We began publishing their letters to the editor in part one of this series. In part two, two IT consultants weighed in on the Microsoft versus Linux TCO question. In part three, IT pros consider the impact that competition in the operating system arena has had on technology advancement and their daily working life.
Stop the in-fighting
Submitted by Peter Whittaker:
My personal feeling is that Microsoft has done more to hold back the advancement of computer technology in the past 10 years than any other single influence. It doesn't require a lot of knowledge to realize the relative merits of Unix as a server environment over MS OSes. (The major vendors) have invested huge amount of money in mis-information. How many times have they reversed their policies whilst playing their silly games: IE in, IE out: J++ in, J++ out; Java VM in, Java VM out.
They could have spent their energies investing in new technologies like the "semantics of natural languages" and so much more. We need this investment. It is interesting that the trend for so long has been software outstripping demand for greater hardware resources. This trend is declining and to my mind it is a reflection of the lack of new innovative software.
It seems to me that most of the Big Boys are spending too much of their time on in-fighting regurgitating more of the same gizmos, rather than the exciting task of creating the next generation of software systems.
The greatest disservice that MS has left as its legacy is to change the focus of a large number of companies away from a vision for the future and towards a cynical competitive struggle for survival. In may ways, at the start of MS' life, the company liberated the computing community by providing an accessible OS which could be used by a wide variety of people. MS' legacy, however, may be to have wasted not only their own resources but that of a large number of competitors in a fruitless struggle to dominate rather than cooperate.
The holy war is a distraction
Submitted by Richard L. Johnson:
Your request for comparative numbers makes the major pre-supposition that those TCO analyses are readily available, valid and comparable. As most organizations struggle to come up with any TCO number, the probability that the other components of validity and comparability are available is minimal.
Sadly, lacking those, most IT people revert to Ford versus Chevy arguments. Fact is, a well-run Windows shop will have better numbers than a Linux shop with mediocre management, and vice versa.
As an IT architect, I find these conversations distracting from the real issues of meeting business requirements of functionality, availability, security, and scalability. And from a business perspective, the whole holy war over operating systems comes off as typical IT nerdiness and arcana.
Let's focus on business, not product wars
Submitted by Reinald Smith:
Given the way Microsoft has distorted facts in the past, it is unlikely any comparisons they publish will be an accurate picture. I'm sure, for instance, that their TCO will not include the ongoing costs associated with using Windows versus Linux: the cost of the incessant rebooting still needed with Windows to clear up memory problems, the cost of maintaining the registry versus Linux configuration files, the relative cost of upgrades, etc.
Hopefully, as the available GUIs for Linux become more user-friendly and users become aware that a move to open source equivalents to MS Office is no more onerous than an Office upgrade, Microsoft's stranglehold on the desktop will be broken. Then, we users can worry more about the problems we are trying to solve using the desktops than the problems created by using the tools of the desktop.
There's too much hype
Submitted by Andrew J. Van Abs:
Microsoft's marketing engine is at it again. If they spent as much on products as they do on spin, maybe their products would measure up. We run Linux and have not had to re-boot in over eight months. Windows NT, on the other hand, (has to be rebooted) once a week at least. We are evaluating XP, which does seem better than NT, but certainly not as stable -- or as high performance -- as Linux.
As an IT consultant, one thing I'm sure of is that Microsoft has a long, long way to go to have any credibility in the industrial strength enterprise software space. Many of my clients also won't deploy Linux, but only because of its "semi-orphan" status.
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To hear IT consultants' views on Microsoft versus Linux, read part two.
Part one offers more Windows versus Linux letters.