A study by IDC reports that organizations running Windows spend less money in the long run than those implementing Linux, because of the open source solution's complexities, and training and support costs. The argument over Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is becoming heated in recent days, with Microsoft refuting claims that Linux is less expensive than Windows simply because Linux is free. Most of the costs associated with an operating system, the company says, come after the initial purchase. The IDC study, predictably, was commissioned by Microsoft.
"Linux requires more care and feeding \[than Windows\], basically," says Al Gillen, a research director in IDC's System Software group. "That's what the results are really telling us. The amount of manpower required to run a particular \[Linux\] environment is going to be higher."
The TCO study looked at five specific workloads that IDC says are typical for corporate IT departments, including network infrastructure, print serving, file serving, Web serving and security applications. In four of the areas, Windows was less expensive, but Linux was deemed less expensive for Web serving, IDC says. In the areas that Windows won, IDC judged Windows 2000 to be 11 to 22 percent cheaper than Linux over a five year period. Windows has more mature and easy-to-use management and software development tools when compared to Linux, and requires less training and outsourced support, IDC says.
The IDC study comes on the heels of a controversial report by the Aberdeen Group, which found UNIX, Linux and other open source software solutions to be greater security risks than Windows, based on security issue tracking performed by CERT (Computer Emergency Response Team). Meanwhile, a Microsoft representative said Monday that the market would decide the fates of Windows and Linux. "We recognize that there has been a lot of hype around Linux, which directly competes with Windows," says Kevin Hou, the country manager of Microsoft Philippines. "We view it as a healthy situation as it keeps us focused on building software to bring the best value and experience to customers. In the end, the market has the final say."