Microsoft on Windows 2008 and Linux

Microsoft would like us to believe it can help us “See How Windows Server 2008 Stacks up versus Linux.” Let me see, how can I can sum up the entire site for you…

Microsoft sez: Linux Is Too Risky

Ah, yes…that does the trick.

It is not at all surprising that the comparisons drawn by Microsoft favor Microsoft. Red Hat’s own site contains or points to anti-Microsoft articles and op-ed pieces.

The white papers on Group Policy versus SELinux and User Account Control versus sudo are both, in my opinion, ineffective at the comparisons they are attempting to draw, because they fail to make the paradigm shift between the entirely different methods of security between Windows and Linux.

The case studies are very limited in information and in all cases do not provide a complete description of the process that the municipalities went through to make their decision. For example, Lower Saxony’s Ministry of Justice migrated 15,000 users to Windows, but Lower Saxony’s tax authority migrated 12,000 workstations to SuSE Linux in the same year. In both cases, it was due primarily to the technology already in use (Windows in the MoJ, Solaris in the tax authority) rather than any qualitative differences between the two operating systems and network technologies.

In most cases, the choice to move to a new operating system and network technology must consider the existing infrastructure. Telling, then, is Munich, Germany’s decision to forgo its existing Windows infrastructure for SuSE (and later, Debian) Linux, beginning in 2003 (scheduled to complete next year).

According to the cost study carried out by the Munich administration[1], training and migration are two of the biggest costs involved in migrating to Linux and open source applications, while the personnel, hardware, licences and operating costs were relatively low.[2]

So, TCO (total cost of ownership) was a pivotal consideration—a point often repeated by Microsoft in its marketing campaign against Linux—in spite of the migration effort, time, and cost necessary:

…the arduous process that led to the decision to migrate to Linux was actually based on Microsoft’s policies on Windows NT, and a subsequent study to determine the best course of action pursuant to the unexpectedly short life support cycle for NT.
Microsoft announced an end-of-life support plan for NT that would prevent the operating system from surviving through the life cycle than the IT officials in Munich had anticipated.[3]

For the country of Germany as recently as 2006:

The German public sector has embraced open source enthusiastically. Nine out of every 10 German local authorities are using open source software, according to the MERIT survey, and is being run on more than 50,000 PCs in the German public sector, according to Erwin Tenhumberg, a product marketing manager at Sun.

A number of German cities are using, or planning to use, open source software, including Schwäbisch Hall, Mannheim, Treuchtlingen, Leonberg and Isernhagen. Schwäbisch Hall switched to Linux on more than 400 workstations and Mannheim plans to deploy Linux on 110 servers and 3,700 desktops.[4]

Also, Microsoft downplays Linux’s effectiveness when that Linux sold by Red Hat, but explicitly endorses it when it is sold by another vendor (Novell/SuSE)[5]. (For the record, I’m not a big fan of Red Hat, either. Haven’t been for many years.)

In closing, I am a huge fan of Linux. I enjoy its longevity for any given installation, its licensing, and the culture of innovation and camaraderie that permeates its user base. I feel like I can get more work done in Linux, because I’m more comfortable with it. I also see great benefit in mixed environments that include both Windows and Linux servers and desktops.

[1] (in German)

About pyrolupus

Writer, father, teacher, programmer, performer. And I make some mean pancakes, too.
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