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Win2k Cheaper than Linux 1279

An anonymous reader writes "According to this story, Win2k costs an average of 11%-22% total cost of enterprise. The study showed that the initial investment takes up less than 5% of the total cost. Linux did beat Win2k in one category, Web-serving." Man did this thing get submitted a lot.
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Win2k Cheaper than Linux

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  • by Apreche ( 239272 ) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:10AM (#4800865) Homepage Journal
    Linux costs me anywhere between 1 hour and 5 hours to download an iso of my favorite distro. Win2k costs me 5 minutes to burn a CD-R and 30 cents to buy the blank disc. Overall I would say that since with a minimum wage job I can make 6 dollars in an hour that win2k is by far the better value.
  • by Erik K. Veland ( 574016 ) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:10AM (#4800868) Homepage
    Finally someone realises that the initial cost does not reflect the TCO. Wonder why Mac OS X was left out of the quotation.

    Oh, probably because macs won every other TCO report I've seen ;)
    • by virtigex ( 323685 ) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:26AM (#4801021)
      Wonder why Mac OS X was left out of the quotation.
      Sheesh - it was a FIVE YEAR study and Max OS X hasn't been out that long. Oh wait... neither has Windows 2000. In fact, Windows 2000 will not be supported five years after it's release date.
      Oh I get it. Windows 2000 doesn't cost anything to support after 5 years, since your forced to upgrade at that time.
    • by hackstraw ( 262471 ) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @12:59PM (#4802380)
      I'm a Linux/Unix admin. And one of the things I tell people when I'm interviewing is that being an admin of these kind of machines isn't that difficult because they are reliable, and when there is a problem, the problem usually has a clear solution (ie, good error messages, much much better error messages than windows). Anyway, as far as TCO goes, since admining these boxes isn't that taxing, I can do _other_ things like program. This is something that I have never heard of a MCSE doing.

      Btw, I have a part time admin job (3 days a week) of 63 Linux machines, and the other days of the week I help out with another 100+ machines (admined by one person full time, who also programs), as well as supporting a number of lower priority machines.
  • by fudgefactor7 ( 581449 ) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:11AM (#4800877)
    I can define TCO my own way, but it might prove that BeOS was king (yeah, right); and other's may define it their own way. We'd need to know exactly how they defined TCO to know.
  • by Yoda2 ( 522522 ) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:11AM (#4800878)
    if you only buy a single copy and then install it on your entire network!
  • 2,5 year to go? (Score:5, Informative)

    by guusbosman ( 151671 ) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:11AM (#4800882) Homepage
    From the comments under the article ('BSD user'):

    Reference: Here [] we read that Mainstream support for windows 2000 servers will end 31 March 2005 That's only 2 years and 4 months from now. I don't remember seeing a 'use before' date on any linux servers. Do you?

    Readers might wish to balance this article with the rest of the story, found here [].
    • + 10 Karma! (Score:5, Funny)

      by NineNine ( 235196 ) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:16AM (#4800931)
      You get meta-karma, for actually using the word "balance" in the same sentence with a link to the register. I was impressed. If course, it's unbelievably funny, but I was pretty damn impressed at the effort.

      On another front, you can get well-balanced news stories here [].
    • Re:2,5 year to go? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Erasmus Darwin ( 183180 ) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:22AM (#4800987)
      "I don't remember seeing a 'use before' date on any linux servers. Do you?"

      I haven't seen a 'use before' date, but Linux distributions get cut off just the same. I've got a box at home running Redhat 5.2 that's no longer being supported. Here's the errata archive [] where they recommend upgrading to a supported product.

      While Linux (and open source in general) does have the advantage that someone can always support it, that doesn't mean that someone is supporting it -- especially when the package in question has been superceded by a number of later versions. There's always the option of hiring a trained individual to handle watching bug lists and backporting necessary fixes, but the pricetag on that would make Windows mandatory upgrades cheap in comparison.

      • Re:2,5 year to go? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by PetiePooo ( 606423 ) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:33AM (#4801072)
        Given: After a period of time, Linux kernels are no longer supported by the majro distros.
        Given: After a period of time, Microsoft operating systems are no longer supported by Microsoft.
        Given: Windows 2000 will no longer be supported by Microsoft in about 2-1/2 years.
        Given: The study was for five years.

        Since the front end costs are greater for Windows 2000, their study claims to show that, over five years, the backend costs (administration) overcome the frontend savings.

        Now, shave off the backend by cutting the case study to half the length: the front end costs become a much more significant portion of the TCO. </obvious>

        Draw your own conclusions...
      • Re:2,5 year to go? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by cjpez ( 148000 ) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:53AM (#4801240) Homepage Journal
        The 2.0 kernel tree is still being maintained. The datestamp for the initial release on says "Jun 9 1996." Perhaps Redhat isn't supporting some of their old products, but the software that's running on it probably is.

        Also, I think it's somewhat less of a problem in the Linux world. After all, nobody's charging you for the upgrades. It's still a pain to have to make sure everything works, etc, but at least you can do it for nothing but time.

      • Re:2,5 year to go? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by stinky wizzleteats ( 552063 ) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:56AM (#4801254) Homepage Journal

        There's always the option of hiring a trained individual to handle watching bug lists and backporting necessary fixes, but the pricetag on that would make Windows mandatory upgrades cheap in comparison.

        Or you could just use RHN/up2date and spend $50.

    • Re:2,5 year to go? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Zathrus ( 232140 ) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:35AM (#4801085) Homepage
      No, but go try and find security patches for a Slackware 1.0 system... or anything running the 1.x series of kernels. Good luck!

      While the theory is nice, and I'm sure someone will note that the source is available so you can patch it yourself (which is most certainly not true of Windows), the reality is that outdated Linux systems are harder to find patches for than Windows in some cases. Most serious bugs aren't patchable by even above average programmers -- the time involved in learning the code base so you can figure out where the bug is and fix it is usually huge... hell, most programmers have a hard enough time fixing code they wrote 3 months ago, much less someone else's code!

      As a case in point, MS is still providing patches to Win98. Trying to find patches for a Linux system 4 years out of date is a daunting task. No, it's not true in every case. But the majority of cases it is true. It's stuff like this that makes CTOs break out in cold sweats when they think about moving to Linux. You can't simply upgrade to the latest version of library X everytime one comes out -- that kills support because they have to test everything before every upgrade to make sure nothing breaks. But if you don't then you run the serious liability of not being able to patch a security hole several months or years down the line. Yeah, theoretically true for other OS's as well, but very few OS's have the level of constant flux that Linux exhibits.

      That said, we're slowly moving to Linux here (Redhat specifically), and I couldn't be happier. AIX sucks. SCO sucks even more. But both have better long term support than Linux has shown thus far.
    • Re:2,5 year to go? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Gerry Gleason ( 609985 ) <gerry AT geraldgleason DOT com> on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:36AM (#4801103)
      Hmmmm, the included story at seems to be word for word the same as a comment I read on /. yesterday. It doesn't surprise me that MS would send a "SWAT" team to head off Open Source installations, and offer to give away licenses to compete, but seeing the same story in two places makes me wonder if it is being copied around and such. Shouldn't there be many different stories with about the same parameters?

      Of course, it would be just like MS to give away licenses to Win2K when it will be unsupported in a couple of years. I doubt anyone will be getting any discounts when they are forced to upgrade at that point. With Their differential pricing, they'll probably try to make up the revenue lost giving away the initial licenses.

  • Lifespan Issues (Score:4, Insightful)

    by larsal ( 128351 ) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:12AM (#4800894)

    Part of the cost of maintenance on the Linux platform is surely regular installation of upgrades which are freely available.

    By contrast, who keeps a Microsoft product for five years without upgrading it? Especially in a corporate environment? That means that two years down the road, it's time to pay for a new version. . .

    Just a thought.


    • Re:Lifespan Issues (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Enigma2175 ( 179646 ) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:26AM (#4801020) Homepage Journal
      By contrast, who keeps a Microsoft product for five years without upgrading it? Especially in a corporate environment?

      Actually, a corporate environment is more likely to stay with an old operating system than an individual or small business. There are still plenty of companies that are still using NT4 with Novell clients, or even Windows 3.11. Hell, there are still many (inventory, purchasing, etc.) systems that run on mainframe-type unix terminals. Agreed, most companies don't go 5 years without upgrading but there are certainly some that do.

      • Re:Lifespan Issues (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Custard ( 587661 ) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @11:43AM (#4801677) Homepage Journal
        By contrast, who keeps a Microsoft product for five years without upgrading it? Especially in a corporate environment? ... Agreed, most companies don't go 5 years without upgrading but there are certainly some that do.

        Actaully, I'd say that the majority of medium to large corporations don't upgrade their OS any more frequently than 5 years. In a large company, it can take several years to work out a stable config that will work with older machines and servers during the transition, budget for it, and (the kicker) distribute it to all their employees. Most large companies use every other version of windows (many will likely skip XP and wait for Longhorn or whatever comes next, since 2000 is 'good-enough') since they come out too quickly to keep upgrading. Sure, the developers might need custom Win XP (or linux or anything) workstations, but most users will not know the difference between NT, 2000, and XP. If there are any day-to-day problems they have in NT or 2000, they're already used to dealing with them and aren't desperate for a new version on their workstation.

        And companies which depend on their mainframe servers for critical business processing will hardly ever change the system. Taking a chance at diabling their entire operation is just not worth a few more features or faster processing, for most business operations.

    • Part of the cost of maintenance on the Linux platform is surely regular installation of upgrades which are freely available.
      By contrast, who keeps a Microsoft product for five years without upgrading it? Especially in a corporate environment? That means that two years down the road, it's time to pay for a new version. . .
      I agree. It's entirely unfair to stretch the TCO out over five years without including the cost of *forced* upgrades []. And what about cost savings [] by enabling managers to move to other (open source) tools instead of being 'locked in' to the Microsoft world [] ?

      Another job well done the IDC advertising department... Slashdot has better editors.
  • IBM (Score:5, Informative)

    by e8johan ( 605347 ) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:13AM (#4800901) Homepage Journal

    IBM thinks differently in this paper [] and so does CyberSource here [].

    As a technologist I'm very sceptical to economic calculations. I believe that they can be twisted in any direction.

    There is a principle of uncertanty. Of the three items cost, time and product you can only know one. So if you want to know what product you'll end up with, you can't know the price or time...

    Anyway, it is good to point out that Linux systems has problems in the management area. But still, people are working on it.

    • Re:IBM (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:45AM (#4801169) Homepage Journal
      There are tools availabile that let you duplicate a UNIX environment network-wide, so I suspect that IDC ran the numbers for a single system. IIRC, UNIX admins usually end up taking care of more systems due to the remote management capabilities of the OS and as far as I know UNIX still outclasses Windows for remote management. And while you may in fact spend less money on your Windows admin, you do get what you pay for. Any monkey can keep the network up when things are good, but your admins really earn their keep when things are bad. The company I'm at now reduces Windows TCO by letting the employees manage their own machines for the most part and I blame this policy for them getting bitten by Code Red. We experienced about a week of downtime due to that -- the network was pretty much unusable. For the people in just my office, that cost the company in the neighborhood of $20,000 in lost productivity. Somehow I don't think numbers like that make it into TCO studies.

      Of course the Windows apologists will point out that Linux has security holes too and they would be right. I do spend a portion of my time trying to make sure my Linux system remains secure. 9 times out of 10 when the security bulletin comes out, apt-get has already fixed the problem. But you know, if I were running Windows here, would I be spending any less time making sure my system was secure? I don't think so. Perhaps that's the difference in pay between the Windows admin and the UNIX admin.

      Sorry if I rambled a bit here. Haven't had my coffee yet.

    • Re:IBM (Score:5, Insightful)

      by JaredOfEuropa ( 526365 ) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:47AM (#4801190) Journal
      "As a technologist I'm very sceptical to economic calculations. I believe that they can be twisted in any direction."

      All too true. I'd like to see the full study this article refers to. It is very easy to manipulate these numbers, and I am sceptical of a few things as well.

      For instance they state that downtime represents 23.1% of TCO. When comparing two systems with an (alledged) large difference in reliability/downtime, one would expect the cost of downtime to loom larger for one OS than for the other. Also... Cost of downtime is very hard to estimate and varies a lot between businesses (suppose the corporate webserver goes down: how does this affect a phone company as opposed to, say, Amazon?). If Linux would have a favorable downtime average, one could simply downplay the cost of downtime to fix the numbers.

      Likewise for staff cost. Staff cost is very hard to estimate as well, and even looking at existing companies won't help: they'll all have different needs and will staff accordingly. A company using Linux might need much more staff to run their servers than another company using Windows... at first glance. But perhaps the first company is in a business where downtime stop everything, and has plenty of expensive experts to quickly cope with any calamity. The second company might figure that a system availability of 85% is fine, since people can get on for a day or two without server access.

      Most TCO figures by themselves are meaningless since many of the parameters are business-specific. You may find that in a particular business, Windows is a cheaper and better solution than Linux, and in other businesses it will be the other way around. Lastly... when a OS vendor starts waving such figures at you, I suggest the Dogbert approach: wave your paw back at them and say "bah".
  • by TechnoVooDooDaddy ( 470187 ) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:13AM (#4800905) Homepage
    keep in mind, we had the full $2k/year MSDN subscription for each developer, paid each year, as well as some very experienced staff on hand... MS charged us $150/h to talk to us about a problem that we were pointing out in their CMutex MFC class (a bug they later admitted to) This was back in 1995 or so before MS jumped on the newsgroup bandwagon. At any rate, i wonder if these kinds of fees factored into the TCO?
    • by sharkey ( 16670 ) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @11:12AM (#4801399)
      MS charged us $150/h to talk to us

      Well, when factoring support into TCO, don forget to include this study. []
  • Google (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Catskul ( 323619 ) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:14AM (#4800914) Homepage
    Google: IDC microsoft
    and you will see taht IDC has a history of tooting the MS horn.
    • Re:Google (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ShinmaWa ( 449201 )
      I have to agree. I also have to question the motiviation behind the study.

      It was "Windows 2000 vs. Linux".

      Not "Windows 2000 vs. Unix-like Operating Systems." Not "Windows 2000 vs. Solaris vs. AIX vs. Linux." Just "vs. Linux". Why? Surely there are more choices than Windows 2000 and Linux for all your server needs.

      I would think that a research company would want to compare TCOs from a wide range of options to increase the total value of the study. However, this reeks of a targeted result based on an agenda to me.

  • Comment (Score:5, Funny)

    by Aknaton ( 528294 ) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:14AM (#4800921)
    I love this comment on article on CRN's website:

    "It just sounds strange that this article claims a five years study using Windows 2000. As of today, this study should have began by Dec. 1997 ! That means getting Windows 2000 two years in advance. "

    So they must using a SWAG (Scientific Wild Ass Guess) to come up with it TCO figures.
  • Obvious questions... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jvmatthe ( 116058 ) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:16AM (#4800934) Homepage
    Five years of Windows 2000? Let's see, if Windows 2000 came out in 1999, then it's been out for 2000, 2001, 2002...that's only three years. So there must be some extrapolation going on here, even if we allow that some of these shops were using a beta version of Win2k a year ahead of release. Then there is the question of hardware costs, since Linux potentially needs less hardware to perform the same jobs. And finally, it'd be nice to know how the 104 shops were picked.

    Insert standard Mark Twain "statistics" comment here.
  • The problem is... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:19AM (#4800957)
    Linux admins are relatively "new". Let me elaborate.
    You have a previously win32 shop where everyone know how to support win32. You either train or hire someone to support Linux. That is where you incurr the cost. From there, you have one person supporting 1-5 boxes (typically in test deployments) and so your divisor is low, with a high numerator.

    What these studies don't do is assume that you have the same size install base of Linux as for Win32. Everyone knows that Linux is more reliable (and having worked in IT as a professional for 7 years, (and still working in it now) that is not heresay) so the same person can support more boxen.

    Another problem is that the people who train rather than hire have the problem of unfamiliarity. Just like with any other job, it takes newbies longer to do anything.

    Finally, the last reason is because it takes more to be a good Unix admin, and their salaries reflect that fact. But fortuneately, the stability of the boxes more than make up for that fact.

    We will never have a proper TCO study unless conversion is 100% with proper support staff. The closest thing would be the migration of Hotmail to Win32. But we all know how that turned out...
  • How convinient (Score:3, Interesting)

    by robinjo ( 15698 ) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:19AM (#4800961)

    "Microsoft is celebrating the results of a study..." Hehee. It was about time they found one study to prove how Windows 2000 costs less over a five year time span.

    Never mind that Windows 2000 hasn't been around even close to that long.

    Never mind that Microsoft stops supporting it in year 2005. Wonder how a six year time span would have looked like...

    She could at least have linked to the study itself...

  • by bunyip ( 17018 ) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:19AM (#4800965)
    We see a similar effect where I work, an NT box costs us about 30% less to run than a Solaris box.


    There are less mission-critical systems running on NT, so there are less DBAs, less backup, etc. The print server sits in the corner and gets a 3-finger salute if it plays up, so it's cheap to run. The mission-critical boxes, running web servers, databases, etc can't go down, so we have administrators to look after them.

    IMNSHO - if we normalized for what each box is doing, Linux and Unix are cheaper to run.

    • by aphor ( 99965 ) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:50AM (#4801216) Journal

      The problem with normalizing the servers is that your non-technical businesspeople are retarded from learning the interdependencies of the systems and the business. The costs, risks, and benefits of any system directly emanate from the impact they have on the operation of the business. Your MBA doesn't really know *any* details about the operation of either the business or the systems or the people that execute those details.

      This kind of reporting is just upper-executive grandstanding, trying to reinforce the justification for their astronomical salaries. Look at the numbers. They are designed specifically to make it seem like the proponents of such work are making decisions with consequences that dwarf their salaries. The inferences are drawn from overgeneralized facts, and the conclusions ignore the significance of overlooked factors.

      If you do not see the scientific explanation of "how to repeat this study in your situation" it is BULLSHIT!. YMMV: here, it holds just as true as anywhere else! Now what are we paying these jokers for?

  • typical MS tactic (Score:4, Insightful)

    by octalgirl ( 580949 ) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:20AM (#4800977) Journal
    MS has done this before, and it only proves true on the $$. They pulled this off with their fight for dominance over Novell and Mac servers, and won. Both competitors were more expensive, true, but each offered unique functionality not available in MS. I still can't stand doing a tape catalog/restore on Windows today, it was so easy on Novell. I know it's not that difficult, but there are just a couple of extra steps in there that make it more time consuming than it needs to be.

    When you take into account third party apps that are necessary to get a true useable, functional and secure system from MS, plus the training and high licensing fees, this introductory TCO comes out to BS. Novell or Mac, and Unix hardly ever needed 3rd party products to get them to do what you want. And regardless of the system, books, training, salary - are all going to cost. I mean, do you really want Proxy server as your firewall?
  • No surprise (Score:5, Funny)

    by unoengborg ( 209251 ) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:22AM (#4800983) Homepage
    I always thought that windows felt cheap
  • Does MS agree? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SpaceRook ( 630389 ) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:22AM (#4800986)
    From the article: Expenditures for managing, maintaining, troubleshooting and restoring the systems operations of a Linux server were, "in almost every case, higher than for systems running Windows 2000," according to the study, titled "Windows 2000 Versus Linux in Enterprise Computing." Didn't even Microsoft disagree with this statement in those "Linux Vs Windows" docs that were leaked a couple weeks ago?
  • by virtual_mps ( 62997 ) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:23AM (#4800990)
    Without some details it's impossible to tell either what these results were based on or the specific areas where win2k was found superior to linux. I didn't see a reference to the actual study, so there is no way to gauge the validity of the results. There's just no meat to talk about with this marketing blurb dressed up as a news report.
    • Well, some details are found Here at Eweek []. The study was done by IDC.

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

      "The TCO metrics are described in terms of five-year costs for 100 users. IDC's 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," says the white paper.

      You can pretty much bet that Microsoft defined a limited space for the study and let IDC produce a white paper, knowing in advance it would be fodder for press releases. It mostly comes down to management tools for some tasks in which Mickeysoft has GUI tools.

      Of course, defining 5 year TCO for an operating system that will not be supported for 5 years is a little silly...
  • Downtime costs (Score:5, Informative)

    by EricWright ( 16803 ) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:25AM (#4801005) Journal
    The story mentions that downtime contributes more than 20% of the TCO of a system. With uptimes of months to years for *nix boxes; whereas you are strongly advised to reboot Windows boxes on a regular basis, where is the logic that 23% of the TCO of a *nix box comes from downtime?

    We have linux servers at work that have downtime every 6 months for servicing, and then only for a handful of hours. Other than that, they don't come down at all. I fail to see how less than 1 day downtime/year (planned, at that) can contribute 23% of the TCO of the system.

    2 sysadms at ~$70k/yr = $140k/yr. $0 for licensing. That would make downtime cost roughly $32k/day (23% of 140k, assuming 24 hrs downtime/yr). If you house something critical, like your CRM system, on 1 machine, and it goes down, I could see that. Then again, that would be your own damn fault for having 0 backup/redundancy.

    There's a lot about that article that doesn't add up, and not just the 5 year study on Win 2000...
  • by BongoBonga ( 317728 ) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:27AM (#4801033)

    I am really sick of reading all this rubbish about the cost comparison between linux/unix and windows.For the sort of work that i do which is scientific based, the applications that we need are not available under windows. So it is impossible to run a cost difference between linux and windows, linux is basically priceless. And I am sure that there are some people that it works
    the other way for as well.

    In order to decide what operating system to use, one should first know what one wants to do with their computer and then decide what operating system to use. Cost should not be the deciding factor (although an important one) when choosing an operating system. If an operating system does not do what one needs it to do, then no matter how inexpensive it is, it is just wasted money.

    As for training costs while using computers. It has got to the point now where the basic operation of all operating systems are very much the same. Using a browser in linux is almost identical to using it under windows. So it is impossible to say that training costs are substantially different for any operating system.
  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:28AM (#4801040) Homepage
    I expect a lot of side-taking on this one.

    But I cannot see how they can support the argument except that at the moment, there are simply more Windows administrators and techs out there than there are Linux administrators and techs. What's more, I have encountered people who proudly make statements like "Microsoft Only" as if it were some status symbol or major accomplishment and who won't even go NEAR a machine running anything else as if it were diseased and might infect his mind. (Brings to mind certain flavors of Christianity)

    But as there are more Microsoft-supporting professionals and so many of them are still out of work, it stands to reason that the TCO is low over 5 years... except one thing-- will Windows2000 still be supported in 5 years or will their license terms change again encouraging [requiring] upgrades to their latest OS? So yes, MS people are more available and will accept lower pay. Linux people are still more rare and generally expect more pay because we know a bit more... and usually know MS in addition to other OS's pretty well.

    You still get what you pay for, for the most part. But the TCO figure is a very subjective thing... and has anyone asked if this was also yet another MS supported study?
  • by Curialis ( 218588 ) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:34AM (#4801079)
    is that you don't get ANY points for installing it. You get 1 MS Licensing point for each copy of XP, 5 for MS Office and 10 for 2000 Server. No points at all for Linux. How can it be good for your business if you can't get any points! And levels. When you reach certain numbers of points you get new levels.

    I think the new MS licensing agreement was actually a RPG system that fell into the wrong hands.

    For a good headache... []
  • by Mantrid ( 250133 ) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:36AM (#4801102) Journal
    Part of the lower cost comes from the factor of scale. If you're looking to do some consulting, well Microsoft has a massive and undeniable lead in the number of users- so you start up a business to take advantage of this and offer services for Microsoft software.

    But everyone else is doing the same thing, so you have to lower prices and they lower theirs. (This is overall mind you, not pinned down to any two support services) Microsoft products are also quite easy to manage on the whole. Especially since Win2K came rolling in, plus with NT4SP6a you shouldn't have too many major server problems either.

    Everywhere you go you can find all sorts of Microsoft camp product support. Once you learn one Microsoft product you are well on your way to knowing another.

    Many corporate level packages also come on Microsoft (ERP, etc.) so that gets added into the mix as well - if you want a Linux solution you are really going to have to take the long way around for a lot of this stuff.

    Linux is doing quite well, but entry into the Linux world is like running into a brick wall for many. There are far fewer Linux users around and the system is totally different from what most people are used to. There is a staggering amount of things to learn when taking on Linux, kernel recompiles, following the chains of dependancies, all of this takes time to learn and internalize. Most Microsoft type products are a matter of getting the latest service packs.

    So there are fewer Linux users and fewer people overall familiar with Linux. The cost of finding someone to help you is going to be higher. Plus, I would argue there is *far* more to learn so you're going to pay the high priced people even more.

    This presents a massive total cost barrier for those who would seek to save licensing money by switching to Linux. It is far easier to pay out to a software company for support and pay cheaper mainstream consultants and get things done than it is to start entering this whole new world of OSS. And you'll have to keep paying out more money to expensive consultants and employees to keep up-to-date, even though the initial costs are cheaper.

    Then there's all of the little things that Linux can't quite do yet. Incompatibilities with the mainstream software products, pieces of software that just aren't available or which just aren't up to snuff when compared to the MS world. Add these in as indirect costs - even if you get the money to start up with Linux these little niggling issues will make management wonder why they bothered. Finance is not going to be happy without running Excel, the VP is going to be annoyed by not being able to access his IE only stock market site.

    On the flip side, if you happen to have employees that known their Linux and know it well, there are definitely benefits to be had. If you want to add a new web server, W2K Adv Server is going to cost you more than the hardware and your Linux-savy employee can probably get an Apache server running nice and easy.

    The problem is Linux is just not quite popular enough yet so these gifted people are hard to come by. Trying to insert Linux into a corporate world of Windows raised folk via consultants is going to mean huge dollars - basic stuff that everyone at least sort of knows how to do in Windows may require more consultant hours for instructional purposes.

    But, even as the article mentions there are places were Linux is making itself cost effective and useful - like webserving. These tasks should be Linux's thin-end-of-the-wedge. Slowly get Linux in there for these tasks, and then maybe it can take over one more job, then another. Sys Admins can slowly learn more about it and become more experienced. Eventually that TCO is going to balance towards Linux.

    There is a long ways to go though - and screaming that all MS users are idiots and they just don't realize how far superior Linux is, is counter-productive. The technical snobbery that often goes on (knee jerk MS bashing, even near-religious fervour found within variations on Linux, newbie bashing, etc.) helps nothing. The rest of the world will just ignore Linux even more and continue on doing their business using MS and closed-source products that they are comfortable with and *that work* as often as not. They *really and truly* don't care what software they use as long as it works, and as long as it is cost-effective to use it. Most business need to use computers, but what computers they use are irrelevant to them. They just need to, well, take care of business.

    Find ways that Linux helps them to that in a cost-effective and friendly way and I'm sure more and more business will bite.
  • by WPIDalamar ( 122110 ) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:38AM (#4801116) Homepage
    Totally worthless... they will say whatever the company paying for the study want to hear.

    I'd like to see this study with 10 windows vs. 10 linux servers, or 100 vs. 100 ... one linux admin can handle WAY more linux servers than 1 windows admin.
  • Hmmm.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Quill_28 ( 553921 ) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:39AM (#4801128) Journal
    I find it interesting the way arguments are going around here.

    "Well sure any retard can run Windows so of course it is cheaper TCO"

    And that is exactly how MS will market their products. Wanna web server? No problem, sure linux/freebsd is free, but the staff to support it will end up costing you more in the long run.

    You folks act like being easy to use is a _bad_ thing. While the rest of the world thinks it's a good thing.

    You call people who install a win2k server for their small business idiots and they're idiots for not mastering unix. But maybe they don't time to learn all that is needed, because they have a business to run, and it is simply cheaper(in the long run) to run a Win2k server than a linux one.

    Think about it.

    Sometimes it seems like slashdot folks sits in their geek tower and spews insults at all the morons for using MS. Without ever knowing what's really going on in the real world.

    BTW, I use linux/freebsd and love them. But i also love computers in general.

    Talking with some of my friends who run their own business they are really nervous about going to linux yet they are interested.
    I can't give them support and they are afraid that supports costs will be too high, and Jim down the hall is pretty good with Windows so we will just let him do the administration.

    Sorry for the rant I know everyone on slashdot is not this way.

  • by RebelTycoon ( 584591 ) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:41AM (#4801138) Homepage
    Man did this thing get submitted a lot

    We shall see this story again, but with a new title...

    Taking bets now who will post the duplicate...

    1) Hermos,
    2) Michael
    3) Taco
    4) Taco's Wife (pertending to be Taco)

  • This is humbug (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dh003i ( 203189 ) < minus physicist> on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @11:08AM (#4801364) Homepage Journal
    Quite frankly, this is non-sense. Let me point out a few flaws in this study:
    • Its can't possibly be a true study. Windows 2000 is all of 2 years old, not 5 years. So any estimations of 5-year costs on Win2k are based off of 2-year studies and 3-year projections. However, the studies down on Linux used Linux as it was 5 years ago: this is an unfair comparison, comparing a study on Linux's from 1997 up to 2002 with studies & projections of Win2k for 2000-2005.

    • Invalid/irrelevant comparison. No-one is buying Win2k or Linux from 5 years ago anymore. The best comparison would be between WinXP and the latest release of Debian or Redhat. One should note that the cost of upgrading Linux software is $0 for Debian, and negligible for RedHat (as you only have to buy one license). When upgrading Debian, one doesn't even need to worry about down-time.

    • Incomplete consideration. This "study" seems to completely ignore the fact that one Linux admin can attend to many Linux workstations, due to some of Linux' powerful tools. Also ignores the fact that with Linux, you can run everything in your company off of one computer, with terminals to that computer located at different physical locations throughout the company. This reduces the point(s) of failure from hundreds to 1. Redundancy can also be implemented if your worried about putting all your eggs in one basket. Other things this study seems to ignore -- like every other study -- is the cost of a BSA lawsuite and the cost of remaining compliant wit the BSA, which can be quite expensive. Let's not forget that Linux can run better on cheaper hardware, allowing you to either save money on hardware, or spend the same amount and get better performance. Yes, Linux admins may be more expensive than Win2k admins -- but because they can administer many systems at once through automated methods, you don't need as many of them. Ref. to IBM's study.

    • Technical Support. This is one of the greatest atrocities of many proprietary companies like MS: claiming that tech support is cheaper for proprietary products than for FS/OSS products. Bull. The cost of tech-support is built into proprietary products -- its built into the price you pay for the product. It may be hidden, but its still there. That said, with Linux you can purchase useful tech support from a free market, with heavy competition -- that is, you get guys who know what they're doing. As someone who's used MS' tech support, I'll tell u its crap: they've never known anything I didn't know, and have never provided a useful solution to a problem I couldn't solve. Tech support solutions for MS go somewhat like this: (1) Take you through cook-book procedures you've already done; (2) Ask you to uninstall whatever you installed last; (3) If that doesn't work, reinstall OS.

      It might be worthwhile noting that real studies, which we can look at, unlike this one, and which aren't backed by MS, show that Linux has a lower TCO: do ws_tco_comparison.pdf ul 2002.pdf
  • by BurritoWarrior ( 90481 ) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @11:19AM (#4801461)
    We can see the great benefits of a MS solution firsthand by the performance of your server.

    The site is running Microsoft-IIS/5.0 on unknown.

    What is the TCO of replacing that smoldering hunk in the corner, guys?
  • by FreeLinux ( 555387 ) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @11:20AM (#4801469)
    One of the common citations that are bandied about is that Linux admins make more than their Windows counterparts. But, the evidence seems to contradict this "wisdom". Most of the Linux admin jobs that I see posted offer lower salaries than comprable Windows admin positions. Surveys [], such as this, also indicate that Linux admins are actually paid less than their MCSE counterparts. This naturally begs the question, are Linux admins truely more expensive than the Windows admins?

    Another issue is the "difficulty" of administrering Linux, as compared to Windows. While, there are some valid arguements to support this hypothesis, there are also some important details that are seemingly ignored. That is, the difficulty is in fact due to unfamiliarity. Windows admins are unfamiliar with Linux and it is therefore more difficult for them to administer it. But, were these Windows admins born knowing how to administer Windows? Is Windows truely so simple that they can do it without any prior knowledge?

    No! The fact is that the Windows admins have had specific training in administering Windows. They have gone to classes, MCSE Boot Camps, seminars all about how to manage Windows. They also have a bookshelf FULL of Windows administration books that they have studied. Now, after all that, Windows is familiar and relatively easy for them to administer. I challenge anyone who makes the difficulty claim to build a bookshelf of equal size to their Windows one. If these people read just as many books on Linux as they have on Windows Administration, they would not find it any more difficult than Windows. This would likely be true even without any Linux classes or Linux Boot Camps.

    It has been proven by a legion of CNEs who find Novell no more difficult, in many cases far easier to manage than Windows. Yet The same Windows admins will say that Netware is MUCH harder to manage than Windows.

    Also, on the subject of training etc. These TCO reports always factor in the expense of Linux training. However, they do not seem to factor in the cost of Windows training. Let's not forget that the books and the classes and the MCSE boot camps cost a lot of money. Even if that money has already been spent, it must be factored into the TCO. These MCSEs were not born knowing how to administer Windows 2000. It costed thousands of dollars each to raise this generation of MCSEs. In most cases these training courses were paid for by the companies. How can they be simply ignored by the TCO studies? Are these MCSEs going to live forever, or are they going to be replaced by a new generation that will have to aslo be trained at a cost of thousands per head?
  • by crivens ( 112213 ) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @11:23AM (#4801499)
    Hey maybe they're right!

    To install Linux I need the following:

    - buy a new computer
    - order a Cable net connection to download the CD
    - buy a CD burner to burn the CD

    With Windows I just need to:

    - dial 1-800-555-DELL (free)
    - give credit card details
    - receive delivery of new PC with Windows installed

    So really buying Windows saves me money as I don't need the net connection or the burner!

    Ok ok, so that was bad. But it's only 8:21 and I'm half asleep.
  • by dacarr ( 562277 ) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @11:37AM (#4801625) Homepage Journal
    83% of all statistics are made up on the spot.
  • by Glock27 ( 446276 ) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @11:47AM (#4801713)
    "Freedom is Slavery."

    "War is Peace."

    "Ignorance is Strength."

    You know Microsoft is running scared if it has the nerve to run TCO studies against OSS such as Linux. I wonder if the study took into account the high incidence of crippling worms for Microsoft server OSs? Further, certain things are so much better on Linux/BSD systems such as programs not polluting the OS image and no registry to be a point of failure and source of problems.

    It is also a big plus for the Unix variants that they can be easily installed and administered over the network.

  • by Ektanoor ( 9949 ) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @11:50AM (#4801744) Journal
    I saw it in []. It's pretty funny...

    Well for nearly 11 years I have been in the fileserver world. I touched lots of file servers. From old ancient LANtastic and Netware 2.15, going through most Novell flavours up to 5.0. For 11 years I worked with, administered, tweaked and crunched so many different file servers that I don't remember all of them. Lots of Novell flavours, OS/2, NFS on Solaris and Linux. I worked also with Windows "solutions", from WfW up to Windows2000 Server. From all these I sincerly prefer Netware. Netware is far better and manageable than any other file server system. Naturally as Novell did it specially for file servers. However there is a problem with Novell. Its prices are prohibitive for many customers. But, if your work highly depends in file server services, surely the TCO is far lower than everyone else.

    Among all the systems I used, the most crappy, cumbersome, crash-proned, time consuming and nervestraining was M$ crap. It came up into hanging a whole local network, just because M$ thought it could play at will with TCP/IP stack. But there are tons of stories about the crap. Let's just pick the most recent.

    In April this year, I met a medium-sized Compaq server in one highly important organisation. Compaq's dealer sweeted a lot to have that lovely machine there. And sweeted even more to have it working. The thing worked, naturally, on Windows2000 Server. I was asked to tweak the crap so that several problems were gone. And the problems were: workstations loosing connection with the server, Apps frequently hanging up, file transfer working slowly (in a 100mbits network it looked much like 10mbits), and a episodic events with the machine crashing.

    After some administration we came up to the conclusion that the machine was going into sure doom. The DNS was crashing every day, WINS and SMB were giving wrong packets into the network, the file system was getting wrong data, user accounts were not freed, CPU never lowered behind 30% and lots of many other problems. Besides we found that, everyday, 30 minutes of workday was lost on backing up data (it was a damn important server) as no one could work while backup was going on.

    Well, we created a backup server, curiously on Linux, but with the objective to reinstall Windows2000 on the main server. We lost ONE week trying to do it. As we discovered, the original installer had also huge problems with that machine. The machine was simply unable to work stable with Windows2000.

    Considering the pros and cons I decided to use my old weapon The Penguin Dancing Samba, against the huge oposition of many people. However the situation was Hell in Flames and there should be a fast solution. So the bosses agreed the change.

    Well I had a whole day of headaches to install it on Compaq's RAID. Also I had lots of trouble creating a secure, stable and automatised environment. In the whole, it took me 2-3 weeks to do all the work.

    Today, nearly half-year later, the admin approaches the server 1-2 times in the week. Most work is log checking and some rare tweaks in the configuration (mostly adding users), the machine carries several early warning scripts in case something goes wrong. Backup is completely automatic. With the exception of one single user (some mystic problem), everyone works without hangups, crashes or lost connections. The system lives perfectly in its 100mbps network and the problem of slow connections is forgotten. Besides, the average load of this machine is just 3% and it now carries also a MySQL server that is frequently used and which, in the future, may substitute many file server tasks.

    Is this the the higher TCO they talk about?
  • by circletimessquare ( 444983 ) <circletimessquare&gmail,com> on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @12:07PM (#4801896) Homepage Journal
    if you liked the story "Win2k Cheaper than Linux" as posted on, then you'll just love these companion stories!:

    "Animal Protein Healthier than Vegetable Protein" as posted on

    "Peaceful Dialog Goes Farther than Violent Conflict" as posted on

    "Censorship Attempts Actually Lead to Greater Mass Appeal of Target Sites" as posted on

    "My Uncle was an Monkey" as posted on

    don't delay! visit now!
  • by BravoZuluM ( 232200 ) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @12:14PM (#4801955)
    When you purchase and install a Win2K product, you give Microsoft the right to "audit" you. They performed one of these audits on a company I worked for. I am certain we owned all of the software that was on our machines. We had a corporate policy of no piracy, buy what we need.

    We just couldn't produce EULAs for 13 out of over 600 products. Their lawyers also wanted $6000 for the MSDN copies we had. These guys don't seem to even understand Microsoft licensing and appear to be trying to squeeze you for every cent. I had to fax the MSDN user agreement stating that MSDN CDs could be freely distributed within the company. It did not seem to matter to the law firm that we could produce the CD covers for the other products. No EULA, no credit. It cost the company $13,000 to settle. The lawyers got 2/3rds of that for their "work". The remaining third went for purchasing software which I feel we already owned.

    I felt scammed and violated. This ticked me off so I looked for alternatives. I discovered FreeBSD. I installed SAMBA and had the same fuctionality as a Windows Server without the risk. I had to buy 2 Samba books to figure it out. I had to reinstall FreeBSD multiple times until I figured out how to do it. I can do it now in my sleep. It is not that FreeBSD is harder, it was just unfamiliar.

    If you think this is an isolated incident, it is not. Audits happen everyday. Sometimes, the target really deserves the attention, sometimes it is just Microsoft biting a hand that feeds them. Sometimes, Microsoft's lawyers go over board and put the squeeze on a non profit or school and then people squak at Microsoft. Then there are a number of small companies that, unwittingly, find themselves in a bind.

    There are alternatives to some of the Microsoft software. I suggest to everyone that will listen to use the alternatives first.
  • by ryanvm ( 247662 ) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @12:23PM (#4802038)
    I'm not going to try to defend the notion that a Linux desktop has a lower TCO than a Win 2K desktop, because frankly I doubt that it does. Linux requires admins which, unlike MCSEs, aren't churned out by the dozens by your local community college.

    The problem I see here is that most of these Linux vs. Windows TCO studies hinge on the idea that you are replacing a Windows 2000 desktops with a full-fledged Linux desktops, and that's the wrong way to do it.

    I'd like to see a unbalanced TCO review of what the City of Largo, Florida has done []. Basically, they've got 800 very cheap thin clients (230 concurrent) running X-Windows applications (KDE, etc.) off of a couple big-ass terminal servers. Very similar to the Linux Terminal Server Project [], and very cool.

    There are so many businesses paying $200 for Win 2K Pro and $350 for MS Office just so their employees can send email and dabble in Word or Excel. It's insane. They could be saving $550 per machine in software costs alone! Not considering the fact that the thin client hardware costs much, much less than the average desktop. And there's essentially zero administration costs on the clients. Let's see a TCO comparison on that.

    I'm starting to get off-topic, but I'm excited about the project so what the hell. I'm currently doing a little in-house pilot of the same thing at my employer. I've customized the KNOPPIX [] bootable ISOs to basically be X-Windows thin clients. You just pop the CD in a machine, reboot, and you get a KDM login box for our terminal server. Very, very cool. Even free server licenses [] from Microsoft couldn't persuade me to drop this project.
  • by chryptic ( 25254 ) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @12:46PM (#4802231) Homepage
    I used to run a win2k network. I installed it too. Other than viral infections the workstations worked great. Win2k server and active directory sucked ass however.
  • by ddtstudio ( 61065 ) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @12:49PM (#4802265)
    I find it amazing that all these instant pundits and press-release-repeaters haven't noticed that the IDC study was funded by Microsoft; this could call the results into question.

    At least at eWeek [], someone noticed this []:

    "Study Finds Windows Cheaper Than Linux (continued)
    "Many drivers of cost need to be uncovered in such an examination and evaluation, and the 'risk/return' trade-offs of Linux versus Windows may not be as obvious as they appear at first glance," they said.


    The fact that Microsoft paid for the research is likely to be used as a weapon against the findings by some in the Linux community and will also elevate the debate about how valid calculations of total cost of ownership are for any given comparison.

    A Microsoft spokesman confirmed to eWEEK that the firm had completely sponsored the White Paper but said that IDC had controlled the methodology, data and findings. IDC analyst Al Gillen agreed, telling eWEEK that the firm undertook a lot of custom research for individual companies and customers."

    And Galli also goes into detail about the methodology, so you can have fun picking that apart.
  • by Hildy_France ( 631087 ) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @12:58PM (#4802361)
    These results are based on a *survey* of businesses, and it reflects what they *think* the 5-year TCO is going to be, so all you guys who are fixated on flaws of the study or that Win2K wasn't available 5-years ago are missing the point. The point is that this is what the business world believes, not what reality is. You can complain all you want about MS, but I think of it as a good wake-up call: it tells us what the rest of the world is thinking about Linux and points out where we ought to be focusing our efforts.
  • Time travel? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by endrek ( 547737 ) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @01:48PM (#4802878) Homepage

    If you read the article a bit more closly and check the comments for referance, you'll notive the article says that this study was done over a 5 year period of time. Windows 2000 wasn't out 5 years ago making this rather impossible and thus pretty hard to believe. And I can imagine that starting with Linux 5 years ago and using that till now probably would cost more than it would to start now and carry forward 5 uears because so much progress has been made. Were upgrades allowed? This article is very light on the details. Would a service pack be allowed then? Wouldn't this make Linux better because for free, you get better and better upgrades. Win 2000 only gives you a few services paks, unless you upgrade to XP (ha!)

    So in the end I am really confused at how this is even possible and sort of able to believe part of it because of the severe age-ness of it. But really. Come on, we need way more detail before I'll actually believe it.

  • by DunbarTheInept ( 764 ) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @03:41PM (#4803945) Homepage
    The problem with this kind of study (and I'm also including the ones by IBM that favor Linux over Windows in this) is that there is no general case that you can model results for. All these studies assume too many specific things about the "typical workplace" and "typical server needs" and "typical staff" that are not universal, and then have the hubris to take their conclusion and make the bold public statement that it applies universally. TCO calculations are especially prone to this since TCO depends largely on the staff's ability and willingness to learn the technology, and that's not the same for every situation. For us at work, Windows would be more expensive than Linux simply because we don't like it, and thus would spend the minimum time necessary to learn how to make it work just barely for us.

  • Consider the source (Score:4, Informative)

    by jmorse ( 90107 ) <joe_w_morse@nospYAHO o a m . c om> on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @05:42PM (#4805070) Homepage Journal
    Microsoft actually sponsored this study:,,t269-s2126953,00. htm []. Of course, we all know Microsoft to be a bastion of integrity...
  • by induhvidual ( 552811 ) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @05:48PM (#4805116) Homepage
    Microsoft paid good money for that study. If you take it seriously, that just proves your last remaining brain cell has died. The more you dig for details the more ridiculous their claims are. If you want the truth, read the article on the register, and check out the IBM study a this link... 2002.pdf

"The number of Unix installations has grown to 10, with more expected." -- The Unix Programmer's Manual, 2nd Edition, June, 1972