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Monday, April 18, 2005

"Unbending the Truth" vs. "Get the Facts"

Unbending the Truth is hosted by Novell and claims it’ll teach you all the facts Microsoft doesn’t want you to know while the Get the Facts is a portal built by Microsoft as an attempt to sell you the idea that Windows outperforms Linux in addition to the fact that it’s cheaper. For the record, most of the case studies and research studies (often funded by the vendors themselves) can be misleading and have to be read completely and warily. Otherwise things can easily be taken out of context.

It all started when I read this executive email sent last year by Steve Ballmer to customers in which he compares Windows favorably with Linux. First he tries to explain why Linux is more costly than Windows. I am the last one to think that open source is free. But come on! I don’t care how you slice it and dice it; Windows is not cheaper than Linux. Some of the Microsoft studies found on the “Get the Facts” website are from 2002 and show that W2K’s TCO is lower than Linux mainly because the highest cost is staffing and finding W2K trained resources. They claim it is much easier to find than Linux admins. This has changed since 2002, Linux is much more popular now and well-trained resources are more affordable. Additionally, many IT organizations already have UNIX trained developers and sys-admins, which makes their transition to Linux smooth and almost cost free.

Following the TCO nonsense, Ballmer talked about security. I just don’t want to go there. If you Google the number of Windows-related horror security stories and do the same with Linux, you’ll quickly realize which is safe and which is Swiss cheese. Before his uninteresting closing argument, Ballmer talks about how he is increasingly hearing from customers that they are worried about indemnification. He goes on to say that no vendor stands behind Linux with full indemnification… Without looking too far, it looks like Novell is definitely providing some sort of indemnification.

My question to Ballmer is, if Linux is not safe, if it is slower and more expensive than other operating systems (including Windows), why is it the fastest growing platform in the world used by very demanding and prestigious organizations such as Toyota, Travelocity, U.S. Postal Service, Google, Linksys, amazon.com and many IT organizations in the public sector?

I think that the anti-Linux campaign Microsoft has been running just goes to show that they rightfully feel Linux is a big and viable threat. It may even help Linux’s unstoppable growth.

I am interested by what some of you think about this FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) game. Both vendors use incomplete arguments in these portals to display what they call facts that the other side did not want to share with you. In my company, we use Linux for our servers because it’s cheaper (in our case free) and safer; however we all have Windows XP development machines. As you can see the world is not black or white, both operating systems can co-exist in “harmony”.

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