News Stay informed about the latest enterprise technology news and product updates.

Microsoft versus Linux TCO: IT pros sound off, part five

IT pros relate their experiences with the Microsoft and Linux operating systems. One of the two OSes requires more time and resources to maintain, leaving IT pros with less time to improve systems and serve their customers and organizations, they say.

Almost 100 IT professionals have responded to SearchWindowsManageability's call for comments on Microsoft's new approach to Linux. The query followed our article and Q&A interview on Microsoft's change in strategy and total-cost-of-ownership study.

We began publishing the letters to the editor on this subject in part one of this series. In part five, our readers say Microsoft's software requires more time and resources to maintain, leaving IT pros with less time to improve systems and serve their customers and organizations.

Absence of reboots reduces TCO

Submitted by Kuizad Motafram:

We used to run Windows NT 4.0 servers (domain controllers and Intranet servers) where we had over 200 users connecting. This server crashed/hung at least once a month.

Since the day we switched over to Linux (now just a little over a year), we have not had to shut down our servers, other than for routine maintenance.

Other factors that prove Linux has lower TCO are licensing and system resources. I can very easily run a mail, Web server without having to pay for "per-client access" type of Licenses. Microsoft is resource hungry. They eat into our system resources, human resources and financial resources.

Just imagine the cost of Windows Server with 200 Client Access Licenses, Microsoft Exchange again with its own set of licenses ... and so on. Not to forget the cost for upgrades and license renewals and tech support. No way does Microsoft have lower TCO.

Microsoft programs don't get along, increasing TCO

Submitted by Michael Malooly:

TCO is hard to determine in a quantitative way. It depends on the experience of the IT staff and what is being done. As in any use of statistics, one can manipulate the data in a way to make their preference come out on top. I would rather talk to an end user in a situation similar to mine.

I'm currently replacing and upgrading PCs in our department with Windows 2000 Pro and Office Pro 2000. The IT Department made the choice to go to Active Directory for user authentication and permissions, making nearly all limited users for support operations considerations (lack of staff to cover over 500 PCs and fix corrupted systems from users changing settings or installing software). We ran into a problem with having Office 2000 work properly when using certain shortcuts in Windows 2000 as a limited user. The only solutions I could find would not work in our situation (multiple - multiple user workstations). I spent approximately three hours installing and reinstalling Office in a variety of ways so that a new user logging into the workstation would be able to use the common shortcuts and file associations to Office applications.

This is not the only program we had problems with in this upgrade project. I have a difficult time comprehending why such a problem would exist between these Microsoft programs. Situations like this add to the TCO and also slow up the project.

I have operated a Linux server as an internal Web server in our department for about four years. I have to admit I have spent many hours learning Linux. I had limited prior experience and no IT training. I spent time learning and enhancing the system and no time correcting problems or getting software to run correctly. That probably took three hours over the whole four-year period. In my experience, Linux has been much less frustrating than Microsoft products in the support that I do. I'd rather spend my limited time enhancing or improving a system rather than trying to get something simple to work cleanly as it should have out of the box.

Linux allows for time to provide better customer service

Submitted by Steve Ball:

I can't understand how Microsoft can claim Windows has a lower TCO than Linux. Just on the virus and license management Windows loses hands down, not to mention the security, stability and downtime to patch.

I have been a support engineer for more than 20 years working with Microsoft, Novel Unix, Linux, Apple and various other systems over the years.

I have no doubt that the TCO for Linux is significantly lower because it is simple to remotely administer a Linux server through SSH, whereas PCAnywhere or VNC for the remote administration of Windows machines is very slow over dial-up or slow Internet links.

I am now a support engineer for around 240 sites running Linux servers for Internet access e-mail, Web browsing, Web servers and anti-virus (for Microsoft clients). We support around 300 servers with four to 700 users with a support staff of four engineers.

The support that we give includes hardware support on-site, remote security patches and updates, firewall maintenance, remote administration help. We even help people restore from backups. This is a level of support that I have never been able to offer to Windows customers, and I certainly would not have been able to offer this level of support for the amount we charge our customers.

I just checked the main server on our busiest site and it's uptime is more than one year. Yes, uptime, meaning it has run continuously for more than a year without a reboot. Show me a Windows server connected to the Internet that has not been rebooted in more than a year, and I will show you a Windows server that is infected with Code Red, Nimda, etc., because you need to reboot to apply almost all Windows patches.

My customer runs 24Hrs 365 days/year, so a reboot would have a TCO cost, and a reboot every week or two for patches would have a significant TCO cost.

An area of cost that you did not include in Windows TCO is the significant cost of License Management. This is one area where users are guilty of piracy unless they can prove they have all of the media and licenses for every Windows computer you use. This is a sales tactic used by Microsoft against schools, to make them either show every license they have for every machine, or buy new licenses for the entire site including any Apple or Linux computers they have.


Want to respond to what was said? Want to add your own opinion? Please write to us at

For more views on Microsoft versus Linux, read part two.

Read part one of the Windows versus Linux letters.

Dig Deeper on Windows client management

Start the conversation

Send me notifications when other members comment.

Please create a username to comment.