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Windows server buyers buy it… because it's there?

But they're less likely to like it, or believe in it

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The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

Why do you use Windows? Um, because it's there? That appears to be one of the bottom lines of a recent InformationWeek survey of 400 IT business professionals, where companies using Windows for servers explain themselves in what seem to us to be distinctly unethusiastic terms.

The Windows Interoperability 2003 survey (report here, check the chart) has around 70 per cent of respondents choosing Windows because it's "well integrated with other Microsoft products" and there's "wide availability of software", but then it nosedives. Reliable performance, good management tools and service and support chalk up scores in the 20s, and then down we fall, with lower scores for innovation, confidence in Microsoft's business model, price, integration with third party software, and "secure environment" - the number one Microsoft imperative de nos jours - bringing up the rear.

Essentially (and remember, these are the people buying Windows server software) they use Windows because it's the standard, because it's there, but most of them don't believe most of the stuff Microsoft tells them about where it's taking the platform and how great it is. For what it's worth, we think maybe they're a bit harsh on reliability and management tools, but that possibility depends on what you mean by the terms.

The matching Linux chart tells a different, more positive story, although we should bear in mind that IT people who've chosen Linux will at this point in history have a strong tendency to be happy, enthusiastic bunnies, whereas the Windows equivalents will have a far higher proprtion of the enslaved morlock mentality. Cost and reliability are up top, as you might expect under these conditions, and there's also higher confidence in the development model and innovation. Weaker spots are integration, software availability (i.e. the opposite of Windows perceptions) and service and support.

The concerns about the respective operating systems (here and here) at least show that the critics/marketing departments are firing at the right targets. Top worries for Windows are software quality or vulnerabilities, high cost of ownership and monopoly, while for Linux the worries are about integration, accountability, road maps and IP issues. Note however that the scale is different for the Linux chart, so at first glance they look a lot more worried than they are. From Microsoft's perspective, the fact that Windows appears to be inherently more worrying must be, well, worrying. ®

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