Feeds

Desktop Linux vs. Windows - don't get emotional

You said it

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Security for virtualized datacentres

Reg Reader Studies You've seen the raw figures behind Quocirca's look at why companies choose Windows over Linux or vice versa. Now, you're ready for the rationale - the real decision-making meat and potatoes that push a company toward or away from Linux.

Quocirca, working off responses from thousands of Register readers, discovered a couple things you might already suspect. Companies often consider moving away from Microsoft's Windows operating systems because of security concerns, issues with Windows stability and complex licensing agreements.

Thanks to a free response section in the survey, customers were able to be very candid about these troubles.

“Windows works great, as long as it isn’t connected to the Internet," wrote one reader.

"Anti-virus, firewall, and spyware programs, each needing separate licensing and yearly upgrades/purchases, make maintaining Microsoft powered systems a neverending drain on IT labour and cash," wrote another.

"Microsoft licensing is a nightmare! We use MS partner versions of XP on all systems, and it gets really complicated," wrote another.

Despite all these well-publicized objections to Windows, Quocirca discovered something not all that surprising - many customers are still loath to leave Microsoft. These customers said they're scared to move because of what they see as a lack of compatible open source software, user resistance to change, high training costs, high costs of porting bespoke applications and a dependence on Microsoft's Active Directory. Microsoft is the obvious standard on the desktop. This makes any obstacle a reason to cancel an open source move.

Where does this leave us?

"Perhaps the first and most important tip is to recognise that the question of Windows versus Desktop Linux does not necessarily have to be an 'all or nothing' one," Quocirca urged.

The move to Linux should not be an emotional one. Business executives don't respond to the "Microsoft is evil" approach with the same vigor college kids reading Slashdot while having their morning coffee.

IT staffers need to present a strong business case as to how a move to the Linux desktop can save money. This doesn't need to be a huge, sweeping shift at the company. It could be for a single group or department that can benefit from Linux from both a technology and cost standpoint. This means making sure the department's applications are available in the open source world, and it means a lot of compatibility testing ahead of the move.

"Make sure that all important components sourced externally are fully supported and acquired under a robust maintenance and support agreement," Quocirca said. "This will typically mean sourcing Linux and other Open Source components from a recognised supplier rather than working with free distributions downloaded from the Web."

The upshot of all this is that there isn't a simple answer. In the full study, Quocirca presents a few scenarios where readers said moving to Linux makes sense and many where it doesn't. The 20-page document has some solid balance for one of the IT world's more controversial subjects. ®

Bootnote

Thanks to all the readers who participated in this survey. You can sign up as a permanent member of our Reg Reader Panel whereby your brains are occasionally picked on a range of important topics. ®

Related stories

Extend your Unix skills
Linux versus XP on the desktop: Reg readers speak
Where, oh where, is my Windows firewall?
Debian drops mainframe, Sparc development

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
'Windows 9' LEAK: Microsoft's playing catchup with Linux
Multiple desktops and live tiles in restored Start button star in new vids
iOS 8 release: WebGL now runs everywhere. Hurrah for 3D graphics!
HTML 5's pretty neat ... when your browser supports it
Mathematica hits the Web
Wolfram embraces the cloud, promies private cloud cut of its number-cruncher
Google extends app refund window to two hours
You now have 120 minutes to finish that game instead of 15
Intel: Hey, enterprises, drop everything and DO HADOOP
Big Data analytics projected to run on more servers than any other app
Mozilla shutters Labs, tells nobody it's been dead for five months
Staffer's blog reveals all as projects languish on GitHub
SUSE Linux owner Attachmate gobbled by Micro Focus for $2.3bn
Merger will lead to mainframe and COBOL powerhouse
iOS 8 Healthkit gets a bug SO Apple KILLS it. That's real healthcare!
Not fit for purpose on day of launch, says Cupertino
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.