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'Independent' study reveals Linux patch hell

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The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

Microsoft has bankrolled another "independent" study that happened to turn up some interesting results. Namely that Microsoft's software is less expensive to patch than open source products.

The study was run by Indian consulting and services giant Wipro Technologies, which surveyed 90 companies in the US and Europe. But, while Microsoft pitches Wipro as an independent body in its press release about the study, a quick search turns up very close ties between the companies. One has to wonder whether this new study falls into a long line of not so independent knocks on open source software.

"Customers have told us that patch management is a significant part of the total cost of ownership equation,” said Martin Taylor, a general manager at Microsoft. “Wipro’s analysis shows that Microsoft helps address vulnerabilities faster than Linux distributors, enabling organizations to update their Windows environment more quickly than with open source alternatives. Organizations that employ solid management practices and Windows automation technology can significantly reduce the cost of patching and lower their risk exposure.”

What Wipro's study doesn't show is that in November of last year, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer revealed multi-million dollar deals with both Wipro and Infosys - another large Indian software maker and services firm. Earlier that year, a watchdog claimed that Wipro was one of two Indian companies said to be working on parts of Microsoft's upcoming version of Windows code-named Longhorn. Microsoft denied that Indian staff were handling the core of the OS.

Go and ahead and decide for yourself about the independence issue.

For the curious, Wipro found that Windows desktops cost 14 per cent less to patch than Linux desktops, that Windows servers cost 13 per cent less to patch than Linux servers and that Windows database servers cost 33 per cent less to patch than Linux database servers. The Meta Group audited the survey methodology.

"Risk is defined as the number of days between when a vulnerability was identified and when a patch was made available, combined with the amount of time it took organizations to deploy the patch. The study concludes that even when a greater number of patches are deployed for Windows, the costs are lower because it takes about half as much effort per patch to complete the task," Microsoft said.

So there you have it. ®

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