Linux not getting it all its own way, says Microsoft

Linux converters sometimes quietly switch back to Windows, executive tells Microsoft partners

Losses to Linux such as the city of Munich should be seen in the light of migrations the other way, says Microsoft Australia platform strategy manager Paul Roworth.

At its 2004 Australia-New Zealand partner conference in Coolum, Queensland, last week, Microsoft held a special session on countering Linux and Roworth told attendees that for every seemingly dramatic customer switch from Windows to Linux, there are cases of switches the other way.

Unfortunately, he didn't provide any examples, because, he says, few companies that have spent substantial cash conveting to Linux, then decide they'd be better off going back to Windows, are willing to talk about it.

He said several sizeable US companies have done just that and that Microsoft has convinced some customers who were about to go down the Linux path not to.

How did Microsoft change those customers' minds? Several recent analyst firm reports have shown Microsoft is actually a cheaper option when taknig a long term view of TCO.

But hold on — some of those reports were funded by Microsoft, weren't they?

Yes, says Roworth , who was joined at the session by Microsoft New Zealand partner group manager Steve Haddock and competitive strategy manager Brett Roberts. (Haddock and Roberts provided an amusing aside when Haddock pretended to be a Linux-leaning CIO and Roberts the Microsoft account manager who convinced him to stick with Windows).

Although some of those reports were commissioned by Microsoft, the methodologies are available and readers can look at it for themselves and make up their own minds, Roworth says.

Some reports not funded by Microsoft have also shown cheaper TCO over a long period, he says.

Other pro-Windows points made were that licensing is, on average, only 10% of the cost of running a software system and that it's quicker to get patches for holes in Microsoft products — 25 days on average compared with 57-82 for various flavours of Linux, according to Microsoft's statistics.

And the increasing integration between Microsoft products means taking the operating system out of the equation will disadvantage an organisation that's looking at less and less division between its operating systems, standard desktop software and other systems, Roworth says.

In his opening speech at the conference, Microsoft Australia managing director Steve Vamos said open source was going to be one of the five main drivers of the IT industry in the near future and the days when the open source-proprietary software debate was an ideological one are over.

"It's now about value for money and fit for purpose, not philosophy", Vamos says.

The other drivers of IT in coming years are going to be security, web services, mobility and the dominance of Intel servers — which is a great opportunity for Microsoft, he adds.

Watson attended the Microsoft ANZ partner conference as a guest of Microsoft.

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