This piece actually does a very good job in pointing factors one should consider in comparing the total cost of ownership between Windows and Linux.
Then it ruins it all by stating that the total cost of ownership of free software must be less than the cost of proprietary software. In short, Linux in the long run must be cheaper than Windows.
This is logically ludicrous.
This isn’t an anti-Linux statement, I would find the opposite statement to be just as absurd. To think it has to generally be one or the other is just, well, mentally challenged.
Anyone who gives any real thought to the matter would have to come to the conclusion: It depends.
There are many variables associated with total cost of ownership, and the more important the variable, the harder it is to measure.
For instance, productivity is a lot harder to measure than money you hand over, yet just a few percentage points difference in productivity can obliterate any more obvious cost advantage.
The key word is “can.” I can easily think of specific situations where Windows would have significant productivity advantages. I can just as easily think of situations where it would not.
So long as I (or anybody else) can easily see situations in which either side wins, words like “must” must go into the trash can.
Substitutes for Thought
Beware of those who volunteer to do your thinking for you. There’s usually something in it for them.
An article like that one not only doesn’t prove its case; it can’t prove its case. It can’t because it doesn’t and can’t consider the highly individualized factors that would be decisive in a particular situation.
Beware of any solution that simply ignores the quality of software as it is used in a particular situation.
Beware of any solution that simply ignores what you even do in your business and how you use computers.
Beware of any solution that simply ignores the people using your computers and their qualities.
Sure, that piece comes up with a lot of good reasons why Linux is better. I could probably come up with a list of nice things Osama and Saddam have done in their lives, too. If I then concluded from that they must be nice guys, would you buy that? Of course not.
No list proves anything unless it looks at all the items that count. That’s why the article fails, that’s why it’s pseudointellectual. It would have been fine if it had pointed out that Linux could or may be cheaper or could well be cheaper sometimes, but that wasn’t good enough for the author. It had to be better all the time.
If I were asked by a company to consider this, and tell them what would be the cheapest solution, I would treat that as a very complicated question, and I would spend a good deal of time and effort trying to determine what would be best for them. The final answer could be Windows. It could be Linux.
What it couldn’t be is a five-second decision, and anyone who tells you otherwise has a bridge they’re selling you.