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Ballmer Confronts Linux Head-On

Microsoft CEO tells customers that Windows carries lower total costs and is more secure than the open-source operating system.

Windows computing environments are cheaper, more secure, and lower risk than those based on Linux and open-source software, CEO Steve Ballmer asserts in an E-mail sent today to Microsoft's customers and partners.

"It's pretty clear that the facts show that Windows provides a lower total cost of ownership than Linux; the number of security vulnerabilities is lower on Windows, and Windows responsiveness on security is better than Linux; and Microsoft provides uncapped IP indemnification of their products, while no such comprehensive offering is available for Linux or open source," Ballmer writes.

The argument isn't new. Microsoft officials have been systematically making the same case, point by point, for more than a year. The company launched a marketing campaign dubbed "Get The Facts" about a year ago that made the same claims, supported by analyst reports and customer testimonials. Some of those analyst reports were funded by Microsoft, raising questions about their objectivity, but more recently Microsoft has begun offering unfunded research results in presenting its case.

Ballmer points to several customers that chose Windows over Linux. In one example, Equifax opted for Windows after its internal analysis concluded the company could save 14% compared to Linux for a marketing-database project.

Ballmer's memo is likely to renew industry debate over how Windows and Linux compare in the critical areas of cost, security, and intellectual-property rights. Ballmer cites a Forrester Research study from earlier this year that gauged Windows and Linux costs at 14 companies. Five of those 14 found Windows to be cheaper, but the others didn't have data from which to draw conclusions. "Few companies know what they're really spending," Ballmer writes.

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