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Creative Accounting 101

In a recent announcement, Microsoft has put forth some extremely interesting financial factoids for those of us who use computers.

Now, I know a little (actually, alot) about accounting: One plus one is anything you want it to be, and that makes a good accountant. But does it make for proper financial reporting? Microsoft's CEO tends to think so. According to Mr. Ballmer, Windows is more cost-effective than Linux.

I'm dumbfounded! Windows OS costs a pretty penny. Linux is free. Microsoft SQL costs plenty; MySQL or Postgress, cost nothing. Microsoft Exchange isn't free, and there are all sorts of caps installed, so if you have large data stores, you need to upgrade your license, for more money. Sendmail or Postfix " free. I could go on and on and on comparing the software marketplace.

Let's talk hardware for a second. If I were to load SQL, an e-mail server and a file server onto Windows (forget about the software price for now) and compare that to a Linux box, I would need a much bigger and heavier server. By bigger heavier, I mean I'd need more in terms of basic storage needs for the OS and associated software; more RAM for basic operating needs; and faster chips to get similar performance output.

So, sliding into my cost-accounting role (and not the military industrial complex's cost+ marketplace where a hammer costs $500), I just don't see why Windows costs less than Linux. Maybe there are subtle shades of grey that only people such as Mr. Ballmer see through rose colored glasses?