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Microsoft CEO's Note To Customers

In the thousands of meetings that Microsoft employees have with customers around the world every day, many of the same questions consistently surface: Does an open source platform really provide a long-term cost advantage compared with Windows? Which platform offers the most secure computing environment? Given the growing concern among customers about intellectual property indemnification, what's the best way to minimize risk? In moving from an expensive UNIX platform, what's the best alternative in terms of migration?

Customers want factual information to help them make the best decisions about these issues. About a year ago, a senior Microsoft team led by General Manager Martin Taylor was created to figure out how we could do a better job helping customers evaluate our products against alternatives such as Linux/open source and proprietary UNIX. This team has worked with a number of top analyst firms that have generated independent, third-party reports on cost of acquisition, total cost of ownership, security and indemnification. Some of the studies were commissioned by Microsoft, while others were initiated and funded by the analysts. In each case, the research methodology, findings and conclusions were the sole domain of the analyst firms. This was essential: we wanted truly independent, factual information.

At the same time, our worldwide sales organization is going even deeper with customers to understand their needs and create a feedback loop with our product development teams that enables us to deliver integrated solutions that support real-world customer scenarios, and comprehensively address issues such as manageability, ease of use and reliability.

I'm writing to business decision makers and IT professionals today to share some of the data around these key issues " and to provide examples of customers who opted to go with the Windows platform rather than Linux or UNIX, and how that's playing out for them in the real world. Much more information on this is at

Total Cost of Ownership and Acquisition Costs
In the past few years, you haven't been able to open a computing magazine or visit a technology Web site without running into an article about Linux and open source. Not surprising: who doesn't like the idea of a "free" operating system that just about anyone can tinker with?

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