Hot on the back of the 'Get the Facts' campaign that has been running for a while now, which examines the costs and risks of both Windows and Linux, Microsoft is refuelling the argument around whether enterprises spend less money managing Windows systems than Linux systems.

The Study, commissioned from independent analyst Mercer Management Consulting, made the case that companies that implement migration programs away from UNIX systems based on the need to adopt new applications -- what Mercer calls "transformational migrations" -- now tend to choose Windows over Linux.

The full paper, gives the reason for this choice, being down to IT managers now giving considerable thought to recent IDC numbers - which the Mercer paper cited - stating Windows has a lower total cost of ownership (TCO) for businesses than Linux.

Some of the other key findings from the paper:

  • Businesses that choose Linux over Windows for their UNIX migrations tend to be less rigorous in how they ascertain potential TCO savings.
  • The decisions to move from UNIX to Linux (rather than Windows) often are based on intuitive expectations of savings and preconceived notions about the ease of migrating specific workloads to Linux.
  • The cost of the operating system license is not the driving factor in TCO today.
  • "When some companies are considering migration," said John Wenstrup, Mercer Management Consultant, "they assume that the costs of the hardware and software platforms are the overriding cost elements. In fact, what we found is that most of the cost of migration - around 80-85 percent - is composed of the labour of executing the migration and the ongoing labour associated with managing the environment. The total cost of the entire hardware and software platform - including maintenance costs - tends to only be 15 to 20 percent of total migration costs."
  • As Mercer's Wenstrup admitted to Microsoft, some of the clients in its study performed substantial TCO analysis, and did not actually come to the conclusion that either operating system was substantially less expensive than the other.

But, on the other hand, fair's fair, there are 2 sides to every story and all that - IBM continues to cite an August 2005 study it commissioned from independent analyst Robert Frances Group, stating overall costs of Linux ownership tends to cost businesses 40% less than Windows over a three-year period.  The cost of maintenance for Linux applications is still much higher, the Frances Group study contents, although that paper believes maintenance to be a lower percentage of overall TCO than hardware costs, but doesn't give a specific breakdown. The right hardware choice, the Frances paper implies, makes all the difference - and reminds readers that IBM commissioned the study.

To be honest, reading both documents, its easy to agree with the closing statement on the BetaNews site, "The fact that the IBM-commissioned study pointed to the low price of Linux-based hardware, and the Microsoft-commissioned study pointed to the advantages of being able to choose based on applications, should surprise very few"

Read the whole paper, in PDF format.