Microsoft Windows™: Money-Maker or Money Pit?
Get the Facts Before You Buy
11 Ways Windows Can Cost You Far More Money Than You Ever Expected
So quite apart from the security and virus pitfalls of the Microsoft solution, there remains the question:
- Windows-based software solutions run on a less-than-stable platform, riddled with security and virus holes, and encapsulated with hidden costs.
Windows/SQL, their "wave of the future." This technology is not moribund but it certainly is weak. It is the IT industry "crash queen" of platforms. When was the last time you had to reboot your desktop to fix a Windows problem? Was it today…or was it yesterday? Speaking from personal - and immediate - experience, I already had to do it several times today; and I am a computer expert.
- Is Windows stable? Not compared to other platforms - such as OS400, UNIX and Linux.
More and more companies are refusing to allow their critical business applications to depend on such an unstable platform. Microsoft touts the increasing stability of its system but everybody else calls it just decreasing instability…because the pace of their progress is glacial. Industry studies cite up to 147 hours per year of unplanned downtime per Windows server.
- Is Windows vulnerable to hackers, security breaches and virus infections? You bet!
Even more serious than their instability problems is its vulnerability to viruses, worms and hackers, and periodic disconnects between the Windows application servers and the Windows SQL servers.
- Windows is subject to ongoing - and expensive - hidden costs to deal with its inherent instability, security holes, and viruses.
Windows is notorious for its hidden costs…in the form of the salary of a resident systems administrator or comparable third part service. In Southern California, for example, most small-to midsize businesses have to pay a service or special sys-admin employee $3000-$7000 per month just to keep their Windows application and SQL servers up and running. (These add up to significant annual expenses above and beyond the initial cost for the software and set-up.)
- Industry studies show that among companies with 25 or more Windows users, 100% need an IT staff (or an outsourced service). Compare this with IBM AS400: approximately 60% of businesses with annual revenue of $50 million or less get by with NO IT STAFF WHATSOEVER.
One of our customers makes hamburger buns for McDonald's and supports 25 users on Great Plains (a Microsoft Accounting System). On average, their network fails twice a week because of conflicts between the Windows server, the application and the SQL server. Support to fix this costs $33,000 per year plus $200 per hour to have a local tech come onsite 1-2 days per month to makes adjustments ($1600 - $3200 per month for local onsite support) just to keep the servers up.
- Microsoft Service Packs - temporary fixes to patch Windows bugs - actually create more problems…and cost you more money.
Temporary fixes are often released by Microsoft to repair bugs and virus-vulnerable "holes" in Windows. But every time one of these Service Packs is installed, you run the risk of clobbering other software - application or utility software (tape backup, communications, security, etc) - that may not be compatible with that latest Service Pack. This is expensive and time consuming. And it often causes unanticipated consequences.
For example, in 2004 alone, the Irvine Company installed over 21 Microsoft Service Packs to their network…and few companies have the huge financial and technical resources of the Irvine Company. Can you imagine how such hidden costs could affect your company?
- Does Microsoft Windows have more than 75,600,000 bugs? (The number of known bugs indicates how much you will pay to fix your network. The more bugs, the more expensive.)
If you go to Google and search on "Microsoft Windows bugs." You will get over 75,600,000 hits! Do the same for "IBM OS400 bugs," and you will get 31,900 hits - only 0.00042 as many. This is a telltale indication that OS400 is a substantially more stable platform than Windows. It is a fact that OS400 users rarely experience significant amounts of unplanned downtime at all.
- Microsoft "scalability" means increased complexity…which costs you more money, often in the form of unanticipated (i.e., hidden) costs.
This is the well-known "scalability trap." Microsoft claims that their solution is scalable, meaning that it can grow to fit your business. But to do this, a Windows user has to add more processors and more servers, and that means more complexity. And as you add those servers, you increase the complexity of your support as well, because more information has to be sent between the servers and more reconciliation routines are needed to keep this all in balance.
In a Microsoft Windows server environment, it is common to have an application server, a separate server for the SQL database, a server to handle emails, a server to handle faxes, and so on. And when you add remote locations, you may need multiple servers per location or to invest in a Citrix server farm. So pay close attention to the number and type of servers you will need. Verify with each vendor's references how many servers they have and what's really involved in making them all work together. Be sure to get the opinions of users and managers, not just the owners and IT people involved in the decision; they often promote the software to defend a decision the actual users believe to be a poor one.
How much will all those servers cost? Who will put them in? (Be aware that infrastructure installation is more than just buying a few servers. And who will maintain the infrastructure after it is installed and running? How much will that cost?
- How many IT people will you ultimately have to hire to support your Windows solution? Are you OK with this price-tag?
In other words, the dark side of scalability, Microsoft style, is that more complexity necessitates more IT expertise. Do you have the in-house talent to support this new investment? Can you afford comparable outside help? And what about the special training and additional skills that will be required? The moral here is that scalability is good; but what costs are you going to get socked with when scaling time rolls around?
- Over 75% of the world's eBusiness providers intentionally did not select Windows.
What are your other alternatives? Well, first one should note that 75% of all Websites do NOT use Windows…principally to avoid all those security and virus problems I touched on earlier. The vast majority of Websites rely on LINUX, UNIX, OS400 or Mainframes, all of which are based on open source Java J2EE 3-tier architecture.
- Microsoft discontinued Java support on Windows. Obviously, it was a competitive threat to Microsoft's desktop monopoly.
Java no longer runs on Windows. With Microsoft's proprietary .Net architecture, you must use a Microsoft language such as C Sharp or Visual Basic. Therefore, it's easy to understand why the vast majority - the real mainstream - opts for Java, which is platform-independent as well as substantially more stable.
How much of your own money do you prefer to keep…
and how much would you rather pass on to Bill Gates?>
There you have it: a first cut at an outline you might want to use for purposes of cross examination. And keep in mind that I stand ready to submit to the same kind of cross examination. In fact, I relish the prospect…especially since the actual list of pros and cons is longer than I could possibly type out - or prevail upon you to read - in a single letter.