Microsoft Windows – Disaster Movie At Eleven!

My friend and sometime sparring partner, Goblin, has a good article on the latest disaster to hit Microsoft Windows titled ‘Windows under attack on two fronts? Even more problems ahead?‘, in which he covers the issues with his usual verve. Me, I’m going to go at it from a different direction.

A while back I told lawyer Barry Sookman that the smartest thing his law practise could do would be to dump Windows. I explained in technical terms why he should do so, and he didn’t understand. This is not a criticism of Barry. Barry’s a lawyer, not a Geek. He doesn’t have the technical background to understand the issues. In this case, I’m the one deserving of the criticism, I knew that Barry wasn’t a Geek, and should have tried to explain to him in terms that he would understand. So let’s take a try at doing that, focusing on the economic issues.

Assume an office with a staff of one hundred computer users, using Microsoft Windows, and Microsoft Office. A minimum of three servers will be needed, one for mail, one for file and printer service, and an SQL server for accounting. This is a first time setup.

Computer Workstation including keyboard, mouse, operating system, productivity suite, etc. $1100.00 with Windows 7 Professional, and Microsoft Office Professional 2007, and a two year anti-virus subscription included. But wait – we’ve only talked about workstations, what about the servers?

100 Workstations at $1100.00 each – $110,000.00

File and Print Server – $5700.00

SQL (Accounting) Server – $6900.00

Exchange (Mail) Server – $10080.00

Battery Backup Power Supply (for servers) – $1000.00

Total Cost – $133,680.00

Without discounts the total using the Microsoft solution would be $133,680.00. This is a lot of cash, and no doubt you’d be able to negotiate some sort of discount (if you couldn’t with one vendor, another would be glad to get your business).

What happens if instead of Windows 7 we install a free as in beer version of Linux with either Open Office or KOffice? The price drops to $570.00, which is a $530.00 saving per computer, or a $53,000.00 saving for the entire company. And then there’s the servers. Because of the way that Windows works you need three. With Linux you only need one. Again, we’ll go with the free as in beer version, and your server will cost you about $2,000.00. Let’s total that up:

100 Workstations at $530.00 each – $53,000.00

File, Print, SQL, Mail, and Web Server – $2,000.00

Battery Backup Power Supply (for server) – $1000.00

Total Cost – $56,000.00

Total Saving – $77,680.00

That’s a lot of cash. Oh, you are going to need to hire a geek to install everything, but you were going to have to do that anyway. It might take him a bit longer, and assuming that he charges $100.00 per hour, you could afford to have him bill an extra 775 hours before you’d be loosing money. 775 hours. That’s nearly half a year assuming 40 hour weeks…

And it actually gets worse. I assumed that you could get by with the cheapest possible servers, and with one hundred users, that would be pretty unlikely. The hardware costs for those three Windows servers probably should be about $3000.00 per server higher, and that assumes that you can get by with only three servers – depending upon your operation you might need two or three times as many, and additional Backup Power Supplies. The hardware cost for the single Linux server should probably be about $10,000.00 which is still far less expensive.

The point of course is that spending money on a Windows solution is an inefficient use of funds. Do you want to be the person reporting to your board of directors that you’ve wasted that much money?

Wayne Borean

Thursday April 22, 2010


5 thoughts on “Microsoft Windows – Disaster Movie At Eleven!

    1. Yes, I included Client Access Licenses for the File and Print server. I didn’t see any line items for Client Access Licenses for the SQL Server, or for the Exchange Server, which surprised me (but hey, I’m not a Microsoft MVP). If you know the prices for those, could you please post them?


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