How to spin statistics

Summary:Info-Tech Research Group reports Microsoft could lose as much as 10% of its mid-sized business customers?to Linux, in its best markets, over just the next three years.

Info-Tech Research Group reports Microsoft could lose as much as 10% of its mid-sized business customers?to Linux, in its best markets, over just the next three years.

Sounds really bad for Microsoft, doesn't it?

That's not how the story was reported. Linux Fails in Small Business Market was one headline. Here's?how another story opened:?

Very few midsize companies are expected to deploy Linux over the next three years, opting to stick with Microsoft Corp.'s Windows to avoid the high cost of maintaining information technology systems running on two separate platforms, a research firm said Tuesday.

 

Same facts, different spin.

The lesson is be careful drawing meaning from statistics. Look inside numbers before accepting a conclusion. If you can see another way to interpret the facts, ask whether that interpretation might be valid.

This is an old lesson in politics, and in political reporting.

As the business of choosing an operating environment becomes increasingly political, it's a lesson we need to remember in business as well. You don't want to get spun with your money.

Do you think these business decisions are becoming more political, or is there still a place for solid business thinking? Let us know in TalkBack.

Topics: Operating Systems

About

Dana Blankenhorn has been a business journalist since 1978, and has covered technology since 1982. He launched the Interactive Age Daily, the first daily coverage of the Internet to launch with a magazine, in September 1994.

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