Microsoft-commissioned study: European schools prefer Microsoft to open-source

Microsoft-commissioned study: European schools prefer Microsoft to open-source

Summary: A new Microsoft-commissioned study, entitled “ICT in European Schools: a value and cost analysis of Microsoft and Open Source Technology Solutions," is out. Guess whether the 73 schools surveyed favored Microsoft or OSS solutions.


Yet another Microsoft-commissioned study, comparing Microsoft technologies to open-source software, is out, as of June 13.

The new report, entitled “ICT in European Schools: a value and cost analysis of Microsoft and Open Source Technology Solutions," was conducted by Wipro Technologies and paid for by Microsoft.

(ICT stands for Information and Communication Technology.)

Wipro Technologies is a Gold Certified Microsoft partner. It has alliances on the education, systems-integration and OEM fronts, among others, with Microsoft. Wipro also was one of a handful of systems-integrator partners who are part of the Vista Application Compatibility Factory, an initiative via which Microsoft will help business customers pair up with Vista-deployment experts to guide users over potential app-compat hurdles.

Wipro has conducted at least one other Microsoft-commissioned "Get the Facts" study, on the topic of the total cost of ownership of security-patch management for Windows vs. open-source software.

The newest Wipro study found that "among students, teachers and administrators in 73 schools across six European countries, Microsoft products are preferred to OSS equivalents and are better suited to the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) requirements of European primary and secondary schools." Microsoft products won in a variety of categories, the study found: ease of use; richness of functionality; support for collaboration; and support for core student, teacher and administrative activities.

Microsoft products also "were considerably less expensive to manage and maintain than open source equivalents," according to the study, a copy of which can be downloaded from the Microsoft Downloads site.

Other findings from the study:

* "Overall, schools primarily using Microsoft solutions invest 16.9 per cent less resources in IT support than schools using primarily OSS solutions. In Poland, however, this figure is 37.86 per cent, less reflecting the limited availability of OSS support resources in that country." (Note to OSS community: Send some of your excessive Scandanavian population over to Poland right now!)

* "PC failures are 50 per cent more common in the schools using OSS than in schools using Microsoft overall, and schools with experience of both platforms find that troubleshooting and resolution activities for Microsoft products were better defined and better documented." (My question: Does this figure include downtime due to blue screen of deaths?)

It seems like one of the main targets of this latest Microsoft-backed study is Open Office. (Just another extension of the Open XML vs. ODF file format wars, I'd say.)  According to Wipro's findings:

"In schools where both Microsoft Office and Open Office are available, student and teacher satisfaction with Microsoft is consistently higher. For desktop productivity, 48–50 per cent of schools reported that student satisfaction with Microsoft products is higher than with OSS, but only 17–26 per cent reported the same for the open source platform."

(But wait: Isn't it Microsoft's publicly-stated position that Open Office is hardly denting Office's market share? Or is that just true in the U.S.?)

Microsoft's summer campaign against open source is marching on. Next battleground: The O'Reilly Open Source Conference, mid-July.

Yes, as I've said before, I find these Microsoft-commissioned studies dubious on a variety of fronts.  Anyone else feel the same?

Topics: Open Source, Microsoft


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • And this is a surpise why?

    [B]"Yet another Microsoft-commissioned study, comparing Microsoft technologies to open-source software, is out, as of June 13."[/B] - now if this was an INDEPENDENT study... it would hold value and probably be more accurate. ]:)

    Just more from the Microsoft FUD machine! :)
    Linux User 147560
    • No European Software Patents still!

      Microsoft (and a few others) of course, is trying to get that going in Europe, or has been for a while now-so far, they haven't had success with that ass clown McCreevy.

      Microsoft wins many of their battles, but not all of them. Hopefully, someday, a software patent case will make it to the SCOTUS and then things might get *real interesting.*
  • Have some sympathy for Microsoft studies.

    Microsoft has the resources and the interest in customers to fund studies.

    Open source projects have few resources and are afraid to join with Microsoft in conducting a study because Microsoft would do a far better job publicizing favorable results than they could.*

    Almost everyone just continues with the products they have already selected, and wonders who would be in sufficient doubt to be persuaded by a study.

    So what other organization would fund such a study?

    There's an additional reason to conduct this sort of study, the need to counter campaigns by government bureaucrats to overrule users and implement the views of Microsoft antagonists and competitors.

    No supercilious report can observe that the preference for and superiority of open source has ever been questioned. This is of particular concern when such groups have funded hopelessly biased studies like the recent report on schools considering open source in England. Fighting swamp gas with swamp gas.

    There are markets and there are governments, and the responses to each have to be thorough and carefully planned.

    * This observation is from the rejection by Linux handlers of a Microsoft suggestion to conduct a Linux/Windows comparison funded by Microsoft but designed primarily by Linux advocates.
    The response does make sense; if the study results were 90% favorable to Linux, Microsoft could make certain that everyone heard only of the 10% and the Linux fanciers could not afford to publicize the remaining 90% so well.
    Of course, Microsoft - and the Linux backers - probably would not expect such a result.
    Anton Philidor
    • One more time, Anton

      [i]This observation is from the rejection by Linux handlers of a Microsoft suggestion to conduct a Linux/Windows comparison funded by Microsoft but designed primarily by Linux advocates.[/i]

      Anton, OSDL is a section 503 nonprofit organization and is legally constrained in what projects it can assume based on its charter.

      Microsoft's proposal was, according to OSDL's General Counsel, outside of its charter and OSDL would have risked its nonprofit status by going along.

      Since you've had this pointed out before, your insistence on repeating a discredited theory is rather telling.
      Yagotta B. Kidding
      • First I heard of that objection.

        First I've heard of a tax-status problem if OSDL were to cooperate on a study with Microsoft. You may have made that observation to No_Axe.

        Here's a relevant quote:

        On Friday, I had a chance to have a short talk with [OSDL?s CEO Stuart] Cohen, and got a definitive answer. Cohen said that "there is no way we would do a joint research project with Microsoft." If OSDL were to participate in such a project, Cohen said that when the report came out, no matter what the broad outcome of the report was, anything negative about Linux would be exploited for marketing purposes by Microsoft.

        Setting aside the marketing implications, Cohen also stressed that "no one is clamoring for" OSDL to do a market research paper with Microsoft. (Other than, I suppose, Microsoft?) OSDL does commission white papers and studies from time to time, when it makes sense to do so for their member organizations ? but "nobody?s been asking" for OSDL to produce a research project like what Taylor proposed.

        So the study is similar to others the organization has undertaken, but lack of interest would preclude undertaking this one.

        As observed, I think the objection about marketing resources is a valid enough reason for not participating. It's not necessary to conclude that Linux advocates know they would lose in a fair contest. Though that is not refuted.

        But tax problems... I'd appreciate a link.
        Anton Philidor
        • This is a rather broad statement.

          "It's not necessary to conclude that Linux advocates know they would lose in a fair contest. Though that is not refuted."

          Care to cite some sources for this? Other than Microsoft sponsored studies that is. ;-)
          • Proving a negative.

            Quotes demonstrating Linux advocates do not believe that Linux would lose in a fair comparison to Windows? Broad as such a statement may be, I feel some confidence making it. I don't underestimate the power of belief or the persistence of hope against all evidence. ;-)
            Anton Philidor
          • So by extension...

            You're saying that "Market share" overrides "Product superiority"?

            If so, I need to find those old CP/M diskettes because DOS ain't ever gonna go anywhere.

            OK, this horse is dead...long live the horse!
          • No, but

            "product superiority" is very subjective. What makes one product better then another? Your simple opinion? The fact you don't like MS or Windows?
            And as he has pointed out, MS seems to be one of the few to pony up for studies. To not fund a study, heck not even participate, to then say 'if there was only a study to prove all the other studies are wrong' is pretty BS
          • mdemuth,

            Right now I have 5 computers in this house. Three of them are running Windows as the sole OS. In your mind you've decided that:
            1. I hate MS. While I don't like the corporate philosophy of winning at all costs, even if it means sidestepping a few laws, I don't "hate" them.
            2. My opion is simple. Who says yours is better? If all you have ever dealt with is MS based OS's then I'd say your is pretty simple. Over the course of 35+ years of doing computer stuff I'd have to take a while to figure out how many different OS's I've dealt with. You have your opinion, I have mine.

            As someone asked, to paraphrase: "Why does Microsoft feel that they HAVE to fund these studies?" I guess, in my simple opinion, it's a matter of selfesteem (or lack thereof by Microsoft). I guess they just want to hear people say nice things about them, even if they have to pay for it.

            And yes, you and I are done, so don't bother to reply.
  • A couple of questions...

    1. How do the shareholders in Microsoft feel about this use of "resources" instead of a higher ROI?

    2. Other than Mike Cox, how do the customers feel about paying for these studies with higher software prices?
  • WiPro?

    Wipro is an Indian consulting outfit (I've done business with them on the IC design front.)

    Having them do a study of user satisfaction in [i]Europe[/i] -- and European schools in particular -- leads to the question of why Microsoft couldn't find a European firm to get them the answers they wanted.
    Yagotta B. Kidding
    • Sorry Yagotta...

      WiPro is as Indian a firm as Microsoft is an American corporation. Both are firmly international and, as such, have expertise in many countries. Both may have been founded in one country, but their reach is international.
      Confused by religion
      • Funny you should bring that up

        [i]WiPro is as Indian a firm as Microsoft is an American corporation. Both are firmly international and, as such, have expertise in many countries. Both may have been founded in one country, but their reach is international.[/i]

        Founded and remain, actually. The Internet makes "reach" easy -- until you actually have to [i]talk[/i] to people.

        I've worked with WiPro, so this isn't speculative. When I was working for a European corporation, we had no local (as in, European) points of contact with them whatsoever; beyond the initial sales contact all communications with them were between UTC+1 and UTC+5:30

        However, I'm willing to change my mind. Can you name one WiPro location outside of India that employs more than 25 people to a city?
        Yagotta B. Kidding
        • Sorry, Yagotta...

 have me over a barrel - I don't work in Tech but I do know that my agency has used WiPro consultants on a few projects over the years. I would not know how to go about finding if they have local presence in CA or if they are just hired guns working out of their homes.

          Maybe someone else can jump in here?
          Confused by religion
        • May I ask.....

          in what capcity did you work with WiPro? I recall you saying another time that you had worked for a very large U.S. company and were fully aware of the board room ethics and activities. <br> Excuse me for saying this, but I don't mean it in a bad way, I just find it hard to believe someone of that professional stature hanging out on zdnet. Don't get me wrong zdnet people, i just haven't bumped into any Google board members on here....that I know about anyway.
    • Who owns them?

      WiPro that is. I mean if I was a multigazillionaire and wanted to launder some more funds out of the old company...why I'd setup an offshore company and contract it, big bucks here, for some inane product, cheap stuff here, and take the profits back into my, offshore, bank account saving all that messy tax/accounting trouble.

      I mean look at US Representative Don Young (Alaska) and his handling of a minor problem in Florida for a campaign contributor? ;-)

      Yeah...paranoia is a wonderful thing.
    • That's like hiring constuction workers from South of the US

      Sure we have plenty here in the US which can build decent homes, but for the price, who are you going to hire?
  • No surprise here

    No surprise here. People like to use what they are familiar with. I'm more familiar with MSOffice than I am with Open Office so I prefer it. What I don't prefer is the price however. Open Office is a free download and while I may prefer MSOffice the savings of $150 is worth going with the competition if I'm a student. Heck I don't buy MSOffice right now I'm still using Office 2000. The day that stops working for me is the day I use Open Office full time.

    Now as for the OS I really could care less what OS I use as long as it runs the application I want. That's games mostly for me and few other key apps like Tax prep software. Other than that I could use Linux just as easily. I'm sure others feel the same way. The OS really doesn't do much on it's own, it's the apps that matter. So since Windows has all the key apps it is completely understandable why students would prefer that.

    When it comes to products other than Microsoft I use quite a few Open Source products. Gimp is an example, saves you a few bucks and it works. Not pretty though and it does take some learning but the I tried Adobe Elements and found it wasn't any easier, prettier yes but not easier.
    • Why do they keep paying for these studies?

      Seriously, the number of studies that Microsoft keep putting out about how much everyone loves their software and how its constantly found to be better than every thing else just makes them look a bit insecure.

      After all, they wouldn't need to conduct studies to tell us how reliable their products were if they actually had a reputation for being stable and secure (As far as I know there aren't that many people who would argue this for them).