Microsoft: Windows and Linux offer same TCO in emerging markets

While Linux may be cheaper up front, but over time, Windows and Linux offer roughly the same total-cost-of-ownership to customers deploying large numbers of PCs in schools in emerging markets according to a new Microsoft-funded study.

While Linux may be cheaper up front, but over time, Windows and Linux offer roughly the same total-cost-of-ownership to customers deploying large numbers of PCs in schools in emerging markets.

That's the conclusion of a recent Microsoft-sponsored study from Vital Wave Consulting, which Microsoft is touting in  new posting on the company's Unlimited Potential (UP) blog.

The blog entry about the 34-page report comes just days after Microsoft announced that Peru had become the first customer to take shipment of One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) XO machines preloaded with Windows XP. Microsoft finalized the testing and development of its port of XP to the OLPC earlier this summer.

In a post entitled "The Real Problem With Windows AND Linux In Emerging Market Education," James

Utzschneider, General Manager of Marketing and Communications for UP, blogged:

"(W)e wanted to understand if Linux has a cost advantage over Windows when it comes to deploying large numbers of PCs into schools in emerging market countries. The (Vital Wave) study indicates that both operating systems have about the same TCO for these types of scenarios. Windows systems have a slightly higher up front purchase price, but this is offset by the hirer salaries required for Linux-skilled systems administrators in places like China and South America. So over a five year period, the total costs for a school system to deploy and maintain a large number of Windows PCs and Linux PCs are about the same."

Utzschneider continued:

"For me, the huge, eye-opening takeaway from this work isn't that Windows and Linux cost about the same to put into school labs in poor countries, it's that the 5 year cost of ownership for doing so is about $2,700."

Utzschneider that the cost of electricity, training, repairs, infrastructure problems are all contributing to this unacceptable figure. The Vital Wave study offered a couple of solutions for helping control this chaos, he said, including increasing management/automation via the introduction of servers.

So far, Microsoft has been focusing primarily on getting Windows PCs and Windows Mobile phones into emerging markets. But just this week, Bill Laing, Microsoft's Corporate Vice President of Windows Server and Solutions mentioned to me that Microsoft was evaluating whether introducing some type of Windows Server configuration spcifically tailored for emerging market audiences would make sense.

Who knows... maybe OSPS (One Server Per School) will be the next Linux/Windows battleground in the emerging-market space....