In the face of growing competition from Linux, Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer outlined the economic and security advantages Windows has over Linux, the potential dangers of open source involving indemnification, and the intent to aggressively convince Unix shops to migrate to Windows.
Ballmer contended that the increasingly higher prices companies such as IBM, Red Hat and Novell charge for technical services and support, along with costs associated with indemnification, now outstrip the financial advantages of free open-source software.
"It's pretty clear the facts show Windows provides a lower total cost of ownership than Linux. The number of security vulnerabilities is lower on Windows, and Windows responsiveness on security is better than Linux, and Microsoft provides uncapped IP [intellectual property] indemnification of their products. [There is] no such comprehensive offering available for Linux or open source," he wrote in the memo.
According to the memo, Microsoft last year took a closer look at its volume licensing contracts to see what else the company could do to increase customer satisfaction. He said the top issue users discussed by customers was patent indemnification, which Microsoft then capped at the amount the customer paid for the software.
Consequently, he wrote, Microsoft lifted that cap for volume licensing customers who are often the target of IP lawsuits.
"No supplier today stands behind Linux with full IP indemnification. In fact, it is rare for open-source software to provide customers with any indemnification at all. We think Microsoft's indemnification already is one of the best offered by the leading players in the industry for volume licensing customers, and we're looking at ways to expand it to an even broader set of our customers," Ballmer wrote.
Microsoft also pledged to do a better job educating corporate users about issues surrounding indemnification, spelling out the financial ramifications for their businesses.
Ballmer emphasised Unix migration in its list of strategic initiatives for the next 12 months. He referenced the recent one-year anniversary of the company's "Get The Facts" campaign that has attempted to lay out in a no-frills fashion for Unix users the technical and cost benefits of choosing Windows over Linux.
Ballmer advises IT and other business decision makers to migrate ERP systems from more expensive Unix environments to Windows.
He said an independent survey of shops that have completed a migration of their SAP (Profile, Products, Articles) or PeopleSoft (Profile, Products, Articles) ERP systems from Unix to Windows found more than a 20% reduction in the numbers of servers required compared with Unix.
He cited as one example the Raiffeisen Bank Group, Austria's largest bank, which was running its shop with Unix and did an extensive evaluation comparing Linux and Windows.
The bank finally chose Windows Server 2003 because it believed the Microsoft server offered the most economical solution as well as better performance.
Finally, Ballmer contended that Windows can provide corporate IT shops with superior security over competitive Linux servers, saying the company has made software security "a top priority the last three years".
He said Microsoft has invested heavily in a multi-pronged initiative to improve software quality and a number of development processes.
Ed Scannell writes for Infoworld