Which operating system?

One of the questions I inevitably ask when speaking to CIOs and IT directors about an application they are running is: “What operating system does it use?” No one ever comes back with the response: “Does it matter?”

Businesses do not really care what operating system they run, so long as it supports the applications they require. Most appreciate that Windows comes from Microsoft; Unix from one of the server makers. One requires certified hardware and signed device drivers; the other runs on a specific hardware platform. In spite of the technical differences between the two, scalability and price/performance benchmarks, they do more-or-less the same job. Both are proprietary; both lock you into an IT architecture. Assuming businesses run a mixed environment anyway, the choice of operating system really shouldn’t matter.