Linux v Microsoft

Is Microsoft losing ground to Linux, asks

Open-source software gave Microsoft a one-two punch this week, with the European Union and an African nonprofit educational organization showing preference for Linux systems.

The European Union awarded on Thursday a $249,000 (250,000 euro) contract to U.K.-based system-integrator Netproject to study the feasibility of moving the information systems of several member countries’ governments to the Linux operating system from Microsoft’s Windows OS.

Microsoft’s expensive licensing terms and its push for customers to speed their software upgrade cycles are driving the European Union’s interest in open-source solutions, said Eddie Bleasdale, Netproject’s CEO. Describing a meeting with representatives from several EU member countries, Bleasdale said Microsoft’s current licensing terms had governments looking for other options.

Adding insult to injury, SchoolNet Namibia, an organization providing computing resources to that sparsely populated country, has turned down a Microsoft offer to put Windows systems in their schools and decided to stay with its Linux systems. In a very public letter, the organization lambasted Microsoft for a plan that would give the schools a $2,000 break on Office software but make them pay $9,000 for Windows XP.

“The real issue for schools is not the cost of proprietary software licensing, but the challenges and costs of deployment, maintenance and skilled human resources,” Joris Kamen, founding executive director for SchoolNet Namibia, stated in a letter to Microsoft’s East and South Africa regional manager. “Conventional Microsoft products have rapid product cycles and quick obsolescence, along with expensive long-term maintenance and support implications.”

Technology’s Next Markets will chose Linux and open-source. The other decision they need to make is to recycle PCs, so the cost of hardware also comes down.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.