Paul Murphy compares TCO (total cost of ownership) for Windows and Unix, in the context of a small college / university. Numerically, Unix is cheaper by more than 50% vs Windows. There’s more to it than just number, as Murphy writes in his conclusions:
In the Microsoft client/server model, faculty members become part-time PC-support workers, continually interrupting themselves to deal with the latest crisis. This gradually reduces their own view of computing to that of the Windows PC while blanking out their awareness of other options. In many places, this is what we have now. Not only is it wasting a significant percentage of teaching resources, it’s producing a generation of graduates that thinks SAP costs $495 and runs on a PC.
In the Unix model, the computers work. They blend into the background like telephones and power plugs, letting teachers teach and researchers research.
As a result, the direct-cost comparison shows a Unix advantage in the range of 50 percent over five years, but the unquantifiable indirect effects are clearly much more significant. These costs, measured in terms of how well the faculty does its job, play out over the lifetime of the university’s graduates and the careers of its teachers.
Stay with Microsoft and the need to work with the PC will gradually narrow your view of the computing world until all you can see and all you can teach is the hope that the next generation of Microsoft products will magically be effective. Go all-Unix and the computing infrastructure disappears from day-to-day visibility, leaving teachers free to teach their subjects and students free to learn.
It would be good to do a similar analysis from an emerging market viewpoint, and using a terminal-server approach.