David A. Wheeler's Blog

Wed, 07 Apr 2004

NewsForge interviews me on Proprietary vs. OSS/FS TCO

NewsForge has just posted an interview of me, where I discuss the Microsoft-funded studies claiming that Microsoft’s proprietary products have a lower total cost of ownership (TCO) than Open Source Software/Free Software (OSS/FS).

My answers shouldn’t be surprising to those who’ve read my other writings. For example, I say that:

“TCO is extremely sensitive to a specific circumstance, so a TCO for one situation doesn’t usually apply to other cases. I’m sure that there are cases where Microsoft’s approach has a lower TCO than alternatives, so in those specific cases it’s true. However, there are also cases where open source software or Linux-based solutions have a lower TCO. You really have to consider all the costs for your specific situation, and your results may differ.”

I don’t have a lot of faith in Microsoft’s studies, because Microsoft funded almost all of them… a concern I discuss in the interview. As I say, “There may be useful information in the self-funded studies, but I don’t have any way to be confident with them.” There are just too many ways for a vendor to tweak studies they fund. Oh, and I’d say the same thing about a study funded by Red Hat or IBM or Apple or anyone else. You should give much more weight to independent studies.

Want more details? Take a peek at the interview.

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