Windows is Doomed…

After reading this post several times and thinking about the implications of it. I think the author (sorry, but I couldn’t find your name anywhere) has really stumbled on something here.

The basic premise of the article is to do with Microsoft’s takeover attempt of Yahoo, and how poor Windows is as a scalable platform for building out a very big Internet presence:

There’s no way on God’s earth that Microsoft can switch all of Yahoo’s services to being based on Windows. The IT costs and the time needed to migrate Yahoo’s applications to Windows boggles my mind. It would probably cost more than whatever Microsoft ends up paying for Yahoo.

I thought about this and think that there is even more to support the author’s conclusion than he mentions.

I started to think about all these new “big businesses” out there he(she?) mentions. They are all using Linux and other Open Source software to build out these hugely massive infrastructures. We know about Google and Amazon et al. But there is more… PayPal, a subsidiary of eBay, but a business that is taking on the old-world banking industry – especially as a credit card payment processor – build their transaction processing platform on Linux and they have discussed before how they can easily scale their infrastructure by just adding a few $1k blades with Linux on them.

If any of the recent big on-line businesses had tried to build out their infrastructure on Windows, what do you think the outcome would have been?

  • Cost. This would have been a non-starter for most. How much in software licenses would a Google need to have spent? Server software, database licenses, middleware, system administration tools etc etc. The mind boggles just how impractical it would be to try and do this with proprietary software. And of course, don’t forget the extra hardware needed to run the bloated code in the first place.
  • Flexibility. How easy would it be to go back your proprietary supplier and ask for new features, fixes, patches? And – oh yes – ‘I’d like them tomorrow please’. This just isn’t possible or realistic with the old-world software businesses. Businesses like Google and the others rely on change. They are dynamic businesses. They need to move fast and adapt.
  • Reliability. Really. Windows, in whatever guise you like – Vista, SBS, NT – are just not man enough for the job. BSODs galore and crappy single-user file systems mean you need hundreds, or thousands, of individual boxes each running expensive software just to give yourself some sense of reliability. Although of course it isn’t in reality. Windows doesn’t scale and it’s a pain to manage when you have lots of them. It’s a desktop operating system masquerading as something it isn’t.
  • Security. Yep. Would you trust your data to a Windows architecture that is so wide open to abuse it has grown a whole industry of parasites that supply further process-cycle-sapping applications that endeavour and “hope” to find intruders and malicious code?

The trend to use Linux is not just with the “new kids” however.

We have seen how, recently, Specsavers the Opticians have replaced everything in their network with Linux. From the tills to the back-office servers and more recently their Active Directory user authentication system for OpenLDAP. Here’s a lovely quote from them about the impact their migration has had:

As well as freedom from vendor lock-in, Specsavers says it is getting “superior performance, reliability and security at a significantly reduced cost in comparison to proprietary solutions”. It says it is now “enjoying a reduced need for maintenance, and increased reliability”.

I was also rather surprised yesterday when I was reading a piece about Oracle.

“WC: Pretty much all of Oracle’s internal production and development systems run on Linux across the whole company. Linux by itself is across the whole company. Also uses a lot of Python. It’s really across the whole co. 10,000 Linux servers that run Oracle on-demand.”

[WC = Wim Coekaerts, VP of Linux engineering, corporate architecture.]

Did you get that? Linux is running pretty much everything in Oracle…

If M$ do buy Yahoo, they will, undoubtedly, open the biggest can-of-worms imaginable. And probably the first nail-in-the-coffin for Windows. Especially in the enterprise.

So, think about it. Next time you need to role out some new business applications, would you go with the Desktop OS that needs excessive maintenance and support to just pretend to be a server, and that might have a limited life expectancy anyway. Or deploy the enterprise scale OS that can be customised for your infrastructure and hardware, which is proven to be extremely secure and is used by many (if not all) of the biggest and most successful companies in the world? Oh yes, and it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to buy either. In fact, it can be yours for nothing. Free. Zilch. Zero.

Remember too – that you can also run the same OS, properly configured, on the Desktop too. Why do you think PC manufacturers are literally falling over each to bring out new, low-cost, Linux powered laptops (Asus, Everex, Acer, Via, Palm, Intel, LeMote, OLPC, Dell, Lenovo)? Barely a day goes by without a new announcement. It certainly isn’t because they aren’t any good…

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