Windows and Linux TCO: Make Your Own Comparison: Page 2

Posted September 18, 2007

Serdar Yegulalp

Serdar Yegulalp

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The cost of retraining can also vary widely within a single organization, simply because not everyone will need to be retrained in the same ways. To restate the above example: if you’re in an environment where most of the people use a heavily macro-driven set of Word documents, the bulk of your users—who just use Word and don’t code for it—would not need to be retrained if you switched to However, the few folks you had on staff to create those macros would need to be retrained on the new suite.

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The exact amount of time needed to retrain is usually not very long for basic functions. One study I looked at about retraining Windows users on Linux concluded that 80% of the people who switched to Linux needed only about one week to retrain themselves to use Linux properly for their needed job. That does raise the question about how long the remaining 20% took to adjust, and even if it wasn’t a significantly greater length of time, it does indicate that retraining isn’t going to be a one-size-fits-all job. (I should also point out that it’s possible to switch to entirely apart from Linux, and that in fact many people have done just that—remained on Windows but used to lower TCO, at least initially.)

In the end, though, the only truly accurate and useful TCO study for comparing Windows to Linux is the one you conduct yourself. You can look to other TCO studies to get an idea of how to model one for your own organization and needs, but you’ll need to know your own environment intimately to get a real grasp of the cost. Whenever possible, look to another company whose work habits and needs match your own and learn about what they did—you may be surprised at how the costs added up or leveled out for them.

Sometimes you need to spend a lot of money now to save money in the future, and what looks like a bargain at first doesn’t turn into a bargain later.

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