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Windows Server Goes Head to Head With RHEL

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Microsoft’s latest salvo in its Get the Facts on Windows and Linux campaign claims Windows Server 2003 is more reliable and easier to administer than the open source Red Hat Linux AS 3.0.

The campaign is based on the release of research reports comparing things like the total cost of ownership or speed of a Windows product versus an open source product. In the latest tests, Microsoft hired VeriTest to measure the amount of time a group of IT professionals spent executing tasks in the Windows and Linux server environments.

“We’ve been looking at areas critical for customers in making purchase decisions,” said Ryan Gavin, director of platform strategies for Microsoft . “The next phase of perception in the marketplace is in the area of reliability.”

In tests spanning four full days, Windows Server 2003 had 4:20:19 of average end-user service loss time compared to 4:59:44 of average service loss time for the RHEL AS 3.0 environment on measured service loss events, according to Microsoft. More work was completed in less time in the Windows Server 2003 environment than in the RHEL environment. Windows Server completed 280 tasks and events, compared to 248 completed tasks and events for Red Hat.

“There’s no standard industry benchmark that defines reliability. So we did a lot of work internally to see how customers define reliability,” Gavin said.

Red Hat officials were not immediately available for comment.

In the tests, the study showed that Linux end users would have experienced about 15 percent more service loss time. The Windows environment was 37 percent faster to update and configure than Linux, and it took longer to patch Linux than Windows.

Gavin said other studies showed that Linux requires as many patches and updates as Windows, but he did not provide corroboration. Windows Server 2003 is about eight times more reliable than the previous version, he said.

Earlier entries in the campaign garnered criticism, because Microsoft didn’t make clear that it paid for some of the studies.

In one case, truth in advertising watchdogs in the UK ordered Microsoft to pull ads touting results of a match-up between Windows Server 2003 and Linux. In that case, the British Advertising Standards Authority said Microsoft installed its product on cheaper, faster hardware and ran Linux on higher-priced boxes that were known to under-perform.

A report from Yankee Group released on Monday showed that Microsoft may be making progress with the campaign. According to analyst Laura DiDio, the majority of small businesses and enterprise customers deploying Windows Server 2003 find its quality, performance and reliability equal to or better than Linux. Gavin said Microsoft did not contract with Yankee Group for that particular study.

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