Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Windows vs. Linux - Discussion at Microsoft

On December 11th there was an article posted to Technet which is a discussion between two Microsoft employees about the differences between Windows and Linux. The discussion was well done at promoting the strengths of Microsoft and spreading some myths about Linux, as well as revealing some truths that people should be aware of.

One of the problems with the mindset of those who set Microsoft against Linux is that the two really are not comparable. This is brought up in the article by stating that "nobody runs just a kernel". Linux is a kernel. Windows is not just a kernel, it's an entire suite of software with a kernel in there somewhere. Another point that Microsoft tries to press in the article is how Microsoft supports open-standards better than the open-source community, which is completely incorrect. Microsoft works with Microsoft products. I know that Microsoft is working toward creating software to work with other technologies (SFU), but most people I know are not using these technologies and are not aware of them. Most users are not upgrading to the latest version of Windows and Office.

I like the way that Microsoft admits that many people in the IT industry want to be able to integrate their systems and not have to hassle with incompatibilities, I second that. I would love to be able to work with Windows and Linux with fewer hassles. I believe that those hassles could be solved easier if Microsoft were willing to work with others, although the open-source community will continue to solve the problems of compatibility.

The end result for me as an IT professional is "which tool will perform the job better now and in the future". The most common answer for me happens to be Linux. A huge factor that I see in this arena is that most IT people I work with know next to nothing about Linux and have no experience working with Linux. As the demand for Linux and the ability to do what you want to do with your systems increases, the demand for people with Linux skills will increase. I think that a very common mindset today among the IT crowd is that they won't learn a new technology unless their employer pays them to learn it. This makes it easy to set ourselves above the crowd by learning these new technologies. The hard-working self-starter will rarely be out of a job.

I think that it is very important to know the technologies in the field and not take a stand that limits yourself to just one vendor or technology. The IT professional who is valuable to his place of work will make sure they study both Microsoft and OTM technologies.

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