Study: Linux Doesn't Always Make Things Cheaper

Gartner researchers caution that a free operating system doesn't always add up to lower computing bills.
NEW YORK (AP) -- Linux advocates tout the computer operating system as a smart choice for penny-pinching corporations. It's freely shared, lowering the cost of hardware that runs it.

But researchers at Gartner Inc. caution that a free operating system does not always add up to lower computing bills.

Gartner says that while Linux is a wise choice for some central computer servers, businesses might be better off keeping Windows from Microsoft Corp. on their workers' desktop machines.

The reason? Servers are often dedicated to performing a single function, but office PCs to do a lot of things, including running custom, Windows-based applications. Those applications have to be rewritten, a potentially costly endeavor, if a business switches to Linux desktop PCs.

Gartner analyst Michael Silver said many businesses are better off merely upgrading to newer editions of Windows, which tend to be more stable and crash less--qualities Linux boasts as well.

Companies should opt for Linux mainly on desktops used for limited functions, like data entry or a bank teller's platform, Silver said.

For now, Linux is used in a small percentage of desktop computers worldwide--Silver puts it in the "low single digits." But Gartner sees good potential for growth in Latin America, Asia, and Eastern Europe, where Microsoft's inroads are not as deep.

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