ScalePrimary Cost DriverUnix Advantage
Personal Computer Cost of Software
  • Unix OS, office productivity, communications, and core development applications are free;
  • Windows OS and applications are usually a few hundred dollars each - for every PC.
Initial hardware and upgrade costs
  • Unix runs well on older gear, faster on newer gear;
  • Windows requires hardware and software change about every 18 months
  • A five year old Sun or HP Unix machine will run today's most demanding OS and applications;
  • A five year old PC is functionally unusable with today's software.
Available Software and functionality
  • Unix can run all Windows software through emulation, native, or co-processor means;
  • Windows can't run Unix software
  • Unix supports true multi-user, multi-tasking with no licensing or technical restrictions
  • Windows licenses are user, application, or device specific
Small to mid range Organizations Cost of Complexity
  • Unix supports many applications concurrently on one machine;
  • Windows usually needs one server, or cluster of servers, per application.
  • Unix networks are single tier TCP/IP; easily maintainable, easily secured, and capable of running at hardware speed
  • Windows networking is usually multi-tier, multi-protocol; difficult to secure, and operationally inefficient.
Cost of Support
  • Unix smart displays require no desktop support
  • The ratio of desktop support personnel to Windows desktops averages about 1 support person per 30 users and ranges from 1 in 15 to 1 in 80 depending on how tightly controlled usage is
  • Unix is based on ideas. Most new university technical graduates know Linux or BSD; most people who claim Unix knowledge actually have that knowledge
  • Windows is a marketing phenomenon. Windows internals are not generally taught in Universities and most MSCE technical skills are obsoleted each time a new Windows product suite is released.
Available Software and functionality
  • Unix supports all Windows file, print, and e-communications functions
  • Smart displays provide faster graphics, bigger screens, more pixels per dollar than PCs
  • Unix offers a wider range of database and related commercial packages
  • Smart displays can run Windows software concurrently with Unix software from one, or several, servers
Larger Organizations Cost of Failures
  • A 5000 desktop Unix system should lose less than 40 hours of user time to failure in any one year.
  • A 5000 desktop Windows architecture system can be expected to lose in excess of 30,000 user hours per year to system failure. [Actual failure rates for Windows brand products are monitored at Their numbers suggest that the average desktop fails once every 186 hours. Server crashes are not monitored by bugtoaster but Microsoft, through NSTL, claims one crash about every 2900 hours. Servers run 24 x 365; desktops 8 x 5 x 52; the numbers suggest about 56,000 desktop failures each affecting one user for ten minutes and about 181 server failures each affecting about 140 users for one hour. That suggests a total loss of about 35,000 hours for single shift operation and 64,000 hours for a 24 x 7 business.]
Barriers to change
  • The user's smart display and working environment are unaffected by systems change. Upgrading a Unix server has no desktop effects other than improved speed. Changing a Unix application affects the user only in terms of how that application works. User skills are not obsoleted, user confidence is not destroyed by change.
  • Changing a Windows server or application usually entails replacing or augmenting the desktop, re-training users, re-training help desk personnel, and embarking on a new round of system debugging.
Available Software and functionality
  • Unix has full SMP support for large scale processes. This simplifies application design, deployment, and use
  • the Windows rackmount approach to SMP means that applications spread across a large number of small machines need additional licensed processing layers to achieve coherency
  • Unix offers well understood, widely proven, data center replication processes that ease disaster preparedness
  • Full data center replication is improbably difficult to achieve with Windows servers