“Open Source” vs. Microsoft Technologies updated June 2008 – So much has changed as of 2019

I reviewed this post in 2019 and have left is as is from 2008 as a reminder how much has changed.
This is written to business owners but applies to anyone making business decisions for computer technology.  Whether you love Microsoft or hate them they are pervasive.  At some point you have to make decisions for your company about using more Microsoft products or trying to use other products.  In some cases the general strategy of a company is based around either using Microsoft products as a norm or using “open source” products like Linux, Postgres and other non-Microsoft products. If you are a tech you might have very different thoughts on this subject than if you are a business owner.  Speaking as business owner to business owner, and especially coming from the small business owner perspective I feel strongly about this subject.
We are a Microsoft shop because I believe that Microsoft, overall, presents the best value in standard products that work together relatively easily and have the largest base of knowledgable users and help.  There are other fine products out there.  Some come from very large companies like Oracle or Sun.  None have nearly as complete a set of software to run a business.  Let’s face it you are not investing in computers because you think they look cool on your desk.  You are investing because you need the staff you hire to do many jobs, many non-technical, to be as productive as possible.
When you depend on Open Source you begin to depend on the person that selects and integrates the various parts.  The group of tech’s with intimate knowledge of Open Source is large but so is the group with great knowledge of Microsoft technology.  But there are many products and companies providing similar solutions in the open source world, some that work together, some not so much.  Because of this the knowledge and experience of tech’s and users is fractured into groups that know this or that technology.  When you put the OS, productivity software, graphic software and many other pieces that make up a full system the matrix of people who know a specific set is even more fractured. It’s not fun to live in fear that your network support person will be hit by a bus and only a few people will know how to work on your system.  Microsoft trained employees are the most pervasive in the industry.  You will not be tied to a few people who know your particular system.  A great many tech’s will be able to walk in and help with your system nearly instantly.
Open Source might not have licensing fees but there are still support contracts that are available and likely required for mission critical applications.  Yes, Microsoft has licensing but I believe they are still the best value for small to medium business due to the consistency and ability to furnish many pieces that all work together very, very well.
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