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March 16, 2010

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Hi Zack,

First I need to mention that I am Microsoft employee and work for Windows Azure, which is another major player in the cloud computing market. You may consider my answer biased but here is what I think about this topic. It is true that open source may look as a cheaper alternative however it has its own price. In general the price for maintaining the hardware and the underlying operating system software in a cloud scenario is incurred by the provider, which makes it irrelevant what operating system the provider uses as long as it satisfies the needs of the customer and offers competitive prices. If customers pay to the provider comparable fees for Linux and Windows then the decision which one to choose will not be based on whether Linux is free and Windows is paid – they are both paid in this case. The decision will mostly be influenced by what are the customer’s existing infrastructure investments, what are the capabilities of the platform, what are the customer’s needs etc.
In my opinion both Windows and Linux have their own advantages. If as a customer I have made significant investments in Windows-based infrastructure it wouldn’t make sense for me to go with Linux in the cloud, as well as the opposite is true.

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