Compare Windows Server to Red Hat Enterprise Linux

Compare Windows to Red Hat

When making a platform decision, many organizations focus on key attributes, such as total cost of ownership (TCO), reliability, and support. The chart below helps put these key criteria in perspective as you compare the advantages and disadvantages of Windows Server versus Red Hat commercial Linux.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux

Windows Server

Total Cost of Ownership

How can “free” be this expensive?
Red Hat’s business is based on annual subscriptions for OS support—you pay a subscription for every server, every year. And, if you want 24/7 support, you’ll pay more.

Did you know?
Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 Advanced costs $2,499 per server per year.

Quick links

Reduced downtime and better manageability mean lower TCO
Research consistently shows that the two biggest cost components of TCO are:

  • The staffing costs associated with ongoing management and maintenance—60 percent of TCO
  • Downtime—15 percent of TCO

These 2 cost areas represent 75 percent of TCO over a 3-year period. In comparison, software acquisition costs represent 7 percent of TCO over that same period. See IDC’s market research on TCO.
Read the Report


Don’t touch that package
A reliable system isn’t just available to end users—it is easy for administrators to configure and manage as it changes in response to the evolving needs of the business.

In realistic studies where IT administrators are required to install patches, security updates, and make functional changes to IT systems, Linux administrators have used a wide variety of management tools and processes.

In one study conducted by Security Innovations, researchers found that all of the Linux administrators made changes to components of the operating system that would have violated the support agreement with the Linux vendor. Each of the Linux administrators then spent time trying to re-configure the system to account for future waves of functional changes and patches.
Read the Report

Easier configuration and management + predictability = A more reliable platform
Windows Server was designed to reduce the time it takes to implement and manage solutions by:

  • Standardizing common administration tasks.
  • Providing robust tools for more customized administration.

In addition, Windows Server is the most broadly tested and certified platform for applications and hardware, so it improves your ability to deliver solutions that will grow and change as the business needs change.

Quick Links


Empirical evidence that the ‘everyone can see the code’ approach to software security doesn’t work for Red Hat
Over the first 650 days of product life for Windows Server 2003, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3, and Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4, Windows Server 2003 had 75 percent fewer published vulnerabilities.

“Although it’s still often used as an argument, it seems quite clear to me that the “many eyes” argument, when applied to security, is not true.”
— Ben Laurie, Director of Security, Apache Foundation

Did you know?
In 2006, the Average Days of Risk for Windows Server vulnerabilities was 61 percent lower than for Novell Enterprise and 73 percent lower than for Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

Quick Links

A comprehensive approach to security: quality software, proactive security management, and innovative technologies
The Security Development Lifecycle (SDL) was developed by Microsoft to provide a rigorous engineering process for developing secure code. This process includes the development of threat models during software design, the use of static analysis code-scanning tools during implementation, and the conducting of code reviews and security testing during a focused "security push." Before software subject to the SDL can be released, it must undergo a Final Security Review by a team independent from its development group.

IT organizations are in the best position to deliver secure solutions by utilizing a quality, innovative technology platform, like Windows Server, and establishing proactive security management processes.

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It’s a commercialized world
The reality is that Linux is just the operating system kernel—so IT organizations run commercial distributions, such as Red Hat or SuSE, not just ‘Linux’. These commercial distributions are made up of vendor specific versions of open source software.

As each commercial Linux vendor attempts to drive unique value into their specific distribution, it makes migration between distributions more costly. An independent research study reviewed Linux migrations in companies and found that "when migrating between Linux distributions, costs were often significant, with a wide [cost] range at the high end."
Read the Report

This leaves IT organizations with fewer choices for applications, talented IT resources, channel partners, support, and specific distribution.

Support Options Comparison – Microsoft and Linux

Microsoft and the Windows ecosystem provides customers with more choice than any other server platform
The Windows platform is supported by:

  • Thousands of applications.
  • 750,000 Microsoft partners.
  • More than 450,000 Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) professionals.
  • More than 6 million developers.
  • The largest Independent Software Vendor (ISV) community in the world.

Quick Links

  • TechNet
    Solve technical problems and build your technical skills with updates, including resource disks, service packs, deployment guides, and utilities.
  • Find a Partner
    Need help with technology solutions? Find the partner that best meets your business needs.


Manageability is more than an update tool
World-class IT organizations improve efficiency, and save time and money, by standardizing on a comprehensive set of management tools and processes to manage desktops and desktop applications, as well as servers and server applications.

Red Hat includes the Yum update tool to help you download packages and software updates, but doesn’t address IT professionals’ broader needs—managing applications and workloads, like mail and collaboration, database and business applications.

Windows Server and management tools like Microsoft System Center allow you to do more in less time
The Dynamic Systems Initiative (DSI) is the Microsoft technology strategy for products and solutions that help businesses enhance the dynamic capability of their people, processes, and IT infrastructure using technology.

“Windows Server also supports a standardized, patterned approach to building systems. . .for example, for most of our major applications, we can build and distribute across the entire company a standard disk image without having to set up systems individually.”
—Adam Vazquez, Senior IT Manager, AMD


Open Standards ≠ Open Source
Open Source is a software development and distribution model, which does not equate to how easily the software interoperates with other software or how open or standardized the interfaces are.

“With enough development effort, you can make just about any technology work with any other technology, however, with Microsoft products, we get a fast, cost-effective path to interoperability.”
—Rim Kadi, American University of Beirut

Interoperability by design
Microsoft approaches interoperability by design which strives for greater ‘out of the box’ connectivity for customers and partners.

Interoperability by design entails not only engineering excellence in our products, but also includes collaborating with customers, partners, and competitors; providing access to our technologies through licensing and translation tools; and engaging in standards-setting activities.

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