Is It Time to Dump Windows?

Updated: July 21, 2010

It is almost impossible for the SMB to use Windows products and not have to fight continuous infections and even rebuild/re-image machines on a regular basis. Just in the past few weeks there have been major vulnerabilities discovered that forced Microsoft to issue fix-it tools in advance of official patches. The latest shortcut vulnerability is particularly onerous. It led Siemens to announce they had discovered a USB delivered attack that targeted manufacturers using SCADA networks. The fix turns the familiar shortcut icons on your desktop into blank images. At what point does the cost of this additional maintenance exceed the switching costs to move to another platform? And on top of the operational costs there is the unquantifiable cost of a data breach. I believe that that point has finally arrived.

Yes, MAC OS and Linux based desktop environments such as Ubuntu have their security issues. But they are not continuously targeted by every cyber criminal and scam artist in the world. There are sometimes 50,000 new forms of malware for Windows released in a day. The other platforms? You can count the malware of concern on one hand.

What would it take for the typical small business to migrate off of Windows? Here is the short list. Let me know if you have experience with these or other options:

Office productivity. How to get away from using Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc? he most straightforward migration is to OpenOffice, supported by Sun (now Oracle). It is easy to install and easy to get used to. Google Apps are another alternative but it is yet unclear if Google's treatment of your data is always going to be secure.

Email. This is the hard one. Most SMBs are married to Exchange and Outlook. The same functionality can be had from myriad products, many open source, such as Mozilla Thunderbird. And free SMTP servers predate Microsoft's products. Of course Gmail, and Yahoo! email are cheap alternatives that many SMBs already use.

All of your applications. There are Linux based versions of just about any application you need to conduct business. Have you developed your own Windows based apps? Time to consider migrating those too.

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