Will cloud pricing answer the age-old question: is Windows more expensive?

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Interesting angle from ComputerworldUK today exploring what cloud pricing may reveal about the total cost of ownership of various the various cloud platforms. I say “may” rather than “does” primarily because we are in the very early days of the development of business models and we don’t yet know whether the current pricing is rational and includes all inputs and outputs.

From the article

…Amazon’s own cloud platform pricing already reveals a terrible truth. For much of the heated arguments about the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of Windows vs. GNU/Linux has really involved comparing apples and oranges: it was hard to get a really fair comparison, taking into account all the relevant factors.

Cloud computing provides exactly that comparison. Amazon, for example, offers the choice of computing on GNU/Linux or on Windows, in a way that means you don’t need to worry about all those purported “extra” costs that free software imposes in terms of staff, training etc.: Amazon handles them all – that’s part of the point about cloud computing. This means that the price you pay Amazon for its cloud computing service represents the real, essential costs of running GNU/Linux and Windows (plus some small mark-up).

So what do we find? The cost per hour for a GNU/Linux system is $0.10 for a small system. $0.125 for Windows: 25% more expensive. For a large system, the costs are $0.40 and $0.50 respectively, making Windows 20% more expensive. For Extra Large, the costs are $0.80 and $1.00, a 25% increase.

Of course left out of that 25% is any analysis of whether that premium buys users more real usable capability to get their work done through the availability of applications and (to a lesser extent) familiarity effects from using the world’s most common computer interface. Nonetheless, it’s an interesting point of reference.


  1. Should also be noted that Amazon EC2 also offers OpenSolaris,

  2. Thanks, Mark. Do you know pricing off the top of your head?