While I am not always a fan of Microsoft's actions around technology in education, I do have to give them credit for hiring my friends Vital Wave Consulting to do a 5 year Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) study on introducing computers into Indian schools that focused on multiple different configurations, platforms, and even operating systems.
Today, I listened to Vital Wave give a presentation about the report (you can download it here) and I was struck by the "Linux Premium".
Technologists in the developing world who know Linux command a 15-30% salary premium over their Microsoft-only peers. This should be the new rallying cry for the LUGs in every growing economy: Learn Linux, Make More.
Still, that wasn't the real bombshell. It was the overall per-seat TCO for computers in schools, no matter the configuration, form factor, or operating system. Let's have JamesU explain:
For me, the huge, eye-opening takeaway from this work isn't that Windows and Linux cost about the same to put into school labs in poor countries, it's that the 5 year cost of ownership for doing so is about $2,700.Or almost three times as much as OLPC News calculated two years ago using only the collective estimations of the OLPC community. Our "$1,000 laptop" estimation doesn't look so crazy anymore, eh?
That's right, $2,700. At a time when the press likes to write about whether the $100 laptop costs $200 or $300, economists who live in the countries where these systems are being deployed went out, assessed actual computer implementations, and came back with an estimate that the actual 5 year ownership cost is about 10 times as much.
Yet one laptop per child programs on a countrywide scale now look even more insane. At $2,700 per child, exactly which poor developing world country can afford to implement at a 1:1 computer-to-child ratio on a national scale?