Microsoft’s economic drag

If you’re like me and most other technology/professional workers, you’ve been using some version of Microsoft Windows for some time now. And it is also likely you’ve experienced countless blue screens, freezes and reboots courtesy Microsoft through this period.

Last night, while waiting for a reboot to complete after my screen froze for the millionth time, I decided to do some calculations on the economic loss being caused by Microsoft. Here is what I came up with:

  • 4 crashes/week @ 15 minutes lost/crash (reboot, recovery of context, lost data) = 1 hour lost/week
  • 12 years of using Windows results in 624 hours lost (I was fortunately in grad school using Unix before then)
  • Using an average wage of $60 per hour results in $37,440 lost

I’m purposely being very conservative above with all the numbers – besides the system crashes, there are the umpteen update related reboots and instabilities – security patch du jour, network on the blink, program suddenly stops working, etc.. Furthermore, I have suffered through 3-4 major system crashes (registry corrupted, etc.) over this period. Let’s say all this contributed another 125 hours or $7,500 lost. This gives us a grand total of about $45,000 lost over 12 years or about $4,000 per year. Wow!

Of course, some people will likely make the argument that Windows has enabled a plethora of technology over the years that have all greatly enhanced productivity; however, I will not buy this argument for even one second, these new technologies would have been created anyway and if anything, Microsoft has probably slowed down the rate and pace of innovation with its monopolistic and predatory practices.

I wonder if corporations have done this type of math – a large corporation with tens of thousands of employees is looking at tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars in lost productivity. If one sums up the effect across global corporations, it probably adds up to tens or even hundreds of billions of dollars – a size-able chunk of the global economy.

Amazing what an effect having a stable alternative to Windows could have on the global economy. Desktop Linux – where art thou ?

2 Responses to “Microsoft’s economic drag”

  1. AllInTheFamily says:

    Hate to say it, but desktop Linux is not perfect either. But, since I did not pay big bucks for it, I don’t mind living with the problems on Linux. The problem as always is device support, device manufacturers seem to test for Windows compliance, Linux on the other hand has to rely on volunteers. Apple might have this one right, restrict the hardware an OS runs on, seems like a brilliant idea.

  2. You might enjoy some discussion on Microsoft’s economic impact via Brad DeLong’s blog here ->

    And here ->

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