A Microsoft-commissioned study was recently released comparing the cost of buying licenses and direct vendor support between Microsoft Windows Enterprise Server 2003, Red Hat Linux Enterprise 3 and SuSE Enterprise Linux 8.BearingPoint, a technology research and consulting firm, which conducted the study, found that the licensing costs associated with running Windows vs. the two Linux versions were about equal. The study also found that Windows in some cases was less expensive in terms of paying for long-term support than the two Linux flavors.The in-depth study used two model companies - an "Enterprise Business Profile" with 522 servers, 5,742 clients PCs and varying levels of technical support, while the "Medium Business Profile" consisted of 29 servers and 232 clients and support costs.Included into the complex equation was all three vendors' support offerings -such as Red Hat's Red Hat Network offering, SuSE's Red Carpet, and Microsoft's Software Assurance Program for volume licensing. These were compared over a three-year period with two models for support: 24-7 support for all servers and 24-7 support for "mission critical" servers. The study found that overtime, Red Hat was the most expensive to support when all servers are covered. When 24-7 support was shifted to only mission critical servers, it was found that all three products cost about the same.In response to the study, a Novell\/SuSE spokesperson wrote:"I find it a bit funny that the study focuses on acquisition costs and reports that these are essentially a wash over a five-year period, but explicitly avoids a TCO assessment, which would be a much more relevant metric for a customer to consider over a five-year period.\u00a0\u00a0 The study leaves out the cost of deploying and maintaining the servers over that period.\u00a0 Given the strong stability and interoperability features of Linux, I suspect Linux ends up well ahead here."Red Hat did not return a request for comment on the Microsoft\/BearingPoint study.Go to\u00a0 https:\/\/download.microsoft.com\/download\/7\/3\/9\/739c7ab3-25c4-4b8c-9680-81ae10573b9d\/BearingPoint.doc\u00a0to download the Microsoft-sponsored BearingPoint study.