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Windows versus Linux-Based PBXs: Installation and Maintenance

Resellers and managed service providers are free to choose between Windows and Linux servers to host their voice and unified communications services. Each offers an array of PBX solutions, some available on both operating systems (OS) and others native to just one.

If you’re keen on a particular solution, the debate between Windows and Linux will not matter—you’ll simply deploy in the necessary environment. However, if you’re considering a solution like 3CX, which is now supported on multiple platforms, then you must compare the two server types.

NoteConsider the following information in relationship to your existing setup. For example, if you maintain a Windows network, consider the implications of incorporating Linux (and vice versa). 

Familiar Graphical User Interface (GUI)

One of the largest boons Windows servers promise is familiarity: we all know how to operate a Microsoft PC (even devoted Apple users). That said, in exchange for Window’s usability and productivity tools, you must relinquish server resources. After all, Windows OS is much larger than most linux distributions, so many server administrators find the less intuitive GUI an acceptable tradeoff.

Of course, the Windows versus Linux experience comes down entirely to your own preferences. If you’re most comfortable with Linux, then the argument that Windows operations are more streamlined is faulty. Moreover, after installing applications, most tasks take place within them anyway and each contains its own suite of graphical options and views.

Licensing Costs

The Windows OS costs money to run. Typically, each instance comes with both support and updates for an agreed period; Linux servers only receive the former, but without charge. Linux servers mostly run open-source PBX solutions, too, meaning the only costs involved are hardware-related.

Conversely, Windows PBXs are usually proprietary and incur additional licensing costs. There are some open-source ones, but they are far less popular. When dealing with open-source software, popularity is hugely important as it ensures continued support and development.

Third-Party Application Integration

In many cases, Windows PBX systems are easier to integrate with other Microsoft products—Exchange, Unified Messaging, SalesForce and more. Your customers’ needs must be considered in this respect. Furthermore, if using a proprietary PBX, these integrations are simple to setup (sometimes instantaneous).

Linux PBXs are just as customizable—more so, actually, because the development is uninhibited by corporate relationships and partnerships—but all work falls on the administrator. Building cross-platform integrations takes more effort, too, compared to a PBX deployed on the same OS as other applications and programs it must sync with.

Ultimately, much of the same functionality can be achieved on Windows and Linux PBX platforms. There are other criteria you must assess beyond OS to determine a suitable server for your services, too, such as the hardware specifications and SLA (if hosted). For more information in this regard, first consult the documentation of your chosen PBX to see its technical requirements and recommendations.