Ballmer cites 'facts' in Microsoft's battle against Linux

Ballmer cites 'facts' in Microsoft's battle against Linux

Summary: But Linux vendors dispute Microsoft's claim that Windows is a better bet than open source for issues like security and total cost of ownership


"We think that Microsoft is trying a new strategy to fight against Linux by spreading much FUD [Fear Uncertainty and Doubt] about Linux strongest points," Duval told ZDNet UK.

"In particular, the TCO argument can easily be modelled to fit their communication, but many studies -- in general the ones that aren't financed by Microsoft -- show that Linux' TCO is much lower than Windows', in particular because administering Linux is really a peaceful activity that doesn't require as many sysadmins as does Windows," Duval continued, adding that big organisations such as governments are getting increasingly tempted by Linux.

The executive email can be read in full here.

Get The Facts was launched this year as Microsoft's response to the growing interest that companies are showing in open-source software. It is partly based on research conducted by analyst firms, which Microsoft cites as evidence of its independence and accuracy. But the accuracy of Get The Facts has been challenged by some in the IT industry.

One key part of the campaign is the claim that Windows is more secure than open-source alternatives because Microsoft fixes vulnerabilities quicker than Linux vendors. This is based on a report carried out by analyst group Forrester, Is Linux more secure than Windows?. It stated that Microsoft had the lowest elapsed time between the disclosure of a vulnerability and the release of a fix.

"They found that Microsoft addressed all of the 128 publicly disclosed security flaws in Windows over the 12-month period studied, and that its security updates predated major outbreaks by an average of 305 days," wrote Ballmer.

But Linux vendors have repeatedly attacked the validity of this report.

Back in April, Debian, Red Hat, SuSE and Mandrakesoft all insisted that the study had little "real world value" because it does not help customers assess the "practical issues of how quickly serious issues get fixed".

Earlier this summer, Mark Cox of Red Hat security response team told ZDNet UK that his firm had worked closely with Forrester, and that these findings were flawed because the analyst group had just taken a simple average of the data.

"An average is not representative. Red Hat fixes issues which other operating systems wouldn't fix, such as temporary file vulnerabilities," said Cox, adding that the report also failed to take into account the severity of the issues.

"A vulnerability which could allow a remote attack on Windows was considered in the same light as a file vulnerability on Linux which makes the system slow down," said Cox.

A report published last week on IT news site The Register also appeared to shoot holes in Microsoft's claims over security. It claimed that Microsoft's argument is based largely on faulty reasoning and overly narrow statistical analysis, focusing on metrics that showed Microsoft in a good light.

Duval also has concerns about Microsoft's claims on security.

"Microsoft keeps on repeating always the same arguments, while an incredible number of sysadmins consider Windows security as a nightmare. For instance, when there is a security alert under Mandrakelinux, we can react in less than 24 hours and provide an updated package that fixes the issue. Is it the same for Microsoft?"

Topic: Operating Systems

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  • Microsoft is simply doing what it does best: marketing by means of FUD, third-party trashing and lock-in.

    Here's an open letter that sums it up somewhat:

    Quote: "And it seems to me that it would be very easy for customers to look at those two stats and conclude that Microsoft is not only causing the problem but is also unwilling to try to fix it, and while that all might be well and good for Microsoft, it sure stinks for me the customer.
    Unless, that is, I'm willing to buy 100% Microsoft products. But reality shows us that very, very few companies are willing to do that."

    I don't think you'll find that on Microsoft's 'Get the Facts' website. But it's reality nonetheless. As are hundreds more examples (this month alone) I was able to google up in my free time. But it seems that Microsoft has choosen not to include those in their own findings. After all, Mister Ballmer is more a salesman then a fact finder.
  • >"As organizations increasingly rely on IT to perform mission-critical functions, and with complexity a growing challenge, choosing the right computing platform for the long term can make the difference between profit and loss, and between future success and failure," wrote Ballmer.<

    Mr Ballmer, I Couldn't agree more with that statement ! Especially when working with a collection of windows PC's running a mission-critical function for days on end. We unfortunatly took the windows route and after a week of processing and about 40% through the process a damn virus was automatically executed by one of your darn applications (explorer) which prompty took down the entire network of machines and lost all the work !.

    The new system which is to go live in around 3 months is 100% Linux. Somehow I don't expect it to fall flat on it's face!!

    So Mr Balmer people should look into choosing the correct computing platform when running mission critical processes !

    Anonymous (Because I know how Mr Balmer likes to go into companies and convince management with cheaper licences etc...)
  • My colleague just spent 4 hours trying to get his Windows box working on the network after installing the latest patches. He had no joy and had to uninstall them. He also had to reinstall Windows 2 weeks after purchasing the new computer.

    I develop on a Linux box and have never had a problem.

    Try telling us Windows has a lower TCO!
  • When MS refers to 'facts' the clearly mean 'MSfacts' (TM). It's not MS's fault if people confuse 'MSfacts' (TM) with 'facts'...

    Seriously though, I think this sort of thing shows that MS is really taking the Linux 'threat' seriously, which helps to give it extra credibility. E.g. Ask your PHB** this telling question - "Why is MS spending all this time and effort on attacking Linux if it's not a serious option?"

    **PHB = Pointy Headed Boss a la Dilbert
  • I think this rather lengthy story tells enough:
  • Ballmer is just blowing smoke. Check out hosting by The basic linux hosting package is $4.99/mo; MS Windows hosting with the same features is $6.99/mo. I wrote to 1and1 asking them why Windows is more expensive. They told me Linux is overall cheaper in terms of licensing and maintainence costs.
  • Indemnification?

    From the XP EULA:

    the maximum extent permitted by applicable law, in no event shall
    Manufacturer or its suppliers be liable for any damages
    whatsoever (including without limitation, special, incidental,
    consequential, or indirect damages for personal injury, loss of
    business profits, business interruption, loss of business
    information, or any other pecuniary loss) arising out of the use
    of or inability to use this product, even if Manufacturer has
    been advised of the possibility of such damages. In any case,
    Manufacturer's and its suppliers' entire liability under any
    provision of this agreement shall be limited to the amount
    actually paid by you for the SOFTWARE and/or Microsoft hardware.
    Because some states/jurisdictions do not allow the exclusion or
    limitation of liability for consequential or incidental damages,
    the above limitation may not apply to you.
  • It's time to rephrase that old saying to be ....

    "Lies, damn lies and Microsoft sponsored studies."