Microsoft tried to muck with anti-Linux 'facts'

Microsoft tried to muck with anti-Linux 'facts'

Summary: Microsoft's practice of paying analysts to conduct studies showing Windows' superiority over Linux have never sat right with me. It looks like my hunch was right that Microsoft's "Get the Facts" campaign wasn't and isn't all it's cracked up to be

TOPICS: Microsoft

Microsoft's practice of paying analysts to conduct studies showing Windows' superiority over Linux have never sat right with me. It looks like my hunch was right that Microsoft's "Get the Facts" campaign wasn't and isn't all it's cracked up to be.

According to an e-mail message, dated November 1, 2002, that has been entered as evidence in the Iowa consumer antitrust case against Microsoft, some Microsoft executives favored hiding the fact that Microsoft paid International Data Corp. (IDC) for one of the total-cost-of-ownership studies comparing Windows and Linux that the firm conducted at Microsoft's request. (It looks like fear of being outed triumphed, and Microsoft ultimately decided to admit its role in commissioning the IDC TCO and subsequent anti-Linux studies.)

Additionally, according to the e-mail trail, it looks like Microsoft attempted to pressure IDC analysts to tweak the December 2002 study to put Microsoft in a better light.

I haven't been paying close attention to the Iowa case -- mostly because it's focusing on "ancient" history. Many of the e-mail and videotape exhibits from the case -- dating back to the early 1990s -- revisit incidents and evidence surfaced during the Microsoft Department of Justice antitrust trial, which concluded in a settlement in 1994.

But Microsoft's "Get the Facts" campaign is still alive and kicking. Microsoft is using the findings of these studies in current ad campaigns. Microsoft is continuing to pay analysts to conduct studies that it uses in its sales pitches to IT customers.

If Microsoft really is sincere about wanting to support interoperability between Linux and Windows at its customers' behest, maybe it's time to stop touting "facts" that are for sale.

Out of curiosity, are there folks out there who have found the Get the Facts studies useful in their buying decisions? 

Topic: Microsoft


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Get the Facts

    That program has never played any decision in our purchasing.

    We are mostly a Microsoft shop here with a few Linux boxes performing specific roles.

    The Linux boxes (the few we have) need rebooting far less often and require less daily attention than our Windows 2003 servers.

    We have a Linux box running postfix, Amavisd with Spamassassin as our e-mail gateway. Out of all of the servers we have it is worked the hardest. It has had one reboot since it was isntalled. This was do to an extended power outage which drained the UPS batteries.

    On the other hand, all of the Windows 2003 servers have had system processes crashes. Which wouldn't have been so annoying if they processes could have been restarted. Most of the time they would just error out unless the server was rebooted. The worst offenders have been Microsoft's own processes and not the 3rd party ones (the DNS service has been the worst).

    The short version of my story is I would trust Linux to work away without much supervision. I would not trust my Windows machines without constant monitoring.

    I will say that Microsoft Windows is becoming more stable with each new version.
    • Postfix, and Windows DNS

      I had a OpenBSD/postfix/SA/Amavisd box that was in service for 2.5 years and ran at 80% load 24x7 and in those 2.5 years I never had to reboot it once.

      As for your troubles with Microsoft DNS, and other system processes, I haven't experienced that.
      • I did...

        "troubles with Microsoft DNS".

        The damned things would just randomly decide not to forward lookups it couldn't handle. Apparently there was a glitch in a printer driver, no kidding, which would cause the master to remove the forwarding and it would tell the slave to do the same. This was years ago so they've probably fixed it. Nothing like getting a call at 2am to go into work, they were on a DoD classified network and for some odd reason they wouldn't let me set it up so I could dialin from home fix it! :-)
      • i have had major win dns reliablity issues in the past

        sure it was 5 years back, but windows DNS was so bad and flaky that it was unusable. We used a third party windns program for a few months then we also switched to a bsd box for dns and it has been a rock so we've never looked back.

        We also use apache/linux for all web hosting now, except the applications, as the performance and stability far outperformed the IIS/Win boxes.

        Almost all of our desktops are win based though.
        What business users are familiar with.

        Everything has its strengths and weaknesses.
    • speaking of the facts.....

      are you sure you have dns setup correctly on your windows servers? The reason I ask is we've never had a hint of server problems with server 2003. It's ran rock solid on 50 servers now for a long while with no reboots other than security and update related reboots. That's just my experience....and the hospital has been especially pleased with the low cost of administration (they do not have a paid system admin) as IT generalists have been able to navigate AD and GP and we find these tools are extremely powerful and flexible. Easy to use, drag and drop interface for managing users and groups and computers in the AD interface and group policy is a bit harder but far from rocket science. I esp. like the ability to construct additional directories ADAM, for use with writing applications requiring authentication of external users. It's just a perfect, pre-made structure to plug into an app and provides many many other benefits outside of authentication.
      Oh well....just my experience. (also the hospital uses a large enterprise system that is healthcare specific and runs on top of windows. There are annual gatherings of user community etc. and I've personally heard good feedback about windows from a large number of all MS sites around the world. I'm simply presenting my experiences and not trying to say windows server is perfect)
  • Lambs to the slotter
    • Why would you want to slot your lambs? (nt)

      • 2 words; Lamb Chops!!! MMMMMMM Good! (NT)

        Spoon Jabber
        • Word Count

          That's three words,,,even if we don;t count the "MMM" bits. ;-)
    • Yeah, Harris Interactive, AKA Microsoft FUD meister

      They surveyed 7,886 Americans. 5,953 of which were from Redmond/Seattle area I am sure. Is it any wonder MS is on top ;-)
    • Lambs to the slotter(sic)

      Your mean Lambs to the slaughter...jeez get a dictionary.
  • Get your own facts

    Anyone trusting paid research companies to decide the future of their IT infrastructure deserves what they get. Conventional wisdom is almost always wrong, but it does make nice reading on an in-flight magazine.

    You can run most offices on Linux if you want to and 99.8% if you add some Apple machines to the mix. You don't have to take the abuse unless you enjoy it.
    • One problem

      "Conventional wisdom is almost always wrong..."

      Gotta disagree on that one. Certainly sometimes...maybe even not infrequently. But "almost always"? There's a reason it is "conventional wisdom" and that's because it has stood the test of time. Now if we're narrowing the scope to technology decisions, then definitely we're talking about a set of criteria that is changing quickly enough such that "old thought" is much less relevant to the decision...but if we're talking about a broader life-based context...I daresay "conventional wisdom" is much safer than many of the newer philosophies. Take a look back at the ancient philosophers and see how they were trying to answer many of the same "meaning of life" type questions we still grapple with...and how Shakespeare can give us much illumination on politics, relationships, etc. Many of these things are the same issues that have been faced and pondered for all time, and whether we drive cars now vs. riding horses doesn't affect the nature of the problem nor its best solution.
      • To be or not to be.......That is the question

        Do you be?
        Have you been?
        Ole Man
  • I've always found it hard to believe as well...

    I've always doubted MS's spin on anti-Linux 'facts'. And all those ads that pop up around the net that push "choosing MS server over linux = more stability". I wrote about it on my blog:

    I dunno I've just been annoyed with that lately, and honestly haven't seen one shred of evidence to make me want to actually run a production stable server. Linux does it all fine, and without stupid licensing hoops to jump through.
  • Do Microsoft lie about their competitors? yes!

    In the US there don't appear to be any restrictions on the unadulterated bullshine a cash-heavy corporation like Microsoft can dish up. Their "Get the facts" campaign had to be pulled in the UK because it was deliberately dishonest, following complaints to the ASA, the Advertising Standards Association.

    Microsoft are about Microsoft, nothing else. Even the end-user has been reduced to a revenue stream to be ruthlessly exploited.

    The British watchdog agency charged with monitoring fairness and accuracy in advertising has ordered Microsoft to pull print ads comparing the total cost of ownership of Linux and Windows.

    The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) this week charged that one of Microsoft's ads was misleading. After investigating three complaints, it ruled that a print ad running the headline "Weighing the cost of Linux vs. Windows? Let's review the facts" wasn't, in fact, so factual.
    • How is any other company different??

      MS is about MS. It's called capitalism at any cost. To heck with the competition. Congress does it, the republican and democrats do it, but cash-heavy companies cannot? C'mon, what america do you live in. This is normal behavior of a dog eat dog world. Stop looking for fairness. It does not exist in America. Period.
      • Let's see, based on your post, it is ok to decieve since "all" companies

        do it?? Sorry, there are many companies that hold themselves to a higher standard.
        • Name one.

          Name the company that doesn't use "puffery" in their claims and adds.
          • The Electric Company?

            Spoon Jabber