War of words greets Microsoft's UK anti-Linux campaign

War of words greets Microsoft's UK anti-Linux campaign

Summary: Microsoft is about to launch an anti-Linux advertising blitz. While the software giant says research shows that its operating system is actually cheaper, Linux companies say the campaign simply proves how good the open-source operating system is


Microsoft will launch a marketing campaign against Linux in the UK on Monday, aiming to convince companies thinking about moving to the open-source operating system that Windows is a cheaper option in the long run; but Linux vendors say Microsoft's campaign validates Linux as a serious competitor.

As part of its multi-million dollar "Get The Facts" advertising campaign, which was launched in the US earlier this month, Microsoft will direct users to visit a section on its Web site containing reports that were carried out by independent analysts. However, all the research was either carried out on behalf of, or commissioned by, software giant.

Red Hat spokeswoman Leigh Day told ZDNet UK that the company uses customer references rather than reports that examine "specific situations" to demonstrate financial savings: "We're not giving too much credence to this ad campaign. Our customers have heard from other references the intrinsic values of open source. This is giving Linux validation as an ideal alternative to proprietary providers," she said.

Jasmin Ul-Haque, director of marketing communications at SuSE Linux, agreed that Microsoft must be worried to be attacking Linux in this way and called for an "impartial" study: "You don't attack something unless you have some sort of concern abut it. We would request more even-handed research," she said.

But Nick McGrath, head of platform strategy at Microsoft UK, said the reports are unbiased and "reflective of market conditions". According to McGrath: "The results of each of the studies we commission can go either way. The analyst reports commissioned by Microsoft have been transparent in the scope of their methodology and assertions."

The advertising campaign is the first from Microsoft to take on Linux directly, analysts say, and it illustrates the company's effort to protect its interests, such as growing revenue from server system sales. Microsoft faces a potential decline in new customers if businesses are lured by Linux's lower-cost licensing fees compared with its own, which are in the hundreds of dollars.

"Microsoft is counting on picking up businesses migrating from Unix [to another operating system] for its next two years of growth in that area, and Linux is somewhat throwing a wrench in that plan," said Rob Helm, director of research at Directions on Microsoft, a research firm that tracks the software giant's business strategy. "This is squarely aimed at companies considering Linux on servers."

SuSE's Ul-Haque said that if customers want to migrate from Unix, Linux is the natural choice because there will be less of a learning curve: "When migrating from Unix to Linux, customers already have the skills in-house," she added.

CNET News.com’s Stefanie Olsen contributed to this report

Topic: Operating Systems

Munir Kotadia

About Munir Kotadia

Munir first became involved with online publishing in 1998 when he joined ZDNet UK and later moved into print publishing as Chief Reporter for IT Week, part of ZDNet UK, a weekly trade newspaper targeted at Enterprise IT managers. He later moved back into online publishing as Senior News Reporter for ZDNet UK.

Munir was recognised as Australia's Best Technology Columnist at the 5th Annual Sun Microsystems IT Journalism Awards 2007. In the previous year he was named Best News Journalist at the Consensus IT Writers Awards.

He no longer uses his Commodore 64.

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  • All the "research" done was sponored by Microsoft, ofcourse its going to say Microsoft is cheaper, have you ever heard of sponored research not coming out in favor of the sponsor? regardless of whether it is done by a supposably "independant" body.

    If the body carrying out the research is paid by one of the companies being researched then in what way can it be called independant research?

    Looking at the "research" it seems to be very specific to criteria which would benefit Microsoft (i.e. having untrained admins doing a job which obviously should be done by a properly trained professional regardless of the OS) and not comparing like with like at all.

    This really needs to be reported to the Advertising Standards Authority because it is conveying very false information which many non IT-competent managers are going to take as fact.
  • Complain to the Advertising Standards Authority about this, UK! We have no comparable outfit in the US, so an unscrupulous advertiser like Micro$haft can repeatedly get away with gross distortions of reality.

    This is just a new front in Micro$lug's anti-competitive FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt) Campaign, which has been waged - ruthlessly - since the early '90's.

    Aside from the obvious implications of M$'s sponsorship of these studies, an even cursory look at the "facts" as presented show a deliberate and quite bizarre skewing of research parameters. Comparing the RAW TCO for Win on ONE INTEL BOX versus only ONE IMAGE of Linux running on TWO MAINFRAMES is obscene.

    Beyond the obvious issues of TCO vs. superior availability, or that THOUSANDS of Linux images can be run on a mainframe, it's astonishing they think they can get away with this kaka without further sullying the by-now hideous reputation of M$!

    Being a predatory monopolist means never having to say you're soirry!
  • Microsoft are lying.

    The author of the report that Microsoft mentions, Dan Kusnetzky, has made it clear that this report that Microsoft commissioned (and paid for) was designed to show Linux in a less than favourable light. The following appeared in a recent BusinessWeek article:

    Yet even this tactic seems to be backfiring. One of the study's authors accuses Microsoft of stacking the deck. IDC analyst Dan Kusnetzky says the company selected scenarios that would inevitably be more costly using Linux. Also, he believes Windows should be cheaper to operate, since it has been around longer, giving Microsoft more time to develop software to manage the operating system. "Microsoft has had a lot more time to work on this. I wonder why the win wasn't bigger," Kusnetzky says.

    (Source: http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/03_09/b3822610_tc102.htm)
  • Microsoft is afraid of Linux because they lost money on X-Box and MSN. Their server licenses will never go down in price, and their stability will never get better. Most people would pay an equal amount for Linux just because it's more dependable and the software around it is all free. I hope that Microsoft learns that buying people's intrests is wrong and lame. They did it to the world on IE (Spyglass), and obviously haven't learned. If they base it on said "opinions and customer arguements" they have no base for arguement. It is proven that Linux is ceaper, faster, more dependable, and more supportive of devices and the growing needs of everyone's corporate infastructure. Microsoft cannot target Linux in America for the sole fact that Linux has taken over more people and they are already screwed. Microsoft is now declining in value because they "buy people out" by pure force, not money.
  • I agree, complain to the Advertising Standards Authority. They are supposed to act, even on a single compaint. Flood them with complaints.

    On a more personal note, I have been trying out Linux and will be making every effort to move over entirely. However, authoritative people/organisations in the Linux community must now concentrate on making Linux much more user friendly including giving programmes and utilities sensible intelligible names.

    I, for one, will not under any circumstances be buying any future bloated and overpriced M$ products, if at all possible. I notice Windows 98 and ME in the shops at prices signicantly higher than when they were first introduced, even though support for them is on the way out.
  • Even given that Microsoft's claims that Windows is cheaper in the long term have some truth, I'd still be concerned with the implications of this.

    Essentially, what this means is that if you want to see these supposed statements, you're going to have to stick with Microsoft for the long term. This assumes that Microsoft will continue in a direction suitable for your needs, and that they will actually be able to deliver products that meet your growing needs over this time.

    As much as a long term plan is nice to have, it's also nice the have the flexibility to grow and move as you need to without having to wonder if the software company you're bound to is capable of meeting your needs.

    To be honest, I don't think Microsoft had got any advantages over the long term. We replaced our Windows NT server with a Linux server four years ago, and the changes have been dramtic. The amount of time I spend maintaining the server has decreased dramatically, patching is easier and the server just works (for out mixed Mac, Linux, Windows desktop environment). Windows XP might have improved over WinNT, but Linux is still meeting out needs and growing with out business.