Microsoft kills its 'Get the Facts' anti-Linux site

On August 23, Microsoft pulled plug on the "Get the Facts" site, replacing it with a new Windows Server "Compare" site. Why did Microsoft make this move now? And is Compare anything more than "Get the Facts" in sheep's clothing?
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

It was a long time in coming. But Microsoft has finally acknowledged that its anti-Linux site had gone past the point of usefulness.

On August 23, Microsoft pulled plug on the "Get the Facts" site, replacing it with a new Windows Server "Compare" site.

The goal of the site is to offer more in-depth information and customer-to-customer opinions about many of the issues IT administrators face," a company spokeswoman said. "It turns out people wanted 3rd party validation in addition to people's experiences making OS purchasing decisions so in addition to customer case studies, research reports that compare platforms the site will also offer guidance around best practices, web casts, etc."

Get the Facts had a long and controversial role in Microsoft's battle against open-source software vendors. Recently, it came to light that Microsoft tried to influence some of the analysts it hired to perform studies in 2002 comparing Windows and Linux to portray Microsoft offerings in a more favorable light. Microsoft's whole policy of sponsoring analysts to conduct studies comparing its products to open-source ones -- which many company observers believed would naturally show Microsoft products and strategies to be superior -- had been a bone of contention since the site launched at the start of this decade.

Why did Microsoft finally do away with "Get the Facts"? Not surprisingly, there are no talking points available on that one.Maybe its open-source partners (Novell, Linspire, Xandros, SugarCRM, XenSource, etc.) asked Microsoft to stop fanning the flames. Although there is a "Compare Windows to Linux" tab on the new Compare site, nearly all the material there is targeted specifically at Red Hat -- one of the Linux distributors that is continuing to refuse to sign a patent-protection agreement with Microsoft.

Or perhaps Microsoft agreed to do away with the site in order to regain ground it has lost with the open-source community around its patent-saber rattling? Or to win more friends in its quest to gain Open Source Initiative (OSI) approval for its Shared Source licenses?

It was a little tough to figure out from Microsoft's press statement issued on August 23 that "Get the Facts" was a goner. I heard earlier this year that Microsoft intended to kill off the Get the Facts site. But Microsoft told me, at that time, I should get my facts straight, and that there was no intent to do away with the site.

When I for an official response today, I received the following statement, attributable to Ryan Gavin, director of Platform Strategy:

"Customers have increasingly asked for not only credible 3rd party information from other customers and industry experts, but also for Microsoft's perspective on platform decisions as a key technology partner. Customers want to consume this information in a variety of formats - from short Q&A to more in-depth business cases - from videos and podcasts to research reports. Compare was designed with these requirements in mind - to provide in-depth information about how Windows, Linux, UNIX and Mainframe stack up along key attributes. Given that the /compare site will provide 3rd party information, Get the Facts will be retired as a destination."

So far, the new Compare site looks like it is little more than "Get the Facts" the sequel. I've asked Microsoft whether the company intends to continue to sponsor third-party research studies to use as ammunition on the new site. So far, no word back.

"Microsoft will have some studies that were published on Get The Facts available on the /compare site and it may commission 3rd party research if customers ask for it and there is a need for more information not currently available in existing research," a Microsoft spokeswoman said.

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