Microsoft proposes open source alliance

'Independent' and 'fact-based' research would be the order of the day, with both sides sharing the costs, if the OSDL accepts the proposal from Redmond

Microsoft has approached the Open Source Development Labs (OSDL), home of Linus Torvalds, to propose working together on a Windows vs Linux analysis.

Redmond is hoping to woo the open source organisation into conducting what it calls "independent" and "fact-based" research.

Microsoft has said it will pay half of the necessary funding for the research and, should the OSDL take up its offer, Microsoft is expecting the open source group to pay the remaining half.

According to Microsoft, the invitation was made to the head of the OSDL, Stuart Cohen, by Microsoft's general manager of platform strategy, Martin Taylor, and comes in response to demand from Microsoft customers for third-party research on how the competing operating systems perform against each other.

Martin Taylor said such analysis would be a boon to IT buyers when evaluating the merits of the two operating systems.

"Customers have asked me for analysis on Linux. While we have done some research in our Linux and open source lab, there's not yet any substantial, fact-based research out there on Linux to help customers make value-based IT decisions.

"At the end of the day, I want customers to have the tools they need to evaluate technology on its merit versus on hype and emotion. It helps all of us build better products and respond to customer needs more effectively," he said in a statement.

Microsoft has already made attempts to satisfy such demand with its 'Get the Facts' campaign. The campaign came in for criticism for its extensive use of Microsoft-sponsored analyst reports, which largely showed Microsoft to be cheaper than Linux. It also drew fire from the Advertising Standards Authority over claims relating to a comparison of the cost of Windows and a Linux server.

The OSDL has not yet responded to the offer, a Microsoft spokesman said.