Microsoft softens its anti-Linux campaign?

Microsoft has ditched its "get the facts" Web site and replaced it with a site asking administrators to "Compare" the differences between Linux and Windows.

Microsoft has ditched its main US "Get The Facts" Web site and replaced it with a site asking admins to "Compare" the differences between Linux and Windows.

Get the Facts aimed to convince IT administrators that Windows Server offered a cheaper and more reliable alternative to open source server products. It proved unpopular with the Linux community, who dubbed it "Get the FUD" (fear, uncertainty and doubt).

The new campaign, backed by a detailed Web site, is still aimed at persuading Linux users to think again and look at Microsoft's operating systems, applications and server products, but it takes a much gentler stance.

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

Compare will still contain much information aimed at persuading users of the value of Microsoft software over Linux, such as this whitepaper from analyst firm IDC, but without any overt anti-Linux message.

Microsoft already has a huge market lead over Linux, which has led industry observers to say that the company is stifling the development of open source software. Earlier this month, Michael Warrilow from analyst firm Hydrasight said: "There's just too much of an installed base and experience around Windows, regardless of whether you think it's a good operating system or not".

Microsoft may be concerned about pushing out the competition completely, given that it has faced a succession of run-ins with the European Commission on antitrust charges. The Commission's next Microsoft ruling is set for 17 September.

For the time being, users can still get a flavour of the old message from Microsoft Australia.

ZDNet UK's Colin Barker reported from London.