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by Franki

Several times in the past I’ve felt the need to address Microsoft’s questionable tactics with regards to Linux. Those tactics come under the banner of their “Get the Facts” campaign. In it they pay researchers to do studies that show Windows is cheaper then Linux, or is more secure then Linux, or that Windows is the better performer of the two. The main problem is that that you must take any such reports with great gobs of salt and should probably disregard them altogether. Why? Well for one thing, because we only hear about the studies that favour Windows and the ones that don’t were likely shredded immediately. Secondly because much of the paid “research” is based on criteria that is set in such a way as to favour Windows. One such example is the IDC report that claimed Windows had a cheaper TCO then Linux, but IDC (or at least one of the reports authors) later admitted that scenarios were chosen that would inevitably be more expensive to Linux.

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.

The other side of the coin is the money that changes hands. Either the studies are paid for and defined up front, or the study authors are paid when the study is included in the Get the Facts campaign. Since authors know that Microsoft will pay them for any studies included in GtF, and they know that Microsoft will jump at the chance to include any study that “looks reputable” and shows results that favour Windows, we get the end result that we can’t even trust research that isn’t paid for up front by Microsoft any more if it ends up in GtF.

Lastly is the studies that show that it is more expensive to convert from Windows to Linux then it is to stay with Windows. What those reports fail to mention is that more often then not, the reason there can even be a comparison, is because Microsoft have done everything in their power to make sure it is as expensive as possible for people to migrate away from their software. Proprietary formats, proprietary protocols and exclusionary tactics are the reasons that they can even make those sorts of claims with a straight face. Fortunately courts both legal and of public opinion are forcing Microsoft to reduce their exclusionary tactics or face the legal and PR results. That doesn’t stop them from trying as in the case of the EU anti-trust ruling and also their SenderID anti SPAM framework, or in fact their upcoming Open document formats, which aren’t really open. As I said, it doesn’t stop them from trying, it just means that people are more likely to be aware that their often touted claims of embracing interoperability are not worth their weight in bull s**t.

Remember, Microsoft are not running “Get the Facts” to improve Windows, presumably they are doing it to try to stop or limit Linux growth from hurting Windows sales. In other words, it’s an advertising campaign, pure and simple. Do you always believe every Ad you see on TV or in the newspapers? Interestingly even the standards bodies in advertising have had cause to dislike the “Get the Facts” campaign because of it’s obvious misrepresentation of the issues and as a result Microsoft have had to pull at least one of their Ads when a closer look at the comparison they made showed that they were comparing Windows on a cheap dual CPU server to Linux running on two very expensive IBM mainframes. Had they wanted an honest comparison, they’d have compared both Linux and Windows on a dual CPU x86 server. The fact that they didn’t probably indicates that the results were not in their favour when they tried it in private. Which leads back to my first point, that we never see those findings, we only see those that favour Windows.

So in short, “Get the facts”, should read “Get half the facts with an extreme bias favouring Microsoft products.” but then even the IT dense CIOs that “Get the Facts” targets would see that as only advertising, so “Get the Facts” works nicely for Microsoft and the CIOs reading it get to think, and tell board members and shareholders that by reading them they were “researching the issues”. The fact that most of them either aren’t true, aren’t entirely true, or are so narrow in scope as to be useless and are not indicative of anything relevant doesn’t seem to be an issue for them at all.

The inspiration for this latest “Get the Facts” tirade was this excellent article from Joe Barr on Newsforge. Well worth the read, particularly if you were considering basing a business decision on a “study” paid for by Microsoft.

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  Time  in  Don's  part  of the world is:   December 17, 2018, 2:08 am
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