August 25, 2004 9:24 AM PDT

Ad watchdog warns Microsoft to 'Get the Facts'

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A U.K. advertising standards body has warned Microsoft that its 'Get the Facts' ad campaign claiming Linux isn't cheaper than Windows could be misleading.

A print ad from Microsoft which bore the headline "Weighing the cost of Linux vs. Windows? Let's review the facts" offered a comparison between a Windows and a Linux machine, which, according to the software giant, demonstrated that "Linux was found to be over 10 times more expensive than Windows Server...for Windows-comparable functions of file serving and Web serving.

"The results showed that IBM z900 mainframe running Linux is much less capable and vastly more expensive than Windows Server 2003 as a platform for server consolidation," according to the ad.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), however, thought the choice of hardware could have been more appropriate, saying: "The measurements for Linux were performed on an IBM zSeries, which was more expensive and did not perform as well as other IBM Series."

Microsoft said the machines were as comparable as possible--a Linux image on IBM's z900 mainframe CPUs and a Windows Server 2003 image running on two 900MHz Xeon CPUs--and wasn't hardware specific.

The ASA, nevertheless, thought consumers might not see it that way and that the "Windows vs. Linux" stance might lead people into thinking running Microsoft's OS--not the "competing file serving set-ups"--was cheaper than one based on Linux.

The group has asked Microsoft to amend its ads and urged the company to in the future be advised on its campaigns by the Committee of Advertising Practices' Copy Advice Team.

Jo Best of Silicon.com reported from London.

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Microsoft, you better Get The Facts
Actually, I think Linux is much metter than Windows. Why pay thousands of dollars while you can get an powerful Open Source based OS. Microsoft's Software is too expensive and you can't do things that Open Source allows you to do.
Posted by (1 comment )
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Apples with Apples (or Xeons with Xeons!)
Hmmm, either Microsoft doesn't have the technical capacity to get Linux running on a "normal" computer like the one they used for the Windows side of the test, or they are so scared they have to make shockingly silly comparisons and hope nobody notices! Linux running on a great expensive mainframe? Yes, it can do it; it has been ported to many different types of computer that may have advantages in some situations. BUT it also runs really well on exactly the same hardware as Windows. I have programmed computers since 1973; I have used Linux since, well, long ago; I like and recommend the right hardware and O/S for the job, and (as much as I love Linux) I have to admit that MS Windows is slightly faster at _some_ things. Like bringing up blue screens of death :-). And for a while the NT file syetms was faster for writes than the linux file system people normally used (there are many filesystems to choose from, but there is some justification in comparing the system you'd get by taking the default on every question in the installation process).

So Microsoft COULD have come up with a few situations where linux is/was slightly slower. Never worse value, though. We have to stop and wonder *why* they felt they had to risk the "silly" ads. If they make a big fuss saying these parameters are so important, then get creamed when the fair test results become public (and they will get much more publicity because of the ads), then MS is open to huge sales/credibility damage. I do wonder why they did it. I really don't have a sensible answer.

I ran a system with a mixture of Linux and Sun, when some US computer maker was gloating over something like $5000 per workstation Total Cost of Ownership. Ours worked out at $600 per workstation including absolutely everything - hardware, software, wages, overheads based on the fraction of the building used by the system! MTTR, uptimes, ease of training, and absolutely every hidden cost was way better than what the PC users had to suffer. Many people have similar experiences, and those primarily into reliable web serving find Windows so much further behind Linux and its close cousins that Windows looks like one of those olympic athletes getting left further and further behind the leaders. You would think Microsoft would recognise the need for the best spin doctors. Something indeed is wrong with the world when the largest company launches a campaign that is only one step away from suicidal. Next we'll hear MS use OS/2 for their library system!
Posted by (1 comment )
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EU Needs to Back Off
Microsoft's ad claims that Windows is cheaper for file-serving operations...

and the EU claims that people may not realize that Microsoft is talking about file-serving operations?????

The EU seems a bit more abusive every time they deal with Microsoft. Either that... or they are admitting that Europeans are incapable of reading the printed text. Which we know isn't true.
Posted by David Arbogast (1709 comments )
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EU on the right track
I've seen the ad. It's a GROSS example of twisting the facts. Linux on a 900mhz Xeon is entirely capable of operating in a manner equivilant to Windows on the same box. Instead Microsoft chose to compare to a box that can be partitioned into 100 different servers, weighs over a ton, and requires two 60AMP 220v power feeds.
Posted by Ibreakstuff (7 comments )
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but its true
it might be on a crampy piece of hardware, the test results for it on the specified hardware is true fact. of course this is how many ppl exploit others products to make there's look better. Old pratice.
Posted by simcity1976 (136 comments )
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It's definately unequal
It's unequal. You probably can run Linux on two Xeon processors, so why did they use IBM zSeries?
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