September 15, 2004 5:45 PM PDT

Microsoft to take direct shots at Linux rivals

Microsoft is refining its "Get the Facts" Linux attack, taking specific aim at Red Hat, Novell and IBM rather than the broader movement around the open-source operating system.

The new phase tactic is based on the fact that the vast majority of Linux users buy their software from a company rather than downloading and assembling freely available products on their own, Martin Taylor, general manager of Microsoft's platform strategy, said in an interview Wednesday. For the effort, Microsoft will compare its own products with those of its competitors--for example, Red Hat's application server software for running Java software.

"It's less about Linux and more about Red Hat, Novell and IBM," Taylor said.

Taylor is Microsoft's top executive in charge of responding to the Linux and open-source threat, which in many cases has displaced Microsoft as the assumed heir to the Unix throne. The cooperative programming model, with freely shared intellectual property, flies in the face of Microsoft's proprietary approach, which closely guards source code.

"We've got to figure out the coolness factor a little bit."
--Martin Taylor, Microsoft's
official Linux fighter,
on open-source hipness

Taylor's methods include funding analyst firm studies, launching a "Get the Facts" advertising campaign and discouraging Microsoft executives from making any more inflammatory comments that open-source software is a "cancer" or "un-American." Taylor meets with customers worldwide and has begun expanding the Microsoft attack to Europe.

Taylor said he expects that targeting Linux sellers such as Red Hat and Novell will be persuasive to software customers. However, he said Microsoft recognizes that it will have to use different tactics for capturing the interest of students and programmers, where the philosophical appeal of open-source software can rival pragmatic considerations.

"We've got to figure out the coolness factor a little bit," Taylor said of Microsoft's efforts to build student involvement. So far, Microsoft's response has been to try to shape curriculum and engage student interest with programming contests such as Imagine Cup.

Being "first to cool" is an official corporate priority, along with being first to market and first to make a lot of money, according to a July speech by Chief Executive Steve Ballmer.

Microsoft is also gathering ammunition by working to dispel its own Linux ignorance--for example, by hiring Linux experts such as Bill Hilf, who built eToys' Web site on Linux and promoted Linux for IBM. Hilf joined Microsoft in January, Taylor said.

"Our guys have not had that line of sight. Our developer guys knew a lot about our stuff," but for Linux and open-source expertise, Microsoft's staff had to start from scratch or rely on third-party consultants, he said.

As a result, Microsoft now has a better idea of what Linux has and what Redmond needs for the high-performance computing edition of Windows, Taylor said.

As open-source software projects have grown from hobbies to widely used products, companies such as Red Hat, MySQL and Zend have arrived to support them. Taylor predicted those companies will gradually grow more remote from the free-form open-source programming community as they fulfill commercial requirements such as testing to ensure that updates don't break existing software.

"What we're beginning to see is you can only be 16 for a year, then after that you have to deal with some aging issues," he said.

Microsoft's campaign has argued that the total cost of ownership (TCO) and security of Microsoft products beats out Linux. Taylor said that Microsoft probably has made more headway with customers on the first of the two subjects.

"It's going to be a while before customers say Microsoft has an advantage for security, probably because of the pain they have felt over the past year," Taylor said. "I feel better about TCO than I do about security."

CNET News.com's Ina Fried contributed to this report.

26 comments

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Bill Gate$ Cool?
Can I laugh now? Bill Gates cool as the Chief Software Architect? Excuse me but MS was built not upon coding written by Bill Gates but a guy in Tukwilla Washington for about 50k his mom and dad gave to him to start his business.

His real expertise was to convince IBM to use (Mr. Gates out sourced the 80s a local contractor today now found in India the famous MS-DOS) on their massed produced computers. So was the true birth of Microsoft if people including reporters really checked the facts out side of market spin.

Anyway I simply am laughing MS being cool. Like you see Bill giving to anything other then money to any community. Nope not a thing of the man just his money to non profits and press releases from Microsoft to the media.

Cool is understanding youth not about profit when the very keyboard I type this on many young people think Microsoft invented. Word processing is in and of its self prior art by the printed word on crude presses. Yet today MS has reserved the right to sue any company in the settlement with Sun System the right to sue any company that may use Open Office. Cool?, I do not think so Microsoft all your work is based upon nothing more then a version of Word on a type writer brought about by a printing press and people that used to make a living on the bosses bad grammar in words. Software is nothing more then a commodity now Microsoft is the ford of the birth of the auto industry everything to all people as long as it was in black. Only thing is people are of difference and the world is in color.

I can sleep well tonight, I like to laugh dreams of what a cool Microsoft a Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer look like young not cool then not cool now. Im 51 and even at 40 something they are not cool to me! I just keep a small business network ½ converted to Red Hat this far. Bad enough I have to update the OS but the cost of supporting programs bleeds my compny.
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Get the facts about MS
FINALLY a commentary about Citizen Gates that is painfully the
TRUTH. Microsoft "tricked" a local developer out of his version of
DOS as an "add-on software" to Microsoft's plan for the future of
micro computers. Everything that M$ is built on has been stolen
or is a lie!
Citizen Gates swindled DOS for 50K & no stock options after he
had already SOLD it to IBM. MS then stole the GUI that Apple
PURCHASED from PARC with Apple Stock since Xerox / IBM / HP
didn't see anything of value with a mouse & point / click basic
interface from PARC.
MS would still be a blip on the rader & typing green DOS codes
on a tiny black screen if it was not for Apple's vision of the
possibilities of the PARC / Apple / Mac GUI.
Having a lawyer as a father, Citizen Gates knew that a GUI could
not be copyrighted at that time period. He swindled Apple in
developing basic MS Office programs for the MAC FIRST instead
of IBM, then stole their coding to develop "WINDOWS" NOW
NOBODY can even use the term "LINDOWS" without the MS
brown boots kicking their company to the curb, even MS argued
with Apple in court that "Windows" was a generic computing
terminology. They finally admitted that they "sampled" the GUI &
paid Apple millions to "save" Apple from collapsing as a way to
appease the DOJ.
Stole DOS / Stole MAC GUI / Stole the mouse, point & click, copy
& paste / created Word to pollute the envirionment of offices &
cause confusion with Word Perfect / Spent millions on TV
propoganda to fool the masses into thinking that THEY invented
all of the Personal Computing World / waited until the last
moment to finally get into the Internet then gave IE away to steal
it from Netscape, etc / corrupted the free & open Internet with
web sites that ONLY use IE / planned secret backroom deals with
MS WINOS on computers & royalties for every PC sold even
without Windows / illegally leveraged the monopoly to kill the
competition & by other computer developers & manufacturers.

CAN YOU HEAR THAT? It's the sound of cages rattling in
Redmond... MAN are they getting nervous that the lemmings are
finally seeing the light & "experimenting" with Open Source /
Linux / Unix / Mac OS X Darwin / Java / etc.

Longhorn is comming up short & MS is scrambling to keep their
illegal monopoly in place. The WMD is the virus filled weak
security based MSOS that is running amuck & damaging millions
of businesses around the world.
Homeland Security should BAN MS OS / IE / Outlook from aiding
& abeiting the worldwide terrorists with non secure software that
is on millions of businesses & THE GOVERNMENT / MILITARY
computers.

MS-OS cheaper than Linux / Unix?
NOT if you include all the tech support people & security
software architects you have to pay to keep you running a
business, not including all the millions being lost because of
"computing malfunction-blue screen of death-virus warnings &
updates..." PUHLEESE.

Michael Moore should do a new documentary on Citizen Gates &
MSnopoly...

-Eyes wide open in Seattle-
Posted by (71 comments )
Link Flag
Finally,back to basics
I'm glad to hear MS is doing what they do best, tackling the businesses instead of individual developers in the competitive arena. I am a big Linux fan, and have been miffed about various cheap shots being made by the company, but have no qualms against a corporate race. May the best platform prevail.
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
May the best platform prevail? Since when?
Distant memories of the 70's and Sony's BetaMAX VCR my family
had one, it was A M A Z I N G. Tack sharp and crystal clear with
great reproductions onto another BetaMAX and it's now a niche
PRO product. Apple has gone through a similar dilemma
throughout it's entire history. I lothe MS for all it's wrath on the
technology landscape. I'd like to see a movie done About what
the world would be like without Microsoft. The Money MS has
made would no doubt be distributed among many more
companies and shareholders. More competition and an earlier
Linux-like open source at the start of the Personal Computer
from an early group of folks in California where Bill
stormed in and crashed the party with his declaration of
Proprietary Software. I predict a surge from their perforated
Media Center YES more sales to lemmings who believe the TV is
for the Net. That makes me laugh. Linux is FAR better on all
levels...
Posted by Clive Appleby (2 comments )
Link Flag
If they want to compete, that's fine...
as long as they don't fall into their usual pattern of using "Facts" of questionable veracity or comparisons which are totally stupid (like PCs running Windows having a TCO less than a particularly unlikely configuration of IBM mainframes running Linux -- no business is going to buy a whole mainframe to run only one instance of Linux....the value proposition is in server consolidation).
Posted by rdean (119 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I agree
Ive been seeing these "Windows is cheaper" ads all over the place and I have yet to see one that doesnt manipulate the facts to prove their stance on the matter.

For example: Servers running Windows have a lower TCO than Linux (fine print: Linux cost found based on costs accrued during migration from Windows to Linux).

Well duh yeah its cheaper to keep using Windows than to migrate from Windows to Linux. Its also much cheaper to keep using Linux than it is to migrate to Windows.

Another example: In the first 90 days after release of the latest version of Linux, 4 times the patches were issued than in the first 90 days of Windows 2003 Server.

Well duh yeah theyre going to find the majority of the bugs in Linux in the first 90 days since everyone and their brother is searching the source for flaws, but very few are found after that. With Windows 2003 server theyre still going to be finding the bugs 10 years from now because the only way to find them is to stumble across them and hope the finder reports it before they start exploiting it.

You tell me which is more secure. 40 patches in the first 90 days and 20 more over the next 10 years or 10 patches in the first 90 days and 1000 over the next 10 years?

If the spin doctors at MS were any more obvious they would be wearing neon signs.
Posted by Fray9 (547 comments )
Link Flag
Attacking rivals vs attacking Linux
I think their attacking rivals is a far better strategy and gives them a measureable target. It is very difficult for them to go head to head against anonymous downloads and custom compiled kernels. With this new focus, they can easily obtain numbers information about platforms a given competitor has sold, and contracts they have won. They also gain moer bargaining power in dealing directly with some of these companies with interoperability and licensing.

Attacking the Linux platform was putting Microsoft in a precarious position of attacking their former customers and potential future customers, simply because Microsoft could not see their customers own needs. I find it a bit funny that they are finally trying to "figure out Linux", long after they've been engaged in a protracted war with the Operating System. Linux users and companies developing for Linux have had Windows and Microsoft figured out for a long time.

All in all Microsoft is taking the right stance to deal with the Linux threat to their dominance on the desktop and server markets.
Posted by zaz.net (46 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Pshaw!
Windows users claim Windows is the ultimate OS only to find
that Microsoft spends more energy spiting the competition or
copying the competition.

If Microsoft could actually harness all their negative energies in
OS development then 64-bit Longhorn may have been
commercially released already.

Maybe all the dust Microsoft eats is giving it indigestion.
Posted by (55 comments )
Link Flag
Redmond, start your copiers
So, they have hired Linux experts...

Looks like another copy and stealing round to me...
Posted by Steven N (487 comments )
Reply Link Flag
correction
I think you have it backwards...
Linux is the system accused of containing copied (stolen) code, not Windows.
Posted by David Arbogast (1709 comments )
Link Flag
M$ problem is
they've forgotten their customers and are only concerned with distroying any possible threat to their kingdom. XP and Linux are both more bad than they are good in terms of the amount of work both products need (all of you who have seen the TRUE religion should really take a pill (cyanide comes to mind))
Posted by mpotter28 (130 comments )
Reply Link Flag
last comment
I love the way the title in the comment showed up. Bill your problem is me and I do accept donations to go away. Hope the cheque is a large one
Posted by mpotter28 (130 comments )
Link Flag
Microsoft uses linux
Facts and sources show from microsoft that 60% of there windows update servers run on top of linux. Other sources from microsoft also stated that windows 2000 and above use the unix kernal.

- Network Engineer
BScott@Brainscott.com
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
This begs the question, Brian.
If Windows is Unix-centric, as you suggest, how come Windows
is so full of holes and OS X so robust?

Gee, it must be the capacity of programmers to develop a
functional and secure OS and not the specific programming
language that makes the difference.

Thank you, Brian, you have further convinced me that Microsoft
couldn't program itself out of wet paper bag.
Posted by (55 comments )
Link Flag
95 threatened by 5?
To give Citizen Gates & M$ credence in the fact thet they should
"allowed to compete" fairly is such a load of MSBS.

They have leveraged their illegal monopoly to dominate 95
percent of the WORLD"S PCs. Ther REMAINING 5 PERCENT
includes Linux / Unix / Mac OS X Darwin Unix / Sun / Java /
PalmOS. OOOOOOO that's a threat to the big bad Bill?

Then, it's JUSTIFIED that they can continue to "compete" just
because of their own insecurity & their own "perceived" threats?

God forbid that the rest of the world that they have not
dominated or crushed into dust under their brown boots should
have the audacity to choos on their own free will ANOTHER OS
for their PERSONAL computer system of choice?

95% is not enough? Billions is not enough? If you don not
dominate 100% you have the right to "compete" because of the
threats of the 5%?

WAKE UP PEOPLE! Enough is enough. MS = Meglamania.

-Eyes wide open in Seattle -
Posted by (71 comments )
Reply Link Flag
MS is running scared.
Apple will release Tiger in 2005 which will be the first 64-bit OS.

Longhorn is emasculated if not extinct, IE is dangerous, and XP
is bleeding to death.

MS has to be worried, because it has failed to produce anything
of substantial security and functionality in years. Consumers
demand more than Service Packs, excuses, and press releases
for vaporware. Hope may spring eternal, but most folks aren't
willing to wait that long.
Posted by (55 comments )
Link Flag
Understatement of the Year
> "It's going to be a while before customers
> say Microsoft has an advantage for security,
> probably because of the pain they have
> felt over the past year," Taylor said.

One wonders how much they pay this guy to make insightful comments like this. Though who is he kidding. Over the past year. I, and most of serious IT people I know gave up on Microsoft security long before Code Red. And that was in 2001. Yes Mr. Taylor. It will be a while. Check back when Windows 2020 comes around. Maybe then I will be old and senile enough to trust Microsoft security again.
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Get the Facts AKA fiction.
Not that the facts are wrong, just that the basis is not the same. I order to compare TCO you must consider the same platform and level of expertise of the testers in the test. The last time I looked at it they were comparing a PC to a Z90? How come they did not account for the cost of training the MSperts?

Because, the TCO would have been much higher.. for MS. Ouch!

The old saying still holds, "Figures Dont Lie & But Liars Figure!"
Posted by jsh123 (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
cool?
microsoft is about as uncool as you can get in computing
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
"Philosophy" vs "pragmatic concerns"
the philsophical aspects *are* pragmatic concerns

They result in be having more, and better, control over my system.

They protect me from vendor lock-in. And thus protect me from price-gouging and from forced upgrading.

They give me flexability in deployment and maintenance, as well as development.

They allow me to know what short-comings (bugs, security holes) exist on my system *when* they are discovered, not merely when the vendor deigns to admit there's a problem.

They let me fix -- or get someone to fix for me -- any such problems promptly, and not be forced to wait until the vendor releases a patch (usually only some time after the previously referred to admission), or worse, until said vendor is prepared to *sell* me the next version.

This also prevents various parties from mutually sloughing off problems by blaming each other's software, which helps me get it dealt with expeditiously.

They give me the ability to rely on reasonable compatability being maintained both within and between software solutions. If something doesn't work out I can replace it without having to tear down and rebuild the entire works. I can use a newer version, a different program, whatever.

They let me get on with my work, without fear that some para-police unit will descend on my business and blackmail me into outrageous penelty payments and not-so-sweet contracts simply because somebody mis-placed or mis-understood one of the confusing deluge of licenses for software I might not even be using. And I don't need to devote extrordinary resources to keeping track of the useless things.

I don't care if it's "cool" (OK, maybe a little).

I just want to use my software. I just want it to work -- reliably. I just want to use it how I want. And I don't wan't to be hassled about it. That's not merely philosophy; that's pragmatism.

Bernard Swiss
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Workable software.
Yeah, I wanted a secure, elegant, functional, and useable OS,
too, so I bought a Mac with OS X. Tiger will be released in 2005.
After 3 months of positive post market surveillance I will buy
Tiger. It sure will be satisfying to have an 64-bit OS before
Microsoft issues Service Pack 5.
Posted by (55 comments )
Link Flag
 

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