Microsoft Reaches Out to OSDL for Open-Source Project

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2005-08-22 Print this article Print

Microsoft has stirred up a controversy in the open-source community by proposing a joint research project with Open Source Development Labs to do some fact-based analysis of Linux and Windows.

Microsoft Corp. has stirred up a controversy in the open-source community by proposing a joint research project with Open Source Development Labs Inc. to do some fact-based analysis of Linux and Windows.

Some Linux and open-source community members have questioned why large Linux vendors have not responded to Microsofts aggressive Get the Facts campaign, which uses mostly Microsoft-sponsored analyst reports to compare and contrast Windows Server with Linux, but the community is unlikely to support any kind of partnership with Microsoft.

Get the Facts architect Martin Taylor, Microsofts general manager of platform strategy, in Redmond, Wash., has proposed a partnership to OSDL CEO Stuart Cohen. Microsoft has also offered to pay half the costs of the project.

The Microsoft proposal is the latest installment in the ongoing war of words between Linux proponents and Microsoft executives and supporters. Both sides have backed up their claims of better return on investment and lower total cost of ownership with research and statistics, but many of those reports have been paid for by Microsoft or one of the Linux vendors.

With Taylors overtures to OSDL, it appears Microsoft is signaling its willingness to move beyond partisan rhetoric, which does little to endear either side to customers.

Asked what Microsofts motives are for suggesting such a move and offering to jointly fund it, Taylor was blunt: "Because I want to know the facts. I want people to see the facts for how they truly are. If we did this, some of the research would be good for us and some of it bad for us, just like all the other studies we do. I think they just help with the dialogue. Success for us isnt that Linux goes away. Success for us is getting past all the hype and emotion and [is when] people choose technology on its merits."

Taylor said that he had been reading an Opinion column in a Linux-focused magazine that identified the need for the open-source community to come up with its own facts-based effort. He said that motivated him to contact Cohen.

Taylor said he sent Cohen, in Beaverton, Ore., an e-mail before the annual LinuxWorld Conference & Expo in San Francisco earlier this month, suggesting the idea of a joint research effort and asking for a meeting. The two met and discussed the idea and how it would work in broad terms, but there was no agreement of any sort, according to Taylor.

Taylor said he suggested to Cohen that the research be conducted by an independent analysis, consulting or business advisory company on a topic that both sides agree will advance the dialogue between the two camps. Taylor said he is hopeful that OSDL will take him up on his offer, but an OSDL spokesperson confirmed only the chain of events and declined to comment on what was discussed.

The proposal is not finding favor among Linux vendors.

"We use real-world customer testimonials instead of lab-created situations to demonstrate the price, performance, scalability and security of Linux," said Red Hat Inc. spokesperson Leigh Day in Raleigh, N.C.

Check out eWEEK.coms for Microsoft and Windows news, views and analysis.

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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