Microsoft Exec Slams Linux Noise in E-Mail to Staff

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2004-01-22

Microsoft Exec Slams Linux Noise in E-Mail to Staff

Microsoft Corp. is ratcheting up the rhetoric in its battle to contain the fallout from dissatisfied customers moving to the open-source Linux operating system.

Earlier this month the Redmond, Wash.-based software company launched a new advertising campaign, referred to as "Get the Facts," which is designed to give customers information about the advantages of using its Windows operating system versus Linux, its open-source competitor.

Building on that campaign, Orlando Ayala, the senior vice president for Microsofts small and midmarket solutions and partner group, sent an e-mail to all his staff late Wednesday night, telling them that "there continues to be a great deal of noise in the marketplace about the growth of Linux."

He went on to urge them to "separate hype from reality and make sure we work to understand what is really happening in the industry."

In the e-mail, seen by eWEEK, Ayala pointed his staff to a study entitled "An assessment of server operating system deployment share and preference share among Value-added Providers (VAPs)," by Management Insights Technologies.

The study, commissioned and paid for by Microsoft, surveyed some 1,700 value added providers. Those VAPs surveyed included an international assortment of network integrators, application integrators, PC builders, ISVs and custom software developers from the U.S., Brazil, U.K., France, Germany, Australia and China.

The survey found flat deployment of Linux among small and medium VAPs over the past year and likely usage for the coming year. "Linux deployment share among VAPs experienced its most significant growth between 2001 and 2002, increasing from 6 percent to 12 percent, mostly at the expense of Windows desktop operating systems being used as servers," the Management Insight study said.

But Linux deployment share growth had slowed, and was unchanged between 2002 and 2003, the study went on to say, adding that VAPs forecast that Linux deployment share would remain virtually unchanged over the next year, growing slightly from 12 percent to 13 percent of server deployments.

The survey also noted that the share of Windows Server deployments had only risen by a percent to 75 percent between 2002 and 2003. But if Windows desktop operating systems used as servers were excluded, deployments grew by 8 percent last year—a fact Ayala pointed out in his e-mail.

"VAPs also indicated a significant preference shift towards Windows Server 2003 over the past year—a good leading indicator of future deployments," Ayala said in his e-mail.

However, Microsofts plan to provide customers with "objective third-party research and facts," most of which is paid for or sponsored by Microsoft itself, has not always been that well-received.

In fact, after Forrester Researchs Giga Information Group unit went public in September with a research study that was paid for by Microsoft and found that Microsoft offered a cost advantage over J2EE/Linux as a development platform for certain portal-type applications, the research firm later said it would no longer publicize any similar future studies.

To read the full story on Gigas research study, click here.

Next Page: Ayala rallies the troops and Linux vendors prepare to respond.

Ayala rallies the troops

and Linux vendors prepare to respond.">

But, in a rallying cry to the troops, the Ayala email said that the overall data suggests that Microsoft was doing a good job delivering bottom-line business value against commercial Linux offerings in terms of costs, licensing and support models.

Ayala also suggested that field staff point their clients to the Get the Facts Web site, while promising that Microsoft would update the site with new market research reports as soon as they became available to "ensure you have solid data to support your outreach efforts."

Ayala also encouraged his team to engage with their customers about the types of data they need to answer questions or make fact-based decisions. "Encourage them to lend their voice and their testimonial to the overall Just the Facts campaign through case studies and references."

"Most importantly, deliver on your customers requests and ensure that Microsoft is meeting their needs both with value-driven industry leading software and in collaboration with an engaged partner base that cares deeply about their business. Working together I know we can continue our momentum and keep our focus squarely on delivering unparalleled value to customers and partners moving forward," Ayala concluded.

Microsofts sponsored research and its findings have raised the ire of many in the Linux and open-source community who view them as biased and inaccurate. And the community intends to start fighting back.

Jim Stallings, IBMs general manager for Linux told eWeek in a Wednesday interview at the LinuxWorld show in New York that Big Blue and others in the community would be making a strong case to customers about the value of Linux and its superiority to Windows on the security and cost of ownership fronts.

"This will happen this year, but it will not be a marketing plan. It will take the form of research and customer testimonials and references and will be done in association with the community," he said.

Microsoft has been on the Linux offensive after the recent loss of many high-profile customers to Linux, many of them governments and governmental agencies and departments. Just last month the Israeli government said it would encourage the development of lower-priced alternatives to Microsoft software.

Meanwhile, a number of governments in Europe, Asia and Africa are exploring open-source alternatives to Microsoft servers and desktop software. In addition, federal agencies in Germany, France and China are all already using or considering open-source alternatives.

At the same time, Microsoft has been fighting back and actively been lobbying governments around the world against the acceptance of open-source applications and Linux.

To that end, Microsoft last January announced a global initiative to provide governments around the world with access to Windows source code under its Government Security Program. The sharing aims to "address the unique security requirements of governments and international organizations throughout the world."

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