Microsoft Takes on Linux in Ad Campaign

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2004-01-05

Microsoft Takes on Linux in Ad Campaign

Microsoft Corp. on Monday 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.

A Microsoft spokeswoman told eWEEK on Monday that this campaign that will target leading IT publications and run for six months. She declined to say what the company expected to spend on the campaign.

This latest move is yet another way the Redmond, Wash., software firm is trying to counter the effects of the Linux operating system, and is in keeping with the strategy embraced by Martin Taylor, who took over the role of Microsoft open-source and Linux strategist last July.

When he was appointed to the position, Taylor said he would make it his personal mission to publicize more studies that showed that Microsoft software beat the return-on-investment pants off the open-source alternatives.

To read more about Martin Taylor, Microsofts new "Joe Friday" and his spin on open-source competition, click here.

The Microsoft spokeswoman said its customers had told the firm they wanted research and information to help make value-based IT decisions. "Over the past year, software cost and value has been a common issue raised by IT customers.

"The Get the Facts advertising campaign aims to bring some of this information to companies who are making decisions about their IT solutions," she said.

The ads will drive customers to a new Web site, where they will find "third-party evidence on what customers and analysts are saying about Microsoft Windows versus Linux," she said.

But a prominent statement on the Web site proclaims that "leading companies and third-party analysts confirm it: Windows [Server System] has a lower total cost of ownership and outperforms Linux." Statements like that have been aggressively challenged by members of the Linux and open-source community and is certain to stir ongoing controversy.

Next page: Reception to Microsoft-sponsored "facts."

Page Two

But Taylors plan to provide customers with "objective third-party research and facts," much 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.

Microsoft has also been losing 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 in an effort to help expand computer use by the public.

The governments of Britain, Brazil, Japan, South Korea, China, South Africa and Russia are also all exploring open source alternatives to Microsoft, while federal agencies in Germany, France and China are all already using or considering open source alternatives.

But Microsoft has been fighting back and actively been lobbying governments around the world not to embrace open source applications and Linux.

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

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