Microsoft Talks Tough on Linux

At annual financial day event, Redmond executive predicts that enterprises will choose Windows as the company improves its Web serving and high-performance computing products.

REDMOND, Wash.—Microsoft Corp. on Thursday devoted an entire 40-minute session at its annual financial day here to the competitive threat posed to its business by open source software and Linux.

In a presentation entitled "Competing and Winning Around Linux," Kevin Johnson, the group vice president of worldwide sales, marketing and services group, said the companys focus was now to target some very specific workloads.

Microsoft is looking at the total Linux server installed base, targeting the very specific solutions that could be of value to its customers, and fine-tuning its value propositions with regard to these workloads, including Web serving and HPC (High Performance Computing).

The company would also be reporting customer win-backs—those customers who had deployed Linux and then switched back to the Microsoft platform.

/zimages/6/28571.gifClick here to read more about customers switching back from Linux to Windows.

"Watch us over the next two years as we get customers to increasingly start adopting our solutions," Johnson said. "This is a year in which we will see a significant rise in win-backs, where customers find that all the promises and claims they believed around Linux were actually not so. Not only are we competing but we believe we are winning.

"This is a never-ending process, and we will continue to focus on customers and drive innovation and focus on areas like Web serving and HPC," he said.

His comments follow those made by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer in an interview with eWEEK at the companys annual worldwide partner conference in Minneapolis, where Ballmer said that he believes the religious war between Linux and Windows was over and the battle now was about which OS offered customers the best technology solution.

Conceding that Linux holds the upper hand in areas such as Web hosting, Ballmer stressed that Microsoft is doing all it can to change that. "I think we have better solutions for most workloads than Linux. Were not the leader in Web hosting, and so that is one area we are after hard, and we have our best innovators and thinkers and sales and marketing people really working on it," he said.

Asked if he is concerned about the gains that Linux has made, especially in the enterprise, Ballmer said Linux has not gained much share in the enterprise other than for Web hosting and HPC. "They certainly havent gained at our expense. I am not worrying; Im focusing," he said.

Detailing the companys history of addressing the Linux threat head-on, Johnson pointed to the 2003 launch of its "Get the Facts" campaign, which runs in more than 50 countries. In 2004, it built on that and focused on more engaged field activities and training.

"Delivering a core value proposition to customers is essential. One of the components of that is reliability, with studies showing Linux is not as reliable as was widely thought. On the TCO front, studies support the TCO value of Windows," he said.

Microsofts indemnification offering outpaced anything offered by its competitors, while, on the security front, studies showed that Microsoft was more secure and had less vulnerabilities, he said.

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