Microsoft Reaches Out to OSDL for Open-Source Project

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.


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