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‘Hit team’ drives MS plan to bludgeon Linux with benchmarks

And who's in charge? Step forward Jim Allchin, we reckon...

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Today's Wall Street Journal reports that Microsoft has deployed a 'hit team' to deal with the threat from Linux. This isn't entirely surprising - in reality, you could see the hit team forming when the Halloween memos leaked, but it is surprising that the team's command structure is so simple to identify from what Microsoft tells the WSJ. We probably haven't got evidence of the fabled kinder, gentler Microsoft here - it's probably just a case of the company having figured out that it'll be caught if it doesn't confess anyway. The WSJ fingers Windows 2000 director of marketing Jim Ewel as running the team, which is somewhere under ten strong (we'll get back to that). But it seems pretty clear that reporting is direct to Jim Allchin, Grand Dragonlord of the OS and the man who's getting Win2k to market. Allchin is quoted as saying of Linux: "I have now upped the focus on it. I've got the performance team prepared to benchmark it every which way." That seems to confirm several things. The hit team will be operating under Allchin, and the Microsoft effort against Linux is in reality somewhat larger than around ten people, because we've got the performance team on it as well, haven't we? And the "benchmark it every which way" leaves us a very clear Allchin fingerprint. The Halloween memos roughed-up some initial counter-attack strategies Microsoft could use, and a few of these showed up in the Mindcraft test, in the shape of grouses about moving targets, for example. Another Halloween suggestion, a disruptive Microsoft move towards open source, has been noisily touted by Steve Ballmer for some months now (so he's on the team too), but it's obvious Allchin will have set up the first Mindcraft tests as a part of the counter-attack. The Mindcraft-Microsoft challenge to a second, allegedly more Linux-friendly, round of tests is of course the next phase of "benchmark every which way," and as the challenge contained a good deal of marketing spin combined with classic marketing comparison checkboxes, it doesn't take an Einstein to figure out that a certain Win2k director of marketing is likely to have been involved, and that the efforts actually started last summer, at the latest. And here's what appears to be an intriguing piece of marketing spin that seems to have crept into the WSJ piece. We all know the story of the original Mindcraft test, and we know about the complaints from Linus and others about their integrity. And we know about the challenge, issued just last week, where Microsoft and Mindcraft said they'd agreed to all the demands of the Linux folks, and were prepared to re-run the tests. We quote from today's WSJ: "Mindcraft reran the tests, this time with input from Mr. Torvalds and others. Linux did better the second time, but even Linux boosters admit that their operating system can't keep up with NT on bigger systems." So when did Mindcraft rerun this test then? And where does that leave the rerun it's proposing to do, if Linus et al agree? Well, presumably before Microsoft decided to issue the challenge, Mindcraft and/or Microsoft will have had another go at the tests to figure out NT's chances in a public battle. Odd that it should leak out like this, though. ® Related Stories: MS declares war on Linux MS marketing spins on Linux Can Linux avoid MS NT trap? Tests show flaws in MS Linux study MS memo outlines anti-Linux strategy Second MS leak boosts Linux

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