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MS renews assault with ‘Linux Myths’ document

Which is worth paying attention to in order to see where MS thinks it should attack

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Six months on from its last major assault on Linux, Microsoft has returned to the fray with a "Linux Myths" page, here. The content isn't exactly original, but it makes it clear first, that Microsoft sees Linux as serious competition, and second, that it's targeting areas where it thinks it can score PR and marketing points against the upstart. The "myths" are as follows: Linux performs better than NT; Linux is more reliable than Windows; Linux is free; Linux is more secure than NT; and Linux can replace Windows on the desktop. The benchmark battles earlier this year made it clear that performance was one of the issues Microsoft thought it could win on, so it's no surprise, with a couple of wins under its belt, that the company's pushing this one some more. The truth as regards performance really depends on where you're standing - from some angles Microsoft has a case, but considering how NT scales against Unix Risc boxes, this really is a case of pot calling the kettle black. The other categories are obviously new ones Microsoft has decided to work to establish, and in at least three cases there's a certain heroism involved in the bid. Security has been pretty much a marketing debit for Microsoft in recent months, so trying to establish NT as clearly more secure than Linux Microsoft is doing a bit of fire-fighting as part of the pitch. In reality Microsoft ought to have a fair bit going for it here, as NT was designed to be secure. But if security holes keep popping up in various Microsoft products, the public will have trouble swallowing the security message. What's this about it being a myth that Linux is free then? How do we make that out? Ah, Microsoft is playing the TCO card. Studies prove, MS tells us, that Windows NT has a 37 per cent lower cost of ownership than Unix. And Linux is really Unix. But other studies "prove" the reverse, so we can just call this a marketing spend war, and pass on to the desktop. Here the pitch is lack of hardware support, plug and play, complexity, clunky GUIs and lack of applications, i.e. the usual stuff. Some of it at least has some historical justification, but as Linus Torvalds himself has made clear many times, the desktop is somewhere Linux is going, rather than a destination it's arrived at. The significance here is that Microsoft clearly fears Linux as a future competitor here, and so is trying to establish its defence strategies. ®

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