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Microsoft's anti-Unix campaign backfires

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A $30 million advertising campaign jointly funded by Microsoft and Unisys to trumpet the superiority of Windows over "closed" Unix systems has turned into a public relations nightmare for the two companies.

The pair launched the wehavethewayout.com website last week, with some ambivalent imagery apparently inviting cornered CIOs to jump through a Windows logo.

Embarrassed by the revelation that the promotional website was actually running Apache on OpenBSD, which is precisely the kind of complicated, um "closed" system you shouldn't be using, Unisys sysadmins hurriedly switched the system over to a Windows/IIS combination.

Last week, the campaign recommended users to switch to Windows instead of a system that "makes you struggle daily with a server environment that's more complex than ever." However the struggle seems to have intensified with the move to Windows, as it turns out:-

Earlier this evening (Pacific Time) surfers could view a system error. As we write, the page simply returns a blank.

Unisys registered the domain on March 20, according to DNS records. Calls to Unisys were not returned.

But back to that imagery. The campaign didn't name the evil from which users should flee, but the graphic showed a floor almost entirely covered in mauve paint, mauve being the color of Sun Microsystems. So far, so good: but the alternative on offer was to jump through a window, which literate readers will know as defenestration, a popular way of inviting kings to commit suicide in 17th century Europe. The "jump to your death" route seems to be the path followed by the advertisers themselves, as the promotional website itself has performed some form of ritual suicide in its migration to Windows.

Clearly Microsoft feels there's a message to be heard here, but it doesn't have much finesse in communicating it. ®

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