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Novell fires counterblast at Ballmer Linux summary

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Novell has responded to Microsoft's attempts to portray Windows as a safer proposition than Linux in the enterprise with a counteroffensive of its own. In response to Microsoft's 'Get the Facts' campaign, Novell has launched a site designed to "unbending the truth" about Linux.

The move comes after Microsoft chief exec Steve Ballmer sent out a memo to customers suggesting that Linux might be more expensive and less secure than commonly portrayed. He also said that Linux customers risked possible intellectual property lawsuits. As throughout the year-long 'Get the Facts' campaign, Ballmer used third party analyst reports to bolster Microsoft's arguments.

Until now, Novell has been content to stress the virtues of its technology in mixed Linux and Windows environments, attempting to stay above the fray by essentially ignoring Microsoft's campaign. No more. IDG reports that Novell chief exec Jack Messman is drafting a memo which seeks to debunk Ballmer's latest missive.

Novell is criticising Microsoft for selectively quoting passages from analyst reports favourable to the software giant's case. Analysts say that Novell is doing much the same thing. Users ought to read their reports rather than listening to the spin or counterspin from rival vendors, they advise.

As with many marketing battles the set-to is generating more heat than light. One important point - the timing of Novell's counter-offensive - has largely gone unnoticed. Yesterday Novell's vice-chairman Chris Stone unexpectedly left the company to pursue "other opportunities". Stone was a key player in Novell's Linux strategy and it's tempting to see the timing - if not the substance - of Novell's counterblast as designed to divert attention away from his departure. ®

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