Get the facts on the facts

Microsoft doesn’t want you to defect to Linux. However, instead of pointing out Windows’s obvious strengths, they have decided to harp about total cost of ownership, a metric that is debateable and non-consistent at best. It doesn’t help that their proof – in the form of Microsoft-funded studies – seem to be stacking the deck in MS’s favour. Take this excerpt from a Microsoft “Get The Facts” anti-Linux advertisement seen in InfoWorld:

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Wow. Imagine that. A mainframe costs more to purchase and maintain than a personal computer.

As always, the best way to check the validity of any claim is to ask questions. ZDNet UK has offered some helpful questions to Microsoft salespeople to give them the chance to clarify their statements. My favourite:

“Why shouldn’t I replace Microsoft Office with Open Office, or Internet Explorer with Mozilla? Won’t this work as an excellent first step towards full-scale open source deployment, given Microsoft’s commitment to openness and interoperability?”

Even the so-called “success stories” should be scrutinized. ZDNet points out that at least one organization that chose Windows over Linux because MS appeared cheaper, the London borough of Newham, may have in fact been offered an “uncharacteristically generous package, including a substantial amount of free consultancy, to sweeten the deal.”

“We’re winning, people.”
That’s what the outspoken Eric Raymond concluded as he dissected Microsoft’s latest Get the Facts marketing push. “Microsoft has failed to stop us with better software technology or lower prices; they’re incapable of the former and their business model wouldn’t survive the latter.” Raymond dismisses Get the Facts as mere “semantic warfare” and “an obvious circle the wagons move”.

Certainly no one product, Windows or Linux, is the be all that ends all. However, methinks that if your product is truly superior, there is no need to belittle the competition. Fight with facts, not with mud.

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