Linux is irritating Microsoft, and the software giant isn’t going to take it anymore.
On Monday, the maker of the Windows operating system launched what it says will be a prolonged advertising campaign to “get the facts” before the IT community about the cost benefits of its OS over its open-source competitor.
“Over the past year, software cost and value has been a common issue raised by IT customers,” a Microsoft spokesperson, who requested not to be named, told TechNewsWorld. “Our customers have told us they want research and information to help make value-based IT decisions. The ‘Get the Facts’ advertising campaign aims to bring some of this information to companies who are making decisions about their IT solutions.”
Microsoft would not disclose the cost of the ad blitz.
Not So Independent
The campaign, which initially will be limited to print media in the United States and India, refers its audience to a Get the Facts Web site where Microsoft has gathered research reports identifying the cost benefits of Windows over Linux. The report is written by firms like the Meta Group, IDC, Giga Research and VeriTest.
Although Microsoft is touting the independence of the research found at the site, it admits it instigated some of the information. “There are volumes of third-party research and data in the marketplace across a myriad of IT topic areas that have not been commissioned by Microsoft,” the spokesperson said.
“We commissioned some of the research specifically to address the questions customers are asking of us.”
Stealing Market Share
For Linux vendors, the Microsoft campaign is just more evidence that they’re doing something right. “This shows that Linux has the potential of taking away significant market share from Microsoft,” Leigh Day, a spokesperson for Linux vendor Red Hat, told TechNewsWorld.
“If you look at their Web site, it seems that a lot of their campaign is focused on small and medium businesses,” she noted. “Our software has made its best penetration in the enterprise. Eight out of 10 of the top global financial firms use Red Hat.”
Two Front War
Microsoft is waging a two-front war against Linux, according to Rob Helm, director of research at Directions on Microsoft, an independent research firm in Kirkland, Washington. “Microsoft is taking on Linux in two different segments: government and companies,” he explained to TechNewsWorld. This campaign is meant to turn up the volume in the company segment.
“Up to now,” he continued, “Microsoft has focused on the government segment and has run campaigns to convince government that it’s okay to pay for software. Now it’s starting to focus more on companies that are considering using Linux for servers. That threatens Windows’ future growth.”
No Free Lunch
While some companies might be disturbed by Microsoft’s high licensing fees, Helm said, this campaign is meant to let those companies know there are more than fees involved in operating a system. “There are a lot of other costs in systems, and Windows looks pretty good compared to Linux on those costs,” he explained.
Al Gillen, research director for systems software at IDC in Framingham, Massachusetts, noted that even if the acquisition cost of an operating system is free, there is no way to dodge the costs of maintaining that system. “The long-term cost of supporting an operating system is far less related to the acquisition costs than you might think,” he told TechNewsWorld. “Whether I give you a car or you buy a car, if you keep that car for 10 years, the cost of maintaining the car is going to be the same.”
In the last analysis, whether an organization should use Windows or Linux is a complicated decision highly dependent on the nature of that organization, contends Dana Gardner, a senior analyst with the Yankee Group in Boston. “It’s not a zero-sum equation,” he told TechNewsWorld. “It’s not Windows or Linux; it’s, ‘Where is Windows appropriate and cost effective?’ and, ‘Where is putting a Linux operating system under a discrete or specific server appropriate?'”