Microsoft has begun the new year with a Linux knocking publicity campaign under the slogan "Get the Facts." A series of advertisements is due to run for six months in major IT publications, and will direct readers to the company's landing page for the campaign.
There you will find a long list of what we presume are expensively produced case studies, and a substantially shorter list of "independent analyses" which "prove" a variety of things (e.g. Windows cheaper than Websphere, .NET cheaper than J2EE/Linux), but which have already been widely circulated, and frequently fairly widely doubted.
The thinness of the "independent" material is striking, considering that this is intended as a major awareness campaign to run for half a year. The studies the company has been able to use over the past year or so have generally picked away at relatively small, relatively specific areas, and these are the very studies it's using now. It is not using any 'big picture' study that makes any kind of serious, simple, coherent case for Windows' superiority to Linux, and it doesn't have enough of the narrower studies to stand any chance of convincing the unwary that the overall case is overwhelming.
Microsoft is, essentially, painting itself into a corner with this one (we've said before that its Linux obsession is deeply unhealthy), and is shooting at the wrong target with the wrong ammunition. There is precious little chance of reputable research companies permitting Microsoft to run their material in support of what will be widely and increasingly seen as a highly-partisan knocking campaign. The more Microsoft spends on publicising "The Facts", the less independent facts it's going to be able to get. Therefore the campaign will look even less convincing, Microsoft will probably get even shriller and more obviously partisan, and the independent outfits will get even more reluctant to let Microsoft use their work.
And really, Microsoft's problem is not that people think Linux is cheaper than Windows (apart from them being well aware that Linux is free and Windows isn't, that is), but that Microsoft's customers are in general pretty convinced that Windows is more expensive than it should be. What are they going to do - read the ad, Get the Facts, then call up their Microsoft rep and say 'you've been right all along, we'll pay you whatever you want, and never go near alternatives ever again'? Yeah, right... And actually, if Microsoft were so damned convinced of its case, when major customers threatened to junk Windows and switch to Linux it'd just tell them to go ahead, and see how far they get.
A Register modest proposal for Microsoft: Cancel the ad campaign, and spend the money on encouraging a major customer who is threatening to defect. The customer gets the sponsorship on condition they can be used for a case study, and then when they screw up (you're sure they'll screw up, right?) you've got great, definitive material and you've avoided putting yourself through all this pain. No need to credit us - matter of fact, we'll sue you if you do. ®