Article

Microsoft goes deep into enemy territory

John Hogan

Martin Taylor's appearance at LinuxWorld is something akin to a Texas cattle rancher grilling up juicy steaks at a PETA rally. A Linux love fest just doesn't seem like the kind of place you'd expect to find Microsoft's designated Linux slayer.

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But there he was, giving interviews about how Microsoft will show the world that Windows deserves to keep its operating system crown. Admirably, Taylor doesn't plan to use anecdotes or a smear campaign to prove his point. He's made it clear this war will be won or lost in the lab.

Taylor wants head-to-head competition between Windows and the open-source "stack." That means Windows vs. Linux, Windows vs. Apache, Windows vs. any open-source challenger in a fact-based measurement of features and ownership costs.

In its Enterprise Engineering Center, Microsoft is taking Linux and other open-source systems apart, piece by piece, to see what they're made of. That should give Redmond a pretty good idea what it's up against, but independent research is the only credible way for users to know for sure whose OS software is cheaper, more secure and easier to use.

By the way, kudos to the Microsoft PR person who came up with the "Joe Friday, just-the-facts-ma'am" theme for Martin Taylor's media blitz. Microsoft

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apparently fed that line to every journalist who interviewed Taylor before and during LinuxWorld. Amazingly, "Joe Friday" made it into nearly every article written about Taylor. Now that's a dragnet.

One Linux story that got lost in the din of LinuxWorld was about the Common Criteria (CC) security certification. It turns out to be a good news-bad news deal for the penguin. The good news for open-source fans is that Linux earned the organization's certification. The bad news is that Linux's "low to moderate" security ranking comes in below the "moderate to high" security ranking that Windows 2000 scored last fall.

Open-source certainly does make for some strange bedfellows. On Monday, Novell Inc. announced that it is acquiring Ximian Inc., a developer of Linux desktop, management and groupware software. In one fell swoop, Novell went from being a company known for its proprietary networking products to a vendor that also makes developer tools for building open-source .NET applications. Despite some early reports, Novell stressed that the Ximian acquisition does not mean it is dumping NetWare, Novell's Linux-friendly network services suite. In fact, NetWare 6.0 debuts next week.

Finally, Microsoft appears to have been taken by surprise this week by the European Commission. The economic bodyguard for the European Union blasted Microsoft over what it claims is evidence that Redmond is taking unfair advantage of its market dominance, and the panel is threatening a hefty fine. The commission seems to have a split personality, however. Its sharp rhetoric has been followed by conciliatory words that it is willing to reconsider its findings if Microsoft offers some mitigating evidence. Strangely, the software giant has been silent on the issue. Perhaps an olive branch across the Atlantic would help make things right on the continent.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Microsoft's point man on Linux

Linux rated less secure than Windows

Novell acquires Ximian

EU confirms it intends to fine Microsoft


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