Windows research lacks credibility

To update 19th century British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli's oft-quoted line, there are lies, damn lies and sponsored research reports. Microsoft's sponsorship of a new report comparing Windows and Linux costs stretches the bounds of credibility.

To update 19th century British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli's oft-quoted line, there are lies, damn lies and sponsored research reports.

Forrester Research's Giga Information Group subsidiary released a report this week that came to the conclusion that companies can save up to 28% by developing applications such as portals on Windows instead of Linux.

There's just one problem with this report: Microsoft paid for it.

It's a dirty little secret in the market research business that vendors sometimes pay for research on topics dear to them. Aberdeen Group got in some hot water last year when a New York Times columnist took the firm to task for not making such sponsorships clear enough. No one's accusing Giga of masking Microsoft's funding of this research, but it clearly raises the issue of conflict of interest. Would Microsoft have paid for this report if Giga had reached the conclusion that Linux was cheaper? No one knows the answer for sure, but unless research firms quit this lucrative revenue source cold turkey, the credibility issue will linger.

Just when you thought the Windows Remote Procedure Call (RPC) flaw had run its course, out comes word of three new vulnerabilities. This week, Microsoft issued critical patches for two buffer overflows that could allow remote attackers to run code on exploited systems. A patch was also issued for a third flaw that could trigger a denial-of-service attack. For those keeping score, the buffer overflows are found in Windows NT 4.0, Windows 2000, Windows XP and Windows Server 2003. Only Windows 2000 is affected by the RPC flaw that can cause a DoS.

On the product front, Microsoft used the Storage Decisions conference on Wednesday to release its new network attached storage OS, Windows Storage Server 2003. Microsoft lined up an IT vendor show of force to sing the praises of the new product. Storage hardware vendors pledging to support the new storage OS include Dell, EMC and Hewlett-Packard. Storage Decisions was hosted by TechTarget, which owns SearchWin2000.com.

Microsoft continues to whittle away at its litigation list. The software giant paid $23 million to settle a lawsuit with Be Inc., which claimed Microsoft used its muscle to prevent PC manufacturers from doing business with Be, an operating system software maker. The settlement is sort of a Phyrric victory, since Be is in the process of shutting itself down.

And finally, beta testing is nearly complete for Microsoft's new packaged security updates for Windows XP. Update Rollup 1 puts together 22 previously released critical and security updates for XP. The beta ends Sept. 24, and general availability of the package is expected shortly after that date.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Research: Windows could save 28% over Linux

Three new critical Windows RPC flaws found

Microsoft announces file-based storage OS

Microsoft to pay $23M in settlement

MS announces Windows XP update package

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