Microsoft has finally recognized Linux as a competitor.Microsoft target Linux and not Solaris.Microsoft criticizes Linux for a lack of security.

Microsoft has finally recognized Linux as a competitor.

The dominant operating system vendor posted Linux Myths on its Windows NT Server site, attempting to poke holes in commonly held Linux beliefs while touting the many ways in which Windows NT 4.0 Workstation and Server are, in Microsoft's view, superior.

The page zeroes in on five commonly espoused by the Linux faithful: That Linux outperforms NT, that it's more reliable than NT, that it's free, that it's more secure than NT, and that it can replace Windows on the desktop. Microsoft argues each point and uses benchmarks to back up some of its claims.

So why did Microsoft target Linux and not Solaris, the OS from established competitor Sun Microsystems?

1: "It's a very competitive market out there and you need to look at all the areas of competition," said Aubrey Edwards, group product manager in the business enterprise division at Microsoft. "There's a lot of interest around Linux and we need to compete."

2: "This makes it clear that Microsoft has decided it's time to get nasty with Linux," said Eric Troan, director of development at Red Hat, developer of one of the most popular Linux distributions.

3: "Microsoft has obviously been concerned about Linux for a while, and we think it's kind of flattering for them to consider us a competitor and to be marketing against."
The purpose of the document was to provide data points of the technical merits of Windows NT and Linux, according to Edwards.

But the page begins to attack Linux in the second sentence: "First, it's worth noting that Linux is a Unix-like operating system. Linux fundamentally relies on 30-year-old operating system technology and architecture."

In its zeal to debunk Linux, Microsoft occasionally stretches things. For example, it points out that Linux lacks universal serial bus, plug and play, and power management. But it neglects to mention that the features are not native to Windows NT, either. Microsoft criticizes Linux for a lack of security. It fails to disclose that the US Army recently switched from an NT server to a Mac server because NT wasn't secure enough.

Troan said the Myths page is a mishmash of statements that aren't totally accurate, combined with selective editorializing. In some cases, he said, Microsoft simply ignores certain issues. For example, while Microsoft points out that Linux lacks a world-class journaling (error tracking) file system of its own, it fails to mention that SGI is porting its XFS file system to Linux. "There's a lot of facts they are missing which Microsoft certainly doesn't have any interest in promoting," Troan said.

"Sounds like they're pretty darn scared," said Mark Bolzern, CEO of WorkGroup Solutions, a developer of Web server software for Linux in Aurora, Colorado. "What is says is they see Linux as a competitor and they have to get into a FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) campaign in a big way. That's a good thing."

Bolzern agreed with some of Microsoft's contentions, namely, that Linux has a way to go on the desktop, and that nothing in life is free, including operating systems.

Edwards says the page is not a direct attack, but simply points out the differences between Windows NT 4.0 and Red Hat Linux 6.0. The tests did not include the Linux 2.3.x kernel, which is the developer-release kernel that has all the new technologies like improved symmetric multiprocessing and USB.

The Linux legion responded in force on Slashdot's discussion board. Comments range from basic insults and flames to reasoned responses. "This only serves to polarize people further," posted one reader. "The Microsoft faithful will wave this around as proof of their beliefs and the Linux zealots will point to it as more proof that Microsoft is a nothing more than a hive of marketing droids who can lie better than they can write code.

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