INSTEAD of clearing the air about open source with its Get the Facts campaign, Microsoft is clouding the open source debate by taking advantage of people’s limited knowledge of Linux.
This is according to members of the open source community in response to comments made by Martin Taylor, head of Redmond’s competitive strategy and architect of the Get the Facts campaign, in a recent interview with Reseller News.
In the article Taylor said competing against Linux has become easier since providers such as Red Hat and SuSE Linux, which is now part of Novell, have become more commercialised.
However, Con Zymaris, director of Open Source Industry Australia and CEO of Cybersource, a Melbourne-based Linux and open source solution provider, says this argument is a fallacy as these vendors have always been commercially focused.
“Red Hat and SuSE have been selling their software for years on a commercial basis and have always been focused on making a profit,” he says.
“Linux started off as a commercial product. A small minority of professional users may use free versions, but most users rely on commercialised versions that are implemented and supported by companies who are certainly not operating on a non-profit basis.”
Zymaris says Microsoft uses the ignorance of most users to its own advantage by fudging the facts when it comes to security, reliability and support.
“It pulls the wool over people’s eyes because it knows many people do not know any better,” he says.
Zymaris has a particular issue with the studies on security Microsoft uses to back up its drive against Linux and which form the basis of its Get the Facts campaign.
“You can be very selective and very specific in terms of what you zero in on”, says Zymaris.
Microsoft focuses on the number vulnerabilities and patches of different platforms in its security comparisons, but this is not an accurate way to determine how secure a system is, says Zymaris.
“Using the concept of vulnerability alerts as a mechanism to say what is secure is absurd. It is one thing to have vulnerability alerts, it is something different to say what is secure in the real world and what isn’t,” he says.
Even if vulnerability numbers are considered Microsoft still does not stack up that well, says Zymaris.
Windows may generate fewer alerts than Linux, but it also has fewer software components than the average Linux install.
“When you calculate the sheer number of software, the overall numbers don’t even come close. When you do a Linux install, it has 4,000 packages, but Windows doesn’t have that many,” he says.
But Zymaris concedes Microsoft has improved the security of its platform in response to the pressure from open source offerings.
“They’ve done a lot of work to come up to speed on security. That is a good thing,” he says.