Microsoft Extends Research Invitation to OSDL

In what appears to be a clever strategic move to level the playing field, Microsoft is negotiating with the Open Source Development Labs (OSDL) to undergo a joint study to determine which operating system best suits the needs of today’s enterprises.

OSDL representatives did not return calls seeking comment.

Getting the Facts … Again

Microsoft said the Windows vs. Linux analysis would be independent, fact-based research by an agreed-upon third party. Microsoft has offered to pay for half of the study and calls for the OSDL to pay for the other half.

This offer comes after Microsoft’s “Get the Facts” campaign slammed Linux last year. The campaign gathered independent analysts from leading companies who reported that Windows Server System outperforms Linux on total cost of ownership, reliability, security and indemnification and set off another chapter in the proprietary versus open-source software debate.

But the campaign met with criticism from those who claimed the Microsoft-sponsored reports were biased in the software giant’s favor. Now, is Microsoft certain that a co-branded study will finally prove its case? Or does the software giant have something else up its sleeve?

Apples and Oranges

Interarbor Solutions principal analyst Dana Gardner told LinuxInsider that Microsoft desperately wants to engage in what it feels are “the right types of discussions” about Linux. That right type of discussion is an apples-to-apples comparison with Linux — not with open source.

In other words, Microsoft wants to avoid the non-Linux discussion that asks “Is a commercial, proprietary approach or an open, collaborative the best way to share intellectual property and promote innovation and productivity?”

“When you have that second discussion, Microsoft is probably in a tougher position than if you have the first discussion that compares the two platforms,” Gardner said. “It seems to me that Microsoft is trying to get closer to the organization in order to have the discussion take place on the terms that are more advantageous to the company.”

OSDL’s Response

OSDL has yet to make a public response to Microsoft’s offer. But analysts said the open source organization seems to have little choice but to cooperate.

Microsoft has been a part of open source organizations before. The company was major licensee of Java. It used to belong to the Open Software Foundation and is a member of the Open Management Group.

“Microsoft has a long history of getting very close to organizations that may or may not perfectly align with its strategy,” Gardner says. “So if you claim to be an open organization and you ignore one of the biggest players in the market, then how open are you? How could the OSDL not agree to participate?”

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