Microsoft last week dumped its controversial Get the Facts site that extolled the virtues of Windows over Linux, often using reports funded by Microsoft.
The company has replaced that site with what it now calls Windows Server/Compare.The company said in a statement that the site is designed to help companies with their server evaluations and will provide "real-world examples of comparative evaluations."
It was "evaluations" that turned Get the Facts into a lightning rod for Microsoft after the site debuted in 2003 and it was discovered that the company paid for studies that often found Linux was flush with hidden costs, making Windows a more sound investment for corporate users.
With the new site, Microsoft will share the experiences of real customers in order to show the value in its server platform.
Microsoft has been drifting away from Get the Facts for some time, with the biggest move being the 2003 hiring of Bill Hilf, who previously had led IBM's Linux/Open Source Software technical strategy. Hilf has toned down the rhetoric and reached out to his peers and contacts in the open source community.
But it is no coincidence that the new site comes as Microsoft is gearing up to ship Windows Server 2008 early next year amid the growing popularity of Linux servers, which already offer such key technology as virtualization that Microsoft won't ship for almost another year.
In addition, the new site debuts after Microsoft cut some highly visible cross-patent and technology licensing deals with Linux vendors such as Novell, Xandros and Linspire.
Ryan Gavin, director of platform strategy for Microsoft, said in a prepared statement that compared with Get the Facts the new site would be a "much richer, more dynamic conversation with a broader cross section of information to help customers as they make pragmatic investment decisions -- whether they're trying to better understand how various platforms compare against broad business requirements like reliability, security and TCO, or more specific comparisons like side-by-side demos, deployment best practices and so on."
While that assessment doesn't diverge greatly from the Get The Facts campaign, Gavin said the site changes were prompted by three issues: Microsoft's continuing effort to improve and market Windows Server, the realization that its customers have heterogeneous environments and demand interoperability, and that Microsoft is opening up more to the open source community model as evidenced by its Port 25 and CodePlex Web sites and partnership deals with open source vendors such as SugarCRM, XenSource (Citrix) and SpikeSource.