Software giant looks to bury test results

Microsoft Corp. recently threw around its weight -- and its fat wallet -- to squash an independent testing lab from publishing benchmark results that the lab ran for Computerworld's sister publication NetworkWorld. The test demonstrated that SQL Server 7 runs nearly twice as fast on Windows NT 4.0 than it does on Windows 2000.

The lab's director of research claims that when he discovered the performance crevasse, thinking it his own fault, he contacted Microsoft and worked with them for a week to figure out what went wrong. When neither company could fix the problem, Microsoft shifted its sails, thereby changing the direction of the wind as well, and cited a SQL Server "no publication without authorization" license clause, indirectly threatening legal action.

"We used to be Microsoft fans," the lab director said. "Now, I just feel like I got run over by a train. When they realized they couldn't fix the problem, they, as my son would say from Toy Story, put on their angry eyes and came after us. We have been intimidated into not going forward with our results because we don't have the pockets to battle Microsoft in court." The results were on the lab's Web site Thursday evening but had disappeared by Friday morning.

Along the way, Microsoft pulled one of the tricks for which it has gained notoriety: blaming the hardware. The lab's director said that Microsoft declared a NIC (network interface card) to be at fault, which he added was a common Intel Corp. NIC -- one on the hardware compatibility list Team Redmond points to so frequently.

NetworkWorld eventually overcame the Microsoft threat, however. The test results were posted on its site early last week.

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