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In an effort to better understand its main source of competition, Microsoft has deployed Linux and other open-source software in a test center that's typically used by its business customers to experiment with Microsoft's own products.
At its Enterprise Engineering Center in Redmond, Wash., Microsoft has installed the Linux operating system, Apache Web server, MySQL database, and Open LDAP directory-access software on Intel-based computers, according to Martin Taylor, the executive who recently assumed responsibility for Microsoft's strategy for competing against Linux.
The project was started in May with an initial goal of determining the effort involved in building the kind of open-source platform that might be found in a typical business environment. "It's an opportunity for learning for us," Taylor says. The goal is to understand "what can you do and how can you do it" using open-source software, he says.
Next, Microsoft plans to create a comparable system using Windows and its own server products to see how Windows and Linux match up side-by-side in a variety of workload scenarios.
The move is the latest in Microsoft's attempt to demonstrate that Windows has both technical and cost advantages over Linux, which has been gaining share in the server market at Microsoft's expense. In a meeting with financial analysts last week, CEO Steve Ballmer argued that Windows' total cost of ownership is lower than Linux's, while chairman Bill Gates claimed Microsoft is better at fixing software problems quickly than the open-source community.
Expect Taylor, a 10-year Microsoft veteran who's been in his new job for just three weeks, to play up the advantages of Microsoft's integrated product line. "The end-to-end scenarios is where things don't work quite as well with Linux," he says.