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Microsoft giving Best Buy anti-Linux training

updated 09:20 am EDT, Mon September 7, 2009

Best Buy told to misrepresent Linux

Microsoft has been sending Best Buy retail staff "training" material that deliberately attacks and in some cases distorts Linux, according to a leak from an anonymous Best Buy employee. The materials present obvious and at times true assertions about the lack of software support and users preferring a "comfortable" experience but also makes controversial statements about security and other features. Among these are contradictory claims that Linux doesn't get regular updates and yet is a problem to maintain precisely because it gets "hundreds of updates" per month.

The claims also overstate incompatibility and support on Linux, suggesting that "few" devices are supported, that features like video chat don't work, and that there are no official help solutions for it. Linux does have reduced support but still supports common devices, including through apps that can recognize iPods. Third-party apps like Pidgin provide support for video and other chat features, and certain Linux distributions like Ubuntu or Red Hat often provide official support.

For Windows-only apps, Linux has had access to WINE for free virtualization of some titles, including 3D games.

Microsoft has been asked about the memos but has neither confirmed nor denied their legitimacy. However, the material is both consistent with Microsoft's visual style as well as its frequent attempts to discredit Linux as a threat, which in the past have involved paid-for studies that allegedly show Windows as superior to Linux for servers.

The software developer is also known to have used exaggerated claims to attack Apple through "Laptop Hunters" ads and other promos that have often carefully chosen products to either create apparent gaps in value or to make them seem wider than they are. One study paid for by Microsoft deliberately chose Apple's Mac Pro workstation and the pre-price reduction MacBook Pro as home systems but chose Windows systems in significantly more modest product categories.

by MacNN Staff



  1. lkrupp

    Joined: Dec 1969


    At last...

    The Beast is mortally wounded and is lashing out. This is great news. Ballmer needs to go.

    Comment buried. Show
  1. The Vicar

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Oh, come on.

    The claims presented on behalf of Linux are on the whole no more true than the claims presented by Microsoft. For example, Linux has lots of software available -- provided you're willing to count:

    - Programs which don't work
    - Programs which work, but have major features which don't work
    - Programs which work, but have extremely limited functionality
    - Programs which work only from the command line
    - Programs which are internally identical, but with marginally different interfaces because a programmer didn't like some particular part of the implementation and the source code was available
    - Downloadable libraries which the user will not use directly
    - Programs which are actually written for Windows, but which you can use with not-quite-full compatibility via WINE

    If you limit yourself to end-user software which actually works and has a feature set that isn't ludicrously limited, suddenly Linux has almost nothing, and most of the programs in question are available on Windows or the Mac, so there's no particular advantage there.

    Similar things may be said on the other claims made for Linux. Unfortunately, Microsoft isn't being honest either. It's like when Microsoft and AOL were in that lawsuit a while back -- is there any way for both sides to lose?

  1. chefpastry

    Joined: Dec 1969



    All they seem to do now is attack other platforms' weaknesses (whether they are true, partially true, or false). Is it because they don't have many strengths to sell on?

  1. JulesLt

    Joined: Dec 1969


    comment title

    Even if Linux has 'almost no' software available, it's still a killer platform for some of that software - OS X is often a 2nd class citizen for a lot of Unix software. Of course this is all server-side stuff, but there's a good reason why Linux is justly popular on the server.

    Equally, if all you really need is a web browser and simple word processing, it will do. I mean this is the argument used FOR Windows, against OS X - that XP is good enough, and who needs all the bells and whistles of a Mac. In that respect, Microsoft have to look our for assault from below, as well as above - and Linux netbooks are starting to become a realistic 'good enough' threat. At worst it undercuts the price they can charge for Windows.

    To be fair, Apple have engaged in a similar campaign based around exaggerating the genuine problems with Windows.

  1. dynsight

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Some is true...

    I hate M$, and ban them from my home (except in VMWare Guests when I have to...) but Linux is not a good solution for many people.

    Ubuntu is arguably the most friendly, and I would not recommend it for a novice user. It is a reliable server (which is what I use it for) and a great workstation when all you need is a stable browser and text editing (e.g, public libraries, classrooms, etc).

    But updating and installing software is still somewhat difficult (although getting better).

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