If there was ever any doubt that Linux had made it to the software big leagues, consider the following: Microsoft, the industry's 800-pound gorilla, has just launched an advertising campaign aimed directly at the open-source software (OSS) solution. Dubbed "Get the Facts," the campaign directly attacks technical, security, and cost assumptions people make about Linux, which has been something of a media darling in the years since Microsoft's US antitrust trial. The campaign will run for 6 months, according to the software giant. Print ads in major IT publications will target administrators and IT decision makers who might have questions about the Linux alternative.

"Over the past year, software cost and value has been a common issue raised by IT customers," a Microsoft spokesperson said. "The 'Get the Facts' advertising campaign aims to bring some of this information to companies who are making decisions about their IT solutions." Responding to criticism that any Microsoft-sponsored campaign is sure to be one-sided, the company notes that a new Web site (see the URL below) it has set up contains third-party "evidence" about the relative merits of Linux and Windows. Regardless, the new campaign is sure to stir a hornet's nest of opposition from the vocal Linux community, which doesn't respond well to criticism of its prized product.

The ad campaign couldn't happen fast enough. Following high-profile announcements, several governments are migrating to Linux. The most recent is Israel, and that government's decision to stop purchasing Microsoft software is emblematic of the problem Microsoft faces. Israel doesn't want to stop buying Microsoft software, but it's concerned about the company's licensing practices and would like to be able to mix and match software installations according to its users' needs rather than Microsoft's accounting needs. If Microsoft wants to argue that Windows is less costly than Linux, it's going to have to adjust its pricing model, which rewards customers who buy massive amounts of Microsoft software.