Microsoft Windows-Linux Comparison Found to be Unfair

A Microsoft ad saying that Linux was 10 times more expensive than Windows has been found to be an unfair advert in the UK. The UKis Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) -- the same agency that ruled that Appleis claim that the Power Mac G5 was the fastest PC on the planet was not always true -- found that Microsoftis Windows vs. Linux claim was an unfair comparison based on different hardware setups.

Just as with the ruling on Appleis advertising, the ASA investigated the advert after receiving complaints from British citizens.

In the advert, Microsoft said that Linux was more expensive than Windows, basing the claim on an independently audited study. The problem, according to the Advertising Standards Authority, is that the costs that were compared in the study included the cost of the hardware used in the testing, hardware with substantially different prices. From the ruling:

The Authority noted the advertisers [Microsoft] intended the advertisement to compare competing file serving set-ups that met the same needs and had the same function. It noted the study was audited and was a fair comparison of the operating systems on different hardware. The Authority considered, however, that because the advertisement stated "WEIGHING THE COST OF LINUX VS. WINDOWS -- Linux was found to be over 10 times more expensive than Windows " it implied the comparison was between Linux and Windows operating systems only, and not about the performance of operating systems on different hardware. It took expert advice. It understood that the study measured the cost of Linux, running on IBMis z900 mainframe, to a Windows Server 2003 image, running on 900 MHz Intel Xeon CPUs, and was therefore a comparison that demonstrated the price and performance between IBM zSeries hardware and Intel Xeon CPUs.

Thanks to the anonymous Observer for the heads up on this study, which was first reported by ArsTechnica. You can read the ruling in its entirety at the ASAis Web site.