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.