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Microsoft Ratchets Up Virtualization Trash Talk

Last week at the VMWorld virtualization conference in Las Vegas, Microsoft reps passed out fliers denouncing the high cost of VMware's solutions, as well as $1 casino chips.

laid its virtualization cards on the table

In a Friday blog post, Drue Reeves, vice president and research director for Burton Group Data Center Strategies, discussed how Microsoft reps at the VMWorld conference last week in Las Vegas passed out fliers with the message, "Looking for your best bet? You won't find it with VMware." Affixed to each flier was a $1 chip from the Venetian Casino.

The cards also listed the URL for a new Microsoft Web site called www.vmwarecostswaytoomuch.com, which reflects Microsoft's strategy of using price to grab market share from its well-entrenched virtualization market foe. The garishly colored Web site, which was registered on Aug. 27, is being hosted for Microsoft by Seattle-based advertising agency Wexley School For Girls.

According to Reeves, Microsoft was frustrated by VMware's efforts to downplay the software giant's involvement in the conference, and managed to hand out nearly 4,000 fliers to conference attendees before VMware officials figured out what was going on and put a stop to it.

Reeves asserted that the stunt makes Microsoft appear "somewhat desperate", but solution providers told ChannelWeb they don't think Microsoft has crossed any serious lines of propriety with its shots across the bow of VMware, some of the first in what's likely to become an intense battle.

Chris Ward, senior solutions architect at Greenpages, a solution provider in Kittery, Maine that had a booth at VMWorld, witnessed Microsoft handing out the fliers, but wasn't surprised by the tactic.

"I also recall Microsoft doing something similar to Novell back in the day, and Novell coming back with something like stopthefud.com," said Ward. "In the end, everybody must look at what is the best solution for their particular situation and make an informed choice on a hypervisor based on actual research, not FUD [fear, uncertainty, and doubt]."

"I think Microsoft, in all of their recent marketing -- including the Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld ads -- is simply trying to get common people to 'talk' about Microsoft," said Rand Morimoto, president of Convergent Computing, an Oakland, Calif.-based solution provider and Microsoft Gold partner.

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