Reality vs. Hype vs. Utter Nonsense

Posted on Mar 26, 2004

"These days" we are used to dealing with marketing hype, advertising and various attempts that are made to stretch or bend reality to support those who are trying to sell us things. This is particularly true in the computing world where we have benchmark specials, liberal interpretation of data and general misuse of statistics. As a result people appear to be generally skeptical about anything which is put in front of them to support a sale and are used to looking deeper than the skin. It's probably not a great situation, but it's life and we deal with it.

Sometimes, though, you come across something that doesn't even require that little bit of skepticism or deeper thought. Sometimes things jump right out at you and scream "Utter Nonsense!". Todays example of that is from an advertisement on the inside cover of computing (cover date 18th March 2004, though it actually says "18 March 2004" - perhaps they're too cheap to bother with adding th, st, etc.). The advertisement in question is for the Microsoft Windows Server System and appears to have been placed by Microsoft itself.

In some respects the fact that it's a Microsoft advertisement is unfortunate, because it's easy to be accused of bashing them (especially given where I work). But you deal with what you get.

The page is split roughly in half. The top half has the banner. It reads:

Weighing the cost of Linux vs. Windows?
Let's review the facts.

The bottom half includes a chart and some text. The text doesn't really say anything that isn't included in the chart, so it's not reproduced here. The chart is shown below. Please forgive the quality - it's scanned directly from the page and reproduced without permission.


The chart shows how running Linux on two IBM z900 mainframe CPUs is ten times the cost of running Windows Server 2003 on two 900 Mhz Intel Xeon CPUs. I can imagine that this is true, but is it really an interesting comparison? How many people are out there buying IBM z900s purely to run Linux?

In trying to come up with an analogy for this comparison the best I could manage is:

Studies have shown that a small speedboat is considerably more cost effective for water skiing when compared to the recently launched Queen Mary II.

Any better offers?