Daft websites department

Daft websites department

Lovely column by Henry Norr.

“WAY OUT WEB SITES: If you don’t follow CNET’s news.com or slashdot.org, you may have missed one of the more amusing chapters in the story of Microsoft’s efforts to take over the server market.

Late last month, the company joined with Unisys, an old mainframemaker that now peddles systems with Intel chips and Microsoft software, to launch a marketing campaign designed to win corporate tech managers away from Unix, the dominant operating system for high-end servers.

The centerpiece of the campaign is a Web site called “We have the way out” (www.wehavethewayout.com), where — in exchange for name, phone number and e-mail address — you can download white papers and other materials extolling the virtues of Unisys’ hardware and Microsoft’s software and none-too-subtly dissing Unix and its close cousin Linux, the basis of competing products from the likes of Sun Microsystems and IBM.

The site, however, had been up only a few hours when some inspired geek thought to check it out at Netcraft (www.netcraft.com), a free service that reports on what OS and Web server are running at any address you enter.

Lo and behold, the machines serving the anti-Unix propaganda were themselves running on FreeBSD, a freely distributed Unix derivative, and Apache, an open-source Web server for Unix-based systems.

When Cnet and other sources broke this news last Monday, I thought it might just be an April Fool’s prank, but that was not the case, and to Microsoft and Unisys it was no laughing matter: They quickly shut the site down.

When it came back a day later, it was running on — wait for it — Windows 2000 and Microsoft’s Internet Information Server.

For the Unix and Linux crowd, though, the fun was just beginning. As soon as it was converted to Windows, the site began to malfunction, delivering blank screens to users who tried to check it out. Microsoft’s PR agency says the problems were due to “in-depth security checks.”

“With the publicity around the site, we felt it would have been a magnet for hackers, and quite frankly, we didn’t want to give them the satisfaction,” spokeswoman Erica Munson said.

It took the site’s operators two days to do their checks, but since Thursday, it has apparently been working properly.

Meanwhile, a Linux company called LinuxFreaks.com has set up a counter- propaganda page called “We have the way in” (www.wehavethewayin.com), which offers links to Unix and Linux information, not to mention much prettier pictures than the Microsoft-Linux site.

Yet another site along the same lines is set to open this morning at www. weknowthewayout.com. ”