"There are some groups within Microsoft [where] it's taking longer for the message to filter down," said Peter Galli, senior open-source community manager of the Platform Strategy Group.
Microsoft hired Galli, a former journalist who covered both Microsoft and Linux, several months ago as a "change agent" to help spread the new open-source message across the company, Duffner said.
An example of how old habits die hard came just last week, when Microsoft's public relations team posted a case study on its PressPass Web site highlighting how a U.K. company called Speedy Hire expects to save $1.48 million in five years after switching from Linux to Windows. The interview, which Microsoft's public relations team pointed out to journalists through an e-mail campaign, had no apparent news value and seemed out of context, as the Speedy Hire case study was a year old.
Blatant open-source bashing like this is what the Platform Strategy Group is trying to change, Galli said.
However, Microsoft still believes that running a Windows Server environment has a better total cost of ownership than a Red Hat Enterprise Linux environment, something that many customers still don't quite understand because some still believe open source means free of charge.
This message is especially important during the current recession in the U.S., when many companies are looking to cut costs, Duffner said.
He stressed that Microsoft by no means wants to promote the use of open-source software to its customers, and still thinks its own software is superior. However, embracing open source is about giving customers and developers the chance to make their own decisions about which software to buy, and making sure both Microsoft and open-source software can be part of the same buying decision, Duffner said.
The 451 Group's Lyman concurred that Microsoft's interest in open source is "its own self-interest." "They want open source on Windows to be just as good as open source on Linux," he said.
Lyman added that it "makes sense" for Microsoft to differentiate between attacking other vendors like Red Hat and attacking open source as an ideology, which is what the company has done in the past and which has proven to be a battle that it can't win.