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High-profile anti-Unix site runs Unix

A Web site sponsored by Microsoft and Unisys as a way to steer big companies away from the Unix operating system is itself powered by Unix software.

A Web site sponsored by Microsoft and Unisys as a way to steer big companies away from the Unix operating system is itself powered by Unix software.

The site, dubbed "We have the way out," runs on Web servers powered by FreeBSD, an open-source version of Unix, along with the Unix-based Web server Apache, according to Netcraft, which tracks Web site information. Both pieces of software compete with Microsoft's Windows operating system. The Microsoft/Unisys site solicits names and contact information in exchange for research reports on data center trends.

Representatives at Unisys and Microsoft weren't immediately available for comment.

The marketing site's use of Unix comes as Microsoft works to get a greater foothold for its Windows operating system in the enterprise computing market, where Unix is well entrenched. Unisys partnered with Microsoft to co-market its large server hardware running Windows as a Unix alternative.

The Web site is just part of Microsoft's renewed marketing and advertising campaign to undermine Unix, the operating system at the heart of powerful server lines from rivals Sun Microsystems, IBM and Hewlett-Packard.

Unisys is spending $25 million on the campaign. Microsoft is adding funding of its own but has declined to say how much.

The "We have the way out" campaign describes Unix as an expensive trap. One ad reads: "No wonder Unix makes you feel boxed in. It ties you to an inflexible system. It requires you to pay for expensive experts. It makes you struggle daily with a server environment that's more complex than ever."

The same ad depicts a scene in which a computer user has painted himself into a corner with purple paint. Sun's servers are manufactured in a shade of purple similar to that in the ad.

The 18-month project will include advertisements, technical sales efforts and other marketing work plugging Unisys' high-end server and Microsoft's top-end version of Windows--two products that so far have made only their first steps into the data centers where high-end servers often reside.

The Unisys ES7000 server can accommodate as many as 32 Intel processors and can be divided into independent "partitions," each with its own operating system. The Datacenter version of Windows 2000 can run on machines with as many as 32 processors. These top-end configurations are rare, Unisys has said, with eight-, 12- or 16-processor partitions more common.