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Anti-Unix Web site on the fritz?

As of midday Tuesday, the anti-Unix "We have the way out" Web site launched by Microsoft and Unisys was displaying either an all-white screen or an authorization error message.

When it comes to Unix, Microsoft and Unisys are suddenly silent.

The two companies launched a Web site earlier this week seeking to persuade customers to switch from the Unix operating system to Microsoft software. But as of midday Tuesday, the "We have the way out" site displayed either an all-white screen or an "Error 403" authorization message.

Unisys declined to comment on the development. A Microsoft representative, who also pulled up a blank screen when trying to access the site, said the company would look into the matter.

Although it's been around for only a few days, the site has drawn the wrath of Unix and Linux programmers.

On Monday, it was revealed that the site ran on Web servers powered by FreeBSD, an open-source version of Unix, as well as on the Unix-based Web server Apache. Both pieces of software compete with Microsoft's Windows operating system.

Netcraft, which tracks the software running on various sites, reports that the site switched over to using Microsoft Internet Information Server software on Tuesday, the same day as the outage.

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. Before the Microsoft/Unisys site came up blank, it solicited names and contact information in exchange for research reports on data center trends.

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."