Microsoft: Yep, we teach Best Buy to trash Linux

Microsoft (MSFT) has confirmed the authenticity of a controversial set of training slides that it prepared to train Best Buy (BBY) employees in what the software giant calls "the important differences between Linux computers and Windows computers."

Pro-Linux advocates -- including the Best Buy employee who initially leaked the training slides onto the web -- had accused Microsoft of "indoctrinating" workers with anti-Linux propaganda to mislead the public. The Best Buy worker, whom DailyFinance has spoken to, remains employed. For now.
As we reported Sunday, the slides, part of an ExpertZone training module designed for Best Buy employees preparing to sell Windows 7, assert that "Linux does not support many common applications and online services like iTunes, Zune, Quicken, Photoshop, and Office 2007." They also dismiss the claim that "Linux is safer than Windows" as a "myth."

"This is the usual thing that Microsoft does, but they've really taken it to an extreme now," Christopher Lemire, a Houston, Texas-based computer programmer said when the story first broke. "They're really attacking Linux this time."

"It's just lies and indoctrination," he added.

In a statement sent to DailyFinance late Tuesday, Microsoft defended its slides without directly addressing the Best Buy employee's accusation. "Microsoft works with its partners to help them prepare to sell our products in a competitive marketplace," the statement read.

"This deck, which is just one of many reference materials we provide our retail partners, was specifically developed to show sales professionals the important differences between Linux computers and Windows computers, so they are well equipped to help customers purchase a PC that gives them the experience they expect," Microsoft said in the statement.

The software giant -- which dominates the market for computer operating systems -- went on to hammer home its view that the Windows platform is superior to Linux-based platforms.

"The advantages of a Windows PC over a Linux-powered computer that were outlined in the presentation materials sum up why Windows market share in the netbook PC space has grown to more than 93% worldwide," the statement said. "Windows is the only choice that gives customers the experience, compatibility, easy setup and maintenance, and security they want and need."

DailyFinance spoke to the Best Buy employee who had posted the slides (and who is still employed by Best Buy), who leaked the slides over the weekend on a Photobucket account under the handle GodOfGrunts. The employee says that even if he ultimately gets fired over the incident, posting the slides has been worthwhile: "I'm more interested in getting the truth out there than keeping my job."

In a statement to DailyFinance, a Best Buy spokesperson said: "We'd prefer that our employees take their concerns directly to us, and we have a lot of different channels for them to do that – anonymously or not."

Asked whether the company is investigating the source of the leak, the spokesperson said, "I can't comment on what we may or may not be doing about this employee as it's confidential."

Email Sam Gustin at sam.gustin@weblogsinc.com. Follow DailyFinance's tech coverage at http://www.twitter.com/DFTechNews

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