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Microsoft had people dressed up like medieval Venetian models at the hotel entrance of last week’s VMworld conference in Las Vegas. They distributed dollar chips and flyers to anybody wearing a VMworld bag, with on it the website address VmwareCostsWayTooMuch.com, which led VMware customers and partners to a landing page, on which the headlines all redirect to the Microsoft Hyper-V portal.
The guerilla marketing tactics actually worked, with coverage from publications like NetworkWorld, ZDNet Blogs, Channel Marker, Virtualization Information, Burton Group’s Data Center Strategies blog, and others.
We ignore whether this smear marketing stunt was inspired by the US presidential campaign, but it was certainly not the first time Microsoft engages into heads-on advertising. Last time around it was targeted against Linux. However, we were never aware of Microsoft distributing any leaflets with GetTheFacts.com at the entrance of LinuxWorldExpo or LinuxTag. It is also quite funny to observe that Linux distributions (starting with SUSE) are now supported as Guest Operating Systems on Hyper-V and that Redmond advertises this feature extensively.
Microsoft even provides integration components and technical support for customers running select Linux distributions (limited to SUSE for the moment) as guest operating systems. IF history repeats itself, VMware can be reassured that in a few years this type of Microsoft campaign results in supporting a competing technology.
It took the VMware conference staff a little while to get notified about the leaflets and some more time before they got the hotel staff at The Venetion to stop the flyers from being handed out at the entrance of their annual user conference, attracting over 14.000 attendees to Las Vegas. It is estimated at least 4.000 flyers were distributed in the elapsed time.
The distributed 1 dollar chips were actually valid inside The Venetian Casino. This guerilla marketing initiative has cost at least 4.000 dollars in casino money, but the website and distribution must have cost a lot more.
It is hard to believe The Venetian did not make the connection between selling a few thousand ‘Dollar chips’ to Microsoft and concurrently renting their entire event facilities and rooms to VMware. Especially with those video cameras and security personell all over, it can be assumed Microsoft had obtained some sort of permission before handing out those free chips at the hotel entrance.
What do you think about this remarkable anti-VMware propaganda? Does it make MS look desperate as the new kid on the hypervisor block? Does it suit a multinational that runs entirely on ‘expensive‘ licenses to attack a ‘partner’ at its annual user conference over that very cost element? Do the facts that they present on their marketing website actually make sense? What boomerang effect can they expect? How would Microsoft react if Sun would hand out flyers at the gates of TechEd or DevDays with a catchy URL: GetOfficeForFreeAndStopPayingMicrosoft.Com. We look forward to seeing who will register that available domain.
As we all know, hypervisors are a commodity nowadays and just like Xen and Hyper-V, it must be said that ESX comes free of license cost too. At Virtualization.com, we like to think the value and related cost are no longer in that free naked hypervisor, but in the integrated management and extended tool sets that surround it.
If you were among those first 4.000 VMworld attendees, feel free to tell us how much you made with your Microsoft dollars on the gambling tables and if that was enough to cover/upgrade a VMware license?