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Ask Microsoft's Martin Taylor About Linux vs. Windows

Roblimo posted more than 9 years ago | from the TCO-studies-prove-whatever-you-want-them-to dept.

Windows 1069

Martin Taylor is Microsoft's global general manager of platform strategy, but he's best-known as the man the company trots out to refute claims of Linux superiority. Here are links to several interviews he's done in the past two years: vnunet.com; CMP; Computerworld; and one on Microsoft's own site. As usual, please submit one question per post. We'll present 10 - 12 of the highest-moderated questions to Mr. Taylor about 24 hours after this post appears, and we expect to publish his answers within the next week.

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Are you a member.. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11619200)

..of the GNAA?

So, you sold your soul, eh? (1, Funny)

Darren Winsper (136155) | more than 9 years ago | (#11619202)

Do you think you could have got more for it on eBay? ;) for the humour challenged.

more humor: objective preference confirmation (3, Insightful)

EvilAlien (133134) | more than 9 years ago | (#11619425)

I have heard rumors that you, in fact, prefer the taste of babies to chicken. Can you please confirm whether or not you eat babies,and if yes, your individual preference in terms of taste compared to the other white meats? (chicken = white meat, pork = the other white meat, babies = the other other white meat)


Oh, a real question while I'm at it:
Of the Linux distributions you've extensively tested, assuming that you have so that your arguments are based on information rather than conjecture, which do you feel is the most desktop-ready?

Interoperability (4, Interesting)

wdd1040 (640641) | more than 9 years ago | (#11619210)

Is Microsoft hoping to incorporated any interoperability for using Linux-based binaries? IE, an embeded version of Cygwin for instance.

Re:Interoperability (2, Informative)

JessLeah (625838) | more than 9 years ago | (#11619394)

Firstly, CygWin doesn't run Linux binaries. One could theoretically build a Linux emulation core around it-- something like WINE, where Linux system calls are actually caught by the middleware and passed along to a rather heavily modified CygWin (which implements many Un*xlike system calls) to execute... However, this would no longer be Cygwin, but a whole new beast.

Secondly, they'd have to release the source to any changes back to the community (presuming they actually wanted to release this "Linux emulation layer" feature ;) ). I doubt they'd do this.

Thirdly, this would raise a big stink. RMS himself might step out to chastize MS if they did something like this.

Fourthly, they'd never do something like this. They already have the (backwardsly-named) MS Services for Unix, and they'll likely stick doggedly to it.

By the way, "i.e." means "that is"; "e.g." means "for example". I think you meant "e.g." (which would also have made "for instance" redundant).

Re:Interoperability (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11619406)

Aren't you talking about something like Wine (but reversed)?? Because with cygwin you have to recompile everything

fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11619222)


Has Microsoft considered (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11619230)

Using an open source code base for a producted. Name, the Mozilla code for an "Internet Explorer 7"?

Quality (4, Interesting)

nagora (177841) | more than 9 years ago | (#11619231)

If Microsoft is so much better why does IE still not support semi-transparent PNGs or CSS fixed positioning while every other browser has done both for literally years? Is it because you don't care or because you can't actually get it to work?


Re:Quality (0, Offtopic)

ednopantz (467288) | more than 9 years ago | (#11619304)

Because making the browser into a great computing platform would commoditize the OS and their main source of revenue. They don't want good web apps.

TCO of Windows vs. Linux (1, Insightful)

donnyspi (701349) | more than 9 years ago | (#11619232)

I see Microsoft ads in magazines claiming that the TCO a business using Windows is significantly less than using Linux. How can this be?

Re:TCO of Windows vs. Linux (0, Offtopic)

willieray (855003) | more than 9 years ago | (#11619332)

easy! MS has the Developers! Developers, developers, developers! In actuality when MS is granted all of their completely legitimate and self-innovated patents, the $300 you pay for winders will easily be under the cost of litigation/ licenscing to use the NOR op or a scroll bar in your FOSS web browser. See, isn't that better?

Seriously... (3, Funny)

Sensible Clod (771142) | more than 9 years ago | (#11619233)

how DO you say that stuff and keep a straight face?

Botox, maybe?

It's the Implant (1)

JimmytheGeek (180805) | more than 9 years ago | (#11619455)

when someone sells his/her soul and is assimilated into the Borg, the implant naturally makes them less spontanious.

I'm only partly kidding. I was a contract tester there and the culture was eerily sterile. Even those people who pursued outside interests seemed a little like Data researching humor. Not just nerds not getting social conventions, really missing some fundamental aspect of humanity.

A company newsletter had an article hyping an employee, whose secret for success was "be passionate about what you do" yet her listed projects were the very definition of that which one could not be passionate about: bland consumer crap in the service of an evil goal. I don't remember exactly which ones she worked on, but they were icky.

It was like the original "Stepford Wives" A bot will have no problem staying on message.

Ripley's... (0, Troll)

JackTripper (798804) | more than 9 years ago | (#11619236)

Seriously dude, do you believe even half the drivel you say in your interviews? Off the record, of course. I won't tell Bill, I promise!

Reviews (1, Interesting)

Mr. Sketch (111112) | more than 9 years ago | (#11619246)

It seems that independent companies tend to review Linux very favorably, yet the only way for Microsoft to get a favorable review is to pay someone for a favorable review. Why do you believe that is?

Brave Fellow (0)

Serapth (643581) | more than 9 years ago | (#11619247)

To allow himself as an MS employee, to be questioned by the people that hang out on slashdot!

Personally, I would rather go door to door in a Jehovah witness community and introduce them to the wonder that is Budism! It would probrably lead to a bit less realigous zealotry doing that...

Practiced by Bullfrogs? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11619391)

Bud-ism? Budweiser-ism?

Why? (5, Interesting)

ratboy666 (104074) | more than 9 years ago | (#11619250)

Why are we asking him about anything? He should be asking /us/.

On second thought, I do have some questions, which I can wrap into a single bundle:

"Is Microsoft going to pursue a Palladium philosophy in the next 5 years? And, if this the strategy, what guarantees will Microsoft make that protect Free Speech?"



Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11619295)

This really needs to be answered.


Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11619252)


Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11619363)

I would ask the same thing. =)

Have you ever used Linux? (5, Interesting)

greyfeld (521548) | more than 9 years ago | (#11619257)

For what purposes? What was your personal experience with using Linux?

following (3, Interesting)

TedCheshireAcad (311748) | more than 9 years ago | (#11619263)

Why do you think that Mac and Linux both have a militant following, but Microsoft does not? ( Or do they, but I just don't see them ? )

Bets? (1)

virid (34014) | more than 9 years ago | (#11619264)

I guarantee this guy runs Linux on a box somewhere and secretly LOVES it.

It's not healthy to be a closet Linux user...

Re:Bets? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11619401)

It's hard to love *anything* about Linux. Linux is garbage.

Free software (2, Interesting)

Jon Abbott (723) | more than 9 years ago | (#11619265)

Did Microsoft consider free software inferior when they released Internet Explorer for free?

Emerging Countries (4, Interesting)

Adrilla (830520) | more than 9 years ago | (#11619266)

Explain why Windows would be a better OS for developing countries where they're trying to keep computer prices extremely low per machine.

Re:Emerging Countries (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11619407)

i would tend to think that if a country is going to emerge anyting it would be Gentoo :^)

Regardless of the superiority or not (3, Interesting)

Russ Nelson (33911) | more than 9 years ago | (#11619269)

Regardless of the superiority of Linux to Windows, or vice-verse, it seems to me that the disruptive economic model of Linux cannot fail to displace Windows. As Microsoft itself has proven many time, you cannot compete with free. Do you see any hope for Microsoft?

Linux is doing something right (3, Interesting)

CypherXero (798440) | more than 9 years ago | (#11619271)


Linux must be doing something right, if one of the largest software companies in the US is devoting money and energy to dismiss Linux. Why can't you be confident in your own product? If you were confident in Windows, you would let the Windows OS speak for itself. So are you making up for the failure of Windows by focusing attention on Linux?

Re:Linux is doing something right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11619320)

Its called competition...

Welcome to Economics 101

Linux and Windows are substitutes, thus they must compete to downplay the other

Same reason Linux fanboys try to say Windows sucks...

hmm (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11619273)

I fully expect Windows to overtake the unix market in 2010, but I also fully expect the linux market to overtake the resulting marketing in 2015. What are your plans to keep this from happening. Do you believe in Gartner's predictions?

Are there any plans for Microsoft on a mainframe hardware? Windows is as well and dandy on x86 hardware, but if I represent a bank and I want a high level of availability on non x86, non Itanium harware, what are you going to provide?

Questions (5, Interesting)

abrotman (323016) | more than 9 years ago | (#11619274)

Why doesn't Microsoft incorporate other OSS software into Windows, such as say Firefox or some of the other software listed at http://www.theopencd.org/?

Does Microsoft feel that Linux has any place at all in the IT industry? If so, where?

Paint me cynical (3, Interesting)

savagedome (742194) | more than 9 years ago | (#11619276)

best-known as the man the company trots out to refute claims of Linux superiority

This guys is there to refute the claims. I honestly do not expect him to say anything that we haven't heard before.

I would still like to ask "How is using a proprietary .doc better than using .pdf or any other open standard and how is Microsoft going to handle this in the future? Any plans on opening it completely?"

Next week on Slashdot... (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11619283)

Ask Satan About Good vs. Evil. The top 10 moderated questions will be answered by Lucifer himself.

Why do you think? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11619287)

Martin,Why do you think people get so passionate about OSS and Linux? Are these people searching for validation that they never received as a child? What makes these technology zealots tick?

Interoperability... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11619292)

When Microsoft seems to tout it's desire to facilitate interoperability, do you mean interoperability seamlessly between your operating system and environment with alternative systems (such as Mac OSX, Linux, Sun Solaris, etc...) or do you mean interoperability between Microsoft products?

Protection against malware (5, Interesting)

ProteusQ (665382) | more than 9 years ago | (#11619293)

What applications do you run to protect your Windows boxes from malware (viruses, trojans, spyware, etc.), and what do you pay for this protection per year? How does this cost compare to the cost incurred by other Windows users? How does this cost compare to what you would pay for equivalent protection offered in Debian GNU/Linux?

Yawn! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11619297)

tired of this comparison...

guess you have no REAL news to report, huh?

Code Review (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11619300)

How do you respond to people who say that the open-source approach and the associated peer-review process inherently create better code?

user preference (1)

Vash_066 (816757) | more than 9 years ago | (#11619301)

When the Home PC market was just growing, Windows was to most average people a way to easily interact and understand their computer. Now as you have this generation who has a deeper understanding of computers, there uses, and workings, how do you explain that more and more of this generation is switching over to different flavors of Linux? And if the trend continues Microsoft Will find it's self the under dog in the home and buisness market, what plans are you putting into effect to remedy this?

Plain speech (4, Funny)

lovebyte (81275) | more than 9 years ago | (#11619303)

Dear Martin,

I have read a couple of your interviews and I would like to ask you to answer to this one in plain English. Please! Could you avoid silly metaphors (try not to mention ballpark for instance) or sentences such as "So someone asks 'Hey can you guys ...'". And try to explain what such a sentence means: "We really [wanted] to go dial down the emotion, dial down the rhetoric, have a more fact-oriented approach and dial up the pragmatic analysis of solutions." (see computerworld interview first sentence!)
It's painful to read and hardly understandable. Thanks in advance.

Fear? (3, Interesting)

cyclop (780354) | more than 9 years ago | (#11619308)

Do you think Linux and OSS is a real, tough competitor for Microsoft? And if not, why do we see such a big Linux-related marketing campaign? Does MS fear Linux?

Little Girl Asks... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11619315)

Mr. Taylor: Open source seems to have the momentum of a runaway freight train. Why is it so popular?

Do you read Slashdot? (5, Interesting)

GillBates0 (664202) | more than 9 years ago | (#11619316)

As GM of a major corporation, you must be expected to be aware of your competition, it's products and what they're saying about you, etc. Linux is different from routine competition, in that you don't have any single company to listen to (press releases, etc) to figure out what they're up to.

Q. Do you frequent Slashdot and the other Linux boards to say what your competition's saying about you?

*Roll eyes* (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11619317)

Give me a break. Do you guys REALLY believe this guy is going to say anything substantive or refrain from spinning the company message? Why do you even bother trying to legitimize this shill?

My one equestion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11619322)

Why does your company keep releasing such insecure, badly designed crap ?

How can you take seriously the "Lower TCO" claim? (5, Interesting)

JessLeah (625838) | more than 9 years ago | (#11619325)

I've yet to see a MS-sponsored (or MS-endorsed...) "study" on the TCO of GNU/Linux-based systems versus the TCO of Microsoft Windows that factors in such things as:

  • How Linux admins can easily administrate more machines per person-hour, due to the nature of Unix/Linux's remote administration (and don't even get me started on VNC or Terminal Services; they aren't scriptable, they aren't as bandwidth-effective, etc. etc. etc...), than Windows admins?
  • The "hidden" costs of lost time due to (A) protecting against adware/spyware/malware/viruses/pop-ups, or (B) actually disinfecting machines that got infected anyhow.
  • The "hidden" costs of downtime due to buggy MS software. Sure, F/OSS stuff has bugs too, but when it does, at least the admin can try to fix them. When MS software is buggy, the admin is 100% at MS's mercy to fix the bug (since, being closed source, MS software is often 100% unfixable to anyone outside MS...)
  • The "hidden" costs of dealing with "hacked" IIS servers (vs. Apache).
And a further question: Do Linux geeks really pull in that much more money salary-wise than Windows geeks!? find this claim hard to swallow, especially in today's economy. I call BS. Show some proof.

Re:How can you take seriously the "Lower TCO" clai (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11619416)

How Linux admins can easily administrate more machines per person-hour, due to the nature of Unix/Linux's remote administration (and don't even get me started on VNC or Terminal Services; they aren't scriptable, they aren't as bandwidth-effective, etc. etc. etc...), than Windows admins?

Actually terminal services doesn't need insane bandwidth - it's usable over a modem. And you *can* remotely administer services and kick off scripts/processes with command-line tools.

Competition (4, Interesting)

rongage (237813) | more than 9 years ago | (#11619331)

Is there any real, actual reason why you (Microsoft) feel a need to use less than independant reviews and tests to attempt to establish Windows superiority? Would it really be so bad for you to let your products stand (or fall) on their own?

3 areas (5, Interesting)

jcarte01 (705242) | more than 9 years ago | (#11619334)

Can you mention 3 areas where you think windows is better than linux and vice versa.

3 areas (re-phrase) (5, Interesting)

jcarte01 (705242) | more than 9 years ago | (#11619380)

Can you mention 3 areas where you think windows could learn from linux and vice versa

Re:3 areas (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11619411)


Windows is better in the following areas:

1. Installation.
2. User Interface.
3. Available applications.
4. Ease of use.
5. Support.
6. Look and feel.
7. Interoperability.

Linux is better in that:

1. It's free.

Oh you wanted three reasons for each. I fail it.

Open Source Applications Helping Windows Compete? (5, Interesting)

Doug Dante (22218) | more than 9 years ago | (#11619336)

To what extent are open source applications on Windows helping it to be more competitive versus Linux? For example, I immediately install OpenOffice.org, Firefox, and Thunderbird over a virgin Windows install.

opensource (1)

LiMikeTnux (770345) | more than 9 years ago | (#11619347)

why not open source some of your APIs. or at least come out with an "emulator" or a "windows layer" for
Nix. i would pay for that if it worked 90% of the time

Things I still don't get... (1)

warderz (839772) | more than 9 years ago | (#11619354)

There are lots of things Microsoft does that I cannot understand. There is one, however, that no one can answer. How come Microsoft says all sorts of things against Open-Source but at the same time releases Open-Source projects (the ones on Sourceforge [sourceforge.net] )?

When? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11619361)

When are you leaving Microsoft?

.NET Platform Portability (5, Interesting)

DaHat (247651) | more than 9 years ago | (#11619362)

One of the biggest criticisms I have heard of .NET is that it is not portable to non Microsoft/Windows platforms. Microsoft has released Rotor, a CLR/BCL system for FreeBSD systems, that with some work can be made to work with MacOS X. Furthermore, there is the Mono system which provides a CLR for Linux.

My question is does Microsoft have any intentions of implementing a CLR and BCL for any other non Microsoft platforms where applications built under one would be (relatively) easily used under another (provided the application does not rely on P/Invokes of course)? If not... why?

Windows Starter Edition (1)

Loadmaster (720754) | more than 9 years ago | (#11619371)

Will it ever be available in America? Also, does Microsoft plan on offering a Starter Edition for Longhorn when it's released or will XP SE be the last one?

A simple question (2, Interesting)

Adrilla (830520) | more than 9 years ago | (#11619383)

Have you actually ever given any Linux distro a fair unbiased evaluation?

What he really meant to say.. (1)

outriding9800 (547724) | more than 9 years ago | (#11619386)

If you look at the bottom of the MS link it says: Due to the varying sound quality and subject matter of tapes, the information in this transcript may contain inaccuracies. So what really said was Linux rocks and MS sucks.


Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11619390)

linux prerogative.. (2, Interesting)

S4t0r1 (766443) | more than 9 years ago | (#11619392)

what aspects of linux/os movement would you like to see in microsoft projects? (i mean both technologic and organizative aspects)

Web Development (1, Interesting)

Foofoobar (318279) | more than 9 years ago | (#11619396)

As a web developer for a Microsoft vendor, I have had the ability to work on both platforms... Linux and Windows. I run my own site on Linux which gets 1.8 millions hits a month (1800 unique IPs a day) and my companies website which runs on a Win2K box gets slightly less (most of which is directly from MS). The problem I have is that while running pretty much identical apps and using an AMP (apache, mysql and php) build on both, Windows consistently is slower by a huge margin.

Why is this?

Predictable Questions (1)

frankthechicken (607647) | more than 9 years ago | (#11619397)

Which would you have more faith running, Windows as root or Linux as root?

More importantly, why are you doing this interview? What do you hope to gain out of it? Aside from getting predictable questions like the one above or Why does Windoze suck so much?!!11one1, and other predictable childish responses, that can only reflect upon this community in the poorest of lights.

I guess maybe that is the result you wish to gain, to appear rational in your answers, with the /. response predictably rarely rising above the level of pre-pubescent monkeys. If so congrats, I feel you might acheive your goals.

Why shouldn't... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11619399)

...we put you in the same category as a doctor who smokes?

TCO (1)

hoborocks (775911) | more than 9 years ago | (#11619402)

What is your response to me saying that your TCO studied you keep publishing everywhere (just saw three in Information Week) are full of lies, misrepresentations, and utter stupiditiy? For example, you give many examples that are absurd - your distribution of users, premium service packs, support, etc, are nowhere near equal for each piece of the comparison.

agents of microsoft on slashdot? (1)

flacco (324089) | more than 9 years ago | (#11619404)

does microsoft have agents on slashdot whose job is to sway opinion, blunt criticism, etc. with regard to microsoft/windows etc?

Future... (5, Interesting)

JossiRossi (840900) | more than 9 years ago | (#11619417)

Since Linux is likely here to stay, regardless of current quality, where do you feel Linux will be in 20 years. Especially when compared to where you feel Microsoft's OS will be in 20 years.

I more interested in the MSFT culture. (0, Troll)

Maudib (223520) | more than 9 years ago | (#11619421)

How would you describe the taste of Bill Gate's man juice?

Re:I more interested in the MSFT culture. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11619444)


Skills of the responsible administrator (3, Interesting)

Dark Lord Seth (584963) | more than 9 years ago | (#11619426)

Mr Taylor,

I myself am convinced that neither Windows nor Linux are superior solutions if one's to have an objective view. In my humble opinion, the "superiority" of a system lies in the hands of the administrator responsible for said system and not with the type of software used, in this case. For example, a good Window system administrator with some good experience and the right tools can easily maintain a server just like a well trained and experienced Linux system administrator can maintain his servers. Quite a few people agree on this and recognize the fact that the skills of the responsible administrator are more significant then the software platform used.

The question is, what is your position on this? Do you agree with the aforementioned idea about system administrator capabilities being more important? Or are you convinced that the software platform used is more important?

Security and Modularization of Windows (3, Interesting)

whackco (599646) | more than 9 years ago | (#11619433)

Do you see Windows becoming more modularized for the server market, and is security issues pushing it that way?

For instance, the new sandboxing for IIS, and other such options, becoming part of a greater security push, but ultimatly an example of seeing the system more 'modular'.

Training (1)

HisMother (413313) | more than 9 years ago | (#11619434)

What kind of training did you have for this position? Did you and the Iraqi Information Minister go to school together?

Office? (2, Insightful)

wild_berry (448019) | more than 9 years ago | (#11619435)

If office were priced upon a subscription model (as has been speculated) would it be appropriate to sell and would you try to sell a Linux (any toolkit/window manager of your choice) version in the same way that Office exists for Mac?

Does the diversified nature of windowing toolkits for the X Windows system, the current use of both XFree86 and X.org, and the huge effort you have put into you own kernel for MS Windows make it even less likely that a version of any MS software will appear for Linux, no matter how many office desks begin to use Linux? (Is the technical challenge too big for you? :-P)

So who's really going to answer these questions? (1)

ip_freely_2000 (577249) | more than 9 years ago | (#11619437)

I find it hard to believe that the answers won't be run through Microsoft's PR people before being posted. I highly doubt MS going to let unreviewed answers appear on this site on such a touchy subject without some serious oversight happening.

Windows TCO vs. Linux TCO (4, Interesting)

RailGunner (554645) | more than 9 years ago | (#11619438)

Why do you claim Windows has a lower Total Cost of Ownership, yet you do not add the costs (not incurred by Linux / FOSS) of a Virus Scanner, Microsoft Office on the desktop or IIS / SQL Server on the server, plus the damage that is done by such worms as the Blaster and Slammer worms?

Especially when the costs of upgrading is recurring.

I just gotta know (1)

Todd Fisher (680265) | more than 9 years ago | (#11619439)

Do you really think Chuck Barris was a CIA hitman? And is Chuck Woolery a cybortronic-biomech sent from the future to destroy the world using a cunning combination of convoluted dating exercises and word jumbles? And is it just a coincidence that they're both named Chuck?

"Platform" (4, Interesting)

Knights who say 'INT (708612) | more than 9 years ago | (#11619442)

As a research economist working in the field of network externalities, I'd like to know a little more about the history of your position at Microsoft. Since when there has been a Platform Strategy division? Do you follow the academic literature on fields like network externalities or produce entirely original theoretical work to support strategical advisory?

Security in an insecure world... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11619447)

How does Microsoft intend to compete with installations of SELinux, where the combination of both normal and role based permissions restricts even would-be hackers with root access?

FUnDing (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11619448)

Microsoft has had finanical dealings with SCO [sco.com] and AdTI [adti.net] when both were making baseless and sweeping claims against Linux. Are there any other groups that you pay to attack Linux that you would like to tell us about before they come out in court?

Windows & Supercomputers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11619449)

Linux is capable enough for supercomputers. How many supercomputers run Windows?
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