Saturday, April 15, 2006

Scoble's Moderation and That Old Time Conspiracy Reward Challenge

Quick blog-technology-centric post for something near and dear to the Mini-Microsoft blog: comments.

I've said it. Lots of other people have said it (lots... said it so much I wonder if I should just put up one word posts some time). So it must be true: comments by the readers of this blog are what truly make it unique and perhaps even important for some moment of time.

I felt bad about moderating when I first did it. Not anymore. I only feel bad about the precious personal time I have to burn getting the comments scanned and approved and how it can slow down the conversation. But I'm really glad Blogger has comment moderation. This blog would have either died or moved onto another host long ago without it.

So now, given my personal context, I've had a Neo-ish "whoa!" to hear that Robert Scoble has started comment moderation on his Scobleizer blog. Whoa!

Moderation. So I know you have Clay Shirky talking about it and folks like me and Scoble living it, but what is the solution? It seems that blogging as a communication medium is prone to entropy the more successful a blog becomes... perhaps comments should be tiered so that there is always a secondary page one can go to for all submitted comments and elevated comments (either by the owner or readers) can make their way onto the main blog page to ascend next to the main post's text. Kind of like Slashdot, just without the one-liner noise of each filtered message.

In the meantime, while showering after another fun day weeding between rain clouds, I just contemplate the amount of vile-infused comment hatred I was gobsmacked with as of late. Well, not directed at me. At Microsoft. It's freaking irrational. You might point to past sins, but that doesn't add up. There is plenty of choice out there and this caricature that has been foisted up of Microsoft does not match the passionate, corporate company I work with. Nor each person I work with. But a whole generation seems to have bought into it, and it comes as a price of "anything but Microsoft" when indeed Microsoft would have been the best and obvious choice. Add onto that a new immergence of nationalism associated with software and more and more people are finding reasons to hate Microsoft that don't add up.

So I don't let those comments go through, but they do stick to my conscience. I'd like a solution to that, too. And a milkshake.

(and I see Bubba Murarka will be making an appearance on Scoble's blog - good luck, Bubba!)

Oh, and rather than adding a comment for this theme again:

Thus, I have concluded you are not the independent blogger you say you are but are rather a paid foil of the executives, with the mission of extracting feedback that would seldom be expressed through the sycophantic MS Poll.

Not that that's such a bad thing, of course. The comments keep things in perspective and help people let off a little anonymous steam.

Well, please step up to the mic for the next town-hall with Ballmer and ask him yourself, "Does Microsoft control or direct the Mini-Microsoft blog?" Or some other fun question like that to put the leadership on record about this recurrent topic (hey, I'm a Mulder fan, I like my conspiracies, too). Tell you what, if you do then I'll route you a nice dining giftcard to a fine Eastside restaurant for you and your sweetheart. But in the meantime: no, it's just me doing my thing when I have spare time. I work hard during the day to make money for Microsoft and our shareholders, and I steal as much spare time away from my non-work life to put up the occasional post and moderate the comments. Sometimes it's too much and I go on break. Just like me, it's all pretty simple.

My only compensation is when our leadership gets asked the hard questions or when it seems change is enacted to address the serious issues brought up within the conversation here. As for you "sleeping with the enemy" and all that... well, do you think change is needed? Looks like the call for change has received attention. Will that change happen if you silently go back to your keyboard, or will it happen if we all work together to discuss what's not working and how to arise to the occasion and do better. Well, not just better. To do the absolute best. As we know we all can.

Silence solves nothing.


106 comments:

Anonymous said...

I declare a spelling immergency!!

- nate webster

Neema Agha said...

The plain and simple truth is that Robert has been getting more and more defensive. Every once in a while, I like to call him on it. When Microsoft pathetically apes a competitor and he can't accept and be up front that it IS a little pathetic, he does become a corporate stooge. Sorry but it's the truth.

Anonymous said...

In the meantime, while showering after another fun day weeding between rain clouds, I just contemplate the amount of vile-infused comment hatred I was gobsmacked with as of late. Well, not directed at me. At Microsoft. It's freaking irrational. You might point to past sins, but that doesn't add up.

Yes it does. I'm not an MS employee but have been a developer in large corporations (mainly banks) over the past two decades. Most of the people I worked with produced wonderful stuff. Yet the banks were pilloried by the public. Does that sound familiar?

There were three main reasons for this and they apply exactly to the situation MS is now in.

Firstly, the customer wasn't being offered what they wanted. .NET may be considered a stunning piece of development architecture but it is yet another API that has to be learned by the developer. And based on recent history there will be another API along in a couple of years so why bother with this one? You can argue all about managed code and the like but the fact remains that, as a developer, I'm tired of having to continually refresh my knowledge for little apparent benefit to me or my employers. If people need to spend all their time learning they are not going to be doing and a lot of people hit that point a while ago. From a consumer point of view Office already does just about everything they want - write a letter, build a spreadsheeet and make some slides - so there is no need to upgrade. Indeed for most people it looks like change for change's sake simply because there is nothing new added that they can use.

The second factor was not providing things that were delivered in a timely manner and worked as promised. That simply destroys credibility which affects how you are viewed in the future. Look at what Vista promised and compare to what it says it will do when it eventually arrives. The same is happening with the Xbox. How many security patches have I had to install for Windows and IE? Not to mention all the viruses and spyware. The TV ads promise me all sorts of wonderful things I can do with MS products but I'm too busy running McAfee to get around to using them. This leaves customers feeling as if they have been hit with a bait-and-switch and that builds resentment.

The final factor is public image (and trust me, after working for banks during the last decade I'm very aware of this). Annoyingly this is the area most out of the control of the individual employee. All things go in cycles. Years ago MS was the bright new kid which was taking on the antitrust-laden massive corporation of IBM to bring excellent software to fight against the expensive bloat produced by Big Blue which was trying hard to stay on top by trying to quash anyone which looked like a competitor. Sound familiar? Gates is the richest man in the world and everyone who has ever had Windows crash on them knows this. Antitrust suits are now mentioned outside the industry papers, DRM is starting to hit the general public awareness and other companies (Google, Apple, etc) are now far cooler because they are producing very neat stuff. MS is now seen as something that needs to be tolerated rather than something that should be taken note of.

I don't want to slate MS in the manner which occured on the comments of your management post but I think the above gives an indication of why a lot of companies get into this problematic situation. I also think you're not seeing the forest because of all the trees. The delay on Vista is not causing all this grief for MS, it's due to a large number of factors which have been building for the last decade. By themselves they can all be considered spot fires but when they start running into each other a lot of people will get burned.

Robert Scoble said...

Neema: agreed. I have been getting defensive. But, when you're attacked every day, all day, it gets a little hard to figure out what to do. And, I was burned out. It took taking a week off to really figure that out and make some changes. My health hasn't been really good either and I'm working on that too. You'll see my writing change and you'll also see that I don't engage as much in comments, which is where the defensiveness came anyway.

And, shoot me for liking the company I work for.

Anonymous said...

This is problem with almost all Microsoft blogs (blogs.msdn.com for example).

Then they started to fight with blog spam - they also give bloggers information and power to delete comments. Bloggers started to abuse this by deleting comments with disagreements.

Do not fool yourself - MS blogging is no longer personal for-fun - but company wide effort (lead by Scoble) to increase amount of Microsoft-positive information. Nobody from MS bloggers will be willing to put themselves at risk by keeping negative comments at their blog.
Open blogs.msdn.com / blogs.technet.com and you will see standard CORPORATE footer with link to MS Corp legal disclaimers.
One part of them is http://www.microsoft.com/info/cpyright.mspx#EUC
"Microsoft reserves the right to review materials posted to the Communication Services and to remove any materials in its sole discretion"

Something that good - there are always workarounds to this - you can start your own blog to post replies or use something like http://www.cocomment.com/

Anonymous said...

The one thing I would add the the previous comment on widespread anti-microsoft sentiment is that Microsoft's attitude towards others is extremely rude and this sets people off.

During the "Crush Netscape Days" there was the "Cut off their air supply comment." This definitely put a public face on Microsoft as someone that was hell bent on winning at all costs, willing to kill any piece of emerging technology that threatened their monopoly. Now, given that this attack was in the early days of the browser wars, I don't think it had widespread negative implications. I doubt very much that the typical soccer mom at the time even knew what a browser or a netscape was. The impact was largely confined to the tech elite.

Fast forward to today... A large percentage of the general population knows what a browser is. The internet is a daily part of their lives. A huge number of these people use Google and for many it has replaced the browser address bar. To them, Google is the entry way to the internet and they love it an depend on it.

Now, when Mr. Ballmer is quoted as saying, "I will f*&&%$ Kill Google", regular people, soccer moms, gas station attendants take notice. These people don't understand why Microsoft MUST KILL Google. They certainly don't see how Google threatens Microsoft. I think many that read stories like this read it as Microsoft is trying to kill something good. That maybe Microsoft thinks that all good things that they don't own must be killed. It makes Microsoft look like a big bully, and people generally don't like bullies.

So, I think in the public image section of the previous comment, this abusive/bully behavior is a large part of Microsoft's public image problem.

And frankly, for the record, I think this is a large part of the problems within Microsoft, the reason the company appears to be thrashing, etc. Micrsoft does not seem focused on the pc os/office. They seem distracted feeling that they have to get into and dominate everything thats "new and cool". If you are trying to create a nimble Microsoft, one way to do this is slim down, avoid the distractions, and focus on what you are great at. Don't go chasing every single idea out there. Unfortunately, you have the resources to dabble in all these areas, you do this over and over again. This is a huge sink on your executives time, you are not good/great in any of these areas, you go in asserting up front that you will violently obliterate competition in these spaces, etc.

Focus on Windows please, and please deliver it to me, with high quality, and in a timely manner. By screwing with me on windows, you are never going to make me want to buy one of your phones, or use you for search, etc. My experience with windows and office shapes my perception of you as a software developer. If my windows experience sucks, becomes infested with registry rot, spyware, and viruses. Don't you think I might be a little bit afraid to use you for my cell phone or car navigation, or as my home stereo, or search engine...

Anonymous said...

Suggestion: create a 'my comment got refused' wiki page linked to from your blog; refused commenters can duke it out there expressing their opinions, with no moderation.

Anonymous said...

Mini, pointing to past sins isn't as invalid as you seem to think; those past sins comprise Microsoft's track record. It show us where Microsoft has been, how it got to where it is, and hints at where it could be going.

Yes, one can put on blinders and select a Microsoft technology based only on today's concerns, but it is short-sighted to do so. By looking at past behavior and extrapolating, we might decide that the risk of Microsoft lock-in is too great; we might end up with a stagnant platform when the competition is killed off.

It's not all about today's technology; it's about making responsible choices for technology's future. And Microsoft's past sins strongly suggest that it would be unwise to entrust it with that future.

Microsoft doesn't just need attrition, nor even an image change. What it needs at this point is mass amnesia on the part of consumers.

I think Microsoft does have a future, as did IBM. But I'm willing to bet it's not a future reminiscent of any past innovations.

Anonymous said...

I think part the reason for getting so much abuse is that the site is popular and interesting enough to get on slashdot, at which point the level of discourse ceases to be rational. To most of ./, MS are the enemy, except when its the MPAA/RIAA, in which case you (sometimes) take on the side of righteousness, primarily because you know that locking down a PC with absolute DRM would kill sales.

BP/CMB said...

That third response from the former bank employee was right on target. I particularly empathize with the part about he constantly changing APIs. It was an open letter from Bill Gates regarding the value of the API interface that first brought me to Windows, and the subsequent (mis)use of the interface as a marketing tool that drove me away. So since the technical issue has already been addressed, I'll just add my thoughts on how Microsoft seems to be trying to interact with its users, or how this may be more illusion than reality.

Every blogger has the right to say "I want to feel good about myself and what I'm doing and anyone who doesn't contribute to that is unwelcome here."

Yes, every blogger has that right, but few of us want to participate in such a love-fest. It doesn't matter whether it is an individual such as Scoble who has bragged about being thick skinned, an iconoclast such as Eric Raymond, who hates Microsoft's closed nature but edits his own blog comments with a fairly heavy hand, or a whole company such a Microsoft, General Electric, or IBM where the "Contact Us" links end up being a "maze of twisty passages all alike".

Unhappy users want to vent, and if a telephone call gets you a disinterested third-party in India, a blog will have to do. But there are plenty of places to rail against Microsoft and some of them, such a Slashdot, will get the artful rant a standing ovation. Epithets and self descriptions ("Microsoft hater") aside, I doubt that anyone posting here, or on Scoble's blog for that matter is doing so just to get readership, since this blog, or Scoble's, popular though they may be, don't get the hits that Slashdot does.

Microsoft users (and that includes former or potential users such as myself) not only want to speak out, but be heard, and not just heard by other users, but possibly by influential people within Microsoft. If the idea of a "Naked Conversation" is that companies need more bloggers, I've got news for you: The number of ways that Microsoft speaks to its users is already too many, not too few. What is missing are ways for users to speak to Microsoft. Not the call-center Microsoft, not the geeky Microsoft programmer's personal blog, but the people who actually run the company.

For those who see Microsoft as forever existing as one large entity, try and think of another company in history that has done so. Large companies are not "hard" like billiard balls. They don't "bounce" intact off of obstacles, they are more like blobs of liquid in space, stars if you will, that under extreme stress break into smaller bodies, their momentum left somewhat intact, and these smaller bodies can recombine in useful or destructive ways. Look at the AT&T forced breakup or all the voluntary spinoffs from IBM as examples. The former wealth and power of AT&T have at this point largely recombined into only two entities, but smaller bits have been divided and redivided into a mist as from an atomizer. The ultimate owners of companies such as Microsoft, the stockholders, have an interest in this process being not too chaotic, and hopefully adding value to their portfolio. That desire is often not shared by company management, who have their own egos to deal with as well as the decision about which blob they want to be a part of when the inevitable does happen.

Like that momentum that allows the value in a company to survive the companies demise, for us technologists there is an momentum that transcends individual companies, countries or cultures. Individual companies can be instrumental in accelerating or retarding that technological momentum and Microsoft has of late been found "guilty as charged" of doing more of the latter than the former. A single company can hold back the stream of progress but beyond a certain point will be overwhelmed by it and may find itself unable to recover any sort of leadership position. I think this is what awaits Microsoft if it does not change, and change rapidly. AJAXifying MSN is nice, as is a begrudging acceptance of ODF or the Port 25 initiative (which many still see as an embrace and extinguish move), but no change in company ethos seems evident in any of this. From the public's perspective, all of these things, whether real efforts or PR moves, weighed against the throwing of one chair and are found lacking.

Where can users, or people who might be users, go to meaningfully influence those at the top, who really control the companies destiny, especially when your advice to such powerful people might be to "step down NOW." I think your blog, and Scoble's were good starts. But maybe their time has passed. Importantly, they seem to be the efforts of individuals who got noticed almost by accident, not the initiatives of a company trying to re-invent itself. Can the company re-invent itself from the bottom up? I have my doubts.

Anonymous said...

Welcome back, mini.

Microsoft software tends to be crap and I think a lot of the blame rests on the design process. Features are added, cut, and redesigned throughout a product cycle. Specs arrive after coding starts, there are a few rounds of adds/cuts per milestone, and then there are DCRs after coding is supposedly finished. The questions are usually "what is the bare minimum we can do for this feature so we can fit it in the schedule?" and "will users be okay with the workaround to problem XYZ?" The resulting product doesn't function as a cohesive whole; instead it feels like a giant accumulation of DCRs that only works because of endless months of late nights, bug goals, and triaging.

Gianni said...

I guess every now and then someone pipes up the "Mini's on MS payroll" revelation.

Well, guys, it shows you don't bother following ths blog for a long time because it must have been revealed what, Mini, maybe 20 times already?

Is it relevant? I wish Google had a mini-Google, and IBM had a mini-IBM, and Cisco had a mini-Cisco, and HP had a mini-HP because truth is all of these companies (and perhaps all large companies of our age) have a sore need to hear it like it's being said when they're not around.

Anonymous said...

Silence solves nothing.

Outright rants might not be tolerated, but it has been refreshing to see that comments critical of management can be posted and published here. Anyone who has been at Microsoft any length of time know that employees who point up leadership’s shortcomings face eventual retribution in one form or another. (Gretchen loves Microsoft and can’t speak highly enough of it. Umm-hmm.)

Enter Mini.

Today, management can be called to the carpet for strategic missteps or behavior contrary to the best interest of the company. They are forced to respond and fix the problems (‘evolve’ is the term that they like to use) and this is GREAT news for Microsoft. Once in jeopardy of becoming a chronic autocracy Microsoft can now face the future and its competitive challenges. Forums like this provide a real service in guiding that progress.

Anonymous said...

And, shoot me for liking the company I work for.

I would say you like the work you do for the company and you like the people with whom you work.

Actually "liking" a legal entity like a corporation is weird considering it cannot like you back.

For example, an employee gets a new manager who doesn't like them and now the company doesn't like them. The employee changes jobs and gets a new manager and now the company likes the employee again. HR decides they don't like the employee and tells their new manager to get rid of the employee and now the company doesn't like the employee again.

If you look at the "behavior" of the company in total, you "like" legal entities with abusive behavior (probably not directed at you but at other employees and other corporations).

If you were in a relationship with a person like that, I would say that you need help.

Defending a person like that would wear on someone.

Robert Scoble said...

BP: excellent point. I +do+ want to hear from people with anti-Microsoft points of view. I won't, however, continue to put up with the abusive behavior of some of my anonymous commenters. I also won't put up with consistently negative behavior anymore. There's "being heard" and then there's "being a troll."

When I helped run a camera store in Silicon Valley we'd occassionally kick a customer out of the store who was being a pain in the behind.

Once, during Christmas, we did this to a customer who then came back, apologized, and spent $3,000.

Sometimes you've gotta protect your own employees and your own sanity.

As you pointed out, there are already plenty of ways people can rant about Microsoft. Heck, if you write the words "Microsoft sucks" on your blog, I'll see it. And probably respond to it (that's one of the searches I do over on Technorati.

But I came to the realization that my own emotional state was caught up in the comment area of my blog. It is similar to my family room. And, I don't allow just anyone to attack me in my own house and stay there.

Robert Scoble said...

BP: one thing, though. You don't need to have a large audience to be influential. If you knew that Steve Jobs was reading a blog every day, you'd know that it was influential, right? No need to have 40,000 people reading it every day.

And the audience sizes here and over on my blog are getting fairly large too. According to my Wordpress.com stats I have about 40,000 subscribers to my RSS feed. That's getting into Slashdot territory.

In fact, lately, I've been getting more visits from Digg than we've been getting from Slashdot.

Anonymous said...

"Now, when Mr. Ballmer is quoted as saying, "I will f*&&%$ Kill Google", regular people, soccer moms, gas station attendants take notice."

Dear, you must note that this phrase is attributed to Mr. Ballmar by a Google employee. Mr. Ballmer already have clarified that he did not say these words. Google and its employees had financial benefits to accuse Mr. Ballmer on this. The context in which this phrase was attributed to Mr. Ballmer gave legal benefit to Google.

It is an irony that a company (Google) played a negative card and still the enlightened people like yourself choose to express your anger at another well respected infividual.

On a different note, I think the phrase is perfectly valid though. It tells us that capitalism is working. A very capable company is announcing a full fledged competition another capable company. This means better products. That means regular people, soccer moms, gas station attendants will be delighted.

I will agree with you if you could point me to a single instance of Microsoft trying to kill Google by cutting their air supply. Microsoft is trying to kill Google by out-googling them. Try to use Local.live.com. You would see that Google Earth is out-googled already. Cutting Google's air-supply is not difficult. If Microsoft choose to do it, it can do it in a short time. I am delighted that Microsoft is not taking this path. Instead Microsoft is trying to out-google Google and Google is trying to out-Microsoft Microsoft. For an example, Google calendar comes quite close to Live Calendar but still has a long way to catch up to Outlook.

I am delighted! BTW, IE out-netscaped Netscape. IE provided a better value than Netscape. You would not have seen Firefox today if Microsoft had not out-nescaped Netscape.

Have faith in opne markets.

Anonymous said...

>> Mr. Ballmer already have clarified

Mr. Ballmer was (carefully) not under oath. And Mr. Lucovsky was. Somehow I believe Mr. Lucovsky more on this one, even though I don't approve of him hanging this dirty laundry in the coutroom.

Anonymous said...

My start page is Google. On my Firefox browser. Get it?

Anonymous said...

Mini, regarding your goal, of a leaner, meaning Microsoft, I can appreciate why you would want this, but I think it is unlikely to happen.

Microsoft is king of the software world because it has two interlocking monopolies, windows and office. However, Microsoft is only many 1/25 as large as Gates wants it to be in the long-term. I get that number from that fact that Gates wants everyone in the world using computers, and also that he wants them all using many more types of Microsoft software than people use at present.

Furthermore, Microsoft's present monopolies are under threat from the linux desktop and open office. You might laugh at that claim, but remember, Windows and Office were, by Balmers admission, never the best, but succeeded because they were good enough and cheaper. The linux desktop and openoffice are now good enough for at least 1/4 of users.

To destroy Microsoft's monopoly they don't need to get a majority of the market, only, say, 15-20%. At that level Microsoft would have to start competing on price, which would destroy its present 80% profit margins, and many proprietary software makers would start making Linux versions, which would kill a key reason people at present choose Windows.

The only way Microsoft can fight off the threats to its monopoly and achieve its extremely ambitious long-term goals is to achieve more monopolies that interlock with each other and its present ones. The present most promising candidate is DRM.

But in any case Microsoft has to expand in as many directions as possible, and make it all interconnect. All that means more and more developers, and more and more process to make it all fit together. Otherwise the dream that Gates and Ballmer have fought for the last 25 years with every ounce of their energy will be dead, and Microsoft will wind up just another large, moderately profitable software company.

Mini, do you disagree with with my analysis?. What do you think Gates and Ballmer have as their long-term goals? And do you think their goals have changed in recent years?

Anonymous said...

Now, when Mr. Ballmer is quoted as saying, "I will f*&&%$ Kill Google", regular people, soccer moms, gas station attendants take notice."

"On a different note, I think the phrase is perfectly valid though. It tells us that capitalism is working. A very capable company is announcing a full fledged competition another capable company."

The problem is that, as been repeatedly established in the courts, Microsoft often breaks the law in its efforts to destroy the competition.

The reason Microsoft does this is that it is extremely ambitious. Bill Gates knows that Microsoft is incapable of reaching its goals through legal means alone, and so he his company regularly resorts to illegal and unethical ones.

Mini, this is of course not your fault. You and the vast majority of Microsoft employees and perfectly decent people. However, the record makes it overwhelmingly clear that the top leadership has no hesitation whatsoever at resorting to unethical and illegal means if they think it will advance Microsoft's business.

The Nog said...

The anti-Microsoft movement exists because of 1.) the inevitable underdog cross-section of rebels that goes against the dominant entity, 2.) a track record that many people see as arrogant, and 3.) a recent string of bungling misfires. You can't help the first one, but the second and third ones ares Microsoft's fault.

During the "Crush Netscape Days" there was the "Cut off their air supply comment." This definitely put a public face on Microsoft as someone that was hell bent on winning at all costs, willing to kill any piece of emerging technology that threatened their monopoly.

Yes, you nailed it. Microsoft earned its reputation as a kill-all monopoly entity. Where there might have otherwise been a vocal but passive anti-Microsoft element, the classic internal paranoia at Microsoft that causes it to attack on all fronts at all times, despite market dominance, made a lot of people bitter and suspicious.

It also made a lot of enemies with the alpha geeks. Where do you think the Recycle Bin comes from, or the standard "File Edit View Window Help" menu layout? That ticks off Mac users. Where do all the current Live initiatives come from? That ticks off Google users. Tabbed browsing and popup blocking ticks off Firefox and Opera users who know that even though they had these features for many years now, most of the public will first see them in IE7 next year because they're unaware and unwilling to use anything different then what ships on the Dell PC when it comes in.

You all know the cliche. It's the feeling that Microsoft can sit dormant and let their products stagnate until a faster competitor comes up with something, which Microsoft will make a clone of and push out to everyone through their dominant Windows platform, killing the competitor and adopting the new feature as their own. And it's the feeling that as those Microsoft products stagnate, the industry is kept behind but has no other choice because everything is based on Microsoft.

Now, when Mr. Ballmer is quoted as saying, "I will f*&&%$ Kill Google", regular people, soccer moms, gas station attendants take notice. These people don't understand why Microsoft MUST KILL Google. They certainly don't see how Google threatens Microsoft. I think many that read stories like this read it as Microsoft is trying to kill something good. That maybe Microsoft thinks that all good things that they don't own must be killed. It makes Microsoft look like a big bully, and people generally don't like bullies.

I agree with this and have posted here before about that. I think you'll find a lot of the public doesn't understand the animosity between Microsoft and Google. Economically, Microsoft can't afford to let market dominance slip, and it can't afford to let anything on the web make Windows less relevant. I think this was part of the .NET initiative and Microsoft's goal to use IE as an application delivery platform using Avalon and other APIs, cleverly tying web apps to Windows. But the public doesn't understand all that stuff; they just see an unwarranted animosity toward Google. It makes Microsoft look like they want to control everything.

Despite that stuff, I'm still surprised that public trust in the Microsoft brand is so low according to that recent study. I doubt it has to do with all that stuff and more to do with security vulnerabilities.

I really don't think there's any way to ever remedy anti-Microsoft attitudes. To such people, Microsoft lucked out with the IBM deal to get onto every PC, suddenly making a lot of money with a less than perfect GUI clone that was shoddily updated over the years because it didn't need to be perfect, since people were gonna use it anyway because they needed a GUI for their PCs. That's just how a lot of people will always view Microsoft and its products.

I think MiniMSFT is forgetting the antitrust trial and how Bill Gates acted on the stand. Rightly or wrongly, he will always be seen as arrogant and conniving by a lot of people, despite his charitable contributions. Ballmer's "kill them" comments--even if it came from a Google employee--fit with his personality and his history. These are the guys who run Microsoft, and people will perceive that the whole company is like those two men.

Oh, and I don't blame Scoble for his defensiveness of the company he works at. The engineers there are great and talented. I wouldn't trust management, though, to sit the right way on a toilet seat.

Anonymous said...

I'm enjoying your blog and wanted to add a few comments:

i.e. Microsoft's perception in public:
Unfortunately a lot of this perception comes from the public's daily interaction with Microsoft. Although there are many intelligent and courteous people at Microsoft (mostly when I meet them in person at various trade shows) dealing with M$ both as an IT administrator and as an MSDN Universal subscriber (programmer) can drive me to the height of frustration. Thankfully I can just scream for a few minutes after these phone calls to get back to normal rather than... Extreme Arrogance would only mildly describe the attitude I've gotten many, many times while talking to a M$ representative over the telephone.

I think the whole MSDN Universal fiasco demonstrates this situation. Most developers pay about $2000 a year (MSDN Universal) to have access to all of the tools we need to add value to the M$ eco-structure (and do their job). When M$ announced new tools targeted at Architecture, Coding, and Testing, most of us thought these would be included in our M$ subscription. (And I think most of us would also understand a moderate price increase to account for inflation and to support the expense of creating these extra tools.) Then M$ announced that independent developers such as myself would need to pay $10,000 a year if they wanted access to all of these tools. It took over a year of phone calls by myself and hundreds of others until finally someone at M$ realized that a) we were upset b) we were not going to pay five times as much c) they really ought to rethink this change d) they really would need to change plans. A year. And even this week when I call my very, very large software dealer's rep, after repeated phone calls by him to M$ and Ingram Micro D (the largest distributor of M$ software in the world), no one can tell me what product I need to purchase to upgrade my MSDN Universal to include all of these new tools (without buying Team Foundation Server for $10K, which I don't want or need).

And believe me, this is just one of many, many ongoing examples of what it's like on a daily basis for your customers to interact with M$. And I believe this is what drives us to look at Linux, despite the lack of polish (and not just the fact that Linux is free). We're just plain tired of dealing with M$. Hopefully once M$ is down to say 40% market share, they will treat their remaining customers with just a little respect, and everyone's life will be more pleasant.

Anonymous said...

"The number of ways that Microsoft speaks to its users is already too many, not too few. What is missing are ways for users to speak to Microsoft."

Robert Scoble: if you dont remember anything else about this thread, please internalize the above quote.

Need facts? Channel 9 does not have customers doing the interviewing. Comments made via MSWish dont find their way into war rooms at all (windows war rooms anyway). Blog entries != bugs unless someone decides to make it one. Individual user PSS complaints entered via compass have zero visibility in the product teams.

Robert, two key points:

1) Let an outsider with knowledge in a particular area ask the hard questions of the teams during the interviews on Channel 9. I believe you when you say that you do not vet the questions beforehand with the interviewee but I also doubt that you know the hard questions to ask. I've seen the videos that are in the areas of windows with which I am familiar - all I'll say is that the questions were hardly digging into the issues that users experience on a daily basis. big well known stuff..sure..but really driving to drive new understanding out of the product teams, not even close. Imagine how much more credible Channel9 would be if enterprise customers such as Walmart, Citigroup, Bank of America, Fujitsu, Ford, Qwest, or individual industry experts critical of MS had the chance to ask direct unfiltered questions of a team and have the outcome recorded on tape and not just (as you say) some guy with a funny laugh.

2) Where is all of the business intelligence within Microsoft's own infrastructure for channeling customer feedback into the process? This is what we sell our customers on, right? Why cant we tie all of the great information and feedback into something actionable that customers can actually point to and know the status of their request. Enterprise customers are the glaring exception...and the skew towards their needs has alienated a large part of the consumer segment. Feedback needs more actionability than a thank you note before being cast into the void that truly is MSWish.

Before you claim that I'm likely working for a competitor because I am posting anonymously , I worked for years in Windows and now am retired. I work for no one and am a card-carrying member of the MS alumni association.

Anonymous said...

To all the users who say Microsoft "kills" illegaly or in other words Microsoft "murders".

1. Microsoft never killed Netscape. Netscape simply could not compete. This happens in all the businesses. Hundreds of startup folds because their key idea is taken over by a bigger more resourceful company. In Netscape case, it is said that it killed itself. That is "suicide".

2. Microsoft saved Apple. No other knows this better than Steve Jobs.

3. Tell me one way in which Microsoft could kill Google "illegaly" without out-googling it? There are ways we have been thinking and they all provide better value - note "value" - to end users. Users should only be delighted!

4. About the past actions. I would like to add that there is no law which states that bundling of products is illegal. Every company does that in order to give better value to its consumers. Sony does that. Apple does that. Even Google does that. Microsoft because of being a humongously successful company comes in another category. There has never been a company so successful at anything as Microsoft has making technology accessible to masses. Even Apple has only an epsilon chance of being this successful in music market. Google, may be espilon of epsilon. It takes a risk-taking, vision, hardwork and above all ethics. Google has only demonstrated the first one. Google's founders left their degree to pursuit their dream very much like BillG. Except, they kept the backdoor open.
Google still has to demonstrate the other three though.

5. If you want to attack BillG pesonally then I think you need help. BillG could be given Nobel Peace prize for his work. Their have been other rich people who donated their wealth. But no other rich is so devoted to change the world as BillG is. He is not giving money to charities without thought. Together with his money he is giving his other most important resource - his time. He is committed to have the maximum impact on the world. He is a moving ecyclopedia on the under-developed world's problem. If he devoted his 100% time to kill Google then make no mistake he would be successful. Microsoft stock would be doubled and this blog won't be necessary. But being from a developing country, I am happy that BillG devotes half of his time to good causes. I am okay to have half the stock value of my company. I am okay to give Google better than a fair chance - because our chief architect is spending time to design a architect to improve my back home - instead of architecting a Microsoft's google. I am okay for Microsoft to take twice the time to out-google Google. Information search is an important area. The world will be a much worse place in Google's monopoly. Microsoft had shown that it is not greedy but who knows about Google. I am sure Microsoft will prevent this doomsday scenario.

Robert Scoble said...

Anonymous former Windows worker: good points. Getting customers onto Channel 9 something I want to do, but it's very hard to get customers on video (getting their PR team's approval is often pretty darn difficult) and into offices of team members. I only have so many hours in one day. To do more than I'm already doing will require cutting back on something else.

That's actually why we have space under each video to ask questions. If a question isn't answered in a decent amount of time, let me know and I'll get someone over there and answer it.

By the way, I get hundreds of emails a day and I also watch blogs for any mention of Microsoft. I regularly email any comments I see to the right team and expect, and get, answers. I just sent Charlie Owen on the Media Center team a question and he answered within minutes. On a Sunday.

Bugs are a whole nother thing, though. I do wish there were an open bug database that customers could add their bugs into, ala what Ladybug did for Visual Studio.

Anonymous said...

Then M$ announced that independent developers such as myself would need to pay $10,000 a year if they wanted access to all of these tools.

Heh, I guess Matt Pietrek's code doesn't come cheap! To be fair, a small outfit looking at TrollTech's pricing of its Qt toolkit for KDE on Linux would probably get sticker shock there, too. In that case you have TrollTech's inability to subsidize tools development (since that's pretty much all they sell), in contrast with Microsoft's unwillingness to subsidize.

Borland's exit from the C++/Java IDE business can't be good news for Microsoft. Sure, in the near term the Visual Studio group can raise prices and make fat profits (and bonuses for employees). But strong competition in tools results in a stronger, more competitive underlying platform. Now that's pretty much history, unless a buyer emerges for the IDE business that has credibility with Windows developers.

Anonymous said...

I am delighted! BTW, IE out-netscaped Netscape. IE provided a better value than Netscape. You would not have seen Firefox today if Microsoft had not out-nescaped Netscape.

IE got bundled with Windows before broadband Internet access was widely available and Netscape died.

Now that broadband is more common, Firefox got a foothold on IE's market share.

With Google.com, Mozilla.com and OpenOffice.org, Microsoft will finally get some real competition which is good for everyone even if it makes Ballmer turn a lovely shade of red.

Marty said...

I agree when you say Microsoft has gotten a lot of unwarrented negative attention. Its the popular thing to bash Microsoft. In fact most of the points made against Microsoft have been made so often they are cliche. IMHO it tells me that the folks posting this stuff aren't going to be convinced no matter what. They won't be convinced because the answers have been there, for the most part, all along. Some basic questions people should be asking themselves are:

Do you think Microsoft is a generally fair but competative company?

Do you think Microsoft's products are generally of high quality?

If not then no amount of evidence will be enought to convince that person that anything good will come from Microsoft. In fact everything posted by such a person would be a forgone conclusion since they've already made up their minds.

Anonymous said...

BTW, regarding conspiracy.
Most of readers visit blog and read full message (and comments) at first several days after posting.
Simply making comments moderated and postponing them for 12-24 hours (approval always take time) greatly decrease number of folks who can see critical comments and alternative points of views.
This will convert blogs from two-way communication to plain old PR.

This is why Slashdot / Digg comments system is good – everybody can see comments ASAP and participate in discussion – in the same time it’s still possible to burn out flame/profanity comments.

Anonymous said...

Not so much a comment as a message. I suggest you check out
"Central Marketing Group All Hands Meeting": http://studiosmedia/0604/27356/CMG_AllHands.html

It's quite interesting over most of the presentation, but Lisa Brummel does a presentation at about 1 hour 1 minute. Her comment especially at 1 hour 7 minutes is most interesting. Basically "I met with SteveB yesterday and he said 'don't you understand - it's just a marketing problem!!!' (quite emphatically - maybe he really does throw chairs). The sad thing is that it seems she agrees with him. I'll concede there may be a partial marketing issue here (few employees are paupers) but considering what they ask of us, I don't think our concerns are unreasonable. Thus the concerns are more than a marketing issue.

This was a sad moment for me. To see that SteveB misses the point so badly, but also that Lisa may be a 'yes woman'.

Keep up the good fight! It is working. I know I should have my own blog to support you, but building the momentum would take too long. Hopefully this support is helpful.

Anonymous said...

First off, welcome back Mini! You were missed.
Second, I have to agree with the direction the comments on this thread are taking. Microsoft needs more ears, not more mouths. I especially like the comment about building an AWESOME BI system...something we use internally to listen, but can also market as a tool to other companies.
This goes right up there with the question about HR tools. Why can't we build the coolest, most groundbreaking feedback/employee-relation system on the planet? We don't have time? It's not worth it? Or we (and upper management) don't want to hear the results?
Third, what would it take for Microsoft to become customer focused? Losing 50% of the market share? There really is a feeling about being taken for a ride, in the market. (Look at all those EA licensing deals: "We promise all the upgrades you can handle for 5 more years! wink, wink." Ok, a little trollish there, sorry.) Maybe step back and ask who is solving the customer's problems directly today? Is it Apple? Microsoft? Google? I really hope to see the day that Microsoft develops a good relationship with its customers. Maybe we need a vice-president who represents customers? (Sorry that's against your goal, Mini.)

Anonymous said...

I would like to add that there is no law which states that bundling of products is illegal. Every company does that in order to give better value to its consumers. Sony does that. Apple does that. Even Google does that. Microsoft because of being a humongously successful company comes in another category.


Coercive tied selling is what people have a problem with.

However, if you want to bundle a toaster strudel timer into the operating system because, in your marketing mind, it adds value to peoples lives, you are free to do that.

Editorial: Where do you want to go tomorrow?

"Disney (and other fairly large corporations) were coerced by Microsoft into signing contracts which prohibited Disney (and the others) from producing WWW pages which looked better under any browser competing with Microsoft's Internet Explorer (again, testified to in the anti-trust trial). The restrictions were the price that these companies paid to receive prominent placement in the Windows 95 desktop (this practice is called tied selling and is illegal under the U.S. Anti-Trust laws)."

Anonymous said...

IE got bundled with Windows before broadband Internet access was widely available and Netscape died.

I can't speak for anyone else, but I know that wasn't the reason *I* switched.

I got fedup with Netscape crashing at least 4 times every browsing session. Then I used a computer that only had IE installed -- IE didn't crash. One converted customer right there.

IE was a better product when IE "won". You can debate about the forces that acted in that victory, but it boils down to that. End of story.

Anonymous said...

"...I just contemplate the amount of vile-infused comment hatred I was gobsmacked with as of late. Well, not directed at me. At Microsoft. It's freaking irrational. You might point to past sins, but that doesn't add up."

I don't really hate Microsoft but I avoid using their products and I try to steer everyone I know away from them. So let's say I hate them.

It is irrational, at least for some. I don't have a problem admitting that, regarding many of Microsoft's products, I can't rationally defend the decision of not using them. I'm sure their compilers produce better, faster code than gcc, to name only one example.

The reasons don't have to add up. It's a feeling. And when the alternatives are good enough (like gcc, it really is good enough for me) then I exercise my power of choice.

Now, what produces this feeling of aversion, of "hate"?

I can only answer for myself. And I admit that I don't have the energy to actually go and borrow a machine from a friend and verify these things are still true after each and every service pack, so my feelings could be outdated. It doesn't really matter, because the feeling is still there.

I'll mention something that was in the news (ok, it was in one blog) recently. You have to really go out of your way to prevent Media Player from going to the Internet, checking for updates, and naggging you to update each time you start it up.

Another one of my pet peeves is how installing Windows overwrites your boot sector, without any regard for what you might have put there.

Another one is how MSFT makes it very hard to uninstall Messenger.

All these small (and major) things add up to the feeling, the conviction, that I don't want anything to do with the company, because they don't have my best interests at heart. It is my computer, and I want to run it -- not Microsoft.

Mini, I believe what you say about Microsoft really being a very nice place to work, full of bright, motiviated, well-meaning engineers who want to produce the best software in the world. I truly believe it.

But somebody in there decided that the user should not have the option of preventing Media Player from updating, and somebody in there coded it that way. That is enough for me to go away. Irrational? I admit it may be so. But to me, the pasture is greener where I stand.

Anonymous said...

2. Microsoft saved Apple. No other knows this better than Steve Jobs.

I'd love to hear your reasoning behind this one. And if you're talking about the $150M we gave them, you need to brush up on your history.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mini,

I admire your honesty and forthrightness, and am sorry you get voluminous criticism. Believe me, some of what peopel say isn't personally-directed. (Unfortunately, some is.)

Let me make an analogy about MS-bashing that might make sense. You go to a restaurant, and you're served a plate of food. On that plate is a cockroach. You complain, and they offer to replace the food. (And you've heard similar stories from others.)

Do you let them pick out the cockroach & continue eating?

Do you accept the replacement?

Will you go back to that restaurant, or will you wonder what really goes on in the kitchen?

Microsoft is unfortunately dealing with its past behaviors. And frankly, it isn't mathematics. You can overcome a deficit of -20 trust by spending +30 trust.

The perception of MS in the outside world is complex, but it's seen in the industry as nasty, brutish, short-sighted, and broken. (Hey, I speak only for my only business, really, but I listen.) It's not that MS is 100% of these evils - it might only be 1% - but that 1% is like the cockroaches that keep appearing in the salad.

We just don't trust you guys anymore to deliver on time or to deliver a quality product in 1.0. You suffer now from the perception that you can't control the effects of your own released software ("Patch Tuesday"). Almost to a person, no one who is an end user of your products understands how they work. It takes years to master a word processor. (! Think about that.)

Now you guys are about to release a version of Office that will require EVERY SINGLE ONE of my employees to go through training to relearn a snazzy new interface. They couldn't use it before, and now the information they've half-learned they're going to have to somehow forget as they try to learn a new interface. To me, that says MS does not understand just how enormously and prohibitively expensive it is to *use* software.

I can't even think about Vista. I'm looking at replacing all the computers (now listen carefully) _for an OS upgrade_? Because I get "glass"?

This will cost me hundreds of dollars per employee in capital replacement costs, in training, in downtime. And I see how the MS employees are rich, drive fancy cars, and have huge houses. And I think, "That's my money supporting them, and I'm not getting full value. I'm their wage slave."

That's the perception you have to fight. It's an enormous mountain. And the problem isn't helped by the way your executives deal with the investors, the press, and the public.

Anonymous said...

IE was a better product when IE "won". You can debate about the forces that acted in that victory, but it boils down to that. End of story.

IE infected my wife's computer with several hundred pieces of spyware.

A local hotel's PC for guests was infected with over 10000 pieces of spyware. They ran anti-spyware software every night. They just didn't click on the button to actually remove it.

Netscape must have been really bad for IE to be considered "better".

Even the department of Homeland Security advised people to switch from IE to another browser. Their usual recommendation of duct tape and plastic sheeting didn't work.

I switched to Firefox.

Anonymous said...

I think it IS fair top point out past behavior... but it's also fair to point out MS has put some effort into changing current behavior, internally and externally (I've sat through presentations by Legal on what can and cannot be done, seen presentations on how we need to engage in ethical behavior, and so on). It's not just window dressing for external audiences.

Is it being successful? Well, is some places, yes...then I see the comments attributed to SteveB by MarkL and I cringe. There's simply no reason to turn competition in computer software into high-school locker room talk that's juiced with machismo- we should all be adults here. Worry about the customer instead of the competitor, and the results will follow.

I do admit that at my new company (also a large ISV that has a push/pull relationship with Microsoft, where we add value to the platform but also have to look over our shoulders for incoming knives and grenades), I don't get this sort of type A/hypercompetitive feeling I've seen at Microsoft in the past. It's not that we're not competing...it's that we don't see the need to act like bullies.

Anonymous said...

"Some basic questions people should be asking themselves are:

Do you think Microsoft is a generally fair but competative company?

Do you think Microsoft's products are generally of high quality?

If not then no amount of evidence will be enought to convince that person that anything good will come from Microsoft. In fact everything posted by such a person would be a forgone conclusion since they've already made up their minds."
- Marty

Good questions, Marty. Bad conclusion, though.

What if I became convinced that Microsoft competed unfairly, not as a foregone conclusion, but based on observations over a period of years? What if I am willing to change that opinion if I see their behavior change?

The IBM PC was great - now I could have a computer without it being either a mainframe or a hobbyist box. And the clones were even better - now I could have the same thing without IBM being able to control everything. And when IBM tried to get back in control with MicroChannel, and customers rejected it, I was glad.

I liked Microsoft freeing us from IBM control of the PC. But over the years, through a whole bunch of actions, Microsoft became the villain rather than the hero.

The second issue, software quality, is similar. I aquired a distaste for Microsoft software quite honestly, not as an initial bias. When, for example, Word gets in a state where a document is poisoned (in this sense - type or delete anything, even one character, and Word crashes when you try to save), and all you can do is copy most of the content to a fresh document and hope that you didn't copy the poisoned part - well, when that kind of garbage happens, you wind up thinking rather poorly of Microsoft's software quality.

But there's a lot of company. At a previous job we used SourceSafe and Perforce for source code control, and we loathed both. Here we use ClearCase, and we loathe that. All with reason.

In fact, I would say that almost every enterprise-level software product is almost universally loathed. It seems to just be a general rule.

But I also dislike Microsoft's APIs. I've used a bunch of different APIs: Unix, Windows, Java, and some embedded OSes. And Microsoft's APIs just feel ugly to me.

I can say that Microsoft has done well in some places. ODBC comes to mind. What a great idea. Good implementation. Solves a real problem with very little fuss.

So, Marty, wrong conclusion. Some of us aren't closed minded. Some of us have seen objective reason to dislike Microsoft.

MSS2

Anonymous said...

"With Google.com, Mozilla.com and OpenOffice.org, Microsoft will finally get some real competition which is good for everyone"

I have a quip I use whenever a linux/opensource-freak condemns Microsoft:

"Bill Gates pays better than Linus Torvalds"

You would be surprised how quickly that shuts people up. With Mozilla and OpenOffice, Microsoft certainly has found its competition: People may well choose a (generally) inferior product if the price is nothing. We the programmers need to keep that in mind. Hating Microsoft sometimes amounts to hating your job.

The Nog said...

The number of ways that Microsoft speaks to its users is already too many, not too few. What is missing are ways for users to speak to Microsoft.

That might be another reason MiniMSFT's blog is so popular. Go through old posts and see how many IT guys or shareholders have posted. It's neat for people to think "psst, there are real MSFT employees here! Maybe Ballmer's reading!" Scoble is also good at replying to people's comments.

Editorial: Where do you want to go tomorrow?

For those who missed that link, it's a bunch of examples from the anti-trust trial. I think a lot of people have pushed the trial out of their minds. I know there will always be employees who defend everything the company did in the 90s. However, if you want to investigate where the ideas of the anti-"M$" mindset come from, the shenanigans of trial are a good start (remember the faked video?).

The company never fully recovered after the trial. Bill Gates stepped down, Office spit out a couple of versions that weren't big sellers, and Longhorn entered development hell. Google and Apple ran with the two big trends, web services and digital media. Personally, I think there's a feeling of burnout related to the Microsoft platform in 2006, but that might be my bias entering into the picture.

NonAnon2345 said...

I'm so bored with anonymous posts.....

Anonymous said...

I just contemplate the amount of vile-infused comment hatred I was gobsmacked with as of late. Well, not directed at me. At Microsoft. It's freaking irrational. You might point to past sins, but that doesn't add up

Its Karma ;-)
Like mentioned elsewhere in the comments - the buildup has been gradual. It has taken 30 years for it to reach this level.

Most of the comments i see here are from a developers viewpoint - be they microsoft, apple, google, linux etc. However, most of the uers are regular people and kids. So, I put myself in my parents and cousins shoes to see what they see.

My mom - she has no idea of computers. All she knows is that my dad writes on it (its an expensive typrewriter) and her son makes money for doing something with it ! :-D

My dad - uses it usually for writing his official documents and some novels he is working on. From his viewpoint he just wants something on which he can write and send a few emails. He is getting bogged down with it - he's lost quite a lot of his work due to viruses and is getting paranoid. I know how bad it is for windows when my dad - a non geek - asks me - "how is linux? Is it better than Windows ?". He also googles a lot. For him search means Google. In fact for most people, just as PC is Windows, search is Google. I will be installing Linux this time I go home for a holiday.

My cousins use the comp for games and music. For music any OS does. So, for my sis it is not windows that makes music - its the ipod. as long as any PC can transfer her songs onto the ipod it will do. She does not care at all what the OS is as long as she can use iTunes. The only reason for not going for Apple is the cost ( guys from apple, please let your management know that a big chunk of people dont go for apple as it is too expensive).

Gaming is where it all stops at microsoft. No other platform can double up as a PC and as a gaming platform as well as windows. You will keep hearing (even from me) that the only reason to have windows is Gaming. And its true. The day major companies like Blizzard, EA Games, Bioware etc start providing games at the same rates as on windows on any other platform, there will be a mass exodus.

Just thought about sharing these user stories in between some tech ones. :-)

Brian said...

"I'd love to hear your reasoning behind this one. And if you're talking about the $150M we gave them, you need to brush up on your history."

I would say Microsoft continuing to develop Office was a pretty big help.

I think most of the frustration directed at Microsoft is simply people knowing that there is no great substitute out there now. Linux? Yeah, it's been the Year of Linux since 1998. I can't wait until the 10 year anniversary, I hear market share figures are expected to beat the margin of error finally. Mac? No matter how many blow jobs get printed in Time or Newsweek, the typical computer user is not interested. (By the way Apple is 100 times more unethical than Microsoft on a daily basis. Every MacWorld is filled with brazen propaganda. How do they do it and retain that aura of coolness?)

And that's what's sad. I see Microsoft trending downward in certain areas, treading water in others, and I worry, because there is no substitute yet. And even OSS people should worry. If Microsoft goes downhill, where are Firefox and Open Office going to copy features from? It's downright scary.

Anonymous said...

If Microsoft goes downhill, where are Firefox and Open Office going to copy features from?

This is exactly MS, who copies features. There is no a single meaningful idea MS ever created. If do not count creation OS from debugger :-)

I liked Unix in 80s, but I felt bored with it, and I thought that MS can create something better. But no, almost the same UNIX still looks good comparing with the latest Windows. More then 20 years of keeping world from moving forward! This is reason why it is so hard, why it so costly. Just making new version of OS can not cost so much. All these billion dollars are, in fact, invested into stopping the world!

The entire generation of users and developers do not remember pre-MS software. Inside MS it considered as a good style to know nothing about non-MS technologies. And this generation can be easily fooled by MS "innovations".

Anonymous said...

With Mozilla and OpenOffice, Microsoft certainly has found its competition: People may well choose a (generally) inferior product if the price is nothing.

You just explained why IE is so popular. It is free and, it is already on your machine.

IE may not be as good as other browsers (e.g. makes it too easy to get infected with spyware) but the price is nothing.

Anonymous said...

If Microsoft goes downhill, where are Firefox and Open Office going to copy features from? It's downright scary.

"Microsoft" is a brand (just ask Bob Herbold). It has acquired software from other companies and labeled it "Microsoft" software.

Do you call that a "move" instead of a "copy?

Oracle almost exclusively uses acquitisions to grow the company.

If Microsoft is so choked on process, I'm surprised they don't rely more on acquitisions.

Everybody copies from everyone else - consciously or not; plagarism or not. Get over your bad self.

Anonymous said...

IE infected my wife's computer with several hundred pieces of spyware.

blah blah blah, irrantional rant implying that the computing landscape hasn't changed in a decade.

Switch to firefox


We're not talking about today, are we? We're talking about events that occured nearly a decade ago. Back then things like the "blink" tag were cool, and the biggest "malware" concern was keeping boot-sector viruses off of floppy discs.

I double dog dare you to install and use Netscape 4 for a week and tell me with a straight face that any version of IE made in the last 8 years is a worse product.

Anonymous said...

Rumor has it that Ken Jennings has taken up blogging ... hey Mini?

W.

Anonymous said...

To the posters who assume that FireFox/OpenOffice/etc. are inferior copies of Microsoft products, wake up. You are just repeating propaganda that you heard in a company meeting or from your managers. Download the software and try it out for yourself. Personally, I find them to be much more polished than the Microsoft products. I can't describe how great it is to use a word processor that behaves deterministically, or a web browser with a Manage Bookmarks feature that's a joy to use.

Anonymous said...

We're not talking about today, are we? We're talking about events that occured nearly a decade ago. Back then things like the "blink" tag were cool, and the biggest "malware" concern was keeping boot-sector viruses off of floppy discs.

I double dog dare you to install and use Netscape 4 for a week and tell me with a straight face that any version of IE made in the last 8 years is a worse product.


I'm talking about IE in 2004 and 2005 but it still applies today.

There was a lot more malware than 'boot-sector viruses' a year or two ago.

The average user still doesn't know why they shouldn't install a particular ActiveX control. You may think your code is stronger but your communication with the people using that software isn't.

They are still making the mistake of installing ActiveX controls they know nothing about. Can they look at the properties of the ActiveX control before it installs to make that decision? What are they supposed to look for?

Anonymous said...

"Yeah, it's been the Year of Linux since 1998." - Brian

Um, no. Since 1998, next year has always been the Year of Linux ;-)

Worry about the customer instead of the competitor, and the results will follow. - Anonymous, apparently a former MS employee

Very, very true. But I worry that MS worries about the customer in the wrong way. MS worries too little about doing what the customer wants, and worries too much about making the customer do what MS wants.

Don't try to control me. Don't try to lock me in to Microsoft software - not with product tying or undocumented protocols or proprietary file formats or anything else. It not only pisses me off, it makes me look harder for ways to escape.

I bought a computer so that I could do what I want with it. I did not buy it for somebody else to tell me what I could and could not do with it. It's my computer, not Microsoft's. Remember it. Act like it.

Make stuff that meets my needs better than anybody else's stuff does. Then you won't need to try to control me.

And, yeah, some of this may be old news. But emotional reactions lag behind events. It takes some time (years?) for the "they're trying to coerce me" feeling to go away, even after the behavior stops.

MSS

Anonymous said...

Shareholders hate MSFT for purely rational reasons. It's nothing personal about you, Mini, or your wonderful, passionate peers. It's about the gang upstairs who can't seem to shoot straight.

There were many, many mistakes and miscues by the Senior Leadership Team, but the big one was antitrust. The antitrust case shouldn't have happened. It should have been settled a long time ago. Now, having allowed the popular press, multiple competitors and two governments to drag MSFT through the mud, Ballmer and Gates have permanently impaired the long-term potential of the company. I'm not sure you get that yet. It has nothing to do with your passion or dedication or talent. MSFT is *fundamentally long-term impaired* because of the anti-trust fiasco. Saying it ain't so or it's not fair doesn't change it. Sorry.

The best thing that could happen for MSFT, for you, and for your wonderful peers is a talented and capable outsider replacing Ballmer at the top. A new leader (a real leader), would be the first big step to repairing some of the damage. And the best (only?) way for that to happen is if you and your passionate coworkers demand it. Don't count on shareholders - they can just sell and move on the the next thing. There are plenty of great companies out there for anyone to waste more time and money on a loser like SteveB. And that's not bile, he earned it - for all of you.

Anonymous said...

"So, I think in the public image section of the previous comment, this abusive/bully behavior is a large part of Microsoft's public image problem."

*nod* I tend to avoid Microsoft software simply because the company's behavior - purely on a corporate acquisition / competition level, nothing about the internal workings - really irritates me.

I'm not claiming that said behavior is illegal. I'm not claiming it's ineffective. And I'm not claiming that many other companies don't do similar things. But it ticks me off, so I try to avoid buying MS products.

MattyDread said...

A commenter wrote this about his dad:
"He is getting bogged down with it - he's lost quite a lot of his work due to viruses and is getting paranoid."

I'm gonna come right out and say I don't believe you.

I've been a heavy Windows user at home and work for 11 years now and I have never once contracted a virus on my desktop (viruses knocking other machines off the corporate network is another story).

It's so easy to prevent: don't open any unknown attachments, and use some sort of antivirus software. In fact, even if you DON'T use a/v software--as I've not on one of my home machines for six years (GASP!)--it's pretty hard to get a virus. You have to go out of your way and take an action--execute code--in order to have anything like this happen.

And here I thought pop was just writing novels in Word.

Spyware's another story--it's clogged up my machine several times in the past, and I switched to Firefox because of it. But viruses? They are most overblown, overhyped problem in the history of computing, thanks to the a/v vendors.

So if you're buying your dad Linux solely to prevent him from getting viruses, you're doing him a serious disservice. Obviously, there's another agenda here.

Quince al'Pillan said...

IE was a better product when IE "won". You can debate about the forces that acted in that victory, but it boils down to that. End of story.

...

Netscape must have been really bad for IE to be considered "better".


These two statements conflict unless my sarcasm detector isn't working.

Other than that, yes, Netscape really was that bad. In 1998. Netscape 4 was horrible. It constantly crashed. It didn't even try to display pages properly. I once had a webpage that would put graphics on the standard buttons and address bar - it just so happened to be my school's homepage. Nothing happened to the IE browser.

I used IE from 4.0 all the way to 6.0 and every time I tried to use Netscape, I just laughed at the developers for even thinking that their program was better. People used version 3 because it had less bugs than version 4.

I didn't become an alternative browser user until Firefox 1.0. It was light, stable, quick and it seems that about that time a lot of major security flaws came out in IE and since.

Its nice to see everyone running around screaming about major vulnerabilities happening and knowing that you're invulnerable. You feel smarter than they are because you were more prepared.

I still use IE on sites that use ActiveX controls and other IE only functions, but for my primary browsing I still use Firefox because I feel safer.

Phillip Zedalis said...

Dear Microsoft:

I gave up on your products as a whole (still have to use Windows and Visual Studio at work) for various reasons. I hate Messenger and it never failing to present me with a popup when I didn't even know it was still installed (I *attempt* to remove it promptly after every reload... *sigh*). I hate complicated licenses that are anti-small business, and Please don't even remind me of the "Action Pack" or "Empower program." I know the Microsoft marketing machine says they were designed to present me with a "suite of products and services to enable me and my business to be more productive and more successful." I've heard the jingle and even danced to it when I was young and believed that Microsoft and Computers were the same thing (as most people still do believe). All they do is empower you to hold me to your platform with licenses from hell ensuring that I'll never ever leave.

It's that type of behavior that despite me loving Windows Media Player 10 and DRM enabled services like Rhapsody... despite loving PocketPC's and SmartPhones... makes me detest the Microsoft paradigm.

I do recognize that Windows is an excellent gaming platform, that wireless networking in XP is simple, that OneCare Live is down right simple and easy... but I also recognize that it's because some good hearted person in Microsoft fought to make it that way... so for them, I appreciate their job well done and hope they get a chance to read this.

I also know that if someone upstairs in your organization had their way... I would have no choice... so long as I'm running your software.

So for the people who run the IE 7 team who can have "hundreds" of developers across who-knows-how-many-continents and can't manage to get a back button working correctly... or the printer to work correctly, or hell, even a page to render correctly. And yes I know it's a beta... but still. I suggest you find out what Firefox is getting right.

Or for the Messenger team who somehow decided that removing Messenger from Add/Remove while it remained on my computer to pester me day in and day out was a neat little trick... I suggest you find out what... well what any non-Microsoft product is getting right.

And for all the other anti-ethical behavior... I suggest you stop pretending that people aren't catching on.

Be patient with me for a minute as I'm going to align my computing thoughts with politics real quickly. I believe George W. Bush is a good man. I think he loves his family, I think he loves his country, and I think he loves what he does.

But I don't think he does what's best for all of us when he lies. To not be truthful is to lie, and that is to be immoral and wrong.

When spyware was destroying every known Windows partition on the planet... where was Microsoft marketing then? You should have been sending e-mails, doing TV ads, whatever it takes to say: "We recognize these issues with your computer... we will fix these problems, and we will pursue action in the legislature to remove these capabilities from hindering you in the future."

But no, Microsoft chooses... to promote Vista... and play "out of sight, out of mind" on every poor Windows user who didn't know any better. And that's just wrong.

But God forbid the people stand up... and say, "damn this Microsoft is a problem."

No no... you pull your legislative tactics then... doing the best you can to convince the World that you had no ability to fix the situation, that none of this is your fault. You know what the funny thing is... I think the World believed you... I think we all fell for your lies and deciet... oh no!! IE could never be removed from Windows. Media Player? not in Windows? how absurd! Yes, we believed you... because you are still American for crying out loud, you were the American dream, and no matter how much Messenger pissed us off, we wanted to believe you, we want you to be successful because it helps us all.

And then... *drum roll please* IE 7 will not be attached to Windows. "Microsoft creates media-player-less version for third World countries," "Microsoft purchases anti-spyware product." What is this you say? Microsoft lied when they could have done something sooner? We all remember how Americans feel about Bush lying...

So you can play the part of a typical Republican and blame the Democrat... ya know... Linux, it's clearly Linux's fault... Hear the drum roll? Yeah that's for you... as the "Get the Facts" campaign comes around.

Let's spend less time battling the World and more time helping your customers...

And then you'll see me proudly purchasing your products again. Until then, I choose freedom.

Thank you for your time.

Anonymous said...

I believe Minimsft and Scoble are one and the same person!

Anonymous said...

Enterprise customers are the glaring exception...and the skew towards their needs has alienated a large part of the consumer segment.

This is because Enterprise customers bring in the most money! Why do you think EPG is given such relevance? Simon Witts has done one helluva job in building up the Enterprise!

Anonymous said...

At Microsoft. It's freaking irrational. You might point to past sins, but that doesn't add up.

Critical Windows Security Patch Butts Heads With HP Software

And you ask why its freaking irrational ?
People used to look at the security updates from microsoft and think that maybe microsoft is now going to provide better security. But with this event I suppose people are going to think twice before installing patches from Microsoft.

It does not matter that there is a workaround available - what matters is that we lost valuable time. Dont you guys test the code you write ?????

Mini/Scooble, size is not the only issue with Microsoft. Its things like these which add up. Problems with security. Problems with security Patches. Ethics problems. Anti-trust problems. Problems with what Steve Balmer says.... The list just becomes longer every day.

And frankly, many people like me, are getting very tired with the antics of Microsoft and Windows.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mini,

I've crazy idea. You complain about inability of managers to rank poor employees vs. good one.
How about ability for customers to report dead wood / bad experience?

One of companies I use - has a phone number and mailing address there I can tell/send any ideas/complains - is there anything like this for MSFT?

Aragon said...

If Microsoft goes downhill, where are Firefox and Open Office going to copy features from?

You have been drinking too much cool-aid.

IE copied Netscape. Now it is copying Firefox ( or do you think tabbed browser came first in IE?). And are you not forgeting that IE stayed dormant for years before Firefox started giving it a run for its money.

And it does not stop at IE. Windows is also a copied version.

I can't think of even one software from Microsoft which was not based on something which already existed. So, your claim that Firefox and OpenOffice copy from Microsoft just falls flat.

Brian said...

When spyware was destroying every known Windows partition on the planet... where was Microsoft marketing then?

Hyperbole. I sincerely wonder how people get all this crap because I use IE exclusively and am still waiting for my first spyware infestation. Maybe I don't surf enough porn or download enough dodgy file-sharing software (let's be honest, Kazaa did more to spread spyware than anything Microsoft has produced). I mean I'm pretty sure you don't get spyware from sitting on public toilets. Some user interaction is required.

(And isn't it fairly obvious that Microsoft is working hard to fix this in IE7 and Vista? So what is the point of bringing it up over and over as if this is some new data that will blow all our minds?)

Getting back to the main point, it's more obvious than ever why moderation is needed here. Many people commenting here don't give a fig about the objective to improve Microsoft through constructive criticism, they just see (another) opportunity to rehash some tired old complaint about ________. The sheer number of people still bringing up the anti-trust trial is an indication of how difficult it is for them to focus.

I don't think anti-competitive deals from the 90s are the key problem with Microsoft right now, nor is the problem some vague "loss of trust" stemming from them (admit it, hardly any normal person you know cares). The problem is that Microsoft is no longer firing on all cylinders and leadership seems clueless. They are taking too long to put out software of worse quality than in the past and just in general seem punch drunk and overmanaged.

Oh wait, according to another commenter this is all about Republicans and Democrats and Bush lying. Seriously, how did this guy get past your filter, Mini? His anguish meter is set to 11 and he is making NO SENSE AT ALL. He doesn't even seem aware what web site he is at.

Anonymous said...

"Simon Witts has done one helluva job in building up the Enterprise"

OMG...OMG!!!!! Simon Witts has done WAY more harm than good. Charles Stevens created EPG under Orlando and we had miles of enterprise cred under him than under Simon. Simon is the world biggest idea thief and poser without an original idea in his head. Try learning a little bit more about the org your cheerlead in before you wave the flag. Simon Witts is just passing through, the half life on "moron" at Microsoft is about 2 years. Oh, and while I'm at it, try looking for an original though in Simon's org. I guarantee that any original slide deck or idea you think you can attribute to him or his directs can be traced directly to someone else at Microsoft (idea thief) or is just old work dusted off (poser). Then try tracking what you think is original and see if he actually executes it in a measurable and accountable way...you won't see it. And THIS is the issue with most Microsoft execs these days...too many posers making too much money and doing nothing.

ex-msft said...

Mini, I would love to hear your thoughts on showing off the house of the future to foreign dignitaries while keeping the rank and file employees out.

I sneaked in to see it a few years ago and it was a nice vision despite requiring a dozen servers to run it and that the house had to be rebooted between tours.

Robert Scoble said...

Anonymous: heheh, I +wish+ I could write as well as Mini! But, no, Jay Greene of BusinessWeek can confirm for you that we are not the same person.

Anonymous said...

"This is because Enterprise customers bring in the most money! Why do you think EPG is given such relevance? Simon Witts has done one helluva job in building up the Enterprise! "

Really? All of though windows PCs being sold with XP Pro and Office must not be bringing in any revenue then. My mistake.

And to be clear, certain US enterprise customers tend to skew the deck of bug fixes and features...

In short, if PSS or members of the product team don't immediately recognize your name (corporate or individual in the case of people like Walt Mossberg), your bug has almost no chance of getting fixed and/or your feature request has little chance of being included in the product. Period. When I arrived at MS, my team's initial triage bar took into account if the customer was a premier customer...if not, the issue was immediately marked as "won't fix". This was automatic..."real" triage began after this first cut. There were years of lack of valid bugfixing caused by this crazy triage bar that had to be undone....hence the reason why the number of consumers that hate MS products has grown to a critical mass. We just dont listen or act...

Anonymous said...

I sincerely wonder how people get all this crap because I use IE exclusively and am still waiting for my first spyware infestation. Maybe I don't surf enough porn or download enough dodgy file-sharing software (let's be honest, Kazaa did more to spread spyware than anything Microsoft has produced).

In the past, ad servers have been infected with malware. Anyone going to a site with advertising from those sites using IE could have gotten spyware installed on their computer.

Besides IE, Outlook is another way malware gets onto people's machines. The preview pane opening SPAM containing malware can do this.

Your accusation that everyone that gets spyware on their computer must be surfing porn and file sharing sites is ridiculous.

Exploits Block List

The Spamhaus Exploits Block List (XBL) is a realtime database of IP addresses of illegal 3rd party exploits, including open proxies (HTTP, socks, AnalogX, wingate, etc), worms/viruses with built-in spam engines, and other types of trojan-horse exploits.

The biggest spammer on the Net? Comcast?

Lutner said Comcast users send out about 800 million messages a day, but a mere 100 million flow through the company's official servers. Almost all of the remaining 700 million represent spam erupting from so-called zombie computers--a breathtaking figure that adds up to six or seven spam-o-grams for each American family every day.

Zombie computers arise when spammers seize on bugs in Microsoft Windows--or from naive users who click on attachments--to take over PCs and transform them into spambots.

Anonymous said...

Getting back to the main point, it's more obvious than ever why moderation is needed here.

The problem is that Microsoft is no longer firing on all cylinders and leadership seems clueless. They are taking too long to put out software of worse quality than in the past and just in general seem punch drunk and overmanaged.

We need more moderation because people don't agree with you?

Microsoft's leadership has the same attitude that you do - they think they're right and that everyone else is wrong.

Can you fault them for having the same attitude that you do? Many people have that attitude.

Where's the proof that will convince management that something is wrong? Stock performance is not going to convince them. If you're talking to SteveB, what do you say to him to convince him Microsoft could be making a lot more money if they did things your way? He really doesn't care about work/life balance so don't bother telling him making employees happy will make Microsoft more money. That's too vague. Besides, the company poll tells him most employees are happy. Get specific.

Someone mentioned that SteveB thinks that the problems that Microsoft are experiencing are just a marketing problem.

Basically "I met with SteveB yesterday and he said 'don't you understand - it's just a marketing problem!!!' (quite emphatically - maybe he really does throw chairs). The sad thing is that it seems she agrees with him.

SteveB thinks you have a perception problem. You're going to have a tough time convincing him he's wrong.

Brian said...

(Honest to God last comment from me about Firefox...this is so not the point.)

aragon: IE copied Netscape. Now it is copying Firefox ( or do you think tabbed browser came first in IE?).

Guess who came up with tabbed browsing? Hint, they don't use the Gecko engine.

The question isn't were there antecedents (that's a really dumb question) but rather was anything new contributed to the class of software in question. Firefox has borrowed several ideas from IE and many more from Opera--and has not come up with a single one of its own that merits mention (try it). Whereas anyone who claims that in the past 20+ years no great ideas have come out of Redmond is just a crank.

The problem isn't no ideas but taking so long to implement them that everyone else can copy the beta before Microsoft get's close to a release candidate. Or botching the implementation so badly (Money 2005 was a classic example) that it drives away customers.

Complainers, do you think for a moment that the average user would care one iota about anti-trust trials, w3c standards, new APIs, "corporate arrogance", or product bundling if Microsoft was putting out great software in a timely fashion? (They hardly care as it is--it took an explosion of spyware and trojans to get anyone to use Firefox/Mozilla.) I think deep down you know the answer. That should show the irrelevance of your angst.

Anonymous said...

And THIS is the issue with most Microsoft execs these days...too many posers making too much money and doing nothing

-

this is not limited to execs .. idea thievery and mis-representation happens all the time. I would call out people in networking but we know who they are (cruise the historical threads in this blog to find out more).

Thanks for delivering my ideas guys!

Anonymous said...

Four of us are surreptitiously reading your blog in a *meeting* and we all agree and voice a hearty "Well Said!" to your comments about EPG in general. What a complete waste of money fo Microsoft in a valueless overlay organization.

Anonymous said...

A long time ago Robert Scoble wrote:
...it's very hard to get customers on video (getting their PR team's approval is often pretty darn difficult)...

Truth be told, Microsoft won't talk to a customer without an NDA being signed by the customer. Imagine what kind of intellectual property a customer could steal from Microsoft if they could actually interview an employee.

Microsoft is ran by LCA. You want to make a mini-MFST? Fire LCA.

Mitch said...

I like the Banker Developer story –I think he is right on. There are millions of us developers that feel the same as his 3 points.

Re: yet another API that has to be learned by the developer. And based on recent history there will be another API along in a couple of years so why bother with this one?

Halleleuh! Frankly, as a 15 year dev vet, I have given up on learning any more API’s. First though, how about slimming down your UI technologies from 7 to 1 would be helpful. http://blogs.msdn.com/tims/archive/2006/02/23/538189.aspx

Vista – how much has been said about this I wonder? What does a customer really want it in OS? How about An extremely fast, low memory, transparent to the user and completely reliable operating system. That’s it!

Re: The second factor was not providing things that were delivered in a timely manner and worked as promised.

Oh man, I can’t handle another CTP or Beta or TAP or Technical Refresh or software that simply isn’t done!!! Please stop, my head as a lowly developer is going to EXPLODE if you release one more build of Vista or another RC54 of whatever. Please stop. Control yourselves.

Last item as a developer – get me some design tools!! – no more IDE stuff, I got all the IDE stuff one could imagine, but I don’t have anything like a circuit diagram program on the electronics side of the world for me to specify the design of software components. Remember Objective-C "interface builder” that was much more than a UI builder or Smalltalk PARTS. Where are the design tools? It seems we have regressed on the design side (yes, I know about your DSL Toolkit, it needs about another $10 mill in development though, but you can make it happen can’t you Mini?) No UML stickmen for me please.

I ask and beg Microsoft to stop releasing software. Stop and think about what you are doing. Release software that has been thought out, tested, finished and decidedly better than what was previous, otherwise what is the point?

Anonymous said...

Paul Thurrott is unhappy with Vista:

http://www.winsupersite.com/reviews/winvista_5308_05.asp

Anonymous said...

"The number of ways that Microsoft speaks to its users is already too many, not too few".

Exactly. One thing Apple does well is the forming of a company voice. What SJ says is gospel. He develops a message, boils it down to its essence and makes sure it's consistant in print materials.

MS, on the other hand, is a multi-headed beast with SteveB and BillG interviews that are unfocused and with mixed messages coming from bloggers such as Scoble. Does he speak officially for the company? No, then outta there.

MS's site is just as confusing and inconsistent. These telltale signs make me believe software development lacks a cohesive focus.

Anonymous said...

The idea that the open source community is stealing Microsoft's thunder by copying its betas is a joke. The open source programs I use work very differently from their Microsoft counterparts. Other than the nice red squiggles to indicate misspellings, I can't think of anything that Microsoft invented that others are copying.

OTOH, it seems like the idea for every Microsoft product or technology can be traced to something else. Java, PHP, the web browser, the GUI, using 3-D surfaces to render windows was shipped with OSX in 2001, using a database for a file system was shipped with BeOS (among others) a long time ago, the Go tablet was out long before Windows for Pen, Borland invented the IDE... what am I missing?

I've heard this idea about our PMs' work being "stolen" but so far I think our PMs are just full of themselves. Nobody can point to any concrete examples.

Anonymous said...

The problem isn't no ideas but taking so long to implement them that everyone else can copy the beta before Microsoft get's close to a release candidate.
You know, the MS will be the last to copy an idea, unless the idea is about UI. I do not know much about our top managers. I know about technology ideas. There is an obvious problem with ideas. Look at the previous research fair. There is no projects related to the new OS concepts. At all. Actually, there is one: 'Singularity'. But it lacks some important things, so it is unlikely to be useful.

MS has BIG problem with innovations. IMHO, it maybe the biggest problem. Microsoft do not value idea generators. Microsoft do not value real innovation (not a Tab browsing, which should be possible to be done by regular user just changing settings, if MS could do a better job with UI customization).

And do you know why? Because MS do not need innovation to sell products! MS do not need develop Vista to sell Windows. It will have almost the same income if it will develop nothing. A little bigger, maybe, adding money spent on development. With latest subscription model MS receives annual payments even if it do not ship anything! Cool management, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

Complainers, do you think for a moment that the average user would care one iota about anti-trust trials, w3c standards, new APIs, "corporate arrogance", or product bundling if Microsoft was putting out great software in a timely fashion?

Why do you suppose Microsoft is not putting out great software in a timely fashion?

Perhaps a lack of solid leadership indicated by anti-trust trials, corporate arrogance, etc.

Brian said...

Your accusation that everyone that gets spyware on their computer must be surfing porn and file sharing sites is ridiculous.

Do you deny that these are extraordinarily common attack vectors?

Outlook's biggest security holes were patched years and years ago. It keeps getting brought up because people prefer repetition of old lessons to learning new ones.

Why do you suppose Microsoft is not putting out great software in a timely fashion?

Perhaps a lack of solid leadership indicated by anti-trust trials, corporate arrogance, etc.


Hmm, but Microsoft was putting out great software in a timely fashion when these problems were all splattering to messy public fruition. IE 4.0 and 5.0, Exchange Server, Office, etc. were winning accolades and blowing away the competition when this "lack of solid leadership" as you assert was in evidence.

Anonymous said...

Someone wrote above:

"The day major companies like Blizzard, EA Games, Bioware etc start providing games at the same rates as on windows on any other platform, there will be a mass exodus."

You might want to have a look at any of the Blizzard boxes you have handy.

They've been on a roll of simultaneous Mac/Win hybrid-CD releases since 2000 or so.

Anonymous said...

Moderation?

Anonymous said...

Mini, you've just been voted as the Most-Preferred Replacement for SteveB by Spy der Man in Kisher's Korner:
http://port25.technet.com/archive/2006/03/31/25.aspx

Speech!

Relating to the comments and the anti-Microsoft feelings expressed: way back in 1990, I got onto a Mac. I hadn't used a computer previously, so it was all new to me. I was doing some writing, and it didn't take me long to discover that the only serious word processor on the Mac was Microsoft Word 4, running on System 6. It had its problems, but it was streets ahead of anything else - though I heard of Nisus and wanted to try it out.

In 1993-94 I was working at a Secondary School, and using their computer suite, which was MS Windows 3.1. Great. It kept crashing at the most inopportune times. If I had a dime for every time I lost work because of that ... "If Bill Gates had a dime for every time Windows crashed ... oh, wait, he already does!"

And then the anti-trust suit happened. I'd already watched Microsoft pull pennies out of rabbits, and rabbits out of hats, and the get-go out of competitors.

It all confirmed that Microsoft was not acting right.

Microsoft's claim that the browser was an inseparable part of MS Windows was laughable - the browser was a user interface at most, and user interfaces shouldn't be tied to operating systems. It seems to be karma that Internet Explorer is the vector by which malware infects MS Windows. Because, try as we might, we can't get rid of it. And with the self-healing aspects of ME and XP, we now have the nightmare of being unable to get rid of malware - because it identifies itself as a system file, so when you delete it - manually or automatically doesn't make any difference - ME and XP put it back again.

You're right in so far as merely condemning Microsoft only goes a certain distance. But ignoring those criticisms isn't going to make the job of those who try to manage the monopoly's massive installed base, any easier.

So, any chance you'll step up and kick SteveB out of office soon?

Who da'Punk said...

Moderation?

Kind of funny in the post about comment moderation I feel like I've had to open up moderation a bit because of what I said in the post: why all the vile-infused hatred?

So, some reasonable responses externally why unfortunately brings up the whole IE vs. Netscape and Mac debate again.

But... this is part of our DNA now. Those actions are what we evolved from, so while we didn't start the fire, we've got to deal with the flames.

A small agenda I have is to have some reconciliation over this so that we can move on. That's a big thing. So, I've been more open about the discussion here on this particular post. I have some Microsoftie specific posts I want to do and, no, I'm not going to be as open to letting external folk bring up past sins there because they won't be on-topic.

Right now, here, they sort of are because I opened the door. It's not a trend.

Anonymous said...

Outlook's biggest security holes were patched years and years ago. It keeps getting brought up because people prefer repetition of old lessons to learning new ones.

Do you consider January 2006 'years and years' ago?

Vulnerability in TNEF Decoding in Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft Exchange Allow Code Execution (MS06-003)

Experts fear big implications for Windows flaw

Outlook TNEF flaw could be much worse than WMF flaw

Skeletons in Microsoft’s Closet - Silently Fixed Vulnerabilities

TNEF, RTF (and everything it can contain) are a constant source of new exploits (RTF especially).

IE 4.0 and 5.0, Exchange Server, Office, etc. were winning accolades and blowing away the competition when this "lack of solid leadership" as you assert was in evidence.

There's a lot of 'fragile' code in those projects (e.g. RTF). There were also many delays in shipping those products. You must be referring to service packs and not major releases.

dead wood said...

"Your accusation that everyone that gets spyware on their computer must be surfing porn and file sharing sites is ridiculous."

"Do you deny that these are extraordinarily common attack vectors?"

While not the original poster, I must comment that I have just spent a few hours rebuilding a system for a friend (imagine a friendly grandfather). XP was installed from CD with no configured firewall. His internet connection was via modem so he was way behind on windows updates.

This system was not used to surf nasty sites, I double checked the browser history, and it was so infested with spyware and rootkits that I couldn't even get it to run internet explorer.

My only option was to wipe the system. I suspect that the spyware got on by exploiting un-patched remote vulnerabilities.

That said, look at the size of the online adult entertainment industry and tell me with a straight face that you don't need to protect your users against the dangers that lurk there.

Anonymous said...

Reconciliation.

I like the word. I love the recognition that it's needed.

But it's not easy.

I see four targets for reconciliation: the zealots, the competitors, the general tech crowd, and the general public.

The zealots are pretty much hopeless. Forget them. Well, "so far as it depends on you, live at peace with all men", as the Bible says (don't recall the reference). But it won't depend on you. The zealots will only stop hating Microsoft when someone comes along that they hate worse, and maybe not even then.

The competitors are busy leveraging the antitrust trial findings into a means of grabbing pots of money from Microsoft. That (in a messy and slow way) kind of cleans up the past. Going forward, this one's going to be hard. An ant became an elephant by crossing some moral, ethical, and legal lines. But now, even if it doesn't try to cross any more lines ever again, it's still going to be really easy for the elephant to step on a bunch of ants every time it moves. The only way for Microsoft to do anything here is to be very careful in each move it makes to scrutinize how it will affect everyone else in the software universe. That's quite a ball and chain to wear and still try to get anything done. But the unfortunate reality is that everything Microsoft does is going to be viewed as helping them compete unfairly until proven otherwise. And this will continue for at least the next several years.

The tech crowd knows about a lot of Microsoft's misdeeds in the past. Some of those killed some techie's favorite technologies. (Never mind whether the technologies were better or worse; that's not the point.) Here Microsoft needs to do two things. Produce good stuff, and not deliberately try to kill or cripple competing approaches. Stop with the gratuitous incompatibilities. Work with the rest of the universe. (We can usually spot the difference between different-but-better and just different.)

The general public is a different problem. They probably didn't understand exactly what the big deal was about the antitrust trial. They just know when their PC is on the fritz. For these folks, you need to make the easiest-to-use, most-malware-resistant software you can. (Yes, I understand that ease of use and malware resistance are often contradictory. But the general public needs both, because they don't know enough to set up malware resistance if it isn't automatic and transparent.) Unfortunately, they're going to blame you. The hard drive dies, or the processor? They still blame you. Yes, I know it's unfair. But that's the reality of the general public's perception at this time.

So this isn't going to be easy, not with any of the four groups. Worse, it's not easy in different ways for all four. But that's my opinion on what it's going to take.

MSS

Anonymous said...

I'm gonna come right out and say I don't believe you.

You sir, seem to be living like an ostritch.

It's so easy to prevent: don't open any unknown attachments, and use some sort of antivirus software.

Yup. Told the same thing to dad. He says "but I got this email from my xyz friend!". Of course he is wiser now, but he is also frustrated.

And here I thought pop was just writing novels in Word.
I doubt if a person has a PC he will only use just one part of it. The net is becoming ubiquitous. To research his work, he uses it. To correspond with friends he uses email. To write he uses word.

Look man - my post was about non technical people. You know how to install FF. My dad has to be handheld through the process. That's the level of non-technicality I am talking about. For you it may not be making sense how my dad can be so dumb - but I bet you have not even helped any elderly chap with his computer needs and stay safe in your cocoon.

I dont want a flame war. I just posted here thinking that a non-geeky outlook will also help in making better products, but if you want to look the other way, there is no hope for that to happen.

Brian said...

That said, look at the size of the online adult entertainment industry and tell me with a straight face that you don't need to protect your users against the dangers that lurk there.

Uh, no duh. That's probably why IE7 in Vista is being set to run with extremely low permissions to anything. What is the response you're looking for?

Anonymous said...

I have been reading this blog a while, and thought I would add a few comments.

Let me start by saying that this is not 'a linux is totally perfect' post. Far from it, linux also has it's shares of problems. Personally I am a fan of using the right tool for the job, which means it can be either linux or windows.

I am not, nor have I ever been, employed by microsoft. I have done my share, close to 5 years, of support on microsoft products though. On my own computers I almost exclusively use linux, mostly kubuntu. Different variations of windows are also used, for gaming and different work related purposes.

And since english is not my native tongue a few errors might creep in.

I just thought I would share with you why I use linux. In the interest of giving some user feedback. For me it comes down to 'what do *I* want to do today'? I have used every version of microsoft os since DOS 6.something. And for every version doing what I want seems to be getting harder and harder. I can understand that a lot of people might want that, lots of wizards and automatic reminders, and so on.

But that is not for me. Please don't assume that I am an complete idiot when you write an OS. I don't need to be reminded that I don't use some desktop icons, nor that operating system files make the system function. When I have configured the system to show me the hidden files and the operating system files, please let that be the end of it. And when i remove microsoft messenger, I want i to be removed from the computer - the same for outlook express. I don't want them to be lurking around.

And I do have anti-virus software, no need to pop up and reminder every time I start my computer, thank you.

You probably get the picture.

So why do I choose linux instead of windows? Because it let's me run my system the way I want it to. And most of the time it lets me choose what program I want to use for the different tasks.

And don't get me wrong. Microsoft have made some great software in it's days. And I still think setting up AD is a whole lot easier than setting up LDAP.

But it still comes down to the same thing. I want to make the decisions. And I have known linux distributions that make decisions for me as well, so it's not all rosy on this side either.

Ubuntu/kubuntu is what I have choosen to use, because it let's me run my system, the way I want it. With the programs I like to use.

Let me also add that I am a BIG fan of being also to use different programs/modules for different things. Not just big pieces of code strapped together.

For the future I'm still going to be using linux as my main os, and xp/2000 are going to be staying around: mostly for gaming, and a few work related purposes. And I will not be buying Vista. Dont' need it, don't want another UI to learn.

For those of you who works at Microsoft. The best of luck to you, hope you manage to change the company into something that cares about me, as a customer, instead of just making as much money as possible.

Just my two cent....
K

Anonymous said...

Mini, you might consider that allowing non-Microsofties to vent at Microsoft on a certified Microsoftie's blog is far more likely to get things progressing, separating the wheat from the chaff, so to speak.

Look for the substantive complaints. Anyting that is purely ABM is not worth giving time to; anything that can be substantiated is a different matter.

That's what needs urgent attention; that's also likely to bring out the extreme defensiveness I've seen in various Microsoft middle-to-top management's statements, ditto ordinary Microsofties' statements. Which should in itself be a warning signal; Hughlings Jackson based his entire neuropsychological career on noticing "defects" in ordinary behaviour, and if something makes Microsoft management nervous and defensive it's because there's a swollen nerve and pus under that supposedly thick skin.

Anonymous said...

"Mini, you might consider that allowing non-Microsofties to vent at Microsoft on a certified Microsoftie's blog is far more likely to get things progressing, separating the wheat from the chaff, so to speak."

--

Why don't you qualify why this is going to be more fruitful?

To me it just sounds like a trap to figure out connection trends which could also be used to identify folks..

No thanks, drive through

Anonymous said...

"But now, even if it doesn't try to cross any more lines ever again, it's still going to be really easy for the elephant to step on a bunch of ants every time it moves."

That's an excellent post, but I want to add a comment to the quote above.
You imply that Microsoft has or might decide to take the straight and narrow path, and drop the dirty tricks.

The problem is that Microsoft cannot achieve its business goals by legitimate means alone, and so we can be quite confident that it will continue to regularly resort to unethical and often illegal ones.

The reason this is so is that Microsoft has always wanted to be the 800 pound gorilla of the software industry, but it has never been able to produce more than a small proportion of new innovation. That being the case, it must use additional means to gain dominance.

I can understand why Microsoft employees don't want to face that fact. They are decent people and so they want to believe their company is decent, too. But if you sit back and take a very cold, objective look at what Gates and the rest of the Microsoft leadership have been attempting to do since the company started, and are just as committed to today, it is clear that Microsoft can never be smart enough or innovative enough to achieve it by legitimate means, and that the leadership is completely willing to resort to illegitimate methods whenever they think it will be to Microsoft's advantage. That is how it has been in the past, that is how it is now, and that is how it will continue to be in the future.

Anonymous said...

>But that is not for me. Please don't assume that I am an complete idiot when you write an OS. I don't need to be reminded that I don't use some desktop icons, nor that operating system files make the system function. When I have configured the system to show me the hidden files and the operating system files, please let that be the end of it. And when i remove microsoft messenger, I want i to be removed from the computer - the same for outlook express. I don't want them to be lurking around.

K, while you point has merit (I use Windows 2003 Server on my PC specifically to avoid all of that), consider how few people have abilities similar to ours. Most people really do need those explanations and reminders to get the most out of their systems.

Why would it be worthwhile for MS or any other software business to spend the money (it always comes down to money in the end) on their consumer software to cater to the small minority of users that care about such things? It would make no more sense than to put a race car engine into every vehicle because some people are race car drivers.

Anonymous said...

"OMG...OMG!!!!! Simon Witts has done WAY more harm than good."

Witts is pompous and arrogant beyond belief but he's a solid if unspectacular operator. More concerning though is that he has zero respect for customers or partners which in and of itself should have prevented him from ever rising to senior mgt far less heading up the specific group charged with that responsibilty. And yes, he's never had an original idea in his entire career but he doesn't need one - he captured Ballmer's support almost a decade ago and has been rising steadily under the latter's protection ever since. At MS, being a consumate politician/ass-kisser trumps customer-focus/creativity every time. Witts has one focus - enriching himself. Although to be fair, in that regard, he's no different from most of MS's grossly overpaid but unspectacularly performing senior execs. The problem isn't any one exec - it's the entire corrupted system supported/condoned/invented by Gates/Ballmer. Gates/Ballmer need to go. A new, capable outsider needs to take over and then Witts and all the other marginal/non-customer focused execs will be gone in short order. Of course, odds of Gates/Ballmer going - rounded to the nearest decimal place - is zero unless shareholders finally have enough of the chronic multi-year stock underperformance and revolt.

Anonymous said...

Omigod! Now I'm a Microsoft senior executive! Instant Promotion! Omigod! ;)

"To me it just sounds like a trap to figure out connection trends which could also be used to identify folks.."

Okay, so I will explain why this would be beneficial. Ignoring the paranoia aspect - please: paranoia's a nasty mental disease, a real killer - in Microsoft, going by some of Michael Brundage's comments in his own blog "Unreality" :
http://www.qbrundage.com/michaelb/pubs/essays/working_at_microsoft.html
there are Microsofties who don't have a clue how the other half - no, make that the other ninety-nine percent - live.

And it's that other ninety-nine percent of the world who will one day pay your wages, if BillG's plans achieve fruition. It's a bare thirty percent of the world that pays your wages now.

If Microsoft carries on the way it has, creating enemies and abusive users left-right-and-center, then things will get even worse, Microsoft will be hated with a passion - zealotry will be the in-thing, and ABM will be taken for granted.

Far better that Microsofties get the picture now and get things fixed now, than later, when it won't be so easy. it's easier to turn the canoe a couple of miles from the falls, than when you're a couple of yards from it.

And if you don't make the effort to separate the wheat - substantive criticisms - from the chaff - anything but Microsoft - you're never going to give yourself that couple of miles.

'Nuff sed!?!

Anonymous said...

Witts is pompous and arrogant beyond belief but he's a solid if unspectacular operator

** sounds like andrew sinclair

Anonymous said...

The problem is that Microsoft cannot achieve its business goals by legitimate means alone, and so we can be quite confident that it will continue to regularly resort to unethical and often illegal ones.

Pray tell, what are these high crimes and misdemeanors that Microsoft is currently commmitting? Given that you say this is ongoing, kindly limit yourself to things in the last three months.

I'm sure there are some. Often enough, those who most desire to climb the corporate ladder are the last who should be allowed to do so. However, if you're going to behave as if every right thinking person should be up in arms against Microsoft, you'd better provide some pretty compelling evidence.

Knut said...

>K, while you point has merit (I use
>Windows 2003 Server on my PC specifically
>to avoid all of that), consider how few
>people have abilities similar to ours.
>Most people really do need those
>explanations and reminders to get the
>most out of their systems.

Which is exactly my point. I want to be able to choose. And you are absolutely correct, a great many people really need those explanations.

And I don't think that will cost microsoft that much money. Like you said, Windows 2003 server come without it :)

And like I said, give me that the possiblity to really choose to remove components I don't want. Don't let them linger around.

Maybe it just comes down to this - feels and seems like microsoft want's to sell me a complete solution, put togethere with exactly the components they have choosen. This as opposed to the components I have choose.

Anybody who wants to have the standard components. Perfect. That is their choice. Me, I just want to be able to choose something else.

Which I have done, of course, since linux is my system of choice. Like I said in my original post, I'm just trying to give my a consumer point of view, maybe letting someone at microsoft known why I make those choices.

>Why would it be worthwhile for MS or any >other software business to spend the >money (it always comes down to money in >the end) on their consumer software to >cater to the small minority of users that >care about such things?

Why do so few people care? For many people using a computer is all about using windows. My opinion, they don't care because they are not aware of the fact that they can choose. Which is fine for a long time, until people discover: I can actually choose. What happens then?

Making an OS that gives people choice is, in my opinion, all about making a long term investment. That is why microsoft should use money investing it it.

Just my two cents.
K

Btw, why did you invest in Windows 2003 Server? Must have cost a bundle

Anonymous said...

Mini here - moved to a more appropriate posting...

Mini, on your last blog entry [This one. Mini.] I commented in particular about why Microsoft's past sins were not irrelevant at all, why they pointed a future direction, and why Microsoft draws so much hatred. Here's Microsoft continuing to walk down that same path:

http://slashdot.org/articles/06/04/25/0454203.shtml

Obviously Slashdot is anything but an unbiased source, but the comments are illustrative of what happens when Microsoft makes an anti-competitive move. There's not really a problem with Microsoft promoting Windows Live itself, but it seriously pisses people off when it carries with it lock in to Internet Explorer and (therefore) Windows.

If Microsoft faces consumer resistance, it's because it is going out of the way to earn it. Seriously, can Microsoft compete no other way? Are the sins of the past still irrelevant? Is this really the kind of organization you are proud to work for?

If you and your little experiment here can turn Microsoft around, good on you, mate. But it'll take more than trimming the fat and becoming more efficient; it'll take outright replacement of Microsoft's top strategists and their mindset. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

>http://slashdot.org/articles/06/04/25/0454203.shtml

>Obviously Slashdot is anything but an unbiased source, but the comments are illustrative of what happens when Microsoft makes an anti-competitive move.

This is the best example you could come up with for Microsoft's "sins", a paltry exclusivity agreement? Where's your outrage for the million other exclusivity agreements out there?

Anonymous said...

"Pray tell, what are these high crimes and misdemeanors that Microsoft is currently commmitting? Given that you say this is ongoing, kindly limit yourself to things in the last three months.

Well, for one there is pricing Windows and Office so it makes 80% profits. This is monopoly abuse, as evidenced by the many lawsuits against it over this, some of which it has already settled for large sums of money.

Then there are the various sorts of monopoly abuse for which Microsoft is in trouble with the EU.

I argued:

1) Microsoft has extreme ambitions

2) It never has been able, and cannot now, achieve them without regular unethical and illegal actions

3) Its top management is willing to undertake such unethical and illegal actions.

Which of these points do you disagree with? Or is it that you know they are all true, but don't want to admit it?

By the way, I am not saying that Microsoft doesn't make important innovations that are often very useful to users. What I am arguing that in addition it also regularly acts in unethical and illegal ways, and will continue to do so in the future.

BP/CMB said...

Well, It would probably be a waist of time on Scoble's, as I'm one of the people he "moderates" out of existence, but I'd love to get an inside reaction to this:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/04/25/ms_ec_interoperability_analysis/

Which I think is a pretty fair summary of the situation, especially with regard to the view of technology that the company takes (i.e product quality and interoperability taking a back seat to "bidness" strategies).

Anonymous said...

>Which of these points do you disagree with?

2, 3.

>Well, for one there is pricing Windows and Office so it makes 80% profits. This is monopoly abuse, as evidenced by the many lawsuits against it over this, some of which it has already settled for large sums of money.

Cite a source for the 80% backup figures or any actual values you find. Then provide a cite showing that the majority of medium to large software businesses price lower.

Really, if anything, the opposite accusation is more prevalent: MS prices too cheaply to shut competitors out of the market, a.k.a. predatory pricing. Mind you, I'm not in agreement with that claim either.

>Then there are the various sorts of monopoly abuse for which Microsoft is in trouble with the EU.

Want to know what that's really all about? Look at who filed the original complaint. Of course, I'm sure he did it out of genuine concern for the consumer.

Dave McMahon said...

This is a fascinating blog, especially the comments.

I haven't had time to read every single line, being at work, but my happence worth (from the UK) is this. People can knock Microsoft all they like, and they do. But you should all remember that they have had a tremendous positive influence in the world, and have been responsible for being IT to the masses for better or for worse.

I am primarily an MS developer and I think that most developers have an over inflated view of their own capabilities and the quality of their own software. Before you start knocking MS products start looking at your own. Microsoft does not produce software, the people within Microsoft do. From what I have known of them, they are all very conscientious and hard working and keen to help. If there are problems with software and or policies coming out of the company, and you have to work hard to get things fixed or get things changed, deal with it! Name me one other industry that isn't the same, try working with local government!!!

By the way, you can't complain about MS being intractable in one sentence and then complain about changing API. ALL applications run their course. The development platform at MS had run its course, and .NET came along and has proved remarakably successful and easy to use.

The corporate monster that some people talk about is an invention of the 'anti-Microsoft' brigade who are so narrow minded and out of date with their views that it is embarrassing. I hope Linux continues to get better, I hope Google flourish and Oracle because it will force Microsoft to get better. It doesn't mean I have to slag off those other products and the people behind them. If the Linux/Oracle crowd spent more time on developing their tools and useability than directing vitriolic comments at MS maybe they would have a bigger share of the market.

Regarding Netscape, I don't really care whether or not Microsoft did go after them. Personally my opinion (and remember that my opinion is as valid as yours) is that if they did, they did us all a favour, as it was a pile of junk! We got Firefox instead which is much better, although I don't think it is anywhere near as good as people seem to be saying.

As for some peoples comments about 'floundering', I think that too is way out of date. My perception at present is that MS have more direction now than at any time I've known in 12 years of working with them. Thanks to the like of 'Soma' Somasegar, the developer tools are moving to a highly unified platform that will allow us to do pretty much whatever we want. So I say long live Microsoft, long live Google, long live Linux and long live POSITIVE developers who work on all platforms. A pox on those whingers who seem to spend their whole life trying to find the flaws in MS software/policy just to try to prove how bad their products are, I suggest you get a life, becuase we are only passing this way once, and I don't want to spend it as a cynical whinger!