Microsoft and its business

Let me begin by saying that I consider myself fairly objective and largely impartial when it comes to choosing hardware and software.  I recognize that Microsoft, Apple, IBM, HP, Dell, and many others all have their specific strengths and are better suited for particular tasks.  I own a behemoth of a quad-core PC running Vista 64-bit with WinXP and Ubuntu VMs.  I own a MacBook that dual-boots OS X 10.5 and Ubuntu.  Each machine, OS, and VM has its purpose.

That said, Microsoft holds the dubious honor of of being the company I have always been most at odds with.

Their products I don’t have much problem with (yes, Windows and its “it probably doesn’t work correctly, but we have a button for every task under the sun” approach is easy to rag on); it’s the business philosophy and subsequent corporate culture that grinds my gears.

Since its inception, Microsoft has thrived on stifling competition.  Only after over a decade of forced browser bundling has the EU stood up to Microsoft and not only demanded IE8 uninstall functionality, but they are also pressing Microsoft to include multiple browsers in Windows 7.

Microsoft bullies, intimidates, and – as seen in the OOXML debacle with ISO – bribes to get its way.  It has long been regarded as the antithesis to the Open Source movement, leveraging its market share monopoly and the stereotypical demographic of its users to spread misinformation and essentially lock their user base into its operating system through fear.

Hmm.  That sounds familiar.


To say nothing of how Microsoft launched propaganda campaigns against Open Source in general (“you can see the code, that means it’s insecure“…any tech person worth his or her salt knows that SECURITY THROUGH OBSCURITY is no security at all. Exhibit A: Windows!), its latest attempt is to woo people over to the latest rendition of its vaunted Internet Exploderrer web browser by “comparing” it to the latest releases of the competing browsers.

This blog on zdnet does an excellent job of highlighting just how little in the way of facts there are in this Get-The-Propaganda campaign.  True that Microsoft has a veritable Grand Canyon to dig itself out of after so many years of subjecting developers worldwide to the bubonic plague of browsers that was IE6 (seriously, an amputation of the arms so as to have prevented web development for four years would have been an improvement over this abomination), but spreading blatant misinformation to its user base (a disappointing majority of which, sadly, is easily convinced by the fear-mongering rhetoric) is pure and simple corporate manipulation.

At best, IE8 finally brings Internet Explorer up to par with the standards, which is where competing browsers like Opera and Firefox have been sitting comfortably for the last three years.  But the points Microsoft awards itself for Security, Privacy, Ease of Use, Reliability (SPORFLE), Compatibility (HOW ABOUT ALL THOSE SITES OPTIMIZED FOR IE6), and Manageability are truly laughable.  Opera and Firefox have been on the leading edge of those points since Microsoft was still touting its abomidable IE6, and the moment Chrome hit the scene it was already light-years ahead of IE7.

And now Microsoft is bitching that IBM is behaving in an anticompetitive fashion with regards to cloud computing.

Sorry Microsoft.  In the last decade as you’ve essentially laughed and joked at the folly of IBM staying in the mainframe business, you neglected to see that IBM successfully positioned itself for the transition to cloud computing, leaving you in the dust.  Don’t make me call the wambulance.

By the way, I am thoroughly enjoying my tenure at IBM this summer.  Freaking kickass.


About Shannon Quinn

Oh hai!
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6 Responses to Microsoft and its business

  1. pochp says:

    Bravo. You’re the best counterattacker of MS I’ve seen besides myself.
    I still remember a cartoon in 1995 where two hitmen were talking:
    ‘Why did we off him?’, one asked.
    The other answered, ‘He didn’t use Windows 95.’

    • magsol says:

      Thank ye kindly sir!

      I can tolerate corporate self-congratulation, and even a teensy bit of figure inflation (like Apple enjoys doing at WWDC each year), but this sort of blatant misinformation that takes advantage of the very people they claim to primarily benefit is truly despicable.

  2. eksith says:

    The good news is, if my recent string of “IE6 de-optimization” jobs are any hint, people are finally starting to realize they have indeed dug themselves into compatibility hole and are desperately trying to dig themselves out.

    The reason these tactics work is that this is the same crowd that bought the “if we withdraw, the terrorists will follow us” dribble.

    After catching fire, we all know what to do. Stop, Drop, Roll.

    Likewise, we need people to follow better instincts when it comes to solving earth shattering problems like getting browser compatibility up to par.

    Stop, Think, Recode…

    The outcome of doing the same is far worse.

    • magsol says:

      There has been a movement away from IE6, and I am thrilled to see it. I am also thrilled to see Microsoft invest a significant amount of time and energy into bringing its IE line up to par. What I can’t abide by is using the same old fearmongering tactics to make up the difference.

      Ugh. Don’t get me started on the “Stay the course!” rhetoric; I’ll never shut up.

  3. matt.roe says:

    Wow, you’d better be careful or I will stop reading your blog. j/k, or not, who knows 🙂

    • magsol says:

      Haha, I had a feeling you might respond 🙂

      Like I said, Microsoft’s products don’t irk me any more than other software vendors’ products (it only seems otherwise because MS products are ubiquitous). It’s Microsoft’s business culture and philosophy I have a difficult time playing ball with.

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