November Sells Out

24 Mar

I opened my mail bag for the first time in like… a month… and there inside it were like 10 comments from people who hadn’t checked in with me for lonnnnng time and the responses were all pretty much the same… "Mikey!!  YOU SOLD OUT!!  You’re Working For… dom-dom-dom… The Anti-Christ".

Ahem.  I did NOT sell out.  I do not work for the Anti-Christ.  I do not work for some evil empire.

I did -almost a year ago (nice of you guys to notice btw) – get a job at Microsoft and I posted that here when I did.

Let’s set a few records straight here…

  1. I’ve always been a fan of Microsoft’s product.  That’s never been debated even when I worked at Sun (I was actually a Microsoft Subject Matter Expert for them btw…) and when I worked at IBM (and I was a Microsoft Platform Technologies Specialist for them as well).  So – no selling out on my views of MS product.  I’ve always been biased to the direction and the product even when I worked for the "competition".  My views and my assessments of things Microsoft has not and will not be changed.  When MS creates a Lemon (hey everyone does) I’ll call it as such.  If I like it – I’ll also say so.  Working here does not change that.
  2. The reality of what MS is really like – and what people think it’s like has such a gap that you really can’t imagine it.  I always knew this from interacting with MS people, but it really does not become apparent the size of the reality gap until you do come to work here.

    – No one here is a corporate money grubber that wants to obliterate the competition.  NO ONE.  You want to call me on that – no problem.  Come to Redmond and hang out for a week.  Make up your own mind.  MS has no issues with that. In fact, of all the campus’ I’ve ever worked on – MS’s is easily the most open and accessible to people.  It’s  a part of the philosophy here.

    – No one at MS wants to obliterate the competition.  At least no one I’ve met – and not in the sense of people sitting in meeting rooms in some Machiavellian style rubbing hands together going, "We must bring <place product/company name here> to its knees!!". 

    Truth is… most people here are just like everyone else. They have a job – the job is to turn out the best product they can, with the resources they have available – and do it the best way they can.  If you make cars – donuts – newspapers – you name it – that’s your job too.  And getting from Monday through Friday without messing up and making sure you do your job — is what’s on your mind.  Not taking over the world.  (Besides – if we did take over the world, what would we do with it??  C’mon people THINK!!  You make more by NOT taking over the world than if you do… and that doesn’t change if you’re John Q. Public, Microsoft or Dr. Evil.)

    – Apple, Google, <name fad competitor of the week here>, are as much our partners as our competition – we all exist in the same eco-system of business, and we all rely on each other.  If you see someone here saying "Our goal is to out… <whatever> … <who ever>…" – the same guy may be buying them a drink at the bar an hour later.  We all compete for peoples dollars.  Sometimes that means we have to create something people want, sometimes that means we have to work with our main competitor to accomplish a common goal.  This was true when I was at every other company… in fact, IBM had an actual term for this – they called it "Co-opetition".  When your main competition is also your friend.  Microsoft doesn’t use cutesy terms – but the philosophy here is the same as every other place I’ve ever worked.  Apple and Google are the same way… we all live in the same ocean of the IT Industry.  No sharks – just a lot of fish swimming in the same sea.

    Do we make products that compete?  Boy I sure hope we do.  Everyone else is.  Are they sucesses?  Some are – some aren’t.  The real decider on that are people.  We don’t have a monopoly and we know it.  The definition of a monopoly is when the user has no other choice — and today the user has a lot of choices on every product that comes out. 

    Every company – has had it’s share of issues with the Anti-trust thing when they hit a certain size, IBM for example – got slammed in the 80’s.  In many ways, IBM’s press over the years as been far worse than MS’s… let’s face it – MS just gets accused of being cut-throat business people.  IBM got accused of working with Nazi’s and being a supplier of the Holocaust.  I’d much rather have Microsoft’s bad press than IBM’s bad press.  Let’s face it a picture of a young Bill Gates being busted for driving offenses in New Mexico is not half so bad as having your company logo in the Holocaust Museum.  IBM survived their black press days and on the scale of "Things I wish we’d never been involved with…", Microsoft is a pussycat in comparison.  Did things happen the company was shocked to find out about?  Yup.  They also addressed them and put an end to them.

    Microsoft spends a small fortune educating employees on what NOT to do in business.  I know I’ve been through some of training – it’s one of the first things you do when you’re employed.  I’d place it not so much "training" as pretty close to pavlovian brainwashing techniques… "If someone (a manager) asks you to do something inappropriate… <<BUZZATT!! –HIGH VOLTAGE >>". 

    Okay – it’s not that bad but it’s pretty close.  It’s the only place I’ve worked where they actually have a program that allows you to and openly encourages you to anonymously turn in your manager or co-worker if you see them stepping over a moral or corporate line. If MS had issues being a dominant Anti-trust violator in the 80’s … they’re doing more than any company I’ve ever worked for to insure that the things they were accused of back then – end now.

  3. Does that mean they’re all "let’s give away the store" now?  What about the stuff in the EU?  I dunno… what about the stuff in the EU?  Last comments that I read indicated that despite the EU’s fines and all the things they’ve demanded (which a few months ago they were saying MS had complied) – Now they’re mad at Microsoft because Microsoft went from 30% of the market back in the days when we were supposedly in violation to 75% of the market in Workgroup servers now that we’re supposedly not being bad.  Seems to me the public is deciding on that one. Linux and OpenSource workgroup servers are free – and supported by IBM (which is far larger than MS will ever be btw) – and MS’s product still is taking the lead.  You can only attribute so much to advertising and being the biggest guy out there when the  other guy is giving away the product for free – but that’s my opinion on it.  Let’s face it – GM, Ford, Chrysler totally dominated the American market for cars once – now they’re struggling to hold on against Toyota and the rest.  If Microsoft’s product was clearly not what people wanted, and it was clearly more expensive – I don’t care how much advertising or other gimmickry occurs – they would not be in the lead on this.  Not when the competitors product is free… and deployed openly by the largest IT Service company on the planet.  Not gonna happen. But like I say, that’s my opinion.
  4. What about the Alcatel-Lucent patent suit?  I dunno… what about it?  Before you make any judgement on that I’d actually take some time to read up on that very very carefully.  That’s a law suit that is going to drag on forever – and when it’s all said and done – that massive judgement is very likely to be overturned.  It would not be the first time that the court in question was overturned on cases like this.  It’s also notable to keep in mind that how patents and copyrights work in the USA – are vastly different than overseas.  We’re just now learning that doing things legally here – can get you fined.  If you really break down what happened in that specific suit – you find that Microsoft Legally Purchased (no one ever disputed that) the rights to use that patent.  What they are actually accused of is after the fact – after they did that legally – the company essentially was purchased and THAT company – demanded additional patent rights.  It’s like renting a car from a franchised rent-a-car, and then 10 years later – getting a bill from some major rental car agency for the price of the car because they bought the franchisee.  That’s not even legal make that kind of a billing in the USA… overseas however – it apparently is.  And if you think MS is the first – keep in mind Apple, and every other company out there that uses MP3 technology – is also liable.  If they fail to sue them – we’ll know a lot more about how and why this lawsuit came about.
  5. "But they’re EVIL they’re EVIL I tell you!!!"  Listen, over the years I’ve worked for a lot of people.  A lot of companies.  I have actually seen people in this industry – that I will openly tell you were – in my opinion, evil.  None of them work here.  Microsoft’s people – not the company – just the people here – donate more than any company I’ve ever worked for.  They donate time, money, resources – beyond the company and they care about the communities they live in.  I’ve seen first hand – how people in 3rd world nations, and people in rural American towns benefit from the people who work here.  I’ve seen small business’ being given the kind of priority – that I never saw at any other company.  That’s me.  That’s first hand.  Not reading from a brochure or a PR announcement.  I’ve actually seen the good being done by people here.  And I’ve also seen the commitment that the company itself brings to it’s employees – to the communities they have operations in, and even to communities they don’t.    These are not evil people.

    I’ve worked for companies – where literally I was told that a community of 150,000 people did not meet our business needs as they could barely afford it.  There’s no one here with that attitude.  In fact, it’s the exact opposite – this is a company that’s trying to make products so Mom & Pop shop businesses can work just like every major player out there.  (See the last posting on Office Live and Tahiti.)  I’ve worked for places where when the question came up of paying a small developer for code, or getting it from an open source library for free – the response was to ask me if I was nuts for even suggesting paying a small business.  That is not the attitude here (want to know why I have issues with Open Source – that is a big part of it).  In fact – many of our products are free for developers to create new and exciting products they can sell.  Microsoft even has places where game developers can down load free tools for creating PC and Xbox games and helps them sell those games.  Microsoft is not out to crush any small business.  If anything they’d love to see more and more small businesses grow.  That’s the attitude I see here everyday.  That’s the attitude I have when I come to work.  I’m here to help people.  I’m here to make the world better.  I’m not evil.  Neither are my co-workers. 

Bottom line is … yeah I work for Microsoft.  I’m actually proud of that.  I’m NOT the voice of – nor should my opinions be represented as any reflection on my employer.  I’ve got friends that work for every IT company out there that Blog.  Their opinions are their own – my opinions are my own.    If you find fault with me suddenly now that you know who my employer is – then you really need to know me better – and you really need to know my employer better.

I’m the same guy I always was.  My opinions are shaped by no one but me.  I have no more inside info on Microsoft than anyone else – and if I did – I wouldn’t tell you just like when I worked with SUN, and IBM.  I’m a professional.  I’ll tell you the same stuff you’ll see anywhere else.  I’ll just tell you it – with my comments and thoughts added – with my bias’ added.  Because those are my opinions – that’s how I see it.  And supposedly — thats why a lot of you have trusted my opinions on things for all these years.

My thanks to you all – and have a good one. 

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Posted by on March 24, 2007 in Uncategorized


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