See Full Story
I spent the middle part of last week at Microsoft headquarters. For the first time in a long while, I saw an energy that few firms I've covered or worked for have been able to match. It struck me that most of the folks who disagree with my perspective about Microsoft are thinking of the company the way it was about five years ago, which isn't accurate. A five-year-old viewpoint wouldn't accurately characterize Apple, HP, Dell or SCO either. So what if Microsoft changed for the better? Would you care?
I was just over at viewsonic's site checking out the airpanel. I would like one. In fact, I found your article by googling for "linux airpanel".
There is a serious problem though. I do not want to install (much less buy) any microsoft OS just to get a feature, especially if that feature does not work well. I consider an airpanel a feature. From online reviews I understand it does not work well.
Here's the real cost of M$ thumbing their nose at open standards: The same hardware that runs the airpanel (400mhz xscale) could easily run linux. If I could get myself a linux airpanel, I could run VNC on it. Then I could run an open source VNC server on ANY windows box to get this feature, oh I could also use my airpanel to control my mac or any of my linux boxes. All I would have to pay for is the hardware. And guess what? I would be willing to pay more than M$ is asking for xp pro if I could get a high performance, genuinely useful product out of the deal.
Let this sink in a minute. M$ refuses to let users have roving access to their system because they refuse to support open standards for remote desktop access. Airpanel access locks you out of your desktop while you are using the airpanel and vice versa. Airpanel peformance absolutely sucks, vnc achieves decent performance. I sincerely hope M$ is changing. I will be among the first to applaud them when they do. But the very fact you mention that they showed you an airpanel in your article shows that M$ are still carrying along one of their most grevious flaws.
We (STARBAK) are a small, Linux-based company that has been working with Microsoft for many years. To date, we consider Microsoft to be one of our best allies and partners. They have done nothing but cooperate with us fully to assist our company in becoming successful. We continue to have a strong relationship, even though our CEO received anonymous email warnings that MS would try to squash us. They have not. The change you cite seems real and we feel it at every level. While it is true that history accounts for something, I don’t think you can underscore the impact that MS has had on our economy and on the use of technology by consumers. In terms of business dealings, our CEO has said on many occasions that he has felt less arrogance when dealing with MS management than many other, much smaller companies. And from a marketing perspective, I can tell you that they are really bending over backwards to push out their messaging to the Linux world – doing press releases with us that even endorse its use (starbak.com). I agree, if someone hates MS – a couple of articles won’t do much to change that – but in the spirit of holiday giving – this might be a good time to renew outlooks and give them a shot at Santa’s “good” list.
Wow, you are mellow today - Linux "advocates" and not Linux "terrorists"?
Yes, I would notice. The key thing is, I would not care. I'll give you an example why. Imagine you are a prisoner, and the head of the prison beats you everyday for 10 years. Then, suddenly, he treats you very nicely. Would you suddenly warm up to this fellow and think of him as your friend? No way, that history of 10 years of beating will always weigh you down.
Microsoft has been convicted of being a monopoly and of stealing IP. They have treated their customers like prisoners, always taking advantage of their position as the head of the prison, always beating their customers.
Screw 'em. I couldn't possibly care less.
Changing? Sure, they are dedicated people and I'm sure they want to provide a good product. Here's the rub. The biggest "change" they need to make is to adopt open standards for communication protocols and file formats, whenever they exist. But, particularly in the case of the Office file formats, doing so would be contrary to the interests of the shareholders.
I'm an Apple "advocate, but I don't hate Microsoft. If anything, I think it's just an unfortunate situation where, what's good for Microsoft's shareholders (perpetuation of proprietary file formats for Office, for example) is very bad for consumers (witness almost zero innovation in this space for years and years now, and high prices that yield Microsoft 80 percent profit margins after expenses).
I think we tolerate this in the U.S. because Microsoft is bringing home lots of dollars to the U.S., but I think overseas it's reaching a breaking point - on things I just don't see Microsoft "changing"
They actually are doing this much more then ever before and there is a growing internal force in the company that is driving this. The overseas impact, which you correctly point out, is having a great deal to do with this and Microsoft continues to enjoy the only executive team I know of that is truly Strategic (Apple may be the other exception though it is really hard to tell with Steve who tends to function tactically much of the time). This aspect, which seems to be more connected to founder control then anything else I’ve been able to point to, may allow them to effectively address your concerns where, for other firms, you would be correct in saying the needs of the investors would be predominant and likely lead to the eventual downfall of the firm.
What prompted me to write this was the feeling that even with all of this in place; changing folk’s opinions about the company will take more then simply changing the firm. People tend to get very stuck on their opinions, myself included, and that makes it very hard for firms like Microsoft to justify the effort to change.
Thanks for your posting, very nicely stated.