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Microsoft

Platform Evangelism 419

Posted by michael
from the witnessing-for-the-faith dept.
An anonymous submitter writes "James Plamondon, a former Microsoft employee is writing a book on Technological Evangelism at Microsoft. He's posted the first chapter, "Evangelism is War." Robert Scoble, a current Microsoft Evangelist doesn't like the metaphor, but Micah Alpern is concerned Microsoft could use similar strategies against Macromedia Flash."
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Platform Evangelism

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  • by CptChipJew (301983) * <michaelmiller@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday June 17, 2003 @04:48PM (#6226670) Homepage Journal
    What if tonight, the evangelism war could be over? Isn't that work coding for? Isn't...that...worth...debugging for?
  • use whatever suits u the best. ;)
    • Dear SkewlD00d,

      It seems as though you have missed basic /. brainwashing. Report to CowboyNeal for immidiate reprogramming. Soon you will see the light. Linux is the future, Apple is cool, Microsoft is evil and is never a better option.

      The /. Patrol
    • Fight Club (Score:4, Funny)

      by MyHair (589485) on Tuesday June 17, 2003 @05:01PM (#6226766) Journal
      What OS defines me as a person?
  • Microsoft! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 17, 2003 @04:50PM (#6226679)
    Wow where to begin?

    Well, for a start, they're not SCO...
  • by DwarfGoanna (447841) on Tuesday June 17, 2003 @04:50PM (#6226685)
    I don't think Flash is going anywhere.


    Hate...MS....hate...Flash....must tolerate Flash.....must....*smoke drifts from ears*

  • If MS were to use such strategies, would anyone be surprised?

    MS has destroyed company after company that tried to work with them or cooperate with them. Adding MacroMedia to the list would be no surprise. In fact, if you can name a company that depends on MS to any significant extent, then I would add them to my list of "endangered companies". It takes them longer to get around to some than to others is all.

    MS only thinks of technical evangelism as war if you idea of war is scorched earth that nobody can live on.

    • Oh, please. This is just unthinking anti-MS drivel.

      Consider for a moment that Wired article [wired.com] on the downfall of SUN Microsystems. One recurring theme in the personality of McNealy, SUN's CEO, is his inability to cooperate with the competition and instead his insistence on turning competitors into enemies and market competition into war.

      If MS does this (and they may indeed), this is merely business as usual among many of these corporations. Corporate America is not a day-care facility; companies can and

      • "cooperate with the competition"

        What kind of socialist doublethink is that?

        If they are the COMPETITION they goal is to make sales at your expense. There is no "peaceful co-existence" in this situation. You either combat them headon, combat them in a more subtle manner, or simply just file for bankruptcy.

        NT has been marketed as a Unix killer for longer than you've likely been computing.

        Any other OS vendor is right to treat Microsoft as the enemy. The customer is either going to buy your product or theirs
      • Note that the previous poster pointed out that they have crushed companies that tried to *cooperate* with them, not just competitors (Wal-Mart generally doesn't do that). Also note the difficulties MS has had with their smart-phone producer of the week and EA. I assume the executives of those companies aren't dirty linux hippies.
      • by slimme (84675) on Tuesday June 17, 2003 @05:45PM (#6227131)
        did MS engage in illegal anti-competitive practices which are bad for the consumer and bad for the market." I don't see you answering that question.

        They have been convicted of doing just that. Everybody knows that.
      • Wal-Mart destroyed the competition. And, yes, some say Wal-Mart is evil. But all they did is healthy, normal competition, no?

        What they and others do is far beyond competition, much less 'healthy' or 'normal.'

        They're coasting on the fact that once you achieve a certain critical mass, you get god-mode in the system. For individuals that condition tends not to last, as they either get booted [apple.com] from their company once things get big, or the novelty wears off and they decide to try it all over again. But for corporations, that's a sustainable state, which turns them into fiscal black holes that swallow everything visible to them.

        I've always thought that communism looked good on paper, but just doesn't scale well beyond a few thousand people. So are we seeing a similar limitation with capitalism? Or is Wally World really just so clearly superior to anything else with a cash register?
    • Actually, Macromedia is a big enough (and incredibly well established) company that their destruction by Microsoft actually would be a big surprise. Macromedia already produces most of their products for Macintosh, as well as some of their product (barely functional ColdFusion server) for Linux. Microsoft would have to fight pretty hard to take Macromedia down.
      • When you say that they "produce most of their products for the Macintosh" do you mean that they sell most copies on the Macintosh? Or that they get most of their profit from the Macintosh?

        If so, then I admit not only surprise, but more than a tinge of incredulity. If, OTOH, what you meant was that they also produce a version for the Macintosh of most of the software that they produce for the PC, then yes, that's no surprise.

        The thing is...
        When the MS OS was first starting up, MS had all it could do to b
        • Your history is a bit off. Microsoft Office really became the office leader when Windows 95 shipped - this was mainly because WordPerfect (the leading non-MS word processor before then) was very slow to ship a Windows 95 version. Had PerfectOffice for Win 95 come out on August 24 (it's pathetic that I remember that date), it might well have been a different story.
    • "If MS were to use such strategies, would anyone be surprised?"

      It's funny hearing this from the same place that thinks BSOD jokes are always +5, Funny. The Slashdot Community is nauseatingly evangelistic about Linux to the point of modding down people who don't join in with their pitchforks.

      • Don't confuse negative moderation with disagreement. Many pro-MS comments get modded down not because they are pro-MS, but because they are poorly founded and/or lack basic logic.

        I'm a Linux user myself, and I've modded down my share of pro-MS comments, but on the basis that they either 1) have no clue what they're talking about, or 2) are highly logic impaired. I'm talking about basic logic, not judgements on opinions.

        There are many pro-MS comments that I agree with. Unlike some of the zealots (most who will get over it, eventually), I understand that Windows has its place and advocate Windows to anyone who doesn't:
        1) Dislike Microsoft solutions
        2) Want to explore their computer
        3) Want to configure everything in detail
    • MS only thinks of technical evangelism as war if you idea of war is scorched earth that nobody can live on.

      Right, because we all know this type of thing is never done by companies like Apple, Borland, IBM, Sun, Cisco, etc. Or (heavens forbid) people who advocate open source software. At least company wars are fought in level fields - the "good vs. evil" mentality that permeates most open source zealots is downright cynical and pathetic at best.

      (btw, spare me the "m$ is a monopoly so teh [sic] rules are

      • Lesse... Microsoft started out by blackmailing it's first customer and then using the blackmail money to fund product development for that customer's competition.

        Then it went on to defraud IBM.

        When you can come up with nice anecdotes like that for Apple, Borland, Sun & Cisco then you won't be just another raving moron and microsoft corporate toadie.

    • If?

      I can't see any "If" in this.

      Flash is (for most people) a browser plug in. It is totally at the mercy of the browser.

      Somewhere on the Microsoft campus near sub-level 27 the "Steering Committee for Things We Need to Crush under our Boots" is meeting.

      Hundreds of megabytes of PowerPoint presentations will be displayed, doughnuts and espresso will disappear like wild leaves that before the wild hurricane fly. And in the end, the fate of MacroMedia will be decided by one Excel spreadsheet, displayed
  • by birdman666 (144812) <ericreid@ma[ ]om ['c.c' in gap]> on Tuesday June 17, 2003 @04:54PM (#6226713) Homepage
    There have been Macintosh evangelists for years, so don't worry, Microsoft isn't innovating.
  • What says "New York to me?" Eating a Pastrami sandwich at the First Street Deli. Seeing a Broadway Play. Walking around Times Square at midnight and stopping into Roxy's for cheesecake.

    Excuse me, I think he means the Second Avenue Deli.

    And you go to Junior's for cheesecake, preferably after a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. And Broadway is for tourists.

    Sorry, Microsoft what?

  • So...Microsoft is about to champion for the little guy in the war on spam. Check out this link [cnn.com] at CNN.com [cnn.com].
  • by Agent Deepshit (677490) on Tuesday June 17, 2003 @04:58PM (#6226747)
    "As a direct result, Microsoft built its annual profits from an impressive XXX to an astounding XXX"

    When did MS get into hard core porn?

  • Evangelism (Score:4, Informative)

    by The Bungi (221687) <thebungi@gmail.com> on Tuesday June 17, 2003 @05:04PM (#6226803) Homepage
    The words "evangelism" and "evangelist" are all wrong. They have an obvious religious overtone that conveys the wrong message. The job should have neither military (as in this case) or religious tones of any type. They're software products, for fsck's sake.

    I remember during the Team OS/2 vs. ClubWin wars on USENET there was a drive within Microsoft to rename the position to "Technical Advocate". It failed because some product managers (not project managers) argued that "advocate" wasn't an agressive enough term. Sigh.

    By and large though, Microsoft evangelists tend to be nice people (like Scoble, who used to organize the Fawcette [fawcette.com] industry conferences for a long time). Much different from sales drones and even most enterprise support reps.

    • I think its a perfect word. I went to a couple of MS events in the eighties, and they were run just like a religous gathering.
      I went to a launch event for server 2003, it's still the same way.
    • by cookiej (136023) * on Tuesday June 17, 2003 @05:21PM (#6226945)
      By and large though, Microsoft evangelists tend to be nice people (like Scoble, who used to organize the Fawcette industry conferences for a long time). Much different from sales drones and even most enterprise support reps.

      My guess is that the "evangelist" title is reserved for those who are intellectually valuable but aren't malevolent enough to make the real marketing team.
  • Flash is dead (Score:3, Interesting)

    by interiot (50685) on Tuesday June 17, 2003 @05:05PM (#6226807) Homepage
    Or so this evangelist hopes... In favor of SVG [w3.org], an open XML W3C spec that doesn't require expensive tools to create. Mozilla sorta supports it now and should have much better support in the future. Even though SVG isn't terribly popular yet, I already see far far more database-driven content than I do with flash since XML is pretty easy to manipulate and generate.
    • Re:Flash is dead (Score:3, Interesting)

      by kmilani2134 (652045) *
      I think Flash will be around for quite a while as it will be very difficult to get the graphic designers away from their beloved macs and the software they have been using. They tend to be very loyal. How many professional graphic designers use gimp? I would imagine the majority of them continue to use Photoshop. Another thing that is missing with SVG is that the applications for constructing cool SVG animations are still very new and are a long way from having the user interface and maturity of Flash.
    • oh come on (Score:2, Informative)

      I've seen hundreds of database driven Flash sites. It's fairly simple to do [macromedia.com].

      I agree that Flash is evil, but that doesn't justify skewing facts.
      • I wasn't really skewing the facts... I just said that my personal experience happens to include more SVG/database stuff than Flash/database.

        The neat thing about SVG is that it empowers all XML dialects... any XML data that needs to have a graphical or motion depiction can be semi-easily expressed with SVG. ChessGML [w3.org] is one example that's been implemented already.

        I don't think that Flash is necessarily evil... Actually, I wouldn't be suprised if SVG/Flash come to coexist like HTML/PDF do currently. I

    • Re:Flash is dead (Score:5, Informative)

      by sehryan (412731) on Tuesday June 17, 2003 @05:38PM (#6227066)
      Flash is an open format...there are many non-Macromedia apps that can create Flash files. In fact, Adobe even had a full featured compeditor to the Flash application before it decided to throw its weight behind SVG. Flash supports database-driven content fairly easily, and has for a long time. Flash can parse XML files fairly easily. XML is pretty easy to manipulate and generate, but creating the type of animations you see with Flash in SVG is a pain. And contrary to popular belief, there are more reasons to use Flash than to make toons or annoying ads. Example: I imported a two minute, 126MB avi that I created for a project into Flash. I added some custom controls for the video, as well as some "Pop-Up Video" points to highlight certain moments in the video. The Flash file came out to be no more than 7MB large. That's still big for dial-up users, but the video would have been impossible to present to them in the original avi format.

      I am not saying SVG doesn't have it's points. But don't knock Flash. I hate to burst your bubble, but Flash is far from dead.
    • Re:Flash is dead (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jabberjaw777 (676185) on Tuesday June 17, 2003 @05:50PM (#6227177)
      SVG has one huge glaring problem :

      No authoring environment.

      Without a well designed, functional UI, how can SVG hope to compete against things like Flash? It's all well and good for the programming types to go : "Wow! SVG is great! I can write a few dozen lines of code and make a circle go from point a to point b!" but the bald fact of the matter is that programming types are not responsible, and will not be responsible, for doing the graphic design and animation. And for good reason : they usually suck at it (people like Maeda and the like aside). Designers are used to, and require, professional class UI and organizational tools (things like timelines, text tools, visual hierarchies, etc.) to do what they do in an efficient manner. Having a good GUI would help things, but Flash already does tons of things that SVG MIGHT do in a year or more.

      And Flash is perfectly capable of handling XML and database-driven content, thank you. The fact of the matter is that as of today, SVG is an esoteric curiosity, nothing more... which may well change, as Adobe and Microsoft both are getting mighty anxious about Flash and it's capabilities.

      Now, I'm all for Open Source, but come on -- I'm not going to get on the "If it's proprietary, it's EVIL" bandwagon. Macromedia has spent tons to develop Flash to the point where it is now, and has done so in a fundamentally benign manner, especially when compared to things like the GIF fiasco and the other various predatory business practices out there. They have a right to make money off their product, the Flash application itself.
  • Pawns? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by druske (550305) on Tuesday June 17, 2003 @05:07PM (#6226829)
    What a lovely attitude Microsoft has towards its customers:
    ...The field of battle is the computer industry and its neighbouring vertical markets. Every person, company, product, etc., on this battlefield that is not a competing platform vendor, is a pawn in the struggle between such vendors.

    We win the battle when a critical mass of pawns chose to support our platform, such that the rest will too. We cannot compel this choice at the barrel of a gun. Our weapons are psychological, social, and economic â" not military. Each pawn that choses to support a Microsoft platform, does so as a rational decision to serve its own ends, whatever those may be.

    To win, we must understand every relevant fact about the pawns â" their fears and desires; their likes and dislikes; their beliefs and doubts; their motivations and obstacles. We can only win the allegiance of the pawns by understanding what they need, and supplying it; what they fear, and alleviating it; what they believe, and reinforcing it; where they want to go tomorrow, and taking them there...
    Not that such an attitude comes as a shock to anyone on Slashdot, of all places... and not that other corporations care much more than Microsoft... but even so, I'll bet Microsoft is less than thrilled with this little bit of PR. I like how he weaves in the "Where do you want to go today?" slogan.

    I wonder if Microsoft understands how motivating it is when people to learn it regards them as pawns? In the last couple years Microsoft has succeeded in motivating me to develop software for the Palm OS, and now for OS X...
  • by Twid (67847) on Tuesday June 17, 2003 @05:08PM (#6226835) Homepage
    I worked as an evangelist for Novell, and, while I think Mr. Plamondon makes some good points, I agree with Micah Alpern that war analogies aren't necessarily the right ones. Also, I would think Mr. Plamondon would be more marketing-savvy than to refer to people that are helping him as "pawns". Chess analogy or not, it's not exactly a postitive signal to be sending out to people doing your work for you. :)

    One very good point he makes is the idea of empowering other people to create materials about the technology you are evangelizing. It was amazing to me that I could get a lot of high quality help out of people for just a little public recognition, or some free software, or a nice gadget. People like to feel like they are helping with things that they feel passionately about. Heck, that's one of the reasons why the Linux movement has done so well, since just about anyone can dive in and start contributing in some way.

    The problem I always experienced was from internal groups who were afraid of losing control of the corporate image. For example, we talked a lot about providing open forums and community sites for end users and consultants to share their solutions. This ended up being a series of communities we called CoolSolutions. But the actual code and solutions that people wrote went through a gauntlet of legal and marketing people, and it really wasn't an "open" community, it was all carefully screened.

    The book "The Cluetrain Manifesto" talks a lot about these issues with large companies afraid to give up control. I think the right thing to do is for companies to loosly try to encourage an "ecosystem" around their technologies that then becomes self supporting. In this sense, they are practicing biomimicry in the form of crop diversity. You could think of internal PR and marketing departments as monocrops that are very susceptible to a single bad link, such as a sucky chief marketing officer. Diversity is good, and a product evangelism is one role that can encourage corporate "crop" diversity.

    As an aside, I'm currently looking for a job. So if anyone in management read this and said, "product evangelists? I've gotta get me one of those!", then you can get to my resume here. [dailey.info] or e-mail me at twid @ projectjellybean.com. I don't smell, I brush my teeth several times a day, I have no open oozing wounds, and I'm great fun at parties.

    • It was amazing to me that I could get a lot of high quality help out of people for just a little public recognition, or some free software, or a nice gadget.

      I think this is a very important point, and one that explains why Microsoft has the upper hand on Linux. These things all generate mindshare and loyalty, whereas just paying someone to do the same work won't produce the same results. For you developers: Would you be more inclined to start programming for Linux if your product got mentioned in a pres

      • by Twid (67847)

        I think you misunderstood my point. My point was that just the mention of someone's help in a readme, or on a mailing list, or other non-physical help is a great motivator for people too.

        While the ability to pay for giveaways and sponsor other freebies is an advantage for commercial software companies, I see Linux User's Groups getting similar sorts of free stuff from hardware vendors, and I see no shortage of Linux related freebies at conferences.

        In the BSD world, I know a couple people that are BSD com
  • by geoff lane (93738) on Tuesday June 17, 2003 @05:11PM (#6226863)
    is to open up your client software. That way you get your code ported to more platforms than you can count... for free.

    It's difficult for a company that only really supports one platform to compete against s/w that's in widespread use everywhere.

    Opening up netscape five years earlier would have killed IE before it even got started. Real may understand this now, I wonder if Macromedia does yet.
  • by donutello (88309) on Tuesday June 17, 2003 @05:14PM (#6226884) Homepage
    1. "This is another part of the evil plan by an evil company to use its evil monopoly for world domination."
    2. "This is not new. Apple/BSD/ has done this for years. Another example of M$ just copying others and having no innovation."
    3. "This is the end. As soon as customers hear about this, they will en masse migrate away and Bill will be a pauper by next year."
    4. "(-1, Troll) Look, this is another example of how the great lord Bill is making things better for all of us!"
  • phew (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 17, 2003 @05:14PM (#6226895)

    for a second i thought we where going to have a non-Microsoft bashing day, thank goodness this story came up, i was beginning to worry about our reputation.

    if(story.indexOf("microsoft")!=-1){cursingMsComm en ts++}

  • really, what "technologies" have they developed, other than the animated paper clip. they buy, beg, borrow, or hell, just steal whatever they need. and never in their technological evangelism, is there any notion of the BETTER technology winning. in fact, most of theirs that won, isn't even close.
  • by robogun (466062) on Tuesday June 17, 2003 @05:16PM (#6226911)
    I don't get it. The sole reason Macromedia is the size it is, is simply because Windows has no option to permanently refuse a web download.

    In the old days, when you hit a site that has flash content, and you don't have it installed, it would try to install Flash. The dialog box has no option to permanently refuse Flash, so sooner or later everybody just gives in.

    This policy allowed Macr to reach critical mass. Now brosers ship with Flash. Now you're telling me Microsoft is against Macr?
  • Good Heavens (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GMFTatsujin (239569) on Tuesday June 17, 2003 @05:17PM (#6226917) Homepage
    From the article: An unconscious decision is ideal, from the platform vendorâ(TM)s perspective. When ISVs support a Microsoft platform without even realizing that they have made a decision, and rejected any alternatives, then we have truly won that platform battle.

    The truth - the almost sinister truth - of that statement grips me at my soul.

    The trick is that folks think they're making a choice to purchase a merely single item, be it a CD, and DVD, a software package, a computer, a vehicle, or a politician (with a vote or literally with a breifcase of money). The reson this is a trick is that by making that choice, the purchaser endorses the entire chain of policies and events that bring that product to the shelf. You're literally saying, "whatever happened to get this product in my hot little hands, it's okay by me because the price is right.

    Until I read that line above, I hadn't thought of the entire hegemony that lurked behind a price sticker with the kind of laser precision that the author used to word it. And I always thought I was a reasonably self-aware guy. HOLY SHIT. His side won, and I didn't even realize I was in a battle.

    I'm making that line my sig. Nothing woke me up with quite the same jolt that it did. Maybe I'm just dumber than I thought I am. Is it just me?

    GMFTatsujin

    • by Sentry21 (8183) on Tuesday June 17, 2003 @05:40PM (#6227088) Journal
      Is it just me?

      Yeah, we wanted to see how long you'd take to figure it out yourself. Unfortunately, since he gave it away, you don't get the price. :/

      --Dan
    • You do realize that by agreeing to converse with us in English, you are implicitly endorsing the arbitrary abuses of power engaged in by the Sheriff of Nottingham, don't you?

      Yes, you are dumber than you thought you were. It's called social convention, and you became engaged in it long before you bought your first CD.

    • No, it's not just you, but you'll need to generalize your sig. Unconscious decisions aren't just ideal for platform vendors, but for every business. Why do corporations spend so much money on worthless advertisements that don't even tell me what their product does? The rationale is: if you see enough McDonalds ads, when you're hungry, you'll think about McDonalds first. Or, from a more technological perspective, when I need a computer part, I go to Fry's. Where else would I go to buy case fans and RAM?
      • Re:Good Heavens (Score:3, Insightful)

        by daviddennis (10926)
        Well, before there was Fry's, there were (still are, actually) mom and pop style white box computer stores that sell/sold a tiny fraction of what Fry's does. You would go into one of them and buy the case fan they had.

        Now, of course, you go to Fry's, as do I, because they have 10,000 different types of case fans, and you can pick the exact one you need. And the good experience of knowing that if you want something, however obscure, you can get it at Fry's drives you to go to Fry's without thinking.

        But t
  • I have to admit that I learned a lot from this chapter. I have always wondered about the fact that in university the marketing class I took as some enrichment for my comp sci degree was by far the most useful class I took. Now I know that there was even more basic knowledge missing. Expect to see my name in headlines in a few years :-)

  • by Davorama (11731) on Tuesday June 17, 2003 @05:25PM (#6226974) Journal
    Is it just me or is this analogy fundamentally flawed if you actually know the physics? Yes, a lever makes it take less force to move a given mass but it still takes the same amount of effort for that mass to obtain a given momentum.

    In physics, a lever rotating around a fulcrum magnifies the force applied. Therefore, before starting to push his technology, the wise evangelist looks for leverage.

    In technical evangelism, the mass being accelerated is platform support. Levers are people, companies, products, or channels of communication that allow you to accelerate the mass of support with less effort. Any effort you save working one lever, can be invested in working another. âoeLeverageâ is one of the key concepts of technical evangelism.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    To paraphrase the Dixie Chicks, I'm ashamed to be from the same country as these folks. In the kind of country I'd wish to live in, people would have PERSONAL HONOR and would INSTANTLY RESIGN when they first become aware their company was pursuing a policy like this. They'd quickly get a reputation as assholes and crooks, and people wouldn't want to deal with them. It even says -- explicitly -- that the motivation for this behavior is not just money, but very large amounts of money. They are not just gree

  • by AlabamaMike (657318) * on Tuesday June 17, 2003 @05:28PM (#6226992) Journal
    From the footnotes:
    *snip*
    [2] Recently, our competitors have added âoepoliticalâ to this list. Political actions result in law, which is backed up by force. They may come to regret educating us of the power of political means. */snip*
    I guess this means that MS has decided to start playing the political game wich it's own panache now. I believe the recent settlement with the government is only outcome #1 we'll see from this new activity. I wouldn't be surprised if they had some legislation brewing that would grant them some type of legalized monopoly. After all, if he who pays the piper calls the tune MS is in a position to control the Congressional Playlist for many years to come ...
    -A.M.
  • Quick summary (Score:2, Interesting)

    by PolR (645007)
    Here it goes.
    1. If someone assume user has software X for their business then software X is a platform.
    2. If software X is a platform, then it is a competitor.
    3. Defeating a competitor is making sure it gets no share of the business.

    The rest is a brief overview of how they proceed. Basically they don't do the job themselves. They convince others, especially software developpers, to do it for them. This works best when the others are not aware of the alternatives and consequences of their choices. When they ge

  • by azav (469988)
    After reading Micah's page, I wonder, "why did Microsoft come along and have to fuck things up for the rest of us?"

    Bastards.

  • by sTalking_Goat (670565) on Tuesday June 17, 2003 @05:40PM (#6227094) Homepage
    Saturday Night, Redmond Washington. Microsoft Exec: Yes!! Amen! I feel his spirit in me!! You know who I'm talking about. Who'm I talking about?? Microsoft employees: Bill! Exec: Say it again!! MS Drones: BILL!! Exec: Amen, Brothers and Sisters, Amen. Tonight I'm gonna preach from the book of Market Strategies. Chapter 6, Verse 12 Exec: And I saw, and behold a white Aeron chair and he that sat on him had the code; and a laywers was given unto him: and he went forth to conquer. Then cried he upon me, and spake unto me, saying, Behold, ye Leviathian of blue, shall use my code no longer, for have violated the oath set upon thee, and shall hence forth give unto repentance of 3 billion coins of silver...
  • by korpiq (8532) <-.@korpiq...iki...fi> on Tuesday June 17, 2003 @05:45PM (#6227128) Homepage
    The tone of the "first chapter" linked is astonishingly rude. It seems like the thinking were from a mindscape of cubic boulders splatted murky red with blood, not unlike the ending levels of original Doom. If this speaks of mentality inside Microsoft, that company definitely is the temple (and on this millennia, the memorial) of the idea of self-justificating greed of the 1980's. And in the networked (in social and organizational sense) world of today, it is quite alone waving that ugly flag.

    Microsoft will be truly lost, not by getting bankrupt or marginalized or anything, but by simply being left as one of the group of players on the software field. That is the loss of its central philosophy, that there could "only be one". Is it not so?

    --

    On totally other news, it is imminent now that free software will prevail, and must start to prepare to deliver its promise. A lot of infrastructure must be invented in order to best utilize the power of shared development. Just think of all of those organizations from Münich and Turku to the enlightened countries of South America, asking for preparation, development and upkeep of their systems... It can be left to happen, or it can be planned for.

  • How to counter? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DGolden (17848) on Tuesday June 17, 2003 @06:18PM (#6227354) Homepage Journal
    First: Remember that the best defence is a good offense..

    Developer-specific:

    Open Source should make sure to set de-facto standards - release early, release often.

    Define your data formats in something well-known like csv, sexp or xml so other open source programs can make use of them. Better yet, use a relational database backend with a public schema of views. It'll make most development easier, and all MS's best products do that, anyway. It's great (very convenient) for business use, and easy given the existence of postgres,mysql, sapdb sqllite, etc, etc.

    At the same time, don't get too hung up on data format standards - MS has shown that so long as your next version reads them, that's good enough, your next version doesn't have to use the same data format as its native format, so long as it can read the old format.

    MS has shown that what matters is to get a product out there, capturing mindshare - once a user has psychologically committed to your product, they'll probably stick with it, even if your next version is a ground-up rewrite so that it actually works. And if you release for windows, code to libSDL+OpenGL for games, and use cygwin, qt or gtk for utilities. NEVER use the Win32/.net directly API for new applications, even via WINE or Mono - that's one of the "proprietary standards" the chapter excerpt talks about (don't beleive the ECMA-standardisation .net stuff - it's still m$ 0wned)

    For general evangelism to non-technical audiences

    Make sure that your desktop runs a window manager with a really snazzy theme and some flashy applications (xmms...) when anyone drops by. Current Linux WMs can outclass WinXP in flashiness stakes. Contrary to popular opinions, consistency doesn't seem to matter a great deal - if the program is flashy enough, it might be a consistency nightmare, but will impress the yokels (don't call them yokels). It doesn't hurt to have a speech synthesis program e.g. festival going to read the subject lines of incoming mails, or some other geek-gimmick. Appearance is everything to the non-geek (and geekiness is domain-specific, a DIY geek who sees straight through gimmicky power tools won't necessarily see through flashy computer GUI gimmicks)

    Try not to get all philisophical on I.P. issues. Stick to "you have the right to change it or ask/pay someone other than the original manufacturer to change it for you. Like taking your car to a garage.". Anything more complex doesn't work for MS, it won't work for you. Yes, you may think I.P. is an absurdity. But most people are keyword-scanners. The message they'll get is that you're "anti-property". Yes, information is non-scarce and therefore you should't mindlessly apply scarcity-based property laws to it, yes, the very idea of information as property runs counter to the scientific method, but boring them by droning on about it won't help (I just droned on about it, and you damn-near switched-off, didn't you?)
  • by BenjyD (316700) on Tuesday June 17, 2003 @06:35PM (#6227479)

    * Independent software vendors (ISVs[4]) assume the presence of Windows on the consumerâ(TM)s PC.

    vs.

    An electric toaster supports the American electricity standard if
    * Its plug can fit into the American-standard electrical outlet, and...

    How can anybody seriously compare this kind of free-to-implement, non-trade-secret, properly documented standard with what MS does?

    Standards organisations define standards, companies implement them. That way you get this thing called competition that's quite popular with economists.

  • by Zebra_X (13249) on Tuesday June 17, 2003 @07:04PM (#6227816)
    Micah Alpern raises some good points about MS's attention to vector based ui's. I think though that he's completely offbase when saying that Macromedia's announcement of Royal will ilicit any response from Redmond.

    Flash won't be a threat to Microsoft as a "full platform". The primary reason is that Macromedia is great at marketing their products - but architecutally their product line lacks consistancy of vision and execution. Flash for example has, over the past three versions proved time and time again that it lacks a reliable, and easy to use programming environment, an absolute necessity for building truly sophisticated ui's and functionality.

    Don't get me wrong - there is some amazing flash work out there. Kudo's to the design/developers that were able to produce such things. The road to such accomplishments however is frought with errors, head scratching and mysteries.

    This is primarily because Macromedia seems to think that it's OK to produce API level functions that don't behave as expected so long as they are documented. See Macromedia 'Technotes' [macromedia.com] for further ammo er info. I think somewhere along the way someone at Macromedia misread "Test and Deploy" as "Deploy and Test". Most have to do with I/O such as load movie, getUrl, and loadVariables. Solid multi source I/O is an absolute necessity for building fully featured "rich client" applications. JavaScript is also not an acceptable language for building real applications. Especailly Macromedia's implementation which has a very loose object based approach to dealing with items in the movie. Flash is also slow. On machines who are not as "swift" as their high speed grand children - high complexity movies are sluggish and don't respond well.

    What this all comes down to is the fact that from a technology perspective, Macromedia lacks a coherent architecture for accomplishing complex tasks that will be required to build "Royale" and there is a good chance that developers first taste of Royale will be a bitter one.
  • by FatherOfONe (515801) on Tuesday June 17, 2003 @08:12PM (#6228380)
    First off, to call this a war is an insult to all the people that have fought and died in a real war; but I will humor the analogy.

    Microsoft is starting to loose a lot of key battles. The can't compete with Linux simply because of the price. People are cheap and if they can get something for free and it works ok, they will live with it. I honestly believe that this is part of the reason that the Macintosh isn't nearly as competitive as WinTel.

    First will be governments switching over to it, then schools,charitable organizations and point of sale type businesses. After that is done then you will see surrounding businesses that work with those HUGE clients being forced to switch. Once that is done and Linux/Open Source has a 25-30% desktop market share the war is over. No development company will want to exclude 25-30% of the market and then ROME falls quickly.

    Some of the key battles that I see now that Microsoft isn't winning.
    1. Handhelds
    2. Phones
    3. Java v.s. .Net
    4. Getting current user base to upgrade past NT 4.0
    5. PS2 vs Xbox.
    6. Databases, Oracle, IBM, SQL Server, MySQL, PostGreSQL

    In my opinion Microsoft seems a lot like IBM of the early 80's. The are doing a lot of things, and flat out own one key marketplace, but they don't do anything well.

    Now there are some things that could dramatically slow this down.
    1. Death of Linus.
    2. IBM to offer it's own Linux and try and seize control of the kernel.
    3. For some reason Java flounders.

    Anyway, the way I see it the next 10 years will actually be fun!
  • by cmacb (547347) on Tuesday June 17, 2003 @10:45PM (#6229513) Homepage Journal
    "This book focuses on technical evangelism as it was practiced at Microsoft from 1990 through 2000. In this decade, we may have lost a few skirmishes, but we won every battle. As a direct result, Microsoft built its annual profits from an impressive XXX to an astounding XXX. Microsoft stock made its founders, investors, and employees rich. In its many platform battles along the way, we crushed competing platforms consistently, ruthlessly, and systematically."

    Proof that if you are a self centered A-hole and want to start a company you should surround yourself with other self centered a-holes too.

    Evangelism is a great word for the Microsoft phenomena. They ask you to believe without any proof, in fact in spite of proof to the contrary, that they advanced technology during the 80's and 90's.

    The PC phenomena, in spite of a good start has set computing back at least 10 years. Almost all of the innovations brought to us via the PC have come in spite of Microsoft not because of it. Even so, there is so much re-invention of wheels going on. From protected memory spaces, multitasking, asynchronous I/O devices, it all had to be re-invented for the PC and more specifically, for Windows, when all of the concepts had been invented, and refined on mainframes years earlier.

    We've turned into a society of publishers with no time to read. We can't get customer support for our flaked out computing infrastructure because everyone is too busy working on their blog to man the help-desk.

    If Microsoft doesn't change, the combination of true Enterprise computing, Open Source, and Internationalism is going to cause Microsoft to lose skirmish, battle and war. What Microsoft needs not is not evangelists, bit strategists. And this time, rather than strategizing only on how to "crush the competition", maybe they should try strategizing on how to do something good for the world or at least a value-add for their customers. In the process they may allow their company to continue to survive.

    By the way, this doesn't look like a very good book. Sounds like the kid in the bubble trying to tell you how the world works, excpcept he hasn't even bothered to look up what the XXX number are yet. Astonding!
  • Typical.... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by IamTheRealMike (537420) <mike@plan99.net> on Wednesday June 18, 2003 @03:37AM (#6231159) Homepage
    And war it is â" but a war of words, not bullets. A war in which that side wins, which best serves the needs of its customers. A war in which both sides agree that their ultimate objective is to make the world a better place through better technology. A war that benefits everyone (although some more than others). Thatâ(TM)s the kind of war I want to fight â" and thatâ(TM)s the kind of war I mean to win.

    That's so typical of MS employees. They can say the most astonishing things, and somehow link it all back to "doing what's best for the customer", Kevin Bacon style. They collectively tell themselves, and therefore believe, that they are there to serve the customer, and that they are the best because they do what the customer needs and wants.

    The reality is far, far different of course. It's rare (but not unheard of) for one of their employees to make the mental leap between the hordes of people who hate them, and the idea that maybe they are actually working exclusively for the profit of their shareholders and executives as opposed to "making the world a better place through technology".

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