Recently Microsoft unveiled their new slogan, "People-ready business". They have asked bloggers to write about what exactly this means to them. As someone who has grown up on Microsoft technologies, not only in the home, but in the workplace as well, I feel that I am very qualified to write about what this means to me.
Not everyone is a computer genius, and ever for those with strong technical skills, information technology is ever changing. It is near impossible to keep up, and thusly it is vital to design technologies that are intuitive to the end user. Time shouldn't be wasted on fighting with the technology. The tools should be designed in a way so that users can easily take advantage of them. They should also feature-rich and powerful so that advanced users can maximize productivity. Microsoft's crown jewel in this regard is likely their Office Suite. Not many people may recall, but at one time Microsoft was the underdog in Word Processing and Office software. It had to wrestle control of the market away from such giants as WordPerfect and dBase IV. Microsoft Office has become the de facto standard for how most people work and communicate.
However, being "People-ready" means the tool isn't as important as the people who use them. Our documents and databases, our emails and calendars, it is the data that we create that is so vital to us. In that regard, there has been growing concern over Microsoft's proprietary document standards. When creating a document in one version of Office, can you be assured that a user with another version of Office can open it? How sure are you that you'll be able to open your data 5 years from now, or 10? How useful is the tool, if we end losing access to everything we create with it? Shouldn't our content belong to us? Being "People-ready" means empowering the people to fully control their documents. In that regard, I recommend everyone to look into alternatives like OpenOffice and KOffice, which both utilize the Open Document Format.
Being "People-ready" also means being flexible and far-reaching. When working and communicating with others in a global environment, having open standards allows for people around the globe to connect together, even across different platforms and technologies. Again, technology should be a tool that allows us to collaborate, not intrinsically divides us. End-users don't care about hardware levels, or version-numbers. They just want to be able to connect with other people. If Microsoft were truly dedicated to being "People-ready" their products would focus more on open-standards. Their web-browser would be standards-compliant, so that people can more easily develop web-sites and know that everyone will be able to see and use them the same way. Microsoft would utilize open-standards for applications like Outlook, so they could handle contacts and appointments with anyone regardless of platform. They would open up their instant messaging network, and instead build on an open platform like Jabber so that we can simply to one address for messaging, and bring everyone together under one service and one protocol for the entire world rather than a collection of diverse networks again that divide us.
A while back Microsoft ran a campaign about believing in the people who use their products. The campaign suggested that Microsoft wanted to encourage us to innovate and be successful, when in truth, no major company has done more to stifle the growth and development of other companies. Honest competition is fine in a capitalistic society, but repeatedly Microsoft has been accused, and often been found guilty of anti-trust practices. They have bought out companies, strong-armed vendors into locking out the competition, breaking the law, and operating with hostile intent to destroy other businesses. "People-ready business" is not threating to "fucking bury that guy, I have done it before, and I will do it again. I'm going to fucking kill Google".
In fact, the Halloween Documents, which are leaked internal Microsoft documents, detail exactly how they embrace, extend and extinguish the standards and ideas of other people. They go out of their way to destroy the means of bring people together. They also put workers and companies out of business. Not exactly "People-ready".
A quick Google search will bring up countless examples of how Microsoft is evil, and why. Recently, Microsoft confirmed again that they are not only evil, but they are they very opposite of "People-ready business". Open Source Software is in many ways the epitome of "People-read business". Community developed by the people, for the people. I understand businesses serve to make a profit. No one will fault a company for doing that so long as the abide by laws. And I'm not demanding they release products for free. There is a huge difference between Gratis and Libre that many people do not understand. Open Source Software allows people freedom to choose, to cater products to their needs, to utilize open-standards and bring people together. Once again, Microsoft is working very hard to destroy that.
Even better, most successful businesses give something back. Microsoft has massive wealth, and now Bill Gates has founded the Gates Foundation. Warren Buffet handed over the bulk of his personal wealth to this foundation, which has been receiving insane donations. What is Microsoft doing with all that wealth in the name of charity? Primarily sitting on it and making interest, but they have been making investments in companies notorious for polution, waste and human rights violations. When asked about it, the Gates Foundation replied they can't be bothered to investigate the companies they are investing their billions in. If that isn't the most socially irresponsible response, I don't know what is.
"Other companies in the Foundation's portfolio have been accused of transgressions including forcing thousands of people to lose their homes; supporting child labor; and defrauding and neglecting patients in need of medical care.
Overall, the LA Times says nearly $9 billion in Gates Foundation money is tied up in companies whose practices run counter to the foundation's charitable goals and social mission. And that number may be understated - the Gates Foundation has not provided details on more than four billion dollars in investments it says are loans."
Bill Gates was Time's Man of the Year. So was Hitler. It has been suggested now that The Gates Foundation is also using their "charitable donations" as a negotiating tactic. You want polio vaccines? Well, your country better change your IP laws to better suit Microsoft's political goals. How "People-ready" is that? Microsoft is paying bloggers to spam people with BS propaganda about why they are a ""People-ready business". Please post this on forums. Post this on your blog. Post it everywhere. They are hoping to boost their Google PageRank by paying bloggers to spit out ads for them in the guise of sincere opinions. However, if people spread the message of what Microsoft really is, this will all backfire in their face.
Thank you for your time.
-- T. J. Brumfield