Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Microsoft props from.. a Mac publication??

Here's something you don't see every day: A columnist for a Mac publication giving Microsoft big props for anything. In this case, Giles Turnbull is comparing and contrasting Microsoft's communications style with that of Apple, and is finding that Microsoft is WAY better.

Without much fanfare (like, none), Microsoft has encouraged some of their top geeks to start blogging. If you do a search on Windows Vista blogs or Office 12 blogs or blogs for any other new Microsoft product, you'll find more often than not that the top developers are sharing the real behind-the-scenes story of the development effort. These accounts include the good and the bad, the big wins, and the failures.

This is quite something. We've never had this kind of access to a major product development effort ever, in any industry. Imagine GM or Lockheed or Black and Decker being this open about a new product. It'll never happen.

Microsoft gets beaten up often and on many fronts. Sometimes, maybe most of the time, it's deserved. But Microsoft does do some things right. This new direction on communication (and it's way too widespread for it to be anything other than a direction from the company itself) is a great example of how things are supposed to work in the technology business.

Windows Vista and Office 12 will have bugs, and you'll hear about every one of them in the mainstream media. But, because of this openness during development, Microsoft will have performed more optimization, done more debugging, and incorporated more user feedback than any other product team in history.

I think I'm gonna go buy me some MSFT stock...


Anonymous Person said...

Your decision to buy MSFT is akin to thinking a captain's honesty about his sinking ship will magically plug the hole. Look at the Massachusetts situation. Export to .pdf does not an open standard make.

It's frustrating to watch free market proponents trumpet Microsoft as the zenith of capitalism simply because they don't understand the weirdness that is the software industry.

PHE said...

Now Kirk. I didn't say anything about open standards, although Microsoft has come a long way in that respect. What I was referring to was an open development process. Microsoft's dev process for Vista and Office and other products, while not the collaborative effort of Linux, is light-years ahead of the process employed by their for-profit competitors. I happen to think that's pretty cool.

Anonymous Person said...

Redhat, Mandriva, Suse, etc. are all for profit competitors even though they sell Linux. RHAT vs. MSFT comparison here. I agree, the WSJ article was enlightening, but I think the iceberg was too big and the boat had too much momentum.

Oh by the way, you got Instapundited and I happen to think that's pretty cool :)

Anonymous said...

Good point. I understand Apple has done something similar for Safari and they claim to have thereby eliminated almost all of a whole lot of memory leaks. Of course, I have recently stopped using Safari because it has recently begun to hang endlessly and render the rest of the machine unusable. Maybe this is related.
Bill Snook

Robert Scoble said...

Let me know if we can ever help you. Thanks!

Mr. Snitch said...

Robert Scoble, of course, is the most famous of the "Microsoft Geek Bloggers". Glad to hear the remark re Safari - I thought it was just me. And despite the company's open policy (Are they more open than Apple? No contest!), I don't know that this is sufficient reason to buy stock in the company. How about some nice Gulf Coast real estate instead?

woods said...

Here is a blog for Robert Lutz, who is one of the guys who runs GM. Just a bit of trivia since you mentioned that it might be worth imagining GM or Lockheed etc being open about their products.



Brian said...

No fanfare? Where have you been hiding out the past few months?

Anonymous said...

Kirk -- anyone can find a timeframe that frames statistics helpfully for their argument. Here's the long view of the same graph.

Microsoft is a sinking ship to roughly the same degree that IBM's ship sank. Which is to say that even when someone else officially becomes "the next big thing," they will be immensely profitable and retain an enormous market share in their core market segment.

On the main topic, Microsoft's openness is immensely helpful to developers, IT departments, etc. It's really easy to keep up with future developments (for example, the Atlas AJAX framework, or C# 3.0), and even the rationale behind them. It's starting to look like MS is moving beyond the phase where they tried to be the Borg of the IT industry. Good for them, if it's true.

Anonymous said...

Aren't we forgettng that any corporate blogger is still a corporate employee? Don't we loose the independence that is crucial for a blog to be more than just PR if the blogger's livelyhood is dependent on the corp. on which he blogs? This is just guerilla marketing, not any change in corporate attitude.

Crimsonsplat said...

Am I the only one who finds it ironic that the above comment was made by "Anonymous"? It's a good point, but still...

Kevin R.C. "Hognose" O'Brien said...

I should like to point out that this bit:

We've never had this kind of access to a major product development effort ever, in any industry. Imagine GM or Lockheed or Black and Decker being this open about a new product. It'll never happen.

Is not entirely true. Eclipse Aviation which is revolutionizing general-aviation, has been extremely forthcoming about its results and even provides periodic report cards on how it's doing. Here is a page which reports on how schedule detail changed affect overall schedules, for instance: http://www.eclipseaviation.com/progress/ReschedLog.htm

Vern Raburn, CEO of Eclipse, comes from the software industry.

PHE said...

With regard to the comment above:

"Aren't we forgettng that any corporate blogger is still a corporate employee?"

That's a good point and is something to keep in mind. However, I know some of these guys and know a lot of people who are like them. Sure, they're beholden to Microsoft, but that doesn't mean they're corporate drones.

Most of them are at Microsoft because they really believe in the products their developing. For that reason, I tend to take these blogs at face value. I think, for the most part, they're being much more open and honest than we're used to seeing. That, in itself, is probably cause for suspicion from some of the more cynical amongst us. But I'll cast a vote for "refreshing".

Anonymous Person said...

To Anon - I program in C# and I'm not arguing that this newfound openness isn't good. But Instapundit is a trusted blog and I'm sure a few people took your advice to buy based on that trust - "Glen linked to it so it must be right".

If Microft loses the Office battle to open standards people will be more likely to buy alternative operating systems - I run OpenOffice on Ubuntu Linux - and we're left with two dead cash cows and a lot of sad investors. I wouldn't have said anything if it wasn't for the stock tip.

As for the graph, RHAT bests MSFT in all but one of the comparisons, max, and then only by a little bit. Seriously look at 1d 5d 3m 6m 1y 2y 5y. I went with two years instead of one to be somewhat fair.

Anonymous said...

General Motors has a blog. You can find it here: http://fastlane.gmblogs.com/

PHE said...

Kirk, anyone who buys a stock based on a snippet from a blog, even Instapundit, deserves what they get.

That said, I think the next versions of Microsoft's bread-and-butter tools are going to be pretty good. If that's the case, how can that be anything but good for the stock?


Anonymous Person said...

Good question phe, the answer is the "good enough" factor. If you can get MS Office which is a better product for $400 or you can download Open Office for free, which would you choose? If the OpenDocument format becomes widely accepted, and it most likely will be, nobody will be locked into the .doc, .xls, etc. formats.

Ferrari makes great cars but they're expensive. Not everybody needs to get to work at 200MPH.

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