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A Microsoft fail agenda? – Yes Blevdog, I do want to discuss.

The title of this article will be made clear shortly as Ive had an “exchange” of posts with a Microsoft employee on Twitter.

Being that most of you have read previous conversations, I think you know what to expect, but suffice to say I will continue to look for someone who is willing to hold a sensible conversation on the merits of Microsoft products over the plethora of alternatives available these days.

Before I go any further I urge you (as always) to see the posts in context and would like to preempt any comment of “Why do you bother covering conversations on Twitter about issues like these?” – To which I would reply: a/ I am after debate b/ I am trying to find someone who is willing to justify/champion Microsoft products without resorting to PR posts or generalizations in an attempt to throw light on the issue that there are many alternatives to Microsoft products out there.   Is it too much to ask to get a Microsoft employee to respond to questions on products by the company they work for?  I think my challenges are fair and if they are not I would like to be challenged on them.

http://twitter.com/blevdog

http://twitter.com/_Goblin

So now lets move on to our latest Twitter conversation.   Meet Blevdog on Twitter.  In search of my “debate” I challenged a post of his where he said:

My take on #Microsoft. We make money. Plain and simple we provide our shareholders value. Jump on the train.”

Resisting the urge to make a comment now in regards to the figures released by Microsoft, Ill simply post my response to him:

What about your users value? OpenOffice? What justification do you have for the average user NOT to use OpenOffice?

What sort of value did you provide to all the users who had problems with Vista? or what about WM?

I believe people did “jump on the train” and they’ve now noticed they’ve missed their stop, they want to get off. #microsoft

Now as past experience has shown us, things usually go off on a tangent from this point on (especially if people are unwilling or unable to answer a challenge) so it was with little surprise that I saw these posted a short while later.

“Quality, supportability, user experience, interoperability..”

Eh? A non specific answer and I believe all the above relate to OpenOffice, infact Id go as far as to say that Ive found more users willing to help very quickly in the OpenOffice forums than with ANY (FOSS or otherwise) package Ive used (for your information though I still prefer Abiword, as ive said in the past)

Blevdog then goes on to say:

“So your contention is that problems with 1 product then the most profitable non-oil company in the world is not a good investment.”

This threw me, at first I believed he was trying to imply I was having a stab at capitalism (which Im not) in anycase it didnt matter, since all I asked him to do was justify why someone should NOT use OpenOffice (since he is an MS employee and ergo should be a supporter/user of MS office)

He then continued:

“By your logic commerce as we know it would cease to exist. there would be no investment because all companies have issues.”

Again, whats he trying to suggest I implied? All I asked was about OpenOffice and “value” in terms of WM/Vista.  Maybe his next comment would shed some light on this matter:

I need more dragons and ogres.”

…..or then again maybe it wont.  Was it some cunningly clever marketing answer that has gone completely above my head? or was he simply trying to throw ridicule into what I considered to be a fair challenge?…no, it appears he was making a joke.

So I followed on with:

“Eh? I was asking you to respond about REAL benefits of why someone should NOT choose OpenOffice… #microsoft”

Not to respond in a manner which to me seems like someone on LSD. Im trying to be adult here. #microsoft

“You seem to think my question on OpenOffice was a campaign against capitalism.I still cant work out your “ogres” remark #microsoft

(which I could) but I refused to dignify his ogres remark with an acknowledgement.  I went on to say:

“Maybe you see this all as a joke, if so fine. Ill try to engage someone else from Microsoft in discussion.”

and at this point, I could see Blevdog wasnt going to answer so I was going to leave it there.

Blevdog though decided to get in the last word and did respond a short while later:

“Probably for the best, you don’t really want to dicuss, but rather further your Microsft Fail agenda. The Ogres comment was a joke”

So I dont want to discuss?  Maybe this post will show that I do and maybe Blevdog will then want to answer the initial challenge I put to him.  I wouldnt hold your breath.

My final comments to him were:

LOL “Probably for the best” Best for who. I challenge you to quote this “fail agenda” unless you are calling me a liar #microsoft

and I was aware of your “joke” I simply thought it disrespectful since I asked a question. Tell me, as a #Microsoft employee, are you calling me a liar?

Or is your flippant disregard for my question born out of a realization that you have no real answer? #microsoft

and for the record, I managed to discuss with Jess Meats (a MS employee) quite amicably. #microsoft

The comment of Blevdogs that prompted the title of this post was:

Would you call tagging posts with the word fail and ask other people to send you tweets of examples of Microsoft Trouble an agenda?

To which I responded with:

No. I asked for photos. There are plenty of sites dedicated to BSOD’s etc. One could argue I am helping show that MS products…are used in a diverse range of businesses and public facilities. Was that photo not a #fail and was it not a #microsoft product?

Maybe you would prefer if the issues the Windows platform has suffered were just brushed under the carpet? are you really saying that I, with a blog of only 20000k hits can have a fail agenda with Microsoft? Do you think I believe I have any impact whatsoever?

All I am after is a debate, and to get someone to answer the numerous issues that have been brought up that are never answered.

For example, a problem with Vista is dismissed with Mojave as an example (in many cases) Microsoft has used it patent portfolio (IMO) as its “red button” and only now (IMO) when it realizes the value of FOSS is it is trying to backtrack.

lest you see a more dire result nextime than a -32% net profit loss (IMO)Has Microsoft worked out yet why many didnt like Vista?

Whilst you are claiming I have a MS fail agenda, please actually check out my comments on XP, 360 and the EU….if you dont want to do that, fine, but dont accuse me of any sort of fail agenda if you dont really know my opinions.

and as I was typing this I believed that was the last Id hear from Blevdog.  I was wrong.  Here was his latest:

“My apologies. I don’t have time to respond to your value question now, but will in the near future.”

Im sure he doesnt.  Although he seemed to have no difficulty before (albeit not answering what I was asking him)

I wonder what he’s appologizing for?  Is it for the implication?  (I seem to get alot of these when I try to engage an MS viewpoint in debate) or is he just apologizing for not answering the question?  I wonder how long the “near future” will be?

I am left wondering what on earth do I have to do to get a debate going in regards to Microsoft v Alternatives.  I have to ask myself if the answer is as obvious as some of the MS faithful on Microsoft Watch would have you believe, then it would be a really easy case for the MS employee to make.

So Blevdog, as I say to everyone, you are more than welcome to post a response here and since Twitter (IMO) does not give much room for fully justified response, I have created this post in order for you to have a full and detailed right of reply (if you wish).  I would though,  ask you carefully consider what you post in the future if you are not willing to answer questions.

I challenge your initial post of My take on #Microsoft. We make money. Plain and simple we provide our shareholders value. Jump on the train., since you are I believe a Microsoft employee.

I have this blog for the sole purpose of challenging and being challenged.  As you can see from my previous posts I censor/delete nothing.  Regardless of if you agree or disagree with me, you are welcome here and the whole spirit of debate (whoever is correct) IMO can only be a healthy exercise in enabling users to make the best choices for themselves.

Goblin – bytes4free@googlemail.com

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About Tim Sparrow

Online tech writer, novelist/author of sci-fi literature and co-host of the TechBytes Show! I believe in multi-culturism & diversity. Luton Town FC supporter.

Discussion

3 thoughts on “A Microsoft fail agenda? – Yes Blevdog, I do want to discuss.

  1. I am Blevdog and I do indeed work at Microsoft. To put this reply in context I think it important that any reader understand who I am, what I do and my former experiences. However, I first must emphatically state the following:
    • This is a debate/discussion between me and the owner and readers of this blog. I in no way am representing the views of Microsoft, its executives or any team member. All opinions, expressions and talking points are my own and in no way hold any binding agreement or implication of warranty.
    • I will engage in a debate of the merits of Microsoft both as a producer of products and as corporate entity that provides value to its shareholders. Since Goblin has expressed his desire to debate I will oblige, but if I feel attacked personally or that there is senseless attacking of Microsoft beyond points and counterpoints of a debate I will cease.
    • I will not engage in any debates over licensing, anti-competition, unfair usage rights, lawsuits, IP etc. I am not nor do I wish to be a lawyer. I do not have the knowledge, expertise or skills to speak intelligently about these matters.
    It is important to realize that Microsoft as a company is one of the few that supports both retail and enterprise entities. There are not many companies that engage in both as heavily as Microsoft. Most companies in the Software space heavily reside on one side or the other. In my opinion Oracle resides on the enterprise side. Apple resides on the retail side. Linux distributions reside on both to some extent depending on the flavor. Sun on the Enterprise side and so on. I make this distinction because I work in the Enterprise side. This may or may not color my opinions. I will let Goblin and his/her readers decide.
    I am an Account Technology Strategist (ATS) for companies that purchase, adopt and implement Microsoft’s products. These are primarily Windows, Office, Windows Server, SQL Server, Development Tools and Infrastructure management tools. As an ATS I act in an advisor and architectural partner role. I work with customers to determine the products/service and solutions that will fit their needs, develop plans to test and proof those solutions, develop plans to implement and work with customer IT departments to assist in adoption. I also coordinate support issues, services requests, provide feedback to product groups and evangelize our offerings. I also work with customers to optimize their infrastructure using both Microsoft products, other commercial available products and FOSS. Some people might refer to me as a trusted advisor, architect or a combination of many things. My customers often determine the role they need me to fill.
    Before coming to Microsoft I worked as an Application Manager where I had developers, business analysts and project managers working with and for me to develop BI solutions. Before that I worked for a Startup that was primarily a Microsoft shop as a Business Process Reengineer. This might come as a surprise, but one of the reasons I left that position is because I felt that we were relying too heavily on Microsoft products and thought that there were open source alternatives more suited for our operation. In hindsight I would say I was wrong, but at the time I was huge FOSS proponent.
    I heavily used XAMPP, a fabulous Apache, MySQL, PHP distribution, Moodle (which to this day I still feel is the best LMS there is), SugarCRM, and I dual booted a Fedora Core 3 distro where I of course ran OpenOffice, GIMP, VI, Firefox etc. and because at the time I preferred it. I was also frequent troller of Sourceforge and Freshmeat. Hmmm, you might wonder how I came to be at Microsoft. Well that is a very interesting story and if anyone would like to hear the drawn out story I will be happy to expound, but long story short SharePoint.
    After leaving the startup and before going to work as an App Manager I was doing some consulting work on Open CMS’s stuff and a guy asked me if I knew how to configure and customize SharePoint. Being a consultant I of course didn’t, but I lied and figured I could figure it out enough to fake it for a bit and needed some hours to bill. I went home did some research, got a VPC image, started playing with it and two days later I was able to go in and fix his environment and customize it in a competent and professional way. Let me repeat that. In two nights time (had a day job after all) I was able to go in and fairly competently do work on an enterprise class content management and collaboration system. I was in no way an expert, but I realized that there was something very nice about the way that Microsoft had put together the Software, the technical documentation, the support (had to get a question answered before I went in) and so on.
    This made me stop and reevaluate my position on Microsoft as I would consider myself at the time agnostic towards it if not belligerent. I realized that the value of the software they were producing and the quality of not just the software itself, but the ecosystem that surrounds the software is immense. I realize that many of the readers of this Blog will say “of course he is going to say it was immense” and that is a fair assumption. I promise you that coming from a background in Open Source that once I was open to Microsoft I immediately recognized it.
    Well that is some background on my and I hope it frames this debate in that I am not mindless robot that is going to throw marketing or PR at the readers of this Blog. I will answer honestly on what my opinion is in regards to the challenge from Goblin.
    I believe that there are two challenges and in the mind of Goblin these are interrelated. The first is a challenge to my Tweet that I believe Microsoft provides our shareholders value. The second is a challenge on the value of our products. Goblin has made the assertion that the value we provide users had a direct bearing on the value that we as a company provide to our shareholders. While I can see that an assumption of direct connection can be made. In a debate I would say that this falls under the fallacy of relevance and these things do not follow. I believe you were looking for someone to engage you on and so made this connection and I responded.
    Here is why I feel that there is not a direct relevance. The amount of money a company makes is determined by how well it is run from a pure operating income and profit standpoint and the current market valuation while affected by the products and offerings of a company do not in fact reflect whether or not they are providing value to the Shareholder. For simplicity I would break down value in two ways: The amount of growth of share price and the amount of return on investment from a dividend standpoint.
    My assertion was that Microsoft makes money for its shareholders and that I would recommend a buy. Albeit I did it in a way that you would expect on Twitter I would still stand by this recommendation. I will first say that I do not have a degree in Finance, but one of my degrees is in Business Administration and so I think I can somewhat intelligently speak on this subject. My assertion is based on the fact (http://www.forbes.com/lists/2009/18/global-09_The-Global-2000_Prof.html) that I believe that considering Microsoft has the #1 Profit Percentage in the world, #6 in Market Value, #8 in total profits on 60B in revenue last year our stock in undervalued. We did for the first time report a loss instead of growth in our quarterly results two days ago and our profits of $4B were down from last year, however we still in this economy we were able to show a positive increase in operating income through tight fiscal management. So, my assertion is that I would recommend a buy because I think the stock price is a steal at $20 a share. As of today the street agrees because MSFT went up $1.99. This is because the one question of Microsoft is do we know how to cut costs when needed, expand when needed and run a business. We reduced our costs by over a Billion dollars year over year. I think many see this as the answer to the question and I for one am very very happy I am a stockholder that purchased shares at $15.

    Now to what I feel was your real challenge and what you want to debate on. I will first remind the reader that Microsoft delivers products that are designed for both the enterprise and the home.
    “What justification do you have for the average user NOT to use Open Office? ”
    I am going to assume that you would like this expanded to Open Source and Free products in general and for brevity sake (I know too late) I will also talk about Linux.
    This is a tough trap not to fall into because a definition of the average user is so hard to qualify. For the purposes of this posting though I will make this assumption about the average user. A person who uses a computer at work or school on a semi-regular basis, primarily for browsing the web, checking email and editing, but does not have any deep technical experience. Because I like to have some format I am going to break down my opinions like this. I will state whether I think it is a viable alternative, whether it provides the same level of value and then comment on each of the following categories: Functionality, Interoperability, Supportability and User Experience. The same categories I tweeted to Goblin.
    NOTE: If the question was on the enterprise user I would say unequivocally that I feel we provide tremendous value over FOSS products, and if you would like me to expound on that I will, but for now will stick to the challenge at hand.
    On Microsoft Office vs Other Productivity Tools I will say that my opinion is that OpenOffice and other freely available products are a viable alternative (I might need to take a break to freshen up my resume ) however I feel we provide more value for the following reasons and my justification on why the average user should use Office are:
    1) Functionality – OpenOffice and other products are good clones and alternatives but they do not have the same level of functionality. My belief is that Writer is the most feature rich and is a decent replacement for Word. There are only minor editing features that are missing and for lightweight editing it will meet most needs. If one were to move into the realm of Desktop publishing I believe that Writer falls short and indeed in many general editing features. The fonts are more limited, there isn’t a reader view, drawing and wordart features are missing, there isn’t a grammar check, the language execution is clunky. Impress is probably the weakest product in the suite compared to Powerpoint and ironically this is most likely in my opinion because it looks the most like PowerPoint. It feels clunky, is slow and the graphics and design elements are lacking in colors, shapes and .emf and multimedia insertion. Calc is very good, but the Menu structure is difficult to navigate in my opinion.
    2) Interoperability – Open Office does not have the same pressures on it to be interoperable nor does it have a requirement to be interoperable. Microsoft supports multiple standards and continues to push to support more and more. Microsoft is also extensible through Visual Studio tools for office (www.officelabs.com ) and has a published API for extensibility.
    3) Supportability – I believe that Microsoft will win this every time. We have thousands and thousands of people that work to support our products. From the general consumer to the enterprise and we have numerous technical resources, forums, video answer help. While Goblin was very impressed with the Help forums for OpenOffice I believe that the average user is not going to be as keen to wade through past posts or are patient enough to wait for an answer. This is not to say that it isn’t a possibility, but I believe from any honest perspective our support channels are wider and deeper.
    4) User Experience – I believe that the fluent ribbon while not widely adopted is one of the most intuitive interfaces ever. The contextual help, and the ability to find advanced commands when needed was a major breakthrough. There are many that will disagree with me, but I personally love the Ribbon. If anyone has trouble with it I would suggest checking out the freely available add-on Searchcommands from http://www.officelabe.com . I think you will be pleasantly surprised.
    On Linux vs Windows and the problems with Vista. I do not think that Linux is a viable alternative for the average user, and I believe that Microsoft Windows provides much more value over Linux. I will say that I personally run a Ubnuntu and OpenSolaris on a couple of my personal computers (because I like playing with it) The average user needs a guided and pleasant experience and I believe in our attempt to continue to build on XP we concentrated on things that would enhance that. While many users did have problems with Vista a large majority of those complaints were caused to third party device drivers which we are working diligently to correct in Windows 7. I personally loved Vista and found it to be refreshing upgrade form XP. I never once have had a BSOD on Vista, Windows Server 2008 (which I run on a Lenovo T61 or Windows 7). I did have many in XP however.
    1) Functionality – The Windows interface and user experience will reach what I believe is a culmination of the efforts in Vista with Windows 7. Vista is far away better in the areas of search, command control, networking setup, Help, and customization. An operating system is so complex it will blow the average users mind. To fully produce a product that is viable in the enterprise, the home and the store is a herculean effort and there is not nearly enough concentrated focus from enough smart people to do so. Not on a largely volunteer basis.
    2) Interoperability – Windows is the client of all the major applications and products in the world. Many might question how it became so, but Linux has been around for roughly the same amount of time and for technical people makes a great server and even an everyday operating system, but many things don’t run on it and they never will because the UI will never get to a place where it is a viable alternative. It is more difficult to program for and there aren’t huge markets for it. Hence why when I need an application that runs on Linux they would look for other open source apps.
    3) Supportability – As a technical user being told to RTFM didn’t cut it for me and I don’t believe it would cut it for the average user.
    4) User Experience – The experience even in fantastic distributions today are just not up to the same level. Trying to figure out how to do something and then you have to edit a config file or wait for RPMs to update, trying to find the right command etc. Can you imagine the average user in VI?
    In conclusion I will say that there are always viable alternatives to products and I love Open Source and Free software, however you get what you pay for. The level of effort and time to utilize an open source product takes more of a commitment, technical savvy and patience than the average user has. Even with all the problems of Vista it is still a fantastic operating system that enables a large part of the world to do business, connect with others and is a productivity enabler.

    Posted by Blevdog | April 25, 2009, 3:57 am
  2. Wow!
    A response, a comprehensive one and one that deserves proper attention, since Im off out with the family this morning, I will be reading and responding this afternoon.

    But before I go, thank you Blevdog. Thank you for taking the time to respond and thank you for such a comprehensive reply. You are the first Microsoft employee to respond here (and in detail) to my knowledge. Regardless of your opinion (and I havent read the post yet) you deserve my respect for the taking the time.

    Cheers.

    @Readers, I hope people give Blevdog the courtesy of reading completely, and I look forward to what Im sure will be many points I can challenge on later!!!

    Posted by openbytes | April 25, 2009, 9:27 am

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about.me

Tim Wilson

Tim Wilson

Writer/Novelist of many facets both in the world of technology and fantasy/sci-fi. Co-host of the TechBytes audiocast and writer for both OpenBytes and Goblin's Domain. Supporter of free and open source software.

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