The Roman Empire fell for many reasons, one of which is argued that it it extended its military ambitions too far and another was that it became decadent. The stories of the Romans hording art/literature, the opulent lifestyles, the conquest, the military might…are these things that different to the corporate monster that Microsoft has become?
It is decadence that I would like to highlight in this article and it was brought to my attention (kindly) by a Mashable post which to me, shows how out of touch Microsoft has become and how I think Microsoft is completely disconnected from the real world. This decadence may well be the reason why the Kin was released, why the Zune didn’t get the favored response of the iPod, why Bing is nowhere near to toppling Google and why if it wasn’t for OEM, can we really be sure people would be buying Windows 7? Especially since XP has been given yet another stay of execution, suggesting that people really don’t want to upgrade. Or maybe its just the products themselves? or how about a combination of the two?
Need further examples? Look at the Windows 7 party ads. Could you relate to that? Or how about the failed “shoe commercial” that wasn’t funny? What about the Kin advert that had complaints?
On top of this creative comparison of a decadent Redmond Empire and Rome, we have Ballmer. Watching over his empire whilst loyal servants stuff in grapes and pour wine down his gullet , well not quite grapes – M&M’s and take away the wine, it’s apparently Milk and OJ.
Before I go any further, let me link the article I refered to above so that you understand where I am going with all this.
Take a look at this article – “Ten Fun Facts about Microsoft” http://mashable.com/2010/07/17/microsoft-facts/ I’m not sure if, in the current climate of recovery from recession, conservative living (and layoffs from Microsoft) is something that could be described as “fun” with what appears to be a rather opulent lifestyle for those at the Redmond campus. Now I wonder, what do the customers of “Kin” or “Zune” or “Vista” have to think when they have issues with their investments. I’m sure they will raise a glass to “good old Microsoft” as the latest Windows exploit which brings down their system is blamed on a third-party. I’m sure they will smile dreamily into space imagining that whilst they may not be have a great time with a Microsoft product, its creators and staff are “shanting”  it up with M&M’s and free OJ.
I expect a claim will be made that any critic of this opulence is jealousy. I expect a claim will be made that any critic is envious of the gifts alleged to be showered on the Microsoft faithful  around the net and maybe even the M&M’s of Microsoft employee’s. To those people I would say this – I (and many other writers) have made reasonably successful blogs (average 1000 unique readers daily in my case) out of writing about things which we receive no gifts or rewards for.
I am sure if I applied my skill to the products of the companies who do shower gifts, my tech needs would be catered for free of charge. So if I am so envious and want a taste of the opulence alleged to be enjoyed by others, why don’t I join the bandwagon?
Firstly (and most importantly) if I don’t believe a product or service is fit for purpose, I don’t champion it and secondly I really don’t need to be gifted a laptop or anything else as I am quite able to purchase them anytime I want. I have this strange view that my opinions should be based on honest held belief and not paid for…call me silly. You may not agree with what I say, but the words are mine alone.
Now thats out of the way lets look at some of these “fun” facts about Microsoft (all taken from the above linked article)
Apparently the top two drinks of choice for Microsoft staffers are milk and OJ. There’s also free candy on the Microsoft campus shuttle.
and it goes on:
Each anniversary, a Microsoft employee is expected to provide one pound of M&Ms for every year they’ve worked.
but its not just confectionary to be enjoyed at Microsoft campus’s:
Microsoft is one of the largest corporate collectors of artworks with over 5,000 contemporary pieces including painting, sculpture, works on paper, photographs, ceramics, studio glass, and multimedia works.
And where would we be without Software Patents? Uninhibited? Not at Microsoft!….. its alleged:
Microsoft also rewards its staff members for securing a new patent. Besides a $1,500 bonus, they get a wooden plaque and a decorative black “cube” that features their name, as well as the title and date of the patent.
Happy times are here again? Think up an idea, it doesn’t matter if it’s not used and slap a Microsoft stamp on it. Win great prizes! It can always be used later when Microsoft sees another company being successful at something they haven’t. In today’s computing world where software patents can be seen as a hindrance to innovation, this particular “scheme” of Microsoft’s disgusts me. Maybe though the future of Microsoft rests in making money from its vast portfolio of patents? Want to see a great example? Check out Microsoft having a Star Trek moment in my article “To Boldly Blow”. You can read that here.
So we have hording of art, OJ and Milk on tap? M&M’s in abundance…..sounds very much like a modern-day Rome to me. Maybe if Microsoft concentrated on its products instead of its people living this decadent lifestyle, then they may not find themselves killing products such as Kin, weeks after it had been launched – of course Microsoft was not the victim, the poor souls who bought into Microsoft PR are.
Regardless of your take on Microsoft products, if you were a shareholder, would you be happy with this? Like the Roman Empire will Microsoft fall? – I’d say no, its got one hell of a war chest to fall back on and I’m sure if was on its way down, it will bring as many others as it can down with it.
Dr Schestowitz from TechRIGHTS sums it up well in my view, I quote:
Microsoft is not disrespected because it’s “successful” (or envied); Microsoft is disrespected, distrusted and also fined heavily because it’s corrupt.
In the meantime though, Windows users can be assured, any issues won’t be Microsoft’s fault, Linux users are zealots and communists, Linux is like a cancer (allegedly said by Steve Ballmer) and Bill Gates seems not to mind piracy of their products since people will “get kind of addicted”. Happy times and Im sure Microsoft staff will give a thought to an unhappy customer as they wash down their M&M’s with the umpteenth pint of OJ.
And in closing, if the chair throwing allegations in relation to Steve Ballmer are true, maybe he should stay off the M&M’s and their sugar content, also looking into the E numbers in the OJ served at Redmond.
There is plenty more material showing what I think is the gradual loosing of control of “territories”, one only has to look at any tech forum or blog post where people post about alternatives. Even two years ago, the site Microsoft-watch was renowned as a meeting place for Linux users (in fact I met many online friends there who I am still in contact with.)
All I ask before you donate to the Richmond Empire is to consider alternatives. I don’t ask you to buy anything, I don’t ask you to install anything. Trying Linux is as simple as booting a LiveCD, who knows you may like it, but even if you don’t, what have you lost?
 Of course Steve Ballmer doesn’t really have people pushing things down his gullet (I hope) it was written to create a mental picture of a comparison between Microsoft & the Roman Empire. In any case I don’t think Steve Ballmer would sit on a throne, they are rather heavy and very difficult to throw. 😉
 There have been many revelations of gifts received from Microsoft. Some people gave this information openly, others were not so keen to do so. I wonder, what sort of support would Microsoft get if gifts and titles were not showered on its faithful? Since FOSS software doesn’t really go in for that sort of thing, ask yourself whose opinion would you trust more, comments from someone who writes for free or someone who writes whilst receiving gifts from the company they write about? I’ll let you decide that one.
 Shanting it up is a term used to describe enjoying oneself. Its usually in reference to alcohol, but in this instance I’ll refer it to E numbers in the free Redmond candy.
Goblin – firstname.lastname@example.org
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