Anti-Microsft sentiment is not really a new thing so you could say that I shouldn’t be surprised at some of the things I’ve been noticing recently. And yet, I am. I’m amazed at the consistent hate towards Microsoft in the media and software industries, and the subtle installation of those biases in the minds of others.
Exhibit #1 – “Mac Office users were Microsoft ‘guinea pigs’“, MacWorld UK
This article from Johnny Evans at MacWorld UK was published after the public release of some internal Microsoft e-mails that discussed their plans for a Mac version of Office back in 1997. In the e-mail Ben Waldman, seemingly one of the leaders of the Mac Office ’97 team, implores Bill Gates and other Microsoft executives to come to a final decision on releasing the newest version of Mac Office they have been developing. His e-mail explains his motivations in detail but to sum up, he is most concerned with:
- Getting a great new product that’s almost ready to their Mac-using customers
- Trying not to crush the enthusiasm of what had to be a pretty large team of program managers, developers, and testers at Microsoft who had been working on Mac Office ’97 for months
Instead of focusing on or even mentioning the positives in Ben’s e-mail, Evans attempts to use this e-mail as proof of Microsoft’s evil tactics against Mac users. What he ends up doing instead is showing his complete lack of understanding of software development and sound business planning.
Despite the mud-slinging in the MacWorld UK and other articles, Microsoft’s tactic of trying things out on their smaller audience for Mac Office is actually “a good thing”. Since Mac Office is a product that is not as crucial to their business and bottom line, they have the opportunity to take some risks with it that they probably never would consider with the Windows version of Office. The outrage from their shareholders and the pundits would be huge if Microsoft tried out some risky or wacky UI ideas in the Windows version of Office that sent sales of the next version plummeting.
That’s not to say that the Mac version of Office should or would always get new features before they were introduced into the Windows version. It simply provides that opportunity for Microsoft. And if taken as a whole, Ben’s e-mail shows you that behind whatever legal or business wrangling was going on between Microsoft and Apple at the time, the people behind Mac Office ’97 believed in the product they were working on, worked hard to make it a good one, and wanted to deliver it into the hands of their faithful Mac-using customers.
Since when do we rip on companies for doing careful planning and testing of changes to the cash cow of their business?
Exhibit #2 – “Microsoft’s Meltdown“, ZDNet UK
This article is just more of the sensationalist garbage that is typical of the media today. Maybe the media are producing more sensationalist articles and headlines because there are more things vying for readers’ attention than ever; they think it is the only way to find readers or viewers.
In an article attributed to the entire publication, ZDNet UK condemns every word Microsoft says and every byte of software Microsoft ships or has shipped until they can explain how there was a bug in OneCare, their anti-virus software. Apparently there was a bug in OneCare that, in some cases, would quarantine, not delete as ZDNet claims, a user’s entire e-mail collection if a virus was found in any one of the e-mails they had received or sent.
Is that a bad bug to have in an anti-virus program? Yes, definitely. Is it bad enough to condemn Microsoft forever as producing completely untrustworthy software? Not even close.
In a forum discussing the issue, someone from Microsoft stated that “this problem was found in beta and fixed