Women in Technology

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Weblog:   The Human Face of Microsoft
Subject:   demonized?
Date:   2003-02-16 11:30:29
From:   mentata
I agree it is a noble cause to bring developers from both sides together. When I got a posting on O'Reilly for a Java example I wrote, I didn't expect it to end up on the ondotnet home page, but in the end that fact pleased me. Coders of all walks are craftsmen with the shared goal of creating software solutions, and I welcome the dialogue.


However, I object to defending Microsoft by implying the organization has been unfairly slandered. People like myself have very objective reasons for eschewing their products and directions. By and large, the barriers to synergy aren't being erected by programmers from either camp, but are inserted methodically by the top of the Microsoft corporate structure. David Stutz clearly had the insights to be a bridge between worlds, but he is leaving because there is apparently no room for that perspective in the narrow confines of Microsoft strategy.


Somebody once created something of monumental value to the world and gave it away freely, putting the benefit of all mankind above his own personal gain. It was a profoundly beautiful act, and has culminated in an unparallelled positive shift in our industry. Then a human face of Microsoft very publicly called it cancer. Now you tell me who's doing the demonizing.

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  • Tim O'Reilly photo demonized?
    2003-03-01 12:08:21  Tim O'Reilly | O'Reilly AuthorO'Reilly Blogger [View]

    Listen, I'm the first to call Microsoft on their shenanigans. I've been doing it for years. And like a lot of other folks, I gave them sh*t for their inflammatory comments about Linux and open source. But they've come a long way since then, they've tried to retract or apologize for those comments. I'm not saying that they are uniformly nice guys, nor that they aren't fierce competitors, but I am saying that there are a lot of people in the OSS community that wants Microsoft to die -- so why shouldn't they fight back? The best way to encourage them to be less hostile themselves is to be less hostile to them. That doesn't mean letting them get away with stuff, any more than Gandhi let the British get away with stuff in his fight for Indian independence. But he didn't fight back on their terms. He won by calling out the humanity in the British, not by fighting fire with fire. Make your enemy better, not worse, and you eventually win.
    • demonized?
      2003-07-06 19:50:39  anonymous2 [View]

      Tim, you own and run a business that gets significant revenue from the Microsoft world. Of course you want to soften perception of Microsoft's true nature because the upside for you is increased cross-over sales. You want to be seen by Microsoft as a positive force, helping the Microsoft spin machine, so they will help you get more business.

      And trying to take something from history and totally distort it for your own ends won't work either.

      Why did Gandhi fight the Brits in the first place? Because British ruled India -- the land of his people -- by brute force.

      This is no different than the way Microsoft rules the world of personal computer operating systems, programming tools, office suites, and browsers. By monopoly -- i.e. brute force.

      Gandhi fought the British by extreme civil disobedience (this is not warm and fuzzy meetings and talks). Why?

      Because Gandhi could not meet the British fire vs. fire because the British had all the weapons. So Gandhi used all the avenues of resistance and dissent available to him.

      In the end, Gandhi won because he exhausted the spririt of the enemy to fight. This is nothing that is not in Sun Tzu.

      With free software and open source, the struggle may be similar. The more on the ground resistance there is to Microsoft, the more Microsoft will have to change their ways. It is not "the more nice talk we give to Microsoft, the more they will change". Microsoft is not your little infant that needs sweet talking.

      Microsoft is a vicious beast of a company that doesn't play by the rules. The only thing they understand and respect is pure force. And myself, having worked with them on and off over the past 13 years, attest to this. You bargain with Microsoft strength vs. strength. There is not one humanitarian bone in the Microsoft body.

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