All Expenses Paid Press Junket from Microsoft… to Rob Limo
December 13, 2006 Leave a comment
It looks like Microsoft decided to send Rob Limo on an all expenses paid press junket to Redmond. As you may have guessed, many of his hard hitting questions weren't answered, but there are a couple interesting observations in there and he did get a free Zune for a Linux developers out of the deal. From the article:
“Well, that's not really anything I can comment on,” he replied. “I'm a product marketing guy.”
This was the kind of answer I got to all the hard questions I asked, including several suggested by Pamela Jones of Groklaw. None of the Microsoft people I met had anything to say about their deal with Novell, working with the Open Document Format (ODF), acceptance of the GNU General Public License (GPL) as a legitimate software license, how DRM built into Vista may anger users, or other topics I thought might interest you.
I came away with a sense that Microsoft doesn't currently have a clear sense of what Microsoft should be and where Microsoft should be going. I had time to buttonhole a number of employees who were not part of the planned presentations. The “Microsoft Campus” is not closed off from the world with gates and guards, but is a series of bland office buildings on ordinary public streets, so it was not hard to find employees I could question by buttonholing people near the entrances to several buildings, especially the company store (an employee-only facility where they sell Microsoft software at academic prices and Microsoft-branded hardware at a deep discount).
While I do not want to quote any Microsoft employees by name here — they really weren't supposed to talk to me — I picked up a sense that Ballmer is not universally loved, and that at least a significant minority (if not a majority) of actual software developers in the company are hoping he retires soon and that Ray Ozzie takes over. And if not Ozzie, at least someone who doesn't act as if the whole rest of the world can be divided into two groups: Microsoft customers and those who thwart Microsoft's plans.
Microsoft is not short of smart, hard-working employees. I'm sure that in many ways it's a great place to work. I also think, from what I heard during my visit and what other Microsoft employees and customers have told me at other times, that it has degenerated into a series of disconnected fiefdoms that aren't all moving in the same direction.
I agree that Microsoft has definitely lost its way in many regards. I'm not even sure that's arguable any more. I'm still surprised that Ballmer hasn't stepped down yet, but it can only be a matter of time. A Microsoft under Ozzie would be would be a whole different animal and the progression would definitely be an interesting one to watch.
Microsoft, Linux, MSFT, Zune, Open Source