Linux

Microsoft's ignorant PR


I guess lately I've been on a real marketing kick. But recently I had a client in my chair that worked in Microsoft's PR department for ten years and some of the things we chatted about struck me just the right way. Let's chat about them.

This lady had worked on the MS campus for, as I said, ten years. She worked with Blusterous Ballmer and uber-geek Bill (she said it was odd how he would skulk around the halls with his glasses on the end of his nose not saying a word.) The lady had worked in offices around the globe helping to grease the Microsoft PR machine. She made tons of money, but in the end, when the trials began she couldn't take the blatant lies being told by Microsoft (her 80 year old lawyer father couldn't believe the lies she had reported to him.) So she gave away ever piece of technology she had and started a new life. Good for her. Bad for Microsoft (they lost one outstanding human being.)

So someone from MS PR is willingly, opening admitting that the company lied to the courts. Interesting. 

I believe that's called perjury.

But beyond the lies, there were other issues the lady spoke of. One of the issues struck me as rather ironic. She said that on the MS campus the OSs were changed about every two weeks. She said it was impossible to get anything done. On a regular basis she couldn't even do something as simple as get her email. And it took forever for things to be righted.  So it made me wonder:

Think about it - Linux geeks are fanatical. And they tend to know their OS better than any other fanatic's. Seriously - does the average MS fanatic know how (or is even able to) roll their own kernel? No. Do MS geeks fret about their directory structures like Linux geeks? No. Linux geeks just know more about what they do than MS geeks. I'm not saying they know more about IT and PCs and computing. I'm saying they know more about their OS than the competition does. 

Back when I worked in an office for TechRepublic (vs. my home office now) there was a fellow (who is a very good friend) who always chided me about Linux vs. Windows. He was a big Windows geek. On a weekly basis I would challenge him to set up a Windows box and we would see who could hack in and take down each other's machines fastest. He would never agree because he knew how much more I knew about Linux than he knew about Windows...even though he had his MCSE and all I had was some street cred as a loud-mouthed, Linux zealot. The challenge was never taken.

Back to my client. 

There were other issues in our little chat about Microsoft. She told me how hard it was to work in the same building as Balmer. She said he could be heard yelling and screaming throughout the halls. Not that that has anything to do with the article - but it was funny to know that Balmer's stage presence is pretty much who he is.

The final thing I wanted to bring up (and the reason for the title) is this. After ten years of working in MS PR, the lady knew nothing NOTHING about Linux or open source. That really shocked me. I would have thought every member of every team in that company would know and loathe the words Linux and Open Source. But she knew nothing.

So where does all the FUD come from? Does MS have a special FUD department? Do they have a special team of people who's sole purpose is to drudge up mis-guided "truths" about Linux? How could someone who knew about the Lies being told under oath not know about Linux?  The client wasn't lying about working for MS. She was legit. Is it possible that MS employees aren't quite as well informed as we'd like to think they are? I know I would prefer to think every employee on the MS campus knows the power of Linux and Open Source. I would like to think uncle Bill would have instilled that fear into their psyches permanently.  But who knows.

Seriously. Who knows? Anyone care to guess how a woman with ten years experience could know nothing about the company's competition?

Or maybe, just maybe, MS PR is kind of ignorant. And maybe Bill Gates and Steve Balmer like to keep it that way.  

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

29 comments
highlander718
highlander718

well, I agree on many bads about Microsoft, and I think Linux is more secure if not for else but because it's not that popular (yet) and yes, you do need more indepth knowledge than when running MS. But YOU talking about arrogance ??? Maybe you should read your own post one more time. You are not doing any service to the Linux camp with this attitude. Not to mention some of the statements "heard" from a lady that for whatever reason got fed up with MS....doesn't sound like an objective source to me.

NOW LEFT TR
NOW LEFT TR

Not IT, hence why would they know about Linux. Novell, Red Hat... - yes Linux (as in the OS) - no How many IT workers know about a their PR departments competitor in PR processes?

wa7qzr
wa7qzr

The remark: "uber-geek Bill (she said it was odd how he would skulk around the halls with his glasses on the end of his nose not saying a word.)", is just another one of those things which proves that my initial estimation of Gates years ago was correct. Ambition has no friend, save for Misery, who is his constant companion, and Greed, Ambition's mother, who drives him in the thankless and never-ending task of trying to find fulfillment and meaning in the sensless accumulation of material goods, and finally; Guilt over his dealings with Gary Kildall; who was a better man and had more knowledge and wisdom in his little finger than Gates ever had in his whole soul. It is not suprising to learn of the ignorance of so many Micro$oft employees. Gates likes to harvest his mushrooms early, even before they graduate from college. He likes to mold them into little myopic representations of himself by keeping them sequestered in the fantasy world he has created in Redmond. Children of the corn. Reality can be shocking to those fortunate enough to escape, and the source of never-ending nightmares to the one who tried to make them believe the universe revolved around something called "Windows"; especially when they break programming and start talking.

swdswan
swdswan

I am not surprised.This is nothing new for Microsft. I watched the rollout of IBM's OS/2 in 1994. Microsoft sales personnel had some detailed technical explainations of why OS/2 would not work. They were trumpeting Windows 95. OS/2 was a far superior OS. Micosoft was better at marketing ... and the rest is history.

lastchip
lastchip

it's more a question of arrogance. Maybe they just don't consider Linux to be competition.

apotheon
apotheon

"[i]Linux is more secure if not for else but because it's not that popular (yet)[/i]" That's hardly the reason. Check out [url=http://articles.techrepublic.com.com/5100-10877-6064734.html]Security through visibility[/url] for a little bit of information about what you [b]don't[/b] know about the situation. You might try knowing something about a subject before trying to comment authoritatively about it. "[i]you do need more indepth knowledge than when running MS[/i]" Not really. There's a difference between "People who use X tend to know more about it than people who use Y know about that," and "People who use X have to know more about it in order to be able to use it." As TheTechMail pointed out, there's a little bit of selection bias in talking about how much Linux users tend to know as compared with how much MS Windows users tend to know, because many people who are MS Windows users that know a lot and want to know more end up becoming Linux users -- while the people who know nothing tend to stick with what little they do know (namely, MS Windows). That in no way means you have to know more to be able to use Linux. If there's really any necessity of knowing more, it's basically just because Linux doesn't usually come preinstalled on a system when you buy it new, but MS Windows does. As such, Linux users tend to need to know how to install it, and MS Windows users do not tend to need to know how to install MS Windows. "[i]But YOU talking about arrogance ???[/i]" Funny -- it didn't look at all arrogant to me. It also apparently didn't look arrogant to mgordon, or even to noted TR member and Windows-phile TheTechMail. I've noticed that people have a tendency to call others "arrogant" whenever those others are right about something and know it. I think it just has something to do with feelings of inferiority that arise when one wants to disagree with something, but feels put on the spot because the thing with which they want to disagree was well enough presented and supported that there's little room to dispute it. Maybe that's why you think it's arrogant -- but maybe not.

NOW LEFT TR
NOW LEFT TR

How? Things are exactly the same just the method of getting there is different. You only need to have more knowledge of your choice of OS - that is all. OS of YOUR choice. You make it sound like they typical - MS - you are thick.

mgordon
mgordon

I think a small fallacy exists in the minds of people that suppose Linux is, or ought to be, in direct competition with MS Windows. They are not the same kind of thing and do not appeal to the same kind of people. As a parallel idea, we realize that Apple (the computer) isn't going to go away just because MS Windows has the majority market share. This only means that MS has a product that appeals to more people than Apple's product; but it does not mean that the people that prefer Apple will suddenly switch to MS Windows. The versatility of Linux is such that to a certain extent it can be flavored like MS Windows *or* Mac, especially now that Mac is itself flavoring like FreeBSD on Intel. The writer merely states the obvious -- *of course* Linux users know more about the operating system; generally speaking one must make a deliberate choice to choose Linux. In other words, "selection bias" chooses out of the huge throng of computer users those people that are interested in studying an operating system. It is hardly newsworthy to comment on the result of this selection -- Windows users know little about their operating system. Apple MacIntosh users know a bit more about their operating system (up through OS 9 anyway) because of some odd behaviors (one must manually allocate memory to an application) that in the Windows world are entirely automagic. The root of arrogance is "arrogate", or to choose for onself -- in this case, to present oneself as an authority on a topic without first using a recognized "introducer". In other words, you arrogate to yourself your own authority. To varying degrees I am sure we all do this, and network engineers and programmers do it more because we have no introducers. If I do not toot my own horn, it will not be tooted at all by anyone.

jlwallen
jlwallen

it was an objective source. it was an inside source. she left because she couldn't take the lies being told in the litigation hearings. and how am I not doing the Linux camp a service?

jlwallen
jlwallen

I bet the folks in the Novell PR department certainly know about their competition. And I would venture to say if a PR department doesn't know about their competition, they are a poor PR department.

jlwallen
jlwallen

the lady even made a point of saying exactly what you mentioned. gates always wanted kids fresh out of college so they didn't have a chance to build their own opinions/ideas. she said the lure of $ and working for MS was enough. problem is the wind up working so hard over the next segment of their lives they burn out and never return.

jck
jck

left "PR" off and been spot on :D

randd
randd

I have clients who want to have nothing to do with Vista, and all want to stay with XP for the time being. Yet the big vendors (Dell, Gateway, etc.) have Vista seemingly jammed down their throats by MS. They don't even offer XP as an alternative OS until you get into the high end business machines. So my partners and I have to devise some work arounds for these people to get a new machine and still retain XP. Perhaps MS will see stagnant Vista sales and realize what's going on, although I seriously doubt seriously doubt it based on what I've been reading.

jlwallen
jlwallen

I would understand (and even buy) this sentiment 10 years ago. But today? No way. Linux IS competition to MS and if they don't open their eyes to that they will be sorry.

highlander718
highlander718

as I said, to me, your post seems very arrogant. Arrogance = not a good service :-)

jlwallen
jlwallen

MS has become better at convincing themselves of things these days than convincing the public it seems.

jmgarvin
jmgarvin

http://today.reuters.com/news/articlenews.aspx?type=businessNews&storyid=2007-03-26T170555Z_01_N26369765_RTRUKOC_0_US-MICROSOFT-VISTA.xml&rpc=92 Total shenanigans. The reality is that Vista isn't selling well: http://www.microsoft-watch.com/content/vista/stacking_vista_licenses_too_high.html What's going to happen? I'm not sure, but I htink MS has turned into what they hated most, and that's IBM. They are trying to force numbers that aren't there, lock in consumers to a poor product line, and promise the world in the next version. When will we see WinFS? How about real security, not just the tacked on UAC?

jlwallen
jlwallen

can you explain that? i think the statements i made about the sentiments the lady had are pretty widely accepted about MS. that's no arrogance.

apotheon
apotheon

I appreciate the complimentary comments. I do try. I tend to agree -- this is just one more symptom of a deeper problem. People like to see quick, easy solutions. They aren't as interested by deeper, less visible solutions that actually address the source of a problem, because such solutions are not as visible and dramatic. Luckily, the unix culture at large has tended to be better about solving underlying problems instead of simply treating symptoms. "We" aren't perfect, either, though -- just look at some of the policies of distributions like Ubuntu. Yes, there's a lot that Ubuntu does well, but there are some things it does basically because it looks good, and covers over uglier bits of the OS rather than fixing them at their sources.

apotheon
apotheon

Most of Microsoft's so-called security is more aimed -- by necessity, thanks to the architectural decisions intrinsic to most MS software -- at damage control rather than prevention. The eventual modification of the Windows Firewall so that it now handles both incoming and outgoing traffic, does some (very limited) stateful packet inspection, and provides a little network-layer protection, is the first I've ever seen of Microsoft attempting to achieve any kind of "real" security. There's some dubious privilege separation stuff going on in 2k and XP, of course. Unfortunately, that tends to be dependent on application developers playing by the rules. Often, they didn't. I hear that Vista has better privilege separation, but the sources aren't exactly what I'd call credible, so I certainly won't put any money on it -- at least until I know more. Ultimately, even if all the security improvements I've heard about turn out to be 100% true, it's still far too little, quite a bit too late.

jmgarvin
jmgarvin

I'm giving this to all my students. Not only does it break security down in easy chunks, but honestly, it explains why MS security isn't security.

jlwallen
jlwallen

i would agree with you 100%. regardless of OS it seems, like so many things, most people are more apt to patch the problem than seek the solution. it's like the same reason people here in the US are so unhealthy - our health care system are too busy pushing pills and cutting people open instead of earnestly teaching people how to live healthy lives.

apotheon
apotheon

Think of "real security" as surgery, rather than band-aids. Think of it as: 1. full privilege separation 2. fixing vulnerabilities exploited by viruses 3. eliminating absurd service requirements 4. eliminating auto-execution vulnerabilities 5. improving on the business model . . . rather than: 1. using fake, half-baked privilege separation and sandboxes 2. leaving viruses to be dealt with by scanners, cleaners, and thousands of definitions 3. continuing to use asinine service requirements, like RPC just to log in 4. executing everything that appears on the damned system according to its file extension -- and maybe, just [b]maybe[/b], trying to sandbox it 5. using WGA to punish legitimate users because the business model sucks and Microsoft can't figure out how to make the general public want to use its software the way it wants them to

jmgarvin
jmgarvin

Ok, OEMs buy the licensing of Vista. However, that OEM doesn't actually use that license until a consumer buys their PC. So counting OEM licensing is like me saying I've converted thousands of people to Ubuntu. Did I really convert them all? Na, but I gave out a bunch of copies. So that counts according to your logic. As for real security: How about turning off services, actually creating real security instead of using UAC as a bandaid, and fixing the way the OS security model works instead of sandboxing everything and hoping for the best? Edit: The real cost of Vista http://www.cs.auckland.ac.nz/~pgut001/pubs/vista_cost.html

jlwallen
jlwallen

at the time we were discussing the challenge we were looking at Red Hat 6 vs. Windows 2000. our challenge was out of the box, fresh install who could hack a machine faster. and then, after tweaking (but no third-party software installed), who could do same. by real security - i mean how much security does a machine have the capability of having, sans third-party software.

NOW LEFT TR
NOW LEFT TR

"A license sold isn't a license a sold. Microsoft counts licenses sold to OEMs in the 20 million number, but the number of actual Vista PCs sold is likely much lower." How not? It was sold to another company for their use, hence it was indeed sold. We are not talking PC's here but the 'paper' for an OS that was in fact sold with money exchanging hands. Please define - real security. As far as I can see no OS has real security.

jlwallen
jlwallen

So MS actually "sells" X number of copies via retail. But XY number of PCs are sold with Vista pre-installed. So MS adds X+XY together to come up with Z. Z is a totally inflated number because XY is not really selling to the consumer. XY is selling to the retailer through a bloated deal they've made in order to ensure they make those numbers. total abstraction of truth.

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