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.