Robert McLaws: Windows Edition

Blogging about Windows since before Vista became a bad word

A Follow Up To "How To Piss Off..."

So Todd Bishop brings up a good point in a post about my take on the whole Mix-N-Mash thing with Jonathan Snook's question about Microsoft and innovation. He says that the question talked about an issue a lot of people thing about, and prompted a lively exchange that was apparently enjoyable, so no harm was done.

I obviously wasn't there, so I don't know the air of the room at the time. It seemed to me based on the text, that Bill was pretty pissed off, and masked it very well with good humor. Now, granted I could have very well come off like an idiot when asking someone who is arguably the most powerful man on the planet a question. But, if I had the opportunity to do so (an opportunity which I would probably never get again), I would have thoroughly researched my question, practiced it, etc, so that my exact point got across without any ambiguity.

So in Jonathan's explanation (which I didn't have at the time I wrote the piece), he said that Rob Howard beat him to the punch about the question on Corporate Culture (had I been in the room with Rob Howard, I would have assumed he would have asked what amounted to a blogging question, sine he was one of Microsoft's first bloggers), so he had to come up with something else. Alright, I get that, and I'll retract my statement about him not deserving to be there for lack of preparation. But based on the way I read it, the question seemed pretty disrespectful, and of course Bill Gates would get defensive about it. I'm glad he could have what I'm told is a decent laugh about it.

But at the same time, even his explanation I don't get. He says:

My intention wasn't to say Microsoft doesn't innovate because I think they do but rather to open up the discussion to discuss ways that Microsoft could empower those within the organization to innovate (like Google does by allowing employees to work on their own projects).

Anyone who has any day-to-day experience with Microsoft knows that they are doing innovative things. He had just seen Microsoft Surface not two hours before. is that not innovative? Microsoft was the first to build a data network of watches using FM radio. Just because it didn't take off, does that mean it's not innovative? Is Silverlight not innovative? I mean, come on. Just because Bill doesn't wear a turtleneck doesn't mean Microsoft doesn't do innovative things.

It just seemed similar to getting a private audience with the Pope, and using your time to ask him if he *really* believed in God, or if he just liked wearing cool hats. You can't say that his company is "reactionary" and expect not to get a passionate reaction.

But I'm getting off-track. Jonathan, I apologize. The transcript obviously doesn't accurately characterize the exchange. You're a lucky b@stard for getting to go, and I'm glad everyone had a good time.

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Comments

  • Heh, sorry, I missed your response when I left the comment on the original post. And by the way, I was one of only two people there using a Windows-based machine (fully licensed, as is the copy of Microsoft Office I run). I mention that only because of you eluding to possible Mac-fanboy syndrome. :)

    December 6, 2007 9:45 PM
  • Marios said:

    Microsoft was always behind major innovations.

    With IBM and clones we had DOS, PC-DOS and MS-DOS. No comments here.

    Those who wanted a graphical user interface used GEM.

    It supported lots of programs like Draw (outline), Sbase (great database), timeworks and Aldus PageMaker (both WYSWYG DTP! programs), type one outline fonts and so on.

    We had those before Windows one or two.

    Please have a look at them and realize what has changed after so many years.

    Then we installed Windows 3, the first working graphical operating system from Microsoft.

    We supported Microsoft and Bill Gates against IBM and Apple once again.

    Then we installed our first Internet browsers, Mosaic and Netscape Navigator.

    Then we got google Internet search.

    And now what?

    I firmly believe the next major innovation is somewhere out there, outside Microsoft.

    I wish it was a new 3D desktop and Web.

    I would like to use and navigate my desktop and the Internet, the way I play games.

    Bill Gates said something about 3D Web.

    But Microsoft never listens to ppl.

    I think they don't even listen to Bill Gates any more.

    They always created software based on other's established ideas.

    December 8, 2007 2:24 PM
  • benb said:

    Your assertion that one cannot ask a question to the face of Bill Gates is absurd. Anyone who knows Bill, knows he does not shy away from these sorts of things. In fact, attend a meeting with him and find out how long you last by not challenging.

    Second, the question is valid based on public perception. Facts aside, the public perception is that Microsoft follows - however baseless it is in fact. Therefore, asking the question is valid. I am not sure why you feel it is inappropriate to ask what may be an uncomfortable question to someone of stature. Frankly, asking a question like that to his face is far more gutty that being a typical fanboy shill who says all of these things on the Internet... such as bleep M$ and so on. Perhaps having the temerity to ask that question alone is something that should be viewed as a plus. After all - asking is not the same as telling. Asking gives the person a chance and respect to respond.

    In total, given that you knew little to nothing about the exchange and yet determined Snook to be "the dumbest guy on the planet." does not say much for you. You write about the disrespect and so on, yet flippantly label someone as "the dumbest guy on the planet" for *ASKING* a question for which you later have to apologize about and would not likely have the guts to ask? Honestly, it is precisely this sort of haphazard name-calling drivel that provides little to zero value. Even so, I would not label you the "the dumbest guy on the planet".

    Finally, given the reverence applied via comparison, Bill and the Pope do put on pants the same way you and others do (assuming they choose to wear them). I promise, if you meet him, you will not turn to stone if you decide to ask him something.

    December 10, 2007 7:19 PM
  • Spelling & grammar checker said:

    sine -> since

    is that not -> Is that not

    December 11, 2007 3:19 AM
  • Brian said:

    Marios,

    Internet Explorer 1.0 was developed during the same time Netscape Navigator was developed, it was created to be released with Windows 95. Microsoft released this in the Windows 95 Plus Pack. Netscape IPO'd around the same time as the Windows 95 release. Netscape already had a release by this time, and had more features, but hadn't become so popular yet. Saying Microsoft copied from Netscape is like saying Microsoft copied from Apple. Both copied from Mosaic, like both copied from XEROX Parc.

    Personally, I think Microsoft's greatest successes haven't necessarily been being the first company to produce an application of a kind, but creating the most finished best designed applications by incorporating a lot of different ideas they picked up. Of course, this is starting to get challenged as the Windows development process is cracking and Apple is churning out polished software, and as IE has started to fall apart and Microsoft has had to play catch up with Firefox.

    But Office was always better designed than competitors like WordPerfect and AmiPro. Windows 95 on the interface level was better designed than MacOS8 or whatever was out at the time, although they still had disadvantages in trying to keep backwards compatibility. IE became better than Netscape Navigator, and Media Player had become better than Real Player.

    That Microsoft shifted from this position and is now playing catch up with Apple and Mozilla, is a turn of events, from how I see things.

    December 18, 2007 1:51 PM