I'm a huge fan of Mary Jo Foley, but I can't help but feel that her latest article is a huge slap in the face.
Murdock noted that while Solaris has a lot of features its users consider cool and exciting, its developer community is much smaller and less vested in Solaris than is the Linux community is in Linux. Sun understands that it needs to join the Linux community, not beat the Linux community, in order to grow its customer/developer base.
Could a similar model work for a closed-source vendor? Microsoft does have an open-source lab and just recently launched a single portal venue on SourceForge to show off the company's forays and partnerships designed to get open-source software to run on and be deployed on Windows….
So what else could Microsoft do to expand and engage further its developer and customer communities? Could/should Microsoft try to make Visual Studio running on Windows more appealing to Linux developers and deployers? Port Microsoft Office or SQL Server to Linux?
Or should the Redmondians just accept that there will never be a Slashdot for Windows and just stay the course — without a huge group of cheerleaders egging the company on?
Microsoft is a de-centralized company. Their community strategy is going to be de-centralized as well. Open Source communities need to be unified and centralized to compete against Microsoft, because they have to unite resources to accomplish their objectives.
Mary Jo often has an unspoken strategy when she writes her pieces. So what is her strategy here? No Slashdot for Windows? Has she forgotten the hundreds of thousands of users that interact on Channel9, On10, Port25, TheSpoke, Xbox.com, ActiveWin, Neowin, PRO-Networks, Extended64, WindowsConnected, LiveSide, WUGNet, oh yeah, Windows-Now, and the other sites listed here? What about their involvement in Culminis, an international IT group which has over 2 million members?
What about the 620,000 registered users of the Microsoft Forums?
What about all of the other Microsoft-related user groups that Microsoft gets involved with around the country? What about the Student Ambassador program, Regional Directors, and MVPs? What about the individual communities around the different ISVs that sell software on Microsoft platforms? Like ComponentArt, Telligent, and the other 2000+ companies on Windows Marketplace.
This is not to say that the respective communities can't learn a lot from each other. But to say that their community is better solely because they only have one gathering place is not only inaccurate (Slashdot is not their only hangout) but wrong. Microsoft has a bigger group of cheerleaders than the rest of the tech industry gives them credit for. Next time MJ, don't let one day with the Linux community let you forget everything that the Microsoft ecosystem accomplishes.
UPDATE: MJ explained to me what she was tring to get at. While I still don't buy her argument, she didn't mean it to be a diss at the existing communities, and there are no hard feelings.