two faces

November 15th, 2001

I’ve been thinking a bit lately of how my opinion of Microsoft has evolved. I’ve narrowed it down to faces.

To me, Microsoft used to have a human face, or rather consist of many human faces, the developers who put their heart and soul into making their products and processes the best they could make them. Some of the smartest computer people around. People at all levels like Charles Simonyi, Steve McConnell, Steve Maguire, Joel Spolsky. People who got some amazing stuff done and can be proud of their accomplishments. Many of these kinds of people are still there, doing some fantastic work, living for the andrenalin of being a part of something good and creative. People who believe in what they do.

Over the last few years, I’ve felt that Microsoft’s human face has been obscured by the face of an aggressive offensive corporation,
take-no-prisoners marketers, lawyers and weasels. Advances in technology have been replaced with or tied to the delivery of advances in licencing or contractual obligation. The focus is no longer on attracting people with product quality but on rounding up consumers and steering them into the corral by gradually removing all paths of escape.

I can no longer hear a pitch of a new MS technology without wondering where the catch is, what the hook is, when the trap is gonna spring.

It’s a big shame, really, because the human faces are still there. I see them in the newsgroups, on blogs, in conversations. They’re thoughful, helpful, concerned about quality.

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