I was talking to a young (<25) Front End Developer recently who actively hated Microsoft. Sometimes I meet folks that are actively pissed or sometimes ambivalent. But this dude was pissed.
The ones I find the most interesting are the "Microsoft killed my Pappy" people, angry with generational anger. My elders hated Microsoft so I hate them. Why? Because, you wronged me.
"You killed my pappy," said the youth, "and my pappy's pappy. And his pappy's pappy. And my brothers Jethro, Hank, Hoss, Red, Peregrine, Marsh, Junior, Dizzy, Luke, Peregrine, George and all the others. I'm callin' you out, lawman."
One person said that he was still mad about the Microsoft Anti-Trust thing. "Hey, 10 years ago Microsoft did this..." That was initiated in 1998 for actions in 1994. That's 20 years ago. And for bundling a browser in the operating system that couldn't be uninstalled or easily replaced? Sure, no operating systems do that in 2014. I wonder if I can swap out Chrome from Chrome OS or Mobile Safari in iOS. Point is, it's common now.
This "generational technology pain" seems to persist long after the root causes have died. Do I hate Japan for World War II? My 6 year old wanted to know this as he's learning world history. I said, "No, we're cool with Japan. We've done some good stuff together." And he was like, "Cool."
I realize that you, Dear Reader, are a thoughtful and respectful lot, the Internet tends to be a bit of a motley crew. I fully expect the comments to be on fire later. But know this, I didn't work for The Man when all this went down, and I was as outraged as you were 20 years ago (assuming you were alive). But now, I've been here pushing open source and the open web for over 5 years and things are VERY different. I know you all have stories about how you were wronged, but we all have those about various companies. You're pissed about IE6, about FoxPro, about Silverlight, heck, maybe VB6. Sure, I hear you. I'm pissed about DESQView and my Newton, and Snow Leopard not running on my PowerPC. At some point you let go, and you start again with fresh eyes.
Embrace, Extend, Hugs?
We're putting source on GitHub, many groups are using Git with TFS internally for projects, we've open sourced (not just source-opened) huge parts of .NET and are still pushing. We've open sourced Azure hardware specs, opening SDKs, and we're making systems more pluggable than ever. Frankly, we're bending over backwards to NOT be dicks about stuff, at the very least in my corner of the company. Could we do better? ALWAYS. Are we pure evil? Nah.
Is Microsoft circa 2014 worse than Google, Apple, or Facebook? We're not nearly as organized as we'd need to be to be as evil as you might think we are.
Moreover, I think that Microsoft is very aware of perceptions and is actively trying to counter them by actually being open. I'd say we're more concerned than a Google or Apple about how folks perceive us.
I don't speak for Microsoft, I'm not a mouthpiece or a marketer. Sure, I promote the stuff I work on, because some of it is damn cool stuff. I'm a programmer with a blog who likes to speak on technology. But I am not my employer.
That said, I will quote myself (again, opinion, don't fire me) from my own Hacker News comment regarding the direction we're going:
It's worth noting that under Satya [Ed: And ScottGu] (in my org, Cloud and Enterprise) we open sourced ASP.NET, use 50+ OSS libraries in Visual Studio, have all the Azure cloud SDKs on GitHub, and on and on. We made Portable Libraries happen and now share code between iOS, Android, and Windows. This is not your grandfather's MSFT, and now the dude who helped us (Azure) change things in a fundamentally non-MSFT and totally awesome way is in charge. I'm stoked - big things coming, I think.
Sure, we do stupid stuff sometimes, usually because someone in one org isn't talking to another org, or some marketing vendor overreaches, every big company makes these mistakes.
But I like the direction we're heading. I work here to fix stuff. Some folks complain, some tweet complaints, I'm here to fix it. If it was a lost cause, I'd quit, as I truly don't need the job that badly. I'm happy to be a small part of a small part of pushing us. I will push until I can't push anymore.
I said, find a new reason to hate Microsoft. I didn't kill your Pappy, son.
* Photo by Frank Swift used under Creative Commons
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