Is the Microsoft hate campaign working?

commentary It is easy, when writing on tech, to ascribe a lot of weight to the views and issues promoted by those with the loudest voices. And the loudest voices in the tech community generally belong to those who do not like Microsoft.

commentary It is easy, when writing on tech, to ascribe a lot of weight to the views and issues promoted by those with the loudest voices.

And the loudest voices in the tech community generally belong to those who do not like Microsoft.

Microsoft and the man who epitomises its culture and values, Bill Gates, are easy targets. The company's stumblings and mistakes are leapt on with glee and picked over ad nauseam by a vast army of critics ranging from those who dislike its products to those who regard it as the epitome of capitalism at its most rapacious.

This week saw the company cop an admittedly justified bake over chief executive Steve Ballmer's comments Linux violated more than 228 patents and that clients would be at risk of legal action if they use Linux. The subsequent moves from Redmond over those remarks have put a contortionist to shame.

However, another piece of news this week provided a potent reminder that Microsoft is not universally loathed.

A survey of chief executive officers by the Financial Times and PricewaterhouseCoopers found Gates continued to head the list of most-respected business leaders -- ahead of tech rivals such as Michael Dell, Steve Jobs and Carly Fiorina.

PwC officials said Gates had been lauded for his ability to inspire the company's employees and drive continued high levels of performance. The chief executives who participated in the survey also ranked Microsoft number two in the most-respected business list.

To your correspondent's mind, this study once again reinforces the fact that the corporate world is not interested in the almost religious zeal that accompanies a lot of Microsoft-bashing: In general, senior executives seem to admire the success of the company and are anxious to learn the lessons of Gates' management style. In addition, despite the best efforts of some commentators, information technology decision-makers are still required to evaluate Microsoft's products on the same criteria as they do everyone else's. It's value for money and fitness for purpose that counts, nothing else.

Your correspondent also this week went back through a file of articles and policy speeches made during the federal election campaign on the government's stance on open source. The message from all politicians was pretty simple: government agencies would be expected to evaluate open source solutions along with their proprietary counterparts when making procurement decisions. In other words, level playing field for all.

So while the weight of commentary, talkback, forums and other forms of Web discussion is overwhelmingly anti-Microsoft, it is always worth bearing in mind that the corporate sector admires the company and neither the corporate nor government sectors are interested in tilting the playing field away from it.

What do you think? Is Microsoft being unfairly targeted? E-mail us at edit@zdnet.com.au and let us know, or use the talkback option below.

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