Microsoft bloggers step up the self-policing

Microsoft bloggers step up the self-policing

Summary: To disclose or not to disclose. That's the Microsoft question that's rearing its head again this week.

TOPICS: Microsoft

To disclose or not to disclose. That's the Microsoft question that's rearing its head again this week.

Softie and IT Pro Evangelist James o'Neill -- in a February 28 blog post entitled "Brave and Stupid Posts" -- chastized an unnamed Microsoft employee for sharing last week information on Exchange Server 2007 Service Pack (SP) 1.

(I saw one of the posts myself and wrote up the worthwhile info on Exchange Server 2007 SP1 for my blog over the weekend.)

O'Neill said:

"Someone ... and I don't know his name ... leaked some information about Exchange 2007 Service Pack 1 on a blog. Eileen mentioned this on her blog and the Exchange team have gone on record with information about their plans. The individual concerned is probably feeling some discomfort right now, and rightly so. Our blogging policy here is two words. 'BLOG SMART.'"

Eileen (Brown), Microsoft Manager of the IT Professional Evangelist Team, also came down hard on the SP1 leaker:

"So we've been trying to keep this confidential for a while. Unfortunately one of my colleagues in the world wide Evangelist team (over in Latin America) leaked the information" early. So the Exchange team have been forced to talk about what's in Exchange 2007 SP1 earlier than they wanted to. Why do we keep things confidential you ask? Well, it's actually for a reason. SP1 will not be available to you for quite a while yet. Heck, we've only just released Exchange 2007!"

Brown goes on about things always changing, features being cut and added, etc. -- the usual Microsoft excuses reasons for not wanting to share information. Then she cites former Softie blogger Robert Scoble as a role model:

"You know, all the time that Robert Scoble worked for us, he had access to all sorts of confidential information due to the position of trust he worked in. But did he disclose any of it? No."

(Editor's note: I know a few folks might disagree on that point.) But back to Brown:

"He (Scoble) gave hints to the fact that stuff was coming up, and guidance for how much you would be excited by the news coming out. But leak something? No way. So the unnamed ITE in South America take note.. And stay silent in future. You'll influence many more in a positive direction that way...".

While I understand Microsoft doesn't want to dampen sales for current products and/or give its competitors a leg up by sharing early feature lists, ship schedules and other related information, that desire should be balanced with customer need.

I also have to take issue with Brown's contention that SP1 won't ship for "quite a while yet." The beta of Exchange Server 2007 SP1 is set to be available via TechNet in April. The final is slated to ship simultaneously with Longhorn Server, which is due out before the end of this year.

I know I sound like a broken record. But business users with whom I speak tell me that they want and need to know when service packs (especially SP1s) are slated to ship. Many still won't deploy a new product until SP1 is available. And while Microsoft sometimes shares timeline and feature set data with its biggest and richest customers, other business users need to know, too.

I hope Softies continues to push the transparency envelope and doesn't punish employees who refuse to "stay silent."

Topic: Microsoft


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • I liked your last...

    ...sentence best!
  • The leaker should be fired!

    In such a competitive world, leakers are not to be trusted. When you sign on to work for MS (or any major SW company) you sign a confidentiality agreement. If you violate it you should be fired. Simple as that. It's now about punishing people that are slient. It's about enforcing HR rules. I believe if you violate it and cause a situation where the department affected has to NOW take out time to explain stuff to the public that they weren't prepared to yet, you should be fired. It also shows that the person has no respect for their companies edge on the competition. If they don't like that, don't take a check from them...don't like and say you like working their when your mission is not on the same mission as the company. Yeah I know leakers are everywhere...and yes all of them should be fired when found out. This is a dog eat dog world. If you can't be trusted to keep a simple topic secret, you will never make it further up the chain in the organization where future vision is discussed.
    • Agree in part

      Confidentiality is important. Employees should not disclose confidential information regarding their employers unless there's a *very* good reason (like a crime is being committed), and then they should be prepared to lose their jobs (if it's not worth sacrificing your job, and possibly defending against a lawsuit, don't do it).

      Yes, corporate executives sometimes keep information secret for stupid reasons, but they're the one's who have to take responsibility for it.
      John L. Ries
      • If only it were true...

        "they're the one's who have to take responsibility for it."

        Boy, I wish that were true. Usually what you hear, however, is that they didn't know a thing that was going on in their own company.
        • The question remains...

 important is it to reveal the secret? For me it would have to be a moral imperative and then I would accept the full consequences of my actions (to include physical punishment, if necessary).

          So... is leaking the details of an upcoming service pack worth losing your job over? Is anybody going to die if you don't? Is it immoral to keep that particular confidence? No? Then maybe you should keep your mouth shut.
          John L. Ries
    • Unless

      the leaker was never properly informed of what couldn't be leaked, in which case the person who should have informed him should be fired.
      Michael Kelly
    • Eat Your Dog And Shut Up

      The rest of us will choose our own menu, thank you.
      Ole Man
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