Martin Taylor makes a political argument

Martin Taylor makes a political argument

Summary: I planned to go after John Dvorak's Creative Commons humbug, but I got beat, and that's good.So let's instead take a look at the latest from Martin Taylor, Microsoft's general manager for platform strategy.

SHARE:
TOPICS: Open Source
15
Martin Taylor

I planned to go after John Dvorak's Creative Commons humbug, but I got beat, and that's good.

So let's instead take a look at the latest from Martin Taylor, Microsoft's general manager for platform strategy.

For News.Com's Eileen Yu, Taylor recently went all Karl Rove on open source, saying things you frankly have to believe in order to believe.

Here's one.  "You can build it, design it, and it will work great. The trouble begins when you want to add things to it, add some services and things like that. Because of the brittle nature of the platform, when you do that, other things break."  This is a classic political argument. Taylor has some fine anecdotes, but anecdotes aren't proof. Anyone can offer an equal number of anecdotes the other way, and many will start from personal experience.

Taylor also reveals that Microsoft's new strategy against commercial open source is to take on those vendors one-by-one, as though Linux were several dozen incompatible offerings. "It's about Red Hat, it's about Novell, it's about IBM...really looking for ways to monetize sets of things around Linux. In some ways, this is a good thing for customers because things are more black-and-white now, and it allows us to have a very balanced conversation with them around these key issues."

Here's my favorite bit. Yu asks about people being anti-Microsoft (some are), and Taylor responds, "Well, first you have to define 'people'" as he riffs on how most people don't want to get under the hoods of what they're running. He's right, they don't. They only want to look under the hood when things don't work. (But "first you have to define 'people'"?!)

The interview is a great "get" for Eileen, and I urge everyone to read the whole thing. Then discuss it. Politely, civilly, in our typical non-partisan ZDNet manner. <g>

Topic: Open Source

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

15 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Sorry!

    Didn't mean to steal your topic... of course, I got beat to the punch as well. So many people want to correct Dvorak...
    Zonker_z
  • same goes to you

    "Taylor has some fine anecdotes, but anecdotes aren't proof"
    All your articles have anecdotes but you have nada to backup your anecdotes.
    Whats even worse are plain fiction or should I say hot gas.
    zzz1234567890
  • Friends and enemies

    Microsoft is going to have to do more than say Open source is this and doesn't offer that. The word "Linux" is everywhere. I'm not talking bumper stickers and T-shirts. Look around, It's talked about on Web sites. On Technology news, broadcast on TV. In fact Taylor is being asked about it in this interview.

    It's one thing to understand that the Open source communities just do their thing. People developing free software. If we take a good look around, what do we see? Go to KDE's Web site. Is there anything there that gives reasons why people should use KDE products over windows?

    Does Apache make claims of why people should use it's Web server over IIS?

    The force behind Linux and open source is it's social feel. It's not out to gain a market share on a live or die basis. The very life of Open source is in it's use. Because people develop it people use it. People wouldn't use it if they didn't like it.

    Ok so that's just part of it right? It's not like Redhat is going to OEM's and having them sign preload contracts. In fact, it's not like Dell is going to stop shipping with XP and soon Long Horn preloaded. OEM's are going to ship PC's with Microsft products loaded on them. However, many OEM's (if not all) will also ship PC's with Linux Distributions. Dell, IBM, Sun Microsystems,HP and others will ship Servers with Linux loaded. Microsoft has a bad history of Antitrust with Companies who were once friends of Microsoft. That has to be hard for Microsoft today.

    Taylor says "well, first you have to define people" Define some of them being ticked off! Adware and Spyware are an invasion of peoples personal space! So because we get to "use" your operating system, you think you have the right to allow this invasion? What's next? We come home and find Microsoft or BSA people in our house on our computers? Oh yeah, why not? After all that's what it's about right? Yes, I am being extreme. But that's how "people" feel. A PC is some ones personal space. At home and also the work place. "people" think "how much software do I have to buy to run this PC?"

    So now MS adds Virus protection and options to block pop-up ad's oh and patch Tuesday. Little late.

    Don't get me wrong here. It's important to be honest. Microsoft Develops Great looking and very useful products. "people" pay good money for a PC that is loaded with Microsoft products that they have permission to use. They deserve the right to have control of what get's installed on their personal space.

    Taylor speaks about security as though people are stupid. In fact, like Microsoft was stupid about buffer over runs. Why can't he just tell truth? Why not say "we made a mistake and we are sorry" "here is what we are going to do to fix it" It was much more than buffer over runs!

    Companies like IBM started marketing Linux "after" people started using it. More and more people starting using Open source. We started asking hardware developers to offer code so "we" could write drivers for Linux and when enough people asked... We got it. Linux became supported. The hardware list got bigger. People started using Apache and other products to run and serve popular Web sites. NO ONE in the Open source communities ever lied or bullied anyone.

    No Big Irons gave open source a free ride or second thought. Linux became popular by common people first. That is saying a lot! Microsoft is full of crap to act like Open source is useless and no big deal.

    Microsoft is big and has a load of money. But they have to do something else now to market products. No one will be bullied and Open source has become way to Large for even Microsoft to buy it out.

    I really expected Martin Taylor to offer more in that interview.
    xstep
  • Whoda thunk it?

    Lessee...industry wheels out a personal computer to put computing into the hands of "just folks" outside the world of the mainframe, provides software-creation tools for these new-fangled little boxes, and--"just folks" [i]actually start writing software for it on their own, up to and including operating systems.[/i]

    Industry: "Wait a minute...all those rubes we sold PCs to...they're actually [b]using[/b] the damned things. For [b]everything[/b] we promised them they could do with 'em. Dangit, that was [i]just marketing.[/i] [b][i]We've gotta do something fast to nip this thing in the bud![/i][/b]"

    This reminds me of the big argument back in 1988 among typographers and designers over whether "just folks" should be allowed to own fonts and graphics software and design their own brochures on a PC or Mac. Didn't make any difference; the technology cat was out of the bag and the great unwashed masses started goofing with it.

    And nobody in industry selling all those PCs and programming tools back in 1985 could see this coming?
    Yen_z
  • Good arguments

    Running Linux requires staff, particularly to make changes.

    Microsoft's open source competitors are companies, not philosophical principles.

    Some people like to see under the hood. Some people don't. Different people make different demands. So identify which "people" you're talking about. In two words, define "people".

    What's wrong with any of those statements?
    Anton Philidor
    • re: arguments

      The statements are weak. I was looking forward to some strong facts from Taylor. What's true is the Black and white statement. "people" aren't stupid they can see for themselves. People will choose what suits them best. People enjoy philosophical principles. They don't enjoy being cought between competitive sales mumbo jumbo.

      It's not that easy. Microsoft has it's work cut out for it's product sales. They don't have the cram it down your neck power anymore.

      The market has changed. No one gets to have the whole pie. But people will choose the nicest slice.
      xstep
      • Microsoft sales

        You're right that "Microsoft has its work cut out for its product sales." The competition is not, of course, on the desktop or in office suites, but in areas new to Microsoft. Areas in which they are just one more competitor.

        Servers are a good example. The death of Netware and the hugely profitable growth in Microsoft server sales are the outcome.

        How does Microsoft win? By listening to customers who want to lower costs and simplify workloads. That's the definition of "the nicest slice."

        The issue Mr. Taylor has to look at is how to sell to companies that have the expertise to run open source, primarily the migrants from Unix. The implicit principle is, don't sell to the Unix experts, sell to the people who have been put in charge of IT purchasing because they'll treat it as a cost center. That's why the arguments appear weak to someone involved, but can be strong to someone evaluating from the outside.

        The arguments are about running IT, not doing it.
        Anton Philidor
        • excellent comment

          How does Microsoft win? By listening to customers who want to lower costs and simplify workloads. That's the definition of "the nicest slice."

          Also Microsoft has the best technologies. Only people who program will be able to appreciate the day night difference in Unix and Windows, how much ahead they are of the Unix/Linux crowd.

          The only way Linux can compete is if they give it away for free. But even then it costs more to maintain a Linux system.
          zzz1234567890
          • Personal opinion

            Microsoft will have a BIG pice of the pie. No doubt about that. Personally, I don't have a problem with that. People only want the choice to choose the Software they like and what suits them best. Linux or open source never "ever" set out to take Microsoft down.

            It is illogical to think that Microsoft will have the whole market, and enforce it's own document, or language standard. It will have no choice and has had no choice in that matter to date. (i.e. I can read and write in MS document formats, use and compile in c++, java, xml..ect).

            Microsoft had better listen to it's customers and focus on what they want. They really don't have any other choice. They wasted valuable R&D,support, and over all resources trying to bullie their way into the market. Not to mention pading partners when it should have given the effort to it's users. They don't have this room anymore. They made customers mad, lost big friends, and paid millions in antitrust settlements.

            Not all users are programers. People understand viruses,worms and pop-up bombardments on their desktops. Self installing programs ambushing their systems. All this for the $price they have to pay$

            Microsoft makes great products. All they have to do is live up to that and give people what they pay for. If you ask me, like what you say about Free software. People using it must be a great insult to such a great programer like you and MS.
            xstep
    • OK...

      [b]Running Linux requires staff, particularly to make changes.[/b]

      (Looks around for my staff.) No IT staff here. My business is making a very happy transition to Linux. With no outside help above and beyond what I needed for the Windows or Mac nodes on my network (in other words, documents available easily on the Web or books available at any bookstore in any mall). Mr. Taylor [i]really[/i] ought to step outside his cubicle, walk out of his building, down the street and visit us here in Small Business Land, where the biggest chunk of the American economy happens. And where Open Source adoption is happening at a blistering pace. With no IT staff.

      [b]Microsoft's open source competitors are companies, not philosophical principles.[/b]

      Except when they're [i]not[/i] companies, like these fine folks who are allowing me to make a happy transition away from Windows:

      http://www.scribus.org.uk/

      Oh, by the way: Neither Scribus nor Inkscape nor two or three others of the "mission-critical" apps I'm using on Linux come on a Red Hat or SuSE or Debian or Novell distribution disc. Mr. Taylor just doesn't completely understand this whole Open Source Thang, does he? Much of the really interesting stuff happening right now on Linux (and which will fuel a revolution in the [b]4.2 trillion dollar[/b] commercial graphics world) is coming from..."just folks." No big companies behind 'em. Many are professional or student programmers. But you'd be amazed at how many graphic artists, accountants, police officers, bank tellers, phone repair guys etc. etc. etc. are involved in contributing code (or other necessary bits, like widget art) to these projects.

      And, of course, the Pros are hand-wringing now: "Should the Great Unwashed Masses be allowed to do this? Where do these people get off, anyway? They're not even MSCEs!"

      This is, spookily, deja vu for those of us in the graphic arts world who remember (late 80's) when the traditional graphic arts hardware/software vendors (Itek, Compugraphic, Varityper, Merganthaler, etc.) were aghast at the prospect of folks using cheap, "amateur" software (Mac OS 6.x, Windows 3.x, Adobe Photoshop, PageMaker, you get the picture) to attempt to do the work of dedicated equipment and programs. "A $3,000 PC replacing a $40,000-per-seat typesetting system? Where do these Apple, IBM and Microsoft people get off, anyway, with their sleazy little 300-dpi laser printers and their awful little programs? Don't they know that businesses really want professionally done typeset materials printed at a commercial print shop?"


      [b]Some people like to see under the hood. Some people don't. Different people make different demands. So identify which "people" you're talking about. In two words, define "people".[/b]

      The typsetting equipment manufacturers' reps used this same argument back in the late 80's to try to scare my boss from buying PCs or Macs and turning us loose on 'em:

      "Listen, Mister...you wanna waste your day screwing around with Interrupt Requests just to get your printer to work on one of those cheapo Personal Computers, or do you wanna plunk down 80 grand and get something that works right out of the box without you having to think about it? Besides...you get a service contract with us! Is Compaq or Apple gonna to send out a service guy out when one of those things break? You know they won't--you get what you pay for. Pay for the proven, reliable industry standard."

      The argument didn't work, because the cost-savings factor was too compelling. In fact, my boss would spend all day (heck, all [i]month[/i]) screwing with IRQs on a Windows 3.1 box to get a primitive laser printer to work if it meant he could save, oh, 50 grand. Bosses are funny that way. Everybody's boss was funny that way, apparently. The typesetting equipment industry died.
      Yen_z
      • Remember Steve Ballmer's comment?

        Windows once beat competitors by saying they were the low cost software solution, and the software works. Now they say Windows is the lowest TCO software, and it works.

        Your type business sounds more like Apple's natural habitat than Microsoft's. The competition from open source may become a reason Apple increases its interest in home electronics.

        Microsoft? They'll get in, or not, by riding in the wake of application companies which can prove their cases in a specialized business.

        You're looking at a different type of small business from the sort I see. In the type I'm thinking about, the owner also does the IT. If that amounts to more than writing a check and making a telephone call when something breaks, then the owner is going to become resentful.
        The idea of someone taking time and training to become very expert seems a waste.

        Many people have heard of open source, but need to learn little more than their respionsibility for installing and maintaining the system to reject it. Microsoft competes with companies which also do their best to take over responsibilities for money. And that's a competition they can win.

        Still, don't feel too badly about it. Sold software is one of the largest industries in the country, employing thousands and a positive influence on the balance of trade. If anything happened to it, many people would be far worse off. That's people, defined as good workers, often raising families. Your friends. Yourself.
        Anton Philidor
        • So what

          your saying is "people" are stupid. Thoses who use Open source software just don't know any better? They don't know how to manage their own business? They only get one choice in software solutions.. Microsoft.. right?
          xstep
        • That's me...

          [/i]You're looking at a different type of small business from the sort I see. In the type I'm thinking about, the owner also does the IT. If that amounts to more than writing a check and making a telephone call when something breaks, then the owner is going to become resentful.
          The idea of someone taking time and training to become very expert seems a waste.[/i]

          That's me. I do the IT for my own business. Apparently you've not met many small business owners. Virtually all small business owners have to do a ton of their own fixin', fussin' and configurin'.

          Pick up the phone and get Windows help? That's a joke, right, Anton? Have you ever tried to do that? You know what would be interesting as hell? To sit you down with another small business owner buddy of mine who has no less than [i]three immediate family members[/i] who are Microsoft employees (two programmers, one Help Desk) and who [i]still can't get decent help with his Windows problems.[/i] Even with flesh and blood on The Inside. He's talking seriously about ditching his 6 Windows boxes and going Mac. And since he's had to rely on me to fix his Windows problems and I've gone Linux...well, you get the picture.

          [i]Many people have heard of open source, but need to learn little more than their responsibility for installing and maintaining the system to reject it. Microsoft competes with companies which also do their best to take over responsibilities for money. And that's a competition they can win.[/i]

          Microsoft does zero installation and maintenance for small businesses. I'm sure Redmond will send a guy right over if you're Lockheed-Martin. But for me? Or my fellow 2,500 business owners in my local Chamber of Commerce? Nope. Which is MS's number one problem, in my opinion. And which puts a Windows XP upgrade for a small business owner on the same shaky, uncertain ground as a switch to Linux or anything open source.

          [i]Still, don't feel too badly about it. Sold software is one of the largest industries in the country, employing thousands and a positive influence on the balance of trade. If anything happened to it, many people would be far worse off. That's people, defined as good workers, often raising families. Your friends. Yourself.[/i]

          Don't go there, or I'll be happy to tell you about the 4,000,000 really good paying U.S. graphic arts jobs (I was making $$20-40/hr back in 1988, although I was at the high end of the scale) which disappeared due to cheap PCs/Macs. Despite the carnage, it's still the U.S.'s 3rd-largest industrial category, dwarfing anything to do with computers or software. Those U.S. jobs were never even close to being replaced by all the programmers/software publishers/shrinkwrap suppliers on the entire planet. So, if you went there, I'd have to tell you about that sad history and then you'd look foolish and I'd feel embarrassed about making you look foolish and the whole scene would begin to be a bummer. ;)
          Yen_z
          • That's why Microsoft has partners.

            OEM. Not my problem, says Microsoft. That is an aggravation, though the help from the OEM is sometimes useful.

            The partners I'm talking about also include the ones Microsoft has recently been reorganizing to help sales. Along with hiring sales staff of their own. That, by the way, is in contrast to HP's strategy of laying off R&D and sales staff so they have nothing to sell and nobody to sell it.

            Microsoft is creating a network of people who can answer questions.


            Interesting that your friend goes to Microsoft itself for answers and uses you as a fallback. You've made the huge investment in time, trouble, and risk to use Linux, and he can't learn Windows as well as you did.


            I also thought it odd when you said a change from (presumably) a version of Windows to XP was worse than changing from a version of Windows to Linux. Backward compatibility may not be perfect in Windows, but by definition it has to be better than Linux's backward compatibility to older versions of Windows.

            In short, you're arguing that Linux is better than Windows in areas of Microsoft's obviously superior strengths.
            More people know Windows, more people can answer questions, it's easier to use, especially for those who would be starting out with Linux, and Windows is more likely to be backward compatible with older versions of Windows than is Linux.
            Seems self-evident.


            Finally, the history of one disaster doesn't mitigate another. Better to say that the disruption caused by the loss of 4,000,000 well paid graphics jobs is an object lesson showing that the preservation of sold software jobs is highly beneficial for the economy and the people involved.
            In this case, it's significant that the potential replacement cannot in itself produce jobs because the product produces no revenue, as you appear to be thinking about free versions.
            These points, too, appear self-evident.
            Anton Philidor
  • Open Source Vs Microsoft

    The statement by Martin Taylor is not necessarily political. It is true that Microsoft is one party. Open source was designed to offer an alternate operating system to Microsoft's Operating system. It is no longer the case. There is no "Open source operating system" as a united front. Like the article says there is Red Hat, There is Novel and may be there is another entity using Open Source as its basic operating system. But each entity offers its application and each calls its application as a robust application. I don't really no what they mean by robust applications. Do they have application or do they have robust applications. Each of them wants to survive at the cost of the others just as Microsoft does. Here is Microsoft against the world. There is Red Hat or Novell against the World. Only Microsoft will win because Microsoft has alreadt has it made. The others are trying to make it and have to prove that they have robust application to win their case. That is not politics. that is business. may be a rat business. Rats have to survive. So do the businesses. Where is the politics. It is the Rat Race.
    fakir005@...