Microsoft is looking for a Director of Open Source Desktop Strategy. There may not be that much directing involved, as part of the job is to "create a rational set of proof points that promote Microsoft's comparative value", which makes it sound as if the strategy is going to be exactly what it was before – continuously claiming that paying is cheaper than free. Although the emphasis on making things 'rational' this time does raise a question about what exactly "Get the Facts" was.
The job certainly has its challenges. Creating a 'fact-based marketing plan' is going to be tricky no matter who you work for – marketing is the tax you pay for not being interesting, after all. And the job description is often most interesting for what it doesn't say as much as what it does. For example:
"You will be responsible for bringing our business strategy to life by discovering and sharing the market insights that set the foundation for our platform value dialogue with customers and the industry. You will need to work directly with customers and partners across the globe, other product groups, field sales and marketing organizations, and industry analysts to influence internal, external and partner marketing efforts with a focus on consumer scenarios." And who won't you work with? Anyone with anything to do with the press. I think Microsoft has worked out that it's hard work getting anywhere with people who ask questions rather than take dictation.
Which is a missed – and rare -- opportunity. For whatever reasons, the press is being nice about Windows 7 (I suspect it's too early to get excited; we really should wait and see what actually appears), and there's a sense of relief that at least Microsoft isn't really going to expend all its energy forcing Vista qua Vista on the world. That would just be unpleasant. And while open source retains a lot of power as a competitor to Windows on clients, especially in netbooks and mobile devices, there are good and sensible things to say on both sides of that particular argument.
It's not clear that Microsoft is quite ready to do that, though. Shame. There are better and more profitable ways to proceed than being the old Microsoft. Imagine MS shipping every copy of Windows 7 in a dual-boot configuration with Linux. Nothing, but nothing, could better demonstrate the superiority of Windows – right?
Forget the campaigns, fact-based marketing plans and platform value dialogues: show, not tell. Now there's a strategy...