There was a sincere and simple remark on Carl Franklin's blog, posted yesterday by Jonathan Parker, a CS student from down under.
If one recaps what he wanted to push through, it was this:
Microsoft's general public perception sucks.
Earlier this year I had the privelage of attending a lecture from a Google employee and also one from a Microsoft employee. They were both open to all CS students and staff. The Google lecture was packed! My estimate is over 300 people (I sat on the floor most of the time). The Microsoft lecture had about 15 people. :(
He is right. Microsoft is trying to keep up with the coolness factor, all to no avail. Microsoft is not cool. Apple is cool. Google is cool. Myspace is cool. Microsoft should stop trying to be cool, this charade should stop. They should be doing what they do best in the world - write platform software. Zune, anyone?
In Jonathan's analysis on why Google is nowadays more popular than Microsoft, he writes:
I think the whole Web 2.0 thing is in Google's favour because they know how to run a business that is free for the consumers of their software.
Also I think that Google's software is much more discoverable than Microsoft's. If you want to learn more about Google you just go to their site and click on more. If you want to find out more about Microsoft you just go to their site and click your way around in circles for hours finding nothing.
True. Google's site is so much simpler, more intuitive and easier to navigate. But then, they only ship like a dozen products. Microsoft ships dozen squared.
His thoughts continue:
Open source is good for end user software. That's why Google is seen to be on the open source side of the fence even though Google is not open source in any sense of the word. All their code is tucked nicely away behind their servers. Yet people associate google with freedom of information. This is because there is not much use in installing a google search engine on your PC at home.
A general misconception is that open source equals free. Open source is far from free, especially in the enterprise space. And, as Jonathan states - I hope - Google managed to inject itself into this line of thought in general public.
There are two things that are wrong with this (general public, that is) way of thinking:
- Google/Apple is not open source
Google took a lot from open source, but returned little. Read carefully - they returned little to Open Source, but gave a mountain to the public and the internet as a whole. Remember? Google is a good company.
There is a difference between Apple and Google in this sense. Cupertino also took a lot from Open Source, but didn't contribute to it, nor release anything free to the public.
- Google is not percieved as a good company because of it being open source - its public perception is good, because everything they do is free
If anybody does something really useful and keeps doing it for free, you just can't criticize it, right? Right.
If only there would be a simple formula to get Microsoft's public perception to even being average. I hate to say it, but, returning it back to good, is not possible. They were not there yet.
For the record: I do not percieve Microsoft as a bad, nor cool company. Microsoft makes the best fat client software in the world, period. They have the best development platform for any software, full stop. You can't fool the market over 20 years.