Must you be either 100% Microsoft or 100% NOT Microsoft?

I was reading this interesting post Coté’s Excellent Description of the Microsoft Web Rift « SmoothSpan Blog, as well as the post to which it refers. It is an interesting discussion of the fears many have with respect to choosing to work with Microsoft technologies versus non-Microsoft. The chain is worth a read, whether you agree with the ideas or not.

One statement I found particularly interesting was

This thing he calles “lock-in fear” and the extreme polarization (encouraged by Microsoft’s rhetoric, tactics, and track record) that you’re either all-Microsoft or no-Microsoft is my “web rift”.

While I would not disagree that Microsoft strongly encourages the use of its tools and technologies (after all, that is what most companies do, isn’t it?), I see far more rhetoric and tactical positioning on the part of non-Microsoft, anti-Microsoft, and Open Source communities insisting that one must be 100% non-Microsoft (and preferably not even play nice with anything Microsoft), or you are obviously a Microsoft fan boy.

I guess that the point that I am making is that a large part of the “lock-in fear” is created not by Microsoft’s behaviour, but by the behaviours of the anti-Microsoft crowd.


I have been working in the world of technology for 25-odd years. I am an entrepreneur and consultant, focused on software solutions, social networking, and innovation processes. Currently, I am a Principal Consultant with T4G Limited, specializing in Portal Technologies (including SharePoint), software/systems development, service oriented architectures, and many other things which I will probably not remember until I need to use them. Prior to that, I was VP of Technology at Whitehill Technologies, Inc., where I spent almost 9 years helping to grow the company from a start-up to one of the most successful private software companies in Canada. Prior to that I worked on internet conferencing using early VoIP, and on large military communications projects. Before even that, I worked in satellite control, and remote sensing. Going way back to university, my focus was on theoretical physics and astrophysics. Currently my interests revolve around most aspects of software development, from technologies to management, and in the area of defining sustainable, repeatable processes for innovation within technology organizations. I also have a particular interest in Tablet PC technologies – I have been using one for several years, and I love it. On the personal side, I still have a strong interest in all aspects of science, especially physical sciences, as well as philosophy and comparative religion. In addition, I am into music, playing guitar (badly, I am sorry to say), and reading almost anything I can lay my hands on. I am also a member of the IEEE/IEEE Computer Society, and of the Association for Computing Machinery.

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2 comments on “Must you be either 100% Microsoft or 100% NOT Microsoft?
  1. Fred says:

    I am not sure who is “to blame” for the current situation. I do know that the sentiment has existed for a long time.

    Yes, Microsoft has created much or its own problem in this area. Some of it is also attributable a natural tendency to fear any large, dominant organization which has the power and presence Microsoft has. However, there are other organizations which are just closed, proprietary, and even predatory, and which are view with love and admiration (Apple springs to mind).

    I honestly believe that it is mostly fashionable in the open source world to be anti-Microsoft, and has long ceased to be based upon logic. It is also easy to compete by saying “hey, we may not have all the features, and our UI may look like crap, but at least we are not Microsoft”.

    As for Microsoft’s “web rift”, and lack of understanding of SaaS and hosted solutions, Microsoft is painted into a corner, somewhat, due to the fact that no one who is not already part of the Microsoft faithful is going to trust Microsoft to host their solutions and data. Remember Microsoft’s early foray into service-based tools (MyServices or something like that?).

    However they got here, Microsoft is in a position right now where it is very difficult to attract non-supporters to any hosted solution.

  2. smoothspan says:

    “a large part of the “lock-in fear” is created not by Microsoft’s behaviour, but by the behaviours of the anti-Microsoft crowd.”

    Do you really think so? Keep in mind that Cote, who prompted me to write the post, is actually very much pro-Microsoft as they are a client of his firm. Yet he freely points to this sentiment.

    It may be that the two sides are now so polarized that they’re both at fault, but I continue to strongly feel that Microsoft created the situation themselves.



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