February 03, 2005

iPods seen in Redmond

This article is too funny, suggesting that iPod use is frowned upon at Microsoft, in favour of PlaysForSure WMA players.

This is a no-brainer, IMHO, though I find it hard to believe some of the numbers in the story. And I doubt Ballmer & Gates are sending memos out about it. Certain pro-Microsoft bloggers are denying or flat out blasting the article as b.s.

Perhaps parts of it are. But are those quotes and emails exchanged falsified? I doubt it.

In particular, this email exchange rings true...

Dave Fester, general manager of the Windows Digital Media division, ...: "I sure hope Microsoft employees are not buying iPods. We have great alternatives. Check out http://experiencemore."

Fifteen minutes later, the manager responded: "I don't know what I was thinking. I'm sure that Microsoft employees are not buying iPods, or Macs or PlayStations."

I have a friend that recently joined Microsoft after coming from the J2EE side of things, and he's amazed at the insular thinking. Even Google use is frowned upon!

I have a lot of respect for Microsoft and their people. I use their products, though mainly on the Mac, and I think .NET is the best developer platform they've ever had. But if you scratch the surface, it's been clear that Microsoft's cultural goal these past few years, since the anti-trust case, is to break out of their insular mode of thinking -- one that favours economic lock-in as their main competitive weapon. And they've had some successes here -- the Indigo / Web Services "Interoperability" mantra, the standardization of the CLI and C#, etc.

But they've also had significant failures. I think the WMA / PlaysForSure initiative is one example of that -- on one hand, it promotes hardware interop, on the other hand it ensures Microsoft's lock on digital media. It's a faustian bargain. Going with WMA players is like getting locked into only using GM cars with vinyl interiors and unusable dashboard layouts. With the iPod I'm locked into a BMW Z8. Pretty obvious choice.

Posted by stu at February 3, 2005 10:35 AM