Check out Stephen O’Grady’s FAQ on the Fortune article I linked to earlier on Microsoft’s declaration of war on open source software. He provides a lot of supplemental information that’s worth taking in.
I agree with this bit completely:
Q: How does the picture change over the longer term? A: Microsoft has spent the past few years rehabilitating – at great expense and great effort – a highly negative public image. One that, importantly, did not terribly impact its ability to do business, but one that left the firm with very few defenders and advocates. It was, in many respects, the least loved firm in the industry.
While the Microsoft of the past year or so was certainly not beloved, it had gone some distance to changing the minds of many, persuading even some ardent critics that they’d learned a great deal from their past behaviors and emerged as a more responsible corporate player. Agree or disagree, articles describing the new “kinder, gentler” Microsoft abounded.
And then there was yesterday. Depending on how Microsoft proceeds from the statements made to Fortune, I could see virtually all of that hard won goodwill evaporating overnight. Whether their business is as immune to the negative sentiment as it was in the past remains to be seen, but I know that if I intended to compete with social movements – as Microsoft obviously intends to – I’d be trying to make friends, not enemies.
Certainly that mirrors my feelings on the matter. I once hated Microsoft because I felt like they wanted to destroy the software ecosystem where I made my living. My passion waned because I realized that Microsoft wasn’t going to be able to succeed, not because I thought their goals changed. Today’s news has me worked up all over again.