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Microsoft Versus Linux

Ok, this is my second one today, that in effect speaks to over-hyping software but try this spin...

From an engagement Steve Ballmer gave in Orlando this week:
http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/exec/steve/2003/10-21Gartner.asp

What is the problem with MS and Linux?  I will grant you that the speaker kept leading this, but really who cares how good or bad linux does compared to MS?

First Steve says that Linux is such a small market, much smaller than Apple, they have no reason to support MS products on Linux.  Ok. 

Then he goes into a rant, one proven incorrectly several places, that Linux had more problems than MS according to CERN.  Actually, CERN includes _all_ application problems as belonging to Linux. This would be like saying a problem in Lotus notes also belongs to Windows, if you run the windows client.  Hardly the same thing.  But I digress...

My point is, these analogies are pointless.  It is like saying it is Ok that Isuzu has roll over problems, because Pintos burst into flames.  And that would be worse.  Yes, it would be if I owned a Pinto, but if I own an Isuzu, it does not address MY concerns.

Rather than tell me why I am better off choosing your product than someone else's, why not tell me what you are going to do to resolve issues with your product?

BTW - Linux is just as guilty in reverse...

MSHack
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

What would you do if you were in Ballmer's shoes and were posed direct questions on Linux and Open Source? Not answer the point? Not answer at all?
Have you noticed that unless the interviewer specifically asked Ballmer he never even once mentiones the OSS competition?
Now imagine a McNealy interview without him unpromted sniping at Microsoft?      Neither can I.

Just me (Sir to you)
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Ballmer is smart not to address the competition, any competition, by name.  This is marketing 101: Any mention of your competition raises the competition's awareness.  As a representative for MSFT, he does a great job.  No one can fault him for that.

nat ersoz
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

" This is marketing 101: Any mention of your competition raises the competition's awareness. "

I guess the Linux zealots haven't heard that one.

Mike
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

"Linux Zealots", probably aren't worried about marketing.

nat ersoz
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

> " This is marketing 101: Any mention of your competition raises the competition's awareness. "

Only in some situations.

If you are trying to break into a market, everyone already knows who the competition is. (Read the Joel-recommended Competitive Strategy for more).

"Cheaper than Microsoft, and without the annoying license issues" (*) is perfectly valid marketing.

* For the purposes of the thread, consider this statement from a marketing point-of-view, and not whether or not it is strictly factual.

Portabella
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

>This is marketing 101: Any mention of your competition raises the competition's awareness.

If a salesperson tells you, a potential customer, to go and have a look at the competetions products, before you buy his product, would you think that his product was no good, over-hyped, and that he couldn't be trusted?

If a salesperson tries to keep you, a potential customer, from knowing about the competetions products, before you buy his product, would you think that his product was good, not over-hyped, and that he could be trusted?

Well, maybe I just skipped to Marketing 102 ;-)

Martin A. Boegelund
Thursday, October 23, 2003

Not telling you about the competitors products is far from "trying to keep you from knowing about them", Martin.

If Microsoft don't talk about Linux but rather choose to focus on their own products, that is just good common sense. They certainly are not stopping you from finding out about Linux yourself.

Robert Moir
Thursday, October 23, 2003

Well, it's not exactly like they're _not_ talking about Linux:
http://search.microsoft.com/search/results.aspx?st=b&qu=linux&view=en-us

I especially find this one interesting:
http://members.microsoft.com/partner/salesmarketing/salestools/competitivesellinglinux/cd_promo.aspx?camp=wwwlinux91103&origin=dm

"Get the Tools You Need to Compete with Linux"

So MS obviously thinks that telling and showing the greatness of Windows is not enough to keep people from using Linux. On the contrary, you have to buy an extra CD in order to be reasonably equipped to compete with Linux.

So, please don't tell me that MS is _not_ talking about Linux... It seems to me that MS is actually trying to keep people from knowing the truth about Linux, by emitting their own anti-Linux marketing stuff. And I find this quite similar to "keeping the customer from knowing Linux".

Martin A. Boegelund
Thursday, October 23, 2003

While on the other hand the Linux crowd is obviously just telling the truth about Microsoft products and just making objective and complete comparisons?

I do not expect to hear the truth on Linux from Microsoft. I know from experience that I am not hearing anything even remotely resembling the truth on Microsoft from the Linux camp.

I do believe that a strategy where you have materials to deal with false allegations, while at the same time avoiding endless religeous slagging fests is sound. Telling people things that are very much out of tune with what they know to be true by experience on a competitor makes you loose credibility, and makes them doubt everything you say also on your own product.

To me Sun is a prime example of this. By McNealy's constant verbal diarrhea of bogus Microsoft stories the whole of the company lost all credibility. Apple is another one. All the "faster machine" claims by Jobs might play well with the chorus, but to anyone out in the field this just makes you not believe anything else the company is putting forward.

Just me (Sir to you)
Thursday, October 23, 2003

Please bear in mind that "the Linux crowd" is not as homogenous as "Microsoft" - in fact, generalizing on the Linux crowd is like generalizing over the entire humanity.

Microsoft probably has a marketing department, and strict rules about what you can and cannot say about MS products, and competing products. As opposed to the "Linux camp", where anybody can put up a "LeeNooX 1z grAt3"-website and say anything about MS and Linux and the martian conspiracy and who knows what, and people will blame _me_ for that because I use Linux.

Anyway - it was stated that Ballmer was smart because he avoided mentioning the competition (ie Linux) as much as possible.
I just noted that if I had complete confidence in my products superiority, I would not waste my time and money on controlling what info my customer would receive on the competetion: Go look at it, I know you'll be back!

Martin A. Boegelund
Thursday, October 23, 2003

> just making objective and complete comparisons?

Marketing's job is to put the company's best foot forward. Period.

As people who *know* what's really going on, of course we're in a position to look at the man behind the curtain.

On the specific companies:

Sun's marketing just has way too much cognitive dissonance these days; their hardware, which accounts for a lot of their profit, is just way overpriced and everyone knows it. I see the Microsoft bashing as more a stunt than anything else; IBM and Linux are the ones killing Sun.

Apple's marketing, on the other hand, works very well for their target audience. I think it's brilliant too: Jobs makes his followers pay for hardware, then pay for a series of revamped OSes, then pay *again* for hardware that runs the OS at a decent speed. And they love him for it!

Portabella
Thursday, October 23, 2003

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