Bloggers on the Microsoft memos

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Reaction to the emails by Bill Gates and Ray Ozzie aroused the kind of diverse response that Microsoft usually attracts in the blogosphere.

Many bloggers thought the internet emails sent by Microsoft signalled a positive step for the company, but some thought that the leopard couldn’t change its spots fast enough.

”(Y)ou get the drift,” wrote a poster on Geekswithblogs. “MS would appear to finding it hard going simply because it has now become the SuperTanker, it can no longer change direction quick enough?”

Posters on Slashdot, the iconic technology news forum site, were less forgiving.

Many were sceptical of the way the emails appeared to be “leaked”. Others were horrified that advertising-supported software was a key part of the emails.

“At last, Microsoft decides to specialize in annoying people as opposed to just dabbling in it as a sideline,” wrote one poster.

“They can spend billions of dollars and they will never catch up with Google, because Google has a position that money can’t buy,” wrote another.

Paul Kedrosky, a venture capitalist, also spied a cynical motive for the “leaks”. “(D)oes anyone really believe that these memos were not written with full knowledge that would be spread everywhere? I don’t.”

“Don’t these Gates and Ozzie e-mails sound like they were cribbed from Robert Scoble’s weblog?” asks another blogger.

Scoble, who is Microsoft’s Technology Evangalist, himself says: “They are important memos. I’m still reeling from their significance. I don’t want to be the first one to break wind in public about them, but they are long memos. The longest I’ve received since becoming a Microsoft employee. They show clear understanding of how the world has changed. They answer a lot of the points I’ve been talking about here on my blog (and, in fact, have been influencing my thinking a lot).”

“Right now Kevin Johnson [Microsoft’s co-president, Platform Products & Services Division] runs Windows, MSN, and a bunch of businesses bundled together,” wrote Andrew, a staff member of Monkey Methods Research Group, which “explores the emerging relationship between people and interactive media”.

“I wonder if they will truly unbundle them and have a specific Internet guy report directly up to Ballmer?” he added.

Some bloggers had unbridled enthusiasm for the technical efforts signalled in the emails.

Very cool. This new direction should be fun,” wrote Jim Mathies, a web developer.

Others, such as ZDnet’s Richard Macmanus, were still digesting the mammoth memos, but foresaw a big effect on the industry.

“It’s game on folks. One thing about Microsoft is that they may be always slightly behind the times in terms of Web innovation, but when they catch up - boy do they do it in a big way!

Doc Searle, a senior editor of LinuxJournal, says much of what Microsoft is talking about was flagged in an article by Craig Burton from 2001 titled “Internet Services Model”. Burton described how the internet itself, rather than Windows and its competitors, would become the operating system upon which services would be provided.

Searle argues the core of Microsoft’s traditional goal to own the platform itself, as well as the services, has become outmoded. “Now that everything is being built by everybody with fewer and fewer dependencies on any one vendor as a sole source of technology, it will be harder and harder to build silos for people and companies that are losing their willingness to live in them.”

But after 10 years of Microsoft’s grappling with the internet, some commentators were completely unimpressed.

Interesting reading, but no real surprises here,” writes Jupiter Research analyst Michael Gartenberg.

Much ado about what, exactly?” asked industry blogger James Robertson.

“Gates’ memo is a platitude filled nothing-burger of management-speak, while Ozzie’s is a “let’s reorganize - that always works!” kind of thing. If this is what passes for high excitement at MS, then Google has nothing to worry about from that direction.

technology@ft.com

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