Comments on Microsoft
Stephen Leibowitz


InformationWeek published an article in 2012, “Microsoft Surface RT Best Tablet Ever, ‘Reviewers’ Gush.” It was about positive reviews supposedly written by buyers. The article suggests that the reviews were instead astroturfing generated by Microsoft’s marketing machine. I posted this comment:

Microsoft’s marketing push made a recent episode of the TV comedy show Suburgatory into an infomercial for Surface RT. It seems plausible that the online reviews mentioned in the article were fakes done by marketing people.

Additional information on the Suburgatory episode:
Microsoft Surface gets major product placement
Microsoft Surface guest stars on TV’s “Suburgatory” -- honest (Ham-fisted product placement casts Surface tablet as love interest in ABC TV sit-com)


DailyTech published an article in 2013, “Microsoft Looks to Burn Google in Education with Privacy Bill.” I posted this comment:

Subject: Microsoft FUD
This is a Microsoft-led FUD campaign. We have seen it before in Massachusetts. In 2005, Peter Quinn, the state’s chief information officer, was accused of corruption. The charges were made because of his support for the use of open document formats over Microsoft’s closed formats. A full state investigation cleared Quinn. But he had enough, and resigned soon after. The state then caved into Microsoft on the document format issue.


InfoWorld published an article in March 2013, “The 10 worst betrayals in high tech.” It was subtitled,“Tech-minded backstabbers abound. Don’t get caught this Ides of March with your back turned to the wrong vendor, partner, or customer.” I posted this comment:

Another betrayal was Microsoft’s introduction of the Software Assurance (SA) volume licensing program in 2001. To say that it was unpopular with user organizations is an understatement. Many of them had updated their licensed software during the Y2K remediation period. Also, the economy was in a recession. Many organizations wanted to hold off on further updates. But Microsoft’s dominant position enabled it to push organizations to an SA subscription. Microsoft earned record profits and high margins at a time when customers and other software companies were struggling financially.


Linux Magazine published an article in 2014, “When Pigs Fly.” This summarizes it: ‘I think my feelings run somewhere between “When pigs fly” and “When Hell Freezes Over” that Microsoft will embrace the true spirit of Open Source, much less Free Software.’
I posted this comment:

I would be happy if Microsoft at least embraced open interfaces and formats. But its recent opposition to the UK government’s adoption of ODF shows Microsoft’s true colors. Microsoft pushes its own document format OOXML, which has been criticized often. For example, from How to hire Guillaume Portes:

“It has been narrowly crafted to accommodate a single vendor’s applications. Its extreme length (over 6,000 pages) stems from it having detailed every wart of MS Office in an inextensible, inflexible manner. This is not a specification; this is a DNA sequence.”


BetaNews published an article in July 2015, “GE chooses Microsoft Office 365 for its 300,000 employees.” I posted this comment:

They did not announce the terms of the deal, but we can be fairly sure it was not Microsoft’s standard terms. It is likely that Microsoft won against Google by slashing their price. This is something that most customers cannot get.

Concerns about document exchange have traditionally worked in Microsoft’s favor as the 800-pound gorilla in the office productivity market. But Office 365 is just another competitor on tablets and smartphones.

Also, users are gradually shifting from Microsoft’s OpenXML to the Open Document Format (ODF). Essentially, Microsoft wrote OpenXML as a description of the features of MS Office. Unfortunately, MS Office “has layers of complexity from years of undisciplined agglomeration of features.” In contrast, ODF has a more clean sheet design. The difference is stark. The OpenXML specification is over 6,000 pages, compared to 839 pages for ODF.

The British and other governments have spurred the adoption of ODF. As a multinational, GE can hardly ignore the trend with document formats. GE may start the contract using Microsoft’s OpenXML, but later feel the need to shift to ODF. Microsoft supports ODF, but it takes a back seat to OpenXML.

Update:

LibreOffice is developed by The Document Foundation (TDF). TDF ran tests, and published a report with commentary in the “file simplicity backgrounder” in July 2017. It created a sample text document in four ways. In LibreOffice 5.4, it formatted the document in both ODF and OpenXML. It did the same using Microsoft Office 2016. Each software product created smaller ODF files than OpenXML. Also, the files created with LibreOffice were smaller than the corresponding Microsoft Office files.


© 2017 Stephen Leibowitz