Anti Microsoft Bias On Wiki

There seems to be a lot of movement lately on a few topics:

Specifically, there was a lot of (very understandable!) frustration displayed by our more vocal pro-Microsoft developers. This discussion is a way to "air out dirty laundry" so that we can move the creeping flamage on both sides of the discussion to this place.

This is not meant to be a flame fest, it's meant to reduce the frustration level on all sides by coming to a better understanding of each other.

As such, the name of this page is badly chosen: using the word "bias" is always a biased view. No it isn't. Wiki's bias is relatively pro-microsoft if you compare it with the attitudes of my friends...
Sam, I think this is exaggerating the amount of anti-Microsoft sentiment on Wiki. Here are my thoughts:

There seems to be a few developers here who are calling you on the numbers, and a few in other forums who question the quality of "VB the language". Furthermore, there seems to be this whole debate about Microsoft's intentions vs. the intentions of the EveryoneButMicrosoftConsortium.

Yes, there's some belligerence in the arguments, but please understand that I feel that many of your comments seem to "goad people on". You continually claim superior knowledge of "the way the world is", which while possible, is only justifiable by empirical data. If you don't want to dig up the numbers, that's fine, but please wait until someone else does find the numbers before going on a tirade against people who disagree with you. In this case Tom states that the VB numbers are somewhat irrelevant without being able to compare them to COBOL numbers - that's a fairly logical argument, isn't it?

Note: Whats wrong about having AntiMicrosoftBiasOnWiki? Of course, those who earn their living from MicroSoft have to defend it, I guess... but apart from that? Except the fact that we might fear we're going to make LessMoney?, I think most of us can see that FreeSoftware (or OpenSource, if you have yet to be enlightened by the wonders of FreeSoftware) is the way to go, and MicroSoft surely isn't going that way. That being said, MicroSoft surely isn't the only bad guy, but its surely one of them.

A bit of debate is not cause for comparing Wiki to the posters on SlashDot.

Also note that the hatred for Microsoft among developers is -extremely widespread-. That there are some vocal detractors on Wiki is natural. Your comment regarding Java is a RedHerring: Please don't let your frustration allow you to stoop to the level of flaming - it's not worth it. We need dissenting opinions like yours on Wiki precicely because it maintains balance. [Even if I find I disagree with some of those opinions.] -- StuCharlton

Personally, I think that hatred might be too strong a word. I'd say that animosity is more accurate. -- CarlosNsRodrigues

I go further I would suggest that Microsoft is popular amongst consumers and unpopular amongst the technical. I find it rather telling that Microsft spends more on Marketing than Distribution and more on Distribution than research and development. -- MartinSpamer
It seems that for any sufficiently popular computer system (Microsoft products, Linux and other Unix derivatives, Perl, C++), you will have a body of people who (a) have substantial experience with that system, and (b) think it sucks large hairy rocks through a garden hose.

This is probably because the popular systems are used in situations where they are pushed beyond their limits. The people responsible for maintaining the systems in those situations resort to strange and desperate means to get their work done, or watch in horror as the system fails and they don't know how to fix it. (My wife, for example, wrote an eight-hundred-page Ph.D. dissertation in Microsoft Word 97 on a five-year-old Pentium with 16MB of memory. That experience was enough to turn her into a Linux fan.) The more popular a system is, the more likely it's going to be stressed in this way.

Writing a dissertation in Word is silly. LaTeX works wonderfully under Windows on a five-year-old Pentium with 16MB RAM.

If Microsoft quit trying to push Windows beyond the desktop I'd be quite happy to put up with Microsoft on the desktop. Windows NT (2000, XP, whatever) is by no means the worst desktop system I've had to deal with, and if they'd play nicely with systems that are better suited to servers or handhelds or whatever I'd be happy with my NT desktop.

If Smalltalk, rather than Unix or Windows, had taken over the computer world, I'm sure there would be a vocal contingent of people proclaiming that "Smalltalk sucks" They would be trying to accomplish tasks in Smalltalk that another language could handle more easily or with higher performance, but they would be stuck using Smalltalk, because the want ads would all be saying "Smalltalk programmer with 5+ years experience required"....

-- SethGordon

To some degree, yes, the most popular products are bound to have a set of detractors, just from the fact that "you can't please everyone, all of the time". The rest of the detractors, though, would have more legitimate reasons -- especially on a Wiki for technical people. Personally, I have used Microsoft Windows for a desktop O.S. since 95 and I, like other users, have come face-to-face with insecurity, the BlueScreenOfDeath, lack of ease-of-use, and Microsoft's License-then-upgrade practices. This was all on my old PI-100 desktop, which is hardly "pushing the limits". Add that to the similar experiences of developers and users worldwide, and that paints a fair picture as to why there is such grumbling about M$. Then there are Microsoft's shady anti-competitive business practices (see <http://publish.gio.gov.tw/iisnet/20040402/20040402b4.html> and <http://www.vcnet.com/bms/departments/dirtytricks.shtml>) which help paint an even less likable attitude towards it. That you can blame on M$'s own legal department. For a humourous parody (for some at least) see <http://www.totse.com/en/ego/no_laughing_matter/mickysft.html>. -- CarlosNsRodrigues
Some parochialism, in the sense of attachment to the place where one lives, is a natural part of the human condition. If we prefer different things, but can keep the conversation civil and find a way to laugh at ourselves (TheUnixHatersHandbook, JavaSucks? (renamed to JavaCriticisms)...) then where's the harm?

I think some Microsoft software is really cool; in an alternate universe I could be following the same path as Sam and discovering that ComIsLove. But their insistence on OneMicrosoftWay leaves no space in the world for things that are important to me.

I hope that Wiki is different from SlashDot because we do have different opinions rather than all being Slashdot sheep, and because we express them politely rather than by flaming. -- MartinPool
I was trying to have less anti-Microsoft bias, but sometimes it is hard. Two articles mentioned today on slashdot:

http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/features/2000/02-28w2k.asp in which we learn how Microsoft Research invented symbolic links.

If you read the article linked to - or even the comments in slashdot - rather than the editor's summary, you can see that the summary is inaccurate. The Windows 2000 file system looks for situations where two files are bit-for-bit identical, and creates one file with two hard links (with copy-on-write, presumably) to take their place. Unix links (or Windows pre-2000 shortcuts) don't act this way; the user or application has to set them up explicitly. Filesystem gurus could argue about whether or not this feature is useful, and maybe there's a mainframe or more obscure OS that's implemented this feature before, but it's not as trivial as the Slashdot editor made it out to be. I'm no fan of Microsoft, but facts are facts. -- SethGordon

You are right. In fact, I was just coming back here to say something about that when I saw you already had. And the article doesn't exactly explain what happens when one of those files changes - obviously in a symlink, all the linked files reflect the change, but with this feature, as you say, you would hope it would be copy-on-write. That actually seems less useful than a symlink, although it will certainly save some space, especially where different users store many copies of the same thing on a server. While that wouldn't seem to be something that really needs to be optimized these days, it is not appropriate fodder for anti-Microsoft bias. I feel better.

I imagine they do CopyOnWrite; it seems to be more like a compression technique than a symlink. But I'm not sure that this is really a feature: with today's economics trading off processor time and memory for disk space is generally not a good thing. (Just buy more disk!) -- MartinPool

http://www.nwfusion.com/newsletters/nt/0313nt1.html : a good summary of Microsoft's Kerberos implementation flap, in which they used a reserved field in W2K Kerberos tickets which makes their implementation incompatible. See http://www.advogato.org/article/594.html for a few technical details.). They later released the specification for how they use the field, but under a restrictive EndUserLicenseAgreement that prevented non-Microsoft readers from implementing the specification themselves.

-- MatthewWilbert

If you are trying to have less AntiMicrosoftBias?, I don't think SlashDot is best the place to get that. :-) -- FalkBruegmann

That's for sure! Fortunately, that isn't why I read Slashdot (and mostly I just look at the links--the signal/noise ratio of the commentary doesn't meet my minimum standards.) Unfortunately, I generate my daily limit of AntiMicrosoftBias? just by dealing with my customers' problems. Also my dose of anti-Oracle bias, anti-Accounting-firm-turned-system-integrator-bias, and anti-most-of-customers'-management bias. I imagine if they dumped all the Microsoft stuff into the harbor, I could develop my anti-Unix bias again - I used to have a nice anti-Unix bias, but then I started having to deal with Microsoft products and it kind of faded. Yet despite the fact that apparently nothing pleases me, somehow I have managed to retain my cheerful disposition. -- MatthewWilbert (currently possessing a pro PythonLanguage bias)
It seems to me that there is nothing special about Microsoft as far as evil goes. One of these pages mentions Larry Ellison, who makes a good comparison.

Part of doing business is the exclusive agreement. We will give you this price if you will give us all your business. I've worked in lots of companies and they all make agreements of that kind when they can. They drive a hard bargain - that's what you do.

Every deal offered by everyone ultimately comes down to saying "take it or leave it". And at that moment, people have three (!) options: take it, leave it, or counter. Sooner or later the negotiations stop and you have a deal or you don't.

As a company's influence grows, and their situation becomes more monopolistic, they drive harder and harder bargains, because they can, and because that's what you do. Do you imagine for a second that Oracle wouldn't cut deals that threw out IBM if they could? Do you imagine that Ford wouldn't cut an exclusive with Hertz if they could?

Do these deals become unfair to those who sign them? Yes, I would think they can. There comes a moment in time when the monopolist can raise prices unfairly, and there is certainly an increased barrier to entry into the market, which can reduce competition and therefore progress. All true.

But it isn't evil. It's kudzu. Sometimes perfectly good things grow and take on a life that squeezes out other life. Then we have to take action.

It's bad, perhaps, but it isn't evil. I've met many Microsofties and unless I'm an awfully bad judge of character, they aren't evil. I've seen Bill Gates, and in my opinion, he isn't evil either. He and his company are doing what companies are supposed to do. It may be time to fence them in (or it may not). But evil, nope, I don't think so.

-- RonJeffries

Since evil did come into it, I'll contribute my 2c on the topic. I think that MicroSoft is evil, and in that I think you are wrong. What I think you're right about OTOH is that they're not alone - everybody does it, and everybody would do it if it were possible ("it" meaning getting exclusive deals, driving competition out of business, buying competition just to drown them etc). Moreover, and this is what I wanted to get to, my typical argument is "if you were Bill Gates and you had the brains to build Microsoft and get it to what it is today, would you do it?". Anybody's honest answer would most certainly be YES!! - even if you're the dedicated religious type you'd still want to get your hands on all that money, even just in order to build churches! (BTW, you may want to check the Bill Gates' Foundation home page here: http://www.gatesfoundation.org/).

-- BogdanStancescu

Where did evil come into it? Are you perhaps responding to something on a different page, or to the zeitgeist?

[Some comments about Microsoft being evil or not were lost during the WikiMindWipe.]

"...would you do it?" That would depend on the person and their ideals, but I would agree that the stereotypical person (AlarmBellPhrase) would most probably try to achieve the same goals -- i.e. that making the best profit possible. But if they, too, resorted to similarly undesirable and anti-competitive business practices, then they too would provoke similar ire. -- CarlosNsRodrigues
I find whatever anti-Microsoft bias there might be on wiki to be simply boring. Trollbait, by and large. In my personal experience, most software sucks. Microsoft's software doesn't suck any more than most. In my personal experience, technical excellence in the software industry is rare, either in product or in process. Microsoft is no exception, but neither are any of the other major players. As for religious wars, about O/Ss, editors, languages, hardware, Xp, other methods, or even, yes, religion itself: Please leave me out of it. -- MichaelHill

I've seen Stallman, Jobs, and Gates talk in person, each long before they were excruciatingly famous. Each has a monopolistic mindset, a UnitarianWayOfThinking that excludes diversity and experimentation. But I only walked out on Gates, because his plans for ruling the world were not backed up by software excellence, only business hubris. -- sunet-s5as01-1-dynamic-46.stanford.edu
I do not apologize to anybody for my anti-Microsoft statements or bias unless I'm apologizing for being a bore or one-track record. In my opinion, everybody who deals with computers on a daily basis who thinks Microsoft is just fine thinks it's just fine that people should have all choices but one removed from them. It's been proved in a court of law that this is exactly what Microsoft is up to, and their plans and public statements also make this clear.

Anybody who sides with Microsoft while they still exhibit this attitude is telling me that I should just accept complete and total control by one company over what software I run. Thus, I feel no obligation to curb my tongue out of respect for their opinions. -- EricHopper

And I feel no obligation to curb my tongue over your inaccuracies above and in my defense of Microsoft being exactly what I need for my uses. Remember some of us have been doing this for 20 years or more using VMS, RTS, UNIX, Linux and many more. And we choose MicroSoft willingly every day because it gets the job done.

Of course, others of us have only been doing this for 20 years or move on ITS, VMS, UNIX, RTS, OS390, etc., etc. and we avoid MicroSoft "expressly" every day because it simply cannot get the job done. I guess it really depends on the job you are trying to do... surprise surprise.

I consider myself sceptical of Microsoft's motives, and because of this I exhibit many of the 'traits' commonly associated with anti-Microsoft or Microsoft-Hater labels; I find those labels to be divisive, they suggest an irrationality and as such I consider them ad hominem attacks. -- MartinSpamer
There is an AntiMicrosoftBiasOnWiki The complaints found many times above that Microsoft "cannot get the job done" confirms this. This is contrary to the fact that Microsoft has found a great number of folk who find that it not only can it get the job done, but can get it done on hundreds, thousands, and millions of computers on intra, inter and virtual networks utilizing hundreds and thousands of reliable programs which are easily learned, configured and adapted to meet the needs of its users. The focus on users and an interface users can depend on, may not please those who program in the mind, but it is pleasing to the millions who daily produce via their personal computers real world results and successes.

At least Microsoft quotes you a price and sticks to it. RedHat charges you annually for Advanced Server Support. The price? The same amount as you would pay to buy Win2K one time. So go ahead, buy into RedHat... over and over and over. -- MichaelDevere

Until you upgrade the os just to get IE to stop doing popups. And you can get redhat for free, they charge you for service. I've never used a Microsoft server setup, but I'd be very surprised if the guys running MS-based IT depts pay more than one flat rate for support.

And you can get redhat for free, they charge you for service

Not the Enterprise Edition. It's pretty much impossible to get that without paying.

Wouldn't that be violating the linux license since the OS must be made available ForFree? What people end up paying for on Linux is also web hosting control panel subscriptions like CPanel, which are very costly.
I maintain that Microsoft is an AntiPattern. Their attempts to lock-in customers to both language & platform, intimidate other companies, and release software before it is debugged is well documented and doesn't need explanation here. Depending on Microsoft therefore automatically involves either total commitment, or a lot of time spent learning how to balance their software with other software. It is inherently dangerous to be a monoculture, whether Microsoft, Linux, Macintosh, or just one language. Also dangerous is Microsoft's tendency to heavily promote a new paradigm/product to entice developers, then promptly dropping support for the product(OS/2, Microsoft Test, ChromeFX, Fahrenheit, DDE, OLE, MFC, Embedded C) stranding the developer. Finally, their bundling of the operating system, language, and office is a faustian deal for developers. Quickly deprecated API's, total lock-in, forced upgrades to support new office file formats, and MicrosoftCulturalAssumptions? about default browsers don't help at all. I was pro-microsoft when I was young, but much as I learned why Basic(GW-Basic, QuickBasic, or VisualBasic) were not technologically sound or responsible, I learned the same of Microsoft. There are exceptions as most consider Visual C++ a decent ide/compiler, and Windows 2000 isn't a joke like Win95/98. In general though, an anti-microsoft bias is likely due to experience, not initial ideology.
Somebody asked the question: Are there any examples of companies that have partnered with Microsoft without getting crushed?

Hundreds. See http://members.microsoft.com/partner/default.aspx

We're a partner (we do infrastructure management). We don't feel in imminent danger of crushing.

In the (fairly) public eye: Groove Networks, so far.

Also the hardware vendors (HP etc).

It is certainly true that Microsoft has many uncrushed partners, but it is also true that in the past many partners have been crushed. Microsoft has a problem in that its huge market share in its core product areas means in order to grow, it needs to move into new areas. Some of those areas have partners in them. I'm not sure that makes Microsoft evil, but it does make them a more dangerous consort. -- MatthewWilbert

That's hardly unique to Microsoft, however. And "crushed" is sometimes the wrong way of expressing it - many companies business plan seems to include occupying an area that MS are likely to get interested in, and then being bought by MS (one of my friends runs a company that pretty much has that as its current strategy)

This past week Sun and Microsoft came to agreement with regard to issues which existed between them. In a mutually agreeable arrangement Microsoft agreed to pay Sun a significant amount and arrangements to partner in the future on certain matters. This was a historical momemt. -- 20040404 (RealNamesPlease)
Note: Whats wrong about having AntiMicrosoftBiasOnWiki? Of course, those who earn their living from MicroSoft have to defend it, I guess... but apart from that? Except the fact that we might fear we're going to make LessMoney?, I think most of us can see that FreeSoftware (or OpenSource, if you have yet to be enlightened by the wonders of FreeSoftware) is the way to go, and MicroSoft surely isn't going that way. That being said, MicroSoft surely isn't the only bad guy, but its surely one of them.

Some of us don't see that FreeSoftware is "the way to go". Some of us don't see FreeSoftware as an option in our domains. Some of us don't earn our living from MicroSoft, yet we avoid a bias against it because being biased is counter-productive. It's entirely possible to be agnostic about all corporations and focus instead on their products and actions. -- EricHodges

FreeSoftware is always an option to some degree. CVS, ConText?, Emacs, VI, GCC, OpenOffice, Gimp, Thunderbird, etc - Just because you are writing code for Microsoft Windows using a Microsoft IDE doesn't mean you can't use free software for other things. Also, "bias" and "experience" are InterTwingled in this discussion -- LayneThomas

I didn't say I couldn't use free software for other things. I do. But I develop software that works with Microsoft products. I've also developed software that works with products from Sun, IBM, AT&T, DEC and many other large companies. A bias against any of them would be counter-productive on my part. They are a fact of life. They play a major role in defining the ecosystem in which my software lives. I've had bad experiences with products from all of those companies, so I see Microsoft as no better or worse. -- EH

I think the bias comes in when selecting a new technology. For example we are trying to move from CVS to a better system, we debated SourceSafe and Subversion, but due to past experiences with Microsoft products, we'll probably go with Subversion. The same issue came up with going with ExchangeServer?/Outlook and IIS/SqlServer or using the Mozilla suite with Apache/PHP/MySQL. Of course we decided the opposite with compiler, and went with DeveloperStudio? instead of GCC - but given equally featured software, I would lean against choosing Microsoft simply due to bad experiences in the past. -- LT

I suggest that bias is a poor substitute for experience. I've used CVS and SourceSafe and both have their strengths and weaknesses. If everyone has access to a VPN I'd give the edge to SourceSafe. ExchangeServer? can do some really useful things that other mail servers can't. If I let my bad experiences with every company's products taint my future expectations I'd never use anything. I had horrible experiences with Apache and MySQL when they were getting off the ground. I don't let that stop me from using them, either. -- EH

Sure, the rational thing is to pragmatically choose the best solution to a problem. Where is the line between experienced based pragmatism and bias though? I don't trust people who have hurt me in the past, is that bias or pragmatism? -- LT

None of these corporations are people. We can't apply the same criteria to Microsoft as we would to an individual. Microsoft is perfectly capable of producing good and bad software at the same time. Some of the folks who work for Microsoft are the best in their field. I evaluate each product on its own merit. -- EH

I can't agree with you there. I greatly respect some of the people who work for Microsoft, but I also realize the power marketing and the executives have. I'm not in the Microsoft can't write technically good software camp. Instead I think they will do whatever helps their business first, and whatever helps the customer second. I realize IBM/Sun/many others do the same, but I don't use their products either - unless needed. It's a matter of balance, and sometimes the software is good enough to use (DeveloperStudio?), but ther times it's not worth all the licensing, crippled features, authentication, shoddy security, and lock-in. It has been my experience that Microsoft (as a company lead by a few) is more than willing to sacrifice me for their profits. Again, other companies do the same, but I can choose not to use them, it's the Microsoft monopoly that makes them really irritating. -- LT
Many geeks do not like Microsoft (MS) because MS does not care that much about developers. Their customers are mostly business managers. Thus, they focus on the needs/wants/perceptions of business managers first. If MS has to make a choice between favoring business managers and favoring developers, they will choose business managers first. And, business managers usually dictate what developers use. They hold the purse strings. Thus, it is natural that MS tends not the be popular with developers. It is just MS doing what capitalism encourages you do to: kiss up to the customers with the most money and influence. -- top

MS does care very much about their developers, that's why they created the win32 api, the key developer tool to create applications! Popular products like VisualStudio and VisualBasic proved that Microsoft was gaining mass developers. They don't care much about cross platform but they do care about developers on their platform. DotNet did tick off a lot of VB6 developers, but DotNet was for developers, and it was to replace VB6 with something more like java, but multi language. If MS didn't care about their developers, they wouldn't have people developing thousands of applications for MS Windows. Without applications to run on MS Windows, the operating system would be useless. There would be no video games, no accounting software, no photoshop. MS Windows success depends on developer popularity. Linux is popular for the server because they provide good server development model, whereas Windows is more desktop GUI geared.

Developers, Developers, Developers:


I remember I used to like Microsoft. MS-DOS 3.1 was small, fast, and effective. Microsoft Word 4 for the Macintosh had more features than any competitor, was fast, fit on one floppy, and was more customizable (and more easily customizable) than any WYSIWYG word processor I'd ever seen.

Then Windows came out. Windows 3.1 was junk compared to all its competitors, but I didn't have to use it (yet), so I didn't. Then Microsoft Word 5 came out. It was several times larger, had a strict subset of the features of Word 4, and crashed all the time.

That's when I started to hate Microsoft.

I'm curious, what are some of the dropped features that you missed?
Um...shouldn't this page be called AnitMicrosoftBiasOnPlanetEarth?
Some may call it "bias"; others will call it "experience".

One "experience" with Windows ME was enough to drive me to Linux. I've never felt comfortable going back.


So far, the only people I've known who like Microsoft are the illiterate chumps from communication studies who struggled real hard just to get the hang of browsing the Intertubes with MozillaFirefox, and my family: Currently, I'm dogged with Windows, without Linux installed, because I remember the day when I set myself up a dual-boot between Fedora and Windows XP. My mom, who uses my computer even though she can barely read her e-mail, had absolutely no clue on what to do when she saw the GRUB screen, and she even had to call me just to ask me how to start Windows.

So, as you can see, I hate Microsoft, but I'm forced to use their crap by my Micro$oft-loving family. D: -- DaNuke

Get your own computer then - a laptop that won't consume too much of your parent's floor space costs less than a Windows license plus an Office license. I'm delighted with my new ASUS eeePC, running ubuntu-eee.

Matter of fact, I'm currently saving for something similar: an Acer Aspire One. -- DaNuke
I am anti bloated software, and Microsoft is the most guilty culprit of it, google is the least.
See: ProMicrosoftBiasOutsideWiki?, ControversialMicrosoftPhilosophies

CategoryRant, CategoryMicrosoft

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