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REDMOND, WA -- Microsoft Corp. unveiled a new strategy today designed to off-load development of its products to the very same people that hate them. Under the program, self-described Microsoft haters that subscribe to Microsoft's MSDN program at the low cost of between 500 and 2000 USD, will be able to download the latest build of Longhorn, Microsoft's next-generation operating system. After spending untold hours setting the system up, those users will be able to write up and even publish their ideas and criticism on their own weblog, or public forums or talk about them with friends and family. More significantly, Microsoft vowed to actually pay attention to some of the feedback. Robert Scoble described this unprecedented move of allowing people to talk about things as follows: "Why is this a massive change? Everytime we've released a version of Windows before we kept it secret. We made anyone who saw it sign an NDA (non-disclosure agreement). Even many of those of you who signed NDAs weren't really given full access to the development teams and often if you were, it was too late to really help improve the product." Microsoft noted that they hoped that these new hate-filled testers would prove more effective than the estimated 50,000 internal and 20,000 external testers that had given feedback on previous versions, going as far back as Windows 2000. "Honestly," said one Microsoft executive who wished to remain anonymous, "All those guys must have been asleep at the wheel. I mean, look at the stuff we've released in the last three, four years. Nothing works. We've had so many viruses and worms that we've got calls from WHO offering to send out a team to help."

In his posting, Scoble added "The problem is, there are two types of people: 1) Those who hate Microsoft. 2) Those who hate Microsoft but want to see it improve."

When asked if Scoble had grossly over-simplified the situation by assuming that everyone in the planet was into either of those two categories, a Microsoft representative said "Not at all. We did a lot of research on this. People care about three things: food, whether Ben and J.Lo will get married, and hating Microsoft." The representative added that there is always a margin of error. "The survey was world-wide, so there were flukes. For example, some respondents from a small town north of London put someone or something called Robbie Williams, or Williamson instead of Ben & J.Lo, but we don't know who or what that is. We presume it's codename for a Linux Kernel build."

And what about people that say they don't hate Microsoft, but would simply, only, like to see it play fair in the market and stop leveraging one monopoly to get to the next? What about people that say that Windows is fine and that the only problem is with how Microsoft attacks competitors with a lot less resources? "Nonsense. Those people are just confused, or need to get off the glue. Just like those losers in the middle of Africa or whatever. Like, people that say they can't afford computers, or are worried about wars, famine, terrorism, AIDS, whatever. They watch too much TV and they get ideas."

"There is no bigger deal in the world right now aside from Longhorn, and people, all people, understand that. They want to improve their lives and testing Windows for us for free is the way to go." The representative went on to note that their research had shown that "people" were "tired of dealing with bugs" in the "old" versions of Windows. "This is all about giving customers what they want, and guess what, they want new bugs, too. They're tried OS X, for example, but it just works, and they have go back to Windows." Many people said they "missed the thrill" of dealing with the possibility of losing a day's work in a crash, while others loved rebooting, because "it allows them to go get coffee regularly, or a sandwich, things of that nature, which is not surprising since the survey also found that food is somehow important to people."

Offloading the design and testing process has other benefits too. "It's also the blame factor," the executive added. "Imagine. Longhorn is released and it doesn't work very well. All those Microsoft haters--I mean, they are the ones who signed off on it in the first place, right? How are they going to criticize it then? It would be their fault, right?"

Would the hatemongers be rewarded in some way? "Hell no." The executive said. "With Windows XP we actually charged people to get the beta, and it worked like a charm. Although it has been suggested that we try out BillG's ham sandwich bundling theory, we probably won't do---Ham has too much fat. It's just not healthy."

Although all companies appreciate and use feedback from users and developers, Industry commentators noted that much smaller companies such as Apple or QNX, as well as the group of developers that work on Linux, have been able to develop OS products without formally off-loading design and early testing tasks to the general development public for free. But when asked why Microsoft, who holds USD 50 billion in cash and short-term securities as well as two of the most profitable monopolies in history, can't deploy resources to develop the product on its own, the executive explained. "Well, the truth is that a large part of that 50 billion is going to be used for our new project, a Microsoft theme park. Bill wants to buy Seattle, including the Boeing factories to the north, and turn it all into an amusement park. You'll have all the classics: the SteveB roller coaster, the Blaster Worm House of Horrors, and the DOJ shooting range."

Finally, he hinted "And watch out. ClipIt will be a favorite character."

[Scoble's "How to hate Microsoft" originally via Dave]

Categories: soft.dev, technology
Posted by diego on October 23 2003 at 5:05 PM

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