Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Grinding Down 

Microsoft is seeing its reputation under assault from all sides. It is a powerful company, but even its vast sums of money don't seem to be enough to prevent constant criticism of its two-fisted competitiveness. This is a challenge even the finest PR counselors have trouble handling.

Bad news is everywhere. The EU is about to tell the company to unbundle its operating system. The state of Minnesota is suing the company for monopolistic practices and releasing damaging e-mails that showed how Microsoft has operated since the 1980s.

Hewlett-Packard has decided to sell PCs with the Linux operating system in China --an operating system Microsoft detests. Opensource.org has released an e-mail that purports to show how much Microsoft is contributing to the SCO patent claim against Linux. The story is here. Major vendors have now pledged themselves openly to Linux in defiance of SCO and Microsoft, and magazines like CIO are writing appreciative articles about Linux.

Meanwhile, Microsoft has been embarrassed again and again by lack of security in its software.

Would you take this company for a client? Yes, you would because Microsoft pays well and has millions of supporters. The problem, however, lies with leadership. Microsoft always intended to dominate PC software. It has done so, but at what cost? Maybe if the company were less cutthroat it would be liked more. But weakness doesn't appear to be either in Bill Gates' or Steve Ballmer's genes.

That just makes the PR problem all the tougher.


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