Bonum Certa Men Certa

Is Vanity Culture Infectious?

The Microsoft of Linux?

Novell seems to be getting back to its roots of arrogance. To quote Phil Morettini, “Novell had plenty of excuses to be arrogant, even without Microsoft’s attention. They were truly dominating the Network Operating System business. The brand was dominant, the product was good, and the worldwide distribution network of VARs and distributors was second to none. Sales people at Novell no longer had to sell–they took orders.“

What vanity is it we're talking about? Ron Hovsepian and Justin Steinman, for example, feel like they are better than Red Hat even though they are well behind. Novell has recently joined hands and tightened its relationship with a company that is known for brutality and vanity, so this is hardly surprising. These two examples (among more), and particularly the new one from Ron Hovsepian can be nicely weaved in with some recent news. Newsweek has a new article where Google speaks about cultural issues at Microsoft.

"Google is so different that it was almost impossible to reprogram them into this culture," says CEO Eric Schmidt.


How about this one?

Stuart Scott, Microsoft's former CIO, is not the only Microsoft employee unceremoniously being shown the door. Some staffers who are putting in their notice are being escorted off campus immediately. Why? Because they've put in their notice to join Google.


Isn't that distrubing? Microsoft likens the Mac and GNU/Linux user communities to "cults", but some of its own behavior (at a corporate level) may suggest that it's merely a case of reflection.

Let's explore Microsoft's own vanity. We've assembled some good examples below.

Bill Gates



This is something that I actually cover in my personal blog. The Gates Foundation is being used to control media outlets (through investments), which then give shape to a positive image and paint Bill Gates as a Saint. The reality is far from that. Judge Gates' character for yourself, based on those who know him personally, as opposed to those watching what journalists say in the press. These are journlists whose fundnd source include the Gates Foundation (investor) Microsoft (advertiser/partner).

Microsoft Memories

At some point in your presentation billg will say "that's the dumbest fucking idea I've heard since I've been at Microsoft." He looks like he means it. However, since you knew he was going to say this, you can't really let it faze you. Moreover, you can't afford to look fazed; remember: he's a bully.


Here is another example.

My father, in his travels, has met Bill Gates. I don't think I'd be creating a problem for him now (as he recently retired) by saying that he was unimpressed. Apparently Gates was rude, he was distracted, and when he sat, he rocked back and forth in his chair, an action which reminded my Dad of people with dementia.


And another from Joel Spolsky (on software).

In my BillG review meeting, the whole reporting hierarchy was there, along with their cousins, sisters, and aunts, and a person who came along from my team whose whole job during the meeting was to keep an accurate count of how many times Bill said the F word. The lower the f***-count, the better.

[...]

Four," announced the f*** counter, and everyone said, "wow, that's the lowest I can remember. Bill is getting mellow in his old age." He was, you know, 36.

Later I had it explained to me. "Bill doesn't really want to review your spec, he just wants to make sure you've got it under control. His standard M.O. is to ask harder and harder questions until you admit that you don't know, and then he can yell at you for being unprepared. Nobody was really sure what happens if you answer the hardest question he can come up with because it's never happened before."


How about this one [PDF]?

From: johnfi; Wed Mar 14 11:18:49 1990 To: RichAab; RussW; SherryR; c-JanetC Subject: H-P New Wave Date: Wed Mar 14 10:56:42 1990

A few issues ... Got a call from Gary Perez (our OEM HP Acct Mgr) this morning. They are telling HP that they wil NOT be part of this launch and that BillG has said "fxxk HP (all divisions) if they won't sign a Windows license."


There are many more examples, including Gates' request for anti-Linux patents and making ACPI not work with Linux. For now, the above examples ought to suffice.

Steve Ballmer



Recall this unforgettable reaction from Microsoft's CEO.

At that point, Mr. Ballmer picked up a chair and threw it across the room hitting a table in his office. Mr. Ballmer then said: "Fucking Eric Schmidt is a fucking pussy. I'm going to fucking bury that guy, I have done it before, and I will do it again. I'm going to fucking kill Google."


More analysis here.

When Emory University primatologist Frans de Waal read a news story that said Microsoft's chief executive, Steve Ballmer, had hurled a chair across the room on hearing an employee was going to work for rival Google, the scientist immediately made a connection with his own research: "When I see such behavior, I think of a chimpanzee."


It seems to be just part of a behavioural pattern.

"The word 'intense' was invented for Ballmer, who met with us in a green room that had a paper sign with his name taped to the door. While he was at first warm and engaging, a question about security features shifted his mood. His eyes, soft when he smiles, grew dark. The usually boisterous Ballmer became unexpectedly quiet and soon exited the room without saying goodbye. Still, he had a lot to say to SmartMoney senior writer Dyan Machan before he did.


How can one forget "Developers" and "Monkey Dance"?

Jim Allchin



This one is a classic [PDF].

From: jimall Mon Sep 9 11:09:33 1991 To: billg steveb Cc: bradsi; jonl; mikemur; paulma Subject winball Date: Mon Sep 09 11:08:44 PDT 1991

[...]

We need to slaughter Novell before they get stronger.


Jim Allchin on Novell



Joachim Kempin (OEM Chief)



Joachim Kempin seems to be quite a violent man, as the following incident illustrates.

Microsoft OEM chief Joachim Kempin was guilty of nine charges of illegal hunting...


There are many examples of anti-Linux abuses in the OEM channel and we covered some of them before. Joachim Kempin was behind threats and illegal manipulation in the marketplace.

Others



Redmond's vanity can be seen in the following article which advises partners never to mention GNU/Linux or Google when visiting Microsoft.

Watch how 'poor' Microsoft employees complain about Google 'daring' to touch their overwheliming market share.

Microsoft has warned Google to steer clear of corporate search, declaring that the market is "our house"....

"Those people are not going to be allowed to take food off our plate, because that is what they are intending to do."


Here's some evidence of what some call 'Mafia Culture' [PDF]

From: bradsi Fri Oct 18 14:24:00 1991 To: dawntr; jonl; makemap; mikemur; philipg; vijayc Cc: garygi; hankv; lewisl; peteh Subject: Re: Excel brainstorm group Date: Fri, 18 Oct 91 14:20:38 PDT

I'd be glad to help tilt lotus into into the death spiral. I could do it friday afternoon but not saturday. I could do it pretty much any time the followung week.


Watch the following. This lady isn't so pleased with Microsoft's deliberate corruption of Web standards.

Besides the fact that all of the Microsoft employees I have ever encountered must have been brainwashed. I don’t know where they dig these people up.

[...]

And if they AREN’T brainwashing them, then they are just hiring incompetant, pompous dumbasses. And if either is the case, why should anyone support their company?


Back to Novell



If Novell was ever to succeed in the Linux business, that would add to its already-morbid vanity, which is infectious. Some people at Novell would not deny admiring and loving Microsoft. They would even Mimic Windows technologies. There is a huge danger here and the remainder of this story will be described in the next post.

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