Letters to Redmond

Readers Respond: January 2006

Software religion and its zealots, and Microsoft's diverse but sometimes overlapping products.

Particular Point of View
In the November 2005 article, “Software Crusades,” author Becky Nagel recounted numerous workplace tales of pro-Unix, anti-Microsoft zealots running amok through IT shops far and wide. I found the stories interesting, but I noticed one glaring shortcoming of the article: All of her examples were of zealots who were incredibly biased against Microsoft. I just wanted to clarify the fact that there are tons of equally “devoted” or “biased” (choice of term depends on your own particular point of view) IT professionals who will unflinchingly push Microsoft solutions all the time without looking at alternatives with an open mind. The usual arguments of these zealots usually revolve around perceived ease of development or expected smooth interaction with the rest of the Microsoft technology ecosystem. Sometimes they’re right and sometimes they’re wrong, but they can be just as myopic as the worst of the Unix/Linux camp. The point should always be: Pick the best tool for the job or the skill sets of the client. The competition between opposing camps is a plus for the industry as long as it is civil, professional and fair.
Loyd Gravitt
Birmingham, Ala.

Becky Nagel responds:
Thanks for your feedback, Loyd. We never meant to imply that zealots are more or less prevalent among different OS users. We based the story on reader feedback, and being a magazine for Windows users, I think our readers just see the issue more on the other side. I do think that software religion exists equally among all groups. In fact, if there’s one thing that I learned from writing this article, it’s that software religion really has nothing to do with the software itself -- it’s all about the person.

Sole Redmond Zealot
I actually printed out the November 2005 cover story, “Software Crusades,” and put it on my wall at work. I learned a lot from it. I am the sole “Microsoft Zealot.” I’m sure there must be more out there, but I’ve never met one (not even in thousands of chatrooms), not one!

I do use and consider alternatives, though. I use VMware, Servu and Linksys firewall, all of which have Microsoft versions, which I avoid.

One point I would like to make is that when you have a “pure” Microsoft LAN, there are much less interoperability problems than a mixed environment.

Also, there’s a $245 tech support call you can make to Microsoft that will actually solve any problem, (providing they’re all Microsoft components). From a problem in Outlook XP, that goes through an ISA firewall, across a Microsoft VPN, into an Exchange 2003 server, running SharePoint, they will take ownership of the problem and solve it, no matter how many departments or engineers they have to involve.

Thanks for the great article. Although I will still wear my Windows shirts in the halls of IBM, I will take care to always give the alternatives a fair shake.
Mark Egleston, MCSE
IBM Global Operations
Fishkill, N.Y.

Keeping It Real
Fantastic article [“Software Crusades”]. I’m in the midst of way too many zealots, most of whom believe that an AS400 is the only real computer. They really need to learn a bit about servers, how they work and how Windows servers truly augment an AS400, because without them, their servers couldn’t function in my domain.
Larry Miller
Washougal, Wash.

Product Complexity
Doug Barney recently mentioned [in his November 2005 Chief Concerns column] that to do some collaboration work, a person could use SharePoint [Services], Office, Outlook or several other products. I think this and other instances where Microsoft seems to be offering a product for anything and everything, with products often overlapping unhelpfully, doesn’t seem like positive diversification. I hope it’s not a symptom of a lack of focus at Redmond.
Rodney Allen
London, U.K.

About the Author

This page is compiled by the editors of Redmond magazine from your letters. Write to us at [email protected] and if your letter is printed in the magazine, you'll be entered into a drawing for a free Redmond T-shirt.


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