Chuq Von Rospach is a Silicon Valley veteran doing Technical Community Management and amateur photographer with a strong interest in birds, wildlife and landscapes. My goal is to explore the Western states and working to tell you the stories of the special places I've found. You can find out more on the About Page.
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Monthly Archives: June 2005
Carrying on the thought of not being a Mac Evangelist a bit….
We were out with some folks we know a week or so ago, and I had “that conversation” again. We were talking about Laurie’s job search (an updated copy of her resume is here (blatant plug), but she’s had some intriguing opportunities come up recently, but nothing final), and she noted one of the companies she was looking at was Microsoft, because they really seemed to understand what a good Program Manager could do for a project, and in many ways, are the model of the industry for using them. (digression: I’m about half-way through Scott Berkun’s O’Reilly book, and I am just blown away. It is just a great discussion of the whole environment AROUND the code and how to make it all work. I can’t recommend it highly enough).
And of course, they said “you’re Apple people. You’d work for Microsoft?” — and I piped up that I would, too, for the right opportunity.
I don’t know why that shocks people, but for some reason, it does. The reality is simple: I don’t buy into the whole “cult of mac” thing, or the “microsoft as evil empire” thing. Never have. I watched Mike Spindler almost single-handedly destroy Apple by pushing the “we must beat Microsoft, they are the great satan” bullshit as a marketing strategy — and it’s a strategy that set an attitude I think Apple is still struggling to overcome.
Has Microsoft had problems? Yes. Made mistakes? Done things I disagree with? Broken rules (and laws)?
Name me a company that hasn’t. Apple? Not a chance. Name a company that’s perfect, or even merely ethically clean. The Vatican, maybe (ba-dump). Apple’s had it’s own share of mistakes and skeletons in closets (and as side effects of some them, I have a good friend now in senior management at Sun, and another now doing interesting stuff for, um, Microsoft).
I’m no fan of Windows, not by a long-shot. But Microsoft’s more than Windows — I use MIcrosoft Office, for instance, and the XBox is nice (and the 360 looks to be a butt-kicker, but it may still not dominate against the Playstation 3, but it’ll be a fight). MSN’s not bad, either. People in the Mac world tend to demonize Microsoft and glorify Apple — and building such a black and white world blinds you to the shades of grey that we really live in.
I do good things for Apple, and it does good things for me — I have no complaints here, and I’m not going anywhere. But at the same time, Laurie and I both want to move out of the Bay Area at some point (3-5 years, maybe a bit longer). I’m leaning towards Portland, but she’s really learned to like Seattle in her trips up there for Adobe, and that wouldn’t break my heart, either (and when we go north on vacation in August, she’s going to show me around some of what she’s found….). And if you’re tech and in Seattle — isn’t Microsoft an obvious choice?
I have friends who work there, and none of them grew horns and a tail when they cashed their first paycheck. And I know people like Scoble and John Pocaro, who are nice folks and fun to be around, and trying to do good work that makes good products. And one of the things I believe in is community involvment and support, and I don’t think Gates (and indirectly, Microsoft) gets nearly the credit they deserve for his foundation, especially since it’s focus is actually trying to solve problems that many others aren’t doing because they aren’t headline generators or high-profile tasks — just necessary ones.
Over on the Apple side, there’s a distinct lack of both civic and corporate activism, both from Apple as a corporation and from it’s upper management. It doesn’t mean Apple doesn’t do anything in this area — it was one of the first sites to push relief funding after the tsunami, for instance — but Apple in general and Steve in particular has a poor record here (or hides it exceptionally well; I’d love to be proven wrong), and Apple does very little community outreach — I”m a believer that a corporation that succeeds should invest some of that success back into the region that nurtures it. Bill Gates and Microsoft do that, Steve Jobs and Apple don’t.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t presume everyone has to think the way I do, and I’m not in charge. It’s Steve’s company, and his money, and he has the right to do things the way he sees as best. I reserve the right to be disappointed in it, no more. And compared to the primary focus of a company, which is to (a) make money for it’s stock holders and (b) turn out good products that make the world a better place, this is really kind of a tangental or minor thing. But still…
It’s one place where Bill has Steve cold, and it’s an issue I happen to feel strongly about. It’s not a reason to leave Apple, or to work for Microsoft — but it’s one of those factors I weigh as part of a decision, if and when it comes. (I fully intend to go out on my xServe, not with it, and right now, I fully intend to move out of the area and telecommute for Apple when I do…. But, you never know, you know?)
In any event, I’ve had this discussion often enough and seen the surprised stares so many times I finally decided it was time to just blog it and get it over with (at least partially) — I just refuse to buy into the idea that Microsoft is evil, any more than I believe that Apple is pure. both companies have strengths and weaknesses, and good points and bad. That’s how life is, and those of you who simplify reality to black and white, well, mostly I feel sorry for you that you’re missing the joys of all of those shades of grey.
So don’t be surprised if I blog someday that I’m moving to Redmond. But also, don’t be surprised if I don’t…
Life’s just not that simple.