Strategic CIO // Executive Insights & Innovation
Commentary
8/28/2007
06:02 PM
Bob Evans
Bob Evans
Commentary
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Why Does Microsoft Get Smacked For Doing The Right Thing?

Microsoft endorses a third-party software product that helps customers "create a secure, auditable, and compliant enterprise environment" -- that's a good thing, right? Not so fast! A colleague of mine says that, conversely, it's simply another wacky chapter in what he calls the ongoing "Through The Looking Glass" saga of Windows Vista.

Microsoft endorses a third-party software product that helps customers "create a secure, auditable, and compliant enterprise environment" -- that's a good thing, right? Not so fast! A colleague of mine says that, conversely, it's simply another wacky chapter in what he calls the ongoing "Through The Looking Glass" saga of Windows Vista.Now, I have to say upfront that fellow informationweek.com blogger David DeJean (ddjean@dejean.com) has forgotten more of the technical aspects of software than I'll ever know, so I'm not foolish enough to try to debate him on the technical specifics of this move. As David notes in his thoughtful post about this third-party software product -- headlined "Microsoft Endorses A Fix For Something It Insists Isn't A Problem" -- the issue here might be a failure on Microsoft's part to articulate clearly that what's good for corporate IT departments might not be so good for individuals like David, who are one-person IT shops. As David puts it, "I'm glad there's a fix like BeyondTrust Privilege Manager that may help those of you who are corporate IT types, but I'm my own help desk, and for me a 'least privilege' environment is not a solution, it's the problem Vista is forcing on me."

Good point. There ought to be different approaches to this solution framed by what the customer needs: What works for solo operators is rarely the right approach for global businesses. But I wonder if at least part of what we have here is a Pavlovian reflex to bash anything and everything Microsoft does relative to improving/fixing/enhancing Vista. Microsoft has been hammered by bloggers and others -- heck, even by some judges -- when it has made certain moves aimed at limiting the ability of other software companies to play in its giant and often unruly sandbox. But here we have a case where Microsoft is (1) trying to improve a hugely important product, and (2) is publicly stating that the goal is to help customers make their IT environments "secure, auditable, and compliant," and (3) it's even going off-campus to a third-party software company to deliver this solution to customers -- and still the company gets zinged!

If Apple were to make some sort of similar move involving an outside software company, commentators would be gushing about how 'once again, Apple's kind-hearted willingness to weave externally developed software into its user-beloved ecosystem shows why its approach is vastly superior to Microsoft's.'

CIOs need to take some of this Microsoft-jabbing (this one doesn't fully qualify as Microsoft-bashing) with a big hunk of salt. Is it perfect? Probably not. Is it a good-faith effort to improve the customer experience? Yes it is. Will Microsoft address the single-operator environment David describes? Probably so. But will that effort earn Microsoft an equal measure of good will from us in the chattering class? Don't bet on it.

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