CyberTech Rambler

March 13, 2006

Some thoughts : Linux Forum – OpenOffice.org vs Microsoft

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 2:39 pm

In the recent Linux Forum in Denmark, in the customary “us vs them” style fashion, we have a “OpenOffice.org vs Microsoft” panel. You can find the video here. There is no point going into the debate points put forwards by the panelists as they are well covered elsewhere and there is no new points raised. Rather, lets concentrate on some sidelines issues.

Around 25:36, Anne Grete Holmsgaard of Denmark’s Parliament note that Anders Nørskov, Director of politics and strategy, Microsoft Denmark, has been using “Our [Microsoft’s] Customer”, rather than “the users”. I thought this is a really interesting point. Up to that point, I did not take note that in this and other panels about Document Format, while others are focusing on “users”, Microsoft’s presentation is concentrated on its “customer”.

Groklaw’s Elhaard thinks that Microsoft sent the wrong guy to the Forum, PJ thinks Mr Norskov did well with what he had to work with. She says and I quote, “the problem isn’t that Microsoft keeps sending the wrong guy. The problem is they are in an untenable position.”

Mr Norskov did well because he managed to put forward all major Microsoft’s arguements, the ones prepared for him and the ones I expects him to say. Where he fails is his knowledge of the subject, especially considering the fact he knows other panellists are going to be hostile (I think he is the only one arguing for Microsoft in the panel). He was demolished by other panellists, who seems to know more about Microsoft’s position than he do. It is his inability to go beyond Microsoft’s “canned” response, to argue with other panellists and quote facts/evidence to support his points that lets Microsoft down.

Did PJ gets it right when she says that he “fails to argue properly ” because Microsoft’s position was untenable? I do not think so. There is a lot of arguments that can be put to other panellists to support their case, but the opportunity was missed because every argument put forward seems to be problems specific to Microsoft and are Microsoft’s problem, not problems with the doument standard. Once in a while, “our customers” enters the scene but it is Microsoft’s view of “what their customer might want” (not what their customers really want) that rules these statements. Backward compatibility problem for example, is said to be something their customers want. However, everytime a new version of Office is out, customers do have to deal with Backward compatibility problem. Microsoft fails to demonstrate how OpenDocumentFormat will make this problem worse than what customers expect with new version of Office.

From ignoring Linux-based even in not-so-distance past, Microsoft did well to turn up on these panels. We should applaud their courage. Nobody, or companies for that matter, wants to turn up on panels after panels knowing that they are facing a lot of hostile co-panelists. However, they still have to learn that these panels are not a platform where you simply present your PR material and that’s it. You must be prepare to answer questions and argue for your position. Sending someone knowledgeable, or prepare someone sufficiently to tackle hostile panellists is necessary. They have to learn that.

My take home lessons from this panel is “Stop thinking about oneself in panel discussion, think about others” and “to be prepared for the discussion, especially supporting one’s arguments”.

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1 Comment »

  1. Hi
    And What parental control soft do you prefer?
    G’evening

    Comment by Controller — March 21, 2008 @ 1:26 pm | Reply


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