By eweek  |  Posted 2001-04-16 Print this article Print

: Trust or Bust"> Microsoft: Trust or Bust

For its part, Microsoft maintains that HailStorm turns the issue of online privacy on its head.

"Were putting the emphasis and focus on the user and saying that the information that the user has — the information that the user is storing and retrieving and using together with HailStorm — that information is there, its under their control, they own it, they decide who to give it out to," Bob Muglia, group vice president for .Net services, said at HailStorms introduction. "Microsoft may run a server, but we dont own the data. Were making a commitment to the industry, a commitment to users that that data belongs to the user and we wont use it any way that they havent authorized. We wont mine the data. We wont sell it. We wont publish it. And we wont use HailStorm information to target users with advertisements and banners and things like that."

But Microsoft is the first to admit it has serious hurdles to clear.

Running service systems and fixating on their operational excellence "is not something that Microsoft has always had in the core of our genes. This is something thats relatively new to us," Muglia said, acknowledging the hacker attacks and outages that in recent months have plagued Microsoft-owned Web sites, including its Hotmail free e-mail service and the main site.

"There is just no doubt that having Microsoft viewed as a company that can provide operational excellence is critical to our shift to software as a service," Muglia added.

Purcell added that Microsoft "would own the infrastructure by which that data is managed by contract," reiterating that Microsoft would not "own" users data. "Because this is a fee-based system, the data is managed by the individual. How many copies of your information are transferred by different service providers today? One of the ways we shift the paradigm is that we become your data management concern, so you only have to change your data one time," he said.

Although he thinks the technology promises of .Net are "impressive," Gigas Enderle is skeptical that Microsoft will be the company to bring HailStorm services to market because of what he sees as a "lack of trust" in the company. In annual surveys of technology influencers, Giga said Microsoft has been identified as the least trusted vendor since Giga began doing the surveys in 1997.

Another problem, Enderle said, is that Microsoft is already viewed as a "taxing entity" because of a number of its pricing actions, including the elimination of its concurrent-use and work-at-home programs and the elimination of the Windows 9x line in favor of what he said are the "vastly more expensive" NT-based products for mainstream business.

"These actions and the lack of viable choices for Microsoft customers created the belief that while initially Microsoft might price to value — i.e., create a bargain — once you were dependent on the service, Microsoft would raise the price to what the installed base would bear," Enderle wrote in an April 3 analysis of HailStorm. "There is an existing belief that what Microsoft charges for its products is akin to a tax, and a monthly charge to retain ones own data would likely add to that belief."

Then theres the recent debacle over Passport, Microsofts user authentication service.


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