Whenever I feel lonely, I just think of all my new friends at Waggener Edstrom. Ive lost exact count, but I know that I spoke to at least eight different public relations people at the firm best known as Microsofts mouthpiece, while reporting a recent story on the transition to software as a service at the biggest software vendors.
This brought home a few things to me, the most obvious being that Microsoft is one huge company, and, more important, that its commitment to software as a service is broad-based and serious. But, I also came away thinking that all these public relations people have to be there on purpose, acting as a kind of human shield, a deliberate layer of opacity that somehow serves Microsofts ends. Dont get me wrong: The public relations gang was helpful, and I got my story with much hard work on their part. And, interestingly enough, the Microsoft execs I finally spoke with were uniformly forthcoming and thorough — more so, perhaps, than their highly accessible but occasionally smoke-blowing counterparts at Oracle. Perhaps Microsoft is paranoid after all its years in court, or maybe it prefers its people to work rather than waste time with the press. One thing is for sure: It likes to control information, which is why some people fear its stewardship of the services platform of the future.