Tending the Microsoft Flock

By Scot Petersen  |  Posted 2001-07-02

Im not the first to notice that theres a certain relationship between Microsoft and its customers—especially the developers, who enjoy all the benefits of being part of the worlds largest computing community, one that is led by one of the worlds richest and most powerful companies.

There are complainers in the group, but, overall, the relationship is like a spiritual leader and his or her disciples. The followers are loyal, hard-working and justly rewarded.

Those who witnessed the impressive, almost lavish TechEd conference in Atlanta last month can attest that Microsoft treats its followers well, from assembling possibly the worlds largest hands-on computing workshop to free meals and transportation to tables stacked with boxes of Krispy Kreme doughnuts. The multitudes ate it up.

Still, for every "ooh" and "ahh" during Bill Gates keynote, there were accompanying grumblings about products being too far out, about having to learn new ways of doing things and about not really having a choice in the matter—but knowing, also, that itll all somehow work out in the end.

Loyal readers from the Linux, Java or Mac OS camps can scream till the cows come home, but it wont change a thing about Microsofts control over its flock—a position so dominant that, despite all the obvious flaws and risks associated with Microsoft, millions of developers will still stake their reputations and careers on loyalty to its products, plans and vaporware.

Eventually, .Net will come together. Executives laid out a timetable at the conference that concluded that 2003 will be the year. But what will the online world and computing landscape look like two years from now? If anyone among the faithful is worried that Microsoft wont succeed, however, he or she is probably taking the attitude of Jack Nicholsons astronaut in the movie "Terms of Endearment." They are strapped in and in the hands of a more powerful force. So they may as well sit back and enjoy the ride.

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