When Your Biggest Business Partners Reccommend Your Competition….
Microsoft, some years ago, entered the instant messaging fray with its inaugural effort in the area: MSN Messenger. Several versions later, we are at ‘8.0’ and somehow – we are still plagued by the same issues with it as in version ‘1.0’. Viruses are still circulating through it willy-nilly; companies are still blocking it whenever / however they can, etc. I used to think it was a sign of poor network administration: instant messaging can be very handy for us developers to have access to. But this past week, when suddenly people on my contact list apparently started trying to upload the same virus-infected, bogus file (which I declined, of course), our company’s network admins had to take some kind of action lest there be infected PCs hither and thither. Leaving aside for the moment the fact that, particularly as a software development company, most of the staffers should have been "with it" enough to fix their own desktop PCs if infected and/or know how to avoid becoming infected in the 1st place, our company is a strategic partner of the software giant for developing products and solutions around a number of Microsoft’s server technologies; but most critically, Commerce Server 2007 and Biztalk Server. And yet here we are, quite literally, thubming our collective nose at Messenger – a very unusual thing indeed!
The response from Microsoft should be, obviously, to deal with the chronic problems that accompany Messenger. When your biggest partners and advocates in the industry are taking such rash measures to avoid its use, how can you claim with a straight face that others should be choosing Microsoft for online solutions? It doesn’t look good. And at this point, its blocking isn’t a knee-jerk reaction to what might happen, or some idelogical hatred for Windows, Messenger or Bill. It’s a response to a failing product that desperately needs to be fixed!
In closing, I have to wonder what the good folks who work at Microsoft itself use to converse. There’s a philosophy at One Microsoft Way, Redmond WA (as at other Microsoft workplaces around the world) to "eat [their] own dogfood" – that is using Microsoft products whereever possible within the company. Trouble is, Microsoft now offers three or perhaps four other instant messaging solutions; including MS Office’s Groove 2007, Communicator (from MS Communications Server), in addition to Windows Live Messenger. These other two are for chatting with others either collaboratively on the extranet or on the corporate LAN itself – not so much for chatting with the outside world. Even so, my company hasn’t adopted either of these in the wake of the decision to simply block all Messenger traffic. But if using Messenger was mandated, I can’t imagine the software giant putting up with viruses like the one that hit last week for very long, nor do I believe they block Messenger on the Microsoft extranet.