back to article Microsoft PR boss sweats in face of Apollo Creed Apple, Google... world

Microsoft’s top flack has been physically and metaphorically running up hills in the last few days in an effort to find out what’s gone wrong at Redmond HQ. The company’s Frank X Shaw penned a navel-gazing missive to staff, a full transcript of which was picked up by All Things Digital, late last week. Microsoft’s comms boss …

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Go

Microserf surge!

Pass out the lucite excellence awards.

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Happy

chaepeau!

A bit of a windy non-entity of an article, but the last line made it all worthwhile. Jolly good show!

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FAIL

errr

As PR boss, isn't it *his* job to tell the world about MS, not all the staff? Isn't the reason that you have PR in the first place so that regular joes don't have to talk to the media and possibly put shoe leather in mouth.

Basically, he appears to be saying "well, I've got no clue how to perk up our image; y'all have a go. See if you can think of something, coz I'm beat."

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Anonymous Coward

Not bad

It may contain a fair amount of spin, but it's more honest about their situation than many companies' equivalent internal mass mails... and even if the leak were not intentional, it still makes better PR than most overt PR.

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Flame

story?

I don't think any of us care about your "story", you horrible little marketing-turd.

Give us decent stuff and we'll be happy. So Microsoft does not have a Cult of Ballmer - surely that's a positive point?

You want better press? Then release Windows Phone 7 on time, rock solid and with _more_ features than you've been trying to sell. The Office web apps are good - push them. Win7 is good, roll with it. Make CE7 so good that we all end up wanting WinPads instead of iPads or droidPads.

Do something about Windows Live; it needs help. Kill "spaces" for a start. In fact, why don't you just buy Livejournal - "Windows Live Journal?" - .NET it and go with that?

Make certain the XBox redesign has no RROD issues, that would be good.

Throw your weight behind Mono and Moonlight - you want ubiquity? Then actively try for it.

And never, never try to lock us into an MS worldview ever again. Because that pisses us off.

In short, stick your marketing up your arse and produce something decent. That'll work for you.

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"Tell it to your co-workers here at Microsoft, to your family and friends, to members of the media."

"...In fact, tell it to the green grocer, the shoemaker, the basket weaver...

Whoever will listen... but FOR FUCK'S SAKE...

STOP POSTING IT ON MINIMSFT !!!11!1!"

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K
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FAIL

Of course their image is at an all time low

They've not inovated anything in the past 10 years - since Windows XP, its been downhill for M$. The only 1 thing that remotely seemed interesting was their dual screen tablet.. but they even managed to axe that.

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Anonymous Coward

the courier

Yeah, the 2-screen pad was 'vapourware', which means it was a deliberate attempt to confuse people considering buying the ipad at launch, to dent initial ipad sales figures. I don't know about you but I'm thrilled to be treated with utter contempt like this and fed disinformation with arrogant impunity. And they wonder why they have an image problem? IT'S SHIT LIKE THIS YOU MORONS! It's the beginning of the end for Microsoft. Apple will follow in time - and their descent will be even more abrupt and stinging, given the bad blood those cretins are stirring.

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Coat

Praising Microsoft's wins

Is there an app for that?

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Once you've earned the title of "Bully" it is hard to get rid of it.

Even if a bigger bully comes along. The integration of IE into Windows to kill Netscape still sticks in this moderately old-timer's craw. And yes I recognize that Netscape was no more standards compliant than IE at the time. It's only one of the places where MS earned the title, others can quote their "favorites." But insisting Vista wasn't a turd pretty much blew the lid off whatever goodwill MS had left for most people. If they want to loose the title, they'll need to work even harder at losing it than they did at winning it, and it will probably take twice as long to boot.

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“2010 is shaping up as a huge year for Microsoft"

Best get started then, it's half over…

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I think this says it all for MS...

"through his marketer head."

Market all they want, won't get them out of the downward spiral they are in.

Hmmm, things that leave a bad taste in my mouth about MS. I will list just a few "basic" ones. No WinFS, bogus vista ultimate extras for end users not techies, and crappy Media Center for Canadians in Win7. A major one, IE8 sucks sh!#.

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He doesn’t think customers are getting the real message about the Microsoft brand

I beg to disagree.

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g e
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yup

they got the message alrighty, they were wearing their They Live shades when they read it.

NB for some - They Live, a movie, classic stuff.

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Dance, monkeyboy, dance!

Many of us are enjoying the show they make as they flail about. They've earned every bit of it.

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Grenade

Computer Virus -> Windows Virus

You'll know their PR is on the ropes when people start to call computer viruses, windows viruses.

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Grenade

pompous

Pompous marketing windbag, MS used to be a tech company, but mostly what we hear these days is marketing spew.

There is no great brand loyalty to MS, the impression of loyalty comes from the fact that most users can do what they need to do using a Windows PC.

People like to be able to do what they need to get done.

Get your brand out of my face so that I can get back to getting things done.

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Anonymous Coward

Correction...

"Shaw then went on a lengthy diatribe about jogging up hills and 'ruining' the lives of billions of people across the world with Microsoft’s products and services."

Fixed.

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Stop

Cloud services

The future is in integrating cloud services and Azure is a pretty good one, minus a few things here and there. I think that MS is well poised for the future of cloud computing, Windows 7 natively supports a good number of useful, new features in Azure. Not to bash other companies, but aside from Google, MS is the only major player with their own end-to-end model for the cloud; from OS to platform(.NET) to languages(C#) to development IDE(Visual Studio) to SSO(LiveID=OpenID), etc. And Google is even lagging behind on some of those ideas at that.

I just can't see this as a huge issue. It's the nature of the world(especially technology in general) to ebb and flow, and with nearly $30b, MS can ebb for quite some time. If I had any suggestions for MS it would be to port Windows 7 to ARM architecture, I think Intel is who should be watching out as ARM runs more machines in this world than any other CPU.

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Megaphone

Here's some help old chap

Stop treating your well paying enterprise customers like pirates. I'm sick and tired of having to activate nearly every piece of Microsoft software I *buy* -- and don't get me started on your licensing model.

Bullhorn, but you still won't hear us.

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Not just the enterprise customers

One of my Win7 machines keeps deciding that the copy of W7 "is not genuine" every few months, meaning I have to call MS to get it sorted.

I'm seriously thinking of rebuilding the machine with a pirate copy even though I have a legitimate license.

That really isn't any way to run a business.

Actually, now I think about it, I can't think of an OS from any other vendor that behaves like this...can anyone else?

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FAIL

Actually, his problem is

that people have got the "real message" about Microsoft, and it's not a pretty one.

"He doesn’t think customers are getting the real message about the Microsoft brand and Shaw has urged staff to “tell their story” and help turn perceptions around."

Yes. That should help.

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MS has no competition.

It's hard to love a Microsoft product as you don't have a choice about owning it really.

It's a bit like getting a new company car every six months. Doesn't matter how flashy it is, after a couple of years, it's just another car. There is no enthusiasm to owning it in the end, because it will be replaced with something better in a few months. And there is no enthusiasm about the forth coming model, because you'll have it soon enough anyway.

Same with Microsoft. There is no enthusiasm to own a Microsoft product. Just an inevitability that your next OS will be a Microsoft update of its current OS.

And the new OS might have some new flashy features, but are you buying into those features, or are you just on a treadmill of buying a new machine with a new(er) OS?

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Anonymous Coward

WTF

WTF does "Right now, we are massively over-indexed..." mean?

Is it one of those pieces of idiosyncratic language use that is symptomatic of a cult?

Hey... I guess it's not even that interesting... probably just management bollocks.

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Massively over-indexed

I think it means that they've given themselves a big finger.

Bullspeak like this is symptomatic of confused thinking. First, learn to communicate in plain English. Then, talk to your customers and find out what they need. Make simple, usable products that meet those needs. Don't get 'super-excited' over silly features that you think are 'hyper-cool'. In other words, grow up a little. You're not FaceBook.

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Paris Hilton

I think the answer is easy

As in the UK with ex-PM Mr Brown the public seems ill at ease with a brilliant mind coupled with near zero charisma.

On the other hand a less than brilliant mind coupled with oodles of charisma (and leadership skills of course) seems to do the biz.

Analytically: an organisation with little charisma leadership at its head can truly and equally expect little charisma in its supporters and customer base.

Both Mr B's seem fantastic vice or deputy level staffers but charismatic leaders with charismatic leadership skills they ain't.

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@Cloud services

> I think that MS is well poised for the future of cloud computing

Except for their licensing model.

Want to set up a cloud? No problem you just need a windows server license for each blade, and an IIS and SQLServer license and probably an Exchange license x 1000 servers.

Then you need CAL for each user, or each user on each blade, or each new client, or each new client and each job ?

So for each piece of kit installed you probably only need half-a-dozen accounts guys to track all the license info.

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FAIL

Microsoft.

You know, it's a very egotistical thing to look at a multi-billion dollar company and think to yourself "I could do better." The hell of it is that I honestly believe I could. I am not talking about the usual nerd fantasies of turning Microsoft into an open source company, giving away the crown jewels or otherwise engaging in acts that would destroy the company.

I am talking about doing this one man’s job. That of altering the perception of Microsoft. I swear to everyone here that I could do that better. There are places to invest that would alter the “Microsoft experience” in such a way as to make them credible again. Small things that once undertaken bring Microsoft from “what the hell, Microsoft!” to “hey, that was worth the money.”

The problem is that Microsoft’s competitors have raised the bar. These companies deliver for free what Microsoft seems to struggle to deliver for cash. Let’s look at their online offerings:

If I want to use any Google service, I log into any Google service, and can quickly navigate from there to any other Google service. Single sign on, multiple applications. The transition is smooth as a baby’s bottom, and the sites aren’t gaudy, garish and terrible.

To contrast, Microsoft has a collection of services that simply don’t interoperate. I was poking around my Action Pack subscription today, and noticed that should finally be able to access my Technet subscription that comes as part of it. After half an hour of futzing about the size, I stumbled across a help file that explained the convoluted 12-step program required to extract the information from whatever-the-hell they have rebranded “action pack” to this week and punch it into Technet.

Really, Microsoft? Really? I should have been able to log into a central “Microsoft Live” page, and gotten access to everything bonded to that account. There should be a “My Action Pack” button of some form there that, when clicked on brings me to the action pack page. When I go there, it should do something like let me know /unobtrusively/ that I have rights to sign up for a Technet subscription. There should be no filling out forms, no anything. I am logged into my Microsoft Live ID, one click, a tickbox for the EULA, and I should be rocking my Technet hard.

The next time I log into my central “Microsoft Live” page, there should be a little “My Technet” button.

Instead, we have the current shite that is Microsoft’s “offerings.” Have you ever tired to navigate their various Internet offerings? They are terrible. No common UI, no SSO, no anything. It’s a bunch of disparate applications whose only affiliation is that Microsoft bought the company some time back.

Microsoft doesn’t need to go open source, or embrace standards or otherwise ruin their business model to gain credibility. (Though standards would go a long way towards making some people hate Microsoft less.) What Microsoft needs to do is focus on unifying their entire user experience, and making it significantly less painful.

Google is the prime example. They don’t win people over with flashy graphics and whiz-bang anything. They win people over with functionality and commonality. I don’t care if everything Microsoft offers looks like it’s based on the start button idea, or tiles, taskbars, or gadgets. Pick something and stick with it. Unify the user experience, and we will all eventually learn to use it.

This, combined with anti-consumer tactics like ridiculously impenetrable licensing need to be cleaned up.

I’d do this man’s job for $75K Cdn (+relevant moving and travel expenses) and promise you that so long as I had the authority as part of that position to actually influence companywide changes (such as unifying the interface,) then I would have the company’s reputation turned around inside of five years. I don’t need to singlehandedly design everything, just be competent enough to actually read the criticisms levelled at the company and determine which have legitimate value. I’d also take the time to use all of the various company products (and hire others whose sole job it is to do the same,) in order to find the cracks.

Sadly, Microsoft would never hire someone like me, firstly because I don’t have any relevant degrees and secondly because the advice I have to give them isn’t what they want to hear. More’s the pity; “what they want to hear’ is driving that company off a cliff and straight into the ground. It’s time they listened to someone who disagrees with them.

TL;DR VERSION:

I can do this guys job better than him. The ticket is to actually use all of Microsoft’s products, and see where the seams in the user experience are. Simplifying the total Microsoft experience, both from a consumer standpoint as well that of those who have to purchase and administer Microsoft products for enterprises is absolutely critical if Microsoft hopes to prevent itself from doing and IBM and vanishing into near insignificance.

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Paris Hilton

Nobody said ...

... it would be easy.

With the stuff Ms has and added research on top of that coupled with (probably) a business dynamic that sells copyright well, that is a humungous resource to manage and then filter through to a finished product?

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