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2003 Dec 19 23:40

The following is an archive of a post made to our 'vox mailing list' by one of its subscribers.

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Re: [vox] Microsoft interested in our feelings
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Re: [vox] Microsoft interested in our feelings

At 7:32 PM -0800 12/19/03, Michael Wenk wrote:

 I don't consider it likely. I think it may be that they actually are
 sincere, at least on one level. Think about it, if they really wanted
 to try to undermine Linux, the user groups would be the LAST place to
 start. The majority of people in the LUGs are hobbyists, and given
 that, what possible effect could they have?
I wasn't implying that some PR hack from the communications department
was going to try to preach or otherwise influence a LUG's opinion of

I think that its likely that MS is acutely interested in the
perceptions of Microsoft and what makes it unattractive (or attractive)
to techs. Also, they are certainly interested in what techs don't like
about Linux. That sort of information would be potentially quite useful
to any PR campaign aimed at trying to maintain MS' dominant position in
the enterprise. Maybe they genuinely are trying to reinvent themselves,
or maybe they are just seeking advantage.

If you look for the very recent activities in some of the LUG lists
where Mr Surkan has been fishing, you'll see what might appear to be
some sort of campaign underway right now. The LUGOD vox list is just
one more place where this is happening. The timing is interesting, with
the steady (and recently spiking) advance of Linux into the desktop.

It is not disputable that MS wants to undermine Linux. The legal
avenues don't seem to be working out so far, the technical avenues are
even tougher, and so it seems like it might fall to PR to tackle the

I realize that MS could (and certainly does) fish for terminology and
concepts for their PR efforts in the mailing lists, and they do so
without identifying themselves as MS reps. Years ago, when I was
desperately underemployed, Intel once hired me to surf Usenet,
Compuserve, AOL, and the conferences on the WELL to gather intelligence
to help them manage a potentially big PR problem. I just surfed and
reported back to Intel what the discussion was about Intel. I didn't
feel that my spy work was evil, since the conversations were part of
the public space and they weren't after any persons. Intel used the
information to dodge a class-action lawsuit. MS has a different problem
with Linux but you can bet they are, as we say in Texas, "walking fast
and looking worried". Their business is threatened. This is a big deal.

MS has certainly gotten an earful about themselves and Linux just by
listening to the various discussions about it; certainly elsewhere, and
likely here. I do find it interesting, and perhaps significant, that
someone from MS has chosen to identify themselves as such and to ask
for "advice" from various LUGs. It's noteworthy that Mr Surkan has come
to the front door and identified himself as a MS rep. By doing so, he
will certainly hear different things about MS & Linux than if he was just

I'm open minded about Mr Surkan's bold contact, but I'm guarded. MS has
a bad rep for playing tricky hardball and they haven't earned my trust.

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