A couple of years back, I was invited to and did attend the Microsoft Technology Summit 08. (Reports and notes here). My impression, that I discussed with several people but didn’t blog, was that there were two strong forces within MSFT that were at odds with each other. MTS08 put them both in front of us — us being folks who “were opinion formers who might not be fully aware of Microsoft technological offerings” or those of us so into Open Source or Adobe or Apple that we weren’t paying MSFT technology all that much attention — at this meeting.
Sam Ramji who at the time was leading MSFT’s Open Source efforts was the convener of the meeting, but due to some odd scheduling he was pulled off to budget meetings for much of the conference. Sam represented a part of MSFT that I liked, felt comfortable with, understood and respected. He has (and had then) start up cred, broad experience, was open to the ideas of others, listened as well as spoke, spent less time messaging than trying to understand what was going on in a wide sense. Props to you, Sam. In short, Sam represented what Jane Jacobs calls the Commercial Moral Syndrome. I came to realize that Sam was also representative of the Ray Ozzie forces within MSFT.
Then there were the Steve Ballmer forces. They were a perfect example of what Jacobs calls the Guardian Moral Syndrome. They came to overwhelm us with their presentations, their tech and their talk. “Of course, if you were at the MIX conference (a MSFT fanboy conf)” I wrote about this at the time. Then I was comparing Dewey and Lippman, but now I think Jacobs has it divided best. The Ballmer people were MSFT lifers, for the most part, straight to MSFT from school with no turns or byways or so straight that they had forgotten any other jobs or ways of thinking.
Now Sam has left MSFT (in summer of 09 if I recall it), but the division within MSFT remains. Most recently that division between Ballmer and Ozzie came to our attention through a report in Business Insider called “Everything Wrong With The Steve Ballmer Era On Display At D8.”
I feel validated. Thanks, Sam for having me out. Thanks, Steve for acting out.