“Technological Evangelism” Still Lives

There is a scandal of global proportions about M$ paying to have coverage in news programming on CNBC and BBC. Technological evangelism still lives.“Microsoft began its commercial relationship with media firm FBC in 2003. A nine-page strategy document written in 2004 obtained by The Independent contains excerpts which show that when the technology giant launched its European Microsoft Innovation Centre in Germany in 2004, FBC drew up a plan for Microsoft to target broadcasters with its “corporate messaging” and gave a guarantee to Microsoft that it would “place” coverage of the launch event on World Business, the weekly programme it made for the CNBC network. CNBC has suspended the show and is investigating FBC.”

This is what M$ considered technological evangelism in 2000:“Why not do it all ourselves?

  • Because we can’t
    • There’s just too much to be done
  • Because they won’t let us
    • Lawyers are Us
  • Because third parties are more efficient
    • In their respective markets


In addition to identifying and categorizing the relevant ISVs, Evangelism should also identify and categorize other industry influencers during this first phase of evangelism. There are three categories of industry influencers:

  • 2. The Press: Almost every technological evangelism campaign involves working with the press, either directly or through a PR agency. Our evangelism campaign should identify the specific members of the press that you will target (as distinct from the usual, non-technical PR treatment).
  • 3. Analysts: Analysts are people who are paid to take a stand, while always trying to appear to be disinterested observers (since the appearance of independence maximizes the price they can charge for selling out). Treat them as you would treat nuclear weapons – an important part of your arsenal, which you want to keep out of the hands of the enemy. BribeHire them to produce “studies” that “prove” your technology is superior to the enemy’s, and that it is gaining momentum faster.


Working behind the scene to orchestrate “independent” praise of our technology, and damnation of the enemy’s, is an important part of the Slog.

Just keep rubbing it in, via the press, newsgroups, whatever. Make the complete failure of the enemy’s technology part of the computer industry. We want to place selection pressure on those companies and individuals that show a genetic weakness for the competitors’ technologies, to make the industry increasingly resistant to such unhealthy strains, over time. ”

That looks a lot like this news story and what happens in the comments here almost daily. If M$’s technology were truly superior, none of this would be necessary.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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50 Responses to “Technological Evangelism” Still Lives

  1. George Hostler wrote, “one doesn’t need an evangelism document if they have reputable and quality software. Microsoft software with its bugginess and a viral magnet is only kept in power by continuous FUD and 3rd party support.”

    Amen. The closest I ever got to riding a motorcycle was hitching a ride with a fellow with an ATV. He liked to corner on two wheels. It was one of the unforgettable frights of my life…

  2. George Hostler says:

    Your assessment is correct, Mr. Pogson. From about 2004 to 2010, I was more or less posting on a regular basis to Linux advocacy forums such as Usenet Group comp.os.linux.advocacy.

    Any time I would post something positive about Linux, it would be countered by me being a Microsoft hater, Lienux truly sucks, I am gay because Linux made me gay, I am gay because Linux attracts gays, I am a troll and constantly nymshifting (their reasoning to seed search engines to make others along with me who advocate Linux look like fools, all forms of character assassination, do a Google search on “George Hostler” and you will see what I mean.)

    Then I found the Comes (Iowa) versus Microsoft lawsuit document, Exhibit 3096, the Microsoft Evangelism document, also fully explained in text at http://www.groklaw.net/articlebasic.php?story=20071023002351958 and the PDF document itself at http://www.groklaw.net/pdf/Comes-3096.pdf

    A google search on my name will dredge up all sorts of back years negativity sowed by these libelous trolls.

    You are correct, one doesn’t need an evangelism document if they have reputable and quality software. Microsoft software with its bugginess and a viral magnet is only kept in power by continuous FUD and 3rd party support. Their extreme profitability (not possible without monopoly maintenance) with an inferior product has allowed them to afford the numerous lawsuits without harm.

    Sincerely, George Hostler
    AKA High Plains Thumper (My home is in the high plains of the New Mexico / Texas Panhandle and I love to ride single cylinder engine motorcycles or “thumpers”)

  3. uh no, SUN kept Sparc in TI instead of letting experts make the chips for much lower costs. They left TI only in 2008. Depending on over-priced hardware was an anchor around SUN’s neck. They could have shifted/out-sourced the hardware and done magic with the software but stumbled. Their products were top-notch. Recently, the most powerful supercomputer still used their chips. Performance was not an issue. Price was. Their decline had nothing to do with M$. At the time they were competing with M$ they were highly profitable. M$ OTOH did everything it could to sabotage SUN’s move into software and SUN sued more than once, successfully, but it could not undo the damage. SUN did not sue M$ out of spite but to redress deliberate actions of M$. Read Comes v M$ to see what M$ was up to. It was not competing on price/performance.

  4. oldman says:

    “A business with good ideas can still decline. A business depends upon the will of the customers unless it is a monopoly.”

    Even a monopoly has to obey the laws both written and unwritten of commerce Pog.

    Sun contributed to their own failure because their senior management made business decisions based on hatred of microsoft instead of the realities of the market.

  5. A business with good ideas can still decline. A business depends upon the will of the customers unless it is a monopoly.

  6. ch says:

    Here are the numbers:
    http://www.heise.de/newsticker/meldung/Sun-Die-Braut-traegt-Rot-216523.html

    Sorry that the article itself is in German, the table below still should be clear: Sun revenues and profit/loss per quarter from 2001 to 2009. That’s a lot of red ink. (The asterisks say “without special factors”, in 4/04 that was a settlement with MS giving Sun $900m, in 1/09 it was the cost for “restructuring”.)

    Without Sun’s full coffers from better times, any company would have been broke a long time ago with losses like that. (And please note the decline in revenues as well.)

    In fact, citing any decision from Sun in the last dozen years or so should only be used as an example of what not to do.

    http://www.fakesteve.net/2006/12/my-little-pony-calls-all-in-huff.html

    http://www.fakesteve.net/2006/11/its-official-java-now-worth-nothing.html

  7. oldman says:

    “SUN never “went under”. ”

    Pog, by that logic Novell never went under either.

    Yet both companies have ceased to exist, an inconvenient fact you can’t get around.

  8. SUN never “went under”. They were bought by Oracle. SUN was making (and losing) a lot of money until they announced the sale, whereupon a lot of customers jumped ship. Oracle offered $5.6billion. SUN was burdened by a lot of legacy stuff which was still profitable and prevented them from rapidly adapting to changing conditions. This is the same problem many large tech companies have like M$, IBM, and Apple. Some make a transition and others falter. SUN would have needed to break up to thrive but selling was deemed a better option. From the viewpoint of FLOSS it was a big mistake but who knows what will be the long-term result? Oracle, by the purchase attempted to diversify. So far, it’s a mixed result for them. They have hurt Java, MySQL and OpenOffice.org and themselves by some of their actions.

  9. oldman says:

    “Sun IT…”

    Ans Sun still went under. QED.

  10. “Sun IT currently has a large internal infrastructure built around the concept of thin-client workstations — called Sun Ray ultra-thin clients — deployed worldwide. A Sun Ray is a stateless client that uses the resources of a server (CPU, memory, storage) over the network. Sun IT has deployed several hundred servers globally to support the tens of thousands of Sun Ray ultra-thin clients located worldwide, and found that this architecture has greatly reduced Sun’s support and maintenance costs for office employees. With such an overwhelming success, a proposal was made to expand the Sun Ray architecture to include remote employees.”

    see http://www.sun-rays.org/lib/SunRay_atHome033105.pdf

  11. ch says:

    “So sun could get sparc systems”

    Are you trying to tell me that the office workers at Sun use Sparc machines on their desks ? (Hint: No, they don’t.)

    So according to you, Sun paid ~ $70m _and_ the salaries for the former Star Division employees to save ~ $1.2m ($200 for MSO + $100 for Win) per seat every so many years ? Now we know why Sun went under ;-)

  12. oiaohm says:

    Microsoft also had refused to port MS Windows and MS Office to sparc.

    Note even on discount rate is still about 9 million dollars for MS Office every 5 years to remain current.

    Also remember sun was not running MS windows internally on many machines so that is another cost.

    Please go read Windows volume licensing ch they are only upgrades. Machine must have a pre existing boxed or oem copy.

    Really it was cheaper for Sun than the round of licenses and the hardware they would have had to acquire from amd or intel. Remember Sun does not have a license to make x86 chips. So sun could get sparc systems for the cost of production. Yes the cost of production is a lot smaller than most people would dream.

  13. ch says:

    If you had written that Sun just didn’t want to pay anything at all to MS, I would agree. I think Joel Spolsky is right: “Sun is the loose cannon of the computer industry. Unable to see past their raging fear and loathing of Microsoft, they adopt strategies based on anger rather than self-interest.”
    http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/StrategyLetterV.html

    So can we please agree that Sun buying Star Division was _not_ because “buying them was cheaper than one round of licenses” ?

  14. Even if the office suite were $0 and the OS thrown in, SUN did not want to have x86 machines on the payroll. Further, SUN did not want to throw money away every few years for M$’s enrichment when they could be self-sufficient for much less.

  15. Contrarian says:

    “43000 X ( $100 + $500 + $1000 (1999)) = $68.8 million, for one cycle. How much does forever cost?”

    Where do you shop, #pogson? Volume licensing for MS Office, which is what big companies use, is less than $200 per employee and you get your own guy(s) in Redmond to answer your company’s employees’ questions. The actual price will vary with company size, i.e. 50K is less per employee than 1K, and Windows volume licensing is similarly priced.

    If you own StarOffice, though, you have to pay to feed your software milk cow and provide them with heat, light, management attention, and a paycheck. Forever.

  16. “The success of the Gendarmerie Ubuntu migration reflects several emerging trends in IT. First, it represents the rising influence of community-driven distros which are largely supported internally by the organizations that adopt them. Analysts have noted a growing preference for this approach which can be cheaper than adopting a conventional enterprise distro like Red Hat with annual commercial support contracts.”

    see French Police Save Millions of Euros by Adopting Ubuntu

  17. “it was cheaper to go buy a company that could make a Solaris and Linux desktop productivity suite than it was to buy forty-two thousand licenses from Microsoft. (Simon Phipps, Sun, LUGradio podcast.)”

    Do the maths. What does a licence for that other OS and M$’s office suite cost? What does a new notebook cost?

    43000 X ( $100 + $500 + $1000 (1999)) = $68.8 million, for one cycle. How much does forever cost?

  18. Contrarian says:

    “It happens”

    That is an absurd sort of attempt at proof of your concept, #pogson. I very much doubt that Sun bought StarOffice on that basis at all, it would be like buying a cow to save on the price of milk. Big companies do not do that sort of thing, but you probably do not understand that.

    In any case it would be a very expensive way to get an application, given the $70M price tag mentioned by #ch. It certainly is not proof that it is a common practice for companies to hire developers for in-house maintenance of open source products. If it were at all true, that is a very singular incident and a demonstrable failure at that.

  19. ch says:

    I offer this quote: “Sun Microsystems acquired the company, copyright and trademark of StarOffice in 1999 for US$73.5 million.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/StarOffice#History

    So Sun paid almost $2000 per seat for Windows and MSO licenses ? No wonder they lost so much money ;)

  20. “The number one reason why Sun bought StarDivision in 1999 was because, at the time, Sun had something approaching forty-two thousand employees. Pretty much every one of them had to have both a Unix workstation and a Windows laptop, and it was cheaper to buy a company that could make a Solaris and Linux desktop productivity suite than it was to buy forty-two thousand licenses from Microsoft. — Simon Phipps, Sun, LUGradio podcast”

  21. ch says:

    “SUN bought the company producing StarOffice to avoid a similar outlay for one round of licensing.”

    Do you have any numbers to back that up ? The (assumed) numbers I have seen don’t agree with you.

  22. SUN bought the company producing StarOffice to avoid a similar outlay for one round of licensing. It happens.

  23. Contrarian says:

    Well, #pogson, you must have noticed that the Modis ad has the “Required” section that does not mention Linux in any way. The reference you stress is the 11th bullet (out of 11 total) in the “asset” list which certainly takes it out of the “must have” category. Given how far down the list that experience is, it is unlikely that it is of much importance.

    The Modis job, I note further, is to work on the company’s commercial products, i.e.:

    “To participate in developing world class communications solutions in a mobile satellite environment”

    My original contention was that companies are not likely to hire programmers to work specifically on Linux or LibreOffice in order that the company save money on license fees for commercial products such as Windows or Microsoft Office. None of these cites comes anywhere close to showing that they would hire such developers for that purpose.

  24. From the Modis ad:
    Experience in embedded Linux programming, including kernel level

    Experience with Green Hills RTOS / LynxOS RTOS or other Linux variants

    Do I have to read for you?

    Further, the other OS mentioned are based on Linux or are Linux-compatible:
    Wikipedia – “The LynxOS RTOS is a Unix-like real-time operating system from LynuxWorks (formerly “Lynx Real-Time Systems”). Sometimes known as the Lynx Operating System, LynxOS features full POSIX conformance and, more recently, Linux compatibility.” GreenHills has its own POSIX kernel, they call Integrity RTOS.

  25. Contrarian says:

    “It lists Linux development as a “must have” not just “good to have”. ”

    Epson says the candidate “must have” “Strong embedded firmware & RTOS” skills. Linux is a for instance sort of thing, not a specification.

    Randstad says “Experience with multithreaded programming for real-time embedded systems (C/C++, RTOS)” is a qualification. Linux experience is an asset, as is Visual Studio and Windows. Doesn’t sound like a Linux kernel development job at all.

    Ditto for Modus except that it is obviously application interface experience, not embedded.

    None of the examples require Linux kernel experience as a “must have”.

  26. In Linux drivers, at least part of the driver, is a part of the kernel.

    I disagree with your interpretation of the ads. That was from one on-line ad site. It lists Linux development as a “must have” not just “good to have”. That means kernel hacking is part of the job. These companies make hardware that runs on Linux, not just hooks up to GNU/Linux systems.

  27. Contrarian says:

    I didn’t think you could find anything such as what you suggested, i.e. a developer for making modifications to Linux or LibreOffice.

    The Epson and Randstad positions are for embedded firmware developers, not Linux or LibreOffice modifications, i.e. for Epson:

    “The successful candidate will have the opportunity to develop software applications, drivers, and other components for using with/in our printer and interface products by analyzing customer/market demands and proposing solutions.”

    For Randstad (which is actually an agency, so the end employer is hidden) they would prefer someone who is familiar with Visual Studio as well:

    Experience with Visual Studio (C++ or C#/.NET) programming for desktop Windows applications”

    Similarly, the Modis ad is looking for an applications developer and any familiarity with Linux kernel coding is not a qualification requirement, just and interesting experience asset that presumably shows some familiarity with embedded systems.

    None of these positions are for anyone to actively develop code for Linux or any other FOSS application, #pogson. If that is best you can do, you need to rethink your notion that companies are eager to staff up to do their own development support for Linux or other open source projects.

  28. Epson wants one,
  29. Randstad is recruiting one,
  30. Modis wants someone with “Experience in embedded Linux programming, including kernel level “