Wed, 30 Nov 2005

Microsoft is not evil

Microsoft is not evil. I know that a lot of people will disagree with me, but they are wrong. Microsoft is an organization of people (just as is the US government, the Red Cross, my handbell choir, my family, and my town). An organization is not a moral entity, because the organization has no attributes beyond those held by the people who make it up. An organization takes no action beyond that which its members undertake.

Microsoft is made up of a group of individuals, each of whom is responsible for the decisions they make. "I was acting under orders" didn't work for the Germans at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials, and it won't work for anybody who works at Microsoft. Anything that Microsoft does that you may wish to label as "evil" is being done by a person. That person may deserve the label "evil".

Similarly, many people who work at Microsoft are not responsible for the decisions made by corporate management. No doubt some people at Microsoft disagree vehemently. Everyone has their own opinion of how things should be done. We're all individuals -- even those who deny it.

It's strategically important to remember that Microsoft is made up of disagreeing individuals. We in the open source community need to reach out to those individuals who are sympathetic to our goals and principles. If we treat Microsoft as a uniform entity, we give up the only method likely to convert Microsoft to our way of thinking. If we are always hostile to Microsoft even when they do the right thing.

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