foobar on computers, software and the rest of the world

Egging Steve Ballmer? Simply stupid...

, posted: 20-May-2008 09:57

We can see here a demonstrator at a Hungarian university, who expresses his displeasure with Microsoft by throwing eggs at Steve Ballmer, who in turn is there to give a speech to the students.

This is just dumb.

Firstly, Microsoft did not 'steal' the money from the Hungarian tax payers as the demonstrator claimed. It was their own government that made the ill-advised decision to go with closed-source software from a semi-monopolistic vendor. It just shows Microsoft's business acumen that they manage again and again to convince potential customers to sign away their freedoms, to inflict vendor lock-in on their users (or citizens in this case) and to even pay money for the privilege. Microsoft just did what it had to do. It's the decision makers in government that deserve the eggs.

Secondly, this just gives anyone who speaks out against Microsoft's business strategies a bad name, and easily allows Microsoft advocates to discredit such views: "Oh, you just hate Microsoft ... you are just one of those eggs throwers ... clearly an extremist ..." Etc., etc. Same old nonsense.

If you want to do something against Microsoft's stranglehold on universities, entire countries' infrastructures, your personal data and your computer then there are much better ways than throwing eggs at Microsoft executives.

Other related posts:
Half of Australians think it's OK to pirate Microsoft software
Windows 7 Starter: The anti-feature edition
Vista: Microsoft's biggest failure yet?

Comment by RedJungle, on 20-May-2008 10:22

Have to say, I thought he handled it fairly well. And I'm a little surprised they didn't have better security. I expected to see guys in black suits come charging out and pownce on the kid.

Author's note by foobar, on 20-May-2008 11:35

@RedJungle: Yes, he did handle it very well. Nonsense like this has no place in business or any civilised discussion, which certainly explains the entirely stunned look on Mr. Ballmer's face as he first emerged from behind the desk again.

Good recovery, though. The whole incident probably only served to make Mr. Ballmer appear more likeable and human to the audience, which is probably also not what the demonstrator intended.

Comment by Rkey, on 20-May-2008 12:46

Here’s a summary of the circumstances:

A Hungarian Government bid, worth 25 Billion Hungarian Forints, roughly NZD$208M was allegedly skewed towards MS. (A ‘competitive’ bid with wording that all but ensures only Microsoft meets the requirements.) A Hungarian Watchdog Body (sort of like the FTC in the US) challenged the bidding process via the Court system, and a trial date was set for yesterday. The trial was suddenly and unexpectedly rescheduled just as Ballmer arrived in Budapest. So there may be a perception of the Bully lobbying there.

Author's note by foobar, on 20-May-2008 13:06

@Rkey: Indeed, I don't doubt that Microsoft pulled all strings possible (just as it did with OOXML) to ensure that it would win the bidding. But in the end, it is not Microsoft that is corrupt, it is the politians that sold out the best interest of their citizens for ... who knows what.

As I said before: Large corporations, especially as they are becoming publicly traded, have absolutely nobody but their share holders to answer to. Increasing shareholder value is the single and only purpose in the life of these corporations. So, they do what they have to do. In fact, the board of directors could possibly get in trouble if they are NOT single-mindedly pursuing this goal.

So, I repeat myself here: Microsoft does what it does with the (substantial) means at its disposal. Infuriating for everyone else, a true rip-off as far as the Hungarian tax-payers are concerned, but completely understandable and entirely rational for Microsoft and its share holders.

Other large corporations would act the same way given the opportunity. Look at the last share holder meeting at Google, where a proposal to pull out of censored markets (such as China, where one is compelled to cooperate with the authorities) was rejected.

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foobar's profile

New Zealand

  • Who I am: Software developer and consultant.
  • What I do: System level programming, Linux/Unix. C, C++, Java, Python, and a long time ago even Assembler.
  • What I like: I'm a big fan of free and open source software. I'm Windows-free, running Ubuntu on my laptop. To a somewhat lesser degree, I also follow the SaaS industry.
  • Where I have been: Here and there, all over the place.

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