foobar on computers, software and the rest of the world

Update to the Microsoft DreamSpark interview

, posted: 26-Feb-2008 16:46

Over here is an interview between Geekzoner Chakkaradeep and Paul Lo from the Developer & Platform Strategy Group, Microsoft New Zealand, about the DreamSpark initiative. This initiative, in case you don't know, provides Microsoft developer tools for free to students.

One of the questions was "What do you think is the reason for Microsoft to announce DreamSpark?" Mr. Lo answered:
Making sure there is a strong pipeline of technically skilled students is key to the future of our economy. The ability to create new software and services will be an essential part of the skill set of the next generation of workers. Technology is one of the chief drivers pushing economic development and job creation. As well as giving students important exposure to the tools they can expect to use in the workplace, DreamSpark is about putting professional-level tools in the hands of students to amplify the impact of their studies and fire up their imaginations about the power of technology.
I think there was a bug in the transcript, though, because the correct answer of course is:
Making sure that students get used to Microsoft tools and the Microsoft way of thinking as early as possible, and preventing them from exploring the multitude of alternatives from the open source world. Those open source tools annoyingly have always been free, and knowledge about them would prevent total mind-share lock-in for Microsoft. If the students are allowed to explore and appreciate alternatives to Microsoft tools then there is no telling what they would possibly recommend or prefer once they leave the schools and enter the workforce. We have done a great job of shoving Microsoft products into the universities and convincing the students here in New Zealand that the only valuable tools worth learning are from Microsoft. We cannot allow anything that could erode our mind- or market-share. That's why we rather give our stuff away for free now, since of course once they are in the work force we will charge them and their employers the usual arm-and-leg. In addition, we get them to produce more software that only runs on Microsoft platforms, so that's doubly good for us.
There, fixed that for you... Wink

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Comment by freitasm, on 26-Feb-2008 17:40

Nope, nothing wrong. That was a quote, what you are doing is distortion... Very distinct things!

Author's note by foobar, on 26-Feb-2008 17:55

@freitasm: Hm. Maybe that's what Mr. Lo said, but I still think that what I wrote was actually the correct answer.

Comment by Richard Chapman, on 27-Feb-2008 07:09

You nailed it foobar. It's been said that the truth hurts. Judging by the reaction you inspired I'd say you hit a bullseye.

Comment by barf, on 27-Feb-2008 08:22

Our father, who art in Redmond
Microsoft be thy name
Thy monopoly come, thy will be done
throughout the earth as it is in the US.
Give us this day, our daily license activation key
And forgive us our bug reports
as we forgive our system crashes
And lead us not into competition
But deliver us from innovation
For thine is the Control, and the Power and the Greed
Forever. Amen.

Comment by Unknown Anonymous, on 28-Feb-2008 17:37

It's not distortion. It's translation. And spot on correct at that.

[ ... ]

Thanks, foobar, for setting the record straight.

Comment by Nigel Parker, on 29-Feb-2008 18:29

foobar... you continue to crack me up with your commentary.

Richard Chapman... Mauricio doesn't work for Microsoft but since you insist on voicing your opinion I thought I'd share mine.

I completed a 4 year degree at the University of Auckland, where I learnt Pascal, Java, C++, Haskell, Oracle, Delphi etc. I started a business ( in 1997 with some friends to get real world experience. The business cost us $400 to start and we started it on Linux, PHP and MySQL.

Did I learn any of those skills at university? No I taught myself. Why did I choose that stuff? 1) It was free 2) There was a strong community building stuff on those platforms.

Time moved on and my love for Web Programming drove me to learn ASP and SQL Server (yeah there were no free versions back then like there are today). In early 2000 I got 1 million dollars + in seed capital with some colleagues to create a "start-up" based on a SaaS model using early Microsoft web technology (I chose it because it was the best at the time not because it cost money).

The solution was a heavy standards compliant, dhtml/ ajax based web solution and I was inspired by the "ground breaking" and "revolutionary" enhancements of IE5 (yeah the 5 year innovation IE hiatus really sucked but at least it opened the door for competition in the form of FF).

Actually in the 5 year period from 2000-2005 I taught myself Flash, ASP, T-SQL and C#.

Today I work for Microsoft as a Web Dev Advisor, yeah you could say I've drunk the Kool-Aid but where these platforms are going really excites me. Check out in 5 days time to see what I mean!

If I was back where I was in 1997 starting fresh in 2008 I would have a choice between MySQL/PHP and SQL Server/ ASP.NET both offering completely free versions to everyone with similar functionality. That's right EVERYONE not just students. I would probably choose .NET+Silverlight. Why? Because there is a huge opportunity to make money if you have skills on the cutting edge... your work can be recognised globally... you can provide feedback to make the products better... the communities ROCK!

Agile web businesses in NZ build on Microsoft tech as do start-ups yeah there is countless Rails and PHP examples as well but IMO everyone should have a choice to choose the best tool for the job.

In fact it was Microsoft's move to a free version of SQL Server that forced Oracles hand to also provide a free version.

Remember back when I was at University we learnt Oracle and Delphi neither of which were free environments.

BRING IT ON I say students should be free to learn what-ever they want in their own time!

Author's note by foobar, on 1-Mar-2008 05:45

@Nigel: Firstly, do YOU think that any of this was done my Microsoft out of the goodness of their hearts? Of course not! If you think that (which I don't believe), you really have drunk too much of that Kool-Aid.

So, why don't we all just stop kidding ourselves: The reason Microsoft gives officially for this move is complete BS. The 'translation' I provided is much closer to the truth. There have been plenty of industry observers who have commented on that already. This is not a secret, it's totally obvious to anyone. I think we should all be able to agree with that, no?

You go on here about how agile web businesses in New Zealand are build on Microsoft stuff. Yes, exactly! That's what I also commented on, no? Didn't I say that Microsoft has done a great job in making students here believe that the only worth while technologies are from Microsoft? And they have to make sure it stays that way. That's exactly what this initiative is about.

Oh, and maybe New Zealand is a bit backwards in the respect, but internationally open source developers actually earn more! Take a look here. That is a VERY worrysome trend for Microsoft, and they need to fight that.

But you work at Microsoft, so you should know that already.

Comment by nigel parker, on 1-Mar-2008 16:39

so we are in agreement then. great. btw these days more and more open source projects are being done on ms tech where people are favouring the service/ maintance revenue model to the productisation one. i always believe what people earn is dependant on the same market forces that apply to everything else. people earn more at the start and the end of the curve. my concern is that there isn't enough devs in nz regardless of platform. university enrollments are falling for ict we have broadband issues and all in all industry should and is working with education to address these issues before the entire (tiny) nz ict sector turns completely to crap. i get that you hate microsoft or bill gates or steve balmer or whoever you believe the puppet master is in our over arching evil plan but i do wonder if you have ever looked at our dev platform? if you have what do you think of it?

Comment by chakkaradeep, on 1-Mar-2008 18:17

I never wanted to comment here but now its high time that I did because I AM A STUDENT

"Firstly, do YOU think that any of this was done my Microsoft out of the goodness of their hearts? Of course not! If you think that (which I don't believe), you really have drunk too much of that Kool-Aid."

I think you as a Linux User and not a Microsoft Developer or working with Microsoft Products or not associated with Microsoft or know many who work in Microsoft atleast in NZ or RedMond or elsewhere can issue such a blunt statement! I know many people in Microsoft and how they are, so I need not discuss that with you here, because its a total waste of time.

Its really sad to see that people dont have an {open}mind and just see always (ALWAYS) the worst. These are the people who bring shame to the Linux Community and Open Source Community. Yes, they both are totally differernt for me and I embrace Open Source Community nowadys but not Linux Community.

Oh..yea, it would be better to put down some of the student's reactions (yea, some would be enough) for this post,

hmm… i don’t understand why these linux users make such statements…”if they give something for free it is a good sign and is for the benefit of people and technology and if microsoft gives something for free it is business…..” i suggest them to stop making these crazy comments. they are advised to change their strategies else some day they will have to face the music…look at things positively and come out of the notion that ..only they are correct and others are fools…you can understand the magic that dream spark is going to do …better stop speaking ill about the products and strategies of others to show that you are better. this will not help you long and if you really wish to sustain have the true spirit… remember microsoft rocks….!

…about the person who “rewrote” the interview, isn’t he/she aware that microsoft is actually opening its door for FOSS developers so that the programs they make are compatible to each other? he/she must be ignorant enough for him/her to blurt out things like that without doing his/her research.

…they are degrading the very principles of Linux and then the their motto is gone….well people may be passionate about things but should be able to accept any good proposals. they should keep their nerve while making such comments because there are many people across the globe watching them…they should learn to respect the sentiments and efforts of them….!

Yea, we Students as Nigel has pointed out, learn everything and me doing my second Masters here in NZ, know very well that its just not Microsoft Products that we work on. Have you tried to see how good Visual Studio 2008 is and tried using with other third party addins and frameworks like TestDriven.NET, NUnit, ReSharper, RhinoMocks etc., and also how people are using LINQ technologies to create their own providers?? Your primary job is to put down Microsoft or anyone in that case and praise and hail only Linux..

Do you read Scott Gu's blog on the latest happenings in .NET framework and one finest example how Microsoft embraces Developers is to see ASP.NET MVC Framework...Ah..why am I saying all these to someone who is not ready to explore...hmm..shame that Students are exploring and are having open mind and not like you people...

Enough said....

Author's note by foobar, on 1-Mar-2008 23:08

@nigel: I don't have much experience with the Microsoft development tools, but I have heard that they are actually quite good. I don't have an issue with that. It just amazes me how you apparently completely miss the point of my post? How come? You keep commenting about totally different things. Why?

Anyway, let me just state here: I don't hate Microsoft, or Bill Gates, or Steve Ballmer. For all I know, they could be the nicest guys in the world. And Microsoft is a hugely successful company, with a whole lot of really smart people working for them, and who are very successful at what all publicly traded companies have to do: Maximise shareholder value. That is their main mission in life. There's nothing wrong with that, and they all need to do that. Some do it more successfully than others. I don't doubt that there are some people in Microsoft who genuinely care about students, but to suggest that moves like DreamSpark are not driven by the overriding business concerns (maximising shareholder value) is naive. I know you know that. Please don't insult anyone's intelligence by suggesting otherwise.

But I do tell you one thing: If you accuse someone who professionally works in technology to "hate" a technology, company or people in some other business, people he has never met personally, you are basically accusing this person of gross incompetence and and professional misconduct. That is a completely un-called for ad hominem attack. I would expect better from a self proclaimed highly experienced professional as you are. Very disappointing, Nigel. I sure hope you are not speaking in any official function for Microsoft NZ, no? That would reflect terribly badly on your employer.

Author's note by foobar, on 3-Mar-2008 09:55

@chakkaradeep: Hello Chaks, how nice of you to come by again. We have missed your amusing (and sometimes scary) comments.

You are still a student, so you can be forgiven for still being a tad naive about a few things in life. I know that you really, really like Microsoft. You don't mind saying so, and show it very clearly in the design of your Geekzone blog and all. So, just like you seem to think that talking to me about these things is a waste of time, I'm afraid the reverse holds true as well.

Still, though, your membership in the Microsoft fan-club should not distort your view on reality. Sadly, it does as your postings demonstrate, over and over again.

I'm glad that you as a student 'learn everything' (haha!), but your ability to completely miss the point of my postings apparently knows no bounds. Astonishing! I talk about one thing, and you come back with something completely different and unrelated. I guess you haven't learned how to discuss properly then yet, right? Can you stick to the point, please? When I talk about business strategies, you come back commenting on how great all those Microsoft tools are. What's that got to do with anything? Have I ever said that they are not great? But you don't seem to realise that. I talk about freedom, you don't know how to respond to that and start talking about something else. Please, don't embarrass yourself.

I talk about the fact that a large corporation gives some of their products away for free. And while most people can very clearly see this for what it is, you strangely seem to lack that ability. Here's something for you to learn: Large, publicly traded corporations have but one single responsibility in life: Increase shareholder value. It doesn't matter who they are and what they are called. Microsoft, Google, Apple, IBM, Ford, McDonalds, it doesn't matter. They will never give up a revenue stream for nothing tangible (shareholder value) in return. That's not because they are evil or anything like that. I never would say that they are evil, or that you have to hate them for that. It's just business. Nothing wrong with that at all. No, they simply do that because that's what they have to do.

So, whenever any large corporation announces some nice-sounding sponsorship deal, or special promotion, in which some spokes person will then extol the virtues of this program, this company and how it is all done for the greater good of humanity... well, whenever that happens your BS-meter should jump up and warn you. There has to be another motive behind it (see previous paragraph), and their PR department is trying to come up with a story that makes it sound really nice, and warm and fuzzy. You seriously think that this is not the case? Hook, line and sinker...

I'm afraid that your student buddies from the Microsoft fan-club suffer the same problem. They make all the same mistakes in argumentation as you, they miss the point I'm trying to make, and they also seem to have fully bought into the corporate spin from Microsoft. I don't really care all that much about you personally, but it does concern me deeply if this sad sate of mind would prevail in the New Zealand student community.

Comment by chakkaradeep, on 3-Mar-2008 11:17

Yea..nice try there to again tell that I am not up to the point...its not worth explaining things to you...

Comment by hpj2007, on 3-Mar-2008 21:05

Yes Nigel granted Microsoft has free developer tools for everyone but they come with limitations. SQL Express can't be run for anything bigger than small to medium size database. Plus to host the website you build you have to get microsoft windows server license. So still not 100% free to compete with the free tools.

Anyway so they are only suited to hobbists and small businesses really. Others have to pay big bucks for licenses.

Author's note by foobar, on 3-Mar-2008 23:40

@chakkaradeep: See, that's your problem. You seem to think that you have to explain these things to me, while in your attempt to do so you are just exposing the obvious need to have things explained to you. Sadly, the closed mind you accuse me of having seems to be at least as much at home with you than with me...

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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