Microsoft, the witching season, FUD, and courage

Longhorn enters the witching season: "Microsoft products never run as quickly, are more robust, or stay more secure than during this magical period. Every promised feature is present and works perfectly." via [The Scobleizer Weblog]

That quote is supposed to be sarcastic, but it seriously damages the credibility of the article: one well-known aspect of Microsoft betas compared with other industry betas is that they're famously slow compared to the final product. Generally, magazines put in a disclaimer about "We can't speak of performance until we see the final product..." in preview discussions and, generally, it's not really an issue. With Microsoft products, it often is. For instance, anyone who experienced the OneNote public beta knows how that product firmed up amazingly in any number of ways, including robustness and performance.

The solid point of the article, and one that bears repeating, is that Longhorn and other things demonstrated at the PDC (such as Wallop) can instill "Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt" if taken the wrong way. Look, I'm writing a blogging tool for the Tablet PC: Microsoft will eventually provide similar capabilities. In 3 years. One feature of my blogging tool will be meta-data image markup, which is exactly what WinFS is about. In 3 years. On Sunday, in half-an-hour, I wrote a tool that allows you to add Outlook notes and tasks in ink: Microsoft will eventually fully ink-enable Office. In Office 2006 (or somesuch).

Microsoft is huge, and they're aligned, and they're ambitious. And now small, agile, and ambitious teams know where and approximately when Microsoft's huge feet are going to land. If you want to work with Microsoft, that's great. If you want to compete with Microsoft, it's even better.