A few weeks ago, Microsoft employees started making various claims about a specific look at market share on the blogs and elsewhere.  Volker Weber decided to challenge the claim, putting up a wiki as a in-public-view way of determining the accuracy of those MS claims.  Very quickly, it became apparent that the MS statistics were inaccurate, that a larger percentage of the companies cited use Lotus Notes/Domino for e-mail today.  The wiki effort was a good community-led way of validating something that we as vendors can't necessarily confirm or deny -- at least at IBM, our customers need to grant permission for us to talk about their use of our products with other customers.  

I worried from the start that vendor bias could show up in the wiki, from either side really.  I made a few comments in the wiki and edits of my own, either citing public data (such as case studies, news articles, job postings) or simply to correct an entry for a customer which I knew was a Notes shop.  I even marked a few as Exchange shops.  Others from IBM and Microsoft made edits.  The data as it sits right now seems reasonably accurate to me, though blank entries, questions, or conflicting data do continue to exist.  I don't think you get perfection, even with a community-edited data set, because different people hear different things.  For example, the entry for Deutsche Bank says that they are migrating to Exchange in London, but another comment, from a person who just started working at Deutsche Bank, says he doesn't believe that to be the case.  The reader may have conflicting information, but with some effort can ascertain a source and determine who do they want to believe -- a vendor, a company employee, a consultant who has done work there, a rumor-monger, etc.

I never expected this, though -- one of the vendors took it upon themselves to police the wiki, behind the scenes.  A reader just sent me a copy of an e-mail from a Microsoft program manager, ordering this person to "cease and desist on providing false information" on the wiki.  As I said above, the reality of some of these situations is that different people have different information.  I am not surprised that Microsoft would have a positive view of a customer situation that a consultant working with the customer perhaps views differently.  However, having a line employee (not a lawyer) send that consultant a private "cease and desist", rather than providing the data in public, is just raw intimidation.  And it highlights, once again, the difference between the "we don't do that" (wink wink) culture at Microsoft and one where ethics and business conduct are a priority.

Then again, this is the same company where they loudly claimed at their partner conference this week to have migrated yet another 4.7 million Notes customers in fiscal year 2008, while at the same time announcing their Notes Transition Partner Program / "Notes Compete" for a fourth fiscal year.  Explain this to me, Microsoft -- if you really migrated that many Notes users, how did my active Notes users on maintenance increase 10% from 1/1/07 to 1/1/08, while also seeing huge increases in sales of products like Domino Utility Server (where seats are not counted)?  If your program to kill Notes has been so successful, why have you had to run it for four years now?  All the while Lotus keeps posting year-to-year earnings growth -- 14 quarters reported so far.  Where are your big new wins?  How have your recent ones fared?  Maybe it's finally time to give up the spin and put this bull out to pasture?

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