Two disconnected sentences

January 29 2008

Last week, early Monday morning, Microsoft issued their annual Lotusphere spoiler press release.  This was quickly overshadowed by a great Lotusphere conference, and the few comments I received about the MS "news" were highly critical.  People told me it made Microsoft look "desperate", "pathetic", and that it would have been more news-worthy if they had somehow forgotten to launch their annual spoiler attempt.  Others noted that the release was of the same tone and tenor as the last four years, wondering why MS lacked in the creativity department.

Unfortunately, some of the press took the bait and wrote about the MS release.  And MS's salespeople have obviously been sending it along to key contacts at Lotus customers.  I posted some initial comments, and have been directing those that ask me about this release to my earlier post.  But since the initial posting, one additional point has come to light.

My colleague David Via pointed out the most subtle, yet blatant wordsmithing of the whole release.  Microsoft wrote:

Much of the new growth is coming from customers switching from Notes and Domino. In the last six months of 2007, in the enterprise customer segment alone, more than 300 firms representing 2.8 million people began the move to Exchange Server, Office SharePoint Server and the Office suite.
Last week I pointed out the weasel words "began the move".  But this excerpt is even more misleading than that.  The problem with this quote is that the two sentences are not connected.  The release is cleverly written in a way to lead the reader to think that the "300 firms" are "customers switching from Notes and Domino".  But there is actually no tie between the first sentence and the second.

This explains a lot.  I know that we had a great year in Notes and Domino, the best year of the 3½ I've been in this job.  When we saw the MS press release, one of my colleagues looked up the customers mentioned in Passport Advantage.  Two of them don't even exist in our systems.  Now we know why.  This release is discussing companies that "began the move".  Who knows if they will ever finish (in most cases, they never do).

As the market has seen a few times in recent years, there appear to be two camps inside Microsoft.  Those that want to compete fairly and ethically, and those who resort to "hardball" tactics, deceptive FUD, and misrepresentation.  Unfortunately, a release like this, along with other recent news, shows that the latter camp is still the way to get visibility and promotion at Microsoft.

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