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Microsoft’s Bad Image Should Be a Warning to Apple

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“I’m just wondering why your marketing group can’t do something to try to rein in this next generation, because you’ve got a real bad image out there.”

So said a Microsoft (s msft) shareholder to CEO Steve Ballmer at the company’s shareholder meeting yesterday. TechFlash reporter Todd Bishop notes that the same shareholder added that Apple’s (s aapl) TV commercials make Microsoft look “like a buffoon.”

I’m relieved to hear this. I often look at Microsoft and wonder if its shareholders are as out-of-touch as the company itself seems to be. In just the last few weeks here’s what’s getting the most enthusiastic coverage in the tech press at a time when it ought to be 100 percent about the newly launched Windows 7.

  • A Microsoft manager claiming Windows 7 — Microsoft’s flagship product — is inspired by Mac OS X
  • Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie’s bewildering assertion that “apps don’t matter” — despite everyone else on Earth knowing otherwise
  • Further redundancies that include long-time evangelist Don Dodge, and his subsequent post that, now that he’s free from Microsoft, he can admit, yeah, he has iPhone envy
  • And let’s not forget the bizarre PR misfire that saw the staff of Microsoft’s flagship retail store ignoring their customers for a full five minutes in favor of stomping their way, awkwardly and embarrassingly, through a dance routine

The take-home message? It ain’t just the Apple commercials making Microsoft look like buffoons.

How did CEO Steve Ballmer respond? Fear not, anxious shareholders, Ballmer has this to say to assuage your fears and calm your nerves:

You take any country, including this one, and you say, how are we doing? The truth of the matter is, we do quite well. Even among college students, we do quite well. Do we have an opportunity for improvement? We do. Some of that is marketing some of that is phase of life. It is important to remember that 96 times out of 100 worldwide, people choose a PC with Windows, that’s a good thing. Even in the toughest market, which would be the high end of the consumer market here in the U.S., 83 times out of 100 people choose a Windows PC over a Mac.

Hang on, back-up. “Some of that is phase of life.” Phase of life? Well, Ballmer sure knows his execu-speak. What galls me about this is how it illustrates perfectly that while Microsoft may be doomed to continue making embarrassing mistakes, it probably won’t suffer any actual harm as a result; it survives simply because of its mammoth install base. Nothing more than that. And that simple fact directly influences the attitude and reasoning of its CEO. Ballmer is tacitly admitting that, all things considered, yeah, Microsoft looks like a bunch of idiots but that doesn’t matter because they’ve got more customers than anyone else.

Turn this around, and imagine that Apple does monumentally silly things that make it the target of much derision and ridicule among the tech community and consumers. Imagine you’re a shareholder, and you see a drop in quarterly earnings. You see the company laying off staff (including highly visible and respected staff they should keep). You see its executives sending conflicting messages to the public. And when you take them to task for it, Steve Jobs replies “Yeah, we’ve been a bit crap. But most people own an iPod, right, so, no worries.” Would you be satisfied with that?

Ballmer added:

Frankly, the economy is good for us, because people do understand that Macintoshes are quite a bit more expensive for essentially the same computer … we have opportunities to improve among exactly the constituency that you identify.

Yep. Be happy there’s a recession, people, or else customers would be buying Macs!

This isn’t actually a Microsoft bashing exercise (clearly, it does that to itself and needs no help from me). Instead, I look at this and wonder (fear) that Apple might be headed in much the same direction. Recent unpredictable behavior around the application approval process has seen Apple severely criticised by some of its most staunch supporters. Developers aren’t just frustrated, they’re now quitting the platform altogether. And not because the platform is flawed, but because Apple is horribly (and very visibly) mismanaging it.

Apple needs to take a good long look at the Microsoft of today and ask if it isn’t starting to make the same mistake; stubbornly pushing ahead with flawed policies/strategies that are justified on the strength of product market share alone, despite the obvious (and loud!) protestations of the public, the press, and sooner or later, even its own shareholders.

Sure, Apple isn’t as bad as Microsoft yet. But this is how it starts, people. Google Voicegate. Joe Hewitt. Rogue Amoeba. It’s not exactly dancing in an Apple Store, but it’s still embarrassing and potentially damaging, and it’s definitely a trend that won’t go away unless Apple does something to fix it.

48 Responses to “Microsoft’s Bad Image Should Be a Warning to Apple”

  1. Windows over Mac any day.
    Windows is the best operating system sense its early days and has kept its title ever sense.
    Mac even admits that it may never compete with Microsoft but they will try and keep their selfs strong in the process.
    Microsoft has control of over 90% users operating systems being ran, with mac less then 8% and linux at 1% if not less.
    Without the little ipod/iphone, Apple is nothing, even with that they cannot compete with Microsoft.

  2. I am not aware that Microsoft has a bad image? Does it really? Does 90% market share mean a bad image… Not so much to me.
    Windows is a great operating system as much as Mac OS but people are just afraid to say that out loud.

  3. “Why??? We live in a free country, and not Bill Gate’s land yet!
    Sounds like a new Iphone market niche to fill. A Iphone case that will fit up your ass and vibrate when you are not in the presence of a fascist MS employee! Has a little ashamed meter on it.
    Some advice…Get a life and grow some balls.”

    @cc: Perhaps you’re unfamiliar with the proverb about not biting the hand that feeds you… he was contracting at Microsoft after all.

  4. Interesting post on the direction Apple needs to choose, if they are not to destroy their momentum.
    Gotta love the fanboy commenters though….idiot liberal arts students thinking they understand market direction and needs of enterprises.

  5. Come on folks. You are taking this whole Ford vs. Chevy thing a bit too far. I know it’s mostly harmless, but you need to get outside more often. I’ve been guilty of it myself.

    Here’s a few thoughts from a long time Mac user – and a reformed Mac zealot:

    I work with a number of intelligent, well educated and successful people. Not one of these individuals has EVER touched a Macintosh computer – including mine. The whole Apple culture is completely meaningless to them.

    There is more to life than iLife. Not everyone who dismisses this package is a tasteless loser.

    The Windows 7 taskbar may just prove more useful than the Dock.

    Word 2007 runs rings around its Mac counterpart – and don’t get me started on that over-hyped Pages app.

    Most computer users couldn’t care less about Steve Ballmer or Steve Jobs.

    There are any number of practical, real world advantages to a Windows machine. Disadvantages? Of course, but it’s a two way street.

    Let’s get real here: for the vast majority of potential suitors, a Mac is a much more expensive proposition. A high sticker price – in and of itself – is a weak justification for any particular platform or product.

    I have actually heard Mac users stating that Macs are more expensive than PC’s because they are *better*. In the same breath, they state that the iWork package is better than Office because it is less expensive.

    Before circling the wagons, keep in mind that I have been a Mac user since 1993.

  6. peter maidment

    Here are a few quotes from Ballmer the CEO of Microsoft – he sounds an idiot :-
    Ballmer: Apple won’t dominate the smartphone market – September 25, 2009
    Microsoft CEO Ballmer gets $25,000 raise as company profit plummets 17% – September 19, 2009
    Ballmer grabs Apple iPhone from Microsoft employee and ‘stomps’ it into ground – September 11, 2009
    Steve Ballmer calls Apple’s Mac market share growth a ‘rounding error’ – July 31, 2009
    In a roomful of Macs, Ballmer promises ‘really amazing’ non-Apple PC hardware coming this Christmas – July 30, 2009
    Ballmer attempts to laugh off Google’s Chrome OS challenge – July 14, 2009
    Ballmer: Bad economy is good news for us; who’ll pay $500 for an Apple logo now? – March 20, 2009
    Who’s afraid of Apple? Not Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer – March 06, 2009
    Microsoft CEO Ballmer dismisses Apple’s iPhone as hype, says Windows Mobile has market momentum – February 28, 2009
    Update: Office 14 slips to 2010, Microsoft copies Apple some more, Ballmer still nuts – February 24, 2009
    House Democratic Caucus resort retreat to host Microsoft CEO Ballmer to talk ‘innovation’ – February 04, 2009
    Ballmer ordered to testify in ‘Vista Capable’ class-action lawsuit – November 22, 2008
    Microsoft CEO Ballmer implicated in ‘Vista Capable’ debacle – November 14, 2008
    Microsoft CEO Ballmer dismisses Google Android as financially unsound – November 06, 2008
    Microsoft CEO Ballmer says Windows 7 is Vista, just ‘a lot better’ – October 17, 2008
    Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer doesn’t know that Macs can run Windows – October 06, 2008
    Microsoft CEO Ballmer advises Apple to separate iPhone hardware and software – October 02, 2008
    Microsoft CEO Ballmer: Apple’s iPhone and Mac will lose – September 26, 2008
    Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s retirement date: Never – September 22, 2008
    Microsoft CEO Ballmer on why Apple is thriving – July 24, 2008
    Ballmer idea drought: Microsoft shareholders concerned – July 24, 2008
    Microsoft CEO Ballmer: I’m outta here in 9 or 10 years; as soon as my last kid goes away to college – June 05, 2008
    Microsoft CEO Ballmer grilled at Four Seasons resort; Windows 7 yet another attempt to copycat Apple – June 03, 2008
    Gates, Ballmer preview Windows 7: Multi-Touch and a Dock; Steve Jobs must be so proud – May 28, 2008
    Microsoft CEO Ballmer continues to overstate Zune market share – October 08, 2007
    Ballmer: ‘Vista doesn’t get done by three people in a garage in three days’ – July 27, 2007
    Ballmer: R&D is how Microsoft stays ‘ahead’ – May 24, 2007
    Ballmer: ‘I run every morning’ – May 24, 2007
    Microsoft’s Ballmer: ‘No chance Apple iPhone is going to get any significant market share’ – April 30, 2007
    Ballmer: Apple not a hot brand, our partners will make look-alike iPhones, I gotta go – March 27, 2007
    Microsoft CEO Ballmer talks infected feet, profuse sweating, and Windows Vista – February 21, 2007
    Ballmer says pirates to blame for poor Vista sales – February 19, 2007
    Ballmer calls Apple ‘cute, little tiny niche guy’ – February 15, 2007
    Microsoft CEO Ballmer laughs at Apple iPhone – January 17, 2007
    Ballmer: Zune’s Wi-Fi will help Microsoft challenge Apple’s iPod+iTunes – November 14, 2006
    Ballmer: I’m Microsoft’s ‘primary champion of innovation’ – July 27, 2006
    Microsoft CEO Ballmer spends two days unsuccessfully trying to clean Windows PC malware – June 05, 2006
    Couldn’t you just buy a Mac and run Windows? Microsoft CEO Ballmer: ‘No, we prefer real PCs’ – April 29, 2006
    Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer admits to brainwashing his kids not to use Apple iPods – March 28, 2006
    Microsoft CEO Ballmer promises ‘amazing wave of innovation’ in 2006 – March 23, 2006
    Microsoft’s Ballmer: It’s true, some of Windows Vista’s features are ‘kissing cousins’ to Mac OS X – September 18, 2005
    Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer: ‘We love to be first’ – January 25, 2005
    Microsoft CEO Ballmer: ‘Apple iPod users are music thieves’ – October 04, 2004
    Microsoft CEO Ballmer on the digital home: ‘There is no way that you can get there with Apple’ – October 03, 2004

    • Yes, Ballmer is a legend in his own mind.

      I seriously think there is something very wrong with Bill Gates. I never understood why he stepped down and let Ballmer takeover. Some Illness we don’t know about? Maybe Alzheimer’s, since he keeps forgetting what Ballmer is doing to his company!

      Why would any healthy person step down and hand their baby over to this total freeloading Uncle Fester? Boggles the mind. A six year old has more class and could do better!

  7. The challenge of product representation as a corporate executive, or a retail outlet red shirt, is the product must speak for itself. Steve Ballmer and Steve Jobs are good representations in human form what their products are in tangible form. It’s how they act / react that makes a difference to the buying public who have a discernible taste and money to spend.

    Steve Jobs is clearly a cold and calculatingly exact executive who will hold back from product launches if he knows if the product has flaws. Steve Ballmer shoots from the hip, and doesn’t really understand customers with a taste in higher quality product who want it right.

    Apple retail has a hiring process that weeds out any one who lacks a positive personality and does have customer-friendly skills. The interview process takes a minimum of three visits before the final interview. Even then they may only hire 40% of those they selected for the final interview.

    Microsoft retail has an unfortunate short history of a snafu which in a way shows the buying public what they want to see — a group of sales staff who know how to have fun; in essence a reflection of who Microsoft think their buying public are. It was a bit painful to witness the video, but their hearts are in the right place. Product wise, they don’t have much to sell other than an operating system which sells itself.

    I hope to experience the “Windows sales pitch” at a Microsoft store so I can make my own comparison. If they are around long enough to expand their presence beyond locations in retail range of an Apple store. In the meantime, as a member of the buying public, I will stick with my choice of Apple. I will choose what is best for me. Apple corporate can continue to do its thing… I don’t think they will become anything close to what Microsoft is.

  8. The scariest thing about this whole thing to me is the recent apple doings like no more firewire, no matte screens, the recent App store fiascos all accompanied by a non verbal “take it or leave it”. it could happen to Apple

    • “recent apple doings like no more firewire no matte screens”

      I’ll come over and touch and cough on your matte screen if you like?

      Matte screens totally suck! They are a pain in the butt to clean, and they can stain if oily food or fingers get on them.

  9. I live in Redmond. I sometimes contract for Microsoft. I have an iPhone. I’m not ashamed of it, but I am polite and keep it tucked away when I work with the Windows Mobile crew. Anyway, I was recently ridiculed for my iPhone by some Softies while sitting in a movie theater. Honest to God, I was being bullied by a bunch of Windows Mobile nerds. My response? “Make a product that I want to use.” I can accept the mediocre products: it’s Ballmer’s attitude trickling down the ranks of lesser folk that truly sickens me…

    • “I have an iPhone. I’m not ashamed of it, but I am polite and keep it tucked away when I work with the Windows Mobile crew.”

      Why??? We live in a free country, and not Bill Gate’s land yet!

      Sounds like a new Iphone market niche to fill. A Iphone case that will fit up your ass and vibrate when you are not in the presence of a fascist MS employee! Has a little ashamed meter on it.

      Some advice…Get a life and grow some balls.

  10. @ Bill Garrett, I took Ballmer’s comment a little differently. IMO he was saying, “look at the market in any given country…” Mind you, I’m not defending him at all—I just don’t think he was giving Microsoft status as a nation.

    Personally, I can’t stand the guy, but his open mouth/insert foot modus operandi has taken a turn from annoying to laughable (for me). When you think about it, it’s probably *good* overall for Apple to have him at the helm of MS.

  11. Bill Garrett

    More interesting to me is when Ballmer says, “You take any country, including this one, and you say, how are we doing?” Microsoft is a country now? How about Apple? Do employees, customers and investors of mega-businesses like M-S feel a certain sense of… patriotism? Do they sense the slow demise of the nation-state and the rise of the corporation-state? Countries are floundering in the depressed economy — some have gone bankrupt — but clunky Microsoft, like the ungainly Ark in 2012, is still afloat.

  12. A big problem for Microsoft is that it’s not focused as much as Apple is – it has its hands in way too many pies. Apple is very strategic with its products and services, whereas Microsoft wants to jump into and dominate every single market it can.

  13. “Frankly, the economy is good for us, because people do understand that Macintoshes are quite a bit more expensive for essentially the same computer”


    1) Ballmer does not understand that Apple is gaining share IN SPITE OF the Depression.

    2) The Depression (hopefully!!) will not last forever.

    3) What’s his plan for better times? What, no plan? Another band-aid, NON-UNIX OS– call it Windows 8 maybe?

    • Jonathan K

      1) I can only add that Ballmer further doesn’t understand (or at least downplays) the fact that cost is not the sole determiner of what customers buy – it is only the sole determiner of what cheapskates buy, and very few other profitable enterprises aim for this demographic.
      Market share =/= value, or profitability.

      2) If Ballmer truly thinks that lower price is directly exchangeable for reduced app functionality (iLife etc) then Shuttleworth et al. could also turn this around nicely: “Frankly, the economy is good for us, because people do understand that Wintels (I miss this portmanteau) are quite a bit more expensive for essentially the same computer”
      If “iLife for Macs” = “who cares because my Wintel is cheaper and still does what I want it to”, then “Games for Windows” = “who cares because my Linux is cheaper and still does browsing and email and responding to troll-bait articles and blogs!”

      3) Call it “Windows Ate”?, “Windows Ain’t”! How about “Windows Next” or “Windows FOSS” (For Future Operating System Software) or what if “Windows” becomes as big a liability as “Zune” and call it “System 8” instead? Nobody knows!
      Nobody cares!
      I wonder if that’s better or worse than the sarcastic names people make up for Apple’s future products – OS and otherwise – because they are in contrast quite predictably consistent.

    • “Macintoshes are quite a bit more expensive”

      MS toadies pull this argument out of their @hole every time they fill threatened by Apple. Give it a rest!

      You must own a low-end PC? Your statement is true only if you buy a junky PC base model. Macs come with everything already. For example, if you go on the Dell site and configure a high-end laptop to match one of Apple’s with the same memory, fast wifi card, DVD burner, fast processor, and other features, it will cost you the same or even more. I should know, I had to help someone buy a PC laptop and the Dell cost was way to much! He got a better built Lenovo instead. The same configured Mac would have still been cheaper, but the software company he uses only supports the software installed on PCs.

  14. I agree that both Microsoft and Apple need to tread carefully when managing their PR, but that’s not anything new. Simply put, it is a rule of business.

    However, I really don’t see all the hoopla about things like Joe Hewitt. The guy who made two poor Facebook apps decides he doesn’t want to make poor apps anymore and decides to have a public hissy fit about it? That’s not a big deal. As for Rogue Amoeba and Google Voice, those are both murkier areas than are often represented. WIth the former, Apple was initially inconsistent, but the developer also admitted to receiving a standard complaint (use of trademarked images) and willingly resubmitting the app without changes because they wanted to make a point. They eventually made the change and got the upgrade approved, but they’re still complaining about how Apple is “preventing you from getting the software that developers such as ourselves are trying to provide you,” even though the only reason for delay was because the developer decided to be obstinate and not fix a simple cosmetic issue that had nothing to do with app function. With Google Voice, well, yes, it’s a cool service. But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t replicate core functionality by using the carrier’s voice network (it does). I hope it gets resolved, but it’s hardly a -Gate. It’s a minor inconvenience at best.

    • “Microsoft and Apple need to tread carefully when managing their PR”

      The quality of their products speak for themselves. Apple DOES not need any PR. Free market means the best one will slowly gain market share. That is what is currently happening.

  15. Oh, and. W7 is competitive with OS X on every level. I use both extensively daily and they’re very similar in terms of reliability, performance and usability.

    Microsoft’s challenge is monetizing their innovation. This is exactly where Sun went off the rails with Java: great technology, turned out to be a bad business plan. Everybody went out and ran it on cheaper Linux servers. Microsoft’s consumer and enterprise OS and technology offerings keep getting better. As far as I can tell, many many many enterprises are standardizing on Windows/AD/Outlook/Office. There is some movement to Google Docs, I’m sure, but Office 2010 looks great and SharePoint and hosted SharePoint, along with Office Communicator, are hard to ignore from a collaboration point of view.

    Apple’s ability to design iPod/iPhone that bring in revenue stream from the device and from iTunes, leading to more Mac purchases, is genius. That’s what MSFT needs to do.

    But for now, they’re treading water. If their product quality declined, that would be one thing. But it’s not.

    • Very similar in usability? You are kidding me. I have Win 7 running with Parallels and it’s still a mess. Two, let me repeat that, two different folders for programms!?

      Such a annoying deep folder hierarchy. I tried to install MatLab… ah, forget it.

      What else. Quick Look and Exposé give me a better handling of my activities, than the new Win Taskbar. The window managing with Strg+Right etc is useful but Linux had that before, too. (Size Up is bringing it to the Mac and it’s handy sometimes).

      The Mac Look and Feel is way more consistent. And when I tried to open a PDF with Win 7, you still have to download Adobe Reader.

      The OS should assist you in completing your tasks, not standing in the middle of the way. That’s my opinion on Windows 7. Feel free to think differently :o)

    • How could it be competitive on every level when it still contains all the problems of the previous attempts: registry, dll, terrible multitasking, etc. etc.? Either you know absolutely nothing about computers or Microsoft is paying you to say these ridiculous things.

    • Kendall Tawes

      I’m not quite sure how Windows is going to maintain its competitive level with OS X. For one though Windows 7 is a stable OS that doesn’t mean it’s on par with Mac OS X. For one thing despite the improvements to Window management in Windows 7 including the new task bar and the Areo effect based ones, there are still some big problems; the control panel management has actually become more fractured since XP and is getting more complex, application/programme management which again has become more fractured and more confusing since the XP days which was already overly complex to begin with, the handling of multiple cores and processors is still poorer than any version of OS X, 64-bit support is still a bit of a mess and can be confusing to users, a reliance on a 16-bit BIOS despite Intel coming up with EFI in 1995, and dlls still exists and is only getting worse with every release and every new addition.

      Now you compare that mounting trouble to the solid foundation Apple has set fourth especially with the underpinnings of Snow Leopard and you can see that there will be a time when these problems that Microsoft chose not to deal with now will come back to haunt them. With more processing cores and more reliance on 64-bit software Microsoft’s Windows operating system is likely to need a complete overhaul. Windows 7 is a good operating system now but the over confidence from finally releasing a stable OS is only going to make them further stagnate on the more critical issues stated above and will lead to later OS still using Windows 7 as a foundation but unable to cope with the changes and developments in the hardware. OS X and in particular Snow Leopard may not seem as massively different as I have stated but under the bonnet they’re a world apart.

  16. @Dan: “quasi-depression that won’t be over for months to come”?

    Try years, maybe decades. If Obamacare, Cap and Tax and the Copenhagen treaty passes we are toast :-(

    And yeah, Investor can’t see the forest for the trees. MSFT has NOTHING going for it. Apple will leap frog them in the next two years in terms of market cap. MSFT has banked their whole game plan on Win7 but they are living in 1995. OSes just don’t make the money they once did. How can they when a PC costs $399? How do you get blood from a turnip?

  17. The key thing when saying people choose Windows over OS X is that most of the times people don’t even know they have a choice. Once people try OS X and the whole Mac experience they will never look back.

    Microsoft is dreaming if they think they can sustain market share with crap products and crappy marketing.

    If one thing came out of the Mac increased market share is that people want more out of their money, meaning people are becoming increasingly aware that quality and looks matter, but only when they’re combined as it’s the case with Mac products.

    I couldn’t agree more with @Howie Isaacks, Windows does lower the value of PCs.

  18. Howie Isaacks

    Great points! You’re right. Apple does need to stop and seriously take a look at their app approval process. They need to remember that the developer community surrounding the Mac and iPod/iPhone platforms are loyal, promoters of Apple. It doesn’t bode well for Apple to piss on their developers, and ignore their complaints.

    On another note… Ballmer is a moron. It’s fun to listen to his idiotic, arrogant statements about his company. He knows that Apple is beating Microsoft in the hearts and minds of the computer buying public, and I’m sure it eats him up inside every time he sees someone with a shiny new MacBook Pro. We buy Macs for their awesome design, and for the operating system installed on them. They’re not run of the mill PCs. In my opinion, Windows LOWERS the value of PC.

    • “It doesn’t bode well for Apple to piss on their developers”

      And how much do MS and Google developers make hawking their apps on the MS Store or Google site???

      Enough said!

  19. The geek press finds this a big story. Still, the iphone public at large doesn’t care about the problems of a few developers. That is an issue between Apple, the developers and a 100,000 apps.

    What the iphone public at large does care about is finding the apps that they want in a sea of some 100,000 other apps. Apple needs to solve that issue as much as the issues with developers.

    I don’t really care how MS makes its income, but if I was an investor, I would off Ballmer. He isn’t up to the job.

    • “public at large does care about is finding the apps that they want in a sea of some 100,000 other apps”

      It’s called the IStore search menu. Try it some time.

      Oh, and I’m sure you have no problem finding your app(s) for your Zune. How many are there???

  20. Yes, anybody investing in Microsoft is woefully out of touch and doesn’t realize that that Titanic is sinking. And why would you put your money into a company that strives for mediocrity at best, and criminal activity at par?

  21. “In just the last few weeks here’s what’s getting the most enthusiastic coverage in the tech press at a time when it ought to be 100 percent about the newly launched Windows 7.”

    By what measure? Windows 7 news has been enormous. Definitely more stories on that than every one of the other items you listed. These uninformed and immature MS bashing pieces really detract from and otherwise worthwhile blog.

  22. can you please stop bashing MS. Shareholders. It is one thing to ridicule a corporation and its agents but it is another thing to ridicule average Americans in your rant about MS. 2 months ago I was trying to decide whether to invest in Apple or MS. I chose MS. And so far I have seen a larger return on my investment than if I would have gone with Apple. Yet in making this decision you call me personally out of touch?

    • @investor: You clearly out of touch with reality if you think that measuring a return on your investment over a 2 month period is meaningful in any way, shape or form. If we go by what the market has done in the past 2, 3, or even 6 months we would conclude this we are in the midst of the most amazing economic boom of all times… but we all know we are in the middle of a quasi-depression that won’t be over for months to come!

    • dan, everyday is important and meaningful when its your money on the line. Obviously everything must be taken in context. Short term gains and loses have their meanings. But I guess you are right, when the stock market plunged earlier this year it had no meaning in any way shape or form as to how our economy was doing at the time. Dang I should really take more investment advice from you! =P