Walking and Chewing Gum

I am very thankful for the thoughtful discussion of the previous thread. 

Firstly it shows the influence of Mr. Murphy on our community as he has single-handedly woken up my Blog – thank you my friend.

Secondly I find that even though that thread could go on and on I suppose I have to keep “priming the pump” and launching new threads to keep you all coming back.

Third I would like to evolve the discussion as we move forward.

So here is a new thread that continues on what has been discussed so far:

Let’s assume that we are mostly on-side with the fact that the desktop development space is under threat from various angles (IT, Economic problems, too much grey hair (or not enough hair)), and Microsoft’s failure to appreciate the significance of this space as it continues to try to out-Google Google and out Oracle Oracle.

So while you can please continue to contribute to the Earth Moving thread, I will talk here about what can be done to turn the tide back for spreadsheet and departmental database development.  Unless we choose to abandon the space altogether, we all have an obigation to see what we can do to solve this problem.

For years now I have been travelling out to MicroMecca at my own expense, sometimes more than once a year, in an effort to influence the trajectory of our chosen technology.  I have sat on various Councils and SDRs and Insiders groups and in addition to being informative and reinforcing they have also been a lot of fun. I have made some very good friends in the groups and also within Microsoft.  

Up to now though, I have had the policy that my thoughts were mine and Microsoft’s alone mostly because I know that publicly criticizing Microsoft is the kiss of death.  But I can see that people like you and me are going to have less and less influence inside Microsoft as we go forward.  If I am to have influence it probably has to come from the outside as well – and I accept the inherent risk there is to that. 

I also have decided that it is not good enough for Microsoft to be the only company that knows who I am and how good I might think I am 😉 – I have to get visible – we ALL have to get visible. 

I have also decided that even though I don’t work for the company, I am not out of line to have opinions on the operation of Microsoft as it relates to MY business.  This is especially true since there are NOT a lot of alternatives that at this time would potentially be  business opportunities for my company in satisfying the Departmental clients (thanks in large part to the efforts of Microsoft over the past twenty years).  There’s simply no money in Open Office development and support (yet?).  So I think I am allowed to have an opinion :-).  Otherwise my option would be to go to someone else’s technology – which I do NOT want to do.

The incredible success of Excel and Access’s underground ubiquitousness – (there’s a word for ya !!) was simply because business users saw the value of them.  But for the last 20 years there has been a concerted effort on the part of  “professional” technologists to kill them – simply put.

Ironically, and probably not on purpose, it  has been apparent for a while that the focus within Microsoft is to talk to those that make the buying decisions at the highest level of large corporations rather than those who do the actual work or those Line of Business staff who would actually get value out of the technology.  These are the same people who wish Excel and Access would F-Off and die.  So promoting the Desktop development tools would be a direct threat to Microsoft’s ability to impress the buyers of their high-end technology.  Guess who loses?

But I remember the saying about President Gerald Ford (a great guy for a Republican – oops this isn’t a political blog – me bad) that he couldn’t walk and chew gum at the same time.  In other words he wasn’t much of  multi-tasker (which I’m sure wasn’t true).  The same thing has always been true of Microsoft.  They get on one major theme and it ripples through the whole organization for a period of time (NT, Internet, SQL Server, etc.).  Guess which technology is their current one 🙂 ???? 

Now that the company is NOT run by a technologist and now that the chief technologist is OBSESSED with Communications and Collaboration over all other uses of technology (the echoes of the demise of the Lotus Development Corporation are frighteningly loud in my mind), those have become the core message (obsession) of the company .

I love Sharepoint and Communicator and all the stuff they are coming out with in that space and I am working hard to encourage integration of Excel and Access into the SharePoint world.  I also suppose that only promoting the SharePoint technologies make sense if your main concern is the short-term profitability of Microsoft.   My argument though is that maintaining interest in the Desktop and promoting Departmental development with Excel and Access is in the short AND long-term interests of Microsoft.  Of course Microsoft prides itself on being a “Leader” by developing and promoting new and exciting products for their customers, but I don’t believe that means abandoning the good products that ironically are a large part of the argument for Windows running on Smart-Clients. 

An argument can be made that without Office who needs Windows and without Windows who needs Microsoft (??).  I guess unless you believe that SharePoint will be the new Windows – hmmmm…

At the same time who is going to satisfy the needs of all the millions of smaller ways technology can help businesses be more productive ??

So while we who are the true believers must speak out and explain the value of our technologies whenever and wherever we can, I believe that things are really not going to change until Microsoft makes an effort to keep people in their Excel spreadsheets and their Access databases.  Good old “Lock-in” ?? 

Microsoft has to learn how to “walk and chew gum at the same time”….


About Biggus Dickus

Dick is a consultant in London, ON Canada who specializes in Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Office Development.
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3 Responses to Walking and Chewing Gum

  1. Dick Moffat says:

    Everyone too afraid of MS to take this topic on 😉 ?


  2. Simon says:

    Sharepoint won’t be much use when we’re all computing in the cloud will it?
    What then? Groove?
    MS are stuck in the middle like us thick client devs. Shame they won’t help us to help them.
    I am thinking of getting a Macbook though having read your post on them.

  3. Dick Moffat says:

    Yep – a shame is right.

    The MacBook is still great !!


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