Microsoft On Firing Line Over Gay Rights Bill


This Sunday's New York Times covered Microsoft's quandary over a proposed antidiscrimination bill in its home state.

The software powerhouse is not supporting the legislation this time out either a: because of pressure from an evangelical church threatening a boycott or b: because Microsoft management decided it was not its place to take a position on this issue although CEO Steve Ballmer and Chairman Bill Gates support the bill personally.

Microsoft super-blogger Robert Scoble posted Ballmer's internal missive--with PR approval of course. Here's Scoble's own reaction to Microsoft's stance.

There has been a huge amount of sometimes-vitriolic back and forth on this issue on the various blogs.

It'll be interesting to see if there will be any fallout from the gay rights controversy at WinHEC in Seattle this week.

Meanwhile, the near-term buzz at WinHEC will be about the "64-bitness" of the new Windows X64 but the company will also try to re-fan the flames around Longhorn.

At this point, with one of the original pillars-- the WinFS file subsystem, slipping beyond Longhorn itself and two others (Avalon and Indigo) being pulled forward to run with current Windows versions, one might wonder why anyone should bother with Longhorn anymore. Company insiders seem aware that the splashy Longhorn demos at PDC 2003 inflated expectations.

Last week, Greg Sullivan, lead product manager for the Windows client, said the company had to lay out developer perks at PDC given the audience. At that time "we consciously talked about Longhorn in terms of developer value—so it became equated with Avalon, Indigo, WinFS and some other fundamentals—security, privacy, reliability. We didn't talk about the consumer or information worker propositions. Information workers and consumers don't care about Indigo, WinFS or Avalon. They care about what they can do with it and is it rock solid, reliable, high performance. IT pros want it to be easy to deploy".

He acknowledged that expectations have since deflated. "We hyped it [Longhorn] up so high, it'll cure cancer, make us all taller..Now it's just [perceived as] XP SP 3 and I'm ok right now with people thinking it'll underwhelm them," he noted.

Note: Microsoft was not the only company besieged on political issues this week: Apple Computer's shareholders last week were greeted by human iPods protesting what they called Apple's lackluster support of recycling.