Microsoft Rocks, Dude!

When perusing Microsoft’s Coding4Fun community site I came across a blog entry from the VS Express Lead Project Manager describing the Made in [SQL Server] Express contest: “like American Idol, *you* get to choose who wins the Community Award! See below for more information on these fun, cool, and useful applications!”. Pop culture references? Contests? Get your XXTreme flair today, dude! Microsoft is clearly making an all-fronts Web2.0-enabled marketing push. Even the Word Team just started a blog!

How do you compete with “free”?

The open source movement has proven that a critical mass of enthusiasts can not only constitute an agile workforce, but can also create a feedback loop that attracts more talent and mindshare. Corporation and community are strange bedfellows, but it behooves Microsoft to foster such enthusiasm. Were it not for the numerous open source development tools, we wouldn’t see the free Visual Studio Express. And without the availability of open source databases, we would have neither the free SQL Server 2005 Express nor the $50 SQL Server 2005 Developer Edition.

3000 names you can trust

Church of the Customer blog suggests that Microsoft is capitalizing on the trend that consumers are shifting their trust from experts and towards people they can relate to, as measured by the Edelman Trust Barometer. The president and COE of PR firm Edelman says:

“Companies need to move away from sole reliance on top-down messages delivered to elites toward fostering peer-to-peer dialogue among consumers and employees, activating a company’s most credible advocates.”

Microsoft’s army of bloggers is a testament to this marketing approach. With so many of them I have to wonder whether blogging is simply strongly encouraged or is actually compulsory.

Win-Win

Hard to say how successful these new marketing efforts will be, but if the submissions to the Made in Express contest are any indication, Microsoft’s early efforts are attracting talent that might have otherwise sought open-source solutions. And this, despite the awkward corporatized graffiti-laden “flair”. The consumer benefits from grassroots development, regardless of whether it begins organically.

Update: The Made in Express winners were announced, with the grand prize going to Ernie Hall’s All-terrain self-maneuverable robot. Some cry foul, but the bigger picture remains that such projects might have chosen another robust, free platform were it not for that offered by Microsoft.

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One Response to “Microsoft Rocks, Dude!”

  1. Dean says:

    That’s cool that Microsoft is opening up to open source, I didn’t know that. The buttons… lol. A little too non-corporate, borderline unprofessional, for Microsoft IMO, but I’m sure they know what they’re doing. 😉 BTW, Zune looks like it’s gonna be awesome.

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