Goin’ Down to Rosedale


I was all set to post an article about Mac BU’s place in Microsoft’s recent reorg, when John Welch at bynkii.com posted this. I appreciate John’s advocacy on behalf of Mac BU. His heart’s always been in the right place. Unfortunately, John’s understanding of some of the underlying facts of Mac BU’s life results in advocacy that’s pointed in the wrong direction. And, equally unfortunate is the truth is that there might not be any direction to which one might rightfully direct the essential core of John’s message.

John’s reasoning is based on two general observations. The first is his perception of Mac BU’s place in the new organization of Microsoft. The second is the extent to which Mac Office is able to support certain platform technologies that are in the Win Office box. I’ll address each in turn, but I should point out that John’s failure to apprehend all the relevant facts is not John’s fault. As he points out, he doesn’t have an inside view of things.

To an outsider, Microsoft’s recent reorg and the fact that Mac BU was not, as a result, brought within the purview of Steven Sinofsky’s group can look rather suspicious. After all, if this reorg is about product development, then it would seem to make sense for Microsoft’s business solution on the Macintosh to be managed within the same corporate structure as Microsoft’s business solutions on Windows.

That picture, however, relies on a rather myopic view of “product development,” which, as anyone who has read my blog for any length of time ought to know, involves much more than simply sitting down and writing a few lines of code. The singularly most important factor in product development is the accuracy of your summation of your target market. Indeed, if you view Microsoft’s reorg in terms of simply rearranging relationships within Microsoft, it doesn’t make much sense (which is why people like Joe Wilcox have been scratching their heads about this).

Rather, the point of Microsoft’s reorg is to rearrange groups along the lines of relationships with customers and partners. Thus, Business Solutions and Information Worker come under the same general “business” rubric, because their customer bases are almost identical.

If there’s one lesson we learned from Mac Word 6.0 it’s that Win Office customers are not at all like Mac Office customers. Lumping Mac BU in with Information Worker and Business Solutions, then, provides no benefit to Mac BU in terms of improving customer and partner relationships. Indeed, such a move could only harm Mac BU’s ability to target our unique customer base.

Moreover, such an organizational change would likely have no positive effect on our relationship with the Win Office group—a relationship that has been, and remains, rather healthy. Steven Sinofsky has always been very receptive to requests from us, and we’ve worked closely with people like Brian Jones and the Win Office development group in our efforts to support the upcoming Office 12 file formats.

The second pillar buttressing John’s argument is Mac Office’s support, or lack thereof, for various features and technologies that are currently available to Win Office users. These include such features as LiveMeeting, Information Rights Management, SharePoint Services and Content Management Server. With respect to these technologies, John writes, “If Microsoft wants people to buy [Mac] Office 12 in any quantity it has to become, as much as technically possible, the equal of Office 12 on Windows. [Emphasis added.]”

Well, it’s a good thing he tossed in the throw-away “as much as technically possible” qualifier, because it allows him to direct his ire in just about any direction he wants to. The problem with that qualifier is the way it relies on the word “possible.” Substitute the word “feasible” in its place, and the qualifier takes on a whole new meaning, and one which, I contend, is far closer to reality than John’s article implies.

Consider, for example, Information Rights Management. In order to provide support for this, several pieces need to be in place. First, the OS needs to provide a way for users to properly authenticate against an Active Directory domain. Secondly, the OS needs to provide applications developers with a set of APIs that provide both a way to retrieve those credentials and a way to match those credentials against some kind of access control list for specific objects in the system. And that’s just to allow users to open documents that have IRM restrictions attached to them. Providing a way for users to attach IRM restrictions to an existing document has yet another set of technical challenges.

Now, it’s certainly possible for anyone to implement some sort of solution for this, kludgey as it might be, but for whom is it most feasible? Well, IRM is a platform technology. Of all the players in this arena, the one for whom the work is most feasible would be the provider of the platform: Apple. If we use the word “feasible” instead of the word “possible,” we can easily reword John’s sentence to read, “If Apple wants the Macintosh to succeed in the enterprise market, then the Macintosh has to become, as much as is technically feasible, as supportive of key technologies as Windows,” without a significant loss in rhetorical value. There is no particular reason to single out Microsoft for responsibility rather than looking toward Apple for a solution.

The problem with feasibility, however, is that it introduces a wide variety of variables that makes it very difficult to advocate the kind of imperative that John wants to express. Apple’s very survival is predicated on differentiating the features of Mac OS X from the features available in Windows. Is it “feasible” for Apple to divert resources away from differentiating Mac OS X from Windows in order to make Mac OS X equally attractive as Windows as a platform upon which ISVs can build enterprise solutions? The only people who can adequately answer that question work at Apple.

The point is not to try to redirect John’s ire away from Microsoft and toward Apple. As unfair as I think John’s reproach is, I think it would be equally unfair to single out Apple for reproach. Microsoft’s collective desire to sell copies of Mac Office isn’t any greater or less than Apple’s desire to sell Macintoshes in the enterprise. The truth is that we all have our priorities, and that the net result of these various priorities sometimes leaves users out in the cold.

John thinks that Mac BU is at a crossroads. Well, the truth is that Mac BU has always been at a crossroads. Mac BU will always be at a crossroads. We can ask the Lord above for mercy, and nobody will seem to know us. But we can still barrelhouse baby, on the riverside. (Apologies to Robert Johnson.)

 

Rick

Currently playing in iTunes: Crossroads by Cream

Comments (62)

  1. <i>Rather, the point of Microsoft’s reorg is to rearrange groups along the lines of relationships with customers and partners. Thus, Business Solutions and Information Worker come under the same general “business” rubric, because their customer bases are almost identical.</i>

    Rick…people using MS Office Mac are not just home users building recipe lists and designers having to send spreadsheets and Invoices. They are people in the enterprise at all levels who need a version of Office that runs on the Mac that is comparable to the WIndows version. Once you get past file formats, Entourage, and UI differences, the Mac version is not capable of playing in the Enterprise the way it needs to. It’s "Office:Mac for home use".

    <i>If there’s one lesson we learned from Mac Word 6.0 it’s that Win Office customers are not at all like Mac Office customers. Lumping Mac BU in with Information Worker and Business Solutions, then, provides no benefit to Mac BU in terms of improving customer and partner relationships. Indeed, such a move could only harm Mac BU’s ability to target our unique customer base.</i>

    How? Your customer base only needs it to be called Office and have some basic compatibility? Your customer base will never, ever have a critical business need for IRM, and Sharepoint, and the rest? Your customer base is not trying, (and failing far too often) to work with Win Office people and eventually *having* to use Office WIn to be sure the documents and workflow doesn’t go straight to heck? Again we hear the "Mac Office users don’t need this" or "it’s not really important." If you want, I’ll give you the lists to join so you can ask about this. It might be an eye opener.

    <i>Moreover, such an organizational change would likely have no positive effect on our relationship with the Win Office group—a relationship that has been, and remains, rather healthy. Steven Sinofsky has always been very receptive to requests from us, and we’ve worked closely with people like Brian Jones and the Win Office development group in our efforts to support the upcoming Office 12 file formats.</i>

    I won’t need to buy Mac Office 12 to open the XML formats, I won’t be able to USE Mac Office 12 if the files require the back end server integration that only WIn Office is capable of using, and I won’t need Mac Office 12 to open legacy documents. Office 2004 will do that just fine.

    Again…if all Mac Office 12 gives its potential customers is File Formats, Entourage and shuts them completely out of the rest of the Office world, why should anyone buy it? RDC and Office 12 Windows would be the far better choice, and they could probably get it tons cheaper too, with easier, more flexible licensing.

    What you are missing though, is the perceptual issue. The home entertainment division creating Enterprise software makes no one feel confident about Microsoft’s commitment to the Mac BU. Esp. when, if you read the MS 2004 Annual report, the Mac BU’s major contribution was offsetting Xbox losses. Perception becomes reality Rick, MS knows that better than anyone in the business. They are not creating either good perception OR reality for the Mac BU.

    <i>The second pillar buttressing John’s argument is Mac Office’s support, or lack thereof, for various features and technologies that are currently available to Win Office users. These include such features as LiveMeeting, Information Rights Management, SharePoint Services and Content Management Server. With respect to these technologies, John writes, “If Microsoft wants people to buy [Mac] Office 12 in any quantity it has to become, as much as technically possible, the equal of Office 12 on Windows. [Emphasis added.]”</i>

    <i>Well, it’s a good thing he tossed in the throw-away “as much as technically possible” qualifier, because it allows him to direct his ire in just about any direction he wants to. The problem with that qualifier is the way it relies on the word “possible.” Substitute the word “feasible” in its place, and the qualifier takes on a whole new meaning, and one which, I contend, is far closer to reality than John’s article implies.</i>

    That wasn’t a throwaway Rick, that was a very deliberate choice. For a long time, (and you have to be talking to MS outside of the Mac BU as a customer to hear this. YOu’re not a customer in the same sense as I speak of. You will always have inside knowledge about things and that cannot help but affect how you see things. That’s not good nor bad, just how it is), when various people ask Microsoft about more integration with servers, we don’t get told, "oh, that’s not feasible within resources for the Mac BU", we get told, "that requires Windows". "that requires WIndows" is not feasibility, it’s <i>possibility</i>. If the message to the world is getting muddy, well, that means that Microsoft isn’t giving a consistent message. But when it comes to the rest of Microsoft talking about the Mac BU, that’s a long – standing problem.

    In any event, no one from the Mac BU has ever <i>publicly</i> addressed technical limitations to making Mac Office work better in the enterprise. All we get is the same old "our customers don’t need that" line. We got it from Ben, we got it from Kevin, and I imagine at some point, we’ll get it from Roz, and it will still be wrong.

    <i>Consider, for example, Information Rights Management. In order to provide support for this, several pieces need to be in place. First, the OS needs to provide a way for users to properly authenticate against an Active Directory domain. </i>

    Solved, and has been for years, either in the OS or with ADMitMac from Thursby if you need SMB signing and DFS.

    <i>Secondly, the OS needs to provide applications developers with a set of APIs that provide both a way to retrieve those credentials and a way to match those credentials against some kind of access control list for specific objects in the system. And that’s just to allow users to open documents that have IRM restrictions attached to them. Providing a way for users to attach IRM restrictions to an existing document has yet another set of technical challenges.</i>

    Are you saying this is not possible, or just that Microsoft doesn’t think that Mac BU customers have, or will ever have the need to do this, so it’s not worth the effort? If it’s impossible to read and/or write IRM documents outside of WIndows that’s one thing.

    But if it’s just not something that is seen as having a decent ROI, I can get you some real numbers from IT people within a week that will perhaps show you a different story. (Adobe tried to say that no one really wanted proper office integration with Acrobat on the Mac. It took me less than a week to show them 50,000 licenses they could have had if they hadn’t thought that.) I’ve never seen a Mac BU customer survey that even asked about Enterprise needs. (I’m not saying they never happened, but that I have yet to see them). If you aren’t even asking the right questions, how can you possible have any data points? Even "Jurassic Park" showed why you can’t artificially limit your results.

    <i> If we use the word “feasible” instead of the word “possible,” we can easily reword John’s sentence to read, “If Apple wants the Macintosh to succeed in the enterprise market, then the Macintosh has to become, as much as is technically feasible, as supportive of key technologies as Windows,” without a significant loss in rhetorical value. There is no particular reason to single out Microsoft for responsibility rather than looking toward Apple for a solution.</i>

    Apple has solved the Active Directory integration problem far more than anyone outside of Thursby has. If you need .Net, well, Mono is getting closer all the time, and if MS would do more than unofficially help that effort, it might get closer much faster. Apple has its numerous issues, (file locking/saving in 10.4.2 come to mind here) but Apple supports quite a few key technologies in WIndows, and it’s not like WIndows does the same for any other OS. Active Directory, ACLs, etc., Apple has done more than a little work to make plugging OS X into AD easy and usable. Meanwhile WIndows Services for Macintosh is still based on AFP 2.2 and is so buggy and outdated that recommending its use is almost grounds for termination based on incompetence.

    But Mac Office is not an Apple Product, it is a Microsoft product, and therefore, Microsoft bears primary responsibility for its shortcomings. How many years has the Mac BU’s response to requests for more enterprise integration been "Our customers don’t want or need that"? Suddenly saying, "Well Apple has to do more to integrate with Windows" starts sounding like sophistry.

    When it comes to working with Windows, Microsoft has never made it easy for third parties, which is why third parties are doing all the work *now*. If you compare what Apple has done to facilitate Windows integration with what Microsoft has done to facilitate integrating WIndows with other platforms, Apple is by FAR sitting on the moral high ground here.

    <i> Is it “feasible” for Apple to divert resources away from differentiating Mac OS X from Windows in order to make Mac OS X equally attractive as Windows as a platform upon which ISVs can build enterprise solutions? The only people who can adequately answer that question work at Apple.</i>

    Would these be the Apple people who wrote the Active Directory plugin so that you get Single-SIgnon integration with Active Directory? Or the Apple people who decided that HFS+ ACLs had to be compatible with NTFS ACLs? Or the Apple people working with the Samba people to make OS X able to act as an NT PDC/BDC for companies who still need that? Or would these be the people who made sure that in TIger, SMB is now kerberized? Or the Thursby people who wrote tools to let you manage your macs in AD better?

    I’m not seeing a lot coming from Microsoft beyond APIs and licensing, unless you count stuff that won’t ship until Vista. If you use that as measurement, then Apple has done all the work it has to for MS to do whatever it takes for Office to provide IRM services.

    <i>Microsoft’s collective desire to sell copies of Mac Office isn’t any greater or less than Apple’s desire to sell Macintoshes in the enterprise. The truth is that we all have our priorities, and that the net result of these various priorities sometimes leaves users out in the cold.</i>

    I have no doubt about MS’s desire to sell me stuff. I have extreme doubt about MS’s desire to do more than provide the most basic compatibility for Mac Office Customers. Like I, and many others are saying Rick, right now, people in business buy Mac Office for:

    1) the name on the box

    2) File format compatibility

    3) Exchange compatibility

    the day Office 12 ships, you lose #2 as a reason to buy Office 12 on the Mac. If someone does a decent exchange client for the Mac in that time, you’re down to 1).

    (In the home, it’s for Excel and Entourage. Word and PPT have competition, and good competition there.)

    The days of being able to say "the home and business markets are radically different" are over. Heck, the WIndows Office team knows this.

    It’s only when you ask about enterprise integration with Office Mac that you suddenly hear about how radically different home and office are.

    by the way, it’s not like we won’t PAY for more features that we need. I still only buy Office Standard, because VPC is not a critical business need. You give me an SKU for "Mac Office: Enterprise" and i’ll happily recommend the hell out of that upgrade. Charge more for it. But don’t tell Mac IT Pros that "we don’t need" enterprise software, because that’s totally incorrect.

  2. steven_sinofsky says:

    Rick makes total sense to me!

    There is nothing about the organization that will make it harder or prevent us from delivering Mac Office.

    We’ve worked super well as a team for years and we have every intent of continuing.

    There are many things to consider other than code that drive an organization and in this case the decision framework is a sound one.

    –Steven

  3. BradC says:

    Rick’s point about the division placement is that practically speaking, it doesn’t really matter what organization division the Mac BU ends up in. They still have to be concerned about Mac customers as an independent target, and (as learned from v6.0), not always assume that the needs (and wants) of the two groups are the same.

    As for why they still are in the entertainment division? Dunno. Don’t care. Maybe it IS just to "balance the budget" of that division against projected XBox360 hardware losses. I agree that it is an interesting choice, and would like to know if there is any better reason. Rick’s point seems to simply be "why move it to the Business Solutions and Information Worker division?" John’s question, and one that Rick didn’t seem to sufficiently matter, is "why NOT move it to the Business Solutions and Information Worker division and give it some actual credibility?"

    As for enterprise feature support–this seems to be a pretty crucial issue, and one that I’d like to hear more about. If there are true technical limitations to the integration support that can be implemented (as opposed to "we don’t have the manpower or budget to focus on those issues"), then those ought to be explained.

    On the other hand, I agree with John’s sentiment that the usual answer is "Mac users haven’t asked for that type of support."

    And John, if you can bring actual $numbers$ to support your position that there IS a $demand$ for these types of enterprse features, I’m sure Rick and others at $microsoft$ would be willing to $listen$.

  4. Steven..I get that in all likelihood, where the Mac BU is on the org chart will have minor effect on communications. But to IT people, Mac Office being in the games unit, (you can call it what you will. If it houses the Xbox, it’s the games unit to the rest of the world) creates the perception is that Mac Office is just a throwaway, not "really" office. You of all people should know how important perception is to a product’s acceptance.

    When, after a question that specifically asks: "I’m curious about your perspective on Apple as a competitor, and also our Macintosh Business Unit is squirreled away in our games division…" Robbie Bach, head of that division, along with Jim Allchin, Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer *completely* ignore the Mac BU so that they can all get in a round of iPod and Apple Bashing, (along with Allchin’s bizarre moisture comment), that creates the perception that to the senior management of Microsoft, (and indeed, the person running the division that the Mac BU lives in), that the Mac BU is not worthy even of a "They do a really good job". So now here’s the perception: "The Mac BU is in the games division, and the guy running it doesn’t support his people enough to defend their work to other Senior Management at Microsoft, or just plain Microsoft employees"

    Part of leadership is defending those you lead, even when you have to defend them to coworkers.

    I also know that anytime you add a layer of bureaucracy, no matter how minor, efficiency is decreased, not increased.

    Your comment also doesn’t address the central problem, namely, "If Office 12 remains as standalone of a product as Office 2004 is, why should I recommend to my superiors we use it instead of a cheaper alternative that would meet our needs?" The file format issue will be done, and assuming Entourage will never face challenge is unrealistic. This has nothing to do with quality of code, and everything with why a Mac IT department should buy Office 12 Mac. Office 2004 was a no brainer. Office 12? At the moment, without some serious backend integration, it’s just a file translator and an exchange client.

    (Note: that’s NOT a personal view. It’s a professional view. My personal feelings towards the Mac BU don’t get to influence this. I too, as with every other Mac IT person, have to consider things like ROI and best use of budget. Give me a sound reason to buy Office 12, I will without blinking. Telling me the reasons I hear now won’t do it.)

    Brad, I’m working on numbers for this 😉

  5. Rick Schaut says:

    John,

    There are so many problems with your line of reasoning that I don’t know where to begin. I suppose I could dissect your remarks the same way you’ve dissected mine, but chopping down trees in the absence of a common understanding of the shape of the forrest strikes me as a pointless exercise.

    As long as you want to stress the realm of the possible to the exclusion of the realm of the feasible, you completely undercut the rhetorical value of your argument. To demand that we all do the possible is to render everything unfeasible. You can’t avoid the slippery slope.

    Why is it that whenever someone either quotes or paraphrases a Microsoft/Mac BU response to questions about the lack of feature "X", the "not enough" qualifier in the response is always dropped and only the "Mac users want" part is quoted or paraphrased? I defy you, John, to produce a fully accurate quote from anyone speaking on behalf of Mac BU that didn’t speak in relative terms as opposed to the absolute terms you’ve attributed. And, should you ever actually find such a quote, the line to pistol-whip the quoted individual for failing to tell the truth will have to form behind me.

    Having said all that, I’m going to dissect one of your statements: the notion that the new XML-based file formats will render Mac Office superfluous. Frankly, I’m betting that you’re flat out wrong on that, and I’m basing that bet on the actual set of features we are going to ship in Mac Office 12.

    Rick

  6. Rick, until you define "feasible" for the purpose of what we’re talking about, it’s a meaningless term, which is another reason why I used "possible" instead.

    Do you mean "feasible" as in "can be done in the Office 12 timeline"? "can be done with current Mac BU resources"? "Could be done with more resources in the Office 12 timeline"? "Couldn’t be done if we had the entire programming population of mainland China working day and night within four years"?

    Saying "it’s not feasible" without laying out how you are using that word renders it meaningless, it has too many possible meanings.

    Along the same lines…what is meant by "Not Enough"? 1? 100? 1000? 10000? Give me a number Rick. Give me a number that’s even in the same neighborhood of it. Without definite data, "not enough" has no useable meaning.

    While we’re on the subject of quotes…here’s one from a former boss of yours, Kevin Browne:

    "Microsoft Mac Business Unit, the unit I control, will create connections between our client software, Office, Internet Explorer, other things we might do, and these back end services that provide you the next level of services that we can provide, so that the computing platform becomes that much more compelling. Well build high quality XML Web services support, well build the integration that we need with Passport and .NET My Services, well build all the features on top of that that will allow the next great versions of Office to exist, and to be attractive to you."

    That integration with back end services is what I’m talking about. We’re still waiting for it.

    Another Quote of Kevin’s:

    "Theres a couple of target markets that we focus on. Obviously, we focus on individual Mac users, while the Office Windows team focuses on Windows users. In terms of organizations, we tend to focus very highly on the small organizations. We try and make a product that works pretty well for our medium and large organization customers. But, where the Office for Windows team will put in specific things that solve problems that only appear in very large organizations, like unattended scripted set up, something theyll do, something we wont do. And then for solution developers, currently not a focus for us. So we put a little bit of effort into making sure that individuals can script actions, but where the Office for Windows team will put a ton of effort into making sure that you can use Office as a platform for business solutions, we dont tend to follow that."

    So according to Kevin, Office Mac users don’t need unattended scripted setups. (As it turns out, that’s partially correct. We need them for everything BUT Office, because you guys were bloody brilliant in the D&D install, so it’s really dead simple, other than the font issue. A LOT of Win Office folks would kill for that.) Solution Developers? Not a target for the Mac BU. He also said that the Mac BU doesn’t see that Mac Office needs to be a platform for business solutions. The problem is, what happens when you work with Win Office people who ARE doing a lot of workflow customization? Mac Office tends to fall down, documents don’t work. Note I’m really not talking about font issues or kerning issues. Those get better every time. I know how hard you guys work on those. I’m talking about the other stuff.

    (Full text of Kevin’s talk here: http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/events/svspeaker/04-10browne.mspx) that may have changed in the last three years, but not a lot. (and if anyone said something to me off the record or in confidence, the chances of me ratting them out is precisely zero.)

    And I have no, none, absolutely zero doubt that Office 12 will be a monstrous improvement to 2004, and show the Win Office team a trick or two. But if it doesn’t talk to things like IRM, and Sharepoint, if I have to use Windows every time I get an IRM document, even just to READ it, if I have to use Windows or a multistep browser workaround to use Sharepoint with Office, etc, yadda, then why would I buy Office 12 for the Mac?

    It would make more sense to use WTS and the RDC client with Office 12 Win. That way, all these issues go away. For laptop users, well, either VPC or just get them Dells and tell them "sorry".

    The feature set of Office 12 *as a standalone product* doesn’t matter. It’s how well it plugs into Microsoft’s server backend that will make a HUGE difference. That’s critical. I’ve told Adobe the same thing about Acrobat on the Mac. The fact that it has a couple new features kinda doesn’t matter when the features I need only exist on Windows.

    I’m not saying the file formats ALONE will render Office 12 superfluous. I’m saying Office 12 cannot be a standalone "home" productivity package. It has to play nice in the enterprise too.

  7. Eric Albert says:

    Wow…lots of comments here. I’m afraid I’ve only skimmed them, but I’m curious about something in Rick’s original post. Regarding AD integration in Mac OS X, is there any AD functionality which IRM that isn’t in Tiger? If so, I’d be interested in knowing what that is.

  8. Rick Schaut says:

    John,

    First, you’re absolutely correct in noting that the word "feasible" requires a context. However, you can’t side-step any discussion of that context by substituting the word "possible" in its stead. Either you accept that there is a context, or your argument has nothing to do with the real world.

    Second, I can define "feasible" in general terms as the cost to benefit ratio of any given feature, so long as we agree that cost of implementing one feature includes the benefit of some other feature that won’t get developed due to the fact that I can’t have a single resource implementing more than one feature. Also, for the sake of this discussion, the word "benefit" is always defined in terms of specific users, not in terms of some vague market politics. If users don’t benefit from the product, they aren’t going to buyt it, so it doesn’t make any sense to define "benefit" in any terms other than for specific users.

    Let’s take IRM for example. It’s certainly possible for Mac BU to put a group of developers on implementing the infrastructure we need, but if doing so would mean that we wouldn’t have enough resources left to ship Office 12 as a universal binary, then the cost of Mac BU implementing IRM infrastructure is too high regardlessof how many users want IRM.

    Note that this is largely a hypothetical example to illustrate a point. Shipping universal binaries is but one feature of at least a half-dozen that we plan to ship in Office 12 (but which I cannot discuss in detail) that would have to be sacrificed in order to support IRM.

    You’ve asked me for a specific number, and, unfortunately, I’m simply not in a position to give you one. I could ask Dan or Emma, but their job descriptions don’t include doing research for Rick Schaut’s blog. Franly, I think they have enough work on their plates already.

    We can get caught up in the specifics of the IRM example, but that misses the point. Do you honestly think that we wouldn’t do it if we thought the benefit to users wouldn’t outweight the costs of implementing the feature? I don’t care if the feature is IRM or SharePoint services or the ability of Word to stand on its head in the corner and spit wooden nickles. What gives you sufficient basis to second-guess the decisions we make about an issue that is as central to the success of our business as the features we put into the product?

    The same caveat applies to Apple and to any other group at Microsoft. While the arithmatic details of the computation differ for all of us develping products for sale to a market, the overall calculus is the same. Apple isn’t going to spend time working on infrastructure X when Macintosh users will get more bang for the development buck if Apple spends that time working on technology Y. And, this is specifically where speaking in terms of "absolutes" and singling out one company for reproach completely undercuts your argument. It makes as much sense to bash Apple over the lack of IRM as it makes sense to bash Microsoft. In my book, neither is justified by the facts.

    I’ll briefly address Kevin’s XML and .NET-based services comments by saying that we are doing some of those for Office 12. I can’t, however, get into details. I can say that, within the calculus I’ve described above, we’re adding support as various pieces of the puzzle come into place (and, at times, that requires that we, Mac BU, provide pieces ourselves). I’ll be able to discuss some of the specifics after Mac Office 12 ships, but not before.

    The remarks you quote are from April of 2002. That’s an eternity in this business, and even our understanding of what .NET is all about has changed substantially since then.

    Which brings me to your paraphrase, "So according to Kevin, Office Mac users don’t need unattended scripted setups." I suppose if one wanted to pedantically parse a single sentence out of the entire context of Kevin’s remarks, one might say that Kevin ought to have added "at this time" when he spoke specifically of unattended scripted setups. I might be inclined to give Kevin a rap on the knuckles with a ruler for that one, but no pistol-whip.

    The overall context makes it clear that anything that users ask for is on the table, including the oft-repeated requests for ports of Access and Project. Periodically, we take a look at the business case. If the business case should ever make sense, we’ll do it. Do we forsee the business case making sense at any point in the future? No. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t ever going to look at the business case again. Market conditions change, and with those changes in market conditions so do our priorities change. We actually do know how to run this business.

    I remember being at a Mac World Expo one year when someone asked me if we’d ever port Access to the Mac. I said that we periodically look at the business case, and if it should ever make sense to port it, we will. He gave me this, "you’ve got to be kidding" look, and said, "Come on. Give me a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer."

    "Do you want me to lie to you?" I asked, at which point he took a step back from me and looked at me as if I’d said I was from Mars. To this day, I don’t understand his reaction. Firms that don’t adjust their plans according to changes in the market tend to not last very long.

    I’ll close this comment by pointing out that I think you have too narrow a view of the Mac market. It seems that you see only two kinds of users: people who work in the enterprise somewhere and home users doing calendars and shopping lists. I realize that there is at least some hyperbole in your remarks, but the hyperbole isn’t helpful. Enterprise users are not the homogeneous users your hyperbole would have us believe, and there are quite a few people who aren’t in an enterprise yet who do actual business with their Macs. In fact, only one of our user archetypes is an enterprise user. And, while we do have a calendar making, shopping-list writing archetype user, Mac Office 12 will have no features exclusively targeted to that user’s needs.

    Rick

  9. Rick Schaut says:

    Eric,

    Send me e-mail off line. I’m aware of some of the issues, but there’s another developer in Mac BU who is more on top of this stuff than I am. I’m not even going to post a disguised version of his e-mail address here :-).

  10. Rick, I’m not side-stepping anything. you were the one who said I used "possible" as a throwaway so I could direct my ire however I want.

    I didn’t do that at all. I have, from Microsoft reps, gotten told "that’s only possible with Windows" in regard to much of what I’m asking for. Could they have been incorrect? Sure. But I can’t tell you that. I can only go by *what I am told* (that is able to be publicly disseminated). Obviously feasible requires a context, but if you’re the only one who knows what it is, then your use of it has no context to anyone else, and the word loses all meaning.

    Secondly, you have missed my point pretty much entirely. This isn’t about what the Mac BU is capable of doing with x dollars and y resources. It’s about Microsoft *as a company* making the commitment to the Mac BU’s enterprise customers to devote the dollars and the resources so that they don’t feel that they *have* to use Windows to get a version of Office that is functional in the enterprise. (to stave this off…no, file format compatibility, a spiffy UI, and better exchange support does not include the entire context for "functional in the Enterprise". If you want specific details about Word, ask John McGhie. he can give you ten issues for every one of mine. But then, I have a larger POV than he does.) It’s about what enterprise Mac users need from Microsoft, and how Microsoft *as a company* responds to those needs. It’s not good, by the way.

    Your IRM example works well if Microsoft locks the Mac BU’s budget and resources into its current state. Now, what about if Roz was told, "Tell us what you need for sharepoint and IRM and it’s yours"? Because that Rick, is what *I* am talking about. Microsoft *as a company* has to make a better commitment of money and resources to the Mac BU.

    What gives me the basis to second guess decisions is the checks I, and my company, and people I do work for write to Microsoft on a regular basis for Office. As long as customers write checks, we get to second guess.

    Considering the size of the Mac BU to the money it makes, (according to MS, in the "hundreds of Millions of dollars"), I’d say that the Mac BU in its current state is a license to print money, or at least it always has been. But I’m thinking down the road, as I’m sure you are too, since it’s your job as much as mine, just with a different focus.

    I’m telling you that I, and more than a few other Mac IT people in a heterogeneous environment are starting to work with OUR Windows counterparts, and we’re having to deal with things like SharePoint and IRM and the rest. I’m telling you that when we’re weighing features, those count as much as file compatibility. Quite honestly we don’t think about file compatibility unless it doesn’t work, (and in spite of y’all’s hard work, it’s still not as effortless as it needs to be). Listing "We’re compatible with Win Office file formats" is like selling a toaster because it makes toast.

    Of COURSE you’re compatible with Win Office files. But there’s a lot of customers who need more. We’ve been asking for more for years now, and getting told "no". Eventually people stop asking. Why bother, we know what the answer will be. "No, Mac Office is not for the enterprise" or some variation thereof. It’s the answer we’ve gotten for 3+ years now. Why should we expect it to change? Heck, the Win Office team gets to tell their customers what’s coming, maybe we’d like the same thing from the Mac Office team?

    Also, I didn’t cut a single sentence out of kevin’s remarks. I cut the paragraphs so that more context would be preserved, and I linked back to the whole thing so people could read all the comments unedited. You’ll forgive me if there isn’t a lot of info from Microsoft on the Mac BU.

    you say:

    "I’ll close this comment by pointing out that I think you have too narrow a view of the Mac market. It seems that you see only two kinds of users: people who work in the enterprise somewhere and home users doing calendars and shopping lists."

    No Rick, that’s not me saying that. It’s being said, but it’s not by me. I’m the one saying that the old rules that said that there are such differences are done and gone, and that the people using Office along with Sharepoint and IRM are the same people doing calendars and shopping lists. (BTW, the calendar thing needs a bit of publicity. I had to explain to someone that No, you don’t need to buy MS Publisher to do calendars. Any current version of Office on either platform will make spiffy calendars just fine) I’m saying that using rigid customer types causes as many, if not more problems than it solves. When I’m sitting in my cube writing wireless policy, running Nessus Scans, and doing color correction with the same machine, I wonder how many customer archetypes i’m cutting across. Oh yeah, add in the freelance writer/public speaker one. I nail those two.

    "Enterprise users are not the homogeneous users your hyperbole would have us believe, and there are quite a few people who aren’t in an enterprise yet who do actual business with their Macs. "

    I’ve been doing tech/network/application support for 20 years from fortune 500 to a 20 person company, private enterprise to government to higher ed. I’m well aware of the wide range of users in business.

    This is only partially about the technical issues. It’s also about the leadership needed from Microsoft Senior Management to show Mac BU customers that the Mac BU is a valued part of MS and not just some throwaway division.

    That leadership is not just lacking, it’s non-existent.

  11. Jeremy Reichman says:

    Hey, Rick and John, you both comment way too much and I’ll just agree with both of you. At the same time. There’s nothing like being internally consistent, right? 😉

  12. Rick Schaut says:

    John,

    "Your IRM example works well if Microsoft locks the Mac BU’s budget and resources into its current state. Now, what about if Roz was told, "Tell us what you need for sharepoint and IRM and it’s yours"? Because that Rick, is what *I* am talking about. Microsoft *as a company* has to make a better commitment of money and resources to the Mac BU."

    Microsoft, as a company, doesn’t have a singular set of goals. Each business unit has its own goals. What you’re asking is that, for the sake of some of Mac BU’s customers, some resources in some other business unit should be diverted to providing some underlying technology for an objective that’s completely unrelated to that business unit’s goals.

    I’m not sure how the unreasonable nature of that request isn’t obvious. From which business unit outside of Mac BU would you draw down these resources? The Windows group? How does that benefit their customers?

    One gets the sense that you think there is some code just lying around that merely needs to be adapted to Mac OS X, and its Unix underpinnings, in order to make IRM a possibility on the Mac. Sorry, but that’s not the case. IRM implementation, from the OS level, is based on low-level Windows implementations. You want the same functionality on the Mac, it has to be rewritten from scratch.

    It is no more reasonable to expect any business unit at Microsoft to implement this infrastructure than it is reasonable to expect Apple to do it. Saying that Office has the word "Microsoft" on it does not obligate Microsoft to provide platform-specific functionality for the benefit of other platform vendors.

    "What gives me the basis to second guess decisions is the checks I, and my company, and people I do work for write to Microsoft on a regular basis for Office. As long as customers write checks, we get to second guess."

    No, John, that gives you every right to not purchase Mac Office. Nothing more, and nothing less. You’ve gone well beyond that point when you start with the premise that Microsoft doesn’t care about Macintosh users–that Microsoft doesn’t think of Macintosh users as "real" users. I don’t hear you saying that Apple doesn’t think of enterprise users as "real" users, but, as I’ve pointed out above, the argument you’ve used with respect to Microsoft as a company applies equally well to Apple as a company.

    You question the value of our use of archetypical users. While there is little doubt that this scheme fails to account for a wide variety of users who don’t fit into any of the archetypical buckets, the extent to which atypical users fall through the cracks is debatable. Despite the use of archetypes, it is still a scenario-based approach.

    More importantly, however, when you’re developing software for millions of users in a widely heterogenous market, there is no better alternative way to structure your product development. The last time we didn’t adequately structure our product development in terms of specific user scenarios, the product was Mac Word 6.0.

    Lastly, you question the support shown by Microsoft’s leadership for Mac BU. I don’t know that I’m qualified to answer. However, when Bill Gates’ response to a Mac BU product demo consists of turning to the Win Office people and saying, "You people should do that," I have little doubt about Bill’s support for the work we’re doing.

    Rick

    PS, yes, Jeremy, I’m often too verbose. It’s one of my faults. Please forgive me.

  13. Rick Schaut says:

    It occurs to me that I may have made an assumption that one fact of Mac BU’s circumstance is already common knowledge when, perhaps, it’s not. If this is the case, then I apologize for not making this explicit earlier.

    Without knowing the status of Mac BU’s head count, it’s possible to think that one way to get more features out of Mac BU is for Microsoft, as a corporation, to add to Mac BU’s already open head count. When you figure out how to make that trick work, you let me know :-).

    Rick

  14. Rick, you said "I’m not sure how the unreasonable nature of that request isn’t obvious. From which business unit outside of Mac BU would you draw down these resources? The Windows group? How does that benefit their customers?"

    Let’s not confuse the issue. Microsoft doesn’t ship software to benefit customers; it ships software to make money by delivering something that customers want. John’s claim is that enterprise customers want IRM and SharePoint integration, among other things. If that were really true, there would be an economic incentive for multiple product groups. To answer your specific question, if customers wanted IRM support, that would sell more CALs for Windows Rights Management Server, a clear benefit to that group’s P&L.

    SharePoint support is a little trickier, since there are two separate issues: browser support and integration with Office. Better browser support for Safari is something that the WSS and SPS teams could do on their own, if they thought there was market demand.

    Now for John’s comments. John, I’ve had some experience working with a variety of product groups at Microsoft. I can tell you that they all share some common traits. One is that they want *data*, not anecdotes, about what customers want. There are several long-running efforts in Office, Windows– and even MacBU– to talk directly to large customers to find out what features they think are most important. Another trait: they’re pretty good about trading off different features based on verifiable customer demand. Why did the Entourage Exchange improvements happen in SP2? Customers wanted ’em, plain and simple.

    If MacBU isn’t doing the things that you think they should, it’s not because Microsoft hates the Mac, and it’s not because Bill and Steve secretly want MacBU to fail. It’s because, *within MacBU* (where those decisions are properly made), they are choosing to do something else instead. Other product groups will pitch in according to what their data tells them will be the best use of their dev resources.

    If you want things to change, start bringing some numbers to the table. I can promise you that if large enterprise reps on the MacEnterprise list start clamoring for features, their requests will be taken very seriously.

  15. John Lockwood says:

    Rick,

    I have to accept that you as an insider are privy to information John Welch is not and therefore you maybe correct in that parts of what John says are wrong.

    However I as a BUSINESS user of MS Office on Mac, someone who has used Word on a Mac since 1.0 and is an IT Manager for a company would have to say that John is TOTALLY right in terms of the perspective of his post (if for arguments sake not some of the facts).

    By this I mean (as John Welch does) that if Office 12 does not integrate better with the backend systems (as Office for Windows does) then it offers little or no benefit to ME (or my company) over Office 2004. This is of course based on the paltry information officially available from Microsoft at this point (you obviously know more). From this skimpy information we KNOW that Office 2004 will get a free translator to enable it to read Office XML format files. We can guess that Office 12 will do this BETTER. However we can also see that Office 12 is NOT going to support any of the (currently) Windows only technologies (IRM, Sharepoint, etc.). Another justification for choosing Office 12 will be the native MacTel (Intel) support via it being a Universal Binary. The only other significant thing we can apparently expect from Office 12 is another round of bug fixes.

    Based on this we have to judge whether Office 2004 (with limited XML support) and existing bug fixes is ‘good enough’ versus the THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS of pound/dollars/euros that it will cost to upgrade to Office 12.

    From my perspective the reliability improvements of Office 2004 over Office v.X were sufficient to justify upgrading our entire company. The new FEATURES of Office 2004 were NOT. At the moment it looks like Office 12 will fail on both counts because Office 2004 is now ‘good enough’ in terms of reliability and Office 12 is not offering the features we need. Office 12s being a Universal Binary is certainly an attraction but a ‘word processor’ is going to be ‘adequate’ in terms of performance even under Rosetta emulation.

    We as a company, constantly have to exchange Office documents with other users and organisations (most of whom of course are Windows users). Some of these are government users. I strongly expect to see a situation soon where these documents will REQUIRE the use of IRM. In fact I am amazed this has not already happened.

    The whole raison d’etra of Office for Mac for YEARS has been COMPATIBILITY with Office for Windows. Microsoft’s failure to provide support for IRM, Sharepoint, et al on the Mac is breaking this long-standing compatibility and destroying the whole reason for buying Office for Mac. This is the whole point of John Welch’s article, and it is a view shared by both myself and many, MANY, other Office Mac users. As I said while some of John’s facts may be wrong this perspective is NOT, and unfortunately you (and Microsoft) do not seem to be comprehending it.

    Not only is this increasing incompatibility going to make upgrading unattractive, it also makes buying new copies of Office for Mac instead of a (much cheaper) competitor harder to justify, it also you maybe surprised to hear, ultimately affects Windows Server sales. For example for several years (each time Microsoft update their Mac client) I have been evaluating whether using an MS Exchange Server would be of benefit to us as a Mac using company. Because until now the official Microsoft Exchange client (Entourage) has been inconceivably awful as an Exchange client this has been a laughable proposition. Therefore Microsoft have lost out on not only Windows 2003 Server sales (and client licenses) but also Exchange client licenses. Likewise if Office 12 for Mac worked as a respectable client for IRM, Sharepoint, etc. then again I could conceive AND JUSTIFY the idea of buying Windows servers and client licenses EVEN IF I HAVE NO WINDOWS CLIENTS!!!

    The fact that failing to make Macs a full equal terms client is also affecting sales of Windows Servers and client licenses is something Microsoft seem to have completely ignored (although Office 2004 SP2 is a first tiny sign of hope).

    I, as a customer don’t care if porting IRM/Sharepoint/etc. client support to the Mac is hard. IT IS NECESSARY! Microsoft are undoubtedly best positioned to do this, if some technical co-operation is needed from Apple then Apple should indeed provide it. If Microsoft will not provide IRM/Sharepoint support on a Mac then they should DISCONTINUE it on Windows! (That would at least be another way to ensure continued compatibility. 😉 )

    Microsoft have constantly boasted of having the biggest Mac development team outside Apple. Microsoft are also the biggest and richest software company in the world. It is therefore time for Microsoft to put their money where their mouth is.

  16. Rick, please, please don’t make me go back into the MS 2004 Financial Report and pull out the number that represents Microsoft’s cash in the bank. The money is there if they choose to use it. They aren’t returning it to stockholders in any meaningful way, and they obviously have no problems pouring money into projects they care about. Pleading some kind of poverty when you work for Microsoft just creates a disconnect in the reader’s head.

    yes, I know that money isn’t just there for the taking like it was in a big barrel in Ballmer’s reception area. But, it is there, and is usable if the company deems the cause necessary.

    I also never said a single word about the state of IRM or any other code. But until just now, neither has anyone else at Microsoft. Do you know what one of the smartest things Kevin Browne ever did, at least to the outside world? You remember when he showed the current state of Office v.X at a Macworld in January? What one of the builds looked like and some detail on what was involved? That.Was.Brilliant. Instead of playing "We know, you don’t, deal", he sat on that stage and TOLD US what was up. I was really impressed. I was also impressed when he pointed out just how much work Project or Access on the Mac would take. Communication Rick. Simple, straightforward communication.

    You know what’s interesting about Microsoft and the Mac BU? The Windows office guys are constantly blabbing about what’s coming in Office 12. File formats, and since the PDC, UI changes. More correctly, who on the Win Office team ISN’T blogging? You can’t shut them up. How many Mac BU people are doing the same? You, the Entourage blog. That’s about it.

    Where there is a lack of clear communication, people are going to try to figure it out based on what they can see. If the Mac BU is upset about people taking the wrong impression away from things, then maybe the Mac BU should think about doing something to correct it.

    Scoble does have a good point here and there, and while I completely disagree with his perception that bloggers somehow matter to the vast majority of users, they DO provide communication, and that helps in myriad ways. The tips on the Entourage blog are GOLD.

    I’m also not asking Microsoft to implement specific functionality for the benefit of other vendors. I’m asking Microsoft to do it for a customer segment that’s taken it in the shorts from them for a while now.

    Had you said "Apple doesn’t care about enterprise users" about 4 years ago, I would have completely agreed with you. However, in that time, things changed. If you wish to get upset with my assertion that Microsoft doesn’t care about Microsoft, then again, you may wish to start asking why Microsoft Senior Management reacts the way it does when you bring up the Mac BU. Again, I give you the fine example at http://www.internet-nexus.com/2005/09/microsoft-executives-discuss-apple.htm . This is not unusual nor unique from Microsoft management outside of the Mac BU. Robbie Bach waxed eloquent on how "closed" the iPod ecosystem is, got all passionate about it. So did Allchin. Where was any supporting comments for the Mac BU? Not in that transcript. if you have a better one i can use, by all means, give me better facts. But I did not create this perception. Microsoft did, and i’m probably less happy about it than you are, since i don’t even have *any* kind of chance to fix it other than asking for better enterprise integration and getting told "not a big enough priority".

    "Lastly, you question the support shown by Microsoft’s leadership for Mac BU. I don’t know that I’m qualified to answer. However, when Bill Gates’ response to a Mac BU product demo consists of turning to the Win Office people and saying, "You people should do that," I have little doubt about Bill’s support for the work we’re doing. "

    Rick, where did this happen? If it was in a private office, exactly what good does it do for customer perception? none. It has to happen in public. Again, leadership basics…praise in public, criticize in private. I *Guarantee* you that if someone said anything close to critical of Win Office in a public forum with Microsoft Senior management present, they would all stand up and probably fight for who got to go first to defend it. Can you say the same about Mac Office? So far, their reaction shows me that no, they wouldn’t.

    You can’t say "well they support us in private" and seriously expect that to counter the regular examples that we see when you bring up the Mac to Ballmer. He point-blank said that no one in the enterprise talks about the Mac to him. Tell him to wander down to Genentech or LLNL some time if he wants to see Macs in the Enterprise. But then, maybe *he’s* not getting good info. When you’re at the top, your people sometimes don’t say what they should.

    Paul, I’m working on real numbers. However, having gone through this with other companies and been told, "Yes those are nice numbers, we don’t care", my…enthusiasm…is a bit less than it perhaps should be. As well, yes the Mac BU does do surveys. I’ve even taken them. I don’t recall any questions, other than an end comment section, that asked about enterprise features with specifics. I could be wrong, it’s been a while. But if you don’t ask, you don’t get. Leaving a "tell us whatever else you think" section isn’t going to get you the same results as a "Please select the Office Server Technologies that are used in your business and how important they are to your business"

    But a lot of this is just leadership. Kevin did a hell of a job here during the transition. I don’t know if a lot of people get how important that dog and pony show he did at Macworld was, but I was in the audience, and it really showed people that no matter what line of crap Adobe or Apple fed you, Carbonization was hard work. I get the impression (and this is all this is) that Roz isn’t as comfortable in front of a crowd as Kevin was. I completely disagree with some of the more harsh criticisms of her. Speaking in public, especially to a fairly hostile crowd is pretty damned hard, she gets my respect for doing it at all, much less creating her own RDF. She’s also done a great job when she’s done it.

    But you can’t limit information flow to the occasional dog and pony show. it has to be constant. Again, get more of the Mac BU blogging. If Win Office can talk about what they want to do, then give the Mac Office folks the same leeway. Don’t tell me "You’re wrong, you don’t have the facts" when I’m not able to GET the facts in a publicly usable way. When people get the wrong impression, correct it, not by saying, "well, you’re just wrong", but by giving them real information to work with.

    (And no, Scoble’s bad camera work and interview technique doesn’t cover this. Almost an hour of "WOW!! MACS AT MICROSOFT!!!!" that barely played on a Mac. You guys want to do a real video, I can hook you up with someone who will do it up right.)

    If the bad impression needs to go away, then the people who can make it happen need to start doing so. Silence, ignoring chances to say the right thing and uncomfortable mumbling aren’t the way to do it.

  17. Rick Schaut says:

    Paul,

    Sorry if you thought I was trying to confuse the issue, but I don’t know how to sell software to people when they find no benefit from it. Let me repeat that, because y’all seem to think I don’t get it: I don’t know how to sell software to people who don’t see a benefit it.

    And, yes, profit is the issue, which means we can’t ignore the cost side of that equation. Opportunity cost is a real cost, folks. I don’t know how to say it any better than that.

    My question, and I don’t think John W has answered it all that well. If it’s so bloody easy to make the business case to Microsoft for adding IRM infrastructure to to Mac OS X, why can’t one make the same business case to Apple?

    John L,

    I appreciate the lecture. I say that in all honesty. I also say, in all honesty, that you haven’t said anything I don’t already know. We know people want these features. Do the people who want these features really know the costs of implementing them?

    I’ve used IRM as an example on purpose, because the essential elements are not all that easy to understand. Do you know why certain parts of the IRM puzzle _must_ be done in the OS itself?

    John W,

    By all means, go dig out the 2004 Microsoft Annual report. Then explain to me how throwing money at an already open head count solves the problem. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to find competent developers who both want to work on the Macintosh and at Microsoft?

    And, yes, in the absence of information, people will reach absurd conclusions. What I don’t understand is why people choose to fill the information void with the assumption that we don’t know what the heck we’re doing.

    This is particularly egregious when it comes to enterprise features. Mac BU is an enterprise shop. Why would you believe that we don’t have first-hand knowledge of any issue you’ve raised about problems in the enterprise? Hell, I’d be willing to bet my laundry list is longer than yours is.

    I ought not have to explain this. To fill the information void with the assumption that we don’t understand enterprise users is contrary to the observable fact that we are enteprise users ourselves.

    And, yes, it would be nice if I could fill that void with facts, but that’s a lot easier said than done with it comes to articulating the development costs of certain features. The are software engineers who don’t grok some of the essential aspects of IRM. It takes an extremely skilled writer to explain them to non-developers. I might be good (I doubt it), but I’m not that good.

    So, drop the adversarial approach. Bear with us. Start with the assumption that we really do know our business, that there aren’t very many customer segments whose pain we don’t know and that there are technical hurdles, sometimes very difficult to articulate techincal hurdles, that we have to overcome in order to bring certain features to the market. Start with the assumption that, if we could justify the cost of a feature that has an obvious benefit, we would do it. Then, let’s have a dialog. Don’t start with the assumption that we think some users aren’t "real" users.

    I’m not going to talk about various statements made by Microsoft’s upper management, and that’s not because I’m afraid to criticize them publicly. I just don’t think it gets us any closer to solving user problems, and I really don’t care about much else in this industry.

    I don’t need public kudos from Bill or Steve in order to get stoked about my job. I get stoked about delivering a product that solves real users’ problems in creative ways–ways that even they didn’t imagine their problems could be solved. And, I’m not alone in that sentiment. In fact, I think it’s the one thing that keeps us going at Mac BU, and I wouldn’t want to work in an organization that had any other motivation.

    Rick

  18. Rick…

    some things: One, show me where I said it was easy or hard to add IRM or SharePoint integration. I didn’t say either. I said it was necessary to get Mac Office users in the Enterprise to approach Office 12 as a valuable upgrade. I (obviously) cannot say, with any validity if it’s hard or not. That’s a technical question i’m unqualified to answer.

    I can say that it’s something that is becoming a requirement for Office users in the enterprise. I can say that it’s a real concern for users of Mac Office, *especially* when we don’t even know if, with Office 12 we’ll even have *read-only* access to IRM’d documents. Right now, the second you IRM a doc, it’s no longer functional on a Mac in Office 2004. The only viewer requires IE 6 on Windows. That’s the current reality, and nothing out of Microsoft has spoken to Mac Office user’s worries about being cut out of IRM documents.

    You also have yet to really discuss the requirements for IRM or SharePoint or any of the rest. You mentioned AD Auth, which on the Mac is a solved problem. I’ve heard from various people that .Net is required. Well, how much of that does Mono solve. What would be helpful, especially to those of us with accounts with Apple Enterprise would be specifics. If we go to Apple and say "Make IRM work" it will.not.happen. If we say "we need a, b, c, etc. for IRM for our business needs" it gets a TON easier. It also lets us perhaps jab at other sources of software that may in fact do the trick. But right now, we don’t know. Give us information or a link to information to work with. Anything. But telling us "It’s really hard without OS support" gives us nothing to work with. You can’t fix a concept.

    In the absence of information, we reach the only conclusions we *can* reach. What I don’t understand is why, when Microsoft and the Mac BU *aren’t* filling that void, that y’all are surprised at the conclusions we reach. Try to approach this as someone with NO inside knowlege, and you might see the disconnect. If the only thing we have to go on is what we see in public, then that’s all we have for facts. Give us better facts and we can reach better conclusions.

    So far, all we know is that IRM requires AD, is really hard, and would cost a lot of money. Those are the current facts. Exactly what other conclusions are there to reach other than MS doesn’t deem it important enough to its customers, in spite of clear requests, to include that feature? Dude, give us some real data. But if all we get is "it’s hard, expensive and requires AD and some OS support" then don’t be surprised at our conclusions.

    You want me to work with you Rick, but all I’ve gotten is "You don’t know what’s really going on". Well bloody tell me. Give me a fact or two to work with. I’m not going to run away from technical details. Really. But when you say "bear with us" and that the hurdles are "difficult to articulate" well, you are telling me what I tell a non-technical user when a server crashes. Hit me with the technical details. Hit me offline. You know at least two ways to get ahold of me. Hit me with and NDA. YOu know I’ll sign and honor it. I dare you to give me all the gory details. But don’t give me some line about how it’s difficult to articulate when you haven’t even tried. That’s just telling me i’m too dumb to understand it. I’m a lot of things, but too dumb to grok tech speak ain’t one of them.

    You also miss the point about why Bill and Steve publicly praising the Mac BU is important. It’s really not all about you and the other Mac BU-ers. Its for when we go to our superiors, and ask for humpty thousand dollars for Mac Office upgrades, they can see that MS values the Mac BU. It really does matter, more than you may realize. You have a lot of vectors for positive feedback about the Mac BU. We effectively have one. MS Public statements. Go look through those and see what the Mac BU looks like. If public support didn’t matter, why else would Bill have made sure that Ballmer was properly seen as the next head of MS when he stepped out to be "Head of Deep Thinkology and bad hair" or whatever his title is. If public perception didn’t matter, then why bother with all of it? Do what thou wilt, so mete it be. But that’s not the case. Public perception has to be carefully tended. Sinofsky is well aware of how tricky that is. Ask him how well that "Dinosaur" campaign went and the perception it created.

    This is not just a technical problem.

  19. Rick Schaut says:

    John,

    First of all, I’d already sent an e-mail to your .mac account talking about some things I can’t talk about publicly. Please note, however, that even a public statement about whether or not we’re working on a solution is problematic. There are people out there, particularly in the press, who will construe that statement as promise to deliver something at some point in the future.

    Secondly, you wrote:

    "In the absence of information, we reach the only conclusions we *can* reach. What I don’t understand is why, when Microsoft and the Mac BU *aren’t* filling that void, that y’all are surprised at the conclusions we reach."

    I’m going to have to respectfully disagree that there is only one conclusion you can reach in this. In the absence of any knowledge about the technical details, you can either assume that the problem is easy and that we’re just sitting on our butts _or_ you can assume that the problem is hard and that we’re probably working on it without a clear end in sight as to when the problem will be solved.

    You assume that we know how to do our job, and are doing it to the best of our abilities, or you can assume that we don’t know how to do our job and that we’re not doing it to the best of our abilities. And, no, I’m not surprised that people assume the latter. After all, people have been doing that to me for more than 15 years. I’m not surprised by it. I just don’t understand why people do it.

    You want me to stand in your shoes, despite the undisputed fact that Mac BU’s success as a business requires that I stand not only in your shoes but also in the shoes of a wide variety of other users, yet you steadfastly resist any effort to get you to stand in my shoes. That’s not exactly a recriprocal relationship.

    But, relationships are what this is really all about. It is in our mutual best interests for our relationship to be completely recriprocal. If our relationship never gets beyond you steadfastly beating me over the head with stuff I already know, then we’re not going to reach the point where I learn things I don’t already know about your problems.

    Lastly, I don’t recall saying that public perception of Microsoft’s feelings about Mac BU isn’t important in a general sense. I just said that it’s not important enough for me to want to spend a lot of time talking about. I’m far more interested in talking about our relationship, because that has a more direct impact on my ability to do my job.

    Rick

  20. Rick, there’s a third conclusion that you miss, and in such a political company as Microsoft, (as ANY company of that size), it’s obvious to a lot of people who don’t work there. Especially when you take into account the way Microsoft Senior Management behaves towards the Mac BU in public.

    That third assumption is, that regardless of the feaseability of the task, there are political reasons that it’s not going to happen. It’s like the sad state of WiMP Mac. What are the real reasons for it? Who knows, the WiMP Mac people aren’t talking. So what’s left is:

    Lots of time without a bug fix+a continual stream of disparaging remarks about Apple from WM people+silliness about how the iPod is the end all and be all of music on the mac+ FUD about how WM is "open"=the WM team is not going to improve WiMP Mac anytime soon, and it’s best to consider it a dead product.

    Note the lack of any technical reasoning. Note that if someone would just start communicating in a straightforward way, there’s a lot of that which could be cleared up. But if the WiMP team is going to not talk about it, then they get the feedback they earn.

    So with Office you get the same thing. There’s not a lot coming out of the Mac BU that isn’t in yours or the Entourage blogs, or the occaisional press release when you guys ship. MS Senior Management Puts off this "Eww, Mac" vibe when you bring up the Mac BU to them. There are numerous public statements about who the Mac BU is focused on that may no longer be accurate, but nothing has come along to counter them, (so they’re like a bistable multivibrator. until it changes states, it stays on whatever the current state is forever.) Requests for enterprise features get the equivalent of "yeah, that would be cool. Not this time" The Win Office Team is in a completely different division. You guys are sharing org chart with Halo.

    That creates the impression of "The technical issues aren’t the problem. There’s no political will outside of the Mac BU to really do this unless it gets snuck in."

    That in turn affects your relationship with me and others. Me, I’m ornery. I don’t care what I get told, I’ll ask again and again. Eventually, i’ll wear you down. But a lot of other folks aren’t as Quixotic about it, and simple stop asking. So now, you have a group of people who just gave up on asking because they’ve been told "not this time" so often that they decided that "this time" will come about ten seconds before Armageddon. How many people are in this group? You’ll never know, they stopped talking to you. They’re the ones that take a little longer to upgrade every product cycle, or stop upgrading unless there’s a critical bug fix or feature in a release.

    The Mac BU is suffering as much from apathetic PR and perception as much as they are from any technical problems. You want to know why people keep assuming things? That’s why.

    Here’s a bet. I bet that if you had people at Roz’s level or higher blogging about the Mac BU, or talking to bloggers and others about the Mac BU on a regular basis. NOt just when something gets released. But regular updates about what you all are doing I’ll guarantee that it would create a net positive result. Get Roz and the anyone else out talking to people. (Yes, actually, I do know how much time a position like hers takes up. The next Macworld you’re at, I’ll buy the beer, and share with you the joys of running a B-1B ECM shop. I bet my budget was bigger. I know my working conditions sucked worse…Grand Forks North Dakota…I win 😉 Get people to start talking to Senior Management about public support of the Mac BU when Apple comes up. If I had the ability, (read, my son was older), I’d do it myself. But even if Senior Management won’t change, change who you can. Why not ask Sinofsky to blog about Mac Office from his perspective? It would be bloody fascinating.

    Interviews with him and his Mac BU counterpart. this is all stuff that’s doable with a minimum of resources. Hell, if nothing else, it would mean less execrable interviews from ShakyCameraScobleLand.

    It would, if nothing else, make for fewer assumptions that you’re lazy or incompetent.

  21. John: it’s amazing that you keep wanting our support yet you call my work "execrable."

    That doesn’t make me feel like doing anything on your behalf.

  22. Cool, my equation on "how many times you have to mention scoble to get a response" just got another datapoint.

    As far as the rest, help if you want, don’t help if you don’t want to. It’s the difference between you getting me contact info, or me doing it myself. The results end up being about the same.

  23. Rick Schaut says:

    John,

    I haven’t missed the third conclusion. I’ve completely discounted it. That one’s for the tin hat crowd, amongst which I never would think to include you.

    Let me put it this way. If Mac BU should ever be blocked from delivering features that have obvious value to a large number of customers for political reasons–something which has never happened in the 15 years I’ve worked here–there will be no informational void that you will have to fill via supposition, assumption or inference. Think about that for a moment, and then let’s put this canard to rest for good.

    That said, I think you missed Robert’s point. One of my English profs would have said that your use of the word "execrable" is pretentious. It’s an obscure word whose connotation isn’t any different from that of words or phrases which are far more familiar to your audience. The only purpose it serves is to tone up the rhetoric without conveying any substantive meaning that would justify the rhetorical tone.

    And, your rhetoric certainly has tone. I joked about it with the "Wippin’ Post" comment, but that doesn’t mean the point is any less valid. You want more Mac BU bloggers? Mac BU employees are people, too. The tone of your comments probably set that effort back a ways, and those of us who agree that Mac BU should have more bloggers now have a more difficult task of trying to convice some of our compatriates to join the fray.

    Rick

  24. Rick, I’m not disagreeing with you about the third conclusion’s validity, not really. But again, in the lack of better communication from the people with the facts, the tin hat crowd suddenly gets all the play. If you only ever hear "Microsoft is evil" after a while, it’s really easy to start taking that line seriously.

    A classic example is the Symantec Security report from about a year ago. It really didn’t say anything bad if you read it. It was reasonable, albeit rather academic and a tad dry. However, the tin hat crowd got ahold of it, led by Jack Campbell, and bang, suddenly it’s a panic attack.

    The tin hat crowd loves Microsoft…okay, it’s a demented, really wrong kind of love, but they love them nonetheless. Me, i’m split. The MacBU, I like. You guys do good work. If you note, I’m real consistent on that. Working with y’all is really quite pleasurable. The rest of the company? Not so much. I have to deal with the pain of heterogeneous networks and Windows. Where does 90% of that pain come from? Windows. Until Windows makes its contribution to that pain go away, they can deal with the pain it causes them. Microsoft is just a lightning rod for strong opinions.

    But the one thing that the rest of Microsoft does *far* better than the Mac BU, (and it is indeed the only thing), is communicate on a wide scale. You guys are, quite often, close mouthed to a point that it creates a vacuum. Then what happens? The vacuum gets filled, only y’all lose any ability to shape what’s filling it. There are always going to be people who hate you, you can’t ever change that. But the information that people get on the Mac BU you *can* change.

    Por ejemplo, this blog. Do you really know how useful it is to a lot of people, including me? I can’t really adequately tell you in type. But the posts here, technical and otherwise:

    Anatomy of a software bug

    From Bravo to Word

    Mac Word 6.0

    Microsoft Open XML Formats. (Still really the only place to find this. I searched PressPass, and other places, this post is *it* for this info)

    Repro,Man

    on and on. Pretty much, your site is the best public source of info on the Mac BU we have. Now that the Entourage blog is back up and running, it’s brilliant too. But that’s it. Really. On the E’rage blog, the list of Mac BU bloggers is you.

    That’s what, two voices? I found your blog by accident. I consistently tell people who have questions about the hows and whys of Word and the Mac BU to read it because the stuff you write is so damned useful. But it also creates problems, because right now, to a large part of the world, Rick Schaut == The Voice Of the Mac BU.

    On my choice of words…your English professor would have been incorrect.

    As far as people being reluctant to blog because of my tone…if I have that much power and influence, I need to start going for the Benjamins, because there’s money to be made! Seriously, I’m blunt, and I’m terse. I’ve little problem with calling people out when they say stuff that is just ridiculous, (The WM teams insistence that they are "prevented" from bringing WM 10 and plays for sure because Apple won’t let them play on the iPod. Please, that’s just insulting the intelligence of every Mac user, even the ones that deserve it. by the way, if you want a prime example of why the Mac community assumes the worst about Microsoft’s intentions, that’s a *sterling* example of why they’re not entirely incorrect to do so. If they’ve no interest or business case for it, or there are legitimate technical hurdles fine, say that. It’s not any kinder but at least it’s honest. But to blame the iPod??? Dude…you want to pistol-whip someone, there’s your target.) However, it’s not as one – sided as some would like to think.

    Yes, you post a blog, you’re going to get responses that are harsh. That’s the IntarWeb. You live in Manhattan, you’re going to get cussed at regularly. It’s the nature of the neighborhood. it’s even worse when your employer is Microsoft, and you get a double whammy when you work with the Mac BU.

    A Mac BU blogger has an audience that is going to be mostly hostile. Neither side is innocent in the MS – Apple feuds, and they never will be. Microsoft is just better at really pissing off people, and they have more people to piss off. If you think that I’m particularly bad in the abuse department, well, then I’ll say you don’t get out much on the Mac web and leave it at that.

    I will also say that *in general*, unless you go looking for strong reactions, you’re not going to get them a lot. (For example, I’m not seeing a lot of flames on the Entourage Blog, and dude, we’ve been dropping that all over mailing lists. It’s my standard reply to the read only public folders issue.) But you work for Microsoft, you’re a target. Is it fair, or right? nope. Is it going to change anytime soon? Nope.

    The criticism will happen anyway. The question is, do the people who use that as an excuse to not blog want it happening due to ignorance from a lack of correct information, or due to deliberate stupidity, from ignoring the correct information that the Mac BU bloggers could put out there. At least with the latter, for those willing to listen, you can point them to the correct info. If it’s not there, then you can’t.

  25. I just can’t believe it is a coincidence that the business case for Office, Project, Access, etc. is not "feasible" and that coincides with what is convenient for Microsoft to preserve their business control through Office. As a person who has come to hate being force to use Microsoft products, I do not buy it. It would be easier if Messenger and Windows Media Player (clearly more "consumer/home/entertaintment apps) were better.

  26. John Siracusa says:

    >> Lastly, you question the support shown by Microsoft’s leadership for Mac BU. I don’t know that I’m qualified to answer. However, when Bill Gates’ response to a Mac BU product demo consists of turning to the Win Office people and saying, "You people should do that," I have little doubt about Bill’s support for the work we’re doing. <<

    You should have little doubt that he thinks you’re doing good work, but his reaction says nothing about his willingness to devote more resources to your efforts.

    You talk about the ownership of the per-division money pools, but at the top there’s still an authority that controls the company-wide allocation. If Ballmer and Gates were behind the Mac Office effort as much as they’re behind the Windows Office effort, the allocation of resources to the Mac BU would be quite different.

    I’m not sure how you don’t see all of that. The tip-off should be that the Mac BU is very profitable, and yet does not seem to get the expected benefits from its success: growth, expansion, more resources with which to add more features, to widen the purview of the Mac BU beyond the current set of "archetypes," perhaps even to include the enterprise users that John is describing, and therefore to sell more copies of Mac Office.

  27. John Siracusa says:

    Also, on the topic of harsh comments and their effect on the motivation to blog, haven’t y’all (that one was for you, JCW) seen the IE blog? Jumping Jehosophat! If those guys can blog, certainly the Mac BU folks can stomach it.

  28. Paul Berkowitz says:

    John Welch (comments, above):

    "This is only partially about the technical issues. It’s also about the leadership needed from Microsoft Senior Management to show Mac BU customers that the Mac BU is a valued part of MS and not just some throwaway division.

    "

    I’ve mentioned elsewhere Sinofsky’s respectful and knowledgeable reference to Mac Office today, in the PressPass press release about Windows office support for PDF in Office 12:

    Steven Sinofsky (http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/features/2005/oct05/10-02OfficePDF.mspx):

    "PressPass: Do other productivity suites include PDF?

    Sinofsky: Yes, many other productivity products for the Microsoft Windows platform include support for PDF. In addition, productivity tools for the Mac OS X, such as Microsoft Mac Office, also provide PDF support. There are a number of third-party tools out there that support PDF. Broadly, customers have come to expect PDF support from their productivity tools and Microsoft is pleased to offer this to customers in Office “12”.

    ………

    "PressPass: Isn’t PDF an Adobe product?

    Sinofsky: PDF was developed by Adobe and has been available in a public specification for a long time. It has been offered by Adobe as an ISO standard. Microsoft used this standard to guide development of the PDF technology in Office “12”. We’re happy to take advantage of the openness of the PDF format to include this in Office “12” for our customers. There are many other products that support the PDF format, including our own Office for the Mac.

    "

    I wonder whether Steven Sinofsky’s giving credit where due to Mac OS X and Mac Office just might derive, in smal part, from your drawing his attention to it here in Rick’s blog, but regardless, it’s certainly quite satisfying. I’m certain that the Office Windows "Save to PDF" implementaion will be miles better than the basic OS X "Print to PDF" feature, since it has to compete with the Acrobat Windows plugin-in (miles and miles better than the Acrobat Mac effort). I think we have a reasonable chance of expecting a port to OS X …

  29. Nick Soban says:

    >>I’ve mentioned elsewhere Sinofsky’s respectful and knowledgeable reference to Mac Office today, in the PressPass press release about Windows office support for PDF in Office 12: <<

    Ummm… excuse me, but Sinofsky is stealing credit for PDF support away from Apple and handing it over to Microsoft. EVERY single program on OS X has PDF support because Apple has built in that support from day one.

    Of course, I doubt that fact is going to stop anyone at Microsoft from patting themselves on the back for supporting a feature in Office that their competitor has had SYSTEM WIDE for the last few years.

  30. Rick Schaut says:

    Actually, Nick, I’m _not_ going to excuse you for having misread Steven’s remarks. What he said:

    "In addition, productivity tools for the Mac OS X, such as Microsoft Mac Office, also provide PDF support."

    At no point does he give credit for that to Microsoft. Indeed, it’s difficult to find such a claim with respect to "productivity tools for the Mac OS X" which would encompass products not made by Microsoft.

    If you’re going to allow yourself to get all worked up in a fit of righteous indigation, at least do it based on the truth, and not a distortion of the truth.

    Rick

  31. Nick Soban says:

    I’m sorry Rick, but you’ve been drinking the Kool-Aid.

    Paul quoted both places where there’s mention of Mac Office, and they are:

    "In addition, productivity tools for the Mac OS X, such as Microsoft Mac Office, also provide PDF support."

    and

    "There are many other products that support the PDF format, including our own Office for the Mac."

    While Sinofsky does out right say that you specifically built support for PDF in, he also omits who actually did, twice, in mentioning Mac Office’s support for PDF. And yet, he still mentions that specifically brings up Microsoft’s own product, both times making it clear it was "our own".

    Let me just ask you, is Sinofsky giving credit where credit is due? Does he even mention Apple at all? If he’s not giving credit to "our own" product for PDF support, then who is he giving credit to?

    >> If you’re going to allow yourself to get all worked up in a fit of righteous indigation, at least do it based on the truth, and not a distortion of the truth. <<

    I’m curious about the truth: is there a single place in any part of Microsoft Office for the Mac that you (Microsoft) and not Apple added PDF support?

  32. Rick Schaut says:

    Nick, if "drinking the Kool-Aid" means _not_ reading between the lines, then call me guilty. I tend to deal with what’s acutally been said, and not with what implications people want to take from what’s actually been said. And, I’m particularly leary when people start inferring motives based on those implications. At that point, you’ve stretched the line of reasoning way too thin.

    As for your question, there isn’t a simple answer–partially because the question is vague (on the Mac "support for PDF" can mean quite a few things in addition to just creating PDF files via printing APIs), and partially because even support for PDF files didn’t come for free. Printing on Mac OS X is substantially different from what it was on Mac OS Classic. Don’t take my word on the latter. Go check the developer documentation on Apple’s web site. To be completely fair, support for PDF under Mac OS X was a cooperative (though not collaborative) effort between Apple and all software vendors who ported code to Mac OS X. Apple’s work wouldn’t have meant much if we hadn’t rewritten code to support the new printing system.

  33. Ben Skelton says:

    This comment thread is the reason I read blogs!

    My guess is that many corporate / enterprise users that use Macs have the same thoughts that John is describing (I know I am). Are they accurate? Probably not, but with the absence of information from the MacBU we don’t really have much to go on. I have to applaud Rick, I read this blog religiously, and it provides a wealth of information. I just wish more people from the MacBU were blogging on a regular basis.

    Because of the lack of information from the MacBU on enterprise / corporate topics we are left to make our own conclusions. This became really apparent for me when we had a client in education that was really interested in using SharePoint. As a school district, they needed to have a commitment to better SharePoint support on the Mac (in both Mac Office and through Safari/FireFox). I ended up calling Roz (probably overkill) whom I had never talked to before because I needed information and wanted to make sure that I would be able to talk to someone who knew what was going on. Rick touched upon SharePoint issues in some comments but there was no real information there that I could give our client.

    Unfortunately in the end I wasn’t much better off than at the beginning. Although the person Roz directed me to was really nice, she repeated the line that Rick uses above about "knowing our market… enterprise is only a small part…"

    I wish that the MacBU had a much more open culture with regular updates on the various products and technologies and how the MacBU is working with them to make Microsoft products work better on a Mac. It would also be nice to see the MacBU grow and take on new challenges and create new software that will generate revenue for the business. The MacBU folks must have some great ideas for new software — it would be nice to see some of them appear as new MacBU products (for sale).

    Some other thoughts:

    :: I like Robert Scoble’s videos (other than the fact I have to download them to view them on my Mac). I think he is doing cool work and in some ways is becoming an ombudsman for Microsoft.

    :: John is 100% dead-on about Windows Media Player for the Mac. If there is one piece of Microsoft software that leaves a bad taste in people’s mouths it has to be WMP. Who ever is in charge of it PLEASE make it better. Like really, honestly better. Scoble, Rick, Roz, someone …. Please ….

  34. I think this is one of the most significant exchanges between users and developers (especially MICROSOFT Macintosh developers) that I’ve seen since switching from Windows to the Mac in 1998.

    The MacBU does a great thing in that it doesn’t give Mac users simply a straight port of the Windows version (as was done with Word 6, as is still often done by companies like Adobe). The MacBU recognizes that that there is a Mac way of doing things that is separate from the Windows way of doing things.

    However, I think that John Welch has spoken for a lot of us who have been very frustrated.

    As this discussion has shown, Mac users want to be "separate but equal" meaning that although we don’t want a straight port of a program like Office, at the same time, we don’t want to be shorted features and technologies that would be available if we were using Windows. We don’t want second-rate versions of Office, Windows Media Player, Messenger, etc.

    I’ve never been a Microsoft hater; I just grew fed up with the Windows platform a few years back and quit using it. But I continued to buy Microsoft products for the Mac.

    I really hope this exchange is being read by a wide audience including those who work at Microsoft, both within the MacBU and also those elsewhere in the company.

    Mac users want equal access without having to run Windows programs in VirtualPC, let alone run a separate Windows machine.

    Secondly, we’d like greater access to the developers. As I said, this exchange has been significant, but I think it could be even better if the level of secrecy wasn’t so tight. Secrecy has alway been tight within computer companies. However, I really think loosening those ties a bit, even if it means more MacBU blogs as has been suggested by others, would be incredibly helpful for both Microsoft and its Mac customers.

  35. Rick Schaut says:

    Ben and Rick,

    I don’t know what I can add that I haven’t already said. We do hear you, and as much as we’d really love to be able to make "separate but equal" a reality it’s just way easier said that done.

  36. Doxxic says:

    Can I summarize it this way:

    – Rick says that it’s not feasible to make Office.mac more compatible with corporate backends, because one consideration of people buying Macs is that they don’t need to plug into them.

    – John accuses Microsoft of keeping Office.mac away from corporate backends deliberately, so the corporate market has to use Office for windows, casu quo Microsoft Windows.

    No doubt they’re both telling the truth, although there is no doubt that the Mac BU would be way more successful if they *were* allowed to connect decently to corporate Windows networks, since way more people would use the Mac platform, casu qo Office.mac.

    So I get the feeling that Rick is keeping his scope deliberatly narrow in order not to have to deal with the fact that his employer is clipping his wings.

  37. Rick Schaut says:

    Doxxic,

    The idea that Microsoft is clipping Mac BU’s wings is purely speculative, and is based on an incomplete understanding of the facts. To call this idea a "fact" is, well, horribly destructive of the truth.

    I don’t know how many times I have to say this, but no one has ever come to Mac BU and said that we can’t do something because doing it would harm the sales of some other Microsoft product. No one. Ever. Not in 15 years.

    I’ve also pointed out that, should this ever happen, you won’t have to _speculate_ about it. You will know. Think about that. Do you honestly think the people who work in Mac BU lack the integrity to stand up and say something about it if politics ever entered the picture? You think we would all just suck it up and move along?

    Maybe it’s time for me to write that "development resources" blog post that’s been sitting on the back burner. People have this misconception that we can do more work if we just throw more people at the problem. The real world doesn’t work that way.

  38. Rob Mahorn says:

    Rick, will Mac Office users get the same capabilities to integrate office with Live communications server/sharepoint/live meeting that the Windows users will get?

    I think the basic argument in this thread comes down the growing number of Mac users in large corporate environments who want their Mac version of Office to be able to integrate with the corporate communications/collaboration systems that are increasingly based on LCS/SharePoint/LiveMeeting.

    My take on this thread is that the viewpoint of Microsoft is that these types of Mac users are in the minority, and instead your view is that most Mac users just want file compatability betwen themselves and windows users.

    If true, I think this ignores the growing infiltration (is that a bad word?) of Macs into corporate environments, especially within the tech sector. Go to any IT trade show and count the number of Macs, they are all over the place now.

  39. Rob Mahorn says:

    To Doxxic’s comments:

    We won’t deploy LCS/LiveMeeting/SharePoint if it doesn’t work seamlessly across Mac and Windows desktops. Lack of this support won’t force us to get rid of our Macs and buy Windows machines. It will force us to look at another alternative for our comm/collab needs (Lotus/Oracle??)

    Mac Office support for all the same capabilities to integrate with Microsoft’s communications/presence/collaboration apps will lead to increasing sales for the backend Windows server products.

  40. Steph says:

    What about Windows Messenger on Mac with audio and video support ? Could we have it one day ?

    I would pay for it !!!

  41. Nick Soban says:

    I think there’s a pretty clear line in the sand here – most of us blame Microsoft corporate management for the lack of functional parity between Win and Mac Office, and Rick is placing the blame on circumstance.

    I think most of us hear what you’re saying about development not being so simple and everything, but we find it very difficult to just ignore what your bosses do and say. They have a history of just up and dropping support, or weakly supporting software, depending on what their competitors are up to. Mac WMP for example. Yeah, maybe it’s a lack of adequate Mac developers on one hand, but they’ve done this with Windows software too. IE 6? There has never, ever been an explanation of why there was zero CSS fixes between the release of IE6 and now.

    The take home message is: we don’t trust Microsoft. That’s not said as Mac users, but as USERS in general. All this pretty blogging and Scoblizing is nice and great, but when your bosses are put on stage and asked to questions the answers they give throw all this out the window.

    I think we all want to believe that you’re doing your absolute best and nothing is standing in your way, but that is VERY hard to do given who you work for. If you don’t understand that, then you really don’t understand your customers.

  42. Rick Schaut says:

    Rob,

    First, thanks for pointing out that some firms won’t stop buying Macs, but will simply not deploy certain Microsoft solutions. This is a dynamic of which we are well aware, and is one of the reasons we have a rather good working relationship with the Win Office team.

    You asked:

    "[W]ill Mac Office users get the same capabilities to integrate office with Live communications server/sharepoint/live meeting that the Windows users will get?"

    It’s difficult to answer that kind of open-ended question. We’ve already done some LCS support in Mac Messenger, we plan to do some of the SharePoint stuff in the next release of Office (though exactly how much has yet to be determined), and we have plans to add more further down the road. Unfortunately, even for Mac Office 12, we’re too early in the development cycle for me to make any hard promises about these specific features. We’ve already signed on for an enormoous amount of work, and planning isn’t an exact science.

    "My take on this thread is that the viewpoint of Microsoft is that these types of Mac users are in the minority, and instead your view is that most Mac users just want file compatability betwen themselves and windows users."

    I had hoped that I had nuanced the point a little better than that. I wouldn’t say that Mac users in the enterprise are in the "minority". Rather, the issue isn’t just about the number of different kinds of Mac users. The costs of providing any given set of features also figures into the equation. If we simply ignore the cost side of things, then we’re talking about a fantasy world.

    It is unfortunate that I cannot get into some specifics of the costs associated with any given feature. There are technological problems that stem from different platform infrastructures, and I’m just not at liberty to discuss the things we’re doing to try to solve those problems. I can’t open the kimono that far.

    Steph,

    The answer to your question is roughly the same as my answer to Rob’s question. We know people want those features (indeed some would pay for them). We have plans, but we also just released a version of Mac Messenger. So, the plans are in flux right now.

    Rick

  43. Goebbels says:

    Rick, it seems to me that, even though this is one of the most significant conversations (besides a couple of efforts by Kevin Browne 3 years ago) between Microsoft/the MacBU and the community, you are the one forestalling, impeding, or blurring the semantics and the discussion.

    Firstly, you entangle John in a debate over the semantics of possible and feasible when you yourself are unwilling to commit to a discernable definition of those terms.

    You claim that we would know if there was politics involved when we are telling you the perception is that politics are involved. If we disagree with you, how can we believe that the answer is no, but we would know if politics was a factor? Can you mitigate our concerns by explaining the status of WMP or Messenger?

    You claim that there are two rational realities: it’s hard but you’re working on it, or you don’t have the resource commitment or intent to commit resources. And we should trust you that it’s hard and working on it. WHy? What has occurred to provide us any incentive to believe that? Nothing.

    (Scoble jumps in claiming that if you’re angry, you don’t need to be listened to. Lovely. Great advocator of the open conversation, that one.)

    Now, you seem to not want to depart from the line of the costs. But the little information we do have is that the MacBU is immensely profitable, but that the number of products or refreshes and the resources put to these development efforts are decreasing.

    Is it or is it not true that the MacBU has an annual profit that exceeds $100 million? Is it or is it not true that relative to that profit, the unit has grown less, offered fewer products, or had less communication with its community of users than other groups/divisions within Microsoft?

    That seems to be the fundamental question. You can claim that feature support has costs, but let’s not pretend it involves a trade off with other groups (and/or that such a trade off wouldn’t make business sense).

    Your unit is highly profitable: can you tell us how much the staff has grown or diminished over the last five years? Can you tell us if there will be any updates to the useless Messenger and WMP for the Mac? Can you tell us if there are any new products being developed for the Mac?

    If you can’t provide sufficient answers to these questions, there is no way you can claim that your users dissatisfaction is tin foil hat conspiracies… We KNOW you are profitable, and relative to other units within Microsoft, you are HUGELY profitable. But in turn, we’ve seem diminishing returns.

  44. I work for a MS certified partner and we do work for a number of large enterprise and government clients. I am one of a few Mac users in an absolute sea of windows computers 🙂

    For our clients, IRM for windows office is not yet on the radar (not even being considered for the future yet) but sharepoint has definitely started up. Our clients are not consistently using Office 2003 yet – as far as they are concerned it was actually only Outlook 2003 that offered a reason to upgrade – the rest of Office is just a bit of a bonus.

    Rick, I can understand how IRM for office:mac would fit into the same category as Project/Access/Visio for Mac – nice to have, but very difficult to justify a business case. Although it is scary that mac users could be locked out of documents, I think that the take up for IRM will be slow since (as I understand it) it also locks out Office 200/XP users too (not to mention a bunch of other issues).

    I think SharePoint support for Office:mac is a whole different story. Firstly, I think that SharePoint (both WSS and SPS) have had a much greater penetration into the market than Office IRM (surely there are numbers to back this up?). Secondly, I would assume that the development effort required would surely be less (based on the cursory investigation into the Frontpage RPCs that I did to determine what is actually required to support the basic sharepoint check out/check in features – SharePad is a good example). Thirdly, I think that it would be useful for users in small/medium business using Windows SBS all the way up to the enterprises that are more likely to use SPS

    Now even for our clients that use Windows at work exclusively, many of the staff have Macs at home. Certainly the Exchange connectivity options within Office:mac have been the saving grace for these users (actually more feature rich than what the windows users have without rpc over http!) – I think sharepoint support would fit into the same category.

    I actually think that if the projects in project center could optionally be linked to a sharepoint document library (or linked to a sharepoint site?), then you would get another "you guys should do this" from billg. The irony is that if you guys had less control of your destiny, then you would probably be forced to do the sharepoint integration!

    I have already tried to send this as feedback to MS, but it is not obvious how to do this effectively anymore. The menu item in the office:mac apps Help|Send Feedback on * goes to generic "report a bug" page nowadays, so I just mail to mswish and hope that it goes somewhere 🙂

    John W, I think that you are being too hard on Scoble – remember he is not a documentary maker, just a blogger with a camera 🙂 Sure it would be nice to have a proper documentary about the MacBU, but Scoble’s video visit is still better than nothing. It was just like the video of Raymond Chen that Scoble did – the sound etc was very poor but it sure beats the alternative of nothing

  45. Dave Pooser says:

    I’m the IT manager for a midsize (~100-person) business that’s split between Macs and Windows machines with an edge to the Macs. My Windows users are still using Office XP, and using Outlook to connect to a standards-based (SMTP/IMAP) server.

    Why haven’t we upgraded our Office(Windows) licenses? Because the major features added to Office 2003 were collaboration-based, and we haven’t seen any benefits that were Mac-compatible. IRM that my CEO, my general manager, my sales manager and (ahem) the IT manager can’t use is, well, worthless. SharePoint would be kind of cool, but not unless it covered more users. Today, I can consider migrating to an Exchange server, but pre-SP2 the notion was ludicrous. The list goes on…

    If Office for Macintosh had the enterprise support that Office for Windows has, Microsoft would have a reasonable shot at selling me an Exchange server, an AD infrastructure (since I’d need that for Exchange, and AD is a heck of a product anyway), and ~50 licenses for Office 12 with Software Assurance. Since they don’t, well, my SA on my Macs will get me Office 12 (for Universal Binary support) for free and then we can kick that can down the road a couple of years. By then maybe OpenOffice.org will be closer to ready for prime time (though we’d still be paying for Entourage, ’cause that’s the Best Evar MUA). I do own one Windows 2003 server that I use for Terminal Services for my Macs, but that’s pretty much limited to a single application that’s going to be accessed via Web browser soon anyway. By my reckoning, the only revenue MS will see from my shop in the next two years is going to be when we add new hires and the OEM tax when we replace older Windows PCs with newer ones. That’s a heckuva way to run a railroad.

    Two other quick notes:

    I don’t see using "execrable" as pretentious, nor do I think the word is particularly obscure. (I haven’t seen the video work in question so I can’t comment as to its accuracy.) Sure, John could have said "BAD," but I think the word he chose better conveyed his opinion– and isn’t that the essence of writing? This ain’t USA Today here; he’s allowed to expect a relatively literate audience.

    In the absence of communication, some organizations will get the benefit of the doubt, and others won’t. Apple, fairly or not, often does. Red Hat usually does. Microsoft usually doesn’t. That means that MS folks have to communicate more because rumor and speculation will not be their friends. This is doubly true when dealing with Mac users, because many of us have been conditioned to think of MS as "TEH EVIL." Sure, it’s stupid, but it’s the existing perception. It also seems to me that if you really want to fill the open positions in the MacBU, getting the word out about the cool stuff you are doing might help recruiting better than being the moped that people like to use but don’t want to be seen riding. I know communicating takes time, and in a department that’s trying to add staff that’s a commodity in short supply, but the long-term payoff is huge.

  46. Doxxic says:

    Rick, I should indeed not have called it a "fact", if facts are only facts if they’re 100% sure.

    But I’m not the only one speculating here. What do you know about the reasoning behind the budgets and directions you get?

    You wrote: "I don’t know how many times I have to say this, but no one has ever come to Mac BU and said that we can’t do something because doing it would harm the sales of some other Microsoft product. No one. Ever. Not in 15 years."

    Of course not. But as others have pointed out, Microsoft has a huge history of not implementing technology they could implement, in a way that enhanced their power and decreased the possibilities of their consumers. Which is only natural in my view, because politics are everywhere, as many powerful people tend to speculate.

    "I’ve also pointed out that, should this ever happen, you won’t have to _speculate_ about it. You will know. Think about that. Do you honestly think the people who work in Mac BU lack the integrity to stand up and say something about it if politics ever entered the picture? You think we would all just suck it up and move along?"

    It’s not a matter of integrity. No management should bother their unit with politics, and the outside world should be bothered even less. A management has to inspire the unit to do great things in an environment that by nature offers limited resources. Then you don’t talk about politics, but about goals, ideas and ways to work them out, because that is good for the spirit, the efficiency and the reputation. It’s a reason why Microsoft wins and why Apple is at least perceived as a winner. A company like Creative though, which *does* communicate it’s political frustrations, is doomed.

    Now why are you going further than just ignoring politics? You explicitly *deny* them. You say that we’d hear it whenever politics got into the picture. Why do you promise that?

    When you *deny* politics, you are speculating at least as much as I am. Moreover, you speculate in a direction where I speculate that a lot of people inside the Mac BU speculate otherwise. Still they make great (beit not perfect) things. Given the circumstances, as you say. What more could someone wish for?

  47. Rick Schaut says:

    Sorry for the belated replies to the most recent comments. Sometimes work just requires my undivided attention for a while.

    Goebbels and Doxxic, I’m working on a longer post that will, I hope, address some of the issues you raise about resources. There are a number of factors that determine how we prioritize our work, and it’s just difficult to try and outline them all in a blog comment.

    I will say, Doxxic, that I don’t understand your discussion of politics and speculation. My comments are based on both my experience and my knowledge of the people with whom I work. I don’t know how you square that with the idea that I am speculating just as much as you are.

    Why do I promise that you’d hear about it if some executive at Microsoft ever told us we can’t implement a feature because it might hurt the sales of some other Microsoft product? I know, for a fact, that, should that ever happen, a non-zero number of people who currently work at Mac BU would leave, and each of us has enough contacts out there to be none-too-quite about why we had left.

    There’s a good number of us for whom the job has ceased to be about the money. Jerry Maquire would be rather out of place here.

    Rick

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