Friday, July 22, 2005

Microsoft vs. Google Employment Suit Shows MS True Colors

So to start, I dont know all the details, but from what I have read over at ZDNet on the story it would seem that Microsoft is getting beat at its old game, and they are not happy about it. CNet also carried a good piece on the story.

While I am sure they believe they have some grounds to file the suit and they have better reasons to ensure that Kai Fu Lee does not share their latest strategic plans, this is really bad press for Microsoft. I know they are really not on the Cluetrain fully, but this is definitely a backwards step down the stairs they started to climb at Gnomedex with their Longhorn/RSS announcement.

As they fight so desperately to hold on to the proprietary world in which they were born, they are missing the bigger opportunity that the Web 2.0 world of openess provides. Can you perhaps imagine what would have happened if MS tried to be good to Kai Fu Lee? Perhaps he would treat them with respect and honor the non-disclosure provisions to the letter - but when you throw out the golden rule and treat someone with disrespect (as I have recently experienced in some of my dealings with a marquee client of my own) - you end up getting what you deserve, not what you want or need.

In putting myself in their shoes, I think I see the true motivation. It would seem that they are trying to use intimidation and threats of future suits via this precendent to prevent the swelling tide of big brains moving from Microsoft to Google from going any further. This will most likely backfire. What they really need to do is fix the problems with their recruiting efforts, get out from the ivory tower they built during the 80's and 90's, and realize that the world outside has changed - particularly in regards to the pursuit of talent nad keeping them engaged. Microsoft is no longer the best place to work in the world of technology for the brightest people - their continuing defiance of the PEOPLE has perhaps hurt them irreparably.

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